19/04/2017 House of Commons

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Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a debate on a motion to hold a general election on Thursday 8 June.

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The Ten Minute Rule Motion, Mr David Burrowes.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move that we've be given to bring any bill to look


at the assessment and enforcement of child assessment arrangements. I


welcome the great interest and attendance of honourable members for


my bill but feel like a filler in the summit of the Prime Minister.


The attention will be focused on the next motion rather than on my bill,


however, many parents have waited all too long for the child


maintenance for their children and will not let a general election get


in the way of their campaign. The campaign message at the heart of my


bill, the use the parlance of the Prime Minister is that we need a


Child Maintenance Service that will work for everyone, not just the


privileged few. This issue... Order. Stop the clock. I appreciate the


interest in other matters, but the subject matter of the honourable


gentleman's Bill is of very great importance to shoot numbers of


parents and children around the country and I think it is to put it


mildly unseemly that while the honourable gentleman is speaking of


his bill, there are a number of rather animated private


conversations taking place, including those being conducted by


those enormously courteous members of the House, so as they house can


settle down and listen to the eloquence of the honourable


gentleman, I think we would all be grateful for that.


It is also an issue across different parties but has been Andy Cole of


the Tory Party this that the government that recognises the


principle that all parents have responsibility to contribute to the


upkeep of children. The state will step in where necessary. It is


therefore parents in need of child maintenance who have nowhere else to


turn. As such, it must cater for all children, including those whose


parents are self-employed, who have complex financial affairs. Mr


Speaker, my interest in this issue has arisen from the case of my


constituent Elizabeth who is in attendance today. As well as four


other equally and brave determined women, which may honourable friend


refers to as super mums, there will be other people with very similar


like-minded women that have come to their surgery. Others include


Joanne, Sue and Kate who have pursued their cases for years and


could write the text on how nonresident parents could easily a


data system by claiming self-employment. The challenge in


the system of assets and lifestyle incompatible with earnings have been


removed and done so any process. It is these flaws that have led me to


introduce this bill and to have an inquiry into the CMS which is due to


report imminently. The fact of the matter is if your child has a


nonresident parent that is self employed, you are at risk of being


financially disadvantaged compared to a child whose nonresident parent


is employed. Nonresident self-employed parents are being


indulged by DCMS. The government's defends the discharge of injustice


is that closing the loopholes, which enables such child maintenance


avoidance is, I quote, expensive and time-consuming to do so. However,


the government does not take such a relaxed attitude when it comes to


individuals who avoid paying benefits or indeed taxes. The HMRC


56,000 strong tax collecting department with an annual budget of


over ?4 billion, if this money fails to get a grip of nonresident parents


who hide their income from the CMS by exploiting legal loopholes. It is


welcome that the DWP has beefed up its financial investigations unit to


a team of 50 and it is good that the Minister of welfare delivery is


listening today and said to the Work and Pensions Select Committee that


they have powers to look Pike accounts and tax records and seek to


clarify where things just do not add up. Mr Speaker, I do not believe


this is good enough. Children should not be paying the price for the


ongoing injustice over child maintenance, there is an estimated


52 and a half million unpaid maintenance which means that fewer


than half of eligible children do not receive anything at all. Now,


Elizabeth's Sun is one of those who should not be paying for the ?40,000


price of what he is owed over six years in child maintenance. Simply


because his father as a clever accountant who can help to hide his


assets in non-income gearing accounts, businesses and property.


This maintenance liability would not have been uncovered without the


determination of his mother Elizabeth taking the case under the


old system through the tribunal hearings and relying on the old rule


which allows for assets variation. They eventually revealed that the


other parent's assets valuing some ?800,000 from the sale of various


businesses and inheritance. And found that he could pay regularly


seen SPA maintenance to support their teenage son. The problem that


my bill seeks to resolve is that under the 2012 CMS scheme, the same


parents are held to legitimately have e-mailed child maintenance


liability, it was then 40,000, it would now be zero. Based largely on


gross taxable income figures provided by HMRC. This model I


accept works for the majority of straightforward cases, were paying


parents all income should be PAYE employment, it works less well with


the peeing payment -- parents takes payment and other forms. That does


not work at all when the peeing parent's living costs are met


through income that does not show up at HMRC. Income from ISAs, venture


capitalists trust funds and there are some nonresident parents who


support their lifestyle from different incomes, for example, from


substantial assets with no apparent income, capital gains from property


transactions. Such paying parents have no child maintenance liability


at all. And what it will all civil cases but


more complicated is weak and leads to injustice. This injustice is


compounded by the 2012 rules not only abolishing the grounds to


challenge assessments but although cutting of the avenue for address


through the courts. The governments's responds to my


constituent Elizabeth is that the assets and ground for variation


proved difficult to a minister and difficult for them to understand.


What has proved difficult for my constituent, Elizabeth, is to obtain


justice for the maintenance of her son. What is difficult for a lot of


the understand is why the state have chosen to prioritise its own


administrative convenience of the interest of her child. The work and


pensions like an easy enquiry into this issue has heard evidence from


parents with other nonresident parent is having a lifestyle does


not match the nonresident parent is having a lifestyle does not matter


because income. This will go to the HMRC and contact them on their top


line, only to be left in limbo because nonresident parents are not


committing tax fraud part are avoiding child maintenance because


they can hide by their self-employed status. They have organised their


affairs in an efficient manner, putting income in terms of not


earnings. What mums net was told by one mother was to accept a payment


from my ex as he was self-employed and he was the best she could hope


for. Regardless of evidence he could pay more from a very successful


business, multiple properties and, in her words, more physical access


than you could imagine. -- asset. Vienna where has said Britain was my


child maintenance of the contributing to a culture where to


many parents think it is optional relatively Tory to pay their child


maintenance. -- rather than obligatory. One person can avoid


paying child maintenance because one tax year removed liability. Why?


Because in that yeah, he bought a crock. The CMS should not allow the


financial access of a crock to come before a child. The state should not


be accessible. -- truck. The woman has an eye on the self-employed you


make the tax system work everyone. That should include the Child


Maintenance System as well. The CMS should not cater for Company


directors and those are financially public affairs. The grounds


previously available within the scheme, whereby notional income


could be assumed, where a paying parent's lifestyle was assumed,


should be available within a new scheme. A new variation garage


available with a scheme where -- ground. Capable of providing


reasonable level of return where a parent can do this with good reason,


bearing in mind the maintenance responsibility for the children. My


bill will also grant equal jurisdiction where nonresident


parents and assets or a lifestyle inconsistent with income and the CMS


is unable or incapable of determining the support. While my


bill originally comes at the end of this Parliament, it may just help


from the publication in the spring report to set up conclusions of a


review into the progress of CMS and state future policy. In 2012, the


noble lord flight said we will make clear our intentions with specific


review to the these parents. That one could be called families of


which the fee would seek to exempt. The campaign was led, saying child


maintenance crew had left families out of poverty. The lack of child


maintenance should be another burning justice for the covenant to


tackle. Given the next notion, I appreciate that Dell is the least


likely ever to become law in this parliamentary session. Some may


think, sit down, get on with the general election motion. There is


every point in highlighting on behalf of our constituents calling


for unfairness to children. This may be an early bid for the Conservative


manifesto. It may also be aim more public bid for the next Queen 's


speech. Either way, I look forward to a fairer child maintenance system


for all. The question is that the honourable gentleman have leave to


bring any bill. As many who are supportive, ayes. The ayes habit.


Caroline spell and Timothy Mapleton, Tanya Mathias. Those working ani,


Nigel Adams and get my tells and me. -- Kit Martells. Mr David Burrowes.


Child maintenance assessment of parent income bail. Second reading,


what day? The 12th of May, I suppose.


LAUGHTER I shall delete the last two words


ordered uttered by the honourable gentleman. The 12th of May. We now


come to the bill on the moving the notion of the parliamentary General


election. Moving the notion, I call the Prime Minister. Thank you, and I


beg to move motion on the order paper in my name and that of my


honourable friends. That's mentioned confronts every member of this house


with a clear and simple opportunity. A chance to vote for a general


election that will secure the strong and stable leadership the country


needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. It invites each one of us to


do the right thing for Britain and duvet for an election that is in our


country's national interest. -- to vote. My priority as Prime Minister


when I became so that was to present the country with strong leadership


after the long and passionately fought referendum campaign. This


covenant has delivered on those priorities. -- Government.


Despite... I will. In the time-honoured fashion, my honourable


friend has called this election in what she and I consider to be in the


national interest. It'll be a brave man or woman who votes against this


notion and therefore the fixed term Parliament act is an emperor without


clothes. It sees no purpose. Will the first line they, in our


manifesto, to scrap its? My honourable friend is trying to tempt


me down a road about the fixed Jim Parliament act does give us an


opportunity notwithstanding the fixed term element of it to have


another election at another time. -- fixed term. The house you doubt on


that. Every member of this house should vote for it. If I just


returned to, I will take one more... The Prime Minister pledged time and


time again not to call an early election. In her Easter message, she


spoke of Christian values. Gucci explain why he has such a ruse and


promulgated relationship with telling the truth? -- such a


complicated relationship. The Prime Minister can tend for herself, but


what the honourable gentleman has said is a breach. He is a


journalist. Withdraw that and use some other formulation if you must.


I am very happy. I will withdraw and reformulate. Why does the Prime


Minister have such a complicated and loose relationship with giving the


country a clear indication of her intentions? To say to the honourable


gentleman, yesterday, I gave the country a very clear indication of


my intentions and if he has a little patience, he will head the reasons


why I have done that. As I was saying, the Government has delivered


on the priorities I set out last year. Despite immediate predictions


of immediate economic and financial danger, we have recognised that of


jobs, a telegram exceeding all expectations. At the same time, we


have delivered on the mandate we were handed by the referendum result


by triggering article 50 before the end of March as he pledged to do. As


a result, Britain is leaving the EU and can be no turning back. I will


take one more. Doesn't it take some drastic to call a general election


when you are facing allegations of buying the last one? I have to say,


that intervention was not worthy of the honourable gentleman. Can the


Prime Minister just clarify for us, does he support fixed term


Parliament? We have a fixed term Parliament act that enables us to


have such. I believe that, at this point in time, it is right for us to


have this debate, have this late in this house and I believe it is right


for members of this house to vote and I will explain why, for us to


have a general election at this stage. I will not take any further


interventions for a while, this is a limited time debate and honourable


members wished to make contributions. Today, we face a new


question, how do we face, get the stability we need in your long-term


to get the right deal for Britain in Brexit negotiations and making those


the opportunities I have? I have come to the conclusion that the


answer to that question is to hold a general election now in this window


of opportunity for the negotiations begin. I believe it is in Britain's


national interest to holding election now, a general election is


the best way to look at the negotiations ahead because securing


the right deal for Britain is my priority and I'm confident we have


the plan to do it. We have set out our ambition come a deep and special


partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a


United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world. It


means... Just a minute. It means he will regain control of our own


money, laws and orders and we will be free to strike trade deals with


old friends and new partners all around the world. I give way. I'm


very grateful to the Prime Minister forgiving way and I can understand


she was to give the house the opportunity to determine whether


there should be an election. If they determine now is the time, why does


she stand in the face of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish


Government that have doubted for a referendum in Scotland's future? If


it the people here have a voice and a bit on the future of this country,


why should these godless people not be given neither as well? Now is the


tie-break general election because it will our hand in the negotiations


of Brexit. -- time for a full stop it is not the time for a Scottish


independence referendum because it will weaken, and with the Brexit


negotiations. Division and weakness with Scottish National 's. This


means that we will... I will just make a little more progress. I


believe they will of the British people, our plan from Brexit is the


right approach for Britain and it'll deliver a more secure future for our


country and a better deal for all our people. It is clear, Mr Speaker,


that other parties in this house have a different view about the


right future for our country while members of the other place have


vowed to fight the Government every step of the way. I give way.


You and in June and Horo and government a mandate to exercise


Article 50, she has done that and we are grateful for the opportunity to


strengthen the hand of the Prime Minister so she can go out there and


get the best possible deal for people who live in my constituency,


our manufacturers there and every family in Rossendale and Darwin.


You are absolutely right and we should be united in this Parliament


in wanting to get that best possible deal, not just for the country as a


whole but everybody across the whole of this country and I commend my


honourable friend for the work that he has done in Rossendale and Darwin


in supporting his constituents on this. I will give way to the Right


honourable gentleman and then make progress. I can see how it suits the


purposes of the Prime Minister to make this election all about Brexit,


but can she accept the possibility that it may just become a referendum


on her brutal cuts which have left older people without care, schools


sending begging letters to parents and a record number of homeless


people on the streets of Greater Manchester?


I have to say to the right honourable gentleman, of course, the


general election when they come into the campaign people will look at a


wide range of issues, they both looked at the fact that pensioners


are ?1250 a year better off because of the actions of the Conservative


government and look at the fact that we have 1.8 million more children in


good or outstanding schools, but the Right Honourable gentleman wants to


talk about the impact on the economy, I suggest he searches in


his memory for the time he spent as Jesus -- Chief Secretary to the


Treasury when Labour trashing the economy of this country. Mr


Speaker... I will make progress, sorry. I have set up the divisions


that has become clear on this issue, they can and will be used against


us, weakening our hand in the negotiations to come and we must not


let that happen. I believe that at this moment of enormous national


significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, not division.


That is why it is the right and responsible thing for all of us here


today to vote for a general election to meet our respective cases to the


country and then to respect the result and the mandate it provides


to give Britain the strongest possible hand in the negotiations to


come. I give way to the honourable gentleman. Thank you. In the last


election, the Conservatives did a manifesto commitment to stay in the


single market, will she be withdrawn that commitment in the new manifesto


and if she does, but that's not weaken her negotiating position as


well as removing two months from the negotiating window? We give a


commitment in the last manifesto to provide people of the United Kingdom


with a vote on whether or not to believe the European Union, we get


them that Ford, that was supported by Parliament, we give them that


thought and studio gave a clear message that they want the UK to


leave the EU, that is exactly what we are going to do. -- gave them


that port. I am grateful to the Prime Minister and I fully support


the fact that she needs a stronger hand going into the negotiations as


we leave the EU. But she not they it perverse that some people who did


not want a referendum in the first is now want a second referendum at


the very end of the procedure, just in case the British government does


not get a good deal from Brussels? Does she not believe that if we were


to have that second referendum, it would decline weaken the position of


the Prime Minister in the negotiations she has with the


European Union? My right honourable friend is absolutely right in his


description of what would happen and I think... For those who have said


they want a second referendum, that is actually denying the will of the


people because people voted for us to leave the European Union and we


will go out there and get the best possible deal. Waiting to hold the


next election in 2020 as scheduled would mean that the negotiations


would reach the most difficult and sensitive stage just as the election


was looming on the horizon. A general election will provide the


country with five years of strong and stable leadership to see us


through the negotiations and ensure we are able to go on to make a


success as a result and that is crucial, that is the test, it is not


solely about how we leave the European Union, but what we do with


the opportunity that Brexit provides that counts. Leaving the EU offers


us a unique once in a generation opportunity to shape a brighter


future for Britain. We need the leadership provided by a strong and


stable government to seize it, a government that has a plan for a


stronger Briton, a government with the determination to see it through


and the government that will take the right long-term decisions that


will deliver a more secure future for Britain. The Conservative Party


I read is determined to be that government. I will give way. If the


Prime Minister at all concerned that having type best to build up a


reputation for political integrity, both as Home Secretary and Prime


Minister, she is now seen after all the denials there will be at a snap


election, simply as a political opportunist? I have not denied the


fact that when I came in to this rule as Prime Minister, I was clear


that what the country needed was stability and they also needed a


government that was going to show that it would deliver on the vote


people had taken any referendum on leaving the EU. We have provided


that over the last nine months, now it is clear to me that if we are


going to have the strongest possible hand in negotiation, we should have


an election now. As I have just said, leaving the election to 2020


would mean that we would be coming to the most sensitive and critical


part of the negotiations in the run-up


to a general election, and that would be in the interest of not one.


Mr Speaker, I said that the Conservative Party that I beat the


terms to be that government that has the determination to see through its


plan for a stronger Briton, we are determined to provide that


leadership, determined to bring stability to the UK for the


long-term and that is what this election will be about. Leadership


and stability. I will give way. Does the Prime Minister appreciates


decisiveness and does she agree that voting yes in this motion signifies


strength, whereas abstaining is a symbol of weakness?


I have to say to my honourable friend that I think absolutely


voting yes it a sign of strength. I would say a little more about


abstaining, anyone who abstained and things we should not have a general


election presumably as endorsing the record of the Tory government. I am


grateful. Would she agreed with Lord Hill who was commissioner in Europe


when asked in front of the foreign affairs committee what the best


strategy for negotiation is, his response is that we must come


together because our into lockers will be watching this place and


exploit any weakness in our political system? My honourable


friend is absolutely right and I am grateful to him for reminding us


what with his experience Lord Hill said in relation to this issue. It


is important that we come together and do not show the divisions that


have been suggested in the past and we are able to show a strong mandate


for a plan for Brexit and for making a success of that. We are determined


to bring stability to the UK in the long-term and that is what this


election will be about, leadership and stability. And the decision


facing the country will be clear. I will be campaigning for strong and


reliable leadership and I will ask for the support of the public to


continue to deliver my plan for a stronger Briton to be the country to


the next five years and to give the country the certainty and stability


that we need. I will give way to the honourable lady. Thank you, Mr


Speaker. Thank you for giving way. On the timetable before yesterday,


the Prime Minister would have concluded her negotiation by 2019,


we would have gone into the election in 2020 one you later, talking about


the Prime Minister's deal. That would have given the country and


hardwood as to what they would have been voting for. The Prime Minister


is asking the country to strengthen her hand, what she is actually


doing, but she not agree, is asking the country to vote for a blank


cheque? I am not asking the country to write a blank cheque, we have


been very clear in terms of what they intend for the outcome of the


negotiations and I set that out in my speech in January at Lancaster


House, it has been set out in the article says the letter when it


giggled Article 50 and submitted that to the president of the


European Council as well as White Paper. Mr Speaker, I tell the House,


the House, the choice before us today is clear, I have made my


choice, it is to do something that runs through the brains of my party


more than any other, to trust the people, so let us what to do that


today, let us lay out our plans for Brexit, let us put forward the plans


for the future of this great country and put our faith in the hands of


the people and then let the people decide. The question is that there


shall be an early parliamentary general election. Mr Jeremy Corbyn.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. We welcome the opportunity of a general


election because it gives the British people the chance to vote


for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority


first. The Prime Minister has said that she only recently and


reluctantly decided to go for a snap election. Just four weeks ago the


Prime minister's spokesperson said, "There is not going to be able early


general election. Was good how can any voter trust what the Prime


Minister says? Britain is being held back, held back by our government,


the Prime Minister approximately strong economy, but the truth is


that most people are worse off than they were when the Conservatives


came to power is seven years ago. The election gives the British


people the chance to change direction. This election is about


her government's fielder to rebuild the economy and living standards for


the majority. It is about the crisis are government has plunged her


national health service into, the cuts to our children's schools which


will limit the chances of every child in Britain. 4 million of whom


now live in poverty. A chant of an alternative to raise living


standards as more and more people do not have security in their work or


in their housing. Pars-mac a chance of an alternative.


I will give way to my friend, the member for Stoke-on-Trent. Mr Gareth


Snell. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker and


I will try not to take it personally that having arrived so early the


Prime Minister felt desperate to get rid of me that she is calling an


election. What I would say to my honourable friend, with my


honourable friend agreed that the Prime Minister, in calling this


election, essentially is saying that she does not have confidence and our


own government to deliver a Brexit deal for Britain? Only she could


secure the votes of myself and my only friend is to table a motion of


no-confidence in her own government which I would vote for. I thank my


friend for that intervention, I congratulate him on his election to


this House and I congratulate him on his work and I agree with him, I


have no confidence in this government either.


In the interests of unity in Stoke-on-Trent, what else can I do?


There are five towns, don't forget. Six. I'm grateful to my friend, he


highlighted the Prime Minister dithered over whether she wanted an


election and always said she didn't want one, but the reality is that


what has focused on mine is the fact she might lose some of her


backbenchers if the CPS have their way. -- focused her mind. The timing


of the election and the role of the CPS is extremely interesting in this


and it is interesting the Prime Minister did not mention it in her


contribution. I gave way to the gentleman here. I most grateful. He


talks about trust in leaders, what trust can the public but in a leader


who has no confidence from his parliamentary colleagues and is in


place by people who are not in parliament but from people who are


outside? I was elected leader of my party by 300,000 votes and I don't


know how many people voted for the Prime Minister to be leader of her


party. I suspect it was actually none whatsoever. To the 6 million


people working in jobs that pay less than the living wage I simply say


this, it doesn't have to be like this. Because Labour believes that


every job should pay a wage you can live on and every worker should have


decent rights at work. To the millions of people who can't afford


a home of their own, or have spent years waiting for a council home,


this is your chance to vote for the home your family deserves. Because


we believe a housing policy should provide homes for everyone and not


investment opportunities for a few. To the millions of small businesses,


fed up with red tape of quarterly reporting and hikes in business


rates and broken promises on national insurance contributions,


this is your chance to vote for a government that invests and that


supports wealth creators, not just the wealth extractors. The Prime


Minister says she has called the election so the government can


negotiate Brexit, we had a referendum that established that


mandate. Parliament has voted to accept that result. There is no


negotiating, but instead of getting negotiating, but instead of getting


on with the job, she has pegged herself as the prisoner of the Lib


Dems, who have threatened to grind government to a standstill. There


are nine of them and they have managed to vote three different ways


on Article 50. So it is obviously a very serious threat indeed. The


Tories want to use Brexit to turn us into a low-wage tax haven. Labour


will use Brexit to invest in every part of this country and to create a


high wage, high skill economy, in which everyone shares the rewards.


The Prime Minister also says this campaign will be about leadership.


So let's have a head-to-head TV debate about the future of our


country, why has she rejected that request? Labour... Mr Speaker,


Labour offers a better future, we want richer lives for everyone, not


the country run for the rich. Order, order. Giving way to the right


honourable gentleman. Order! Order. Order! I've known the right


honourable gentleman for more than 30 years, you will not take it


personally. He has completed his speech and now he would like to


raise his point. On a point of order, is that it? LAUGHTER


It's very generous of the right honourable gentleman to see to


invest me with additional powers but the question of whether it is it as


he put it is not a matter for me. And the right honourable gentleman


has completed his contribution. Sir Desmond Swiryn.


I accept entirely the logic that was laid out by my right honourable


friend at her post-statement yesterday in Downing Street, and


what I can say is that I reached that conclusion somewhat earlier.


However I just did not believe it was possible to deliver. Indeed I


found myself discombobulated by a reversal in government policy for


the second time in a few weeks. Having told the readers of the


Forest Journal in terms that there was no question of there being an


early general election, because it was not in the Prime Minister's gift


to deliver it, because of the fixed term act. That decision lies with a


majority of two thirds of the members of the House of Commons, and


as I told them with absolute confidence, turkeys will not vote


for Christmas. I congratulate my right honourable friend for having


achieved the impossible and secured the fact that today those turkeys


will indeed vote for that. The reason why I reached the opinion


that I did, that an election was necessary was firstly that, during


the passage and the debate on the Article 50 Bill, member after member


opposite got up and announced their recantation, that notwithstanding


having voted to remain, they were now going to abide by the will of


their constituents. Yet at every opportunity they cheered to the


rafters those few who spoke out and said they remained with the 48% and


believed that so proceeding as events unfolded that 48% would


become a majority. They pursued a strategy of desperation. A strategy


of how an arm, something might turn up, well, that something was the


long promised economic shock or whatever -- of Hang on. That


strategy of Hang on requires an essential ingredient, delay, and


that was the tactic they clearly pursued and they promised that they


would be more. Now, with respect to the other place, the other place is


not bound currently in respect of the government's policy by these


Salisbury Convention, and my friend for North Norfolk and I were invited


to debate in front of a city audience recently the motion that


the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. Two peers, highly respected


peers, Lord Butler, former Cabinet sector, Lord Leicester, one of our


human rights lawyers, they argued the case that we would not leave the


European Union because they were in a position to prevent it and would


do so. It is essential therefore, I believe, that the policy that the


Prime Minister has announced of pursuing a general election and


securing a mandate in this House and a mandate to bind the other house in


respect of the Salisbury convention is absolutely necessary. I'm


confident that she will achieve that majority because I'm confident that


she will be backed by the overwhelming majority of this nation


who, as she will know, I voted for every other possible candidate for


the leadership of the Tory party last year in order to avoid her


becoming the leader. I have to tell her that I have become her greatest


fan. CHEERING And as my constituents recognise and


tell me continually, she is doing magnificently and long may she


continue to do so. Mr Angus Robertson. The Prime Minister has


said she wants unity and she has said that she wants an end to


division and she intends to do that by crushing opposition. With


political opponents described as saboteurs, something I invited her


earlier to take a distance from but she was not prepared. This is not a


vision of or an understanding of mainstream democracy that I share


with the Prime Minister. And for months we have heard from her that


now is not the time before the public to vote, that no one wants it


that it is important to get on with the day job. We have been told that


the Prime Minister needs to concentrate all of her time on


Brexit and that nothing, nothing, should get in the way, but now, as


we have learned in the last 24 hours, all of that was in direct


trick. And there are two key reasons why there is going to be a general


election -- empty rhetoric. The first is politically expedient, is


about the unelectable state of the Labour Party, and that is a reason


of political expediency to hold an election. It is about not wanting to


repeat the political error that Gordon Brown made, the Prime


Minister wants to receive her own electoral mandate and crush


political opposition in England. The second reason for holding an early


general election is that it has finally dawned on the UK Government


that the Brexit negotiations are going to be very difficult and the


reality of the hard Brexit that the Prime Minister is pursuing have not


fully dawned on the public. As one commentator wrote... If I can have a


moment, as one commentator wrote today, the EU is not going to roll


over and give the UK free and frictionless access to the single


market, and the Prime Minister is getting the vote in before the


reality of Brexit hits home. While she thinks she can get away with all


of this against the Labour Party in England but she will not come she


will not get away with this in Scotland. On the subject of hard


Brexit, does he agree that his incumbent on those who are


advocating it to set out very clearly what the impact on jobs is


going to be for us coming out of the single market and the customs union?


That would be an opportunity in a That would be an opportunity in a


normal general election campaign where party leaders debate the


issues on their record but there has been an interesting development


since the debate. I'd notice colleagues looking at their mobile


phones, because ITV has confirmed there will be a leaders debate.


There are a number of other party leaders in the chamber. I'm looking


at the Leader of the Opposition. Izzy intending to take part in the


debate? I suspect he probably will -- is he intending for them the


leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Green party. It is


unsustainable in the 21st century in the multimedia age to go to the


country and not to debate the leaders of the main political


parties. The notion that the UK Prime Minister might be empty


chaired because she is not prepared to stand up for heart arguments is


just not sustainable. Maybe she would wish that the honourable


gentleman who is seeking to intervene might take her place


instead. As I said yesterday, I hope that the Prime Minister does go


head-to-head with the leaders of other parties. It is quite simple,


she would floor them all. No, she wouldn't. She would not managed that


with Nicola Sturgeon. But I am surprised and I welcome what the


honourable gentleman had to say any encouragement. Because I think the


public deserves a debate during the election campaign and I think the


Prime Minister should have some more confidence in herself. I think she


should be prepared to address the country and to debate the idea is


that all the political parties across the UK have. But we have


already learned of course in Scotland that the Prime Minister is


prepared to ignore the mandate and wishes of the Scottish electorate.


Of the Scottish Parliament. And the Scottish Government. So why would


anyone in Scotland... I need to make some progress, so why would anyone


in Scotland vote for such a distant respectful -- disrespectful party


and Prime Minister? The Prime Minister promised that she would


have a unified approach with all the devolved governments, an agreement,


before triggering Brexit, but she didn't. She broke her word. And as


we have learned in recent weeks, in connection with the appalling


clause, the one thing that the Scottish Tories don't like talking


about is Tory policy. But this election will highlight the dangers


to Scotland of unfettered Tory Westminster government. We live in


one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, but the Tories


want to make it even more unfair. Experts say that their policies will


cause the largest increase in inequality since Margaret Thatcher.


Does he agree with me that if this election is as the Prime Minister


says is about a more secure future for this country, if it is an


election or such national significance, we should have an


urgent change in the law to give Britain's 1.5 million 16-year-old


and 17-year-olds a say in deciding their own future on the 8th of June.


As someone who gave his maiden speech on in franchising


16-year-olds and 17-year-olds, I totally agree. Some young people


have been given the vote in some referenda but yet denied it in


others, that is wrong. He will be aware that the Supreme Court made it


abundantly clear and all the judges decided on a unanimous basis that


issues concerning Brexit negotiations should be determined by


this House which represent the whole of the UK and that this was not an


issue to be decided by any of the devolved institutions. Which bit of


that is the right honourable gentleman have a problem with


understanding? The thing I have a difficulty understanding is the


commitment that the Prime Minister gave, she gave it when she came to


Edinburgh, it was on the front page of the House journal of the House


Daily Telegraph and she said she wanted a seat UK-wide abroad and


agreement. The honourable gentleman might want to rewrite history but


the Prime Minister gave an agreement to reach an agreement and she did


not do that. Mr Speaker, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was


supposed to stop political parties abusing their position and putting


party before country. Today, the Tories are going to do just that and


sadly, the Labour Party is going to vote with the Tories and make life


easy for them. We of these benches will not vote with the Tories, but


given the arrow keys that the party is going to be voting with the


Tories, there will be a general election and boy, we look forward to


that. -- given their realities. Because, in Scotland, we... Mr


Morris, normally you have a very mild manner, you are a very


restrained individual. But you have become overexcited. Calm yourself,


take some sort of soothing medicine, it will have a good impact! In


Scotland, the general election will be a two horse race, a straight


fight between the SNP and the Tories, do I think that mainstream


regardless of whether they voted to Leave or Remain will vote for a hard


Tory Brexit? I do not believe that will be the case. While the board


for more cuts to public services? I do not think so. While they vote for


a party that is undermining the mandate given by the voters any


Scottish general election? For people in Scotland to determine


their own future? No, I do not. We of these benches, will work hard for


every vote in every seat in Scotland and Mr Speaker, we look forward to


defeating the Tories in this general election. Order, there are at least


ten people wanting to speak, we have less than one hour, members can do


the arithmetic for themselves and it would be appreciated if each member


helps other members with their contributions accordingly. Thank


you, Mr Speaker. I welcome the courage that the Prime Minister has


shown in taking this question to the public. Who is that they are


expecting to lead the country for the next five years? I have to tell


you, having followed the last week I can assure the public it will not be


the right honourable gentleman for Moray. I think the public will have


to think long and hard because Brexit is happening, this is not


about... This is very time-limited, everyone has to have the time to


speak. This is not about us in here, this is about delivering the future


for the British public, future that they deserve, delivering the best


possible outcome for this country as we leave the European Union. And I


know that when we have that election on the 8th of June, there will be


individual members here who may well find themselves in difficulties with


their constituency, for whatever reasons they have expressed about


the dealership. I am proud to be standing behind a Prime Minister who


has made it brutally clear that this is not about making gains in this


place, this is about delivering a Brexit that is the good of the


European... Well, it is for the good of the European Union as well, I


have to say, getting our relationship with the European Union


in the future will be hugely important, but this is going to be a


question that will be posed in constituencies of the leaders that


could be the Prime Minister, that is what they are going to ask the


country. Does this country believe that the leader for Islington North


could lead this country? I suspect a large number of his colleagues on


his own backbenchers would say no, and I would suggest that the


businesses in my constituency would equally say no. Does the leader...


Sorry, Westmorland and Lonsdale, whose voting record and attendance


in this House, along with his colleagues, is generally pretty low,


there were too much here today, none to vote on the Budget yesterday,


does he really believe that he can lead this country, I suggest no. I


would suggest that the British public, when they are looking who to


vote for on the 8th of June will look forward with confidence to a


Prime Minister with an increased mandate to take us through to the


next five years and I am delighted that she is giving this opportunity


to the country, to examine our record in Saint old since 2010, 70


3% youth unemployment, a drop. An extra... It is interesting for the


third placed Lib Dems in my constituency who I must tell you, I


hear nothing from in the House defending St Albans, it is


surprising, Mr Speaker that they are more interested in campaigning and


less interested in running the country. This party, our government,


has taken a strong stance and in St Albans, as I have said, there has


been a two thirds reduction in youth unemployment since 2010. 76%


increase in young people going into apprenticeships. Those of the


records we will put to the public. Brexit is happening, we are going to


make the best of it and I believe our Prime Minister will not have to


suffer 100 and elected Liberal Democrat in the other place and nine


in this place are rarely turn up, trying to target the tail of this


Prime Minister. We need to make the future secure... I will finish my


remarks. We must make the future secure for our young people and our


young families and begin playing in this place is a disservice to the


British public who are probably fed up having elections anyway, but let


us get on and get a mandate for our Prime Minister. Please, to the


honourable lady, the public do not respect the fact that people yell


from the backbenches. She can speak up for her own leader in... Her own


leader and her own manifesto and her own party and what she believes her


own leader for Islington North that he will be the man to take the


country through and the next five years. I cannot share her confidence


but she always the highest belief in his abilities. I know that this


government which has delivered so much already and has so much more to


deliver has a resonance with the British public when you look at what


is on offer from the other parties that are divided, wrangling,


scaremongering and in denial of Brexit. This government will give


the best deal for all of our businesses and all of our


constituencies. Tim Farron. Appropriate time to be


called. I notice that the former Prime Minister, David Cameron,


earlier welcoming the Prime minister's decision to call an early


election. Given that we are in this mess in one sense as a country


because he put party before country calling the referendum when he did,


it is hardly surprising that the Prime Minister should follow him and


indeed choose to put party before country once again. Let us remember


from the moment that she took of this that the Prime Minister has


ignored the closeness of the referendum vote, has pursued the


hardest form of Brexit, driving division instead of cohesion. She


has ignored the British people, British businesses, British public


sector and the National Health Service, and now, what is now


clearly another act of putting 1's party before 1's country, she has


chosen an early election, let us not by this nonsense because that you


need a mandate to deliver Brexit, the Labour Party has given her a


mandate to deliver Brexit, she is acting upon a narrow majority of the


referendum in 2016, not for the moment... Let us all be very clear


and honest. She has chosen, she has chosen this election because she


looked across the dispatch box and could not resist the temptation of


doing the political equivalent of taking candy from a baby and facing


a Labour Party in a general election. She expects... She expects


a coronation and not a contest, and that is why the Liberal Democrats


relish the challenge of a general election. I will give way to my


neighbour. I am very grateful for him giving way. Just about that


coronation, will he rule out a coalition with the Conservatives?


The problem we face in this country is that the Prime Minister is


running on expectation. We do not need a coalition with anyone. The


Prime Minister... In good time. The Prime Minister will call the general


election in order to take advantage of what she thinks is a clear


opportunity for a majority of 100 or more. I have accepted the


gentleman's intervention. What is the answer? It is very clear that


we're not talking about balance, the Prime Minister takes the view that


in calling this election, it is an opportunity for her to have a 100


seat majority, an opportunity to drive through not just a hard


Brexit, a deeper agenda to slim down the NHS, to... Order! Rather


disorderly atmosphere. The right honourable gentleman is undertaking


an apprenticeship to become a statesman but he has several models


and some years ago. He must calm himself. Mr Farron. To answer the


hackles of my friend of many years, the reality is that we are not


looking at a balanced parliament, the Prime Minister... I think I have


given you your answer. The Prime Minister has clearly caught the


selection on the understanding that she can get lots of numbers and give


herself a majority to allow her to... And not for the time being,


thank you. To allow herself to deliver the hardest form of Brexit


to shrink the NHS, to undermine the support for integration and to take


us out of the single market. If you want to avoid a hard Brexit, if you


want to take Britain in the single market, if you want a Briton that


has a decent opposition, a decent opposition, then only the Lib Dems


will give you that. Can I just point out? There is only one route, Mr


Speaker, the Prime Minister losing this general election and it is the


Lib Dems. I am happy to explain why that might be the case, there is not


that much time, let me move on, please. Let me explain that the only


route through which Theresa May, the Prime Minister, could lose her


majority... Unless my friends on the SNP benches are about to launch a


aggressive foreign policy, they can only do so much. Not even the Labour


Party believes it will gain seats at this general election. The SNP can


only possibly gain one more seat than they already have. So the only


way to stop a Tory majority is the growth and revival of the Lib Dems.


The government has already stated that it will not outline its


negotiating stance any further than the dab rhetoric we have already


seen. We have said that that is not good enough. If they will not tell


us what they are pursuing, they must instead trust the people with their


say on the final deal. The Prime Minister has already confirmed that


she will not do any TV debates, referring to bash Machiavellian to


hide behind the media that supports than face the public any TV debate.


I will give way. I think you might have misheard the straightforward


question, it is being afraid, do not be afraid, will you rule out a


coalition with the Tories, yes or no? The outcome of this general


election is up -- uncertain and in the days and weeks to come we will


no doubt talk about what will happen... Honourable gentleman


below, you as well, you have to be patient, your patience will be


rewarded. I don't think he gave a straight


answer to that question, so let's try another question. Many of his


viewers will be asked about over the next seven weeks and he was asked


one question which he refused to give an answer to. Does he think


that being gay is a sin? I do not. I do not. I am very proud to have gone


through the lobby behind, with the Liberal Democrats equalled gay


marriage and equal marriage, -- brought about gay marriage and equal


marriage, but there is more to be done. If we campaign for a open and


tolerant society, we need to make sure we are not complacent about


LGBT rights, anywhere in the world, including what is going on in


Chechnya at the moment. Let me say this. I won't. Let's move on and


finish. I'm flattered so many people want to know my views, and I will


put myself up for a debate with others, even if the Prime Minister


doesn't. The reality is, what we had in the referendum last June was a


vote to start the process and giving the Prime Minister a mandate to


negotiate Brexit but what was not given was a mandate to give the


Prime Minister the right to enact any old deal at the end of the


process. What the Prime Minister is asking for now is a blank cheque to


allow the British people to put up with whatever stitch up she and the


Brussels bureaucrats bring together over the next few years, that is not


democracy. An election which takes place on the 8th of June will not


decide the outcome, it will be about imposing on the British people a


deal that absolutely nobody voted for. Yes, the Liberal Democrats


welcome this opportunity to show the British people that there is another


way, that the values of tolerance and openness and fairness can help


build a vibrant and successful community across the UK and beyond,


and the government has made it clear that this is not the Britain that


they believe in. They have chosen isolation over calibration, meanness


over fairness, and I believe in a better Britain and that is why we


will support this motion -- over cooperation. Order. On account of


the level of interest and given that there are only 37 minutes to go I


will impose a three-minute limit on backbench speeches. I can take up


less time. It was a great honour to follow the leader of the Liberal


Democrats. I would've hoped he would have rolled coming into us in a


coalition. -- ruled out. There is no chance that we would want you, sir,


in our coalition. Or any government. Today the party politics is in full


swing, but really, this is a good day for Parliament. This is another


slight step towards Parliamentary democracy rather than dictate by the


executive. The Prime Minister has not called a general election, it is


this House that will decide whether there will be a general election,


and if I thought for one moment that this election had been called for


party political reasons to go early to the country, as happened with


previous governments, previous governments chose the moment ago for


political advantage and it gave great power to the executive.


Strange number of circumstances have come together, we have had a change


in the Prime Minister and not only a change in the Prime Minister, but


the changing all senior ministers. We have moved from a government that


was anti-Brexit to pro Brexit, and that is why I will cast my vote


today in support of the government motion. It is up to every member in


this House to make that decision. I think that proves that the fixed


Parliament act is working and I absolutely, if members disagree,


they can vote against... Thanks giving way. He said it is Parliament


that will decide but the Prime Minister went on television


yesterday declaring across the world that they would be a general


election. If Parliament does not give her the two thirds, should the


Prime Minister resign after such a public humiliation? That is the


advantage of the Parliament act. If the House does not agree to a


general election it won't happen, and the government will continue in


office. Opposition members that don't want a general election will


be very strange creatures indeed. But also opposition members that sit


on their hands and don't vote will be regarded as important members of


Parliament. I hope the gentlemen will make his mind up and cast his


vote one way or the other. Isn't that why the fixed term Parliament


act can never work because no opposition can sensibly say that


they prefer a government they are opposed to to continue in office


rather than have a chance to defeating it? Therefore be fixed


term Parliament act should go. Very rarely that I disagree with you, but


I think it is proved today that it is working. I believe we will have


the required majority, but I understand that if nobody objects


and you decide the matter on the voices, it in fact is carried and we


don't have two actually have two thirds which I think is a strange


anomaly but I hope somebody will set -- will shout no and we will


actually get it. I would never dream of doing anything other than that. I


just think of despite the party politics, this is a great day for


Parliament and is a small step forward in Parliamentary democracy.


Mr Nigel Dodds. There are three issues I would like to address in


the short time available, the first is that this election is happening


in the midst of political discussions in Northern Ireland


about the formation of an executive which is unfortunate. As far as our


party is concerned we respond positively to the request for


discussions to continue in Northern Ireland and we have made it very


clear along with the STL P and the Ulster Unionist Party we are ready


to form an executive in Northern Ireland -- S DLP. We will be looking


at health education funding and public services, we believe they are


far more important than some of the issues which are said to divide us.


We don't need prolonged negotiation. The second thing, in terms of


Brexit, Northern Ireland's position is different from other parts of the


UK and that has been made clear in the government's paper that it has


set out, it has recognised the special circumstances and we believe


it is imperative that Northern Ireland's voice is heard very


strongly. That is why it is such a strategy that Sinn Fein has walked


away from the executive and collapsed the assembly -- such a


tragedy for them boycotts this place and then demands a special stages


which has been rejected by the Irish Republic, the European Union and


even the European Parliament when it set out its negotiating position.


They want, and we agree with special arrangement, which recognises


special circle sciences of Northern Ireland, so Mr Speaker, it is


essential and the election is going to happen -- special circumstances.


There's a clear choice between a party which has walked away and


abandoned its responsibilities and a party which will enter in Northern


Ireland and contributes and raises its voice and stands up for Northern


Ireland. The final thing I want to say, on the big issue about going


forward in terms of this country, this election will provide clarity


and it will provide clarity on the union, that really matters, the


union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and on


that issue again the people of Northern Ireland will have a clear


choice, they will have a clear choice as to whether or not they


will want to rally round and say very firmly that they want Northern


Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, or whether they want to go


down the route presented by Sinn Fein which is a Marxist Leninist


concept of a republic which has been rejected even by most people who


accept their nationalism, but reject what they stand for in terms of


their economic outlook and all the rest of it. The only way to support


the union is by rallying behind the Democratic Unionist Party on the 8th


of June. The Prime Minister presents herself as the straight sort of


person, like Tony Blair. She is a former Home Secretary, and she knows


full well the value of evidence as it is proved, so firstly, she was


initially in favour of leaving the European Union and on this


honourable stance even if I disagree with, and then she was in favour of


remaining the European Union, is something of a stinking Violet in


her support, and now she is keen on leaving. She was opposed to having


an early general election, it would be a distraction, she said. When she


had important international negotiations to conclude, but now


she is determined that a general election we must have. Against the


European Union, for the European Union, and then against again,


against holding a general election and now determined to hold a general


election. The record is about as straight as the legendary European


Union banana. The Prime Minister today repeatedly says she wants the


early election to produce a larger Tory majority, dusty member agree


that the Prime Minister is treating the electorate of the United Kingdom


with contempt because she assumes the electorate will result in a


larger Tory majority? -- does remember. I have no crystal ball and


I know the disarray in the party to my right, and who knows what the


outcome will be, but I am suspicious of the Prime Minister's motives and


her reasoning. She says a general election would enhance the status of


the 27, for example, and I can't see how that might be the case. To turn


briefly to what I do think the Prime Minister's motives are, and I think


they are pretty clear, they are in fact pretty straight. It is not only


about the destruction of the Labour Party as a credible opposition over


the next decade, although I'm afraid they are doing an effective


demolition job on themselves without her help, and it is not only about


raising a challenge to my friends in Scotland, although I think in this


case her case is already lost. No, this election is about seeing off


not her opponents on this side of the house, but her enemies behind


her. As ever with the Tories, desperate disunity papered over when


it suits. My party Plaid Cymru welcomes the opportunity that this


election presents to the people of Wales and we welcome the opportunity


to change our course in the long-term away from Labour's


government in Cardiff and decentralised government in London,


cutting our own path towards economic regeneration and


prosperity, social justice and the proper confidence plays for Wales in


the world. -- confident place. The Prime Minister wants a general


election there would be less controversy. At every opportunity,


she herself or those who spoke for the Prime Minister denied there was


going to be a general election. Where was the general election, they


were asked, and the answer was clear, 2020. There is no great


public demand for a general election. How many members have


received in the last few weeks or days letters or e-mails asking for a


general election? Hands up. It is absolutely clear there has been no


such demand. The reason given by the Prime Minister for a general


election, Brexit, it is feeble, a flimsy excuse, and not taken in by


anyone. My honourable friend said the Government shouldn't be


complacent about a large majority. Hopefully they will not receive one.


When you consider the harm done to those in need when this government


has had a small majority, imagine what would happen if there was a


large Tory majority. A nightmare, absolute nightmare for those who we


represent. Millions of people in this country that need the


Government to protect them and not harm them and that is not going to


come from a Tory government with a small or large majority. I was here


during the Tory government of the 1980s and I saw the harm that was


done to my constituents and so many others. This motion before us is


murky, completely opportunistic, and it reflects badly on the Prime


Minister. I will conclude with these words. Many people are cynical about


politics in this country and unfortunately that is a trend which


has increased. I do say that this motion and general election which is


coming, purely for opportunist reasons, will increase the cynical


viewing and that is damaging to the Democratic process. I will be voting


against the motion today because I think it is totally unnecessary and


I say that as somebody who voted Leave on the 23rd and since then has


had a grudging respect for the way the Prime Minister has conducted


herself since she took over. However, the justification which she


has given for having a general election is quite frankly


disingenuous. To suggest she needs a mandate to negotiate Brexit is just


ridiculous. She was given that mandate on the 24th of June by a


majority of the British people. It is up to her now to carry that out.


If she wishes to have another election at the end of the process


or to have another referendum then so be it but to justify it now is


just, as my honourable colleague said, purely opportunistic.


Furthermore, she says she needs a larger majority because her business


of the House is likely to be disrupted by opposition parties or


by the House of Lords. Well, she ought to look back to what happened


when the Wilson government was in power train 64 and 66. He had a


majority of three. The Callaghan government in the 70s governed for


five years without any majority and if she is fearful of what could


happen from the House of Lords she should do exactly what Tories have


done in the past and flood the place with her own people to ensure she


gets her way. There is no justification for arguing that she


needs to have a larger majority in order to get business of the House


through. Furthermore, the quite frankly arrogant view that the


electorate should concentrate purely and simply on one narrow issue is


treating the electorate with contempt. I can only speak for my


constituents but when they consider the issues they are going to be


asking the questions why is every school in my constituency losing out


under the new funding formula? Why is the City Council having to make


horrendous cuts because the Government have cut the support


grant? Why are waiting times increasing at hospitals? There are


just not enough staff. Why are more hard-working families having... ? I


will. I thank my honourable friend forgiving way. I wanted to point out


that in his questioning about why things were happening in his


constituency, I wondered if you might address why my children's


school in his constituency they are having 32 children in a class. I


don't remember that happening under a Labour government. I thank her and


she is right. Under a Labour government we had educational


programmes like building schools for the future, we had sure start


centres, under this government the programme was stopped and secondly


sure start centres are being closed left, right and centre. My


constituents will ask the questions. Why are more and more hard-working


families being forced into the humiliation of using food banks


because they do not have enough money at the end of the week to feed


and clothe their families? Why our energy consumers paying


ever-increasing prices? While the energy utility firms are ripping


them off in the name of competition. Why are young people, married and


unmarried, unable to acquire proper housing for themselves and very


often have to stay with their in-laws. These views will be echoed


throughout the country. There is no justification for this election and


I will certainly be opposing it. I will be supporting the motion


because I think as one of the members opposite said it seems


rather bizarre that the opposition should say we want to keep a Tory


government in power. It makes no sense. We have to put our case to


the British people and see what happens. We have arrived at a


position today which I always thought was inevitable, this was


bound to happen. I never believed the stuff about no election. There


is a dynamic at work which has resulted in this decision being


almost inevitable. Given he is going to support the Government, is he


then confident we will not have a Tory government returning


post-election with two more years? What does he say is going to happen?


To do what ever you can to get rid of a Tory government as sinners you


can. It might not work but it is up to the British people in an


election. It is their choice. The reason it is inevitable position, I


want to pay a minor tribute to Mr David Cameron, late of this parish.


When the history of this country in the early part of the 20th century


-- 21st-century comes to be written, he will have one of the most


prominent roles, not a glorious tribute but decisions that he took


well over time damage this country immensely. I remember serving on the


original EU Referendum Bill, named after the member from Stockton


South. I remember one evening the then Prime Minister David Cameron


came into the committee room, a six committee room seven or eight, and


sat in the public gallery simply to pay obeisance to the heart


right-wingers from the Tory party who were on that bill. I have never


seen or heard of a Prime Minister facing such ignominy. Of course, he


gave them no guarantee of a referendum in or out. He didn't say


he was come to renegotiate terms and then put that to them, he was gone


to renegotiate and then have an in/ out referendum. When I say he will


go down as one of the most damaging prime ministers, he also put in


jeopardy the whole future of the UK, not just as a trading nation, our


relationship with the EU, but the future of Scotland as part of the


UK, and again it was he who granted the referendum in the first place


which set the dynamic in play which destroyed the Labour Party in


Scotland and gave the SNP the prominent role that they enjoy


today. He has also put in jeopardy our relationship with the Republic


of Ireland and also, as the honourable gentleman from the DUP


said earlier, put at risk the very stability of Northern Ireland as an


entity, as part of the UK. All these things add up and the damage done


will be with us for decades and the people who will pay the greatest


price will be the young people, the next generation and those who come


after. It has permanently damaged this country. I will vote for the


general election. I don't think it will change anything. I think the


essential landscape will remain much the same after the election as it is


now and it will all follow from the calamitous decision of last June to


leave the EU. I can understand certain political reasons. There is


sanctuary and hypocrisy today. Politics is not science or art or


religion. People do things for their own advantage and every Prime


Minister has always done that. I didn't intend to speak in this


debate but in response to a question posed by the honourable member from


Walsall North. I have received e-mails from constituents over the


last few weeks asking me to encourage the Prime Minister to call


a general election and go to the country once again. He seems to be


implying that nobody in the country was asking for this but there were


members of my constituency who were asking me to do that. When the Prime


Minister made the announcement yesterday, initially I was in shock


because, like my right honourable friend, the member for new Forest, I


was telling people there was no chance of the general election. I


wasn't quite as bold as to put it in the local paper but verbally and in


e-mails I was telling people I didn't think it would happen. Having


listened to the Prime Minister's reasons, I believe it is the right


thing for the country. We obtain a new mandate to go into the


negotiations to leave the EU and put the Prime Minister and others who


will negotiate in the strongest possible position in those


negotiations. I am also happy to stand on this government's record of


delivering for this country. It is not just about the Brexit


negotiations, it is about this government which has delivered


growth, one of the best performing economies in the world, record


numbers of jobs, great investment in the NHS, and I am proud to go to the


country and let us -- and say let us continue delivering what our country


needs and putting us in the strongest position. One final point.


If the Conservative Party is returned into government with a


substantially reduced majority I say to the leader of the Lib Dems will


he accept it is the will of the British people that they have


returned to the Conservative Party with a clear mandate to press on and


take us out of the EU on the Prime Minister has set out and drop this


opposition and gameplaying to thwart the democratic will of the British


people? As someone who believes that the Prime Minister has presented the


case for this election on an entirely false premise I will also


be voting against a motion today. I wasn't asking for an election last


week or the week before, I was arguing in the context of the talks


in Northern Ireland that any move for an election in future wouldn't


help the context of those negotiations. My mind has not


changed so why should I pretend it has. I will not be goaded into


voting differently because of the Prime Minister's actions and


stances. She has accused others of playing games in this Parliament.


Essentially our argument is that she has no confidence in parliament so


she has a bizarre situation where we had a referendum on taking back


sovereignty and the Prime Minister announces she has no confidence in


parliament. She doesn't trust opposition parties and confers on


them powers to block. If members of the Tory benches are concerned about


the House of Lords then move to abolish it or have coherent reform


but stop using them as props. The Prime Minister is pretending she


needs the election now so she has a strong hand in the short term


whereas we really know she is after a free hand in the longer term in


terms of the wriggle room around periods of adjustment.


Does my friend appreciate that the nearest parallel to what is


happening now in this campaign for an election is the... Order, order.


Please faced the House. You were busy talking. I was being spoken to


by an illustrious member of the opposition whips office. The nearest


parallel is the election of 1974 when Ted Heath, the then Prime


Minister, decided on a very narrow argument that the miners were on


strike and it would be about who runs the country. And most general


elections are about a lot of things. This one was about a specific thing,


and can I say, what happened in effect was that the Labour Party


finished up with the largest number of seats and the Queen said to Ted


Heath, and the Liberals ran away. I appreciate that intervention and I


will also make the point that if we are going to bring in comparisons


with that election and 1974, an on fuzzing casualties that election was


the Sunningdale agreement, the power-sharing executive that had


been formed out of the 1973 executive -- an another casualties.


And of course this election has been called without regard to the fact


that there are sensitive negotiations going on in Northern


Ireland and it is hard to see how this general election won't have an


impact on those negotiations, which will cull of parties to some of the


issues they are dealing with -- which will colour the parties. The


British government will not be in a position to give commitments in the


context of those negotiations, so how are we going to get a com brands


of agreement in those kind of circumstance? -- comprehensive


agreement. I do not take these issues lightly. And I cannot be


dismissive of them. I want to make sure that we have the agreement


fully protected and that is why I am no saboteur when it comes to


anything that has been endorsed by a referendum. Least of all what the


Irish people in Dost when they voted for the Good Friday agreement. --


Irish people endorsed. The government are in denial that the


process of Brexit has implications for that agreement. I also recognise


that the agreement gives us the machinery to answer many questions


for the whole island of Ireland in terms of Brexit, and it gives us the


material in terms of being able to make a future in a north and south


bases, in ways that continue to be funded by the EU, we treat the


market as a common market, single market, and we can use the auspices


of the Good Friday agreement, but there is no pretence that the


election is necessary and no pretence that the Prime Minister is


justified in the terms that she has used and we do not buy the pretence


that the right honourable member for Belfast is giving yet again


regarding Sinn Fein. This is the sort of thing that gets politics a


bad name and is leading to the alienation from many of our


citizens, because there's only one reason why the Prime Minister wants


a general election on the 8th of June and that is she she has a


better chance of winning now than she does in the future. It is


therefore the most blatant abuse of the democratic procedure for party


political advantage. As this campaign progresses it will be


seeing is that, and this has nothing to do with the country Bosman


interests and everything to do with the management of the Conservative


Party -- the country's interest. The Prime Minister suggested she needs


to have a majority, but she has not lost any boat on Brexit over the


last year with a majority of less than 30 and she... She has not won,


rather, said the majority is already there. She says this will give


clarity to the Brexit process, but we have been trying now for ten long


months to get clarity to the Brexit process and every question we have


asked has been met with silence and with a refusal to actually say what


Brexit does indeed mean. I don't believe for one minute the Tory


manifesto will spell out what the plan is for Britain opposed Brexit


so who is kidding who? We will not be any clearer as to what Brexit


means that we are right now. The media are reporting that up to 30


sitting Tory MPs face being prosecuted for electoral fraud and


that the CPS service will announce whether it intends to press charges


very soon. Does my right honourable friend think this might have


anything to do with the Prime Minister's change of heart? Yes, it


is remarkably suspicious, but my concern is that what the Prime


Minister wants to do is silence dissent and disagreement in this


House and in this country and therefore her instincts are not


democratic, they are authoritarian and that is a great worry for our


country. Can I turn to the situation in Scotland. There are two reasons


why the people should be given another choice on self-government


and the first is because, not because the people lost the


referendum don't respect the result but because the people who won the


referendum changed the deal afterwards. The UK that people voted


to be part of in 2014 will no longer be there in the future, but the


second is that despite a compromise position from the Scottish


Government that said neither will we challenge the Brexit deal, that was


thrown back in our faces, and so there is no option but to offer


people in Scotland and opportunity and a choice between having a hard


Tory isolationist Britain or taking control into their own hands. This


doesn't require a mandate to have a second referendum because the


Scottish Government already has that mandate. But this will be a judgment


on your refusal to agree to the wishes of the Scottish parliament


and I'm glad to ask this in finishing, if the Conservative Party


loses the general election in Scotland, will you stop blocking the


right of the Scottish people to have a choice? Very unfair. Thank you


very much. Northern Ireland is in a brutal state as we all know at the


moment and we have no executive and we have no other -- brittle. I


wonder if the finest will fully consider what happens to us there.


-- if the Prime Minister. Regarding our position in the union, I'm very


grateful to this, and I want to get three points across. One is not


about this election, which we support, but the public in Northern


Ireland are fed up to the teeth with elections and they have had so many


and they see no point of another assembly election. If you watched


what was going on at Easter and you watched paramilitaries dressed in


west Belfast and elsewhere marching, carrying the union, the European


Union flag as if it was their banner, Brexit for us is a very


different world and we fully support that we need to find the right way


forward, but it is going to be used by Sinn Fein to really try and break


up the union and we need that support. I ask that in the manifesto


that they look at how they deal with Northern Ireland special status and


also how you look at that manifesto at making sure that we have a


workable government in the future, because we need change and that is


what the Ulster union 's have been about, getting back to the central


party is running Northern Ireland and making sure that the manifesto


looks after our Armed Forces and former servicemen. Legacy is playing


its way out but not protecting the people that should be protected for


doing their duty. We will support the motion today. Two colleagues


that can help each other. Mr Alan Brown. Thank you. As several members


have already pointed out, the Prime Minister heads up a party with a


current majority that was gained partly by her party cheating in the


last general election and yet today she has the brass neck to stand


there and give a speech about leadership, so I wanted, what


leadership does the Prime Minister show on this? She refused to answer


some questions and also questions from Glasgow South and about how


some of MPs will be participating in the next election. What has she done


within her party to make sure that this spending and cheating does not


happen again? Upon the border. Twice the honourable member has accused


members of cheating and there is no proof of cheating and he should


withdraw the remarks. It is a matter of taste rather than of order but


the lady has made her point with force and is on the record. Had the


honourable gentleman concluded? In terms of further non-leadership


interventions from the Prime Minister, she said there will be no


general election and then did a massive U-turn, she could not answer


why she changed her mind on the single market and we have had no


evidence what the hard Tory Brexit is going to mean. She has


consistently ignored the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament,


so I ask her, show some real leadership. They will be more


turkeys voting for Christmas if they followed the Prime Minister and


dance to her tune. The Prime Minister needs 433 MPs to support


her today and she has gone on television and told the welfare will


be a general election if Parliament backs are full stop but if


Parliament doesn't back her, will be Prime Minister resign? That answer


could change the views of the Labour membership. I must now put the


question, the question is, that there shall be a early Parliamentary


general election, as many as there of that opinions say aye. On the


contrary say noe. And the contrary say noe. Division. Clear the lobby!


The question is that there shall be an early parliamentary general


election. As many as are of the opinion, say, "aye". To the


contrary, "no". Teller for the ayes. Teller for the noes.


The ayes to the right, 532. The noes to the left... Ayes to the right,


522, the noes to the left, 13. The ayes have it. On Loch.


We now come to motion number three, the programme motion, do we move


formerly? The question is as on the order paper, I think the ayes have


it. Order. We will now have the orders of the day. Technical and


further education bill, consideration of Lords amendments.


Thank you. Order. I must thought the House's attention to the fact that


financial privilege is engaged by Lords amendment one and I also


remind the House that certain of the emotions relating to the Lords


amendments will be certified as relating exclusively to England or


to England and Wales as set out on deselection paper. If the House


divides on any certified motion, a double majority will be required for


the motion to be passed. The first Amendment to be taken is Lords


amendment one with which it will be convenient to consider the other


Lords amendments as on the selection paper. To move to disagree with


Lords amendment one, I called the Minister Robert Halfon on. -- Robert


Halfon. ... To climb the ladder of


opportunity. It left this House after your thoughtful scrutiny and


after similar disadvantage in the other Place, London lighted that it


returns to consideration here today. -- and I'm delighted. I ask members


to support the government on all the memories made to the bill in the


other place I accept -- or the amendments made to the bill in the


other place apart from number six and number three. I asked the House


to disagree to this amendment and will ask the committee to ascribed


financial privilege as the reason. By financial year 20 -- by the


financial year 2020 it will mean that the parents will be eligible to


child benefit as if they were in approved education and training and


this is an issue where I have great interest. Apprenticeships provide a


level of opportunity and we should seek to remove obstacles to social


mobility where ever we can. The young person's first full-time job


is a big change for them and for their family. And it marks a move


into financial independence that should be celebrated. I know that


the adjustment can be challenging, for the young person learning how to


manage a starting wage and your outgoings, for parents who may


experience a falling outcome from the benefits they previously


received for that dependent child. One of the core principles of an


apprenticeship is that it is a job and is treated accordingly, in the


benefit system, a job which offers high quality training and offers


wide opportunities and where 90% of apprentices continue into another


job on completion. Most apprentices are paid above the minimum wage and


the 2016 apprentice pay survey showed the average wage was ?6 70. I


thank you forgiving way. Although what he is saying is correct in what


he is saying, taking wage and benefit from family and Owen comes


will be a disincentive -- taking child benefit from families will be


a disincentive to get into work. Most apprentices get paid over ?6,


and as I say most of them, 90% go into jobs or additional education


afterwards. The apprenticeship programme already supports low


income groups, and the funding system gives targeted support to the


participation of care leavers and we are making ?60 million available


this year to training providers and to support take up by apprentices


from disadvantaged areas. We are committed to making sure that


high-quality apprenticeships are as access as possible to people from


all backgrounds. And will take forward the main recommendations for


people with learning difficulties and our target on participation for


black and minority ethnic groups. On the suggestion of a bursary from


care leavers, understand that some young people have greater challenges


to overcome. That is why we are providing ?1000 to training


providers when they take on care leavers who are under-25s. We will


also pay 100% of the cost of training, to small employers who


employ care leavers, and there is scope for apprenticeships to benefit


social mobility even more and we are working across government to use the


apprenticeship programme to extend opportunities. I'm grateful to law


story for tabling amendments six, this introduces a new clause into


the Bill which will require Ofsted to take into account the quality of


the careers office when conducting standard inspections of further


education colleges and I welcome the work that Ofsted has already done to


sharpen its approach. Matters relating to career provision


featuring all of the judgments made by stead when inspecting Effie and


skills providers. Destination data published in 16-18 performance


tables is also becoming an established part of college


accountability. These are important steps and I want to pay tribute to


the good work that has already been going on throughout the further


education sector to repair students -- prepare students for the


workplace. The annual report from Ofsted last year it cites the


excellent work of Derby college which has set up in Poyet academies


where learners benefit throughout their course from a range of


activities -- employer academies. Masterclasses and enterprise


activities. However, in the same report Ofsted notes that the quality


of information and advice and guidance in further education


providers can be variable and does not always meet the range of student


needs. And that is why I want to use this opportunity to go through this


further. The amendment will signal our determination to make sure that


every further education student has access to good quality, dedicated


careers advice, something I know that this House supports, and that


is vital if we are to tackle the skills gap and make sure that we


have opportunities for everyone. We propose drafting amendments to make


sure it achieves the intended effect. The amendment makes it clear


that Ofsted must comment on the quality of the college 's career


provision in the inspection report. And I urge honourable members to


accept this amendment. Further education colleges are engines of


social mobility and this is our chance to make sure that students


from all backgrounds can access the support they need to get on that


ladder of opportunity and benefit from the best skills and education


training. I now turn to the amendments the government asked the


House to accept without any further amends. The government supports


amendment two which requires schools to give education and training


providers the opportunity to talk directly to pupils about approved


technical education qualifications and apprenticeships that they offer.


I would like to place on record my significant gratitude to Lord Baker


for tabling the amendment and for his unstinting support for the


government's technical education reforms. As I've explained,


high-quality careers advice is the first rung on the ladder of


opportunity. And will play a key part in realising our ambition of


high-quality skills education and training. This law is amendment


strengthens the bill by making sure that young people here more about


the merits of technical education and the recognition that they are


worthy career paths and I hope that never again when I go around the


country and visit apprentices and colleges will I meet apprentices and


organisations who are refused access to the schools that they were taught


in themselves, to talk about apprenticeships. I welcome the


proposal that the minister is putting forward will stop we have


lots of evidence that schools are not allowing further education


colleges and apprenticeship providers access to young students


to see what the options are post-16 and that is because of the bums on


seats funding regime which exists in schools for instance for post-16


studies. How are we going to get round the deep-seated culture which


exists in schools which actually precludes careers advisers and other


providers from getting into schools to provide that independent and


partial won impartial advice? -- and impartial advice? You speak a lot of


sense on this issue, and every time I meet an apprentice in any part of


the country, I ask a digital score encourage you to do the


apprenticeship? -- I ask, did your score encourage you for them nine


times out of ten there wasn't any encouragement. This amendment, I


believe, will make a huge difference because technical bodies and


apprenticeships will be able to go into the school and their published


policy guidance on this, but I agree with you, it's a huge part of this,


a cultural change. This is why I talk about the parity of esteem, the


word used, until we have parity of esteem between skills and technical


education and between going to university which is also a wonderful


thing to do, then we won't achieve the cultural change that you talk


about. There is a problem with that, training providers themselves going


into schools have a vested interest, as much as the schools themselves in


terms of securing those students, so is it not true that we need a more


robust advice and guidance process which does not include the vested


interests of anybody in particular. We are looking at careers guidance


in the long-term, how you can gear careers guidance and make it more


skills focused for top the enterprise company, getting people


to do work experience, the money we are investing in those things, that


will help, but there are no easy answers. There are some great


private providers who would love to go into schools and there are a


great number of further education colleges that would love to go into


schools but this is an important step forward to change the culture


and also make sure that pupils have the access to learn about


apprenticeships and technical education and skills that they need.


Amendment three introduced a new clause in the bill, specifically


providing full regulations to be made about the delivery of


documents, about an insolvent registry and how that is kept by the


public, and essentially because allows for the proper management of


the paperwork by an further education body and the government


was able to accept amendment four put forward by the noble Lords and


the other place to defeat the words -- delete the words if possible. It


was intended to offer reassurance to creditors and the education


administrator that the education administration would not continue


indefinitely while we waited for the education administrator to achieve


the impossible. Instead it cause concern here and in the other place


that student protection is some way lessened the bar but that was not


our intention. -- is some way lessened, but that was not our


intention for them we have tried to address these concerns. Amendment


five tried to fully apply the company directors disqualification


act, to further education bodies in England and Wales. The new version


of clause 40 formerly clause 37 still allows the court to disqualify


any governors who find it liable of wrongdoing from being governors and


also from being company directors in any part of the UK. It fully


prevents disqualify individuals from being able to, in a different way,


repeat mistakes they have made potentially at the expense of


another further education institution. We have amended this


clause to close a potential loophole in the Bill and more fully protect


learners at institutions from the potential actions of any governor


who acts recklessly. The existing regime is effective as a finely


balanced a tyrant, for company directors, it is rare that directors


find liable and its existence and insolvency legislation does not


inhibit people from choosing to become company directors, but helps


prevent poor financial management. The presence causes company


directors to reflect carefully on their financial decisions and the


potential consequences of acting wrongfully in relation to predators.


We want to have the same deterrent effect for college governors,


governors might not appreciate the full consequence if they are still


able to act as company directors and can set up a company to run a


college. They might be prepared to operate with a greater degree of


risk. The amendment also ensures that


governors of FC bodies are on par with governments of academies to


whom the CDDA also applies. Another amendment adds an additional clause


as far as it relates to section 462 of the insolvency act, the parts of


the bill to extend to all parts of the UK. This does not change the


application of FC and insolvency regime to bodies in England and


Wales, it ensures cooperation if necessary in the courts of different


parts of the UK in matters of insolvency of FC bodies. -- F E. The


bill allows the Institute of apprenticeships to share data with


Ofsted, of course -- Ofqual and other institutions. This provision


is necessary because the bodies with which the industry will co-operate


are expected to change over time. The amendments ensure the Institute


can function effectively in future. I turned to amendment 11 to 18. They


were prompted by discussions in this House. It was clear we shared a


common concern to ensure that care leavers receive appropriate help and


support should their college become insolvent. Members opposite


including the Shadow Minister were very clear that care leavers are


particularly vulnerable and I agree. That is why I undertook to reflect


on how we might best support such individuals. I am pleased we could


bring forward these amendments to schedules three and four which will


require the administrator to send a copy of their proposals to the


Director of children's services at the relevant local authority and


this will ensure that the director of children's services is not


formally be college insolvency and can take action to provide support


for any care leavers affected by the proposals. I ask honourable members


to support the Government on these amendments. The question is this


House disagrees with the Lord's in their amendment one. Gordon Marsden.


I am grateful to the Minister for his considered exposition of the


Government's position, particularly in respect of the amendments with


which we are not going to be in dispute this afternoon. I shall say


something particularly about amendment two when I came to


amendment on. I want to put on the record that we welcome the change


the Government is making particularly in the technical parts


of the bill. The devil is in the detail of these things and they're


not always right first time around and this time I am happy the


Government has reflected on that and I take on board what the honourable


gentleman said in respect of care leavers and local authorities. Can I


say that I think the recent discussions in the House on the


children's social acts on which my honourable friend played a positive


and constructive part, have been a useful focus to bring forward the


amendments he has put forward today. I am grateful for that. I am also


grateful for the widening out of the sharing of information on schedule


on. Hopefully we can fish some of the letters out of the


soup and make them work together a little easier than they would have


done otherwise. I want to turn now to amendment number one. He says it


could be regarded as an issue of financial privilege and he also says


he has great interest in these issues in terms of financial support


and the rest of it and I accept that and I hope the honourable gentleman


will understand I have never at any stage in any other committees we sat


on, I have never in any shape or form as far as I am aware disavowed


his good intentions and indeed his commitment to these issues of


equality but of course warm words of themselves to not necessarily carry


through the projects that we might all want to see and when he says


about most apprenticeships having benefits at the moment then of


course one has to ask about what the fate is for those people who do not


have those benefits and when he says about it being ?200 million


proposed, since we are already committing ?60 million as he said to


training providers, I am not sure it is a very strong powerful argument.


I will give way in a little while as I want to make progress on the main


issue and then I will give way. I am very proud of the fact that the


noble Lords considered this matter, speaking in support of amendment


number one, in considerable detail and in doing so revealed how much


further the Government needed to go in this area and in my view it it


still needs to go further. The Times education supplement in February


published a chart which spelt out the current gap in support between


student and apprenticeships no access to learning grants, no access


for their families to Universal Credit or council tax credit and


most relevant in terms of amendment were on, no access to child benefit.


These amendments would enable families eligible for child benefit


to receive it for children aged under 20 undertaking


apprenticeships. We understand on our side of the House and I'm sure


they do on the other that it is not simply the benefit itself, it is the


doors that it opens to other benefits which is a key element in


the question. I will give way. I listened to his argument carefully


which seems to involve a spending commitment of ?200 million. How will


he pay for it? We do not recognise the figure of ?200 million in the


first instance and secondly the point I have already made is that


the Government is already committing ?60 million to training providers so


why he is raising the issue of 200 million which would be aggregated


over time, I do not know. I will not give way again because I want to


make progress. The amendment calls for the Secretary of State to use


amendments to make provisions to assure apprenticeships are regarded


as approved training. The apprenticeship programme has seen


the apprentice levy this month while setting the target of a printer


ships by 2020. Many commentators have continued to raise real


questions about the potential quality of new apprenticeships. It


is really important that in reducing the growing skills gap in this


country, apprentices are not given a raw deal. Lord Watson spelt it out


vividly in the House of Lords when he said why should families suffer


as we seek to train young people desperately needed to fill the


skills gap in the economy? We simply ask that question. I am well aware


as we have discussed this in committee in this place and the


other, that apprenticeships are not currently classed as approved


educational training by the Department for Work and Pensions.


That is one of the reasons why we have raised this issue so many times


and the honourable gentleman needs to reflect, it seems to me on what


the situation is of apprentices who live with parents whose families


could lose out by more than ?1000 per year through not being able to


access child benefit, and under Universal Credit could lose more


than ?3200 per year. If the Government wants to get back target


it cannot be in anyone's interest for to be close to young people keen


to embark on an apprenticeship. The predecessor government was very fond


of the concept of nudge to achieve results but people can be nudged


away from things as well as towards them and in some circumstances


parents may prevent young people taking up apprenticeships because of


their economic consequences to the family which could be considerable.


Lawrence in their debate on the 27th of every made this point. Baroness


garden said only 10% of apprenticeships taken up by families


on free school meals. The loss of child benefit was a significant


penalty. Baroness wolf spoke strongly on this. She said, echoing


what the minister said, that there needs to be genuine parity if the


Government wants to fulfil a holistic vision. As I have said, the


list of exclusions printed in the Times education. Element justify


their anger and disappointment that the union of students and


apprenticeship organisations feel that they are being treated like


second-class citizens. Research has shown, and I accept what the


minister said that some apprentices are being paid on both -- above


minimum wage but some also earn as little as ?3.50 per hour. He has


been generous with his interventions. Talking about


financial matters, he said he did not recognise this figure of 200


million. How much would his policy cost? Those are issues which would


be taken forward over a five-year period and the ?200 million figure


that the honourable gentleman from the front bench quoted earlier as


not being recognised and I don't intend to engage with it further as


there has been no further detail given on that point. Now, I am sorry


I will not give way again. He has had two shouts. I'm going to


continue so he can stop shouting. This will have a negative effect on


family income. The apprentice minimum wage is barely over ?3 per


hour. The National Society for apprenticeships ton apprentices said


it is inconsistent that apprentices are excluded ton if apprenticeships


are to be seen as a top tier option then the benefits should be top tier


as well. University students receive assistance from a range of sources


from accessing finance to discounted rates on council tax and apprentices


currently do not receive many of those benefits and the Lord's agree


that those systems should be changed. He mentioned that some


apprentices were paid more than the apprentice minimum wage. Is he aware


that 82% of apprentices are paid at or above the appropriate national


minimum or living wage? Those are figures from his department and I


will not dispute them on this particular occasion but what we are


trying to do is set in legislation, legislation that will be valid for


five, ten or 15 years and it seems far more appropriate to me to have a


principle under which everybody has equal access rather than trading


figures all day on how many apprentices are not in that


position, and I do not believe that we should go down that route.


The NUS Vice President for further education made the point again that


if apprentices, friendships are going to be the silver bullet to


create the high skilled economy for the future, the government has got


to go further and genuinely support apprentices to succeed. In support


of this amendment, the learning and work Institute has said there are


current participation penalties for learning and disadvantaged young


people who take an apprenticeship compared to an academic pathway can


this -- and this amendment would help to treating apprentices in


support of the benefit system, and the government's decision to exclude


apprenticeships will serve as a deterrent against people especially


those from disadvantaged backgrounds. But together and


without any change to the category apprentices are placed in by the DWP


and the FE has got to accept that, the government are providing a


severe financial disincentive for young people to enter into an


apprenticeship as opposed to other routes of education. And that is


what the National Society of apprenticeships have said. In the


other place the honourable gentleman's colleague said there


would be discussions about this issue with colleagues in the


Department for Work and Pensions, but they didn't happen. The Minister


has told me on previous occasions that this was something that needed


to be addressed and discussed with other departments. But it hasn't


happened. This is a government which has long given us rhetoric but is


short on delivery and a dish on people who are suffering. And the


government is now blocking a modest proposal from the House of Lords to


begin to remedy their inability to do joined up government -- and it is


young people who are suffering. I will give way. He will know and I


have mentioned just before that we are doing a social mobility review


looking at a range of issues from benefits to incentives to providers


and employers in terms of getting more disadvantaged apprentices from


disadvantaged backgrounds and say we are not doing this is entirely wrong


because there is a lot of work going into this areas. I'm grateful for


that. And the broader perspective of social mobility and the rest of it


is a perfectly reasonable way of going forward in this matter but I


think to be honest and especially at a time like today where we are going


to be moving shortly into a general election, I think most people would


be interested in some movement, rather than promising jam in the


future from the social mobility studies that are going on and there


are other areas which I will talk about, where, I'm afraid, the


government has moved at a reasonably glacial pace and that is why I'm not


impressed by his argument although I appreciate his commitment to try to


do something. I want to speak in support of the second part of the


amendment which talks about opening benefits to care leavers by opening


access to a bursary traditionally only applicable to university


students. And people in local authority care who move into higher


education can apply for a one off bursary of ?2000 from a local


authority and this amendment would make sure that care leavers who take


up apprenticeships would be able to access that financial support as


well. Can I remind the Minister of what the Children's Society has


said, that every year around and never thousand young people aged 16


or over leave the care of their local authority and begin the


difficult transition out of care and into adult had which he recognised


in my honourable friend, the member for


South Shields, tabled an amendment to provide for such a local offer to


care leavers. But this government has a golden opportunity to follow


up on this, by focusing on support where the DWP could provide this


process and I am at a loss to understand why the government is


ignoring this process. Or this possibility. They could make


provision from the apprenticeship levy for local authorities to


administer a ?2000 grant for care leavers. Often when care leavers


move into independent living they begin to manage their own budget


fully for the first time and this move can take place earlier than


others in their playgroup. Remember, a care leavers could be earning,


could be earning, sometimes often is, as little as ?3 40 an hour


before being able to transition to a higher wage in the second year. And


evidence from services and research has revealed how challenging care


leavers can find managing that budget because of the lack of


financial support they receive and the lack of financial education. As


result young carers are falling frequently into debt and financial


difficulty. The Minister really does need to put himself in their shoes.


His honourable friend could tell us all from his own family perspective


how vulnerable young people can be who come from disturbed and


difficult family backgrounds. The question remains, why aren't the


government prepared to retain this amendment to the bill? It is all


very well having fine words, but you may know the old proverb, fine words


but no parsnips. What are the bureaucratic item is doing nothing


to support hard-working young people and their families -- bureaucratic


argument. To help them fulfil their hopes of better times via an


apprenticeship. We talk about parity of esteem between students and


apprentices and some of these young people have struggled through


circumstances to have any strong sense of esteem so why haven't the


government moved on this? Why have the consultations with DWP not taken


place? Was the minister nobbled on this by some of the number ten


trustees? The way we have been led down the path to GCSE resets. If the


government does not retain this amendment, people will know that


their rhetoric on this matter has been somewhat hollow and apprentices


and their families will suffer. I want now to move to amendments


number two and six, and if I can join with the Minister in supporting


the moment two which he referred to and which I will refer to as well.


But I also want to talk about amendment six which was carried...


Amendment two, sorry. Which was carried in the Lords and I also want


to talk about amendment six. The lack of parity of esteem for


apprentices can start at an early age and as my honourable friend has


illustrated in the constructive exchange we had with the Minister,


the rhetoric on careers advice does not match the painful reality which


faces many younger people. Careers advice after 2010 over the last


parliament was decimated and was certainly decimated at local level.


And young people who want to take a vocational and apprenticeship route


are in danger of being short-changed again over their future careers


advice. The picture incidentally of supporting schools so far, despite


the work of the careers and enterprise company, which is still


in its infancy, remains poor. Both Koreas England, the trade body for


careers Gueye said violence and the careers development Institute have


confirmed to me recently that in their view -- trade body for careers


guidance Institute. Their view is that only a third of schools are


able adequately to deliver careers advice and the shortage of careers


advisers and the fact that those who remain are earning far less than


they used to do a that adds up to a very difficult position. That is one


of the reasons why last year in November the co-chairs of the


educational schools economy, said that the government had been


complacent over careers advice and they said the lack of action to


address this was not acceptable and it smacks of complacency. I know the


Minister challenges that considerably and I know again that


he has an on-board... He has put on record that the government is


working to a thorough careers strategy in that respect, but we


have got to deal to date with what the situation is today, not with


what it might be under a strategy of whatever government is going to be


around at the end of the year. The industry apprenticeship Council


showed 42% of respondents found out about apprenticeships from schools


and colleges and that using 1's own initiative remained the most common


way for young person to discover those apprenticeships. It also said


that there needed to be changing careers information advice and


guidance because of the proportion of respondents saying it had been


very poor. That is why the House of Lords has produced these two quite


detailed and comprehensive amendments because those overall


issues are not being addressed. To promote apprenticeships in schools,


strong careers guidance is critical, and if we are to make a six S of the


Institute it is crucial that young people are alerted early enough on


their school life to the attraction of technical roads and that is one


of the things that the amendment number two on the other house, which


we supported, makes very clear. If the minister doesn't think that the


Lords amendment on careers advice is necessary, maybe he would like to


explain just how and when the government is going to get a grip on


the existing fractured landscape of careers advice which is revealed by


his own department. Now last month, and it wasn't bedtime reading, so


I'm not surprised if members have not read it, but last month the


Department for Education produced a report, economic evaluation of the


careers service and this report was produced by London economics and


originally commissioned by the former Department for Business,


Innovation and Skills to undertake an evaluation of the impact of the


National careers service. The service has changed considerably in


the five years since it was introduced by the Minister's


predecessor, the member for South Holland. That started out


essentially and I have the benefit of discussions with his predecessor,


and he was very clear at that time that the National careers service


was principally going to be for the over 24s and that process has


changed. I'm not necessarily criticising that fact, but it has


certainly migrated in a fashion which was not planned, and if you


look at the website for the National careers service it talks about


anyone being aged over 13 or over having access to the date C -- the


data. But the problem with this, only 15-22% of the customers, and


I'm taking these figures from the report the government have


commission, were referred by Jobcentre plus, and the remainder


were self referring. Does not in that speak volumes for the lack of


joined up government on this matter between the Department for Education


and the Department for Work and Pensions? I will. In some respects


you are being generous to the government because I think the


careers advice has been laid waste by the government policy since 2010.


We need to get back to a point where youngsters are having available to


them independent and impartial advice and guidance on their future


career, without that independence and impartiality, we could get back


to the point of vested interests giving advice to young people and I


remember Malcolm Wicks Ferring to this in the 90s when he said much


advice given to people was akin to pensions mis-selling -- Malcolm


Wicks referring. Those are the things that we need to


think very hard about indeed. The national careers service has


migrated in some substantial fashion and that might not in itself be a


bad thing but what I would like to know is what is the connectivity


between the national careers service and the careers and enterprise


company if that area of coverage is going to start as early as 13? I


would like to know what the connectivity is in that process. And


of course the very disappointing fact from the impact report said


that the research is could not identify a positive impact of the


national careers service on employment or benefit dependency


outcomes, arguably their main purpose. This is another example why


it has been essential for the Government to act on the careers


strategy and why their failure so far to do so has made these


amendments so important. With the expansion of apprenticeship and


introduction of chemical education it is even more important students


and apprentices have all the information they need for and


informed decision. I warmly welcome amendment to Lord Baker's amendment


and cross-party support which would ensure schools must give advice on


apprenticeships. It matters because knowledge in general is power and


unbiased knowledge is very important indeed. It is also why my honourable


friend the member for Scunthorpe introduced a ten minute rule Bill


which would require schools to give access to pupils and representatives


from post 16 education it institutions to give guidance. This


is also why an amendment six is important. I'm encouraged by the


fact that the new Ofsted chief inspector is sympathetic to offset


making a stronger case to ensure apprenticeships rate higher in


information given in schools. The Lords have pointed out this will


need more resources for Ofsted. As my noble friend pointed out. If we


do not get this integration between the careers and enterprise company


and the national careers service, what we ask Ofsted to do will not


work. What is the Minister's response to these arguments? Why are


the national careers service and the careers and enterprise company


apparently going on different lines? If he doesn't want to accept


amendments it is, what guarantees can you get to this House or the


noble Lords that they will get the work that they need?


I'd like to speak very briefly with a comment on amendment six. What is


the Government aim achieving? I want to give an impression on what noble


Lord story sought to achieve by amendment six. We have acknowledged


chewing the course of babes so far that careers advice is variable and


-- course of debates. Monitoring advice would help to see how good or


bad it is. At committee stage in the Lords, Lord Nash described careers


advice as always pretty poorer. And a 2013 Ofsted report established


that three quarters of schools did not abide effective advice or as the


honourable member of North Shields pointed out, impartial advice.


Guidance given to schools was not sufficiently explicit and employers


in many places were not engaging and the national careers service was not


effectively promoted. It was a key conclusion in the Ofsted report that


school advice should be assessed when taking into account general


leadership in the case of FE. I think the Minister accepts all that


and I know he has produced a variation or a difference from the


initial amendment for the Lords. I would like to satisfy me and the


House in general that it actually complies with what the Lords


intended to achieve through amendments in the first place. If I


can give leave to close this debate. I thank the honourable gentleman for


his ton I understand he is stepping down so it as being... I know he is


an experienced member of the House and I wish him every good wish in


the future for that. Just to answer his question, what we are doing is


accepting in essence the amendment that was suggested by Lord story but


we have just made it tighter in terms of legal... Ofsted will be


able to comment on careers in their reports. So, tightening it for legal


reasons and making it slightly stronger but we accept the amendment


and the principle of the amendment. I have set out earlier the


Government was my position on the majority of these amendments which


serve to strengthen the measures of the bill and ensure their success in


practice and I urge honourable members to accept all the amendments


made in the Lords with the exception of amendment one. As earlier


explained, it is subject to financial privilege and I ask


members to reject it on that basis, noting the work I set out earlier


demonstrating our commitment to finding the most effective ways to


address barriers for the disadvantaged and apprenticeships.


The honourable gentleman said we should put our money where our mouth


is. We have my hundred thousand -- 900,000 apprentices at the moment.


20% come from the poorest fifth of areas and in terms of the national


careers service they have something like over 1300 enterprise advisers


going into schools. They are set to target 250,000 students in 75% of


career cold spots. The national career services there to give


careers and CV advice and personal contact people can either see


face-to-face or on the telephone or Internet. They have different roles.


I ask our members to accept amendment six on which many noble


Lords spoke. I spoke of the positive activity taking place at Derby


College, by no means the only college taking active steps to


provide high-quality careers advice to students. We have seen incredible


work in other places. We want to ensure all young people can access


such support and ask members to support this ambition by accepting


the amendment. He has been very generous. I know he is determined


and full of good intentions on this but good intentions to not provide


sound careers advice and guidance to young people in the system now and I


think we need more urgency from the Government in terms of backing up


that intention, which is a decent and well intentioned intention, to


make sure young people get impartial advice and guidance as soon as


possible. I thank him for his intervention. 90 million to be spent


on careers, predominantly with the careers enterprise company, with


enterprise advisers going into schools. ?20 million for mentoring


services in schools. The national careers service this year is getting


something like over ?75 million. To advise on careers. That is real


financial backing to two very important services. I'm listening to


what ministers saying that I seem to remember because I was actually a


member of the careers service National Association bought prior to


the invention of connections. The national budget for careers at that


time was something like ?130 million, more than 15 years ago. The


sort of figures the Minister is talking about in the current climate


is quite inadequate. Given the financial climate, 90 million to the


spent predominantly with enterprise company, the 75 million going to the


national careers service this year alone, I think that is a sizeable


sum of money given the climate. We are developing a careers strategy


which the... Obviously the election is now occurring but I hope the way


we see careers is much more skills focus and much more work in schools,


mentoring and work experience. I have said before that this is a bill


which is part of our reforms to give people a ladder of opportunity to


get the job and security and prosperity they need and ensure


technical education is held in the regard it deserves. In the unlikely


event of college insolvency it is the students who are protected. The


measures in vital changes supporting young people to build essential


skills our nation needs and provide the right support to enable young


people to claim that ladder. Many members across the House and another


place have spoken in support of that ambition and I would like to take


the opportunity to thank them. The question is that this House


disagrees with the Lords in their amendment number one. As many as are


of the opinion, say, "aye". To the contrary, "no". Division, clear the


lobby. As many as are of the opinion, say,


"aye". To the contrary, "no". Order, order. The aye to the right,


298, the noes to the lab, 182. -- to the left.


The Gordon Marsden, Henry Smith are the


members of the committee, that Robert Halfon be committee, that


three be the core of the committee and that the committee withdraw


immediately. I think the ayes have it. Thank you. We now come to motion


number five on section five of the European communities Amendment act


1993. Minister to move. Thank you. The legal requirement to give the


European Commission an update of the UK's economic position convergence


programme means a welcome opportunity for a wider economic


debate should be want one, and clearly since last year's... If


members can leave the chamber bit more quietly, than we can hear the


minister. Thank you. Thank you. Clearly since last year's


convergence programme debate there has been a momentous change in the


UK's relationship with European Union. The Article 50 process is


underway and the UK is leading the European Union and there cannot be


any turning back from that. -- leaving. In accordance with the


outcome of the referendum we are leaving the European Union and we


will make our own decisions and take control of the things that matter to


us and seize every opportunity to build a stronger and fairer Britain.


Given our decision to leave, some members may find it strange that we


are debating the UK's convergence programme today. It is right that we


do so, however. Because we continue to exercise our membership of the


European Union and our exit and doing so is a legal requirement and


one which we must take seriously. -- onto our exit. The content of the


convergence programme is drawn from the government's assessment of the


UK's economic and budgetary position and this assessment is based on the


Spring Budget report and the OBR's most recent outlook and it is this


content, not the convergence programme itself, that requires the


approval of the House. I should also remind the House that although the


UK participates in the growth pact that requires convergence programmes


to be submitted, by virtue of our protocol to the treaty, opting out


of the euro, we are only required to endeavour to avoid excessive


deficits. UK cannot be subject to any sanctions as a result of our


participation in. How much influence have the


requirements had an successive UK governments to drive more austerity


and cuts? In the seven years that I have been a Treasury minister, I


have not noticed this convergence programme having an influence upon


the decisions we have taken. We have taken decisions to reduce the


deficit because we believed it was in the long-term interests of the


United Kingdom rather than because of any requirements under EU


treaties. Let me provide a brief overview of the information we will


set out on the programme. Right Honourable members should note this


does not represent new information but captures the government's


assessment of the budgetary position. It is there to say that,


in March 2017, we were in a better position than many predicted. Growth


in the second half of 2016 was stronger than the oh BR had


anticipated in the Autumn Statement. In fact, last year, the UK grew


faster than other advanced economies. Following a period of


robust economic growth, rising employment and falling deficit, we


choose to safeguard that economic stability and that is particularly


important as we prepare our country to leave the European Union. Our


European partners continue to judge that tutor consumer demand and a


rise putting public finances in good order will remain vital for the


foreseeable future. All the more so given that the deficit remains too


high and that our range of potential risks in the global economy. That is


why we are getting ourselves in a position of readiness to handle


difficulties of any kind which may come our way. Other fiscal rules to


do so are ones which strike the right balance between reducing the


deficit, maintaining flexibility and investing for the long term. Overall


public sector net borrowing is predicted to fall from 3.8% last


year to 2.6% this year. This means we forecast to meet our 3% stability


target this year for the first time in almost a decade. Borrowing is


forecast to be 2.9% in 2017-18 and to fall over the remainder of the


years ahead to 0.9% in 2018-19 before reaching 0.7% in 2021-22, its


lowest level in two decades. While the economic forecasts are


unchanged, the oh BR has revised down its forecast of net borrowing.


We will hold an increase of the national debt as a proportion to


GDP. That is forecast to peak and then fall in the subsequent years.


Is it not also important to remind the House the ?435 billion of debt


is now owned by the state? My right honourable friend is correct in


terms of where it is owed, but nonetheless, as a country, we do


have to be wary of a level of debt that is marred by recent historic


standards and it is right that we show determination to set out a plan


as to how that debt to GDP ratio can be reduced to ensure that the UK is


a more resilient place to absorb shocks to our economy and public


finances that do from time to time occur. Beyond our fiscal rules to


protect the public purse and prepare our economy, the budget also sets


out a wide range of this thing is that the government will do to


invest in our future. That includes giving our children the chance to go


to a goodwill outstanding school, helping people across the country


get the skills they need for high paid, high school jobs of the


future, and investing in cutting edge technology and innovation so


Britain continues to be at the forefront of the global technology


revolution. Three things part of our efforts to address the country's


productivity challenges. The budget also promised greater support for


our social care system with additional funding so people get the


care they deserve as they grow older and it works to strengthen our


public services over the long-term in our determination to bring down


the deficit and get the UK back to living within our means and funding


our public services through the long-term. The spring budget


therefore was one that made the most of the opportunities ahead by laying


the foundations of a stronger, fairer and better Britain. Following


the House's approval of the assessment that forms the basis of


the convergence programme, the government will submit it to the


Council of the European Union, European Commission, with


recommendations expected from the commission in May. The submission by


non-euro member states also provides a useful framework for coordinating


fiscal policies will stop a degree of fiscal policy coordination can be


beneficial in ensuring stable global economy which is in the UK's


national interest. The UK has or is taken part in international


mechanisms for policy coordination is. Although we are leaving the EU,


we will continue to have a deep interest in the economic stability


and prosperity of our European friends and neighbours so we will


continue to play our part in this process and in other international


coordination processes once we have left the EU. The government is


committed to ensuring that we act in full accordance with section five,


and that this House approves the economic and budgetary assessments


that forms the basis of the convergence programme. The question


is as on the order paper. We find ourselves in a strange position,


debating a motion that seeks to prove the government's convergence


programme with the EU at the start of an election campaign in the


context of leaving the EU. An unusual set of circumstances, to say


the least. Some see it as almost theological! There will no longer be


a requirement for convergence and what the Conservatives have no idea


as to how our economy will work post Brexit, it is a simple if flawed in


dangerous plan regardless of the position that people were in the


referendum. A complete lack of vision from this government means no


one can be confident in what our economy will look like in just two


years' time. Labour accepts the referendum result, and that is why


we did not frustrate the triggering of article 15 negotiations, but what


we will never support as the chaos of a Conservative plan for Brexit


that will see our economy put in danger. That is not being a


saboteur, it is doing the job we were sent here to do. Wealth


concentrated in the hands of the tiny super-rich elite is not


particularly good. That is not what people voted for. We have heard much


in the debate in the past few months about taking back control, time


after time, we were told we would take back control. That should not


be put into the hands of a group of plutocrats were leaving most people


across the country worse yet after year. When we do take back control,


that has got to be control shared by everybody, not just a few. Our


Labour government will deliver a final deal that reflects Labour's


values, defending people's rights and protections and preventing a


race to the bottom because there is a fear that there will be a race to


the bottom. A better future for the whole country under a Labour


government or a bargain basement tax haven under the Conservatives. In


2016, UK exports of goods and services totalled ?548 billion to


the EU and imports totalled 558 billion. Despite the government's


laid-back approach to trade with EU, it is heartbreaking to put much of


those exports and new imports at risk. We have become the world's


worst performing currency in October last year. Many economists now


suspect the pound to depreciate even further as negotiations deadlock and


flounder. When coming to office, the Conservatives committed to balancing


the books by 2015, the book that problem is, a promise broken. They


said it would then be put back to 19, 20, that was not delivered on.


Here we are, days away without the government making as much progress


as they promised they would in relation to the deficit and the


Chancellor regularly saying, it is a rolling target. You cannot have a


rolling target. You either have a target will you do not. Under this


government, debt as a percentage GDP has continued to rise. How can that


be a sign of the how the economy? GDP growth has not once passed its


precrisis trend rate of 2.3%. In fact, growth has been revised down


and now, in 2019-20, hardly the sign of a strong economy. In seven years,


the Conservatives have borrowed ?750 million, and I will remind people


that is more than all the governments combined. Since 2010,


ten out of 24 government is budgeted to have seen an increase in


borrowing and the government's borrowing summed up in two words,


missed targets. Make no mistake, they are a government of borrowing.


Public finances each year have huge gaping holes. This year we saw the


Chancellor's attempt to hit self-employed workers with national


insurance contributions, and we understand the Conservative's U-turn


left a ?200 million black hole. How can we rely on the Conservatives


when we know the sums do not add up? This feeds into the wider problem


with public finances. Children are sitting in crumbling schools. Up and


down the country, people waiting even longer to be seen by


professionals in NHS. It is undergoing the worst crisis in


history. So why do we have this sorry state of affairs? Because this


Conservatives have sacrificed services everyone have used just to


make tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich. The government has


provided over the slowest recovery since the 1920s with economic growth


and average earnings downgraded yet again and, despite falling


unemployment, workers are suffering the worst pay in 70 years. And of


course, the government has done very little to tackle the scandal of


chronic low pay and insecure employment, and that is reflective


of an economy not working the way the government claims it is. The


government has promised the national living wage will go up, but cost of


living goes up. It makes no mention of the continued economic balanced


between devolved nations and the regions. We simply cannot continue


to have such an unbalanced and unequal economy. It goes back to the


point I made in the start in terms of this question of that disparity


in regional economic growth. It is there in my own region and many


other regions. How much extra tax should the


government imposed next year to deal with the Budget deficit he is


worried about? We will have that debate in the general election


process. This government has pledged to take back control from Brussels


but what about controls for those millions of people living outside


the M25? How can this government square the desire for less


interference from Brussels but at the same time, for example, the


Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government doesn't bat an


eyelid when banning local councils all over the country from charging


?1 for fun runs in local parks. Is it really the job of the secretary


of state to micromanage park budgets? Have we come to that, where


the Secretary of State can say you can't charge ?1 or 50p. It is


ludicrous. That is why we have to take control, so that when control


comes back it has to be pushed down. It is bizarre that the secretary of


state has taken that position when he and his predecessors have cut


local governments abroad by 50% in some areas. Huge budget cuts and


interference with piddling amounts of money like ?1 for park runs. It


is pretty pathetic. My honourable friend is making a powerful set of


points. On local government finance, it is all very well for the


government to withdraw revenue support but at the same time not


doing anything about the other side of the account. The other side is


the council tax banding system. They are not doing anything to rebalance


the banding system which makes up the local government revenue apart


from the support grant. If you don't do that, it is grossly unfair. The


revenue support grant was brought in because band D medium didn't exist


in all parts of the country, certainly not in the north-east. It


is required for its inception in the early 1990s. My honourable friend


makes a fair point. This government has abandoned local government


unless you happen to be Surrey County Council. We cannot have a


fair and prosperous economy until all the regions and cities have


adequate access to funding and investment in infrastructure. And


until the power to implement financial decisions are on a local


level. The referendum result was not just a result against one


unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels but also an accountability


at local levels. For many people, the government is alien and has no


relevance to their day-to-day lives. They see it as a bubble and as we


have seen, often it is a bubble. Westminster and Whitehall making


these decisions and little consideration to the ramifications


and disastrous effects on the policies have an ordinary people.


Post Brexit Britain must look at devolving powers to local


authorities across the country. We can no longer have a unitary state


run by diktat from London. In the assemblies and regional


... You have got to give the power and the responsibility to go with


them and the government has been dragging its feet in regard to that.


Our economy under seven years of Tory mismanagement has seen stagnant


wages, slow growth, low productivity. The minister didn't


mention productivity once in his speech. OK, maybe once. Excessive


borrowing, rising debt and failed promises. The Chancellor has resided


over an economy that has given tax giveaways to the richest at the


expects on those on low and middle incomes. They fail to balance books


and if re-elected the Conservatives would cut tax in a desperate bid to


attract overseas investment to transform our economy into a low pay


and low tax economy. It doesn't account for is catastrophic record


and huge black holes in public spending and makes no assessment of


what the post Brexit economy will look like and nor does it at


knowledge the economic difficulties ahead and I would urge the house to


rejected. The pleasure for this my final speech in the Commons before


the general elections, the electors of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath will


determine whether I return to make a speech in the future. I was


intrigued by the opening of the Honma number for Bootle when he


pointed out it was a strange debate to have when we are facing being


dragged out of the European Union and we are discussing convergence. I


took a leaf out of the honourable member's leader, since I knew it


would be a tremendously popular debate, you can just look around at


the filled benches to see how popular, I thought I would tweet


that I would be speaking on this important topic. My hope was that I


would get the equivalent of Merry from Rochdale letting me know the


key points to raise. Only one person replied with a suggestion of what I


should include in my speech. Could you say hello to my auntie Sadie in


Harlem. I couldn't possibly do that in a speech of such importance but


it clarifies that many of the things that we debate are of a very


technical nature and difficult for the public to engage in.


Nevertheless, they are very important. The minister talked in


his early remarks about the ODI and the forecast made. Showing great


precedents, or lack of it on my part, yesterday, Scott started to


work for me for the first time, he started his job on the day that the


general election was declared. I asked him to contact the library and


find out how many independent valuations had ever been done of the


Treasury all Treasury OBR model of the economy. Eventually, the library


got back to me and said they could find no independent evaluations of


the OBR or treasure late-model of the economy had ever been


undertaken. This is not surprisingly new see some of the results of this


model. Indeed, I thought, in following up I ask him to look at


how the model was described by the OBR. On which come you can find on


their website the wonderful statement that much of this model is


based on not hard fact but based on the judgment of those using it.


Different people who are using it, the result might be incredibly


different from using the same model. So, I think that there will come a


time in the future when governments of whatever shade are going to have


to consider the way in which we understand and model the economy and


how far we can ever rely on forecasts of the type we have been


receiving for a good number of years. I thought since this could


obviously be a fairly wide raging debate, thinking about the future, I


thought there would be one or two remarks I could make about issues


that will still need to be addressed when we exit the European Union. The


exit in itself won't contribute anything, it will require the will


of government to be able to do something. But the minister


mentioned, quite rightly, the importance of business investment.


One of the debates we held in this house, I think it was last year, the


honourable member from Bootle icing to recall took part in it, a debate


on quantitative easing. I think that was slightly less popular. And this


debate. With the numbers that took part in it. Nonetheless, it was


interesting at that time that so many of those who decided to speak


talked about the problem, the Kiwi had created by investment. -- that Q


E had created by investment. The consequence of which would be to


increase confidence in business and lead to a significant increase in


investment. We know that has not happened despite well over 600


billion of Q E being introduced. It would be interesting to know how the


future government will tackle the rewinding of Q E. There has also


been in recent days some very intemperate remarks made by senior


bankers about the business sector. I would like to point to just two days


ago, three days ago, in the express, when a senior banker quoted from RBS


talk of S M Es pursuing getting some reconciliation to the problems they


have had through DRG and the like. They were called by the senior


executive of RBS as a bunch of chances. Can you imagine any other


industry who would talk about their customers as being a bunch of


chancers. Apparently they were chancers because they might have the


other City to go to the courts and seek redress. What you know when you


look at RBS accounts? You will see that they have tripled the amount of


money RBS has set aside for the hiring in of lawyers to defend


cases. I see the right honourable gentleman nodding. I believe it is


in the order of close to ?1 billion of what they expect they are going


to have to defend. Surely this says something about banking culture in


our society that will still need to be addressed in the future. Finally,


one of the things that I have been doing in this house is pursuing the


issue of Scottish limited partnerships and other firms of


limited partnerships that have been particularly since 2008 subjected to


use by International criminals, including and perhaps in particular


from Eastern Europe, the Ukraine, Russia and the like, it amounts now


too many billions of pounds that the urgent question that we faced about


ten days, I think, before recess on the big latest money laundering


scandal when I questioned the minister at the time I pointed out


that at their heart lie these limited partnerships. Since 2008,


there have been 22,000 Scottish limited partnerships created that


have completely been opaque. We have no idea who is owning them. Many of


them seek to operate in tax havens and many seek to launder significant


amounts of criminal assets. I think this is an issue. Does he and his


party think that the EU is right to say that a state debts should not be


above 60% of GDP? I think it is reasonable for the EU to seek


reasonable control of debt. Since the Scottish Parliament was created


you could at least say today that the Scottish Government has


absolutely no debt, something that this government cannot claim to be


able to save. When you look towards the future, regardless of whether we


were going to be in or out of the EU, this country, the UK, and all


its member nations, still face major economic challenges that require


will and intelligence to address. That surely is the message that we


should all be taking to our constituents as we face the future.


Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. As I stated in my opening remarks, as


much as 30 minutes ago, following this debate, and with Parliamentary


approval, we will look forward to the assessment of our economic and


budgetary position, based on evidence that has been presented to


Parliament. Presenting this submission through the convergence


programme is a legal requirement under the EU. A couple of points


made by the honourable member for Bootle. He makes the case for


greater devolution. Can I remind him that it is this government that has


put in place the new metro mayors. No doubt he's spending much of his


weekends and constituency Friday's campaigning for the Labour


candidates for mayor of the Liverpool city region and we've


obviously got elections in Manchester and the West Midlands as


well. This is not something that was created by the previous Labour


government, this is something that was created by this government,


recognising the need for decisions to be made at local levels and real


power is being devolved at that level.


He also made the accusation that I have not touched on, the issue of


productivity. He made comments about the Chancellor not discussing the


issues of productivity whereas the Chancellor makes very regular


comments in respect of the need to improve our productivity. I drew


attention to the measures we were taking on schools, skills and


technology and innovation, which are at the heart of our efforts to


address the country's long-standing productivity challenges. It is very


difficult to see how the policies of the Labour Party, that will drive


away briskness investment and discourage enterprise and


innovation, would do anything other than weaken our productivity. --


business. If he wishes to fight the next few weeks on the subject of


productivity, I for one would welcome that. In the Budget we set


out earlier this year, we continue to prepare this country for


long-term prosperity. First and foremost by putting our economic


stability first, by continuing to improve the state of our public


finances, but we also set up meaningful investment in our future


productivity and current public services. This is a plan therefore


that strikes the right balance between reducing our deficit,


preserving fiscal stability and investing in Britain's future. Those


of the foundations of the strong and stable platform for the upcoming


Brexit negotiations. This is the full the basis for the convergence


programme we presented the European Union, and on that basis, I am


pleased to to the House, which I beg to move. The question is as on the


order paper. As many as are of the opinion, say "aye". To the contrary,


"no". Division, clear the lobby. As many as are of the opinion, say


"aye". To the contrary, "no". Tellers for the ayes, tellers for


the noes, thank you. Order, order! The ayes to the right


to hunt and 38. The noes to the left, 191. The ayes have it!


Armlock. Point of order, Alison Pulis. Madam Deputy Speaker, you may


remember that I had tried to debate the government rape clause in this


house. The last time I raised this, the usual channels came back to me


that there would be time made in a committee for the clause to be


debated. The list has appeared in the whips office and as far as I


know there will not be time with the proposed election there will not be


time for the rape clause to be debated in this house. In Scotland,


the NHS and women's organisation are refusing to co-operate with the


guidance because they did believe it is not sound. Is there any recourse


to raise this with the government so that these very important issues do


get debated. The honourable lady has successfully done so herself as she


sees on the Treasury benches the leader of the house will take up the


matter with the honourable lady. I thank her for the point of order and


the notice of it. I beg to move that this house do now adjourned. Jim


Shannon. It is always a privilege to speak in this house. On this


occasion, it is something I have wanted to do for some time on the


case of the watch Raw UDR men murdered. They had worked together


for some time. The crack was great, as they travelled on a beautiful


morning, just like any number of others on a day like today, leaving


behind wives and children and loved ones, they wanted to do their job


and earn their pay like anyone of us would do. There the similarity ends


because the atrocity on false. I'm sure the members of the house will


give some adherence to the importance of this issue. I declare


an interest as a member of the also the defence Regiment. I served it


for three years as did other gallant members of this house and in other


regiments and we are very pleased that they have made an effort to


come to the chamber. On the morning of the 9th of April 1990, John


Birch, Michael Bradley, Michael Adams and the private Stephen Smart,


all members of the UDR were murdered with an attack on their mobile


patrol in Downpatrick. All were travelling as a part of a two Land


Rover patrol where a 1000 lb bomb, imagine the magnitude of that,


beneath the road was dead on it and it was detonated and they were


hurled 30 yards into a field, killed near instantly and creating a


creator 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Those are the facts of what


happened that fateful morning. Their families were torn apart, never to


be the same. The men in service of Queen and country. Much like the


officer on duty last month in this place. No link to anything other


than the desire to wear the uniform and serve their community. Ireland


are three of these men very well. John Bradley, married with a son and


daughter. He had recently been promoted. He served with the Royal


Highland Fusiliers that came from Renfrewshire. Another of the men


came from where I was raised. I can remember him being born. His wife


was expecting again. Private Stephen Smart coming from the main town of


my constituency. His mother is dead but his father is still living. I


thank the honourable member for Strangford for giving way and


bringing this adjournment Ford. I had the honour of serving in the


third County Down battalion, the same battalion as these brave


soldiers. Will the honourable member agree with me that tragic as their


deaths are, their sacrifice and the sacrifice of that regiment was


immense. Their legacy, is the fact that our children and grandchildren


can walk the streets of Northern Ireland not having to look over


their shoulder because of the bravery of the men and women who


served in the Ulster Defence Regiment, the Royal Ulster


Constabulary and the other fine regiments that came to Northern


Ireland, men and women who put their lives on the line. I thank my right


honourable friend for the intervention. He's absolutely right.


Those who served in uniform in that Regiment and others deserve every


recognition for what they have done. Michael Adams, 23, also from Newton


Ards who served for seven months with the Regiment. I served with him


in the order I served in 11 a half years with the TA. I remember doing


guard duty with him. I'm not sure if we had done anything wrong. We had


the radio and we were listening to tunes, one of them was Stand By Me a


1960s song, we are doing the very same thing with them today. These


are men I knew well and faces I recall right now and I honour and


respect today. I saw one of their mothers the week before last and her


grief is still evident. These are men who deserve justice who were


brutally murdered. Could I thank the honourable gentleman for giving way


and say that I well remember that morning of the 9th of April 19 90.


At that stage it was 7:30am and I had worked for my predecessor at


that stage, we got a phone call to the office from the BBC to say what


had happened. Our shark and our abortion and our opposition -- our


shock and our roof portion and our position was made quite clear. Is he


aware of it to an a half weeks later on a Sunday afternoon that there was


a piece demonstration in Downpatrick from the car park in lower market


Street out to the scene of that terrible atrocity? That was done to


clearly illustrate that this was not done in our name and our total


opposition and false to all forms of violence -- and revulsion to all


forms of violence and terror. It also indicates the revulsion in the


whole of the community in Downpatrick in relation to this. He


mentioned the mother of one of the victims and mentioned children and


sometimes we're inclined to forget about the families who were left


after all of those years after this has happened and I'm sure you will


agree that we must keep them to the fore. I thank my honourable friend


and colleague for that intervention and he is right. This debate is an


opportunity to recall the bravery of those young men and also to ask the


Minister to respond and to ask for some action in relation to this. We


will do that at the end. Discussing the actions of what is the 16 man


and women team who helped to plan this. We all recall the pain and


suffering of the loss of a loved one of friends and colleagues and we


still carry that pain today. Plenty of other people in this chamber also


carry pain. I think of the gallant friend across the way and minister


who have served in uniform in Northern Ireland. I thank my


honourable friend, gallant friend for giving way. The victims who are


left behind, the mums, dads, the brothers, sisters, children's,


sweethearts, their lives are actually defined by these events


because their lives are defined by what happened after I lost my loved


one. It's only in the definition of their victimhood that we will


actually be able to heal in some way and cure that pain when justice is


achieved for those people. Hopefully, through his debate we can


actually open up a way of finding justice and Ealing for the people


left behind. I thank my honourable friend and colleague for his


thoughtful intervention and those very kind words. Like too many


people in the province I have been touched by the actions of men like


the leader of the provisional IRA responsible for the murder of the


four UDR men. That vile, despicable excuse for a human being was an


named Colin Marks. It's no coincidence that when he was shot,


the activity of the IRA in the South immediately. A person who was


pulling the strings and dictating and taking part in action that was


completely unacceptable. I thank the honourable member for giving way


again. He comes to an important point that I think needs to be


emphasised. We have come to a sorry place when it is the men and women


who put on uniforms and who defend and protect the community and in the


case of Colin Marks, who shot someone who was a commander in the


IRA and saved countless lives as a result, they are the people waiting


on the knock at the door. They are wondering if someone is going to


come looking for them to bring them, call them before a court to make


them answer for what they did which was within the law and was about


protecting and defending the community and we want to see the


government do more to protect the integrity of the men and women who


served in Northern Ireland in this operation and other theatres of


conflict. They deserve that support. That's part of what about today.


This debate is also about seeking justice and to have justice for


those who served in uniform and the importance of that. He headed up the


gang, lying in wait with his detonator in a forest just across


from Bally Dougan. Whenever he pushed the button and killed for and


-- for brave and courageous young man, went away, disposed of his blue


boiler suit, was picked up by somebody else, there were 16 people


involved. Somebody told the people that the Land Rover patrol was on


its way. Another person confirmed that. A person left a 1000 lb arm.


Multiply a bag of sugar by a thousand times and you have the


magnitude of that bomb. How many people did it take to put that


bombing that culvert. They were seen doing it. Just why was that


evidence, visual evidence not acted upon in the way it should have been?


To warn that UDR patrol and other patrols in the area of what it was


about. There was a person when he was picked up at the shopping centre


and taken to a safe house where he was showered and changed his clothes


which were destroyed and moved to another house. 16 people were


involved in the murder of those UDR men. Colin Marks pushed the button


and blew the men to smithereens. He was also the IRA commander who was


involved on in the murder of another man. A coal merchant selling coal.


As he did his last delivery he was attacked by two men and was shot


dead. This man has his hands red with blood. He is, let's be honest,


he wasn't a freedom fighter, he was a lowlife efficient psychopath with


no human decency, rotten to the core, contemptible, detestable,


loathsome. No good whatsoever. A man who should never have been born.


The member is defining a person in a very particular way. The see also


salute the gallantry of the people who stood up to that beast, and


recognise we won? Because the war they claim to be fighting for, today


we are administering British rule in Northern Ireland. There is no all


Irish Republic. We're not going anywhere else. The death has sealed


the fact that it has been a victorious and gallant death. There


are not another objective is to describe this loathsome person. All


of the others involved in this as well. Nine people were arrested. I


have read the historical report into this. Nine people were arrested, one


was charged. But the person who killed the men, he was free, at


least he was until one fateful day for him. As he was sitting up a bomb


to attack and kill more people in Downpatrick, he was caught in the


act, and was shot in the act of trying to kill other men and police


officers. So justice was done in that he came to the end of his


reign. It is a pity it did not happen earlier. This is the legacy


of death, the legacy left by the as one of honour, sacrifice, dignity


strength and great love for not only the families but the country and its


people. We stand to reiterate this. Colin Marx and the rest of us serve


nothing other than the label of what they were, odious, filthy scum. May


I speak for some of us that were in Northern Ireland in the army, the


regular army, and I include the Minister? We, those of us that


served in the regular army, had incredible respect, affection. We


salute the gallantry of every single member of the Royal Ulster


Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment and anyone that served the


Crown in Northern Ireland who was a target of terrorism. We salute them,


particularly because you live that, worked with your family around you.


Those people had the huge threat of doing their duty, as the minister


and I did not with our family around us, and to actually do that, we had


huge respect for those that did that. And in that way, I also


includes politicians of Northern Ireland who also were on the huge


threat. And I am sorry if my intervention was long but I wanted


to make that point from those of us were not normally living in Northern


Ireland. I thank the honourable and gallant member for his contribution.


I always look forward to his contribution to this House because


they are wise words of a person who has served and done much for us in


this chamber for those further afield. His knowledge and command of


it. I know why the soldiers followed him, and we appreciate and thank him


for that. The soldiers were traumatised by repeated destruction


of the memorial. There were not sufficient with killing the four


brave men, those evil people, they took a sledgehammer down and slashed


the memorial at Bally Dougan. I was able as a counsellor to see the


direction of the memorial for those four young men, three of them came


from the area, and Lance Corporal Barry came from just outside the


area. The memorial was desecrated and treated with no respect or


common decency. Yet again, I thank the honourable member for giving


way, but he has come to an important point. We hear a lot from those who


are elected to this House but do not take their seats about respect. That


word, respect. We would like to see a bit more respect given by Sinn


Fein to the men and women who serve our country, and we would like to


see the Armed Forces covenant fully implemented in Northern Ireland to


ensure the families and veterans who served this country and sacrificed


so much I given the support they deserve. So let's see Sinn Fein step


up to the mark and show respect for a change. I thank the honourable


gentleman for that. Respect is something that is urgent and is very


much lacking from the side of Sinn Fein. In relation to what we are


hoping to achieve. I thank the honourable gentleman for giving way


again and I say this ever so gently, would he agree with me that there is


a need now to have a resolution to the political talks process? One of


those issues are to do with legacy. We come from perhaps different


perspectives, but we all understand that many people lost their lives in


very difficult tragic circumstances. Would he agree with me then now


needs to be a resolution of this outstanding issues to allow this


political institutions to be up and running in Northern Ireland, to


provide the people than seeing a stripping of public services? I


thank her for her intervention and I agree with that. It is important. We


are committed to the talks process in the way forward. We just wish


those participants in it were of the same mind, but there is a need of


understanding and respect the people's traditions. We wish very


much for that and hope that Sinn Fein will do the same. The families'


lost will never be forgotten. Samuel Smart's dad came to my office last


year and left me with a large thing wrapped up a newspaper. It turned


out to be a blackthorn stick, which she presented to me, and wanted to


give to me many years ago but I always refused and said, I I am not


here to get it. The motif of the Ulster Defence Regiment. He says, I


have got one for you and one for me. The reason for this debate again is


to say I can only imagine the pain of 27 years, children without their


parents and parents without the children. I can only imagine how


every bit of terrorism is like a knife in your stomach, and this


debate will also be Northern Ireland as well. Would-be member agree with


me that we also need to concentrate on mental health and how we look at


these families and everybody else and find a solution we can all agree


on as soon as possible? He very clearly outlines part of the issue.


The member referred to it earlier on. There is traumatised nation


amongst those who have survived, and many in this chamber have served as


well, and it is was good to see them here. I can only imagine how every


provocation of terrorism bill is like a knife in your stomach. I


cannot imagine anything worse than the murder of your child, fibre or


spouse. I can only imagine, as you cry for your loss and ask for


justice, watching those that came to the table with bloody hands having


investigations and apologies handing out, what seems to be left, right


and centre. I can only imagine what that means. I do and we'll do what


we can in this House to highlight the issue and make the point. I


standard this chamber with my colleagues and friends and declare


again that we refuse to allow the rewriting of history to be made for


evil seem to be good and for the unjustifiable to be thought of as


anyway justified. We call a ban on the British government and the


Minister... -- call upon. Could I just say to him that we hear a lot


from Sinn Fein, calling for disclosure of government documents.


I think it is about time there was disclosure from those members in the


IRA and the IRA themselves, to hear why the four were targeted, and I


think there is a noble miss the is missing. The members served in the


Ulster Defence Regiment as well. He wore the uniform of Queen and


country as well. We need Sinn Fein to step up, to recognise that there


is an understanding of what we have suffered over the years in our


community and the need to address that. I am sure he would join with


me when we talk about the pain and disgust and disclosure and all the


rest of it, whenever it was disclosed that certain members


received letters of comfort and victims were still suffering, I am


sure he will know that this party and the people of Northern Ireland


totally disgusted. It does rankle arsenal. -- us all. There are some


out there, we need people to set the record straight, stem the current


tide of this, we seek to turn history around amongst cause of


pollution, seek to distract from the fact described in this case, a 16


man and woman team planting a bomb to wreak as much death and


destruction is possible, the death of four men in their 20s and two


passer-by civilians who happen to be in a car at that time. They wanted


more blood, agony, heartache. They carried out more until they were


halted on the way of holding them was whenever Colin Marks's mass


murder, multiple monster that he is and was, was dispatched because he


carried out that attempt to kill even more police officers. This was


not a holy war, this was not freedom fighting, this was a wretched hatred


at work. This was not a noble cause, this was butchery, and as time has


moved on, we reiterate the call from those of us here and across the


Chamber, justice for these men, how frustrating it is to hear these


calls for justice for everyone else. I want justice, the party wants


justice, to ensure that those grave UDR men and those who wore the


uniform get justice as well. Would he accept that justice will never be


done if Sinn Fein and the IRA are allowed through the legacy process


to rewrite history, present themselves as freedom fighters who


had some just cause rather than terrorists who were simply out to


subvert the wishes of the people to remain part of the United Kingdom?


Absolutely. They tried to equate the two together. Those in uniform were


serving their queen and country to keep law and order. Those who wore


barrack lavas and skulk that night and pushed bombs, they are the


murderers. There is no comparison. We seek justice for everyone,


justice that will not simply be in the incarceration of every single


person involved in the bombing from the bomb makers to the clothes


washers, all 16 who did a task in relation to people. Justice must


also come through an end to historical fiction being presented


as fact. The team that was involved in the despatching of Colm Marx,


does he agree that they should receive medals for despatching one


of Ulster's worst criminals. That is exactly how I feel about it. The day


that evil, obnoxious, psychopathic multiple killer was put in the grave


was a day that the world was a better place. It would have been


bettered the day he was never born, down cause havoc, murder and mayhem


across the province. 27 years ago, an holy week, the most unholy act of


slaughter was carried out by men and women, some of whom are walking


around today instead of paying for their crimes. I sincerely ask every


person listening in this chamber or back at home to stop the


re-traumatised nation of the victims of the trouble by accepting these we


write. And I accept the honourable people who they so sacrificially


served. I take the time for others in this chamber tonight. We ask for


justice for those for young brave men and for their families who have


suffered every day from traumatised nation and the memory of losing


loved ones. All others in this house remember their bravery, their


coverage and their sacrifice. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. First of


all, I start by Congress jury to the honourable gentleman for securing


this important debate this evening. The member for Strangford, I know,


as has been mentioned is a former member of the UDR and the member of


Lagan Valley and Fermanagh, many people have been stepped up to be


leaders in Northern Ireland and have served gallantly in very troubled


times both in regular service to the UDR and the RUC. I just want to pay


my respects to that organisation. I think the member for Beckenham put


it absolutely right, we have huge respect for that as people, who, we


in the regular Army went home and went back to in my case Yorkshire,


he's from somewhere down south, I think. Cheshire. The point is, we


went back to our homes, to a safe place whereas I know lots of you and


lots of people who served in the UDR and RUC went back with that fear


still every moment of the day. I'd also like to express my condolences


and sympathies to the families and friends of the young soldiers who on


the 9th of April 1990 tragic the lost their lives in this horrendous


terrorist atrocity. It is evident that for many people the legacy of


Northern Ireland's past continues to be, continues to cast a very dark


shadow over the present. I am very conscious that in approaching this


is you we recognised that terrible loss suffered by so many people


during the troubles in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the


United Kingdom. Over the period of the trouble is, broadly speaking


from 1968 to 1998, around 3.5 -- around 3500 were killed, many in the


line of duty protecting the public and maintaining the rule of law.


Thousands were also maimed and injured jawing terrorist campaigns.


This government has always been clear that we, and this point was


made by several members, this government has always been clear


that we wholly reject any suggestion of some equivalence between the


security forces and those who carried out these terrorist


atrocities. Terrorism was and is wholly wrong. It was never and could


never be justified, from whichever side it came, Republican. No


injustices perceived or otherwise warranted the actions of the para


meant to -- paramilitary groups which caused the immense damage


whenever these atrocities were carried out. We need to look at


mental health and how best we get veterans access to these services. I


hope the other side of the general election we can make sure everybody


knows, who cares about those people, those veterans, that we make sure


we've got good access and are able to channel people to get the support


they deserve and need. As someone who has served in Northern Ireland,


and as a proud member of the Majesty 's Armed Forces, in the British


Army, I witnessed at first hand the remarkable dedication and courage


Armed Forces and officers of the Ulster Unionist Constabulary, sorry,


the Royal Ulster Constabulary performed during my time. Over 1000


members of the curative forces lost their lives over the period of


operation, the longest continuous military deployment in this


country's history. And the issue of awards and medals was mentioned


earlier on, around 7000 awards for bravery were made and without the


dedication and self-sacrifice of the security forces to keep the people


of Northern Ireland safe and circumstances that enabled the peace


process to take root, take old would never have happened without the


gallant work of these people. As I've already alluded, dealing with


Northern Ireland's past is difficult and complex and many victims and


survivors who are today still suffering on the basis of the


results of the troubles and the way it impacted those individuals, it's


clear that the legacy institutions as they are currently setup are not


working for everyone and we have a victim to everyone to have a


comprehensive approach to provide a way forward for everyone. That is


why the government continues to believe that the Stormont house


institutions remain the best way forward for dealing with Northern


Ireland's past. I believe these proposals will make the situation


better for victims and survivors and is the best chance of prosecuting


terrorists for murdering police officers and soldiers along with


other victims. I believe the historical investigations unit, a


body proposed in the Stormont house agreement has a number of advantages


over current system in place in Northern Ireland. It will


investigate deaths in chronological order, taking each case in turn, it


will include in its investigation many hundreds of murders caused by


terrorists, including those of soldiers, this will include the


murders of the 18 soldiers at Warrenpoint in 1979, the largest


loss of life in the Army in any single incident in the troubles.


Madam Deputy Speaker, it's estimated that without the form, the current


mechanisms, around 185 murders of soldiers will not be reinvestigated,


not to mention the many murders of RUC members. There will be a


statutory duty to act in a manner that is balanced, proportions, fair


and equitable. The HS you will be time limited with an aim to bring an


end to all of these investigations into the past within five years.


Just before I come to the conclusion, on the issue of the


honourable member for Strangford raises, it would be inappropriate


for me to comment but there is provision under the proposals that


where there is no evidence the right institutions go in pursuit of those


and get to the bottom and pursue the people responsible for it. What I


would say to the right honourable gentleman, where you have got


evidence, bring that forward and I would use all my officers to make


sure that evidence can be placed into the right hands to be dealt


with appropriately. By all means. Would he accept however that despite


all the words he has said that new evidence or new ways of interpreting


evidence is now being used as a means to carry out what many regard


as a witchhunt against members of the security forces who took out


people like Colm Marx and that's where the anger and the injustice


appears to be coming through in Northern Ireland and which is


re-traumatised and many of those who served in Northern Ireland and are


seeing themselves used as some pawn in a politically expedient game to


try and buy of Sinn Fein and get them back into government. Thank you


for the intervention. I just want to give you my reassurance that I think


the route I suggested will address that and give people confidence. It


is important, I say this as a former soldier myself, that I've played by


the rules. Many people played by the walls. Occasionally individuals make


mistakes and they need to be accountable for it. Because we were


part of the establishment we had rules of engagement, we believe in


the Geneva Convention, a whole set of rules, that's the difference


between our two. I look at and solve the veterans march a few weeks ago


and Doug Beattie was a guest speaker at that and many good points he put


in there and one of the key points he made was that if you break the


law, you should face the law. There was a man campaigning for that --


for veterans but he recognises that those who have broken the law need


to be accountable regardless of which side. I agree totally with


that point but it is not the point that my colleague from East Antrim


made. In this particular case, the officer who dispatched Colm Marx has


been through three individual inquests. He was a friend of mine


growing up. He went through an ombudsman's inquest, there is now a


second inquest, on the basis of dodgy evidence that has been


produced. He will be dragged through that process again, his wife and


family will be traumatised by it and that is why I said he and his team


should have been given a medal that night. That should be the honour


that our state should be giving these people, not dragging them


through the process of constantly going through what they did.


I understand the passion with which the honourable gentleman talks


spotted a large balance and proportion in our response and the


state was in response to this. All means. Thank you. I thank the


Minister for giving way. I know he understands. There is a real worry,


as my honourable friends, who are really my friends on the other side


of the house, have said, is the proportionality of investigation


that Riaz. It is also the fact that many people who carry out crimes


seem to have -- worry us. Have their crimes blown out, blown away yet


soldiers, policemen and others who have carried out their duties using


the yellow card rules and under the role seem to have a fair and that


they will be a blot on their doors to drag them before a court. -- a


knock on their door. This is the worry that we have. -- fear. I know


the minister understand this because they have discussed it outside this


house, but this is the worry all the people sitting in this chamber at


the moment that our men and women who did everything right can't sleep


as well as others who did everything wrong. Can I thank my gallant friend


for his intervention and I think he's right with the fact it is that


I've been proportionate. I know he, as a man of justice, would know that


if someone does something wrong, they need to be accountable for it.


What is appropriate in this process, under the Stormont agreement, is


that we bring a model forward for those victims and survivors, and we


have a system which is right. I do appreciate the support from the


benches around this issue to bring this to conclusion and part of that


has got to be that we need a working mechanism of Government in Northern


Ireland where a devolved institution can work effectively and to bring


justice and bring some peace to the individuals. I want to conclude, I


have outlined the reasons why the Secretary of State recently


announced his intention to move to a public says. -- phase and why we


have engaged intensively with victim groups to move a full on the


outstanding issues. I believe this has the potential to build greater


confidence in the new bodies and resolve the remaining issues. It is


clear that the status quo is not working well for victims and


families, and it time progresses made. This will make sure our


veterans are not unfairly treated all district urgently investigated


and will reflect the fact that 90% of the deaths and troubles, any


troubles were caused by terrorists, and caused so much pain and


suffering. This Government remains distinct in its admiration of the


role of forces plays to ensure that Northern Ireland's future will be


forever divided by democracy and consent. We salute bays -- decided.


We salute soldiers for their sacrifices. I've responded to


several debates of this nature and I know it very difficult for the


people who put the debate forward. I think it's important for the


people... He's like about the horrors happening that day and have


to, and other honourable members have spoken about being respectful


to each other and working to gather any different place that is not the


9th of April 1990, what it is today. I don't, I went there two days. The


place it is the day is not the place it was before. The high school is an


amazing place full of bright young people. They're with me. To go and


visit the voluntary groups. -- stay with me. Can I thank the Minister


for giving way. As someone who was born, raised and educated in


Downpatrick, I can quite clearly say to the Minister that it was one of


the first councils back in 1973 that introduced and participated in a


power-sharing arrangement at local government level which the game


plying their arrangement for the rest of Northern Ireland. -- became


the pioneering. Having met the staph and the people who participate in


the projects of the Barry moat centre in the estate, that is very


much the view that I and others want to see the trade of Downpatrick at


an integrated place for a shared society. I don't want to get away


from the debate to day but it is important just to reiterate, and the


honourable lady is very right with the fact that there are people


across the community coming together and living in a peaceful, cohesive


place. There are always tension and pressure around but actually it is a


completely different place. During my visit, I want to finish on this


point, I went to Downpatrick police station because, at 2pm, PC Keith


Palmer was being buried, we were over there and we had a two-minute


silence for him at the Memorial within the police nation, of which


of course there are many, many people who lost their lives. We


should remember the people who will ask what we should also make sure


that Downpatrick is a beautiful place. -- groupware lost. That is


the future we should project. As well as rendering the people we have


lost. -- free member ring. The question is that the house do now


adjourn. As many of that opinion, say ayes? -- aye. The ayes have it.


We now come to the notion on the early parliamentary general election


to move the motion, I call the Prime Minister. Thank you, and I beg to


move the motion on the order paper in my name and that of my honourable


friends. That mission


Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including (estimated timings):

12.45pm-12.55pm ten minute rule bill. 12.55pm-2.25pm debate and vote on a motion to hold a general election on Thursday 8 June. 2.25pm-4.25pm consideration of Lords amendments to the Technical and Further Education Bill. 4.30pm-6.00pm motion on a budget report for the European Union.