08/03/2017 Prime Minister's Questions

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Coverage of questions in the House of Commons to prime minister Theresa May, from Wednesday 8 March.

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an international women's day that there is no other nation across the


European Union that has lower unemployment for women and that


nation is Wales. I hope he will recognise that. Questions to the


Prime Minister. I am sure members across the whole House will wish to


join me in marking International women's Day. As we celebrate the


social and economic and cultural and political achievements of women here


and around the world. But we also redouble our efforts to tackle the


problem is that women all too often still face. Mr Speaker I had


meetings with ministerial colleagues this morning with others and in


addition I will have further meetings today. I join the Prime


Minister in celebrating International women's Day. Since


2010 conservatives and Government have a proud record of protecting


and supporting both those at risk and the victims of domestic violence


and abuse. I saw this myself when I joined my local police and I would


like to thank them for the difficult job that they do. Too many women I


still at risk and are still suffering. What more can the Prime


Minister do to tackle this abhorrent crime? She raises a very serious


issue and it is one of which have taken a particular personal interest


and I attach very great personal importance of this issue. Tackling


domestic violence and abuse is a key priority for the Government. What we


have done already in Government I think has the potential to transform


the way in which we think and tackle these terrible crimes when take


place. We have already committed to bringing forward the legislation and


today I have confirmed an additional ?20 million to support organisations


working to tackle domestic violence and abuse. This means the total


funding available for violence against women and girls strategy


will be over ?100 million as Parliament. Jeremy Corbyn. Thank you


very much. Could I start by wishing all women are very happy


International women's Day today. I'm very proud that the Labour Party as


more women MPs than all other parties combined. In this House. And


as Shadow Cabinet of which half the members are women. A month ago, Mr


Speaker, I raised the question of the leaked text between the leader


of Sunni council and Government officials about social care. --


Surrey. The Prime Minister responded by accusing me of peddling


alternative facts. Could she explain the difference between his


sweetheart deals and a gentleman 's agreement? The Conservative Party


has taken a further measure relation to women in this House very recently


and replaced a male Labour MP with a female Conservative. CHEERING. He


has asked me about the issue in relation to Surrey County Council.


He asked if there has been a particular deal with Surrey County


Council that is not available to other councils? The answer to that


is no. As I have said before the ability to raise social care


precepts of 3% is available to every council. The issue of the retention


of 100% of business rates is currently going to be available to a


number of councils in April. Let's look at them, Liverpool, Manchester,


London. What we know about those? They are all under Labour control.


What he is actually asking me is why should a Conservative council have


access to an arrangement that is predominantly currently available to


Labour councils? Jeremy Corbyn. My question was about the arrangements


between the Government and Surrey County Council. I'm recording has


now emerged saying that the leader of Sunni County Council, David


Hodge, -- Surrey. There was a gentleman 's agreement between him


and the Government that meant they would not have to go ahead with the


referendum. What deal was done with Surrey County Council? There is an


acute social crisis that affects every County Council. 4.6 billion


metres social care -- cuts metres social care since 2010. Can she save


what's gentleman 's agreement is available to them? I think if we


could just be a little patient and wait half an hour for the budget. He


will actually find out what social care funding is available to all


councils. If he is asking me if there was a special deal for Surrey


that was not available to other councils the answer is no. If he is


looking to uncover a conspiracy I suggest he just looks behind him. Mr


Speaker, if all the arrangements are so clear and above board, will the


Prime Minister place in the library of the House a record of all 121


meetings that have been held between the Communities Secretary and the


Chancellor with any council leader chair of social services anywhere in


England? And can she explained if there is no special deal why Surrey


is the only County Council to be allowed into the business rates


retention pilot when it has been denied to others? The business rates


retention pilot will be coming into force for a number of councils this


April. That includes, as I have already said in answer to his


earlier question, Liverpool and Greater Manchester and Greater


London and some others. In 2019 in 2020 it will be available to 100% of


councils. For 2018 and 2019 councils unable to apply to be part of


further pilot, all councils across the country. The text said there was


a memorandum about the standing. The Prime Minister said there was no


deal and she is now include about this. -- and clear. -- unclear. Did


she actually know what arrangements were made with Surrey County


Council? Could the Prime Minister tell us how many new school places


will be needed by 2020? Can I just say to the right Honourable


gentleman that really he should listen to the answers I gave before


a asked the next question. He said I did not answer the question about a


special deal for Sally. I think I have answered a treatise but I would


do it aforetime. -- aforetime. -- Surrey. There was no special deal


for Sally that was not available for other councils. -- Surrey. She was


asked why the is a crisis in school places and class sizes soaring


thanks to her Government. What is the answer on the number of new


school places needed? This Government has a policy about


increasing the number of school places. But doing more than that. I


want to increase the number of good school places so that every child


has the opportunity to go to a good school. That is what the money we


put it into education is about. It includes money for a new free


schools. Those will be faith schools and universities skills and


comprehensives and grammar schools. Mass schools. There will be a


diversity because what I want is a good school place for every child.


And parents to have a choice. -- mathematics schools. What he wants


his pain and stabilitys take what they are given, good or bad. 420,000


school places are needed. Nothing she says gets anywhere near to that.


She proposes the flagship scheme to build the Royal schools the wrong


place spending millions on vanity projects of grammar schools and free


schools while people funding is falling in real terms. Is it not


time that this colossal waste of money is addressed if it is doing


nothing to help the vast majority of children and nothing to solve the


crisis of school places and soaring class sizes. That is what every


parent in this country once, not vanity projects from her Government.


It is no vanity project want every child to have a good school place.


The majority of free schools that have been opened have been opened in


areas where there is a need for school places and the majority have


been opened in areas of disadvantage with their help in the very children


we want to see given the opportunity to get on in life. This is about a


fairer society and on this budget gave what we see is we are securing


the economy and labour want to weaken it. We are working for a


fairer society, Labour opposed every single reform. We are fighting for


the best deal for Britain. Labour are fighting among themselves. That


is Labour, weak, divided and unfit to govern this great country. This


week it is likely that sadly for people will suffer a stroke and


Erewash. Given that their highly successful stroke strategy finishes


this year will she publish our stroke strategy which will include


outcomes for patients? I want to assure her that the NHS does want to


continue to build on successes of the current stroke strategy. There


have been huge improvements over the last decades in stroke care and we


want to deliver our vision for truly world leading care. On a particular


treatment universe do I understand the NHS has approved the use of


mechanical plot retrieval in specific cases. It does rigorously


on the quality of stroke care across the country so we can come good on


promises. Include some of the fastest recoveries for strokes and


heart attacks in Europe. Angus Robertson. An international women's


day we wish all campaigners for equality well. Across Parliamentary


Brexit committee has recommended the UK guarantee status of EU nationals


working in the UK and act unilaterally necessary. They went to


see that the current process is not fit for purpose and in the absence


of any contrary resolution to relieve things that he felt by the


estimated 3 million EU citizens resident in the UK it is untenable


to continue with the system as it stands. Given the massive positive


contribution that Europeans nationals make to this country what


concrete plans that the premise that have to deal with this? As the right


honourable gentleman knows we do want to have an earlier agreement


which will enable us to guarantee the status of EU citizens living in


the UK but also we need to gun to the status of UK citizens living in


the European Union. The Home Office is looking at this and how they can


improve the systems and simplify them.


Since 2010, the Home Office has seen its full-time staff equivalent cut


by 10%, so at current rates of processing applications for


permanent residency, it would take the Home Office more than 50 years,


50 years to deal with frequent to European -- 3.2 million European


nationals in the UK. This is clearly totally unacceptable. Will the Prime


Minister tell us how quickly she hopes to be able to guarantee all


European nationals permanent residency? The honourable gentleman


can't just stand up and say, because actually the Home Office is getting


more efficient, it's been longer for answers to... It's got more


efficient at dealing with these things. I don't know if he has ever


heard about technology, but these days people apply online and they


are dealt with online. Following the recent findings of a study of terror


convictions in Britain, it is clear there are serious problems with how


communities integrate into society, and the danger that this lack of


integration will lead to acts of terror. With the Prime Minister


update the house on the government counterterrorism strategy and the to


these findings? It is a very serious issue that my honourable friend has


raised. The government is taking a comprehensive approach to tackling


terrorism, violent extremism at source, but also through our


counter-extremism strategy looking at extremism more widely, and we


want to defeat not just terrorism and violent extremism at extremism


where every two Kurds. We will shortly publish a new


counterterrorism strategy. -- wherever it occurs. This is backed


up by additional investment in security and intelligence agencies.


I am clear that the government is doing everything it can to tackle


issues around integration, extremism and terrorism. I come from a


Westminster hall debate on the half of my young constituent, Sam, who is


11, who developed narcolepsy as result of receiving the pandemics


vaccine to protect him from swine flu. Sanders mother is in the


gallery. In these rare and devastating cases, the link between


this vaccine and narcolepsy is proven, and yet families like this


face long legal battles with the government. Will the Prime Minister


today promise that no more of these disabled children will be hounded


through the courts, apologised to the families concerned and also to


oversee payments to support the children's long-term care needs? ...


Can I first of all congratulate the honourable lady on securing a


Westminster hall debate on this important topic. At the end of her


questions, she refers to the issue of payments. Of course she realises


that the vaccine damages payment scheme is not a compensation scheme


but a one-off tax-free lump sum paid to help ease the burden of those who


are disabled as a result of vaccination, and it is part of a


range of support. She has raised a very specific case. Can I suggest to


her that obviously she has had that Westminster hall debate, we want to


ensure that the process is open and fair at every stage. DWP looks at


every claim based on its own facts and, if she wants to provide me with


the details, I am sure the Minister for disabled people, health and work


will look into this specific case. Question for, sir. While I won't


speculate on the statement that my right honourable friend, the


Chancellor, will be making shortly, I can assure my honourable friend at


the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Since 2010, employment in


the West Midlands has risen by 215000 and private sector employment


alone grew by 80,000 over the last year. We have also seen schools and


police budget is protected and more doctors and nurses in his local


hospitals. And we have also witnessed the post Brexit vote of


confidence from Nissan, Boeing and Dyson, investing in other parts of


the country but put my right honourable friend speak a little bit


more about firms like jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands? I am


happy to say to my honourable friend that, in a wider sense, our plans


for the Midlands engine show that we want an economy that works for


everyone. We have already confirmed over 330 million in the growth deal


funding, money going to the Midlands engine investment fund, the


Birmingham rail hub, but it is important to recognise the best and


being made in UK by companies like Jaguar Land Rover, who will be


building their new range Rover model in Solihull. That is good news for


the West Midlands and the British economy, and a sign of confidence


Jaguar Land Rover has in the UK for the future. My Blackpool casework is


now full of the anxieties DWP and Home Office are imposing on


vulnerable constituents, including officials' attempts to overturn


tribunal decisions protecting benefits and residents. They include


a family settled here for eight years and a man with a severe brain


injury. Can I ask the Prime Minister, if she wants people to


respect exit means Brexit, shouldn't she respect that tribunal 's mean


tribunal 's and not try and block them with grubby regulations,


affecting 164,000 disabled people? If the honourable gentleman is


referring to the decision that has been taken in relation to the courts


and the personal independence payments, as I explained in this


house last week, as has been explained by the Secretary of State,


this is about restoring the system to the state that it was intended to


be when Parliament agreed it. It was agreed by the coalition government,


agreed by this Parliament after extensive consultation. A National


Apprenticeship Week, it's important to recognise this government's


commitment to investment and commitment to apprenticeships and


skills. Would the Prime Minister look at encouraging a great


commitment to degree apprenticeships as part of the strategy, as


championed by businesses in my constituency like BAE Systems, who


have been at the forefront of developing new programmes to its


engineering degree apprenticeship scheme? My honourable friend raises


a very important issue. As we look to the future, we want to insure


that people in the UK have the skills they need for the economy of


the future. Degree apprenticeships will be an important part of this.


As he refers to, there are companies like BAE Systems which had been at


the forefront of developing those new programmes, and I am pleased to


say that overall, we look at and ships, the additional levy will take


the total investment in England, 2.45 billion, double what was spent


in 2010. That means it is more opportunities for young people to


gain the skills they need for their future. Tomorrow, a memorial will be


unveiled to those men and women who served our country in Afghanistan


and Iraq. Does the Prime Minister agree that we should all pay tribute


to their service and commemorate their sacrifice, not just with a


memorial but through a commitment, to learn from the past and do better


in the future? The honourable gentleman raises a very important


point. This will be a significant ceremony, when this memorial is


unveiled, and I think we should all across this house paid tribute to


those whom that memorial will be recognising for the sacrifice they


made. Those in our Armed Forces but also all those civilians who also


worked to deliver aid and health care and education. It is important


that we recognise the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, and also


by their families, and that is, it will be a significant moment


tomorrow. We are very clear that we do need to learn the lessons from


the past, and that is exactly what we will do. I was delighted with the


Prime Minister's intervention in mental health in January, which I


still feel is not had the attention it deserves. In Plymouth, we are


completely reconfiguring our mental health services, because we


understand that parity of esteem means nothing without parity of


provision. Will the premise that come and visit us in Plymouth, come


and see the pioneering work we are doing, perhaps in National Mental


Health Week in May where I'm hoping Plymouth will take a national lead?


I know this is an issue that my honourable friend has championed and


it is close to his areas of concern. It's important, as he talks about


parity of esteem, which the government has introduced, and more


money is going into mental health provision than ever before, and I


would be delighted to see work being done in Plymouth, provided my dowry


-- my diary allows. In my constituency of Burnley, primary and


secondary schools are severely underfunded. Maintained nursery


schools are struggling to survive. Why at this time, when we cannot


adequately fund the schools we already have, is the Prime Minister


is digesting spending millions of pounds creating new grammar schools


that will only help a minority of children? This is as unfair as the


new funding formula and it will do nothing to help social mobility.


Let's be clear about what the government has done, there are


record amounts of funding going into education in this country. It was a


Conservative led government that introduced a pupil premium. It is a


Conservative led government that has protected because schools budget.


When it comes to new money that will be going into schools as a result of


today's announcements, that money is not about a return to a binary


system of grammar schools and secondary moderns. That isn't what


we are going to do. We are ensuring that there is a diversity of


provision, so, yes, some grammar schools, but comprehensives, faith


schools, universities calls, maths schools. I want a good school place


for every child, and more than that, the right school place for every


child. On this International Women's Day, it is fantastic that we have


the highest female employment rate on record, the highest percentage of


women on FTSE 100 boards on record, the gender pay gap is at the lowest


on record, and we have an amazing female Prime Minister.


CHEERING AND JEERING. However, Mr Speaker, I am sure the


Prime Minister will agree there is still much more to do, in particular


supporting women back to work after a career break. Can my right


honourable friend outline what government is going to do to level


the playing field? I thank my honourable friend for her question.


When I stood on the steps of Downing Street last July and I talked about


a country which works for everyone, I meant that, and that is why we are


taking a number of measures, including an International Women's


Day today, and we will be setting up a new fund to help mothers returning


to work after a long career break. Return ships are important. They are


open to both men and women, but we should all recognise that the


majority of those who take time out of a career are women who are


devoting themselves to motherhood for a period. Often, getting back


into employment is difficult for them, they find it closed. That is


why it makes economic sense, but it is also right and fair for these


women that we provide for these return ships to enable them to get


back the workplace. Everyone agrees that early years education is


crucial for the welfare and future of our children fostered however,


nurses in my constituency tell me that the funding for 30 hours of


free childcare is not sufficient and not enough, and many of them will be


forced to close. What steps will Prime Minister take to ensure that


those nurses -- those nurseries do not close? The honourable lady talks


about the 30 hours which is being introduced. We have introduced 15


hours of free childcare every week for all four-year-olds already. 15


hours for disadvantaged two-year-olds, and help with up to


70% of childcare costs or people on low incomes. We will spend a record


?6 billion on childcare support by the end of this Parliament. It is


this Conservative government, it is Conservatives in government that


have the record of supporting parents in relation to childcare


needs. Does my right honourable friend agree that it is indefensible


for the Labour police and crime commission in West Yorkshire to be


raising the council tax precept when he has ?120 million in reserves and


overspent this year -- understood this year's budget by ?4 million?


The decision about what to do with the police precept on council tax is


a matter for the directly elected police and crime commission in West


Yorkshire, as it is in every area that has one, but I would always


encourage those commissioners to look at ways of introducing


efficiencies into their forces before looking to introduce local


taxes. I think what we have seen over the last six years is that


police forces can find sensible savings and reduce crime at the same


time. Mr Speaker, you will know that the Royal College of Physicians have


found that 40,000 people die prematurely each year from diesel


pollution, at a cost of ?20 billion to the UK economy, and YouGov have


found that 47% of diesel drivers are willing to switch given the right


tax incentive. Will she commits to a fiscal strategy and a new clean air


act to put us on a new, cleaner, healthier trajectory, taking global


leadership, rather than being dragged into the courts over basic


EU air quality standards? As the honourable gentleman will know, we


are looking at the measures we need to introduce to improve air quality.


There have been imprudent in recent years, but we need to go further,


and that is what the government is looking out across the apartment,


together with the department for food and rural affairs, and they pay


most attention to that, because it is their remit. We will bring


forward proposals on air quality in due course.


International Women's Day is a chance to reflect on how governments


and democracies across the world serve women. Will my honourable


friend confirm that when it comes to female primer ministers, it is 2-0


to the Conservatives? -- prime. I am grateful to my honourable friend for


having pointed that out, which I refrain from doing earlier in


response to questions, but I think it is very telling that the Labour


Party spent a lot of time speaking about rights for women, giving


support to women, getting women on, whereas the Conservative Party is


the party in this House that has provided two female prime ministers.


Will the Prime Minister gave an undertaking that any new Scotland


Act will only be drafted after full consultation with the people of


Scotland and with the consent of the Scottish Parliament? I will just say


to the honourable lady, I am not sure whether she is referring to


discussions currently taking place about the powers that might be


available to devolved administrations once we have left


the EU but she knows full well we undertake full discussions with the


Scottish Government on measures which are reserved matters and on


measures where we are negotiating on behalf of the whole United Kingdom.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. A business in my constituency operates out of a


small market town and also has offices in Seattle and Sydney. It


employs 24 people providing high-quality IT jobs, with high-tech


fast rural broadband and telephone communication. This is the answer,


the recipe, for growing our rural economy. Will my right honourable


friend undertake to Government does all it can to fill the blank spots


in our rural areas? I can assure my honourable friend we very much want


to ensure we are doing that. My right honourable friend Secretary of


State for Defence culture, media and sport is looking at our digital


strategy and ensuring broadband is available in rural areas and indeed


at good speeds in other areas that might be less rural than my


honourable friend's constituency. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not know


whether members are cheering, because it is Friday or because of


the popularity of the right Honourable gentleman. Mr Tim


Farron... You are too tight. International Women's Day we stand


with women and girls across the world and not we should not take for


granted the progress made. Yesterday we had hundreds of families of


soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denied seats


at tomorrow's unveiling of the memorial to our fallen trips.


Inviting a relative of each of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan would


have taken up fewer than a third of the 2000 seats at that event. Would


she now apologise to those families for what I should is a careless


oversight and rectify that mistake immediately so that bereaved


families can come to pay respects to their fall loved ones? Well, can I


reassure the honourable gentleman that charities and groups


representing the bereaved were asked to put forward names of attendees


and we look forward to welcoming them so we can publicly acknowledge


the sacrifice their loved ones made on our behalf. Over half of those


attending tomorrow are current or former members of the Armed Forces.


No one from the bereaved community has been turned away and everyone


who has a plight has been successful but I am reassured that, and I


reassure, if any bereaved families wish to attend the Ministry of


Defence will make every effort to make sure they can do so. Order.


Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer I remind all members that


copies of the budget resolutions will be available in the office at


the end of the Chancellor's speech. I also remind honourable members it


is not the norm to intervene on the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the


Leader of the Opposition. I know call the Chancellor of the


Exchequer, the Right Honourable Philip Hammond. Thank