House of Commons
Wednesday 8 February 2017
The House met at half-past Eleven o’clock
[Mr Speaker in the Chair]
Business Before Questions
Middle Level Bill (By Order)
Second Reading opposed and deferred until Wednesday 22 February (Standing Order No. 20).
Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Minister for the Cabinet Office was asked—
I call Minister Robin Walker.
Indeed, Chris Skidmore.
I do beg the hon. Gentleman’s pardon. There is a minor likeness.
It is a mistake commonly made.
The Government published on 27 December their response to the review of electoral fraud by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Sir Eric Pickles). The response sets out clearly the action that the Government intend to take on each recommendation and proposes a comprehensive programme for reforming our electoral system and making our democracy more secure.
I am not sure which of the two of you is the more offended, but my apologies to the both of you.
In December 2008, I was an election observer in Bangladesh. Because of previous voter fraud, photographs were taken of 80 million people, and people were clearly identifiable from those photographs when they went to vote. Have the Government considered doing that? A democracy needs as many people to vote as possible, but we do not want identity fraud when people vote.
My hon. Friend makes a good point about international comparisons. Many countries, including Canada, Brazil and Austria, already require photographic ID to vote at polling stations, and such a scheme was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2003. The Government are taking forward pilots to look at electoral identification in the 2018 local government elections, and we are willing to test various forms of identification—photographic and non-photographic—to ensure above all that no one is disenfranchised.
Just as in America.
Yes. They are putting obstacles between people and the polling booth instead of working to boost our democracy. If voter fraud is such a problem, will the Minister tell the House how many voter fraud convictions there were last year?
I am surprised by the hon. Gentleman for somehow claiming that this is a smokescreen. It was a Labour Government that introduced photographic ID in Northern Ireland in 2003. The Electoral Commission and all other electoral administrators have called for ID in polling stations, and we will test its use rigorously in the pilots. There were 481 cases of voter fraud reported to the Electoral Commission, and 184 additional cases were reported to the police. Above all, this is about perception. The Electoral Commission reported last year that 30% of the population believe that voter fraud is an issue in their local area, and we are determined to tackle that perception.
The organisations that the Minister just referred to and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have warned that our voting system is peculiarly vulnerable to identity theft. There is no evidence of voter suppression in the countries that the Minister listed. Does he think that those who talk of conspiracy theories are at grave risk of becoming apologists for electoral fraud?
We are determined to ensure that we have a clear and secure democracy in which voters can have confidence. We have 46.5 million people on the electoral register, and turnout increased from 26.3 million in 2001 to 30.8 million in 2015. We want to ensure that we have voter participation, but if the public perceive that fraud is an issue, that perception can be as damaging as cases of fraud.
Has the Minister made any equality impact assessment of the recommendation to ban the use of any language other than English or Welsh in polling stations?
The issue of language in polling stations is an important part of the package of measures in our response to my right hon. Friend’s report. If electoral administrators are to do their job and be confident that no one is being put under undue pressure or influence when voting, it is important that we look at the question of language. At the same time, the Government’s announcements will be thorough and based on correct analysis, and we will be going through due process to ensure that all the impact assessments are correct.
Voter Identification Measures
In our response to the review of electoral fraud by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Sir Eric Pickles), we outlined our intention to run several pilot schemes in a number of local authority areas in 2018, the purpose of which is to test the impact on elections of asking electors to present identification before voting.
Does my hon. Friend agree that voting is one of a citizen’s most important duties, and that introducing proof of ID would bring voting into line with other everyday transactions such as getting a mortgage or renting a car?
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. When it comes to voting, there cannot be a more important transaction someone can make over five years than to democratically elect their Member of Parliament or councillor. It is right that that process is respected and that, as for so many other transactions in the modern world, we bring it up to date. It is not acceptable for someone simply to turn up at the voting booth, point out their name and claim that as their identity. That does not happen anywhere else. It is time to bring our democracy up to date.
Voter fraud is unacceptable, and I welcome any measure to secure democracy. Swindon Borough Council has repeatedly been commended for good election practice, so will the Minister consider us for future pilots?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. We have had a great deal of interest in the pilot process from local authorities. We are currently conducting a review to decide exactly what form those pilots will take—as I said, some will involve photographic ID and some will involve non-photographic ID. We are determined to ensure that interested local authorities can come forward in good time so that they can participate in a pilot project. On Monday, I addressed the Association of Electoral Administrators at its annual conference in Brighton, and I was struck by the fact that more than 50% of electoral administrators supported the introduction of ID in polling stations.
My hon. Friend the Minister is absolutely right that voter identification is common practice in many sophisticated democracies around the world. What best practice have the Government been taking from those other countries?
My hon. Friend is entirely right. We expect that by introducing the pilot schemes, we will provide invaluable learning for strengthening our electoral system, but we also want to learn from international comparisons with countries such as Canada, Austria and Brazil, which require voter identification. As I have stated, voters in Northern Ireland have had to present identification since 1985, and photographic identification since 2003. Further information is available in the Electoral Commission’s report “Electoral fraud in the UK”. We will consider the international comparisons going forward.
The Government are deluding themselves if they think that personation is the main challenge to the integrity of our democratic system. The main challenge to its integrity and credibility is the fact that millions of our fellow citizens who are entitled to vote do not do so. Would it not be better for the Government to spend time and money on pilot projects designed to increase participation, such as a radical overhaul of how we teach democratic rights in schools; on pursuing online voting; and, most of all, on automatic voter registration, so that the ability to vote is not something people have to apply for?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising democratic participation. As I have stated, we now have a record 46.5 million people on the electoral register and turnout at elections is at a record level. Nevertheless, we can and must do more. The ideas of a clear and secure democracy and looking at voter identification pilots are just part of a package of measures. We also have another crucial strand: ensuring that every voice matters. In spring, I will set out our democratic engagement strategy, which will include further pilots of schemes to use civil society groups to encourage voter registration.
Will the Minister give an assurance that the issue of postal and proxy vote applications, which can also be subject to abuse, will be kept under review, in terms of the accurate identification of the person who is supposed to be applying for such votes?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. When we published our response to the report of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar, the top line was obviously ID in polling stations, but there was also an entire package of measures, including looking again at postal vote fraud, banning the harvesting of postal votes by political parties, and limiting the number of postal vote packs that can be handled by family members to two. I entirely take the hon. Gentleman’s point, and we will continue to review those matters.
The Electoral Commission tells us that 3.5 million genuine, legitimate electors do not have the valid photo-identification that would be required in the trials, and risk being denied their votes. Blackburn with Darwen Council recently passed a motion to oppose the trial there, Pendle has called for a rethink, and Burnley is considering a similar motion. When will the Minister abandon his tatty copy of the Republican party’s playbook on voter suppression and listen to the sensible voice of the good folk of Lancashire?
The hon. Lady mentioned the Electoral Commission, but she omitted to say that it has stated that it welcomes the
“full and considered response from the Government and the announcement of its intention to pilot measures to increase security at polling stations.”
The Electoral Commission is indeed in favour of introducing photographic ID for elections. When it comes to the pilots, we want evidence-based policy making, which is why we will have pilots that look at photographic ID and pilots that look at non-photographic ID. When it comes to ensuring that people will be able to vote, I am not going to be denying anyone that franchise. We are protecting those communities that are most vulnerable in casting their votes in a secret ballot. We must protect against undue influence, and I am surprised that the hon. Lady does not take the matter seriously, as the Electoral Commission does.
Public Procurement Guidelines
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which govern the conduct of public procurement in the UK, apply in full to all public sector organisations, including local authorities.
Will the Minister confirm that it is perfectly legal for local authorities to be able to set their own procurement rules, taking into account additional factors, such as the suppliers’ human rights record and the environmental impact?
Local authorities must comply with European Union law, which is enshrined in the public contracts regulations. The Government provide guidance on how those regulations should be applied, and I encourage local authorities to take that guidance into account when they are framing their procurement policies.
My enormous departmental team of two comprises one person who has run several small businesses and another who is a sole trader. That is a 100% fulfilment on my hon. Friend’s request. We also have a small and medium-sized enterprise ambassador, Emma Jones, who works with the council to ensure that we do precisely what he wishes, which is to sensitise the civil service and procurement officials to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Before he quit, a friend of mine empowered Waitrose managers—[Interruption.] I will not name him. He empowered Waitrose managers to go out and procure local product. Can we not give similar encouragement to bodies such as county and district councils?
I commend everything that my hon. Friend’s friend has done in his previous role, and I know that he will bring that expertise, in due course, to the people of the west midlands. Although councils and all public bodies cannot choose according to geographical criteria, what they can and must do is take into account the social value of their procurement policies, which is why there is considerable latitude for them to have a similar approach to the one that his friend conducted at Waitrose.
Ministers have talked a great deal about linking apprenticeships to public procurement contracts, which is a sensible use of public funds to meet both the skills agenda and to help to narrow inequality in society. However, the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission confirmed last week that only 10% of new apprenticeships are taken up by those from low-income families. Given the Cabinet Office’s unique place to promote this agenda, what is the Minister doing to tackle this unacceptable situation?
The hon. Gentleman raises a completely just point. The whole purpose behind our apprenticeship programme is to give opportunities to people who would not otherwise have them. That is why the 3 million target that we have across the economy is so important. The public sector will contribute a significant proportion of that, and I am responsible for the civil service component. We are doing very well on the civil service apprenticeship numbers. Two weeks ago, we launched a set of standards that will apply to some of the civil service apprenticeships. I hope that, in time, we will be able to fulfil exactly the aspiration that we both have in ensuring that that helps social mobility.
Voter Identification Trial
The Government have outlined a variety of photographic and non-photographic types of identification that could feature in our pilot schemes, which will test rigorously the impact of ID on all aspects of elections, including turnout. I note that, in its 2016 report on Northern Ireland, the Electoral Commission said that less than 1% of voters were affected by photo ID, which is why we want to look at photo ID and non-photo ID to ensure that no disenfranchisement is taking place in our pilots.
The Electoral Commission reported in 2016 that 3.5 million electors have no appropriate form of photographic ID. Why is it that the Government are ignoring recommendations to have a voluntary voter card, which would allow those 3.5 million people to vote?
The hon. Gentleman is a fine historian who, like me, believes in looking at the facts and in evidence-based policy making. That is why we have constructed the pilots to ensure that there is photographic identification and non-photographic identification. If there happens to be anyone who has no form of identification, we will make provision for them. Rolling out the electoral ID card across the country would be tremendously expensive and we have no plans to do so.
Civil Service Headcount
Workforce planning is primarily the responsibility of each individual Department, but the civil service headcount reduced by 3,390, or 0.8%, over the past year.
I thank the Minister for that answer. Will he commit to publishing an assessment of all resources moved over to Brexit priorities and what work streams have been cut as a result?
The hon. Lady will understand that we have worked hard since July to ensure that we have the proper resources in place so that our exit from the European Union is effective and efficient. The public versions of the single departmental plans will have the outlines that she is seeking.
As my right hon. Friend continues to modernise the civil service headcount, will he ensure that the apprenticeship strategy for the civil service continues to lead to a more diverse and skilled workforce to serve our communities?
I can assure my hon. Friend of precisely that and, as he will know, my predecessor started a programme of understanding better the social and economic make-up of the civil service so that we can have a far more targeted approach to ensuring diversity and social equality in our civil service.
Together with Her Majesty’s Treasury, and as part of our joint efficiency review, we are seeking to find savings of £15 billion to £20 billion by 2020. We have achieved £3.3 billion in the past year.
As a councillor on West Oxfordshire District Council, I have seen how the commissioning of services from one provider by different public sector bodies can drive down costs, providing high-quality services at very low cost. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are lessons to be learned for all sectors of government and that programmes such as One Public Estate are an excellent example of how collaborative working can help the public sector to deliver more for less?
I thank my hon. Friend for that question and he is right to point out One Public Estate, which is a Cabinet Office programme ensuring cross-working and efficiency savings as a result. Many of the lessons we can learn are from local government, and it is important that we all learn from each other as regards sharing services and cutting costs.
Will my right hon. Friend introduce reforms so that different parts of the public sector can share data more easily, which will significantly improve efficiency?
The Digital Economy Bill, which is passing through both Houses at the moment, does precisely that.
We are committed to improving public services through technology to transform the relationship between citizen and state. We are doing so through the use of tools such as Verify.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Will he reassure the House that the Government are doing everything they can to ensure that people can access public services online, particularly hard-to-reach groups such as those in my rural constituency of Bury St Edmunds?
The Government Digital Service has a specific programme to ensure that there is full access to Government digital services for all groups. Of course, by ensuring that we have good broadband connections in constituencies such as my hon. Friend’s we will enable people to access those services online in rural areas.
The Cabinet Office is the centre of Government. The Department is responsible for delivering a democracy that works for everyone, supporting the design and delivery of Government policy and driving efficiencies and reforms to make government work better.
Will the Minister provide an update on any progress in the Prime Minister’s audit to tackle racial disparities? As so much is already known about the devastating consequences of these disparities, should not the Government be getting on with doing a great deal more about them now rather than waiting for an audit?
I find the right hon. Lady’s comments surprising. It was this Government and this Prime Minister who commissioned the racial disparity audit. When the right hon. Lady was in power, her party had 13 years to do that, but did not. I am proud of what the Prime Minister has done. We have committed to publishing the audit in the next few months, and the right hon. Lady will be excited by the possibilities it presents to make things better for everyone in the country.
Although list X is the responsibility of the MOD and the Secretary of State will have heard that question, I have a responsibility for small and medium-sized enterprises in public procurement. I shall certainly take forward my hon. Friend’s concerns and ensure that they are represented.
Since 2010, more than 100,000 civil service jobs have gone. With 300 new recruits and funding of £42.7 million for the Brexit Department, is the Minister really serious about the fact that the UK is properly prepared to enter the most complex negotiations for generations? The reality is that it is an absolute shambles.
I have full confidence not only in that, but in the civil service and the remarkable people who inhabit the Departments across our state.
I thank my hon. Friend for his commitment to and interest in combating voter fraud, and for taking those measures. I addressed a conference of the National Police Chiefs Council and the Electoral Commission last Friday, setting out why it is important that the police take the issue of voter fraud seriously. There have been cases where convictions have not been followed through. That is wrong and I hope that the issue will be addressed.
The hon. Gentleman knows that it was this Government who established a far more rigorous understanding of steel content in public procurement policy. I will update the House in due course to give hon. Members an idea of the progress we are making.
As of yesterday, 15,745 companies were registered with Contracts Finder, 59% of which were small and medium-sized enterprises. My hon. Friend could encourage his local businesses to sign up. It is very easy to do so, and the best he can do is to tell them that.
In the measures I have described today, I shall.
I owe Members an apology for this. It is true that some of the telephone numbers in the directory were inaccurate and some were general numbers. The revision is being made quarterly—the next one is in March—and I have instructed all Departments to provide private office numbers, as Members rightly expect.
The Prime Minister was asked—
This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.
The Government chose to launch the pupil premium at Spire Junior School in Chesterfield, where 70% of pupils receive free school meals. The headteacher, Dave Shaw, was going to run the great north run for a cancer charity. However, the Prime Minister’s new schools funding formula means that Spire Junior School now faces the biggest cuts in all of Derbyshire. Running for cash is now the only alternative to sacking staff. Will she go to the finish line and tell Dave Shaw how this is a fairer funding formula?
I am pleased to say that, in the local authority that covers the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, we have seen an increase of over 17,000 children at good or outstanding schools since 2010. That is down to Government changes and the hard work of teachers and other staff in the schools. For a very long time, it has been the general view—I have campaigned on this for a long time—that we need to see a fairer funding formula for schools. What the Government have brought forward is a consultation on a fairer funding formula. We will look at the results of that fairer funding formula and will bring forward our firm proposals in due course.
I am sure the whole House will want to join me in praising the bravery and commitment of all those who serve in our armed forces. I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he is doing on the Defence Committee, because, of course, he brings personal expertise to that work. Those who serve on the frontline deserve our support when they get home, and I can assure him of the Government’s commitment to that. All troops facing allegations receive legal aid from the Government, with the guarantee that it will not be claimed back. In relation to IHAT, which he specifically referred to, we are committed to reducing its case load to a small number of credible cases as quickly as possible. On the action that has been taken in relation to the individual he has referred to, I think it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of chasing after our brave troops.
Nine out of 10 NHS trusts say their hospitals have been at unsafe levels of overcrowding. One in six accident and emergency units in England is set to be closed or downgraded. Could the Prime Minister please explain how closing A&E departments will tackle overcrowding and ever-growing waiting lists?
First, I extend my thanks and, I am sure, those of the whole House to the hard-working staff in the NHS, who do a great job day in and day out treating patients. Yes, we recognise there are heavy pressures on the NHS. That is why, this year, we are funding the NHS at £1.3 billion more than the Labour party promised at the last election. The right hon. Gentleman refers specifically to accident and emergency. What is our response in accident and emergency? We see 600 more A&E consultants, 1,500 more A&E doctors and 2,000 more paramedics. It is not about standing up, making a soundbite and asking a question; it is about delivering results, and that is what this Conservative Government are doing.
Congratulating A&E staff is one thing; paying them properly is another. I hope the Prime Minister managed to see the BBC report on the Royal Blackburn A&E department, which showed that people had to wait up to 13 hours and 52 minutes to be seen. A major cause of the pressure on A&Es is the £4.6 billion cut in the social care budget since 2010. Earlier this week, Liverpool’s very esteemed adult social care director, Samih Kalakeche, resigned, saying:
“Frankly I can’t see social services surviving after two years. That’s the absolute maximum... people are suffering, and we are really only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
What advice do the Government have for the people of Liverpool in this situation?
The right hon.—[Interruption.]
Order. It is bad enough when Members who are within the curtilage of the Chamber shout; those who are not absolutely should not do so. It is a discourtesy to the House of Commons—nothing more, nothing less. Please do not do it.
The right hon. Gentleman referred at an early stage of his question to Blackburn. I am happy to say that compared to 2010 there are 129 more hospital doctors and 413 more nurses in Blackburn’s East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. He then went on to talk about waiting times. Waiting times can be an issue. Where is it that you wait a week longer for pneumonia treatment, a week longer for heart disease treatment, seven weeks longer for cataract treatment, 11 weeks longer for hernia treatment, and 21 weeks longer for a hip operation? It is not in England—it is in Wales. Who is in power in Wales? Labour.
My question was about the comments from Samih Kalakeche in Liverpool and why the people of Liverpool are having to suffer these great cuts. Liverpool has asked to meet the Government on four occasions.
The crisis is so bad that until yesterday David Hodge, the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, planned to hold a referendum for a 15% increase in council tax. At the last minute, it was called off. Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether or not a special deal was done for Surrey?
The decision as to whether or not to hold a referendum in Surrey is entirely a matter for the local authority in Surrey—Surrey County Council.
The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of social care, which we have had exchanges on across this Dispatch Box before. As I have said before, we do need to find a long-term, sustainable solution for social care in this country. I recognise the short-term pressures. That is why we have enabled local authorities to put more money into social care. We have provided more money. Over the next two years, £900 million more will be available for social care. But we also need to look at ensuring that good practice is spread across the whole country. We can look at places such as Barnsley, North Tyneside, St Helens and Rutland. Towards the end of last year, there were virtually no delayed discharges attributable to social care in those councils. But we also need to look long term. That is why the Cabinet Office is driving a review, with the relevant Departments, to find a sustainable solution, which the Labour party ducked for far too long.
My question was whether there had been a special deal done for Surrey. The leader said that they had had many conversations with the Government. We know they have, because I have been leaked copies of texts sent by the Tory leader, David Hodge, intended for somebody called “Nick” who works for Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government. One of the texts reads:
“I am advised that DCLG officials have been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding.”
Will the Government now publish this memorandum of understanding, and while they are about it, will all councils be offered the same deal?
What we have given all councils is the opportunity to raise a 3% precept on council tax, to go into social care. The right hon. Gentleman talks about understanding. What the Labour party fails to understand—[Interruption.]
Order. There is far too much noise. Mr Pound, calm yourself—you are supposed to be a senior statesman—and Mr Rotheram, you should reserve your shouting for the stands at Anfield.
As I say, all councils have the opportunity to raise the 3% precept, to put that funding into the provision of social care. What the Labour party fails to understand is that this is not just a question of looking at money; it is a question of looking at spreading best practice and finding a sustainable solution. I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that if we look at social care provision across the entire country, we will see that the last thing that social care providers need is another one of Labour’s bouncing cheques.
I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that the Chancellor and the Health Secretary both represent Surrey constituencies.
There was a second text from the Surrey County Council leader to “Nick”. It says:
“The numbers you indicated are the numbers I understand are acceptable for me to accept and call off the R”.
I have been reading a bit of John le Carré and apparently “R” means “referendum”—it is very subtle, all this. He goes on to say in his text to “Nick”:
“If it is possible for that info to be sent to myself I can then revert back soonest, really want to kill this off”.
So, how much did the Government offer Surrey to “kill this off”, and is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the social care crisis created by this Government?
I have made clear to the right hon. Gentleman what has been made available to every council, which is the ability to raise the precept. I have to say to him—[Interruption.]
Order. As colleagues know, I never mind how long Prime Minister’s questions take. The questions and the answers must be heard.
The right hon. Gentleman comes to the Dispatch Box making all sorts of claims. Yet again, what we get from Labour is alternative facts; what it really needs is an alternative leader.
My question was, what deal was offered to Surrey that got it to call off a referendum, and will the same deal be offered to every other council going through a social care crisis?
Hospital wards are overcrowded, a million people are not getting the care they need, and family members, mostly women, are having to give up work to care for loved ones. Every day that the Prime Minister fails to act, this crisis gets worse. Will she finally come clean and provide local authorities with the funding they need to fund social care properly, so that our often elderly and vulnerable people can be treated with the support and dignity that they deserve in a civilised society?
The deal that is on offer to all councils is the one that I have already set out. Let me be very clear with the right hon. Gentleman. As ever, he stands up and consistently asks for more spending, more money, more funding. What he always fails to recognise is that you can spend money on social care and the national health service only if you have a strong economy to deliver the wealth that you need. There is a fundamental difference between us. When I talk—[Interruption.]
Order. I am sorry, but there is still too much noise in the Chamber. People observing our proceedings, both here and outside, want the questions heard and the answers heard, and they will be.
There is a difference between us. When I talk about half a trillion pounds, it is about the money we will be spending on the NHS this Parliament. When Labour Members talk about half a trillion pounds, it is about the money they want to borrow: Conservatives investing in the NHS; Labour bankrupting Britain.
I am very interested to hear of the important work my hon. Friend is doing in that important area. As he knows, I think we need to put more of a focus on mental health and make progress. I am pleased to say that something like 1,400 more people are accessing mental health services every day. That is an advance, but more needs to be done. We are putting more money—£68 million—into improving mental healthcare through digital innovation, which sounds as if it fits right into what he is looking at. There will be a focus on that with children’s and young people’s mental health in mind. He might want to look out for the Department of Health and Department for Education joint Green Paper on that, which they will publish in October.
Last night, parliamentarians from across the Chamber and across the parties voted overwhelmingly against the UK Government’s Brexit plans—in the Scottish Parliament. If the United Kingdom is a partnership of equals, will the Prime Minister compromise like the Scottish Government and reach a negotiated agreement before invoking article 50, or will she just carry on regardless?
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, when the UK Government negotiate, we will negotiate as the Government for the whole United Kingdom. We have put in place the Joint Ministerial Committee arrangements through various committees, which enable us to work closely with the devolved Administrations to identify the particular issues they want represented as we put our views together. We have said that we will intensify the discussions within that JMC arrangement, and that is exactly what we will be doing.
When the Prime Minister was in Edinburgh on 15 July last year, she pledged that she would not trigger article 50 until she had an agreed UK-wide approach. Given that the Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly against her approach, and that all bar one MP representing a Scottish constituency in the House of Commons has voted against her approach, she does not have an agreed UK-wide approach. As the Prime Minister knows, a lot of people in Scotland watch Prime Minister’s questions. Will she tell those viewers in Scotland whether she intends to keep her word to Scotland or not?
We are ensuring that we are working closely with the Scottish Government, and indeed with the other devolved Administrations, as we take this matter forward. I would just remind the right hon. Gentleman of two things. First, the Supreme Court was very clear that the Scottish Parliament does not have a veto on the triggering of article 50—the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which is going through the House, obviously gives the power to the Government to trigger article 50. I would also remind him of this point, because he constantly refers to the interests of Scotland inside the European Union: an independent Scotland would not be in the European Union.
I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend. Our broken housing market is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today, and the excellent housing White Paper brought out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government sets out the steps we will take to fix it. My hon. Friend is right: it is the Conservatives in government who will support local authorities to deliver more of the right homes in the right places, to encourage faster build-out of developments—I am sure everybody recognises the problem of planning permissions that are given and then not built out—and to create the conditions for a more competitive and diverse housing market. We are calling for action and we are setting out the responsibilities of all parties in building the homes that Britain needs.
I find that a rather curious question from the hon. Gentleman. As it happens, last night I was out of the House between the two votes. I switched on the BBC parliamentary channel and I saw the hon. Gentleman speaking. I turned over to something else. I switched back to the parliamentary channel and he was still speaking. I switched over to something else. I switched back and he was still speaking. He is the last person to complain about filibustering in this House. [Interruption.]
Order. Mr Docherty-Hughes, you seem to be in a state of permanent over-excitement. Calm yourself, man. Take some sort of medicament and it will soothe you. We must hear Mrs Villiers.
My right hon. Friend raises an important point that is, I know, of concern to many people in the House and outside. We should be proud that in the UK we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world—indeed, one of the highest scores for animal protection in the world. Leaving the EU will not change that. I can assure her that we are committed to maintaining and, where possible, improving standards of welfare in the UK, while ensuring of course that our industry is not put at a competitive disadvantage.
I am proud that in this country we have strengthened the law on domestic violence and violence against women and girls. We see this as a retrograde step by the Russian Government. Repealing existing legislation sends out the wrong message on what is a global problem. We have joined others in the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in criticising that decision.
This is obviously a very important issue that my hon. Friend has raised. I understand that on the point of basic medication it is not the fact that the NHS pays more for basic painkillers than on the high street: in fact, its prices are lower. In the case of Kadcyla and similar drugs, it is right that difficult decisions are made on the basis of clinical evidence. I understand that NICE is undertaking a comprehensive assessment before making a final recommendation, and in the meantime Kadcyla is still available to patients.
Last month, Sir Anthony Hart published his report on historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland. Given the uncertain political situation with the Northern Ireland political institutions, if the Executive is not up and running within a month, will the Prime Minister commit to implementing the report in full?
This was obviously an important review. We have our own inquiry into historical child abuse in England and Wales. I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s point about looking ahead to the future. The elections in Northern Ireland will take place on 2 March. There will then be a limited period for an Executive to be put together. I fervently hope an Executive can be put together to maintain the devolved institutions, and I encourage all parties to work very hard to ensure that. I do not want the benefits of progress to be undone, but I am sure, looking ahead, that whatever is necessary will be done to ensure that the findings of the report are taken into account and acted on.
I agree with my hon. Friend. When we negotiate as a United Kingdom, we will be negotiating for the whole of the United Kingdom and taking account of all parts of the United Kingdom. We have a real ambition to make the west midlands an engine for growth. That is about growing the region’s economy and more jobs. Money has been put into growth deal funding and, for example, the Birmingham rail hub. The west midlands will of course be getting a strong voice nationally with a directly elected Mayor in May. I believe Andy Street, with both local expertise and business experience, will be a very good Mayor for the west midlands.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman back again to the Chamber.
I’m looking pretty slim as well, Mr Speaker!
I had five months of NHS treatment at the Newcastle Royal Victoria infirmary under the auspices of Professor Griffin, a marvellous surgeon. Seeing as I might have come out with palliative care, I think he has just about saved my life. That is the best side of the NHS. The service I received was absolutely wonderful, but there is a flip side. What we have today is what are called “corridor nurses”, who look after patients on trolleys in corridors. Quite honestly, Prime Minister, that is not the way we want the health service to be run. We want it to be run in the way it saved me. Get your purse open and give them the money they want.
As Mr Speaker said, I welcome the hon. Gentleman back to his place in the Chamber. I commend the surgeon and all those in the national health service who treated him and enabled him to be here today and continue his duties. There are, as we know, surgeons, doctors, nurses and other staff up and down the NHS day in, day out saving lives. We should commend them for all they do. The north-east is a very good example of some of the really good practice in the NHS. I want to see that good practice spread across the NHS in the whole country.
My hon. Friend obviously raises an issue that is of concern all across this House. As she says, it is of concern to many individuals outside the House who want reassurance about their future. As I have said, I want to be able to give, and I expect to be able to give, that reassurance, but I want to see the same reassurance for UK citizens living in the EU. What I can say to her is that when I trigger article 50, I intend to make it clear that I want this to be a priority for an early stage of the negotiations, so we can address this issue and give reassurance to the people concerned.
Just two weeks ago, Quamari Serunkuma-Barnes, 15 years old, left school, was stabbed four times and died. Three days earlier, Djodjo Nsaka, 19 years old, was stabbed to death in Wembley. Just a few months earlier, two of my young constituents, James Owusu-Ajyekum, 22 years old, and Oliver Tetlow, 27 years old, were killed in what the police say was a case of mistaken identity. Next week, I am meeting the deputy Mayor of London to discuss this and other issues. Will the Prime Minister meet me, fellow MPs and my borough commander to talk about this issue and the Sycamore project, which we would like rolled out in London and beyond?
First, may I send the condolences of the whole House to the families and friends of all those the hon. Lady refers to who were brutally stabbed and attacked in knife attacks? This is obviously an important issue, particularly in London, and we want it addressed. A lot of good work has been done. I am not aware of the Sycamore project, but I would be happy to hear more details of it.
We have been very clear that we want to bring the net migration numbers down, but we also want to ensure that the brightest and the best are still welcome here in the UK. That is why people want to see the UK Government making decisions about people coming here from the EU. We are clear, however, as I said in my Lancaster House speech, that there will still be immigration from the EU into the UK. We want to ensure that the brightest and the best can come here.
Yesterday, the Brexit Minister claimed that Parliament would have a meaningful vote on the final EU deal. Will the Prime Minister confirm that, under her plans, Parliament will either have to accept what the Government offer or fall back on World Trade Organisation rules and that, in the event of no deal, there will be no vote at all? In reality, is this not just a case of take it or leave it? It is not a meaningful concession; it is a con.
We have been clear on this, but I am happy to reiterate what the Minister said yesterday. We have looked at this matter. I said in my Lancaster House speech that there would be a vote on the final deal, but there were a number of questions about what exactly that meant. We will bring forward a motion; the motion will be on the final agreement; it will be for approval by both Houses of Parliament; it will be before the final agreement is concluded, and we expect—I know that this has been an issue for several right hon. and hon. Members—and intend that that will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes on the final agreement.
My hon. Friend raises an important matter that is on the minds of a number of right hon. and hon. Friends. As I said earlier, the current system of funding is unfair, not transparent and out of date. I want a system that supports our aspiration to ensure that every child has a good school place. In looking at these reforms, I can assure my hon. Friend that we want to get this right, which is why we are consulting and why we will look closely at the responses to the consultation.
Npower has announced a 9.8% increase on dual fuel bills, which even the former boss of Npower, Paul Massara, has described as “shocking”. EDF has announced an 8.4% electricity hike, and it is reported that British Gas is preparing its 11 million customers for a 9% increase. Ofgem has moved to protect those who are on prepayment meters with a cap on their energy bills, so why does the Prime Minister not demand similar protection for the majority of customers, who are being ripped off, as the Competition and Markets Authority has said, to the sum of £1.4 billion a year?
The right hon. Lady may have missed the fact that we have said that where we think markets are not working, we will look at any measures that are needed—and the energy market is one of those we are looking at the moment.
Order, I apologise for interrupting, but the hon. Gentleman must be heard.
Thank you, Speaker.
Finally, does my right hon. Friend share my surprise that certain Opposition Front Benchers have not learned that disagreeing with their current party leader can cause headaches?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I think all of us and everybody in the country wants to unite behind the Government’s work to ensure that we get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union, and I believe that we can get a deal that will be in the interests of both the UK and the EU. I had hoped that I would be able to welcome the shadow Home Secretary to the Front Bench in time for the vote that is going to take place later tonight. Perhaps Labour Members are starting to realise that their only real headache is their leader.
Does the Prime Minister agree with the director general of the World Trade Organisation that if Britain were to leave the EU on WTO terms, it would cost £9 billion in lost trade each year?
What we want to do is to ensure that we negotiate a deal with the European Union that enables us to have the best possible deal in trading with and operating within the European Union single market in goods and services. I believe that is possible precisely because, as I have just said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Karl MᶜCartney), such a deal would be good not just for us, but for the EU as well.
My hon. Friend raises an important point. As I set out a few weeks ago, the Government will be reviewing the operation of CAMHS across the country, because I recognise some of the concerns that hon. Members have raised about it. We want to ensure that children and young people have easy access to mental health at the right time, because of the evidence that a significant proportion of mental health problems that arise later in life actually start in childhood and adolescence. We have made more money available to support transformation in children’s and young people’s mental health, but the shadow Health Secretary—sorry, I mean the Health Secretary is on—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman is in his place, as well. I hope the shadow Health Secretary will agree with me that we need to review CAMHS and ensure that we give the right to support to children, young people and adolescents with mental health problems. We will look at the issue that my hon. Friend has raised.
Many hon. Members have recently made the long journey up to west Cumbria for the Copeland by-election, and will all have experienced the parlous state of our roads and our local railways. In fact, it has taken a by-election for Transport Ministers to look seriously at, and show any real interest in, the situation. Is the Prime Minister planning a trip herself, so that she, too, can experience why we need proper investment from this Government in the transport infrastructure in west Cumbria?
The Government are putting more money into infrastructure throughout the country. The Labour party had 13 years in which to improve transport in west Cumbria, and did not do anything about it.
I thank my hon. Friend for drawing our attention to the example of Woodall Nicholson. We are pleased to hear that it has those good plans for the future. As we leave the EU, we will be doing so from a position of strength, and my hon. Friend is right to say that skills and manufacturing are important parts of our economy for the future. That is why, in the industrial strategy, we are looking into how we can develop the excellence that we have in the United Kingdom to ensure that we have a prosperous, growing economy for the future.
Last week, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) pointed out that the Prime Minister’s aspiration to achieve barrier-free, tariff-free trade with the single market, getting all the benefits but paying none of the costs, was akin to disappearing down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. I think that the Prime Minister makes a very interesting choice for Alice, but if she does not manage to achieve that high ambition, will she produce an analysis of what trading on the basis of WTO rules would mean for our economy, so that we, too, can make a proper choice?
I commend my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) for the significant service that he has given to the House and his constituents over the years. He and I have worked well over a number of years—although I should add that, when I was Home Secretary, I used to say, “I locked ’em up and he let ’em out.”
The Government believe that it is possible, within the two-year time frame, to secure agreement not just on our withdrawal from the European Union, but on the trade arrangements that will ensure that we have a strong strategic partnership with the European Union in the future.
When my right hon. Friend met Mr Netanyahu earlier this week, did she impress on him that a lasting peace settlement can only be secured if young Palestinians and young Israelis can look forward to a job, a share in prosperity and a life without fear? Does she agree that that can only be achieved through face-to-face negotiations, and will she join the Israeli Prime Minister in pressing the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority to engage in such negotiations?
My right hon. Friend has made an important point. We continue, as a Conservative Government, to believe that the two-state solution is the right one. It means a viable Palestinian state, but also a safe and secure Israel. Of course, it is for the parties to negotiate: obviously, there are others in the international arena who are doing their work to facilitate an agreement in the middle east, but ultimately it is for the two parties to agree on a way forward.
Sexual Offences (Amendment)
Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the circumstances in which the sexual history of a victim of rape or attempted rape may be introduced at a trial; to prohibit in certain circumstances the disclosure by the police of a victim’s identity to an alleged perpetrator of a serious sexual crime; to extend the range of serious offences which may be referred to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue leniency of the sentence; to amend the requirements for ground rules hearings; to make provision for the issuing in certain circumstances of guidance on safeguarding to schools; to make provision for training about serious sexual offences; to place a duty on the Secretary of State to provide guidelines for the courts in dealing with cases of serious sexual offences; to require the Secretary of State to report annually on the operation of the Act; and for connected purposes.
I appreciate that today’s business is calling so I will not take 10 minutes of the House’s time. I therefore hope that Government Ministers will agree to meet me and others to discuss in detail how the matters raised might be resolved.
The Bill was drafted following discussions with senior North Wales Police officers and the force’s Amethyst sexual support centre and also victims’ support groups in Wales. The subject has been the focus of wide consultation by Harry Fletcher and Claire Waxman of Voice4Victims, who have collected a dossier of victims’ harrowing experiences.
Currently, victims of sexual abuse face the possibility of being humiliated and their credibility undermined by defence lawyers asking questions about their sexual partners, clothing and appearance. Clause 1 of this Bill would prevent such intrusive and damaging questioning, and replicate the law that protects victims in Australia, Canada and most of the United States. This rape shield ensures that a complainant’s irrelevant sexual history in relation to the issue of consent is not wrongfully used as an indicator of the victim’s truthfulness. This rape shield is a necessary legal guard against the twin myths peddled by some defence teams: first, that a woman who has sex with one man is more likely to consent to have sex with another; and that the evidence of a promiscuous woman is less credible.
A recent high-profile case in Wales has no doubt had an impact on victims’ confidence to come forward. Dame Vera Baird QC, Northumbria’s police and crime commissioner, has said: “The case is likely to encourage other defendants who claim consent to try to call evidence of their complainants’ sexual behaviour with other men.” She also said: “Fear that complainants will be accused of sexual behaviour with other men has historically been a major deterrent to women reporting rape.”
Fear to report is compounded by the failure to prosecute. During 2015-16, there were 35,798 complaints of rape to the police, but just 2,689—7.5%—resulted in convictions. Some 90% of rape victims are female, and 10% are male.
Ivy, a rape victim, was told at a ground rules hearing that her sexual history would not be used, but in court she faced questions and allegations that she was promiscuous. There was no judicial intervention.
Emma was followed by a stranger who attacked and tried to rape her. Her screams were met with the threat that she stop or be killed. Fortunately, two off-duty police officers heard her screams. The trial fixated on why Emma chose to wear a red dress on that summer evening.
Last year, 36% of rape trials overseen by the Northumbria court observers panel included questioning about prior sexual conduct of the complainant. In over 10% of these trials, in disregard of the present rules, applications were made on the morning of the trial, or after it had started, to allow such questioning. The humiliation of victims of sexual assault by reference to matters irrelevant to the case cannot be allowed to continue. The present law—section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999—was intended to do this, but it is no longer serving its original purpose effectively.
The second major step forward in this Bill would be to stop the disclosure of the name of a victim of rape or attempted rape to an alleged perpetrator by the police. This happened in Máire’s case. She was terrified that her attacker would find her via social media. She changed her name, moved house and withdrew from the electoral register. Another victim told Voice4Victims: “I am scared every day that he might find me. I would have been much safer had I not reported.” Máire was correctly told by the police that there was neither policy nor legislation on disclosure of a victim’s name when the parties were strangers; it is left to officer discretion. This clause would rightly ensure that names are not given by the police unless a Crown court judge makes an order on application from the suspect.
Clause 5 would require the Secretary of State to ensure that pupils are safeguarded in schools when there has been a serious sexual assault on one pupil by another. It follows a referral to Voice4Victims on Christmas eve. A teenage girl was raped by a fellow student at a party. He was arrested, charged and then bailed with a condition of no contact with the girl. To the family’s shock, and the victim’s distress, on returning to school she was placed in the same class as the attacker.
The Bill would also allow the Attorney General to refer unduly lenient sentences for stalking and coercive control to the Court of Appeal, introduce safeguards for rape victims in ground rule hearings and provide for guidance for criminal justice and educational staff. These much needed reforms will have limited impact, unless they are accompanied by proper training. The Secretary of State will therefore have a duty to publish and implement a strategy to provide high-quality training and advice for all relevant staff.
The provisions in the Bill are all based on the distressing experiences of victims of serious sexual crimes. These measures will help to restore victims’ faith in the criminal justice system and allow the criminal justice system to function more effectively. Who could argue that victims of rape should be re-victimised by the very system through which they seek redress? I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That Liz Saville Roberts, Jess Phillips, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Sir Edward Garnier, Mr Graham Allen, Carolyn Harris, Tracy Brabin, Alison Thewliss, Ms Margaret Ritchie, Tim Loughton, Dr Eilidh Whiteford and Mr Alistair Carmichael present the Bill.
Liz Saville Roberts accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March, and to be printed (Bill 137).
European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill
[2nd Allocated Day]
Further considered in Committee (Progress reported, 7 February)
[Eleanor Laing in the Chair]
On a point of order, Mrs Laing. I spent a lot of time last night studying the large number of amendments that have been tabled for today, and I have to confess that I am concerned as to the admissibility of a large number of them. It is my understanding that amendments are not admissible—out of order—if they are vague or unintelligible without further amendment. As an example, I would like to bring to your attention some of the terms in new clause 2, the lead new clause in the debate. It appears to be very vague, implying that
“the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to the public interest”
in a list of various—
Order. I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, but the matter that he is raising is a matter for debate. Some of the new clauses and amendments that were tabled were considered to be in order and have therefore been selected for debate. Some were not in order, and were therefore ineligible for selection for debate. That is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact. I can assure the hon. Gentleman, although I have no obligation so to do, that the matter has been very carefully considered. New clause 2 is perfectly in order. He might well disagree with the points raised in it—indeed, I would expect him to—and I would expect him to make his disagreement known to the House in due course. For the moment, however, I can assure him and the House that new clause 2 is perfectly in order and that it will be debated.
Further to that point of order? I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to question the judgment of the Chair.
I am just asking for an explanation—
No; the hon. Gentleman will resume his seat, please. [Interruption.] I thank hon. Members, but I am perfectly capable of dealing with this matter. It is not in order for the hon. Gentleman to ask for an explanation. That would be to question the judgment of the Chair, which is—I should carefully say—a matter up with which I will not put. We will debate new clause 2, which will be moved by Mr Paul Blomfield.
New Clause 2
Conduct of negotiations
“Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to the public interest during negotiations in—
(a) maintaining a stable and sustainable economy,
(b) preserving peace in Northern Ireland,
(c) having trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services that are free of tariff and non-tariff barriers and further regulatory burdens,
(d) co-operation with the European Union in education, research and science, environment protection, and preventing and detecting serious and organised crime and terrorist activity,
(e) maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights.”—(Paul Blomfield.)
This new clause sets out statutory objectives that the Government must have regard to whilst carrying out negotiations under article 50.
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 7—Conduct of negotiations—anti-tax haven—
“(1) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the public interest in maintaining all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion legislation.
(2) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of Crown must comply with the European Union Code of Conduct on Business Taxation.”
This new clause sets out the government’s commitment to observe the Code of Conduct on business taxation to prevent excessive tax competition and lays out the statutory objectives that the Government must have regard to EU tax avoidance and evasion whilst carrying out negotiations under article 50.
New clause 11—Tariff-free trade in goods and services—
“In the event of the exercise of the power in Section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a new Treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union on tariff-free trade in goods and services.”
This new clause would ensure that, in the event of the exercise of the power in Section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a new Treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union on tariff-free trade in goods and services rather than withdraw from the European Union with no alternative objective.
New clause 13—Transitional arrangements—
“Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a transitional trading agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union as part of the negotiations following notification under section 1.”
This new clause would make it an objective for HM Government to secure a transitional approach towards new trading relationships with the EU Member States following the end of the Article 50 notification and negotiation period.
New clause 15—Visa-free travel—
“On the exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall endeavour to maintain the visa policy in operation at the date of the coming into force of this Act in relation to citizens of member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
This new clause would seek to ensure that HM Government has the objective of maintaining the visa policy in operation at the date of the coming into force of this Act in relation to citizens of member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom.
New clause 21—Trading rights—financial services—
“On the exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall make it an objective to secure the trading rights for UK-based financial services companies that exist by virtue of the UK’s membership of the European Union as of the day on which this Act comes into force.”
This new clause would seek to ensure that Her Majesty’s Government endeavours to preserve the existing trading rights for UK-based financial services companies as currently exist.
New clause 55—Conduct of negotiations—
“Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister must undertake to have regard to the public interest during negotiations in—
(a) maintaining and advancing manufacturing industry,
(b) securing the interests of all the regions in England,
(c) delivering existing climate change commitments,
(d) maintaining the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland.”
This new clause sets out statutory objectives to which the Government must have regard whilst carrying out negotiations under Article 50.
New clause 70—Relationship with Europe—
“Before the Prime Minister can exercise the power in section 1, the Prime Minister must commit to negotiating a deal that allows free trade and cooperation between Wales and all European countries.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to commit to implementing the Leave Campaign’s pledge to negotiate deal that allows free trade and cooperation between Wales and all European countries before exercising the powers outlined in section 1.
New clause 76—Framework for transfer of data—
“In the event of exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty‘s Government shall promote a framework for the transfer of data between the UK and the EU to underpin continued trade in services.”
This new clause would make it the policy of Her Majesty’s Government to promote a framework for cross-border data flows to safeguard the UK services economy and its trade with European markets.
New clause 77—Trade in goods and services—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of retaining full participation in the making of all rules affecting trade in goods and services in the European Union.”
This new clause would require HM Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation on agreeing all rules affecting trade in goods and services in the European Union.
New clause 78—Europol—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Police Office (Europol) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Police Office (Europol).
New clause 79—European Chemicals Agency—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
New clause 80—European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
New clause 81—Community Plant Variety Office—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).
New clause 82—European Medicines Agency—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).
New clause 83—European Agency for Health and Safety at Work—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA).
New clause 84—European Aviation Safety Agency—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
New clause 85—European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).
New clause 86—European Police College—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Police College (Cepol) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Police College (Cepol).
New clause 87—European Environment Agency—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Environment Agency (EEA).
New clause 88—European Food Safety Authority—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
New clause 89—European Investment Bank—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Investment Bank (EIB).
New clause 90—Eurojust—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in Eurojust on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in Eurojust.
New clause 91—European Maritime Safety Agency—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
New clause 92—European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
New clause 93—European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
New clause 94—European Satellite Centre—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Satellite Centre (EUSC) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Satellite Centre (EUSC).
New clause 95—Protected designation of origin scheme—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme.
New clause 96—Protected geographical indication scheme—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme.
New clause 97—Traditional specialities guaranteed scheme—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme.
New clause 100—Equality and women’s rights—
“Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to the public interest during negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in—
(a) maintaining employment rights and protections derived from EU legislation,
(b) ensuring that EU co-operation to end violence against women and girls, to tackle female genital mutilation and to end human trafficking will continue unaffected,
(c) the desirability of continuing to recognise restraining orders placed on abusive partners in EU Member States in the UK and restraining orders placed on abusive partners in the UK across the EU, and
(d) establishing a cross-departmental working group to assess and make recommendations for developing legislation on equality and access to justice.”
New clause 104—Agricultural Sector—Trade Deals—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to, and shall include, the agricultural sector in any new trade settlement with the European Union.”
New clause 163—Consultation with representatives of English regions—
“(1) Before the Prime Minister issues any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Secretary of State shall set out a strategy for consultation with representatives of the English regions, including those without directly elected Mayors, on the UK’s priorities in negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
(2) The Secretary of State shall nominate representatives for the purposes of subsection (1).”
This new clause would require the Government to designate representatives from English regions and set out a strategy for consulting them on the UK’s priorities in negotiations on withdrawal from the EU.
New clause 166—Rights and opportunities of young people—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must seek to ensure that the rights and opportunities of people aged under 25 in the United Kingdom are maintained on the same terms as on the day on which Royal Assent is given to this Act, including—
(a) retaining the ability to work and travel visa-free in the EU,
(b) retaining the ability to study in other EU member states on the same terms as on the day on which Royal Assent is given to this Act, and
(c) retaining the ability to participate in EU programmes designed to provide opportunities to young people, including programmes to facilitate studying in other EU member states.”
This new clause would ensure that the Government must seek to protect the rights and opportunities currently enjoyed by young UK nationals so that they should not become worse off than their European counterparts.
New clause 170—EHIC scheme—
“(1) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.
New clause 172—Erasmus+ Programme—report
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the Erasmus+ Programme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ Programme.
New clause 174—European Research Area (ERA)—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Research Area (ERA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate continue to the UK’s participation in the European Research Area (ERA).
New clause 178—European Arrest Warrant—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Arrest Warrant on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Arrest Warrant.
New clause 181—Trade agreements—
“(1) In the course of negotiations with the European Union on the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, Her Majesty’s Government must have regard to the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.
(2) Before exercising the power to notify under section 1 of this Act, the Prime Minister should lay before Parliament an assessment of the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining ongoing tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.”
New clause 183—Membership of the single market including EU-wide reform of freedom of movement—
“(1) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must seek to—
(a) secure reforms of provisions governing the free movement of persons between EU member states in such a way as to allow for greater controls over movement of people for member states and to enable the UK to retain full membership of the European single market, or
(b) maintain the highest possible level of integration with the European single market.”
This new clause would ensure that the Government must seek to negotiate EU-wide reforms to freedom of movement in the single market to enable the Government to seek to retain membership of the single market or as close to membership as possible.
New clause 185—Euratom—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the desirability of continuing to participate in the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in Euratom.
New clause 193—Conduct of negotiations—
“( ) Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to public interest during negotiations in maintaining the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.”
Amendment 22, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, leave out “may” and insert “shall”
Amendment 23, page 1, line 2, after “notify” insert “by 31 March 2017”
Amendment 7, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“if it is the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to continue to participate in EU Common Foreign and Security Policy”
This amendment would ensure that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union would not affect the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to continue to participate in EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Amendment 8, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“but not before 1st November 2017”
This amendment would ensure that any notification of intention to withdraw from the EU cannot be made before 1st November 2017.
Amendment 9, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and shall make it an objective for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Single Market.”
This amendment would ensure that the policy of HM Government shall be to negotiate the United Kingdom‘s continued membership of the European Single Market.
Amendment 29, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after consultation with the Government of Gibraltar.”
Amendment 30, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of the European Defence Agency.”
Amendment 31, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of Euratom.”
Amendment 32, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of Europol.”
Amendment 33, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of the European Space Agency.”
Amendment 34, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“with the exception of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.”
Amendment 42, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“The power to make this notification shall not include an intention to withdraw the United Kingdom from membership or participation of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).”
Amendment 54, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chief Minister of Gibraltar has notified Her Majesty’s Government that Gibraltar consents to the process for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.”
Amendment 89, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) the intention to withdraw the United Kingdom from membership of, and participation in, the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), until replacement treaties with other EU Member States and relevant third countries have been agreed.”
Amendment 35, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
‘(3) This section does not apply to Gibraltar.”
Amendment 38, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
‘(3) Before the Prime Minister issues a notification under this section, Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to lay before both Houses of Parliament a White Paper identifying new oversight, accountability and enforcement mechanisms replacing the role of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to ensure an equivalent level of compliance with EU-derived environmental regulation upon withdrawal from the European Union.”
This amendment would ensure that the UK judicial system is prepared and ready to effectively perform the enforcement duties currently undertaken by institutions of the EU with regards to environmental regulation.
Clause 1 stand part.
Clause 2 stand part.
New clause 12—International trade—
“Her Majesty’s Government shall endeavour to incorporate into UK regulation the international trade policies that apply to the UK as a consequence of its membership of the European Union and European Customs Union on the date of the exercise of the power in section l.”
This new clause would make it the policy of HM Government to endeavour to “grandfather” existing trade policies currently applicable to the UK by virtue of UK membership of the EU Customs Union.
New clause 32—Social Chapter rights—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of Social Chapter rights.”
New clause 34—Free trade—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of tariff and barrier-free trade with EU member states.”
New clause 35—Environmental standards—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of environmental standards.”
New clause 36—Climate change—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to how this will deliver UK and EU climate change commitments.”
New clause 37—Research and Development—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of international collaboration on research and development by universities and other institutions.”
New clause 38—Common travel area—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland.”
New clause 39—Crime and security—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of international collaboration on tackling crime and strengthening security.”
New clause 40—Economic and financial stability—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the maintenance of economic and financial stability.”
New clause 50—Commencement—
“This Act shall not come into effect before Parliament has sat for one month following the first General Election that takes place after 31 March. 2017.”
New clause 133—Commencement—
“This Act does not come into force until the Prime Minister has certified that it is the policy of Her Majesty’s Government that on leaving the European Union the United Kingdom should as soon as possible accede to the European Economic Area Agreement as a non-EU party.”
New clause 141—Extent—
“This Act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom and to Gibraltar.”
New clause 186—Report on future participation in Euratom—
“Within 30 days of the Prime Minister exercising the power under section (1), a Minister of State shall publish a report on the United Kingdom’s intended future participation in and engagement with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and shall lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with Euratom, following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
New clause 192—Nuclear Collaboration—
“(1) Nothing in this Act shall affect the UK’s membership of the European Atomic Agency Community (Euratom).
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act, Her Majesty’s Government shall treat the process of leaving Euratom as separate to that of leaving the European Union.”
I rise to speak to new clause 2 and the other new clauses that stand in my name and those of my hon. and right hon. Friends, which have been judged to be in order. Over the past two days, we have had a series of important debates, primarily on the process that we face over the long period ahead. Today, we move on to new clauses and amendments on the substance of the Government’s negotiations. The debate on process was important precisely because it is about enabling the people of this country, through this elected Parliament, to hold the Government to account on the issues that matter to them: their jobs; the conditions under which our businesses operate; how we keep our country safe and secure; how we protect our environment for future generations; and how we ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of science and research and that we have an economy that is able to fund our NHS and all the services that are vital for our social fabric.
In the foreword to the White Paper, the Prime Minister claims that
“the country is coming together”,
but we are not there yet, and those portraying anyone with a different approach to Brexit as attempting to frustrate the will of the people—as some have done over recent days—does not help. Today, however, we can take an important step, because new clause 2 addresses many of the concerns not only of the 48% but of many of the 52%—those who voted to come out but did not vote to lose out. It is, in fact, a manifesto for the 100%. It puts at the front of the Government’s objectives a duty to maintain a stable and sustainable economy through having trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services that are free of tariff and with non-tariff barriers. We on this side of the House have been clear that, in the negotiations, it is the economy and jobs that should come first, but the Government have decided otherwise. They are taking a reckless gamble with people’s jobs and living standards by walking away from the single market and the customs union.
The shadow Minister is making his case very clearly. As I understand it, Labour’s position is that the economy should be at the heart of the negotiations and that if, for instance, we could not get rid of free movement, so be it, because the economy is more important.
No, that is not what I said. I said that the economy should be at the heart of our negotiations, that the advantages of the single market are significant, as the then Prime Minister pointed out before 23 June, and that we should have reasonable management of migration through the application of fair rules.
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that both sides of the House completely agree that we want the maximum possible access to the single market for our exporters and that we will offer the single market the maximum possible access to our market? Does he further accept that we therefore do not need to argue about that? The answer to whether we get that or get most favoured nation status through the WTO lies not here in Parliament, but the hands of the other 27 EU member states.
I am sorry, but the right hon. Gentleman is wrong—and not for the first time. We have made it clear that the economy comes first, but the Prime Minister has said that her red lines are the European Court of Justice and immigration.
My hon. Friend takes a big interest in science and technology and universities, so does he agree that it is important for Coventry and the west midlands economy that we get a proper agreement in relation to the single market? Does he also agree that the Government have guaranteed resources only up to 2020 should we pull out?
That is an important point, and my hon. Friend will note that it is highlighted in new clause 2.
I will try to make some progress.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
As it is the right hon. Gentleman, I will.
I do not want to delay the hon. Gentleman, but I listened carefully to what he said about his new clause. He said, when pressed, that the Labour party’s view was that control of migration—sustainable through whatever arrangements—was important. However, I note that new clause 2 is missing any reference whatsoever to that being an important matter. Whether it is as important as the economy or of secondary importance, it will remain an important issue when the balance of negotiation comes down. What is his position? Why has he left migration control out of the new clause, which is currently unbalanced and makes no sense?
The right hon. Gentleman misrepresents my observations, but then I know that the leave campaign strongly supported alternative facts. Moving on to his specific point—[Interruption.]
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
As it is you.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. This point is rather important: will he confirm whether the Labour party no longer supports the principle of free movement—yes or no?
We have said time and again that we believe in the reasonable management of migration through the application of fair rules, and I will talk about that specific issue if hon. and right hon. Members will give me the opportunity.
Will my hon. Friend give way?
I have probably been a little unbalanced, so I should give way to somebody on my side of the House.
I am grateful. Will my hon. Friend confirm that the easiest way to cut migration would be to crash the economy?
My hon. Friend should wait and hear what I am about to say on migration.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way to someone from my part of the House?
Not just yet. I should make some progress because I am conscious of the many amendments and the many people who want to speak.
The Opposition accept that concerns about migration were a significant factor in the referendum—probably a critical factor. The right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith) is not paying attention at the moment, but leave campaigners talked it up relentlessly—[Interruption.] He is still not listening. The Prime Minister has also talked up migration, both as Prime Minister and in her previous job. That created huge expectations, which the White Paper then begins to talk down. The Home Secretary told the Home Affairs Committee last week that she had not been consulted on that part of the White Paper. This is one of the main red lines defining the Government’s approach and the Minister responsible was not consulted—it is absolutely extraordinary.
For months, echoing the leave campaign, the Government have talked about control, but they have had control over non-EEA migration for six years and the White Paper reveals the facts: no significant change since 2010.
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that free movement has massively benefited our economy, both economically and socially? While Governments may have failed to ensure that those benefits have been shared equally, we should not sacrifice our economy to anti-immigration ideology. Securing the continued free movement of people should therefore be a priority in the UK negotiations.
Indeed, the White Paper points out the benefits of migration.
I want to make some progress.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way on non-EEA migration?
I think the right hon. Gentleman has had more than his fair share of speaking time.
Let me continue. There has been no real change to non-EEA migration since 2010, for good reasons. When the Government start to disaggregate the EEA numbers, what will they find? Doctors, nurses, academics, care workers, students, and those bringing key skills to business and industry. On lower-skill jobs, Ministers have already made it clear to employers that agricultural workers will still be free to come.
I will make some progress. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) pointed out, the only real way to reduce numbers substantially is to crash the economy; that may be the effect of the Government’s negotiations, but assuming that that is not their plan, they need to come clean to the British people. As the right hon. Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman) argued last week, and as the right hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb) argued over the weekend, they need to come clean about this red line. What is their plan? If taking control of immigration defines this Government’s approach to Brexit, the Minister needs to make the Government’s intentions clear in his closing remarks.
Does my hon. Friend agree that UK trade delegations to China and India have made it clear that any trade deal with those countries will almost certainly involve a relaxation of the visa regime, so all we are doing is displacing migration, not cutting it?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I think the Prime Minister was quite shocked to discover, when she went to India seeking a trade deal, that one of the first things that the Indian Government wanted to put on the table was access to our labour markets and for students. My hon. Friend was right to cite other countries, but he missed Australia off his list. Australia is much heralded as a future trading partner, but it also wants to make the movement of people part of any settlement.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the value of migrant workers and others who come here. Does he recognise that local jobs, particularly in rural areas, are anchored by people’s ability to move here? Our public services and local businesses, and the jobs of the indigenous population, also depend on the freedom of movement, which is such an important part of our single market membership.
I thank the hon. Lady; she is absolutely right. That is one reason why the Government’s White Paper is so much more nuanced, caveated and realistic than some of the rhetoric that we have heard.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
As I said, the right hon. Gentleman has had lots of time during Committee of the whole House. I want to move on to a different topic, and I am sure that he will want to get in later. [Interruption.]
Order. Mr Blomfield rightly wishes to speed up his introduction of the new clause; Members will be pleased about that when we come to the end of this debate and they find that they have had a chance to speak.
Thank you, Mrs Laing.
On that point, will my hon. Friend give way?
Probably not, after Mrs Laing’s words.
Our approach is different: it is to put the economy and the jobs of British people first, and to get the right trading relationship with the EU. There may be lots of graphs in the White Paper, but there is little clarity about the Government’s ambitions. However, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was much clearer when he told the House a couple of weeks ago:
“What we have come up with…is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have”—[Official Report, 24 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 169.]
I am delighted that the Secretary of State has just joined us. He is promising us the exact same benefits that we have inside the single market. That is a benchmark that he has set for the negotiations—a benchmark against which we will measure his success. To help him, in a positive and collaborative spirit, we have tried to embed that in new clause 2, because livelihoods depend on it.
Does my hon. Friend agree that trying to get exactly the same access to the single market without paying any of the costs is like disappearing down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland? It is important that we have an assessment of what World Trade Organisation rules would cost, if we had to fall back on them.
My hon. Friend makes an important point, and that is precisely why we have been pushing for proper economic assessments.
I acknowledge that that negotiation target is ambitious, but it is the one the Secretary of State has set, and against which his performance will be measured. It is all very well to speculate on trade deals that might or might not come to pass. The White Paper may tell us that the United States is
“interested in an early trade agreement with the UK”,
but there is no indication of how “America first” protectionism will give better market access for UK-manufactured goods. Given the uncertainty, the Government need to do all they can to secure the jobs that depend on trade with our biggest and closet partner: the European Union.
I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. Why does he think that the European Union would not seek a free trade arrangement with the United Kingdom, given our balance of trade with the EU?
I am sure that the European Union will be interested in securing the trade agreement that we seek, but the question is whether the Government can secure it on the ambitious terms that the Secretary of State has himself set.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
No. I have made it clear that the right hon. Gentleman has had plenty of floor time. I shall press on.
On the trade deal, it really did not help for the Prime Minister to threaten our friends and neighbours with turning this country into an offshore tax haven if she did not get her way. [Interruption.] Government Members may not like it, but that was the clear threat. It was not a threat against the European Union; it was a threat against the British people. Those voting to leave the EU did so on the understanding that the NHS would receive more money, but that will not be possible if we slash taxes, and this House should not allow that. That is the purpose of new clause 7.
I will make progress, because I am mindful of Mrs Laing’s comments.
New clause 7 should command support across the House. The Government have been working with our partners in the OECD on efforts to avoid a race to the bottom on corporation tax, and new clause 7 endorses that work, while new clause 2 would commit the Government to
“maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights”,
as well as to continuing to collaborate on environmental protection. The Government have paid lip service to those things, but they should understand people’s scepticism about their intentions, because although the White Paper boasts of increasing enforcement budgets for compliance with the national minimum wage, it fails to mention the appallingly low numbers of prosecutions for non-payment of the national minimum wage, or the rife abuse in the care sector, of which the Government are perfectly aware, but on which they have failed to act.
On one of the biggest issues we face, climate change, there is just one small paragraph, which says:
“We want to take this opportunity to develop over time a comprehensive approach to improving our environment in a way that is fit for our specific needs.”
What is it about our air and our seas, and the impact of our carbon emissions on the planet, that is specific—so specific that addressing it cannot be done better through continued collaboration with the European Union?
I have been listening to the hon. Gentleman with great interest for around 20 minutes. What does what he is saying have to do with article 50?
I guess the right hon. Gentleman has spotted that triggering article 50 will signal our departure from the European Union; he can intervene if I have got that wrong. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) is not going to get a chance. Our departure puts at risk the many benefits—
Order. The former Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean, knows better than anyone how business is conducted in this Chamber, and he knows what happens to people who do not do what they are meant to.
Tell us, please.
Mr Bone asks me to tell the House; there is no need.
Thank you, Mrs Laing. To continue my point, our departure will clearly have implications for the many environmental, employment and consumer rights that have been won over the past 43 years.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that the Government have been dragged to court on three occasions for failing on the air quality targets set by the EU, and have been negotiating behind the scenes to drop the European standards, means that it is really important that we discuss environmental protections as part of the negotiations?
I do indeed, which is why environmental protection is embedded in new clause 2, which also—
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
No; I shall try to make progress. I think Members will acknowledge that I have been fairly generous with my time.
New clause 2 would also make co-operation with the European Union on education, research and science, environmental protection, and the prevention and detection of serious and organised crime and terrorist activity, guiding negotiating principles in the negotiations. The Prime Minister talks the talk on research and science, but will she really commit? There is lots to talk about, but I shall take just one example, which is the basis of new clause 192. Tucked away in the explanatory notes is the revelation that the Bill will trigger our exit from Euratom—the European Atomic Energy Community. Whatever else can be claimed of their intentions, and much has been, I am pretty confident that on 23 June the British people did not vote against our leading role on nuclear energy, safety and research. It certainly was not on the ballot paper.
Euratom was established by a distinct treaty, and it would fly in the face of common sense to throw away membership of an organisation that brings such unequivocal benefit, yet the White Paper is as ambiguous on the Government’s intention as the Secretary of State was last week; it talks simply of “leaving Euratom”.
My hon. Friend makes a compelling argument about that aspect of scientific research. I do not know whether he attended yesterday’s event held by the all-party group on medical research, which is looking at the impact of Brexit on life sciences. If he did, he will know that it was made absolutely clear that we need to maintain the closest possible ties with the EU in relation to Horizon 2020 funding, collaboration and the free movement of people. Does he not agree that the Government need to listen if we are to preserve our wonderful scientific research base in this country?
I absolutely do. I was not at that meeting yesterday, but I was at a meeting of medical research charities and other stakeholders in the field of medical research on Monday, at which they made precisely that point. Indeed, they mentioned that we needed to ensure that we had the right relationship, starting, ideally, with membership of the European Medicines Agency.
I thank the shadow Minister for so generously giving way. He probably knows that the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy is in my constituency. People there told me how concerned they were about this issue, but they decided that the amendments to the Bill were not helpful. They said that it was much better to deal with Ministers directly, and to put pressure on the Treasury to achieve their objectives.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point. A very effective way of applying pressure to save that Joint European Torus centre, which is a hugely important facility, is by agreeing to new clause 192.
The shadow Minister makes a very important point. These hugely important research projects in nuclear and nuclear build have long lead-in times. My concern is that if we trigger notice to leave Euratom, no agreement will be put in place at the end of the two-year period. That could seriously delay those projects and impact on future investment in this country. Does he agree that, at the very least, we need a transitional arrangement, if not continuing membership?
Yes, I do agree; my hon. Friend makes a very important point. I press Ministers to give greater clarity on their intentions, because the Secretary of State has so far been ambiguous.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
No, I will not. I should respond to Mrs Laing’s appeal for us to make progress.
It has been suggested that the Government’s reservations about Euratom stem from the fact that the European Court of Justice is the regulatory body for the treaty. If that is so, their obsessional opposition to the Court of Justice leads them to want to rip up our membership of an organisation on which 21% of UK electricity generation relies and that supports a critical industry providing 78,000 jobs; that number is projected to rise to 110,000 by 2021. That membership led to us hosting the biggest nuclear fusion programme in the world in Culham.
I will not give way, because I wish to make progress.
The organisation also helps to ensure nuclear safety. Before the Secretary of State leaves the Chamber, let me tell him that it would be helpful for the Government to explain their intentions. I will give way to him or to the Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union, because the people in this country deserve to know what is happening in relation to Euratom; people voting in Copeland in a couple of weeks’ time want to know, as their jobs are on the line. I give the Secretary of State or indeed the Minister the opportunity to intervene on me to make an unambiguous statement that it is the Government’s intention to remain in Euratom.
Kit Malthouse rose—
James Heappey rose—
I was providing the opportunity to those who can make a useful commitment. Their silence says everything.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
No, I will not.
Clearly, there is much more to be said about our future relationship. There are many more people who wish to speak and many more amendments to be moved. I will draw my remarks to a close—[Interruption.] It is disappointing for me, too.
I will draw my remarks to a close.
Order. The Committee must allow the shadow Minister to draw his remarks to a close, or no one else will have an opportunity to speak, and it will not be my fault.
Thank you, Mrs Laing. I draw my remarks to a close with the simple point that our new clauses provide a basis for bringing people together around plans that address the concerns of the 100%; supporting them would be a good first step.
I find myself in agreement with new clause 2, which makes perfectly sensible statements about what our negotiating aims should be. I have even better news for the Opposition Front-Bench team: it is a statement of the White Paper policy. Of course we wish to maintain a stable, sustainable, profitable and growing economy, which we have done ever since the Brexit vote. Of course we wish to preserve the peace in Northern Ireland, to have excellent trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services free of tariff, to have lots of co-operative activities with EU member states and institutions in education, research and science and so forth, and to maintain the important rights and legal protections enshrined in European law. As I understand it, the Government have made it crystal clear in the White Paper and in many statements and answers to questions and responses to debates from the Front Bench that all those things are fundamental to the negotiating aims of the Government.
Having excited the Opposition with my agreement, I need to explain why I will not vote for this new clause. I have two main reasons, which I briefly wish to develop. First, I am happy to accept the promise and the statement of our Front-Bench team, and I advise the Opposition to do the same. Secondly, although the words do not explicitly say, “This is what has to be delivered”, the fact that it is embedded in legislation implies that all these things must be delivered, and some of them are not in the gift of this Government or this Parliament. I return to the point that the Opposition never seem to grasp: we are all united in the aim of ensuring tariff-free trade, but it will be decided by the other 27 members, not by this Parliament or by Ministers.
Given that the list in new clause 2 exactly matches some of the things in the White Paper, it is pointless. Is it not interesting that the two areas it does not mention are immigration and strengthening the United Kingdom? Those omissions are very significant.
That is a very powerful point. I could add others. It is a great pity that it does not mention the opportunity to have a decent fishing policy. It certainly does not talk about having a sensible immigration policy. The Opposition still do not understand that we have to remove the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice if this Parliament is to be free to have a fishing policy that helps to restore the fishing grounds of Scotland and England, and to have a policy that makes sensible provision for people of skills, talent and interest to come into our country, but that ensures that we can have some limit on the numbers.
I heard the right hon. Gentleman’s wish list at the beginning of his speech. Has he grasped the fact that that wish list is actually encapsulated in two words: single market?
No, it clearly is not. The hon. Gentleman has not been listening to what I have been saying. The whole point about the single market is that it does not allow us to have a sensible fishing policy or a sensible borders policy, which are two notable omissions from the list, which, fortunately, were not absent from the White Paper or from the Government’s thinking.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to reconsider what he just said. He said the whole point about the single market is that it does not allow us to have a sensible fishing policy, but Norway is in the single market in the European economic area, but not in the common fisheries policy. It controls its own fisheries policy, which he would know if he had read this excellent document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”.
Well, why have we not had a sensible fishing policy for the past 40 years? It is because we have been a full member of the EU and its single market. What is agreed across this House—even by some members of the Scottish National party—is that we want maximum tariff-free, barrier-free access to the internal market. However, what is not on offer from the other 27 members is for us to stay in the single market, but not to comply with all the other things with which we have to comply as a member of the EU. There is no separate thing called the single market; it is a series of laws that go over all sorts of boundaries and barriers. If we withdraw from the EU, we withdraw from the single market.
The right hon. Gentleman’s example was of fishing policy, so does he agree as a point of fact that Norway is in the single market but pursues its own independent fishing policy? Yes or no?
I agree that Norway decided to sacrifice control of her borders to get certain other things from a different kind of relationship with the EU, but we do not wish to join the EEA because we do not wish to sacrifice control over our borders. That is straightforward.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong. Norway was part of the Nordic free movement area with Sweden, Finland and Denmark way before the European Union was even invented.
Norway is now part of a freedom of movement area far bigger than that, and that was part of its deal. It also has to pay in a lot of money that British voters clearly do not wish to pay, so why would we want to do that?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that if Opposition Members are serious about the flourishing of our economy, 80% of which is services, they should accept that we need to be able to do trade deals on services, which means that we have to leave the EEA so that we can negotiate about regulation?
That is quite right, and they also ignore the whole of the rest of the world. It so happens that we have a profitable, balanced trade with the rest of the world. We are often in surplus with the rest of the world overall and we are in massive deficit in goods with the EU alone. There is much more scope for growth in our trade with the rest of the world than there is with the EU, partly because the rest of the world is growing much faster overall than the EU and partly because we have the chance to have a much bigger proportion of the market there than we have, whereas we obviously have quite an advanced trade with the EU that is probably in decline because of the obvious economic problems in the euro area.
Does the right hon. Gentleman note that although the shadow Minister made no mention of the importance of controlling immigration, his new clause 2 mentions “preserving peace in Northern Ireland”, although he never mentioned one word of it? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the shadow Minister perhaps understands that Brexit has no implications for peace in Northern Ireland? It is not a cause of increased terrorism. Indeed, the terrorists never fought to stay in the EU; they fought to get out of Britain.
The hon. Gentleman has made his own point, and we all wish Northern Ireland well.
First, let me congratulate my right hon. Friend on recognising that there is nothing in new clause 2 that is remotely objectionable to either leavers or remainers as an objective for the country in the forthcoming negotiations. If tariff-free access to the single market is desirable, does he accept that access to any market is not possible without accepting obedience of that market’s regulations? Otherwise, there are regulatory barriers. We need some sort of dispute procedure. If we start to reject the European Court of Justice and say that all the regulations must be British and that we are free to alter them when we feel like it, we are not pursuing the objectives in new clause 2 with which my right hon. Friend expresses complete agreement.
Of course there is a dispute resolution procedure when we enter a free trade agreement or any other trade arrangement. There is a very clear one in the WTO. We will register the best deal we can get with the EU under our WTO membership and it will be governed by normal WTO resolution procedures, with which we have no problem. The problem with the ECJ is that it presumes to strike down the wishes of the British people and good statute law made by this House of Commons on a wide range of issues, which means that we are no longer sovereign all the time we are in it.
The right hon. Gentleman argues that our membership of the EU inhibits our ability to trade with the expanding economies of the rest of the world. If so, will he explain why Germany exports nearly four times as much as we do to China and exceeds our exports to both India and Brazil, the other fast-growing economies, and why France also exports more to China and Brazil than we do? What is it that they do in the EU that we will do when we come out?
It is quite obvious that Germany will export more at the early stages of development in an emerging market economy, because it tends to export capital equipment of the kind that is needed to industrialise, which is what China bought in the last decade. Now that China is a much richer country, she is going to have a massive expansion of services and that is where we have a strong relative advantage, in that if we have the right kind of arrangement with China we will accelerate the growth of our exports, which China will now want, more rapidly. The hon. Gentleman must understand that the EU imposes massive and, I think, dangerous barriers against the emerging market world for their agricultural produce. The kind of deals we can offer to an emerging market country, saying that we will buy their much cheaper food by taking the tariff barriers off their food products in return for much better access to their service and industrial goods markets where we have products that they might like to buy—[Interruption.] I hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) express a worry about British farmers, and British farmers, would, of course, have a subsidy regime based on environmental factors, in the main, which we would want to continue.
What impact does the right hon. Gentleman think that that would have on Welsh agriculture and the rural economy in Wales?
I just explained that it should boost it. I am sure that more market opportunities will open up for Welsh farmers, but we will also debate in this House how to have a proper support regime. I hope that it will be a support regime that not only rewards environmental objectives but is friendly to promoting the greater efficiencies that can come from more farm mechanisation and enlargement, which will be an important part of our journey to try to eliminate some of the massive deficit we run in food with the rest of the EU, while being more decent to the emerging world—the poor countries of the world to which we deliberately deny access to our markets.
May I take it from what the right hon. Gentleman has just said that in any free trade deal with New Zealand he will continue to ensure that sheep farmers in this country are not sacrificed in the interests of getting good access to the New Zealand market for our financial services?
I am sure that that would be a very appropriate part of the discussions our country holds with New Zealand and Australia. I broadly take the view—I thought Labour was now of this view—that getting rid of tariffs was a good idea. Labour has spent all of the past six months saying how we must not have tariffs on our trade with Europe, but now I discover it wants tariffs on trade with everywhere else in the world. It is arguing a large contradiction.
My right hon. Friend is making a very powerful case. Does he not agree that it is truly remarkable that Germany makes three times as much money on coffee as developing countries because of tariffs and that we are noticing a problem with out-of-season fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets, in part because of the pressures applied to producers in north Africa? It is no good colleagues on the Opposition Benches having a go at those who are concerned about international development assistance if they are prepared to tolerate such tariff barriers, which act against the interests of developing countries.
I think that we have teased out something very important in this debate. The Opposition want no barriers against ferocious competition from agriculture on the continent, which has undoubtedly damaged an awful lot of Welsh, Scottish and English farms, but they want maximum tariff barriers to trade with the rest of the world so that we still have to buy dear food. That does not seem to be an appealing package.
My right hon. Friend might be interested to know that just last week I visited Randall Parker Foods in my constituency, a company that slaughters and processes several hundred thousand Welsh lambs every year and that is salivating at the chance of opening up the US market, in particular, where Welsh lamb is under-represented and where there is huge potential for us to export more than we do.
Like my hon. Friend, I think that there are some great English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish agricultural products, and that with the right tariff system with the rest of the world we could do considerably better with our quality products.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his great speech, but I want to ask him one question that goes to the merits of the new clause. It says that the Prime Minister “shall give an undertaking”, which is clearly a mandatory requirement under statute, and which itself calls for judicial review if somebody decides to do that. However, in all my time in this place, I have never seen a clause proposing the preserving of peace in Northern Ireland as a matter of public interest and of judicial review. It is unbelievably unworkable and completely contrary to all the assumptions that one might rely on for a decent provision.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing me back to my central point. He kindly said that I have made a good speech, but I have just responded to everybody else making their own speeches and riding their own hobby horses. I hope they have enjoyed giving those hobby horses a good ride.
To summarise my brief case, the aims of the new clause are fine. They happen to be agreed by the Government. However, it is disappointing that the Opposition have left out some important aims that matter to the British people: taking back control of our borders and laws, and dealing with the problem of the Court immediately spring to mind, but there are many others. They leave out, as they always do, the huge opportunities to have so many policies in areas such fishing and farming that would be better for the industry and for consumers. They have now revealed a fundamental contradiction in wanting completely tariff-free trade in Europe, but massive tariff barriers everywhere else, and do not really seem to think through the logic.
My conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with the aims. We need the extra aims that the Government have rightly spelled out. It would be quite silly to incorporate negotiating aims in legislation. I believe in the Government’s good faith. We are mercifully united in wanting tariff-free, barrier-free trade with the rest of Europe. It is not in the gift of this House, let alone the gift of Ministers, to deliver that, but if people on the continent are sensible they will want that because they get a lot more out of this trade than we do. They must understand that the most favoured nation tariffs are low or non-existent on the things we sell to them, but can be quite penal on the things they have been particularly successful at selling to us. The aims are a great idea, but it is silly to put them into law.
This group of amendments is about the UK’s priorities for the negotiations on withdrawal from the European Union. I will talk about Scotland’s priorities. The Scottish National party has tabled amendment 54 and new clause 141 on the situation of Gibraltar, in which we deal with the fact that the Bill has omitted to include Gibraltar in its remit, which is rather curious given the great love and affection that Government Members have for Gibraltar.
Those of us who are members of the Exiting the European Union Committee were very impressed by the evidence given to us a couple of weeks ago by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo. He emphasised that Gibraltar’s main concern is to preserve its sovereignty and connection with the United Kingdom. Unlike some of us, he is very happy to be part of the red, white and blue Brexit that the Prime Minister talks about. It is important to take Gibraltar’s concerns into account.
Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?
The hon. Gentleman, to whom I will give way in a moment, has a long and admirable commitment to the people of Gibraltar and their interests. He has also tabled amendments on the matter, including amendment 29, which I am sure he will tell us about in detail in due course. It would put upon the British Government a requirement to consult Gibraltar before triggering article 50.
I will not make a speech now, as I hope to be called later. I just want to emphasise that there is an important need to protect the interests of Gibraltar. As the hon. and learned Lady said, the Bill does not refer to Gibraltar, but it was specifically mentioned in an amendment when the legislation to hold the referendum was agreed. The people of Gibraltar voted in the referendum. Surely the Bill should be amended to reflect the need for Gibraltar’s interests also to be considered.
Absolutely. I have with me a letter from the Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar, who says that he
“can confirm that the clause on the application of the Article 50 Bill to Gibraltar would be politically useful to us here. It would also follow on logically from the original consent that we already gave to the extension of the actual UK referendum Act to Gibraltar.”
I will come back to that in more detail in a moment.
Before my hon. and learned Friend moves on, I think it is important to back up the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes). Gibraltar’s connection to the United Kingdom and being British should be reflected in this House. I have visited Gibraltar, and hon. Members should think seriously about supporting his amendment because it would send a signal to Gibraltar that it is respected here, and by Members on both sides of the House. Please listen to the hon. Gentleman.
Indeed. I totally agree with my hon. Friend. The Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar also said in his letter:
“I understand that this amendment mirrors a number of others which have also been tabled seeking to make clear its application”—
that is the application of the Act—
“to Gibraltar in the same way. This would strengthen Gibraltar’s case to be mentioned in the Article 50 letter.”
Of course, Scotland shares with Gibraltar a desire to be mentioned in the article 50 letter.
The big priority for Scotland is that the British Government take into account the Scottish Government’s request for a differentiated deal for Scotland. We tabled new clause 145, which would require the British Government to commit to such a differentiated deal before triggering article 50. That amendment has been held over until today, but we will not push it to a vote because we are prepared to give the UK Government one last chance to respond to the document “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, which was laid before the British Government before Christmas, some seven weeks ago.
Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?
I will when I have finished my point. No formal response to “Scotland’s Place in Europe” has yet been received. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Karl MᶜCartney) is a member of the Exiting the European Union Committee, as I am. We heard detailed evidence about the document this morning from the Scottish Government Minister responsible for negotiations with the United Kingdom. It is a far more detailed document in its proposals than anything the British Government have been prepared to produce so far.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for giving way; as a fellow member of the Brexit Select Committee, I hope that she would treat me as a friend, rather than as just an hon. Member sitting on the opposite side of the House. I do not disagree with her when it comes to Gibraltar and maybe even Scotland, but we are acting on behalf of the whole UK. If there were to be a list in the article 50 letter, are there any other places, such as the Isle of Man or Jersey, that she would like to see included on it? Would she like to see a long list of places?
The hon. Gentleman is obviously not aware that the arrangements that apply to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are rather different than those that apply to Scotland, because they are not in the European Union. Perhaps he would like to read “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, which would explain that to him. Some differentiated agreements do, in fact, exist within the wider UK and Crown dependencies. Gibraltar is in the European Union, but not in the customs union. I will return to the matter of Gibraltar in due course.
My hon. and learned Friend will remember this direct quotation from The Daily Telegraph:
“Theresa May has indicated that…she said she will not trigger the formal process for leaving the EU until there is an agreed ‘UK approach’ backed by Scotland.”
Surely Government Members do not intend the Prime Minister to break her word of 15 July last year.
I am sure that Government Members would be loth to encourage the Prime Minister to break her word—[Interruption.] Conservative Members are shouting, “No veto.” We are not asking for a veto. This document is a compromise whereby Scotland could remain in the single market while the rest of the UK exits it. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches who are shaking their heads and mumbling about vetoes would like to get their iPads out and look up the difference between a veto and a compromise; it is rather a radical difference.
I will make some progress and then I will take some more interventions, perhaps from people who have not yet spoken.
The Scottish Government have made a proposal, and we are waiting for it to be taken seriously. The signs that the compromise put forward by Scotland will be taken seriously by the Government and, indeed, by this House have not been promising so far this week. Not a single amendment to the Bill has been accepted, despite the numerous amendments tabled by all sorts of different groups of Members, many with significant cross-party support. Even yesterday, when the Government were forced into announcing a significant concession, they were extraordinarily reluctant to commit that concession to writing. We all know that it is because they do not want to amend the Act: they have fought tooth and nail through the courts and in this House to avoid the sort of scrutiny that those of them who seek to leave the European Union have been trumpeting for years. They tell us how fantastic this wonderful, sovereign mother of Parliaments is, but we are berated for having the effrontery to attempt to amend a Bill. It is preposterous.
Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?
No, I will not give way. We heard ample from the right hon. Gentleman the other day.
This Bill is being railroaded through this House with scant regard for democratic process. Here is an example: on Monday, when we were debating the proposals that concerned the devolved Administrations, including Scotland, only one of my hon. Friends got to speak. When I attempted to double that tally, I was told to sit down, shut up and know my place. I do not mind being insulted and affronted in this House, but what people need to remember is that it is not just me; it is the people who elected me who are being insulted and affronted when I am prevented from speaking about proposals on which my name appears.
Government Members are extraordinarily relaxed about the effect this sort of thing has on Scottish public opinion. I do not know whether they take the Herald newspaper—it is rather difficult to get hold of in the House of Commons—but if they do, they will see that today’s headline is “Support for independence surges on hard Brexit vow” .
Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?
No, I will not.
Backing for a yes vote in another independence referendum has risen to 49% on the back of the hard Brexit vow, and that is when no referendum is even on the table and we are still seeking our reasonable compromise. Hon. Members should make no mistake—it gives me great pleasure to say this—that the barracking by Government Members and the preventing of SNP MPs from speaking in this House play right into our hands and result in headlines saying that support for independence is surging.
On a point of order, Mrs Laing. On Monday, I spoke about the amendments on devolution arrangements. I seem to remember that I took many interventions, including from the hon. and learned Lady. She was not, therefore, prevented from speaking; indeed, I seem to remember that the person in the Chair at the time—[Interruption.]
Opposition Members should let me finish making my point of order to the Chair. The person who was in the Chair made great efforts to facilitate the hon. and learned Lady’s speech, but there was then a kerfuffle when she objected to the amount of time she got. How can we put the record straight about the fact that she had a fair opportunity on Monday?
The right hon. Gentleman does not need to put the record straight, because it is a matter of record. I have myself looked in Hansard, and by the simple use of my arithmetical powers, I have worked out how many people managed to speak, for how long they spoke and what contributions they made. Now, the hon. and learned Lady is asserting that she was prevented from speaking. Because there was a time limit on the debate and the hon. and learned Lady came quite late in the debate, there was not an awful lot of time left in which she could speak. But I think that, in saying that she was prevented from speaking, the hon. and learned Lady is making a rhetorical point rather than an arithmetical point, because her contribution to the debate has been considerable. She will note that she has been given the opportunity very early in today’s proceedings to speak, and I look forward to hearing her speak to the amendments to which she has put her name, and that is what we should stick to.
I am very grateful, Mrs Laing, for your clarification. Indeed, I am speaking early today, because I am leading for the third party in this House, and it is my right to speak early in the debate.
The right hon. Gentleman is terribly anxious to make an intervention. In order to put him out of his misery, I would very much like to hear what he has to say now.
I am very grateful to the hon. and learned Lady. She was waxing lyrical about the importance her party places on Gibraltar, but when I was listening to the evidence from the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, he was rather more committed to the continuance of the United Kingdom than the Scottish National party, which does not seem to be committed to it.
That is called democracy. The people of Gibraltar vote for parties that wish to remain part of the United Kingdom; the people of Scotland vote for parties that wish to be independent—that is a statement of fact. I am very happy to endorse Gibraltar’s right to self-determination—just as I am happy to endorse Scotland’s, or indeed any nation’s, right to self-determination.
Just on a point of clarity, it should be understood by both sides that Gibraltar is not in the United Kingdom. Gibraltar does not want to be in the United Kingdom. It wants an association with Britain, which is very different. The United Kingdom dates only from December 1922. Britain is little bitty older than that. Gibraltar does not have a Member in this Parliament because it is not in the United Kingdom. It has an association with the United Kingdom. It is independent of the United Kingdom. That is something I would quite like for Scotland: British, but not in the UK.
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, who, like the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes), has a long association with Gibraltar, for clarifying the situation for those who appeared not to be aware of it.
Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?