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London

Volume 615: debated on Thursday 20 October 2016

7. What discussions he has had with the Mayor of London on protecting London's interests during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU. (906693)

London is a great global city and we expect it to continue to be so. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will join me in welcoming the record-breaking jobs figures for London that were published yesterday—I think they show the lowest rate of unemployment in London in our lifetime. The Secretary of State has already met the Mayor of London and we expect to hold meetings with regions across the UK to ensure that their views are taken into account.

I am sure the Minister welcomes the LondonIsOpen campaign led by the Mayor of London, so will he give a commitment today that he will look with an open mind at the case being developed by London’s business community for a work permit system for London that would enable us to continue to recruit the best and the brightest talent from around the world?

The precise way in which the Government will control the movement to the UK of EU nationals and people from around the world is something that we will be working on with the Home Office. We will certainly take into account representations from London and other devolved areas, but we clearly need to come up with a policy that works for the whole of the UK.

I am holding a Brexit forum next month with local businesses in my constituency involving interests ranging from information technology to the creative industries, retail and property. What is the Minister’s advice to those local businesses about engaging with Brexit? Is it to embrace the challenges and opportunities presented, or is it to follow the lead of the Opposition that is full of pessimism and denial?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we need to make sure that we embrace the full range of challenges and opportunities in the Brexit process, and we need to engage with business through that process. It is excellent that my hon. Friend is holding a forum and it is good that he is listening to businesses in his constituency. That is certainly something that we as the Department will be doing all around the country.

The Government’s shocking record on tackling air pollution is well documented, with almost 10,000 associated deaths in London in just one year. Given that the Government regularly flout EU regulations on air pollution even now, what assurance can the Minister give me that once we exit the European Union, they will not simply abandon all legal protection on air pollution in the capital and, indeed, in the country more widely?

The Government are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions. That is why we have committed more than £2 billion since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, to support greener transport schemes and to set out a national plan to tackle pollution in our towns and cities.

I have visited the Institute of Cancer Research. It wants to develop a London cancer hub, which I hope the Government will support, and, if that development happens, it expects to be able to develop two new cancer drugs in five years. One of its concerns is that 30% of its postgraduates come from the European Union. What guarantees can the Minister give that these essential London workers will be able to continue in post, and indeed that the institute will be able to recruit from the EU in the future?

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to my earlier answer to the Chair of the Science and Technology Committee. We want to continue to attract the brightest and the best, and we will certainly make sure—I have already engaged with cancer charities and a wide range of voluntary organisations—that we take concerns into account as we have conversations with the Home Office and other Departments about the UK’s future immigration policy.