19/04/2017 Prime Minister's Questions


19/04/2017

Coverage of questions in the House of Commons to prime minister Theresa May from Wednesday 19 April.


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made it clear that her stands fully to stand up for Scotland's

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membership of the United Kingdom and against a device of second

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independence referendum. Mr Speaker, I am sure that members

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across the house will wish to join me in offering our condolences to

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the families and friends of Andrea Christie, who died following the

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London attack, and Chris Bevington, who was among those killed in the

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terrorist attack in Sweden, and our thoughts are also with the Army and

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friends often -- of Hannah Bladon, murdered in Jerusalem last week.

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This week, I had meetings with colleagues and others. I shall have

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further such meetings later today. I would also like to join the Prime

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Minister in offering the condolences of the people of south C and myself

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to the individuals and their families. -- South Leicestershire.

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Strong countries need strong economies. Strong countries need

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strong defences. Strong countries need strong leaders. As the nation

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prepares to go to the polls, as the nation prepares to go to the polls,

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apart from my right honourable friend, who else in this house can

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provide the leadership that is needed at this time?

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My honourable friend is absolutely right. There are three things that a

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country needs, a strong economy, strong defence and strong, stable

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leadership. That is what our plans for Brexit and our plans for a

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stronger Britain will deliver, and that's what the Conservative Party

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will be offering at this election, and we will be out there, fighting

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for every vote. Whereas the right honourable gentleman opposite would

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bankrupt our economy, would weaken our defences and is simply not fit

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to lead. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I concur with

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the condolences the Prime Minister just sent to the families of those

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three people who so sadly and needlessly died, and it's important

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we recognise that as a cross-party proposal today. I think the Prime

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Minister for that. We welcome the general election. But... But this...

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But this is a Prime Minister who promised there would be one. --

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there would not be won. A Prime Minister cannot be trusted. She says

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it is about leadership, yet he is refusing to defend her record in

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television debates. -- yet she is refusing. And it's not hard to see

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why. The Prime Minister says we have a stronger economy. Yet... Yet she

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can't explain why people's wages are lower today than they were ten years

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ago, or why more households are in debt, 6 million people earning less

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than the living wage, child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up, so

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why are so many people getting poorer? Well, I can assure the right

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honourable gentleman, first of all, I would point out to the honourable

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gentleman that I have been answering his questions and debating these

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answers -- debating these matters every Wednesday that Parliament has

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been sitting since I became Prime Minister, and I will be taking out

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to the country in this campaign a proud record of a Conservative

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government. A stronger, -- a stronger economy, and economy with

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the deficit down, 30 million people with a tax cut, 4 million people

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taking out an income tax altogether, record levels of employment and

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?1250 more per year for pensioners. That's a record we can be proud of.

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Mr Speaker, if she is so proud of her record, why won't she debate it?

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Wages... Wages are falling. More children are in poverty but in the

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last Tory manifesto, page 28, it said, we will work to eliminate

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child poverty. They only eliminated the child poverty targets, not child

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poverty. In 2010, they promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015. In

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2015, they promised to eradicate the deficit by 2020. Austerity has

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failed. So does the Prime Minister know which year the deficit will now

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be eradicated? The right honourable gentleman, I know that it's taken...

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I know that it's taken the right honourable gentleman a little time

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to get the hang of these Prime Minister's Questions, but I have to

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say to him that week in, week out, he stands up and asks me questions

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and I respond to those questions, and what... Order, order. The Leader

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of the Opposition must be heard and the Prime Minister must be heard.

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Prime Minister. A stronger economy with a deficit two thirds down, but

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people will have a real choice at this election. They will have a

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choice between a Conservative government that has shown we can

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build a stronger economy and a Labour Party whose economic policy

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would bankrupt this country but what voters know is that, under Labour,

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its ordinary working people who paid the price of the Labour Party. They

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hate it with their taxes, -- they pay it with their taxes, with their

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jobs and their children's futures. Only this year, the new Chancellor

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pledged to eradicate the deficit by 2022. I do admire Tory consistency

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but it's always five years in the future. Another Tory broken promise.

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The Prime Minister leaves a government that has increased

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national debt by ?700 billion, more than every other Labour government

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in history put together. Debt has risen every year that they have been

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in office. We know that their economic plan was long-term. Does

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the Prime Minister want to tell us how far into the long term it will

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be before we get debt falling? The right honourable gentleman stand up

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and he talks about debt. This is a Labour Party that will be going into

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the election pledged to borrow an extra ?500 billion. And what does

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that mean for ordinary working people? Well, I'll tell the right

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honourable gentleman what it means that we know what Labour's lands

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would entail, because we've been told either former Labour Shadow

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Chancellor. -- Labour's plans. He said, if Labour were in power, you'd

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have to double income tax, you'd have to double national insurance,

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you'd have to double council tax and you'd have to double VAT as well

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that Labour's plan for the economy. All that her government has

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delivered, Mr Speaker, is more debt and less funding for schools and

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hospitals. Schools funding has been cut for the first time in a

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generation. The Prime Minister is cutting ?3 billion per year from

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school budgets by 2020 fourth she says they have created a stronger

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economy. So why are their tax giveaways to the richest

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corporations, while our children's schools are starved of resources

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that they need to educate our children for the future? He talks

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about levels of funding into schools and the NHS. There are record levels

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of funding going into schools and record levels of funding going into

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the NHS. But let's just talk about schools, because it's not just a

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question of funding, it's actually a question of the quality of education

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provided in the schools. 1.8 million more children are in good or

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outstanding schools under this Conservative government. That's 1.8

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million more children with a better chance for their futures. What would

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Labour give us? He same old, one size fits all, authority run

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schools. No choice, good or bad, trust your luck. We don't trust to

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luck and we won't trust the Labour Party. We will provide a good school

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place for every child. Parents taking their children back to school

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for the summer term, many will receive a letter from the school

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begging for funds to buy books and to fund the school. The Conservative

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manifesto promised the amount of money following your child into

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school will be protected. It isn't. It's another Tory broken promise.

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For the first time in its history, NHS funding per pupil, per patient

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will fall this year. The NHS has been put into an all year round

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crisis by this government. Why are more people waiting in pain, and

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millions of elderly people not getting the care and the dignity

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that they deserve? I'm proud of the record we have on the NHS. We see

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more doctors, more nurses, more midwives, more GPs, more people

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being treated in our National Health Service last year than ever before,

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and record levels of funding going in the NHS. You only can do that

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with a strong economy. What do we know we'd get from the Labour Party?

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Bankruptcy and chaos. Mr Speaker, that's a very good reason why we

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should have a debate about it. Because that is another Tory broken

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promise, a broken promise of a Tory manifesto which said, they will

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continue to spend more on the NHS in real terms say that to those waiting

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in A departments, say that to those who can't leave hospital

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because social care is not available. Mr Speaker, isn't the

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truth that, over the last seven years, the Tories have broken every

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promise on living standards, the deficit, yet, the National Health

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Service and schools funding? -- debt, the NHS and schools funding.

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Why should anyone believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?

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I can assure the right honourable gentleman that I will be out

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campaigning and taking to voters the message of the record of this

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Conservative government, but crucially, of our plans to make

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Brexit a success and to build a stronger Britain for the future, and

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every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for those who

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want to stop me from getting the job done. Every vote for the

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Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with

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the EU, and every vote for the Conservatives will mean that we can

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stick out plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term

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decisions for a more secure future for this country.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker. For years, I have been campaigning for fairer

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funding in Wiltshire schools. Will Prime Minister reaffirm her

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commitment to this? And to a review of pupil premium to encompass other

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forms of key disadvantage, such as being a health carer, mental health

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problems and other bereavement? This way, we can create a country that

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will work for everyone. My honourable friend raises an

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important point. I know she has campaigned long and hard in her

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constituency and worked hard on this and other issues. We want to ensure

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young people irrespective of background at the opportunity to

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make the most of their talents, and the point of our reforms is to end

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the postcode lottery in school funding and support our plans for a

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fairer society where success is based on merit not privilege. The

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pupil premium is worth ?2.5 billion per year. It is an important part of

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policy because it gives schools extra support for pupils from

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disadvantaged backgrounds. But I think it is right that schools are

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best placed to prioritise the needs of their pupils and can use their

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funding to ensure they support any pupil facing disadvantage, financial

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or otherwise. May I join in the condolences extended by the Prime

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Minister and the leader of the Labour Party. Mr Speaker, the tone

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and content of Democratic debates, including a general election, is

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very important to all of us. Does the Prime Minister Trudeau political

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opponents are not saboteurs, and all electric mainstream parties and

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parliamentarians have a mandate, and that should be respected? -- elected

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mainstream parties. In this House and in this Parliament, it is right

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that we have proper debate and scrutiny of proposals put forward by

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the Government, and that arguments on both sides of the House are

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rightly challenged. And those discussions take place. But I said

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to the right honourable gentleman that what the British able, the

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people of the UK voted for last year, was for the UK to leave the

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European Union. -- the British people. There is no turning back.

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But it is clear from statements made by the Scottish Nationalists and

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others that they do want to use this House to try to frustrate that

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process. I will be asking the British people for a mandate to

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complete Brexit and to make a success of it. It's disappointing

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the Prime Minister didn't take the opportunity to condemn the

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intemperate language when describing either Democratic politicians. There

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is heckling from the other side and the Prime Minister should take the

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opportunity to underline something we should all agree on, that

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describing people in the way we have read in some daily newspapers by

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leading politicians is not acceptable. Most people know that

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the reason why we are having a general election is because of the

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woeful state of the Labour Party. If the Prime Minister is so confident

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that her hard Brexit pro austerity, anti-immigration case is right, she

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should debate it with opposition leaders during the campaign. We look

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forward to the straight fight between the SNP and the Tories, can

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the Prime Minister tell the people why she is running scared of a

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televised debate with Nicola Sturgeon? First of all, can I say to

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the right honourable gentleman, one of the crucial thing is we have in

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this country that underpins democracy is a free press. I believe

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that is important and that people in this chamber should stand up for the

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freedom of the press. As for the TV debates, I can assure the right

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honourable gentleman that I will be out there, campaigning in every part

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of the United Kingdom, taking our proud record of a Conservative

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government that has delivered for every part of the United Kingdom.

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And I might suggest to the Scottish Nationalists that actually now is

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the time for them to put aside... Wait for it. Now is the time for

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them to put aside their tunnel vision on independence. And actually

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explain to the Scottish people why, under the SNP, they are not putting

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as much money into the health service as they have been given from

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the UK. They are not exercising the powers they have been given, and

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Scottish education is getting worse. It's time they got back to their day

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job. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also

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welcome the announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday and I look

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forward to the general election, and taking my positive message to my

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constituents. Over the last two years, I have pressed for

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first-class transport infrastructure in Cheadle, and this week I launched

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a transport survey so my constituents can have their say on

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what is needed to keep them moving and for us to be at the heart of the

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Northern Powerhouse. Does my right honourable friend agree that

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residents in Cheadle need to vote Conservative on June 8th to continue

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getting investment in transport and infrastructure, not only in Cheadle

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but across the Northwest? I absolutely agree with my honourable

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friend on that point. I know she has been working very hard for her

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constituents in Cheadle on this transport issue and others. It is

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under this government that we are investing ?290 million to improve

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transport links to Manchester Airport through Cheadle, and ?2.1

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million committed to improving walking and cycling routes around

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the Cheadle Hume district centre. That is why the choice is clear. If

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you want to see that funding into infrastructure, we need a strong

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economy and only the Conservatives can deliver that strong economy.

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Because of the Prime Minister'schanges to education

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funding, every school in the country will face real terms cuts.

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Manchester is hit harder than anywhere outside London... With

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Chorlton high school and another in my constituency each losing the

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equivalent of over 30 teachers. So I asked the Prime Minister the same

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question a head teacher asked me. What would the Prime Minister cut to

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balance the books? What subjects which you choose to sack teachers

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from? As the honourable gentleman knows, there are record levels of

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funding going into our schools. Everybody across this House has

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recognised for many years that the current funding formula is not fair

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across the country. And it's necessary for us to look for a

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fairer funding formula. We have consulted on that and will be

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responding to that consultation. But I say to the honourable gentleman,

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as he faces up to the election, I note that last year he failed to

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back, he opposed the leader of his party... If he wasn't willing to

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support him as leader of his party, why should his voters support him as

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leader of the country? Thank you, Mr Speaker. The only way

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to fund crucial infrastructure is with a strong economy. To that end,

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does my right honourable friend agree that the St James link road in

:20:31.:20:33.

Northampton would help with traffic flow in the town and on the

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development in the enterprise zone, and will the next Conservative

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government continue to support me as the MP in backing the scheme? My

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honourable friend is absolutely right that you need to have a strong

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economy to be able to fund that crucial infrastructure. That's why,

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since 2015, we have increased annual investment in economic

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infrastructure by almost 60%, ?22 billion by 2021, including ?2.6

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billion for improvements in transport projects. I am happy to

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see the link road proposal being put forward by his local LEP, which I

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think will improve access to business and unlock development in

:21:13.:21:16.

the area. My honourable friend has worked hard to see this happen and I

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am sure he will continue to campaign on issues like that which matter so

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much to his constituents. Recent changes to housing benefit

:21:29.:21:33.

entitlement for 18-21 olds will affect 195 young people in Merthyr

:21:34.:21:38.

Tydfil. The Government is constantly challenging people to leave benefits

:21:39.:21:41.

for the world of work, but we are concerned these changes will be a

:21:42.:21:45.

major barrier to learning and training for youngsters who do not

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have a safe and secure environment at home. Does the Prime Minister

:21:50.:21:52.

agree we should do everything we can to help young people in the job

:21:53.:21:56.

market, including offering financial support for housing? And will she

:21:57.:21:59.

pledged to strengthen the guidelines so no more young people risk falling

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through the net and ending up on the streets? The principle behind what

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is being done in terms of the change in housing benefit is right, which

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is to say it's only fair that people who are not able to make decisions

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when they are on benefits, that they wouldn't be able to make when they

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are in work. But it is right that we ensure for those young people for

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whom staying at home, for whom there is a particular difficulty are

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supported through the system, so significant exceptions have taken

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place, and we recognise that need. Closed question, Mr Philip

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Hollobone. I would be happy to visit the Kettering constituency in future

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if my diary allows. I suspect in the next few weeks I will be visiting

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quite a few constituencies. Life for ordinary working families is harder

:22:57.:22:58.

than many people at Westminster realise. You have a job but not

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necessarily job security. You are just about managing but you are

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worried about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good

:23:09.:23:13.

school. You are doing your best and a Conservative government will do

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all it can to make sure you have more control over your life. Mr

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Speaker, these were the inspiring words of the Prime Minister when she

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took office last July. Will the Prime Minister come to Kettering,

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Britain's most average town, and repeat these, her core beliefs?

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Because if she does so, I know she will be warmly and widely acclaimed

:23:36.:23:39.

as the Prime Minister this country needs for the next five years.

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Well, my honourable friend is absolutely right to highlight

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ordinary working families who do rely on the Government to provide

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stability and certainty for them. And that's what this Conservative

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government has done. We have supported jobs through significant

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new investment in skills. We have invested in public services like

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childcare and the NHS. And we have enhanced consumer protections. I am

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happy to repeat the words I said outside Downing Street on July 13th

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last year, but it's Conservatives in government that have delivered

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strong and stable leadership and that is the message I will take to

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the country during this election. Does the Prime Minister support the

:24:25.:24:29.

people of Darlington when they oppose the downgrading of their A

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and maternity services? They want an answer they can trust, Prime

:24:36.:24:42.

Minister. Is it yes or no? The proposals for the configuration of

:24:43.:24:46.

health services in local areas is a matter that is being determined by

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local permissions in the best interests of services in the local

:24:50.:24:56.

area. But I am interested, the honourable lady refers to the views

:24:57.:25:01.

of her constituents in Darlington. She has said, the Leader of the

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Opposition, the leader of her party, my constituents in Darlington have

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made it clear to me they cannot support the Labour Party under your

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leadership. How can they possibly support him as leader of the

:25:15.:25:15.

country? Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can I welcome

:25:16.:25:24.

the fact that because the Conservatives have managed the

:25:25.:25:28.

economy so well, there is record funding... In East Sussex, for

:25:29.:25:32.

example, some of the best performing schools in the country, they are set

:25:33.:25:36.

to receive an increase of 3%. However in Lewes in my constituency,

:25:37.:25:41.

many small, normal primary schools are set to see a reduction. Could

:25:42.:25:45.

the Prime Minister look at the issue of rural primary school funding so

:25:46.:25:49.

we can even out fairer distribution of the money? She is absolute right

:25:50.:25:54.

to point out the record levels of funding going into schools. It is

:25:55.:25:58.

also the case, as I said earlier, that there has been over the years a

:25:59.:26:02.

general acceptance across this House that the current system of funding

:26:03.:26:06.

is not there in certain parts of the country. That is why we want to end

:26:07.:26:10.

the postcode lottery and look at a system that is fairer and more

:26:11.:26:14.

up-to-date. A system that will support our plan for a society where

:26:15.:26:19.

progress is based on merit, not privilege. I am happy to look at the

:26:20.:26:24.

concerns, I recognise small rural schools have particular issues and I

:26:25.:26:28.

am happy to look at those two ensure we get funding right and we can

:26:29.:26:31.

spread the money as fairly as possible. Every school in my area is

:26:32.:26:40.

facing a massive budget cut. Why is a child there worth less than a

:26:41.:26:45.

child in Tory heartlands in the South? We currently have a situation

:26:46.:26:54.

where there are significant sums of money going into children in certain

:26:55.:26:58.

schools, sometimes double the amount of money going to a child in another

:26:59.:27:04.

school. We need to find a fairer system. We have consulted on that

:27:05.:27:08.

system and we will be responding to that system. But I note from the

:27:09.:27:14.

honourable gentleman about what he has said about his leader, the

:27:15.:27:17.

leader of his party, the Leader of the Opposition. He said, he's not

:27:18.:27:24.

fit to rule. The public see this is a man who doesn't take

:27:25.:27:27.

responsibility serious lie. And he can't take the party forward other

:27:28.:27:32.

than in a divisive way. -- serious and dry. If we can't take the party

:27:33.:27:34.

forward, how can he hope to take Small businesses provide the lion's

:27:35.:27:45.

share of jobs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The difficulties of

:27:46.:27:48.

attracting credit, rising operational costs and red tape make

:27:49.:27:52.

running a small business increasingly difficult. What can the

:27:53.:27:54.

Prime Minister do to help these small businesses so that they can

:27:55.:28:00.

continue to be the engine of rural economies like west Cornwall's? My

:28:01.:28:06.

honourable friend is absolutely right that small businesses are the

:28:07.:28:10.

engine of the economy. I know he has been a champion for small businesses

:28:11.:28:14.

in his constituency, and he recognises that, if we are going to

:28:15.:28:20.

insure we can create those jobs, we want to encourage small businesses.

:28:21.:28:26.

That is why at the budget the Chancellor provided ?435 million to

:28:27.:28:29.

support businesses in England facing the steepest business rate

:28:30.:28:34.

increases. It is why we have cut business rates by nearly ?9 million,

:28:35.:28:37.

we will do over the next five years, and why we have listened to small

:28:38.:28:41.

businesses and given an extra year to prepare for making tax discs --

:28:42.:28:47.

making tax digital for over 3 million businesses. I recognised the

:28:48.:28:50.

importance of small businesses in Cornwall and I look forward to

:28:51.:28:53.

visiting Cornwall and being able to talk to him and others about the

:28:54.:28:55.

importance of small businesses in there. Can I join with the Prime

:28:56.:29:05.

Minister, with the expressions of condolence led by the Prime Minister

:29:06.:29:10.

early on? This election can change the direction of our country, from

:29:11.:29:17.

the consequences of potential hard Brexit outside the single market to

:29:18.:29:21.

the future of our NHS and social care. Our schools and our

:29:22.:29:25.

environment. The British public deserve to hear the party leaders

:29:26.:29:32.

set out their plans and debate them publicly, but the Prime Minister has

:29:33.:29:36.

refused to take part in televised leaders debates. The Prime Minister

:29:37.:29:41.

and I, back in 1992, debated publicly, forcibly and amicably when

:29:42.:29:48.

we were both candidates together. Indeed, Mr Speaker, the Prime

:29:49.:29:57.

Minister called out the then incumbent, who didn't show up for

:29:58.:30:04.

the debate. Why will she not debate those issues publicly now? What is

:30:05.:30:10.

she scared of? I can assure the honourable gentleman that I will be

:30:11.:30:14.

debating these issues publicly across the country, as well every

:30:15.:30:17.

single member of the Conservative team. We will be taking a proud

:30:18.:30:22.

record of the Conservative government but, more than that, we

:30:23.:30:25.

will be taking our plans for the future of this country, for making

:30:26.:30:29.

Brexit a success in delivering a stronger Britain. He talks about the

:30:30.:30:33.

possibility of changing the future of this country. What do we know

:30:34.:30:38.

that the leader of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Scottish Nationalists

:30:39.:30:44.

have in common? Corbynite, Farron and sturgeon. They want to unite

:30:45.:30:49.

together and divide our country and we will not let them do it. The

:30:50.:30:57.

government wishes to pursue a national industrial strategy.

:30:58.:31:04.

Cumbria has some specific strengths, such as tourism, agriculture,

:31:05.:31:07.

nuclear among others, but also some weaknesses. In the next parliament

:31:08.:31:12.

would the Prime Minister agree that any industrial strategy must take

:31:13.:31:15.

into account regional and subregional factors, and would she

:31:16.:31:18.

be receptive to a Cumbrian strategy that works within a national one? My

:31:19.:31:24.

honourable friend 's body to an important part of our plans for the

:31:25.:31:28.

future of Britain, the modern industrial strategy. We want an

:31:29.:31:32.

economy that works for everyone, that delivers good, high skilled,

:31:33.:31:37.

high-paid jobs and create conditions for a competitive, world leading

:31:38.:31:42.

business to prosper in the UK. But he is right, as we look at that

:31:43.:31:46.

industrial strategy, we need to look at the particular factors in parts

:31:47.:31:50.

of the country. He has long been a champion not just for Carlisle but

:31:51.:31:54.

for Cumbria, and I recognise the need, as does the business

:31:55.:31:57.

department, as we look at that industrial strategy to tailor it

:31:58.:32:00.

according to the needs of particular areas. The Prime Minister yesterday

:32:01.:32:08.

said she was calling a general election because Parliament was

:32:09.:32:11.

blocking Brexit but but three quarters of MPs and two thirds of

:32:12.:32:18.

the laws voted for Article 50, so that isn't true, is it? A month ago,

:32:19.:32:24.

she told her official spokesman to rule out an early general election,

:32:25.:32:29.

and that wasn't true either, was it? She wants us to believe that she is

:32:30.:32:33.

a woman of her word. Isn't the truth that we can't believe a single word?

:32:34.:32:50.

Order, order. The house is rather overexcited. The question has been

:32:51.:33:00.

heard. The answer will be heard. Prime Minister. This house and this

:33:01.:33:08.

Parliament voted to trigger Article 50, but the Labour Party made it

:33:09.:33:13.

clear that they were thinking of voting against the final deal. The

:33:14.:33:19.

Scottish Nationalists... The Scottish... The Scottish

:33:20.:33:25.

Nationalists... The Scottish Nationalists have said that they

:33:26.:33:29.

will vote against the legislation necessary to leave the European

:33:30.:33:33.

Union. The Liberal Democrats say they are going to grind government

:33:34.:33:37.

to a standstill, and the House of Lords have threatened to stop us

:33:38.:33:41.

every inch of the way I think is right now to ask the British people

:33:42.:33:46.

to put their trust in me and the Conservative Party to deliver on

:33:47.:33:50.

their vote last year, a Brexit plan that will make a successful this

:33:51.:33:54.

country and deliver a stronger, fairer global Britain in the future.

:33:55.:34:03.

Mr Speaker, I see rats and fly-tipping as a result of beans

:34:04.:34:06.

having not been emptied for up to three weeks across Lib Dem Ryan

:34:07.:34:15.

Sutton. -- Lib Dem run Sutton. That follows a shambolic change to refuse

:34:16.:34:17.

collections. Does my right honourable friend agree that

:34:18.:34:25.

accepting greater delegated powers, elected councillors must plan

:34:26.:34:29.

changes carefully and take full responsibility as accountable

:34:30.:34:31.

representatives when things go wrong? I don't know about the

:34:32.:34:38.

howling of derision coming from the opposition benches, because my

:34:39.:34:40.

honourable friend raises an important point on an issue that

:34:41.:34:44.

actually matters to people up and down the country, and it is our goal

:34:45.:34:48.

to dues littering in England to make sure that our high streets and

:34:49.:34:53.

villages, our parks and green places, that they are pleasant. We

:34:54.:34:56.

have published the first ever national litter strategy for England

:34:57.:35:01.

and we are supporting comprehensive and frequent bin collections, but

:35:02.:35:07.

from what he says, that the Liberal Democrats run Sutton council is

:35:08.:35:10.

doing, it shows that the Liberal Democrats charge the highest council

:35:11.:35:13.

taxes but, under the Lib Dems, you pay more and you get less. Will the

:35:14.:35:22.

Prime Minister join the Scottish Government, North Ayrshire Council

:35:23.:35:25.

and all Ayrshire local authorities and pledge today to support the

:35:26.:35:33.

Ayrshire growth deal, requiring ?250 billion of investment targeted to

:35:34.:35:36.

regenerate Ayrshire and improve the lives and prospects of all the

:35:37.:35:42.

people of Ayrshire? -- ?250 million. Is the honourable lady will know, we

:35:43.:35:46.

have already shown our commitment to growth deals in Scotland from the

:35:47.:35:50.

deals that have been agreed. I understand the Secretary of State

:35:51.:35:53.

for Scotland has met with the Scottish Government to discuss the

:35:54.:35:56.

growth deal for Ayrshire she has referred to, and we are in

:35:57.:35:58.

discussion about it. We have already shown our commitment through the

:35:59.:36:03.

deals that have already been struck, for example, for Aberdeen. As part

:36:04.:36:11.

of Southend's celebrations as the alternative city of culture, on the

:36:12.:36:17.

morning of Monday the eighth -- Monday the 1st of May, stilt walkers

:36:18.:36:20.

will book nonstop from Southend to number ten Downing St to raise money

:36:21.:36:28.

for the region -- the music meant project to help people with Downing

:36:29.:36:31.

-- people with learning difficulties and a charity for child refugees.

:36:32.:36:34.

Would my right honourable friend arranged on the morning of Tuesday

:36:35.:36:38.

the 2nd of May for somebody on her behalf to receive the stilt walkers

:36:39.:36:43.

and accept from Southend's town crier the proclamation that, in

:36:44.:36:51.

this, the 125th anniversary of the founding of the borough, Southend be

:36:52.:37:00.

declared a city? Can I say to my honourable friend that, when I first

:37:01.:37:04.

heard this issue of the stilt walkers, I thought it sounded a bit

:37:05.:37:09.

of a tall order myself. But I am sure they will be making great

:37:10.:37:12.

strides as they approach Downing Street, and we will look carefully

:37:13.:37:17.

at that. I am pleased to hear what he says about Southend's

:37:18.:37:19.

celebrations but also the efforts being made to raise money for

:37:20.:37:22.

important causes, and we will certainly look into what can be done

:37:23.:37:27.

in Downing Street when they arrive. Will the Prime Minister give a

:37:28.:37:37.

guarantee that no Tory MP who is under investigation by the police

:37:38.:37:44.

and the legal authorities over election expenses in the last

:37:45.:37:51.

general election be a candidate in this election because, if she won't

:37:52.:37:58.

accept that, this is the most squalid election campaign that has

:37:59.:38:09.

happened in my lifetime? I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in

:38:10.:38:12.

this house and who will be out there, standing again, campaigning,

:38:13.:38:18.

campaigning for a Conservative government that will give a brighter

:38:19.:38:26.

and better future for this country. I am proud that my party in

:38:27.:38:33.

government has ensured that we fulfil in this country our

:38:34.:38:38.

commitment to Nato, to spend 2% on defence, and our commitment to the

:38:39.:38:43.

UN, to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid. Will my right honourable friend

:38:44.:38:50.

please omit a future Conservative government to do the same? -- please

:38:51.:38:55.

commit. My right honourable friend is correct. We have committed to

:38:56.:39:00.

meet our Nato pledge of 2% being spent on defence every year this

:39:01.:39:04.

decade. We are to bring on it. We have a 36 billion defence budget,

:39:05.:39:08.

rising to almost 40 billion by 20-21, the biggest in Europe and the

:39:09.:39:13.

second-largest in Nato. We are meeting our commitment to spend 0.7%

:39:14.:39:19.

of GM eye on overseas development assistance, and I can assure my

:39:20.:39:23.

honourable friend that we remain committed as a Conservative Party to

:39:24.:39:28.

ensuring that we ensure for the defence and security of this country

:39:29.:39:40.

and work for a stronger world. Schools in Westchester already

:39:41.:39:44.

underfunding by ?400 per pupil on average before the new fair funding

:39:45.:39:47.

formula came in, and now every school in Chester is cutting staff

:39:48.:39:52.

and racing class sizes. That is the education budget. Can she explained

:39:53.:39:59.

the house why is it that the national fair funding formula

:40:00.:40:01.

provides neither fairness nor funding? As I have said in this

:40:02.:40:09.

chamber before, we need to look at the funding formula. We have

:40:10.:40:13.

published proposals and consulted on them and, in due course, the

:40:14.:40:17.

government will respond to those proposals for fair funding. I was

:40:18.:40:21.

interested to see the honourable gentleman being interviewed

:40:22.:40:23.

yesterday and being asked whether he would put a photograph of his leader

:40:24.:40:29.

on the election literature, and he said that the only photo he wanted

:40:30.:40:32.

on his literature was his own. He wasn't prepared to support the

:40:33.:40:33.

leader of his party.

:40:34.:40:37.