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Volume 620: debated on Wednesday 25 January 2017

It is currently an offence to assault a police officer, immigration officer or prison officer, but it is not a specific offence to assault an NHS worker, whether they are a doctor, nurse or paramedic. Does the Prime Minister agree that we should consider extending a specific offence to cover such people, to make it absolutely clear that the public will not tolerate violence towards our hard-working members of the NHS?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Of course, we condemn assaults on anybody and any violence that takes place. The Secretary of State for Health has heard the case that my hon. Friend has put and will be happy to look into that issue.

Q12. When the Prime Minister introduces a UK agricultural policy because we have left the common agricultural policy, will the Duke of Westminster still receive £407,000 a year, will the Duke of Northumberland still receive £475,000 a year, and will the Earl of Iveagh still receive £915,000 a year from the British taxpayer? (908374)

The hon. Gentleman seems to know a lot about these ducal matters; it is most interesting. I am fascinated by the reply, so let’s hear it.

The hon. Gentleman is right that one of the tasks we will have when we leave the European Union is to decide what support is provided to agriculture as a result of our being outside the common agricultural policy. I assure him that we are taking the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom into account when we look at that system and what it should be in future.

Last weekend, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made a welcome visit to Ukraine, where he said that freedom and democracy are not tradeable commodities. As we mark the 25th anniversary of relations between our two Parliaments, may I invite my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to declare the continuing support of the United Kingdom for the maintenance of an independent sovereign state in Ukraine, which has been subjected to the most outrageous annexation of part of its property by Russia?

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in confirming our commitment to the independent sovereign state of Ukraine. The Foreign Secretary has been doing a lot of work with other Foreign Ministers on this issue. We provide significant support to Ukraine, and I hope to be able to meet President Poroshenko soon and talk about the support we provide.

Q13. In her speech last week, the Prime Minister said that Parliament would get a vote on the final deal between the UK and the European Union. Will she set out for the House what would happen if Parliament said no to the terms of that deal? In those circumstances, would she negotiate an alternative deal, or would her no deal option mean our falling back on World Trade Organisation rules, which would mean 10% tariffs on cars, 20% tariffs on food and drink, and a host of other barriers to trade, investment and prosperity in the UK? (908375)

As I also said in my speech last week, I expect that we will be able to negotiate a good trade deal with the European Union, because it will be in our interests and the interests of the European Union to do so. There will be a vote on the deal for this Parliament. If this Parliament is not willing to accept a deal that has been decided on and agreed by the United Kingdom Government with the European Union, then, as I have said, we will have to fall back on other arrangements.

It was a great pleasure to welcome my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and her Cabinet to Sci-Tech Daresbury earlier this week. I welcome the Government’s industrial strategy, which will bring high-skill, high-wage jobs that will help close the north-south divide. The message is that Britain is open for business.

I and the whole Cabinet were very pleased to be able to visit Daresbury. I was pleased to sit down and meet small businesses on that particular site and to hear their support for what the Government are doing in the industrial strategy. We should be very clear that Britain is open for business. We will be out there trading around the world. We will be a global leader in free trade, bringing jobs, economic growth and prosperity to every part of this country.

Q14. We are all aware of the hundreds of thousands of women around the world who marched on behalf of women’s rights last weekend. In this House, we have been lobbied by members of the Women Against State Pension Inequality. Many MPs have lodged petitions asking the Government to act. Can the Prime Minister tell us how many MPs have lodged such petitions? (908376)

I think the number of petitions presented in this Parliament is a matter for the House authorities. The hon. Gentleman also knows that the Government have already taken action in relation to the issue of women’s pensions by reducing the changes that will be experienced by women and putting extra money into that.

Following her excellent EU speech last week, will the Prime Minister consider unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK? Not only is that the decent thing to do, but, by taking the moral high ground, it will be a source of strength going forward in the negotiations. We can always return to the issue of non-reciprocation by the EU, if necessary, later in those negotiations.

I recognise the concern that my hon. Friend has raised, but my position remains the same as it always has been. I expect, intend and want to be able to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here in the United Kingdom, but, as the British Prime Minister, it is only right that I should give consideration to the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere in what will be the remaining 27 member states of the EU. That is why I want that reciprocal arrangement, but, as I said in my speech last week, I remain open to this being an issue that we negotiate at a very early stage in the negotiations. There are a good number of other European member states that want that too. Some do not, but I am hoping to settle this at an early stage.

Q15. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on disability, we recently compiled an important inquiry report into the Government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap. Research shows that that pledge will not be met for 50 years. To date, no Minister has met the APPG to discuss the report. Will the Prime Minister place people with disability at the heart of policy and ensure that her Ministers engage with the APPG and its recommendations? (908377)

The hon. Lady raises an important issue about disabled people in the workplace. It is one of which we are aware. Of course, as we see unemployment going down, the ratios do change to an extent. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is looking very seriously at how we can ensure that there are more disabled people in the workplace. I am sure that he will see the requests that she has made in relation to the APPG.

May I welcome the Prime Minister’s meeting with the President of Turkey on Saturday, when we can show our solidarity in the fight against terrorism and deepen our trading relationship? Will she also seek support for a united and independent Cyprus, free from Turkish troops?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that matter. There are important issues that I will be discussing with President Erdogan and with the Prime Minister of Turkey when I meet them on Saturday. On Cyprus, I am hopeful that the talks will continue and that we will come to a solution—we are closer to a solution now than we have been before. I have already spoken to Prime Minister Tsipras and to President Erdogan about the need to ensure that we are creative in the thinking and in the finding of a solution. I had a further telephone call with Nicos Anastasiades over the weekend about this very issue. We stand ready as a guarantor to play our part in ensuring that we see a successful conclusion of these talks and the reunification of Cyprus that people have been working towards for some time.

I join the Prime Minister in wishing a speedy recovery to the police officer who was shot and injured in my constituency in north Belfast on Sunday night. Thankfully, he was not killed—but of course that was not the terrorists’ intention. It is clear that the political instability brought about by Sinn Féin’s collapse of the Assembly is not in anyone’s interests in Northern Ireland. It is also clear that it is Sinn Féin’s intention to try to rewrite the history of the past. Will the Prime Minister make it very clear that the one-sided legal persecution of police officers and soldiers who did so much to bring peace to Northern Ireland will not be allowed to continue?

As the right hon. Gentleman indicates, political stability in Northern Ireland has been hard earned over some considerable time, and none of us wants to see that thrown away. He raised the issue of the current situation with a number of investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland into former soldiers and their activities in Northern Ireland. It is absolutely right that we recognise that the majority of people who lost their life did so as a result of terrorist activity, and it is important that that terrorist activity is looked into. That is why one of the issues that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is looking at is the legacy question and how the issue of investigation on all sides can take place in future.

Social care provided by Labour-led Derbyshire County Council is failing miserably, with serious errors in process leading to shameful consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in my constituency. It is clearly not about funding, as the council sits on reserves of about £233 million. Will my right hon. Friend instigate an urgent review of social care practice at the county council, because the people of Derbyshire deserve better?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The success of social care is not wholly about funding. It is about practice on the ground, which is why we have made it clear that it is important to see integration between social and health care at a local level, and local authorities should play their part in delivering that. This is an issue that needs to be addressed for the longer term as well. It has been ducked by Governments for too long in this country, which is why this Government are determined to introduce a sustainable programme for social care in future.

I was going to say, Mr Speaker, that it brings back memories.

As the first foreign leader to meet President Trump, the Prime Minister carries a huge responsibility on behalf not just of this country but of the whole international community in the tone that she sets. Can I ask her to reassure us that she will say to the President that he must abide by, and not withdraw from, the Paris climate change treaty? In case it is helpful, can she offer the services of UK scientists to convince the President that climate change is not a hoax invented by the Chinese?

I recognise the role that the right hon. Gentleman has played in looking at the issue of climate change, and I hope that he recognises the commitment that the Government have shown to this issue, with the legislation that we have introduced and the changes that we have brought about in the energy sector and the use of different forms of energy. The Obama Administration signed up to the Paris climate change agreement, and we have now done so. I would hope that all parties would continue to ensure that that climate change agreement is put into practice.