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Prime Minister

Volume 642: debated on Wednesday 13 June 2018

The Prime Minister was asked—


Tomorrow marks one year on from the Grenfell Tower fire. I know that Members on both sides of the House will join me in saying that this unimaginable tragedy remains at the forefront of our minds. On Monday, I had the privilege to attend the very moving vigil in memory of those who were lost that night, and I was honoured to take part in an iftar with members of the local community. Let me again reassure the House that we are doing everything we can to see that the survivors of Grenfell get the homes and support that they need and the truth and justice that they deserve.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish the England men’s football team the very best in the upcoming World cup.

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.

I am sure the whole House will want to echo the Prime Minister’s comments about the Grenfell tragedy 12 months ago. My constituents certainly will want me to echo her good wishes to the England football team.

Last year, the top five co-operatives in our country paid more than four times the corporation tax of Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Starbucks and E.ON. I am sure the Prime Minister will want to praise the patriotism of those who have signed up to the Fair Tax Mark campaign. Might this not be an opportunity to encourage the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Treasury to take a more proactive and supportive interest in the growth of co-operative and mutual businesses?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments about his constituents’ support and thoughts for all those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

On the issue of taxation, the hon. Gentleman may have noticed that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has been requiring some of the large companies that he referenced to pay more tax and has ensured we get that tax from them. It looks fairly across all types of institution that operate in this country.

Q3. One of the key reasons why people voted to leave the European Union was to get back control of immigration policy, so that we could welcome people to our country based on their skills and talents, not the country they are from. We cannot stay in the European economic area, which we will debate later, without continuing with free movement of people. May I urge the Prime Minister to stick to our policy of leaving the single market, getting back control of our immigration policy and not listening to the many Labour voices who want to continue with unlimited migration from the European Union? (905814)

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. The Labour party used to say that it wanted control of our borders. Now what it wants is free movement. We will take back control of our borders.

I wish the England team all the best in the tournament in Russia and hope that it goes really, really well—[Interruption]—and that England win!

This week is national Carers Week, and I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the thousands of usually unpaid carers whose commitment to family and friends too often goes unrecognised.

As the Prime Minister pointed out, tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. I will be meeting families again tomorrow at their silent march. The sad truth and reality is that many of them are still waiting for the security of a permanent home one year on from that disaster.

When the Prime Minister met President Donald Trump last week, did she do as the Foreign Secretary suggested and ask him to take over the Brexit negotiations?

Order. Mr Geraint Davies, you are a senior and supposedly cerebral Member of the House—in a leap year anyway—and you must attempt to recover your composure, man. I am worried about you, and I am worried for you.

On the Brexit negotiations, I might remind the right hon. Gentleman that, before December, Labour cast doubt on whether we would get a joint report agreed—we did—and before March, he cast doubt on whether we would get an implementation period, and we did.

I wanted, if I may, just to respond to the comment that the right hon. Gentleman made about the very important subject of providing those who were the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire with permanent homes. Just so that I can make it clear to the House: 203 households were in need of a new home; every household has received an offer of temporary or permanent accommodation; and 183 have accepted an offer of a permanent home.

I just wanted to say this, because it is not just about the buildings; it is not just about the bricks and mortar of a home. People who suffered that night are having to rebuild their lives. Many of them lost somebody—members of their families—with whom they had been living and making a home for years. They lost all their possessions; they lost their mementoes; and they lost anything that reminds them of the person they loved. When they move into that new home, they will be restarting their lives, and I wanted to pay tribute to all the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire for the strength and dignity that they have shown.

I, too, pay tribute to the families for all they have been through and all the fortitude they have shown, but, sadly, the reality is that some of them have still not got a permanent home to move into. It is very important for the mental wellbeing of everybody that they have somewhere they can call home and they know it is their home.

Last week, the Prime Minister confirmed we would leave the European Union in March 2019 and the transition would end in December 2020, but we now know the Government are working on the basis that the transition could continue for a further year, till December 2021. Could she be clearer today? Which December are we talking about?

No, the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in the way he has put this to the House, so let me be clear to the House. I think what he is trying to talk about is the backstop arrangement that we have agreed. Let us be very clear what this backstop is: this is an arrangement that will be put in place in the circumstances in which it is not possible to put the future new customs arrangement in place by 1 January 2021. It is there to ensure that, if those new customs arrangements are not in place, we are able to continue on the basis that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We are working to make sure that the future customs arrangements overall deal with the issue of ensuring no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We do not want the backstop to be necessary. We are working to ensure that we can have our future customs arrangements in place on 1 January 2021.

I am not really sure whether it is a backstop or a backslide that the Prime Minister is talking about here.

Last week, I asked the Prime Minister about this, and I am sorry to bring this subject up again because it is probably quite painful for her, but when is the Government’s Brexit White Paper going to be published? She did say it would be published before the June EU Council summit. Is that still the case?

No, I did not actually say that. I said the White Paper would be published, and we will be publishing it. We will be bringing Ministers together. [Hon. Members: “When?”] Just calm down. We will be bringing Ministers together after the June Council, and the White Paper will be published thereafter.

It gets ever more confusing, because at the weekend the Minister for the Cabinet Office told the BBC that it would not now be until July. Can I offer a solution to the Prime Minister? Instead of worrying about this White Paper, on which the Cabinet would have to agree, how about making it a Green Paper in which all their disagreements are in the open, and we can all comment on it? If the Government do not, as looks likely, have their detailed proposals ready for the June summit, surely the Prime Minister cannot be going to Brussels without anything to negotiate on, so is she going to seek a delay to that summit while the Government decide what their position actually is?

Perhaps I could just help the right hon. Gentleman. The June European Council is not a summit about the Brexit negotiations. There will be many issues that the European Union leaders will be discussing at the June European summit, including the important issue of sanctions against Russia. I will be pressing to ensure that we maintain sanctions against Russia, because the Minsk agreements have not been put in place, and indeed I think there are some areas where we should be enhancing that sanctions regime.

The right hon. Gentleman says that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office said that the White Paper would be published in July and that that is different from what I have just said. I have to say to him that after the June European Council is July. But if he wants to talk about differences of opinion, I will tell him what division really is: it is Labour Members—[Interruption.] It is all very well the deputy leader of the Labour party pointing like that. Division is members of the Labour party circulating instruction manuals on how to deselect all the Labour MPs sitting behind him.

“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown.” They are not actually my words, but those of the Foreign Secretary, even as his fellow Cabinet Ministers are preparing people for the Government's negotiations, which he clearly thinks are going to end in disaster. Last week, he also took aim at the Treasury—the Chancellor is sitting absolutely next to him—calling them “the heart of remain”. He criticised them, saying:

“What they don’t want is friction at the borders. They don’t want any disruption of the economy”.

Does the Prime Minister back the Foreign Secretary in wanting more friction and more disruption to the economy?

Let’s talk about the positions on this issue. Labour said it wanted to do new trade deals—[Interruption.]

Order. I want to hear both the questions and the answers, and as the record shows—[Interruption.] Order. I do not require any assistance in this matter. As the record shows, that will always happen, however long it takes. There is a lot of noise and much gesticulation from Members on both sides of the House, but I want to hear the questions and I want to hear the answers.

The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) is absolutely right: we are in government, not Labour. We have set out our position on the border, but what we see is a Labour party that said it wanted to do trade deals, and now wants to be in a customs union that would stop that. They said they wanted to control our borders, and now they want free movement. They said they would respect the referendum, and now they will not rule out a second referendum. That is the difference between us: the Conservative party in government is going to deliver on the will of the British people.

In the parallel universe inhabited by the Foreign Secretary, we are apparently not respecting the referendum result unless we want friction at the borders and disruption of the economy.

The Cabinet is divided, and they are briefing against each other—they are even whispering during Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Prime Minister has been left with no White Paper on which to negotiate. Last week the transition period was delayed by a year, in the space of 24 hours. Yesterday a deal with her Back Benchers was reneged on within hours. Meanwhile, the economy is weakening and industry is increasingly alarmed at the sheer ineptitude of her Government. How much more damage is the Prime Minister going to do to this country before she realises that the important thing is to get a deal for the people of this country, not one to appease the clashing giant egos of her Cabinet?

It is the Labour party in opposition which is trying to frustrate Brexit. It is the Labour party which is trying to stop us getting a deal for the British people. This Government will deliver on Brexit. This Government will deliver a Brexit for jobs. This Government will deliver a Brexit that is good for Britain. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about the economy, the last Labour Government left office with half a million more people out of work than when they went into office. What has happened under the Conservatives? We have seen nearly half a million more people in work just over the past year: that is the Conservatives delivering on a Britain that is fit for the future.

I have heard that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to organise a music festival, Labour Live. I will pass over the fact that it is going to have a “solidarity tent”, which obviously won’t have any Labour MPs in it. I do not know if all Members of the House are aware of the headline act at Labour Live. The headline act at Labour Live are the shadow Chancellor and the Magic Numbers—that just about sums them up.

Q5. Will my right hon. Friend join a growing number of her Ministers who are very supportive of our bid for a one-off grant of £18 million to repair Weymouth’s harbour walls and improve flood defences? This work—not my wall, Weymouth’s harbour wall. If only, Mr Speaker! This work is essential if planning permission is to be granted to redevelop an important retail and housing area in the resort, thereby safeguarding existing jobs, creating new ones and providing more homes. (905816)

I commend my hon. Friend for his work. I know he has worked hard on the issue of flood defences. I am sure, however, he will understand that Ministers need to consider the various options for allocations of the fund very carefully. We need to ensure we are getting the best possible outcomes across the whole country. The scheme to which he refers is on the list of projects being considered for the £40 million fund. It is intended to support high risk communities and I can tell him that we anticipate the decision will be made by summer 2018.

The Prime Minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a union of equals, yet last night she pressed ahead with a power grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected Parliament. The Prime Minister silenced Scotland’s voice. Having broken constitutional convention and plunged Scotland into a constitutional crisis, will the Prime Minister now commit to bringing forward emergency legislation, so that the will of the Scottish Parliament can be heard and, more importantly, respected?

We expect—and it will happen—that the outcome of the whole process of Brexit is going to be a significant increase in Holyrood’s decision-making power. It is not the case that this is in any way a power grab. More than 80 areas of decision-making responsibility will flow directly to Holyrood. Only the Scottish National party could say that was a power grab. If the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about the legislative process the House has followed, he should really ask why the Labour party used procedural manoeuvres last night to ensure that there was no debate on the amendments that referred to Scotland.

I really hope that the people of Scotland listened very carefully to what the Prime Minister said. The reality is that powers enshrined under the Scotland Act 1998 are being grabbed back by this House—it is a power grab—and MPs from Scotland were not given the courtesy even of being allowed to debate the matter last night. It is a democratic outrage. The people of Scotland will not be disrespected by this Parliament. In the circumstances, given the disrespect shown, I have no option but to ask that this House now sit in private.

I am not hearing that at this time, and I am not obliged to do so—that is my clear understanding.

Order. The right hon. Gentleman can resume his seat. I will happily take advice, but I do not think I am obliged to hear the matter at this time.

I think the relevant Standing Order requires that the matter be put, if it is to be put, forthwith—[Interruption.] Order. It might be for the convenience of the House for the matter to be addressed at the conclusion of Prime Minister’s questions, and if the right hon. Gentleman, who had not signalled to me his intention to do this now, wishes—[Interruption.] Order, order. I am always grateful for the moral support of the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), even when chuntered from a sedentary position. I realise it is done for my benefit, but I think I can handle the matter. We could have the vote now, or it could be taken at the end. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to indicate a desire to conduct such a vote now, so be it.

My advice—I have had a mixed sequence of advice—[Interruption.] Order. This has not happened before. [Interruption.] Order. My view is that it is better for the vote to be conducted—[Interruption.] Order. My view is that it is better for the vote to be conducted at the conclusion of questions to the Prime Minister.

Order. I always admit of the maximum number of votes and Divisions, as the right hon. Gentleman should know from his experience in the House, and I hope that he will trust that I know of what I speak. There can be a Division, and it will be at the end of questions, not now. That is the end of the matter. I call the Prime Minister.

No, resume your seat, Mr Blackford. [Interruption.] No, you are not moving anything. Resume your seat!

Resume your seat. No, no. Mr Blackford, resume your seat. No, no. Resume your seat. No, no. Resume your seat. [Interruption.] Order, order. The House will have heard very clearly—[Interruption.] Order, please. The House will have heard very clearly my acceptance that there can be a vote on this matter—

Mr Linden, I say to you, and I say it in the kindest possible spirit: do not tell me what the procedures of this House are. I am telling you that there can be vote at the end of questions, and not now. I am not—

No, no, Mr Blackford. Order, order.

Under the power given to me by Standing Order No. 43, in the light of the persistent and repeated refusal of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) to resume his seat when so instructed, I order the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw immediately from the House for the remainder of this day’s sitting.

The Speaker ordered Mr Blackford, Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of the day’s sitting (Standing Order No. 43), and the Member withdrew accordingly.

Order. [Interruption.] Order! Mr Jayawardena, you are a very jocular fellow, but you are a little over-excitable today. Calm! There is a long time to go. [Interruption.] Order. I say only to the House, what a pity that the Scottish National party Members have left the Chamber, because some of them have questions on the Order Paper, and, as colleagues know, I always like to get to the end of the Order Paper. They would have had their chance, and they have lost that chance by their own choice.

I call Mr Luke Hall.

Q8. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given the number of people who are leaving the Chamber, I feel as though I am making one of my after-dinner speeches. [Laughter.] Youth unemployment in Thornbury and Yate—[Interruption.] (905819)

Order. I recognise that the House is in a state of some excitement—even Mr Hollinrake, who is normally a model of solemnity, is looking as though Christmas has come early—but I beseech the House to try to resume calm, not least out of courtesy to Members who have questions on the Order Paper, to whom, and to whose questions, we wish to listen. Luke Hall.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Youth unemployment in Thornbury and Yate has fallen by 23% in the last year, and the scrapping of stamp duty for more than 80% of first-time buyers means that more people in south Gloucestershire can afford a home of their own. Does the Prime Minister agree that while the Labour party can offer only higher taxes, fewer jobs and broken promises on student debt, this Government will focus on finding opportunities for young people up and down the country?

I am pleased to hear that a significant number of young people in Thornbury and Yate now have jobs. If we look at the figures, we see that, nationally, youth unemployment has fallen by about 141 every single day since 2010. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right: it is not just about ensuring that young people are in jobs, but about helping them get on the housing ladder so that they can get a home of their own. That is why we are building more homes, and that is why the cut in stamp duty has been so good for young people, enabling them to be in work and to have their own home.

Q2. Will the Prime Minister tell the House what actions she has taken to ensure that no further EU citizens who have been resident in this country for more than 30 years will be refused British citizenship, as the former Mayor of Ipswich was? (905813)

I am not aware of the particular circumstances of the former Mayor of Ipswich. However, what we have done in relation to the European Union citizens who are living here in the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union is to negotiate very good arrangements which will ensure that their rights here are protected.

In congratulating the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex on his knighthood—and I do so with some warmth and feeling, as we have known each other for 30 years—I call Sir Bernard Jenkin.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

May I join my right hon. Friend in remembering the anniversary of the Grenfell fire and commend her for the way she has established the inquiry looking into that tragedy. May I testify to her, having met victims of the Grenfell fire, as she has, that they are showing growing confidence that the findings of that inquiry will be what they want, to make sure that such a thing never happens again? That is a testament to my right hon. Friend’s personal courage and persistence in making sure that the inquiry was not blown off course by the understandable anger that immediately followed the tragedy.

I add my personal congratulations to my hon. Friend on his knighthood. I absolutely agree with him about the importance of ensuring that the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire is able to provide the truth, to get to the answers of exactly why what happened happened and to ensure that justice is provided for the victims and survivors. It is a statutory inquiry; it has the power to compel witnesses and the production of evidence, which is important, and anyone who is found to have misled the inquiry would face prosecution. I hope this gives confidence to the survivors and people in the local community that this inquiry will indeed get to the truth.

Q4. My constituent Ian has lifelong profound learning and physical disabilities: he is doubly incontinent, cannot wash, dress or cook for himself, has no notion of personal safety and if left unsupervised is at risk. He is able to live independently thanks to the support of his elderly mother who is herself unwell, and by virtue of a local authority social care package. Now Ian’s personal independence payment application, which he needs to fund this care, has been refused on the grounds that he can cope unaided. Does the Prime Minister agree that there is something very wrong with a system that punishes citizens whose only crime is to be born disabled? Will she agree to investigate on behalf of the thousands of vulnerable people who are being made to suffer? (905815)

The hon. Lady has raised a specific case and I am sure that she will understand that I do not have the details to address it, and it would not be right to do so here in this Chamber. What I can assure her and other Members is that individual cases that are raised with me in Prime Minister’s questions are taken extremely seriously and this one will be no exception. So I will ensure that the case is looked at urgently by the relevant Minister; obviously cases are complex and multifaceted, but this case will be looked at urgently.

My constituents have been incredibly tolerant in the face of the fiasco of their commuter journeys following the reorganisation of the timetables. However, added to their misery is the fact that when trains do turn up they are incredibly overcrowded. I have written to Govia three times asking it to conduct a risk assessment on the safety of my constituents who are their passengers as they come into London, and three times Govia has refused to answer me. Will the Prime Minister please use her good offices to ensure that our passengers travelling on overcrowded trains at the moment and suffering because of the rail delays are safe?

My hon. Friend raises an important issue, and the experience of passengers of Govia Thameslink and also Northern as a result of the change in timetables and the way that was done is simply unacceptable. It is important that they improve the services, and they have plans in place. I think, for example, that Govia Thameslink is introducing a new timetable that is better than the pre-May timetable and will have 200 more planned journeys. But of course passengers want to feel that they can travel in trains that are not too crowded, and I am sure that Govia Thameslink will be looking at that issue very seriously. The Department for Transport is working with that company and Northern to ensure that we can provide the services that people deserve; they pay for a ticket—they book a ticket, they pay for a season ticket—and they deserve to have a decent journey.

Q6. The average length of time that a Stroud constituent has to wait to go to the Gloucester and Cheltenham centre for a PIP appeal is now 41 weeks, and the wait for an employment and support allowance appeal is 31 weeks. During that period of time constituents are now losing Motability cars and suffering enormous hardship. Will the Prime Minister promise to get a grip on this and make sure this hardship is not endured any longer? (905817)

Of course it is important that people are able to have their appeals heard in a timely fashion. My right hon. Friend the Work and Pensions Secretary is looking at exactly this issue to see what can be done in the tribunal system to ensure that people get a more timely result.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Mr Andriy Parubiy, to Westminster—although I suspect that he is utterly mystified by the events that took place 10 minutes ago? Will she take this opportunity to reaffirm the support of the UK for Ukraine, which is in the frontline against Russian aggression? Does she share the concern of Ukraine, along with Lithuania and Poland, about the strategic threat of the Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline?

I am very happy to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s commitment to and support for Ukraine. Only a matter of weeks ago, I was pleased to be able to have a further conversation with President Poroshenko about the support that we are able to give to Ukraine, and about the work we are doing with Ukraine on the reforms that are being put through. Also, as I mentioned in response to a previous question, it is important that the European Union should maintain the sanctions on Russia, because the Minsk agreements have not been put in place and fully implemented. We need to continue to show the Russians that we do not accept what they have done in Ukraine.

Q7. It is almost a year since the Government promised their domestic violence and abuse Bill, and the publication of that Bill will trigger a cross-party amendment that has widespread support to decriminalise abortion across the whole of the UK, which is long overdue. Will the Bill be published before the summer recess, and will the Prime Minister give a commitment today on the Floor of the House that her MPs will have a free vote on decriminalisation? (905818)

The hon. Lady raises a number of aspects of this issue. The domestic violence and abuse Bill will be published in draft first. We have been taking our time, through the consultation, to work with those involved in working with victims of domestic violence and abuse, and to hear from victims and survivors, because we want to ensure that, as we bring this legislation together in the new Bill, we are getting it right for people. She refers to the issue of abortion. I believe it is absolutely right that a woman should have the right to a safe and legal abortion. As regards Northern Ireland, I believe that the best way—and my preferred way—is for that decision to be taken by the elected politicians in Northern Ireland, because it is a devolved matter. As regards votes on abortion in this House, they have always been treated as conscience matters and they will therefore be subject to a free vote.

This month, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence—NICE—will decide whether to fund a new treatment for neuroblastoma, a vicious childhood cancer that is affecting my constituent, Isla Caton. Will the Prime Minister encourage NICE and the drugs companies to do a deal to provide new treatments for children in Britain, so that their families do not have to fundraise for them to receive those treatments in America?

I know that my hon. Friend has raised this issue on behalf of her constituents; I believe that she has a constituency case involving the issue. NICE is developing guidelines for the NHS on the use of dinutuximab beta—I am not sure if I pronounced that correctly—for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma. It has not been able to recommend the drug as a clinically and cost-effective use of resources in its draft guidance, but it has consulted stakeholders on its draft recommendations. This is an ongoing NICE appraisal, and it is not for the Government to intervene in that, but NICE will obviously take all comments into account in its final guidance. I think that the manufacturer of the drug is currently making it available to some NHS patients through a compassionate use scheme, and has agreed to continue the scheme for patients who are currently receiving the treatment.

Vernon Bogdanor called the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham’s amendment, which we rejected yesterday, a “constitutional absurdity”. While it is essential that this House should hold the Government to account and have meaningful votes on many things, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is absolutely essential that the separation of powers should be observed, and that it should be made clear in any compromise amendment that the job of the Government and the job of Parliament are different?

I am happy to be clear about this situation. We have seen concerns raised about the role of Parliament in relation to the Brexit process. What I agreed yesterday is that, as the Bill goes back to the Lords, we will have further discussions with colleagues over those concerns. This morning, I have agreed with the Brexit Secretary that we will bring forward an amendment in the Lords, and there are a number of things that will guide our approach in doing so.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the separation of powers and the different roles of Government and Parliament. As my right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary made clear in the House yesterday, the Government’s hand in the negotiations cannot be tied by Parliament, but the Government must be accountable to Parliament. Government determines policy, and we then need parliamentary support to be able to implement that policy.

The other aspect of this that I am absolutely clear on is that I cannot countenance Parliament being able to overturn the will of the British people. Parliament gave the decision to the British people, the British people voted to leave the European Union and, as Prime Minister, I am determined to deliver that.

Fifteen months ago, the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), called in the planned expansion of the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in my constituency. The plan represents huge economic benefit to the Bristol and south Gloucestershire area, and there are 3,000 construction jobs, 3,750 permanent jobs and 150 new homes at stake, as well as a significant amount of infrastructure investment. Will the Prime Minister urge the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to start as he means to go on and make a good decision quickly?

Obviously, my hon. Friend refers to the independent public inquiry, and after that took place the then Communities and Local Government Secretary called in the decision, and the new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary is considering the inspector’s report. I understand that the Secretary of State hopes to issue his decision on or before the published target date of 2 August.

Q11. It took nearly 5,000 cancelled trains in just three weeks for the Transport Secretary to notice the Northern rail crisis. If this Government cannot run our railways properly, will the Prime Minister agree with businesses, council leaders and over 25 newspapers from across the region and give Transport for the North the powers that it needs to do the job? (905822)

We have given Transport for the North unprecedented powers to influence decisions about transport investment in the north, but what is more we have backed it up with £260 million of Government funding. It has the powers to deliver a transport strategy, which the Government must formally consider, to fund organisations and to deliver transport projects. Those and its other powers are exactly what Transport for the North requested.

The Prime Minister is, I know, aware of the severe difficulties that my constituents have faced with recent delays to train services. Will the Prime Minister reassure me and my constituents that the Government will do everything they can to ensure that Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail get into shape to ensure a better-quality train service both now and into the future?

As I said in response to the earlier question from my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Ms Dorries), the immediate priority is to ensure that we see an improvement in services for Govia Thameslink passengers. That is why it has introduced a new timetable that is not the final timetable, but it is better than the pre-May timetable. We also need to ensure that GTR takes action so that it can bring forward the proposed new timetable, which will provide more services and better services for passengers. In the long term, the Government are working to bring train and track together so that we do not see problems like this in the future.

Chris Law—not here.

All these Opposition opportunities are being lost, and I think that should not continue.

The Prime Minister will be aware that schools are often targeted in warzones. A couple of months ago, I met year 7 students from Lees Brook School in my constituency, and they implored me to ask the Prime Minister to sign the safe schools declaration, which I understand has subsequently been signed. Does that declaration mean that she will now veto future arms sales to brutal regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which has been targeting schools as part of its military campaign in Yemen?

The issue of the education of girls and boys in conflict zones is an important one, and it is one that was addressed at the G7 summit. We have been clear, as the United Kingdom Government, that we are providing financial support to ensure 12 years of quality education for girls, particularly in developing countries, and the G7 summit gave its commitment not only in financial terms, as we are contributing more to provide for quality education, but to focus on areas where there are conflict zones and particular action needs to be taken to ensure that education can be provided.

Very sadly, my constituent Gena Turgel lost her life last week, aged 95. Gena survived the Krakow ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and she became known as the bride of Belsen when she married her liberator. Will my right hon. Friend join me in celebrating the life of Gena, who dedicated her life to informing young people about the horrors of the holocaust, and in ensuring that, although a light has gone out, her legacy lives on?

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to Gena Turgel and to the work she did over so many years. She was one of the first survivors to go into schools to share her story. I have seen, as I am sure other hon. and right hon. Members have, the impact on young people of a survivor of the holocaust going into schools to explain what happened. It is moving, and she showed considerable determination and strength. Her example is truly humbling.

It is right that Gena Turgel is going to live on in the national holocaust memorial and in the accompanying education centre, which will house her testimony for generations to come. We must never forget what Gena taught us. We must fight hatred and prejudice in all its forms.

Q13. On her walking holidays in Wales, the Prime Minister must have seen our beautiful beaches, but plastic is killing our oceans and polluting our seas. Will she stay in the Chamber for a few minutes after Prime Minister’s questions to listen to me introduce my ten-minute rule Bill on plastic pollution, and will she support it so that we can save our seas? (905824)

When I go walking in Wales I tend to walk up and down hills, rather than on the beaches, but I know that Wales has some fantastic beaches. The hon. Lady raises the important issue of marine plastic. The UK public, as well as Members across the House, have shown great energy in picking up this cause and in wanting to fight against plastic waste.

Indeed, the UK is going to be leading, jointly with Vanuatu, the newly formed Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, and we are committing £61 million to fund global research and to improve waste management in developing countries to tackle plastic pollution. Again, this is another issue we took forward at the G7 summit and we got commitments on dealing with plastic waste.

I say to the hon. Lady that, with the greatest of respect, I am sorry but I think my diary has already been slightly changed as a result of what has been happening in the Chamber today. I regret that I will not be able to sit and listen to her speak to her Bill.

Does the Prime Minister agree that those people who want a meaningful vote in this House which would allow the House to vote to stay in the European Union would be betraying the result of the referendum? That shows how much the Labour party has lost touch with working-class people up and down this country. Does she further agree that those people who want to take no deal from the Government’s negotiating hand would only incentivise the European Union not to negotiate in any meaningful way, and would betray not only the result of the referendum but the best interests of the British people?

As we go ahead with these Brexit negotiations, we are of course ensuring that we make preparations for all eventualities. That is entirely right and proper for the Government to do but, as I set out in response to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg), I am also clear that I cannot countenance Parliament overturning the will of the British people. The British people were given the choice on whether to stay in the European Union, and they were given that choice through the overwhelming vote of this Parliament. It is right that we listen to the British people and deliver what they asked us to do, which is to leave the European Union.

For a number of years we held a march in Islwyn to commemorate the service of test veterans to our country. Last week, test veterans were in the House of Commons to campaign for a medal for their service. Will the Prime Minister look at their campaign with a view to giving them a medal for the service they have given to this country?

I think this is the first time the issue has been raised with me, and I will look carefully at what the hon. Gentleman has said in the House.

As a father of twin girls who, as they are happily growing up in Clacton, enjoy a very equal upbringing and education, I celebrate the announcement of the G7 supporting girls’ education. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should support equality for women across the globe?

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in agreeing with that and in saying that there are many ways in which we can express that and put it into practice, not just in supporting girls’ education but in the work we are doing on modern slavery. Modern slavery affects men as well as women, but we see many women from around the globe being trafficked into other countries for sexual or labour exploitation, and we are leading the fight to ensure they have equality and are not put into that position.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The president of the CBI has said today that sections of the UK car industry face “extinction” unless the UK stays in the EU customs union. Is there any level of damage inflicted by Brexit that would cause the Prime Minister to consider supporting the people having a final say on the deal and a chance to exit from a disastrous Brexit? I could also put that to the Leader of the Opposition.

As I have said many times in this House, we are looking to ensure that our future customs arrangement with the European Union enables us to have as frictionless trade with the European Union as possible and no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, while also enabling us to have an independent trade policy and to negotiate trade deals around the world. I have been clear in a number of my answers that I and this Government will deliver on the vote of the British people to leave the European Union. I seem to remember there was a time when the Liberal Democrats thought that the people should have the choice.

Today marks the Princess Diana Award’s Stand Up to Bullying Day. Although much progress has been made, too many young people take their own life as a result of bullying in schools. Will the Prime Minister congratulate the people at the Diana Award on their work, and recommit her Government to tackling this scourge?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. I am happy to join him in congratulating the work of all those involved in the Diana Award. He raises a really important issue. We have made progress but, as he has pointed out, too many young people are bullied in schools, and sadly that sometimes has tragic consequences. We are providing £1.7 million of funding over the next two years for anti-bullying organisations, one of which is the Diana Award, but more needs to be done. We will continue to press hard on this issue and to work hard to eliminate bullying.

I must say to the House, before we come to points of order, that for all the turbulence and discord of today’s proceedings, the little baby who has been observing them has been a model of impeccable behaviour from start to finish. [Applause.] I have just been advised that the father is the hon. Member for Norwich South (Clive Lewis). I am not going to go so far as to say that his behaviour is always impeccable, but the little baby has been impeccable, and we salute that—the future of our democracy and the future of our country. I am most grateful to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and colleagues.