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House of Commons Hansard
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Commons Chamber
10 February 2020
Volume 671

House of Commons

Monday 10 February 2020

The House met at half-past Two o’clock

Prayers

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions

Home Department

The Secretary of State was asked—

Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Family Reunion

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1. What plans she has to maintain the legal route to family reunion for refugees and asylum seekers in the EU with family in the UK after the transition period. [900673]

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The UK has a long and proud tradition of offering protection to vulnerable people who are fleeing war and persecution, and this Government take the welfare of vulnerable children extremely seriously. We support the principle of family unity wholeheartedly.

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If the Government are as committed as Ministers have repeatedly said they are to maintaining children’s ability to join family members in the UK, then rather than waiting for the outcome of negotiations, will the Home Office not get on the front foot and make some much-needed changes to domestic legislation? The changes could be made tomorrow and provide certainty for the many hundreds of families who can currently be reunited through the Dublin regulation.

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The hon. Lady will be more than aware of the work that we do to provide safe and legal routes for family reunion, and for vulnerable persons and children. She has heard me say that we are fully committed to supporting the most vulnerable children and the principle of family reunion. It is a fact that we are about to negotiate with the European Union. I set out the Government’s position clearly in communications and correspondence with the European Commission at the end of last year, and that is the route we will be pursuing.

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The Home Secretary will be aware of the conditions that many refugee children endure in refugee camps all over Europe. She will also be aware that the public do not want us to let these children down. Will she confirm that unless law and practice are changed, we run the risk of breaking up families and leaving children abandoned with no relative to care for them?

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The right hon. Lady has touched on a very important point, namely the conditions that children and families endure in refugee camps outside the United Kingdom. That could be in Europe, but also in countries outside Europe. It is important that we reflect on the priorities and standards that we, as a country, provide for those refugees through our work in international development and aid. We should not overlook the fact that there are a great deal of associated issues—reunion, the protection and settlement of refugees, and vulnerable children—that come together internationally, but we are leading the way on this in the UK.

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Does the Home Secretary agree that by far the best way of reuniting families is to find vulnerable children in refugee camps in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and that by simply accepting those who turn up at Dover, we risk encouraging the vicious people traffickers who thereby make a lot of money? Does she agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less, who said recently:

“The resettlement of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable refugees over the past four years is something the UK can be proud of”?

I hope that she is proud of that.

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I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. The House should be under no illusions; we have a strong and proud record of helping vulnerable children, and we have protected more than 41,000 children since the start of 2010. He is right; there are a number of points here about the criminality associated with illegal migration. I am afraid that we have seen far too much of that, whether people are being trafficked in small boats, in lorries or through other vehicle movements. That is wrong, and it is something that we are also determined to stamp out.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that, given the action that the Government are taking to protect vulnerable children through legal routes, more action needs to be taken to slow down and stop activity on the illegal people trafficking routes, particularly those between Calais and Dover?

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My hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke) speaks with a great deal of knowledge and insight about this issue. We must absolutely clamp down on the illegal routes that are being exploited, many of which are upstream—outside the United Kingdom —and on the appalling amount of human trafficking. There are many safe and legal routes that are supported by the British Government, and we will continue to support them.

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Why do we not simply say unilaterally that we will continue to consider take charge requests on behalf of unaccompanied children from Europe? Why should children’s rights be subject to negotiations at all?

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The hon. Gentleman must recognise that any future agreement is a matter for negotiation, and it is not within the gift of the United Kingdom alone. We can work bilaterally, but this is about the reciprocal arrangements that we undertake with our EU counterparts. That is the approach that has been outlined by the Government, and it is the right approach.

Terrorism

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2. What steps she is taking to help protect the UK from terrorism. [900674]

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8. What steps she is taking to help protect the UK from terrorism. [900681]

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14. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that (a) law enforcement bodies, (b) police officers and (c) intelligence agencies have the tools they need to tackle terrorism. [900687]

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Terrorists are a persistent menace to our security and way of life. The nature of the terrorist threat is constantly changing, so our response must evolve as well. The safety and security of the UK is obviously our No. 1 priority, and we are committed to ensuring that our security and law enforcement organisations have the powers and tools they need to keep us safe. To do that, we have provided an additional £160 million for counter-terrorism policing this year, taking counter-terrorism police funding to over £800 million. The counter-terrorism and sentencing Bill, and our emergency legislation, will close further gaps in our ability to combat terrorism.

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Reports suggest that the perpetrator of the recent London terror attack was on automatic early release. Does the Minister agree that we need a robust and tough approach to sentencing for those convicted of terror offences, to prevent them from being able to carry out further atrocities?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why the Government will be introducing emergency legislation in Parliament tomorrow that will end the automatic early release of terrorist offenders without there first being a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board. Those still considered a threat to public safety will be forced to spend the rest of their time in prison. The changes will mean that about 50 terrorist prisoners already serving effected sentences will see their automatic release halted. We will not hesitate to take decisive action to ensure that we do all we can to protect the public and keep our streets safe.

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Can my right hon. Friend update the House on the steps his Department is taking to ensure that those who are released from prison after terrorism-related offences face the most stringent monitoring and reporting requirements?

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Absolutely. I am pleased to say that in the last week we have announced that we are considering whether new legislation is required to provide additional reassurance when terrorist offenders are released from prison. A range of measures are available, including stringent conditions during post-release licence periods and notification requirements for terrorist offenders, which the Government strengthened only last year. Serious crime prevention orders were extended to terrorist offenders last year. Alongside terrorism prevention and investigation measures, these orders provide the police with strengthened powers to manage terrorists on their release. We will continue to review everything to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep the public safe.

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Countering terrorism is not just about London and the big cities; it is across the whole country. I welcome the extra £8.6 million of funding for Lincolnshire police. What can be done to prevent people in rural areas from being drawn into terrorist activity?

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My hon. Friend makes a good point. Overall funding for CT policing will grow to £906 million in 2020-21. That is a £90 million year-on-year increase. The money will support and maintain the record high numbers of ongoing counter-terrorism policing investigations, allowing us to respond swiftly and decisively to incidents, no matter where they take place—and we have to be clear that they could happen anywhere in the UK. It is a significant additional investment that builds on the work we are doing to ensure that we are protecting our communities with 20,000 extra police officers around the country, and the work we do in all communities around the country with the Prevent programme to keep people safe and prevent people from being taken into extremism in the first place.

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The Minister has just referred to the Prevent programme. This week, it is a year since the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 received Royal Assent. Of course, that Act provided for an independent review of the Prevent programme. In the last year, the Government have appointed one reviewer, who has had to resign from post given previous views that he had expressed about Prevent, and we are left today—a year later—without a reviewer in place. The Minister is talking about decisive action. When will that reviewer be appointed?

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As I have outlined at the Dispatch Box previously, the review will go ahead, and it is still the case that it will be completed in the timeframe that the Government outlined—that is, before the end of August this year. We are also introducing emergency legislation tomorrow.

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We face a growing threat from extreme right-wing organisations in this country. The Minister will be aware of incidents in my own community relating to some extreme right-wing groups. Why have the Government not yet proscribed organisations such as the System Resistance Network, the Sonnenkrieg Division and others who are linked to the banned National Action organisation, and what steps will they take to review the situation urgently?

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These issues are always under review. The hon. Gentleman is right that we have to be alert to and aware of extremism from any direction, including the growth in right-wing extremism. That is why Prevent is focused on protecting people who are targeted by terrorist recruiters, regardless of their reasoning or where they come from.

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Surely we should have a programme giving young people who might be attracted into terrorism other creative things to do in the community. Would the Minister think about diverting some of the tens of millions of pounds flowing from the plastic bag charge into community action that would involve young people and replace some of the dreadful cuts in youth services that we have seen in recent years?

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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about engaging with people from communities across the country, particularly young people. We do have funds specifically focused on young people. The Prevent training has already been completed some 1.1 million times. One of the areas where Prevent is so successful is in enabling frontline practitioners, including teachers, to recognise the signs of radicalisation. That is why this programme is so important, as well as the bespoke programmes that we support.

Violent Crime: Young People

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3. What steps she is taking to divert young people away from violent crime. [900675]

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11. What steps she is taking to divert young people away from violent crime. [900684]

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13. What steps she is taking to tackle youth violence. [900686]

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15. What steps she is taking to divert young people away from violent crime. [900688]

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19. What steps she is taking to divert young people away from violent crime. [900692]

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The Government are committed to delivering on the people’s priorities by tackling violent crime. We have already invested £220 million in early intervention. Through our serious violence fund, we have committed to funding violence reduction units until 2021. We are also introducing the serious violence Bill, which will put a duty on police, councils and other agencies to prevent and reduce serious violence.

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Ahead of the police and crime commissioner elections in May, will my hon. Friend encourage our fantastic Conservative candidates to make youth diversion schemes a key part of their manifestos?

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I thank my hon. Friend for reminding the entire House that we have these vitally crucial elections coming towards us, at which the public will have the right to hold their police and crime commissioners to account. I look forward to working with many Conservative PCCs in future, I hope. I fully support the idea of diverting children who are on the cusp of entering the justice system and putting in place, where appropriate, support that can reduce risk and prevent an escalation in offending. He may wish to know that in his own local area, we are funding Redthread at Queen’s Medical Centre—I was delighted to attend its launch last year—and, through the youth endowment fund, two different projects are helping children and young people, and their families and schools, by keeping them safe and diverting them from risk.

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Children excluded from school are twice as likely to carry a knife. A quarter of young offenders who are serving a custodial sentence of less than 12 months have a history of permanent exclusion. To help turn around the life chances of these children, will my hon. Friend take up the recommendations in my report on school exclusion, published last year, which are aimed at taking a public health approach to crime and tackling the root causes, not just the symptoms, of school disengagement?

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I thank my hon. Friend for his meticulous work in his report. He will know that the Prime Minister is taking charge of our response to serious violence, and is indeed holding a Cabinet Sub-Committee on this imminently. I agree that we must tackle the root causes of serious violence. That is precisely why we are bringing forward the serious violence Bill to place a duty on the agencies that can help to address it.

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I fully support the exclusions review that was just referred to, but, in tackling youth violence, does the Home Office think it is either acceptable or right that the vast majority of young people on the gangs matrix are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds? Being flagged on the gangs matrix brings with it huge consequences for those young people, often separation from families and other issues. Does she think that this approach is appropriate, or that it works?

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The hon. Lady is referring to an operational tool used by the police, but it is one of many tools that we are looking at in terms of law enforcement response and these crucial issues about diverting children and young people away from crime in the first place. The causes are manifold, and we must work with communities to address them together.

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Can my hon. Friend assure me that the police have all the powers they need to crack down on the scourge of knife crime, which is ruining so many lives across the country, but particularly in London? Could she update the House on what plans she has to target repeat knife carriers?

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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who of course brings to the House his experience of representing his constituency on this important issue. We are determined to ensure that the police have the powers they need to tackle this terrible scourge. That is why, in the new serious violence Bill, a new court order will be brought forward that will make it easier for the police to stop and search known and convicted knife carriers.

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What is the Minister doing to protect young and vulnerable people from drugs gangs, particularly in rural areas such as mine, where they are extremely prevalent?

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Drug gangs, or county lines, often involve a horrific form of child criminal exploitation, and we are determined to put an end to it. One of the many ways we are seeking to do that is through further investment in the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, which has co-ordinated enforcement action across the country, resulting in more than 2,500 arrests and the safeguarding of more than 3,000 vulnerable people.

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Last year, Labour attempted to amend the Offensive Weapons Bill to ban the open sale of knives and require shops to lock them behind cabinets, as we currently require them to do for cigarettes. The Government refused those amendments. Last week, Sudesh Amman walked into a shop on Streatham high street, picked up a knife from the display and stabbed two people. This weekend, that shop was still openly displaying knives and machetes by the front door. Will the Government now think again?

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The hon. Lady may recall that we said we would keep that under review, because we felt that the measures put forward last year were of a nature that did not target areas that have a particular problem with knife crime. We will keep it under review, but I make the point again that it is the responsibility of shop owners to make sure that if they are selling items such as that, they display them appropriately and, if necessary, keep them under lock and key.

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Good youth services are the frontline against youth violence, but this week we see yet another local government settlement that means there is a decade’s worth of erosion of funding for youth services. What will the Home Office do differently to encourage the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to properly fund youth services or to put its own money into a good universal offer across all our communities?

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The hon. Gentleman will know of the most recent local authority grants, which the House will debate later this week. He will also know that the Chancellor restated a commitment to young people, confirming £500 million of investment through the new youth investment fund over five years, in addition to the £220 million that will be spent over the next 10 years on early intervention projects that can, and I hope will, make a great difference to our young people’s lives.

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The Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities scheme is about to make a payment of £19 million of money recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to youth projects in Scotland, bringing total payments to more than £110 million since the programme began in 2008. Will the Minister join me in welcoming that as something that can deliver real opportunity for young people in Scotland?

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As always, I will work with and commend anyone who is joining the Government’s determination to cut down on violent crime and protect our young people.

Families of Police Officers

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4. What steps she is taking to support the families of police officers. [900676]

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It is often forgotten or taken for granted by many that behind every police officer stands a proud but anxious family. We want to recognise their bravery, commitment and sacrifice by introducing the police covenant. The covenant will be brought forward through the police powers and protections Bill, placing it on a statutory footing and ensuring that Parliament can scrutinise its progress. We will launch a consultation on the principle and scope of the covenant in the coming weeks.

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What steps are Ministers taking to ensure that families who lose a loved one in the line of duty—such as the family of PC Andrew Harper, who was tragically killed last year—receive the support they need?

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My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point. The death of Andrew Harper last year on the very edge of my constituency was a terrible and tragic event. She will know that there are already measures in place to assist families in that position, not least the police injury benefits scheme, as well as welfare support offered by particular forces and the Police Federation. But there is always more we can do, and we would welcome submissions to the consultation on the covenant, to address any gaps that may exist.

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One thing that families would quite like to see is prosecuting authorities and the police themselves taking it much more seriously when there are assaults on police officers, even if they are relatively minor ones. Otherwise, there seems to be a sort of acceptance that a degree of violence is in the day job of a police officer, and that must surely be wrong. Why is the legislation introduced two years ago still not being used effectively by the Crown Prosecution Service?

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The hon. Gentleman raises an extremely important point. As I have said in this House before, it is my view that anybody who raises a malevolent finger against any emergency service should face the full weight of the law. He is right that there is general concern about the increasing number of attacks on emergency service workers of all types, and we will review what steps need to be taken in the near future to sort that out.

Hampshire Constabulary: Police Numbers

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5. What estimate she has made of the number of additional police officers joining Hampshire constabulary during the 2019 Parliament. [900677]

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The Government’s pledge to put an additional 20,000 officers on our streets sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime. Hampshire will receive up to £366.5 million of funding next year, an increase of up to £26.1 million on the previous year. In this year alone, the county will benefit from 156 more police officers.

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I welcome the increase to Hampshire—and Isle of Wight—constabulary. Does the Minister agree that the increase will enable police in both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as well as in other areas of the UK, to follow up lower level crime? It causes great concern to all our constituents, but in recent years the police have been under pressure not to investigate it, due to police numbers.

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It is obviously an operational matter for chief constables to address where and how they allocate their resources, but I would certainly hope that an increase in the number of police officers will allow them to spend more time on the sort of crimes that assail both my hon. Friend’s community and mine in the county. They perhaps do not attract the attention of the headlines, but nevertheless cause consternation in the communities we represent.

“Migration: Helping Scotland Prosper”

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6. If she will hold discussions with the Scottish Government on their report “Migration: Helping Scotland Prosper”, published on 27 January 2020. [900678]

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Immigration is and will remain a reserved matter. This Government will introduce a points-based immigration system that works in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland. Applying different immigration rules to different parts of the UK would significantly complicate the immigration system.

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The Australian Immigration Minister stated last November that regional visas

“can play an important role in helping to address regional skills gaps and grow local economies.”

As migration is the only reason Scotland’s population continues to grow, does the Minister agree that Scotland would benefit from this Australian approach to immigration, rather than the one-size-fits-all one of this UK Government?

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We have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee on several occasions to look at the case for applying different immigration arrangements to different areas of the UK. It has consistently recommended against this, and I think Members in this House will realise why it would make no sense, for example, for a plumber from Gretna to be unable to take on jobs in Carlisle.

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New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada are just some of the other countries that, like Australia, operate a tailored regional immigration system without any need for internal borders, so what possible rationale is there for claiming, as the Prime Minister did last week, that to operate a Scottish visa would require a hard border between Scotland and England?

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Again, we have made it very clear: the independent Migration Advisory Committee has set out in its report why it does not recommend this type of approach. Ultimately, we do not want to see borders at Berwick just to satisfy a separatist obsession. Our goal would be to have a system that works and drives success in Scotland, and that means being part of a wider, stronger United Kingdom.

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I think the only people satisfying a separatist obsession at the moment are those on the Conservative Benches with their hard Brexit.

Let us try again on this mythical hard border, shall we? The United Kingdom has an open land border and shares a common travel area with the Republic of Ireland, which operates an entirely distinct and independent system. That does not necessitate a hard border, so why should a modest Scottish visa mean a hard border between England and Scotland? Let us have an answer to the question for a change.

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Let us be very clear: the Migration Advisory Committee has advised against such a system. It would create complexity, with businesses having to work out which staff were on one visa and which were on another. Ultimately, we will be guided by independent advice, but I will be absolutely clear: this Government will create a migration system that works for Scotland and drives success in Scotland, but will not drive separation for Scotland.

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Can the Minister confirm that this Government will indeed design and implement a new, fit-for-purpose global immigration system that works for all regions and nations of our United Kingdom, and that, of course, Members on the SNP Benches have as much right as any Member in this place to work with the Government to help to achieve that?

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Absolutely, and the suggestion from the Scottish Government that it would be implemented via the Scottish tax code is rather defeated by the fact that Scottish Members of Parliament are on the Scottish tax code but work across our United Kingdom, and rightly so. So, yes, we will work with interest groups across Scotland to make sure this system works for Scotland as part of our United Kingdom, on a points-based basis. Again, we will focus on what works and what is successful, not on what pleases the separatist grievance agenda.

Police Officer Numbers: Lancashire

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7. What recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the number of police officers in Lancashire. [900680]

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We believe that the entire country, including Lancashire, could do with a boost in police numbers to address the changing nature of crime, and as a result we have provided enough money to recruit 6,000 police officers over the next year. Of that, Lancashire will benefit from 153 more.

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I am sure, Mr Speaker, you will wish to join me in paying tribute to Lancashire police, who responded over the weekend to the devastating effects of Storm Ciara, alongside all the other emergency services.

The Minister points out that Lancashire is to receive 153 officers under this core grant allocation-style funding, but Lancashire has lost 750 police officers since 2010. On that pattern, we will not regain the total number of officers lost, whereas Surrey, which has lost eight officers since 2010, looks to be gaining hundreds of officers under this funding formula. Can the Minister explain to my constituents why that is fair?

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The funding formula has been in place for some time, and there is obviously consternation across the House about the impact it may have, along with a number of the other formulas on which we allocate resources. We will keep this under review, and will do so on this formula, but for the moment the quickest and most efficacious way for us to share out this huge uplift in the number of police officers across the country was using the existing formula, and I hope those 153 officers will be put to good use.

Points-based Immigration System

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9. What plans she has to introduce a new points-based immigration system; and if she will make a statement. [900682]

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17. What plans she has to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system. [900690]

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The Government will introduce a points-based immigration system that works in the interests of the United Kingdom, and that is fair and prioritises the skills people have to offer wherever they come from.

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I for one welcome this, particularly the fact that we will be able to get the brightest and the best not only from Europe but from other nations as well, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand, and Canada. But Lichfield is a rural constituency—a particularly beautiful one, I might add—and we have a need not just for people with great skills but for part-time horticultural workers. What can my right hon. Friend do to assure people they will come to the UK?

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Without wishing to compete with my hon. Friend’s beautiful rural constituency, I, too, have one. Of course, in order to take back control we are effectively bringing in these changes, and with that I am doubling the number of people who can go through the seasonal agricultural workers scheme, and more information will follow on that in due course.

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Can my right hon. Friend confirm that such a points-based system will take account of the needs of communities across all regions of the United Kingdom, including my Bridgend constituency in Wales?

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I thank my hon. Friend for his question on the applicability of the points-based system, including to his beautiful Bridgend constituency, and of course he is absolutely right to raise that. We want the brightest and the best; we want to control immigration, but of course we want to bring that equalisation so that anybody from around the world—not just from the EU—who wants to come to the UK, including Bridgend, and has the skills to offer will be welcome.

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Will the Secretary of State provide some clarification regarding the proposed immigration system? It has been called Australian-styled, but the Minister will be aware that the Australian system is actually a permissive system designed to encourage migration, and as the hostile environment rages on surely that is not what this Government aim to do—raise migration. So will the right hon. Lady clarify exactly what the system is, and confirm whether the Government will scrap the net migration target, which was dreamed up without evidence and has never once been met?

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I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and of course she will know that the hostile environment, as she called it, dates back to previous Governments. The point about the points-based system is of course that we want a simpler, faster, firmer, better system—one that fulfils our promises to the British people, where we seize that once-in-a-generation opportunity to take back control of our borders and end free movement, which I appreciate Opposition Members simply do not want. We will restore democratic control of our immigration, which is effectively what the British people voted for.

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It is important to remember that it was the Labour Government who introduced a points-based system. It is important to remember, too, that many of the workers we need in this country cannot come in under the immigration cap of £30,000. The Home Secretary has looked at that for some professions, but will she widen it to ensure we get the workers we need?

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Immigration legislation will come before the House in due course. With regard to the labour market and the skills this country needs, decisions on the points-based system will be based on the needs and skills that this country requires. That is incredibly important, so that no Member is deceived under that. It recognises the fact that we need good people with the skills our economy needs, which will enable and facilitate growth in our economy. We want to encourage the brightest and the best to come to this country not just from the EU, but from outside the EU.

Criminal Justice System

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10. What steps she is taking with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Justice to help ensure that people have confidence in the criminal justice system. [900683]

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22. What steps she is taking with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Justice to help ensure that people have confidence in the criminal justice system. [900696]

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The Government are looking at all aspects of the criminal justice system to ensure it works for victims, witnesses and the most vulnerable. We all have a part to play in that—this is not just a Home Office matter—and today the Cabinet’s new committee on the criminal justice system will meet to look at how we can drive better integration across government.

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As part of that work, I welcome the review of sentencing we are undertaking. We need to ensure that sentencing reflects the severity of the crime. I ran a survey for residents in Crewe and Nantwich to tell me what they think and they overwhelmingly back what we are doing. They also tell me that the term “life sentence” is not fit for purpose. I do not understand why someone whose loved one has been murdered might hear that the person responsible has been given a life sentence but see them walk out of jail, while they are still serving the true life sentence of living with a lost relative.

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My hon. Friend makes some very valid points about victims, sentences and the criminal justice system. I had the privilege of meeting some of his constituents when I visited his constituency during the election. It is fair to say that the work we are doing with regard to changes to sentences and working with the criminal justice system will ensure that sentences will fit the crime and that we can therefore restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.

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In the Flint area of my Delyn constituency, violent and sexual assaults made up 47% of crimes committed in the second half of last year and antisocial behaviour 21%, yet for all crimes committed across the board only 7% went to court, 31% are still being investigated and 55% were closed with no action. What can my right hon. Friend do to assure my constituents that the Government will ensure that offenders are brought to court in a timely and efficient timeframe?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight those appalling figures and statistics, which go to show that victims are not being served and justice is not being given to the victims of those crimes. In terms of what we should do and are doing, there is now clear financial uplift to the Crown Prosecution Service. We are pressing the CPS and working with it closely to address many of the failings and inadequacies in the system. We must eradicate such delays and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

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It is not just in the CPS that there are delays and bottlenecks. The Home Secretary will know that in the court system, too, there are very significant delays exacerbated in some cases by the lack of access to legal aid, which means defendants having to represent themselves. Will she say what discussions she is having with her counterparts in the Ministry of Justice about speeding up the courts process?

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The hon. Lady is absolutely right to highlight the issues about access to justice. The work that has taken place and will be taking place through the new Cabinet Committee on Crime and Justice, and the work that I am undertaking in addition with the Ministry of Justice, very much shine a spotlight on that. We have to support individuals as they go through the legal process, the court process and the court systems. The Government have announced a royal commission into the criminal justice system, where some of those issues will be addressed.

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One group of people who often do not have confidence in the criminal justice system are those with autism and their families. They often get caught up in the criminal justice system inappropriately. Will the Home Secretary agree to work with Ministers in other Departments and perhaps set up a cross-ministerial working group to ensure that people with autism are not unnecessarily caught up in the criminal justice system?

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments, and the new committee that the Prime Minister has established seeks to do exactly this. We have to look across Government. No one Department has the answers to any of the challenges not only with the system but in terms of how we can protect victims and individuals. Cross-government working is absolutely crucial, and I am very happy to work with individuals and people who have experience of this.

County Lines: Exploitation of Children

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12. What steps she is taking to stop county lines drugs gangs exploiting children. [900685]

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The Government are determined to stop the terrible exploitation of children and rid our streets of criminal county lines gangs. That is why we are augmenting significant police activity with an extra £25 million of targeted investment across the next two years to uplift the law and enforcement response to county lines and increase the support available to children, young people and their families.

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In Beaconsfield, the Thames Valley police have been working tirelessly to protect and prevent child exploitation, particularly from county lines. Will the Minister update the House on what preventive tools the police can use to protect children and young people who are at risk of being criminally exploited through the county lines network?

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One of the most significant deterrents that we think will be available to us is differential sentencing. A judge, on giving a sentence to somebody who is involved in county lines, can already take into act culpability factors, such as the use of children. My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that the Sentencing Council is currently reviewing those guidelines, and we hope and believe that the most severe penalties will be meted out to those who exploit children in this way.

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With no statutory definition of “child criminal exploitation”, different safeguarding agencies and police forces understand the risks differently, but county lines exploitation is everywhere. In order to comply with Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary’s recommendation that we need a unified definition in law of child criminal exploitation, when can we expect such an announcement so that we truly safeguard these child victims?

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The co-ordination of the effort across Government and indeed, across all the arms of government, including local government, will be one of the primary tasks of the new Cabinet committee that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has established. The hon. Lady is right that dealing with this phenomenon, which spans force and local authority boundaries, will take a united and concerted approach, and we will be doing so over the next few weeks.

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According to Hampshire police, every town in our county has been targeted by county lines drugs gangs, and in Fareham we had some recent arrests of drug dealers. Will the Minister reassure me that Fareham will not get overlooked in the allocation of police officers as part of the new recruitment wave?

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In her usual manner, my hon. Friend fights hard for resources for her constituency and I do not blame her, but, as she knows, the allocation of police officers—not least, new police officers—in a specific force area is a matter for the chief constable. However, as a Hampshire MP myself, with a town that has also been preyed upon by county lines drug dealers, she can be assured that how we as a county, and indeed, as a country can combat this scourge is at the front of my mind.

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21. What discussions is the Minister having with other Departments about what we do when young people have been identified as having been caught up in county lines? It is very important, in some cases at least, that they are treated as victims, but that means getting them away from the scenes where they are vulnerable, and many times they are not found until they present at hospital because they have been stabbed. What are we doing about rehousing them or finding them a safe place to go, so that they do not get caught back up in the gangs again? [900695]

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As I said in answer to an earlier question, co-ordination of the effort against county lines in terms of enforcement and intervention, and then rescuing young people who are involved in it, will take a huge amount of effort. The Cabinet committee that the Prime Minister has drawn together will look specifically at this. The hon. Lady will be pleased, however, that the Cabinet Office has been leading on cross-government work, looking at what more we can do to make sure that we deal with this problem.

Domestic Abuse: Victim Support

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16. What steps she is taking to support victims of domestic abuse. [900689]

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The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill was announced alongside the Queen’s Speech on 19 December last year. The Bill and an accompanying non-legislative package will protect and support victims of domestic abuse across England and Wales and bring perpetrators to justice.

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In the west midlands, over 60,000 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes were recorded by the police in the year ending March 2019. Will the Minister ensure that in the forthcoming domestic abuse Bill these victims and their children, who as a result of their ordeal have been made homeless, are prioritised during the allocation of safe and permanent housing for victims of domestic abuse in Wolverhampton and across the country?

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My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Government are committed to supporting domestic abuse victims and their children. Statutory guidance already makes it clear that in allocating social housing councils should consider giving additional preference to those who are homeless and require urgent rehousing as a result of domestic abuse. We strongly encourage all councils to give appropriate priority to victims and their families who have escaped abuse and are being accommodated in a refuge or other temporary accommodation.

Knife Crime

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18. What steps she is taking to reduce knife crime. [900691]

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We are determined to tackle the scourge of knife crime. We are recruiting 20,000 more police officers, increasing police funding, making it easier for the police to use stop-and-search, and ensuring that more perpetrators go to prison for longer. We have legislated through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 and knife crime prevention orders to help take more knives off the street. We are also introducing the serious violence Bill, which will put a duty on police, councils and health authorities to prevent and reduce serious violence.

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Last month, a young man tragically lost his life in Liskeard after being stabbed. What action is being taken to get knives off our streets in towns and rural areas?

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First, I offer my condolences to the bereaved family. It is a terrible event to happen and I know it will have shocked everyone in the town. Happily, I understand that an investigation is ongoing and an arrest has been made, and we await the outcome of that investigation. As my hon. Friend, who has fought hard for resources for her constituency, will know, Devon and Cornwall police will receive more funding next year and will be able to recruit 141 additional officers in the first year, as part of the 20,000 police officer uplift. I hope they will be put to good use to prevent exactly this sort of incident.

Topical Questions

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T2. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. [900699]

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Last week, we were shocked and appalled by another terror attack on the streets of London. I pay tribute to the brave members of our police and emergency services who responded immediately. It is our duty to keep the people and public safe, and it is only right that the Government are now introducing emergency legislation to put a stop to these terrorist offenders being automatically released early with no checks or review.

Since I last addressed the House, Britain has made history by leaving the European Union, delivering on our promise to the British people. This is the dawn of a bright new future for our country. With that, I am also delighted to announce that our hugely successful EU settlement scheme has received 3 million applications. This will embrace an exciting new chapter in our history together.

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What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to attract highly skilled scientists and engineers to come and work in our country and contribute to our successful future?

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My right hon. Friend is right to point out that through our points-based system we are introducing new routes to attract the brightest and the best. Our fast-track immigration scheme will facilitate entry to the UK for more people with skills, including scientists, researchers and mathematicians. This is just the first phase of our reforms to send a signal that the UK intends to remain at the forefront of research and innovation.

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Does the Home Secretary appreciate the widespread concern about the Jamaican deportation flight due tomorrow? Is she aware that Stephen Shaw, in his review of detention, suggested that we should not be deporting people who came here as children, but that many of the proposed deportees came here as children and have no memory of Jamaica? Does she accept that these deportations constitute double jeopardy, because the persons have already served an appropriate sentence for their crime? Is she aware that more than 170 Members of Parliament from all political parties have written to the Prime Minister calling for the deportation flight to be halted?

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I am sure that the right hon. Lady is aware that under the UK Borders Act 2007 a deportation order must be made in respect of foreign criminals sentenced to 12 months or more in prison. Every person on the flight was convicted of a serious offence and received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. That means that, under the Act, which was introduced by the Labour Government in 2007, a deportation order must be made.

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T3. I have received significant online abuse, intimidation and threats. I believe that that kind of abuse on social media, directed at me and others, is simply unacceptable. It puts off people from making a difference in public life. I have received considerable online support from many of my constituents, and for that I should like to show my appreciation. What are the Government doing to protect people who would want to stand for public office? [900700]

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I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting and shining a spotlight on some of the most corrosive and abusive behaviour that people in public office—public servants—witness and experience online. That is simply unacceptable. The Government’s Online Harms White Paper makes clear that we will absolutely tackle such corrosive behaviour: we will pull it off the online media, and we will introduce a regulatory regime to ensure that that kind of hatred cannot continue online.

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On Friday the deputy chair of the local Conservative association was jailed for nine weeks for menacing communications, including these threats against me:

“I am already organising her to be hurt. Amazing what crackheads will do for £100. I’m gonna get her beat up.”

The chair of the local association wrote to me today expressing regrets and apologies for what he describes as the grave and unacceptable actions of its member, who has since been expelled. I welcome that letter and that support, but it concerns me that, thus far, no similar condemnation or sense of regret has been expressed by the national party. The national chair’s letter to me in response to the issue said nothing stronger than

“intimidating behaviour has no place in our politics.”

I am also disappointed that the neighbouring Member of Parliament chose to give a very positive character reference for that individual, without contacting me first. I have raised that with her directly, but I know that she was unable to be in the Chamber today.

I am still concerned about the fact that although I raised this case with senior members of the national party, the individual was still able to be at the general election count after he had been summonsed. May I therefore ask the Home Secretary to condemn these threats in the strongest terms, to look into her party’s response, and also to show leadership by urging all political parties to come together and draw up a new joint code of conduct against intimidation? Violent threats must have no place in politics in all parties.

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I thank the right hon. Lady for presenting to the House the horrors of what she has endured, and for making the case, very strongly and robustly, that there is no place for threats and intimidation in society or in public life. Let me say now, on the Floor of the House, that that is categorically unacceptable and wrong. There is no place at all for intimidation in public life. As for the national party’s response, the right hon. Lady can take it from me, right now, that I am hugely apologetic for what she has had to put up with. It is simply unacceptable, and that is also something of which we should all be mindful, as representatives of major political parties. None of this should be tolerated.

The right hon. Lady referred to my colleague in the neighbouring constituency. My understanding is that her comments were in support of securing the help that that individual needed in terms of access to mental health. However—[Interruption.] I see that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) is chuckling away. This is a very serious matter. It is not a laughing matter.

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We are laughing because you are being insincere. [Interruption.]

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I think it is fair to say, given that remark, that the insincerity sits with the hon. and learned Lady. The fact of the matter is that it is right that we come together. [Interruption.] Yes, we will see. It is a fact that it is this Government who are trying to deal with this type of issue. Members have already heard me speak about dealing with online harms and trolling, and have heard me call this unacceptable. I am absolutely sincere in my remarks, and I am so sorry—actually, I think it is shameful—that the hon. and learned Lady is herself being quite insincere in respect of the case that I am putting to her.

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T4. My constituency has one of the fastest-growing populations of any constituency in the country, partly because it is such a wonderful place to live, but police numbers, which are partly based on lagging population figures, have not kept pace. Will my hon. Friend tell me what the Government are doing to increase police numbers in Cambridgeshire? [900701]

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We have provided up to £10.6 million more funding, which will allow the police and crime commissioner to recruit another 64 police officers for the county. That is the first instalment of Cambridgeshire’s share of the 20,000 police officers. I hope that the good people of Cambridgeshire will reciprocate by electing a very good police and crime commissioner in May.

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T5. When will the Home Office announce the immigration status of the EU students who are due to start courses here in 2021? [900702]

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We will shortly confirm our policy on migration, and we will of course continue to have discussions across Government with the European Union to determine future status here in this country.

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T8. Does my hon. Friend agree that Neighbourhood Watch is a vital asset to the detection of crime? Will he join me in putting pressure on the Mayor of London to continue to support Online Watch Link—OWL—the online system that is used by more than 100,000 London Neighbourhood Watch members and that has secured more than 1,200 hours-worth of sentences for criminals in my council ward in my constituency alone? [900705]

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I am more than happy to endorse my hon. Friend’s remarks. He has been a champion for his part of London for a long time before coming to this House. He is quite right to have high expectations of the Mayor of London, whose efforts on crime have sadly disappointed during his time as Mayor thus far.

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T6. Glasgow has had plans for a medically supervised drug consumption room since 2016, and the evidence worldwide points to the efficacy of such rooms, so when the UK Government hold their drugs summit in Glasgow later this month, will they act on the evidence and bring in solutions for urgent change, or will it be more of the same from this Government? [900703]

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I am sure that the issue of drug consumption rooms will appear in the discussions during the drugs summit, but I repeat what I have said to the Scottish Affairs Committee on this matter, which is that the Scottish National party’s obsession with drug consumption rooms is a distraction from the major effort that can be put into this issue. The irrefutable evidence from across the world is that treatment is by far and away the best way to prevent drug deaths. However, it is no surprise that the SNP should seek to distract in this way, not least because the SNP Government have cut drug treatment funds in Scotland over the past few years.

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T9. Over the weekend, a large number of illegal migrants were detained trying to cross the channel. Last summer, the Prime Minister warned migrants crossing the channel that the United Kingdom would “send you back”. I have read that few of these migrants are actually sent back, because they have claims for asylum, but surely if they leave a perfectly safe country such as France and try to enter our country illegally, they should not be able to claim asylum. Will the Home Office get a grip and send these people back, in order to stop this illegal trade? [900707]

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I share my right hon. Friend’s concerns, and we have been clear that people should make their asylum claim in the first safe country they reach. We work under the Dublin regulations and we will continue to discuss our future participation in that regard, post-Brexit, but we will be tackling this because we want to end the scourge of trafficking that puts so many lives at risk.

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T7. In the west midlands, violent crime is up 27%, the homicide rate is rising and, in Birmingham, drug crime is at a six-year high. The Home Secretary admitted last week that some communities had been “neglected and left behind”. Given the rises in violent and drug crime in Birmingham, will she accept that her comments include my city, and will her Department finally step up to the plate and do something about this? [900704]

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I had the privilege of visiting the west midlands two weeks ago and participating in an early-morning drugs raid. The scourge of serious and violent crime is absolutely one that we have to deal with, and this Government are fully committed to that. We are providing all the necessary resources—the money, the equipment and the powers—to the police to enable them to get on top of this.

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Just this weekend I received a report of masked intruders on a farm in my constituency. Could my right hon. Friend update the House on what is being done to tackle the intimidation of farmers and rural crime such as fly-tipping and theft, and could she also reassure my constituents that preventing and prosecuting rural crime will be a focus of this Government?

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I reassure my hon. Friend that we absolutely view rural crime as totally unacceptable. It blights communities and, whether it is fly-tipping or organised crime related to waste crime in particular, she and all other Members who represent rural communities know that it has to be tackled. We are currently working on that through our serious organised crime strategy and across Government.

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How many EU citizens who have been living here for more than five years, entirely legally, and have applied for settled status have been given only pre-settled status?

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Pre-settled status is granted to people who have not been in the country for five years. By definition, an EU citizen who has been living in the country for five years or more and can evidence that will be granted full settled status. For clarity, according to the most recent set of official figures, I think only five people have been refused status, all on the grounds of criminality.

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When a secular psychopath threatens to run amok and kill indiscriminately, we treat him as criminally insane and detain him indefinitely in a high-security psychiatric unit. Why do we not do the same for a religious psychopath who threatens to do exactly the same thing?

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My right hon. Friend raises very important issues. The Government will address them in tomorrow’s emergency legislation and the forthcoming counter- terrorism Bill, which will consider appropriate sentences for people who seek to do a great deal of harm to our country.

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I just want to reassure the House that, in fairness to the Home Secretary and me, we took very seriously threats made against MPs and candidates during the last election, so much so that we were constantly in touch to make sure that support was being given. That support will continue to be available to all MPs. Please, if a threat is made to any MP, make sure that you report it. The House and I and the Home Secretary will ensure that your safety comes first. Please do not shy away from reporting any incidents.

Point of Order

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will be brief. Before the 2017 general election, Amnesty International carried out research into abuse against female MPs. The results showed that my right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) was the most abused female MP in the United Kingdom, by a country mile. I was the second most abused female MP in the UK, although very far behind my right hon. Friend, who has had a lot to put up with. That was the perspective from which I made my comments, in exasperation, during the last exchange. I simply want to put on the record that that was the context in which I made my comments, and to say that the level of abuse that I have continued to receive has taken its toll on me, my girlfriend, my family and my friends. I really do hope that the Government are going to tackle it in this Session.

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I want to reassure the hon. and learned Lady. Nobody should suffer abuse in the way that we have seen. It has happened to many other MPs as well. I want to make sure that that does not happen and to ensure your safety. Please, if you are getting abuse, we will ensure that the House supports you and we will take people to court. I have done a witness statement on behalf of every MP, which will be used back you up and to take some of the threat away from you.

Deportation Flight to Jamaica

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(Urgent Question): To ask the Home Secretary, as she leaves the Chamber, if she will make a statement on the suppression of the Windrush lessons learned review and its implications for the deportation flight that is set to leave the country on Wednesday.

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Righting the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation has been an absolute priority for this Government. People who arrived in this country as little more than infants, and who built lives and raised families here, were told they were no longer welcome. That should never have happened, and it was a terrible mistake by successive Governments and by the Home Office.

Since these injustices came to light, the Government have moved swiftly to give those affected the certainty they need. That is why we set up a taskforce to help people confirm their status. I can confirm that over 8,000 people have been granted some form of documentation, including over 5,000 grants of citizenship, under the scheme.

We have also launched a compensation scheme to address the financial hardship suffered by those left unable to work or unable to access other support systems. To ensure nothing like this ever happens again, the previous Home Secretary commissioned an independent lessons learned review.

In recent days, news coverage has referenced extracts of a draft report, which were leaked in June 2019, in the context of a planned deportation charter flight to Jamaica. I am not going to comment on leaks, but let me be very clear that the lessons learned report has not been suppressed. The report has yet to be submitted to Ministers by the independent adviser, Wendy Williams. It will be for the Home Secretary to publish her report once it has been received.

It is vital that we allow Wendy Williams the time and space to produce her report without political interference. When it is available, the Home Office is committed to publishing it as soon as practically possible and will take its findings and any recommendations very seriously.

With regard to tomorrow’s charter flight, the Home Secretary is required by law to issue a deportation order for anyone who is a serious or persistent foreign national offender. It does not matter what part of the world they are from. Whether it is the United States, Jamaica, Australia or Canada, it is criminality, not nationality, that counts.

That legal requirement is set out in the UK Borders Act 2007, which was introduced under a Labour Government, and I remind the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) that he was a member of that Government and did not, as far as I can recall, raise objections at the time to the Act’s provisions.

We cannot breach the Act, and we will not allow foreign nationals who are convicted of the most serious offences, including rape and child sexual abuse, to remain in Britain. Tomorrow’s flight is about keeping the public safe, and it cannot and should not be conflated with the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation.

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I regret the tone with which the Minister has responded to this urgent question. It is two years since there was consensus in this House on how the Windrush generation had been treated in this country. This is a generation of people, thousands of them, who came to this country after the second world war and gave so much but took so little.

Let me just remind the Minister: 164 people were detained and deported, which the Government say they got wrong. On the back of that, 5,000 people were denied access to public services, healthcare, pensions and education—all that they were entitled to. Against that backdrop, he is correct that the Government rightly set up the independent lessons learned review led by Wendy Williams. In the wake of that, they suspended flights to Jamaica. The question today is why have the Government resumed those flights?

In light of the scandal of people who arrived in this country as children, how can the Minister guarantee to the House that there are not people on this flight who are actually British nationals? In the wake of the leak, in which Wendy Williams herself says Ministers should not deport people under the age of 13, can he confirm that there are people on that flight who arrived in this country aged two, three, five or 11? He gives the House the impression that they are murderers and rapists, but he knows that many of them were convicted of non-violent offences.

We in this House cannot condemn county lines and those who would pimp young black children in this country and, at the same time, send those same children back to Jamaica for such drug offences. So I ask the Minister: when will we see this lessons learned review? It was promised in March last year. It was then delayed until September. We are almost two years on now, and people watching see the way in which this Government hold in such disrespect the contribution of West Indian, Caribbean and black people in this country. When, when will black lives matter once again?

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Let us start with the review and when it will come. Ultimately, this is an independent review and the timing is in the hands of the reviewer. Ministers cannot compel it to be produced by a particular date. Let us be clear: on the status check, there are no British nationals on that flight. Let us also be clear that the foreign national offenders on the flight have been sentenced to a total of 300 years in prison. As we said, the offences relate to everything from sex offending to serious drug trafficking offences, violent offences and firearms offences. That is what is happening in this instance and, aside from two cases, it is based on legislation passed under a Labour Government, in 2007. To define the Windrush generation by this particular group of offenders is truly wrong. The Windrush generation should be defined by the midwife who delivered hundreds of babies; the person who travelled thousands of miles, worked hard and provided for their family for decades. The line being adopted by the Opposition now is remarkable: that somehow that generation is defined by serious or persistent criminal offenders who are being deported from this country. Many listening to the exchanges this afternoon will think that the Labour party not only lost an election, but lost the plot as well.

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Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that the views and feelings of victims of crime are taken into account in our criminal justice system and how it operates?

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Yes, I do. Given the provisions of the law that have been in place for the past 13 years, many will expect that when someone is convicted of a type of offence that many of those on this flight have committed, deportation may well proceed. Let us be clear: drugs are not a victimless crime; we need only look at the death rates, particularly the tragic figures we had last year in Scotland, to see their impact. As I say, the law is there and the law is clear, and it is not a “might”, a “may” or a “could”; it was legislated in 2007 that it was a “must” issue a deportation order.

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The public will note the very dismissive attitude that the Minister has taken to the serious urgent question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy). One problem with this deportation flight is that it is not clear how many people on it came to this country as children. The Minister said he will not comment on leaks from the Windrush lessons learned review. Will he accept that the Stephen Shaw review of detention suggests we should not deport people who came here as children? Is the Minister aware that some of the proposed deportees have, in effect, been held incommunicado because of problems with the mobile signal in their detention centre? Is he aware that one thing the Windrush scandal teaches us is that, when we deport people in this way, we need to be absolutely certain about their immigration status? Clearly, none of them are of the Windrush cohort, but some of them may be the children and grandchildren of the Windrush cohort, which would have made it difficult for them to establish their nationality. Is the Minister aware of the very real concern in the community about this mass deportation flight? His dismissive attitude suggests an altogether dismissive attitude to the concerns of the community and what is problematic about this mass deportation flight.

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I agree with the shadow Home Secretary that it is right that extensive checks are made before people are listed for deportation on a flight such as the one we are discussing. Let us be clear: these are offenders who have been through the courts and sentenced. There will have been opportunities to make representations against their removal and, as the right hon. Lady will know, there are exemptions in the 2007 Act that apply in respect of, for example, the refugee convention or the European convention on human rights. Those matters have been considered and many of the offenders have lodged appeals. Again, I am clear that the public would look at this debate and say that these are persistent or serious criminal offenders. The law is clear and it is a statutory “must” that the Home Secretary make a deportation order. The law is applied based on the criminality, not the nationality, of the offender. There are regular deportations to many other countries around the world. We will consider the review, but we will also be clear that victims and the public have a right to be protected from serious criminals.

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Order. I should tell the House that I am aiming to run the urgent question for around 45 minutes.

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Surely voters throughout the country for all parties would expect serious and persistent offenders to be deported in accordance with the law. Will my hon. Friend tell the House the minimum threshold at which somebody becomes classified as a serious and persistent offender, so that we can understand the criteria being applied to put people on these flights?

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Normally, the definition of a serious offence would be one that has attracted a sentence of 12 months in prison. On persistence, the nature of the offences would be considered. There is not a particular number that somebody would have to hit; it would be about the nature of their offending patterns. As my hon. Friend says, the public would expect serious or persistent offenders who are liable to be deported under the 2007 Act to be removed from this country unless the exceptions apply.

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I agree that it is hugely troubling that the lessons learned review has not yet been published. It is totally unacceptable that this charter flight could proceed before all the lessons of Windrush are learned. Windrush should change everything; instead, the Home Office carries on as if nothing has changed.

Will the Minister admit that the flight will include people who were entitled to British nationality—including one individual who was in the care system—but could not access it because of complicated and expensive nationality procedures? When will access to British citizenship finally be made affordable and simple? Does the Minister accept that many on the flight have a far stronger connection to Britain than to Jamaica? As Stephen Shaw would put it, many are more British than they are Jamaican. Will the Minister confirm that the flight will leave 41 British children separated from their fathers and nine British citizens without partners or husbands? Is it not time to look at the legislation again?

Finally, written answers confirm that the Home Office has taken absolutely no interest in what happened to the people on its last charter flight to Jamaica. Is that not the height of irresponsibility?

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Again, I am clear that we have checked that there is no one on the flight who would be eligible for British citizenship or nationality. We would not be able to deport them if they were. The cases have been through the courts. Again, I should make it clear that the law is very clear, the offences committed are very clear and we are very clear that the Home Office applies the rules based on the criminality, not the nationality, of the offender.

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Does the Minister agree that shrill virtue signalling and faux outrage ignore the political and legal realities of the issue? My parents emigrated to the UK from Commonwealth countries in the 1960s and could have been caught up in the Windrush issue. Thankfully, they were not. The Government have apologised for this issue and are taking remedial action on it. Will the Minister confirm that British citizenship is a privilege, not a right? Those foreign national offenders who abuse their time here need to face the full force of the law.

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Clearly, those with British citizenship would not be liable for deportation, but my hon. Friend is absolutely right. We should not define the Windrush generation by a group of people who have committed serious offences or been persistent criminal offenders. The Windrush generation is the midwife who delivered hundreds of babies, the person who worked hard to provide for their family—that is who defines that generation, not serious offenders.

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The Minister’s tone and his response to this urgent question have been quite shameful. My constituent came here from Jamaica when he was five years old and all of his family lives here. He is set to be deported on this flight tomorrow, having served a seven-month custodial sentence in 2015. Given the leaked “lessons learned” review issues, is it not right that the Minister, the Home Secretary and the Government take stock and halt this flight just to make sure that they do not inflict any further harm? This mistake has been made before—people were deported and they ended up dead.

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Yes, we do want to make sure that we prevent further harm—further harm to future victims of crime that may be committed by the persistent or serious offenders who are on this flight. As I have said, the law is very clear. It is rather strange that a Conservative Minister should come under this type of attack, as we are defending and outlining legislation that was actually pushed by the Labour party.

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What is the most trivial offence that has been committed by those who have been put on this flight?

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It would not be right for me to go into the details of the offences that individuals have committed, yet I can say that those on board include people who have been convicted of rape—rape of children—firearms offences, and serious drug offences. As I have said, the legislation is clear about what the exceptions are, and, again, those will have been assessed before the final deportation notices were issued.

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The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says that it has become aware that potential victims of trafficking have also been served with removal directions. Will the Minister please confirm with a clear yes or no whether there will be victims of human trafficking on this flight?

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Any claims made for the protection routes will have been assessed, but, again, we are talking about a planeful of people who have been sentenced to a total of 300 years in prison and have committed serious offences. Decisions are based on the exceptions under the UK Borders Act 2007, and that is the law with which we will comply.

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A number of my Chelmsford constituents have written to me about this case. I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware of the court case that was heard in Chelmsford last year regarding protesters against a previous flight. With that in mind, and given that we do have a legal duty to deport persistent and serious offenders, can he assure me that he personally has looked at each individual case, and that each one involves a persistent or serious offender?

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Yes, I have been through the manifest, but it would not be appropriate for me to discuss individual cases on the Floor of the House. Let me be clear: the decisions on all these cases will have been based on professional assessments, on the law and on where they fall around the exceptions, including things such as the right to a family life under the European Court of Human Rights.

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“Never again” we were told by those on the Government Benches when they were dragged to this place over the first Windrush scandal. Now we are hearing that lessons learned in that report are again falling on deaf ears. Ultimately, we on the Labour Benches know that this Windrush case is state-sanctioned racism, and it has given permission to racists across this country to attack people day in, day out. When will the Minister understand that this flight must be stopped, or on his head be it?

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Well, I do listen to some of the comments from those on the Opposition Benches. It would be on our head if we stopped the flight because we would not be complying with our legal duties. We would be seeing persistent and serious offenders remain in this country when they should have been deported under an Act passed by a Labour Government. I must say that many people listening to this will agree with this Government that it is the criminality, not the nationality, that should be determining what happens in this case.

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Does the Minister agree that the legal duty on the Government to do the right thing to keep the public safe by removing serious criminals from this country is completely separate from our duty to do the right thing by the Windrush generation who helped to rebuild this country after the war?

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I could not have put it better myself. The Windrush generation has made a huge contribution to this country, and it is absolutely unbelievable that some on the Opposition Benches want to define them by a group of foreign national offenders who have been sentenced to a total of 300 years in prison. It is truly remarkable.

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A number of those facing deportation tomorrow were found guilty of drug-related offences and have served their time. Meanwhile, we have a Prime Minister who has said that he took cocaine, which is a class A drug. Is it one rule for some and another for others?

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No, it is a law that looks at the criminality, not the nationality, of the offender. It is safe to say that possession would not meet the threshold for deportation set in 2007, with the support of some Members sitting opposite me.

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Will my hon. Friend confirm that the people on the flight tomorrow are not only serious or persistent offenders, but all adults who were convicted as adults and not as young offenders?

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One of the exemptions under the Act to having to make a deportation order is where the offender was under 18 when they were convicted, but there is no one under 18 on the flight tomorrow.

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Will the Minister provide the House with some facts, in particular the individual sentences and the offences of those on the flight; the age at which they came to this country; and whether any of them were affected by the lack of mobile phone coverage, which the Home Office recognises was an issue?

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The offences all meet the threshold for deportation set under the 2007 Act by the Government the right hon. Lady was a member of. Their cases, including whether there are ECHR rights that apply, have been considered by the courts. We are clear that they have committed serious offences or been persistent offenders, who qualify under the Home Secretary’s legal duty. This is within the law, and, as we say, it is about criminality, not nationality.

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Is not the point that there is a difference between foreign nationals who come to this country, who make a contribution and who are law abiding and those who are serious or persistent offenders? Can my hon. Friend confirm that the offences committed by those on the flight include manslaughter, rape, drug dealing and robbery? These are serious and persistent offenders.

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Yes, these are all serious or persistent offenders. The offences committed by those on board include rape of minors, rape of adults and serious drugs offences. That is why we are required to issue a deportation notice.

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How many of the people scheduled to go on the flight have had their mental state assessed? A number of them are vulnerable. After what happened in the Windrush scandal, does the Minister think it is fair to continue to treat people in this way?

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Anyone entering immigration detention is assessed as part of our adults at risk policy where there is a concern, but let me be clear: these are people who have been through the criminal justice process, some on a number of occasions; they have completed sentences and are now liable under the law to deportation. They have been judged on their criminality, not their nationality, but there are exemptions provided for in the 2007 Act.

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Parliament in 2007 passed legislation to require the Government to deport those guilty of serious or persistent offences. In those circumstances, does my hon. Friend agree with me that, were the Government not to do it, they would be liable to judicial review?

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My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. As he said, we are under a legal duty to make the deportation order based on the criminality, not the nationality. Potentially, we would have to answer to future victims if we adopted the policy that is advocated by Labour Members now but not supported by some of them when their party was in government.

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As my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) noted, in the Windrush scandal British citizens have been wrongly deported. Why will the Minister not consider the possibility that the deportations should be suspended until the lessons learned review has been received and considered?

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We have considered whether any of the people involved would benefit from protections under the Windrush scheme. The answer is no, none of them is a British citizen or British national. Ultimately, we have a legal duty to remove serious or persistent criminal offenders, some of whom have committed appalling crimes in this country. I recognise the legal duty this Government have, as does the Home Secretary, and we will fulfil it.

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I thank the Minister for confirming that all those set to be deported are not British nationals. Does he agree that it is right that we can deprive foreign offenders of British citizenship when they harm and endanger our communities? Drug offences are not some unconscionable crime, they are serious —look at the scourge of county lines. Can he confirm that the majority of foreign offenders are in fact deported to the EU?

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It does have to be said that the majority of deportations are to the EEA, and, as I touched on in my initial answer, we deport criminals who meet the thresholds regularly every week to a range of countries. As we keep on saying—I will say it again—it is the criminality, not the nationality that determines the outcome in each case.

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One of the individuals facing deportation tomorrow came to the UK aged five. He committed a crime aged 17 and did the time many, many years ago. Is it fair to punish people for mistakes they have already paid for?

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When Parliament passed the UK Borders Act 2007, under the proposals of the then Government it would have considered whether it is appropriate to apply deportation orders to those who are serious or persistent offenders as part of the penalty for the crime. I believe the vast majority of the public think that is right.

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Does my hon. Friend agree that attempts to play party political games with the Windrush scandal are shameful, especially given the fact that a National Audit Office report recognised that the hostile environment dated back to 2004 under the previous Labour Government?

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I think it is extraordinary to see people wanting to conflate a group of foreign national offenders who have been sentenced to a total of 300 years’ imprisonment with a generation who have made such a huge contribution to this country. The Home Office will be guided by the law, not party political points.

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Does the Minister agree that if the lessons learned review that was leaked is correct, in deporting 50 people tomorrow the Government will be going against their own recommendations in their own report, which has reportedly stated that those who have lived in the UK since childhood should not be deported?

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Does the Minister agree that the Opposition should focus on the appalling criminal behaviour of the perpetrators, and not on the Government for simply implementing the law?

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I thank my hon. Friend for that point, and I think many people across many constituencies will be stunned by the attitude that some Labour Members are taking today.

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Will the Minister confirm that 50 people are booked on the flight to Jamaica tomorrow, and will he tell us how many of those have been in the UK since childhood?

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I will not get into individual cases or numbers, but I am clear that all those due for deportation meet the legal threshold supported by the House in 2007.

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I think we need to clarify that we are in a situation where Opposition Members are seemingly campaigning against Labour policy, so does my hon. Friend agree that foreign nationals who have committed serious crimes in Britain should be in no doubt about our intention to deport them?

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Absolutely. Those committing criminal offences in this country should have no doubt that I and the Home Secretary will ensure that they face the penalties prescribed by law, and they will be judged on their criminality, not their nationality.

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As the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on immigration detention, I am deeply concerned by some of the implications of this flight. The Minister did not answer the question from the Chair of the Select Committee, so can I ask whether he is aware of the outages of phone signal at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration removal centres exposed by Detention Action, and whether all the people on the flight had access to functioning mobile phones so that they might access legal representation?

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It has to be said that one of the people on the flight did a TV interview this morning, so there is provision for communications. Again, we have met the legal thresholds and the legal test. Ultimately, this is about whether we wish to deport serious or persistent offenders who have committed a range of offences. Many people will be watching with astonishment the attitude on the Opposition Benches.

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Can the Minister tell us whether any of the people scheduled for deportation tomorrow have had access to legal advice and representation?

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As I have touched on, they have all been through the criminal justice system. Many have had quite extensive legal provision afterwards, and they have been assessed on everything else. I say yet again that we are complying with the law set in 2007. The hon. Lady can shake her head, but it is the law that her Labour predecessors voted for.

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What reassurance can the Minister give us that those who needed legal aid had access to it, given the background of cuts to legal aid over the last 10 years?

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In the criminal process, there would have been opportunities to access legal aid. We have met our legal duties, and we have met the appropriate assessment around whether any of the individuals meet any of the exemptions. Ultimately, these are serious or persistent criminal offenders who, in some cases, present an ongoing threat to people in this country. We will put our legal duties first and protect the public, despite the calls from the Labour party.

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I deeply regret the wilfully obtuse attitude taken by the Minister and others on the Government Benches regarding this issue. He should not hide behind the 2007 law on deportation when he knows full well that our concerns relate to our expectation that the independent review will say, when it is published, that those who came to this country as children should not be deported. This flight should not go ahead before that review and its recommendations are officially published in full. Surely he can see that that is the only way we will know that we have not deported our own citizens.

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I repeat that there is no British citizen on that flight, and the potential eligibility for Windrush protections has been checked. As a Minister I remember that not so many months ago we were getting lectures from the Opposition about following the law and the rule of law, but now we are hearing the argument that we should not. We are not hiding behind the 2007 law; it is our duty to implement the 2007 law. It is really quite extraordinary to see the reactions from the party that brought it in.

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Will the Minister describe to the House exactly how the Government have carried out their duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to ensure that any child affected by an immigration decision has their welfare properly considered? Does he know how many of those who are leaving the country on this flight have the care of, responsibility for or close family relationships with children in Britain?

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When matters have been raised around family or dependent children, they have been professionally assessed before the decision has been taken to put someone on a deportation flight. Of course, when that is done, the nature of the criminality and the offences of some of those involved will be taken into account.

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The problem with all the Minister’s answers is that he is asking us to trust a Department and a system that have been found to have had repeated and costly failures. He admitted to me himself in answer to a written question just a couple of weeks ago that the Home Office had wrongly detained 312 people at a cost of £8.2 million in compensation in just one year, 2018-19. That was up from 212 cases, costing £5 million, in 2017-18. He still refuses to give us the statistics on wrongful deportations and the costs associated with them. When will he come clean about how much money the Department has paid out for wrongfully deporting people—including, as it has done in the past, one of my own constituents?

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Let me be clear about the facts of tomorrow’s flight, which are: a total of about 300 years of sentences of imprisonment for those on board, the nature of the offences committed and the existence of the legal duty. The Government will follow the law. Our system is based on criminality, not nationality. Ultimately, the real failure would be if we left the public to face the consequences of our not removing some persistent and serious criminals.

Flood Response

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With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the significant flooding caused by the heavy rain and severe gale force winds brought by Storm Ciara.

First and foremost, I extend my condolences on behalf of the whole House to the family and friends of the individual who lost his life in Hampshire earlier today; our thoughts are with you.

I also express my support and sympathy to all those whose homes or businesses have been flooded over the weekend. Flooding can have appalling consequences for each individual affected, and I want to provide the assurance today that the Environment Agency, local government and the emergency services are working hard to keep people safe in all the areas affected by this devastating storm.

Storm Ciara brought rainfall ranging between 40 and 80 cm in 24 hours across much of northern England. The highest levels were recorded in Cumbria, with 179.8 cm of rain falling over the course of the day. Particularly severe impacts have been felt along the River Calder in Yorkshire, along the River Ribble in Lancashire, along the Irwell in Greater Manchester, and on the Eden in Appleby. Regrettably, four of these communities—the Calder valley, Whalley and Ribchester, the Rossendale valley and Appleby—were flooded in 2015.

The current estimate is that more than 500 properties have been flooded, but this number is expected to increase as further information is collected. The latest number of properties confirmed to have been flooded are 40 in Cumbria, 100 in Lancashire, 150 in Greater Manchester and 260 in Yorkshire. Defences in Carlisle have held. There is local road disruption across the affected areas, and a shipping container is stuck under Elland bridge. One severe flood warning was issued over the weekend to communicate a “risk to life” along the River Nidd at Pateley Bridge. This has now been removed; flood defences were not overtopped and no properties were flooded. Our coastal communities have also been affected, in parts of the south-west and north-east of England, where high tides, large waves and coastal gales have occurred.

The weather is expected to remain unsettled, and 97 flood warnings are currently still in place. Although river levels in West Yorkshire and Lancashire are now receding, we must expect high river levels further downstream in South Yorkshire over the next few days, so we urge people in at-risk areas to remain vigilant, not to take unnecessary risks and to sign up to receive Environment Agency flood alerts. Some coastal flooding is probable tomorrow, but it is not expected to be in the more serious category.

Extensive work is taking place in the affected areas, including clearing debris that can block up river flow. Environment Agency teams have been deploying temporary flood barriers where necessary. I pay tribute to all the dedicated professionals who are working so hard on the emergency response to the situation—operating flood defences, supporting communities and keeping people safe. That includes the hard-working staff of the Environment Agency, along with local authority teams and, of course, the police and fire services. I also thank all the volunteers who are part of local flood action groups that are helping with the response effort.

Every effort is being made to keep people safe, and I can confirm that the Government are today activating the Bellwin scheme, which will provide significant financial support to the local authorities in the areas affected by Storm Ciara, helping them to fund the cost of recovery. I encourage councils in the areas affected to consider applications to the Bellwin fund.

In a changing climate, we all want our country and our communities to be better protected from flooding, and more resilient when severe weather occurs. In the areas hit by flooding over the weekend, at least 25,000 properties and businesses have been successfully protected by flood defences. But we know that more needs to be done, and we are determined to deliver.

Since the events of Boxing day 2015, we have been taking action on a range of schemes to strengthen defences and improve resilience. We are investing more than ever before in these defences through a £2.6 billion programme up to 2021 to manage flood and coastal erosion risk. This will enable better protection of over 300,000 properties. Early in 2016, we committed an unprecedented £35 million to improve flood protection for homes and businesses in Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and across Calderdale. Construction in Mytholmroyd is progressing and we expect the defences there to be completed in in the summer. We have built 25 new flood defences in Cumbria and Lancashire, protecting 23,100 homes, and 59 new flood defences in Yorkshire, protecting 13,200 homes. In the autumn, I announced an extra £60 million to boost flood schemes in the north, including £19 million for Calder valley. Our manifesto commits us to a further £4 billion of new funding in the five years up to 2026.

In 2016, we introduced the Flood Re scheme to make insurance cover for flooding more affordable and more accessible. Following the flooding in November, I announced an independent review of the data on insurance cover to ensure that that scheme is working as effectively as possible. Since the incidents of 2015, we have strengthened and improved our system of flood warnings, and we have established a flood recovery framework to prepare for and guide flood recovery schemes.

This Government are determined to maintain and enhance our readiness to respond when extreme weather hits our country. Our swift activation of the Bellwin scheme today, and our investment in the biggest ever programme of flood defence improvement, illustrates that determination. We stand ready to help communities to recover from flooding. We are investing in the defences needed in the warmer, wetter, less predictable climate that the scientists tell us we must expect in the years to come. I commend this statement to the House.

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I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement. I join her in sending our condolences to the family of the man who died in Hampshire.

On behalf of the Opposition, I thank the emergency services, the Environment Agency, local councils, volunteers and communities who have worked tirelessly to protect homes and businesses, and to rescue people and animals from rising waters, fallen trees and debris, as well as all those who have worked to reinforce flood defences, not forgetting the RNLI and our coastguard too.

The reality of the climate crisis is that more extreme weather will happen more often and with more severe consequences, especially for those who live and work in areas of high flood risk. As the climate breakdown escalates, we are seeing an increase in the frequency and intensity of deadly weather patterns. Much more needs to be done to prevent flooding, to alleviate carbon emissions through habitat restoration, and to return flood plains to a natural state. Building homes on flood plains must stop.

The Government need to ask themselves: since Parliament declared a climate emergency, what are they doing differently on flooding—on protecting our communities? Austerity has had a devastating impact on our environment. There have been unprecedented cuts to our local authorities across the country, including the councils that have been most affected by the increased flooding and increased risk of flooding. The Environment Agency has seen its staffing levels fall by 20% since the Government came to power. I want Ministers to look afresh at what can be done now that Parliament has declared a climate emergency. A new plan for flooding should recognise the realities of the climate crisis, reverse the cuts to our frontline services, invest in comprehensive flood prevention, promote land use change, encourage habitat restoration, and acknowledge in the funding settlements for councils the higher risk in areas that face flooding so often.

I recognise that some new flood schemes have been delivered, but the list that the Secretary of State gave out is of what she has done, not what she will do, in response to this flooding. Will she accept that a comprehensive plan for flooding is now needed? Is it now time for Ministers to recognise that requiring match funding for some flood schemes means that poorer communities lose out compared with richer areas? The Environment Agency said only last year that it needs £1 billion a year to protect our communities, and a new approach on flooding. When will Ministers listen to their own Government agency and fund flood protection properly?

Does the Secretary of State have a date for the much-trailed flood summit that the Prime Minister promised last year? Will the trials of the new environmental land management scheme be targeted at the areas where flooding has been most severe this time? What action is she taking to ensure that homes and businesses that have been denied insurance and are still outside the current Flood Re scheme get the affordable protection that they so deserve?

Water is incredibly destructive and can destroy homes, businesses and livelihoods. Many of those flooded this time have been flooded before. Can the Secretary of State give them an assurance that the warm words and Government press releases this time will result in more action than they saw the last time they were flooded?

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Where those on the two Front Benches completely agree is on the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis, because inevitably our changing climate leads to more extreme weather. This Government have the most ambitious programme in the world to decarbonise our economy. We are decarbonising faster than any other G7 economy, and we were the first major developed economy to make the legal commitment to net zero. I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman that habitat restoration, nature-based solutions, peatland restoration and tree planting are all a crucial part of our programme to tackle climate change, but they can also play a critical role in mitigating the impact of flooding. We are determined to deliver on those programmes, which is demonstrated by the revolutionary Environment Bill we have put forward.

I agree that the planning system must take into account flood risk, and there are important principles in the planning system to ensure that it does so. In relation to council funding, I reiterate that the Bellwin scheme was opened this morning by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and I encourage local authorities to submit their applications as soon as possible.

With regard to Environment Agency funding, we are absolutely committed to investing in ensuring that our flood defences are as strong as they can be and that we become more resilient to flooding. That is why our manifesto commits a further £4 billion over five years. We do have a comprehensive plan for flooding, and those investments will be made over the coming years.

The shadow Secretary of State is concerned about match funding, but one of the successes of the funding programme is that we have managed to draw in sources of funding for other areas, to maximise the impact we can have on flood defences. He makes a valid point in relation to environmental land management. We certainly would want to involve a range of locations in our tests and trials, and I very much hope that some of the areas affected by flooding today can be part of that.

Finally, Flood Re has significantly improved access to insurance, and it has kept the costs much lower than they would otherwise be. Virtually 100% of people now have the option of quotes from at least two companies when choosing insurance, but we recognise that there was concern in South Yorkshire after the November flooding incident, so we are reviewing the scheme independently to ensure that it is working as effectively as possible to help people insure in these circumstances.

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Fast-flowing torrents of water damaged homes and businesses across my constituency over the weekend, with communities such as Milnsbridge, Linthwaite, Marsden, Slaithwaite, New Mill, Brockholes and many more suffering at the hands of Storm Ciara. Does the Secretary of State agree that we must get councils clearing culverts and drains of leaves? Does she also agree that, when it comes to housing developments, we must stop this tarmacking and paving of our green fields, which gives no space or capacity for rain run-off when we have severe storms such as these?

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I want to take this opportunity to express my support and sympathy for all my hon. Friend’s constituents who have been affected by the very severe weather at the weekend. I certainly agree that it is important for local authorities to undertake appropriate drain clearance as part of their efforts to mitigate flood risk. I also believe that it is important for our planning system to recognise the value of maintaining gardens and green spaces as part of our overall strategy to prevent flooding and mitigate its impacts.

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I thank the Secretary of State for giving us advance sight of her statement. I would like to associate myself and my colleagues with the condolences expressed by the Secretary of State to the family and friends of the gentleman in Hampshire who so sadly lost his life, as well as to those who have seen their properties and businesses affected. I would also like to give our thanks to the volunteers and the many in the public services who have worked so hard over the past 48 hours to keep people safe.

Of course, climate change means that extreme weather events of the kind we have seen in the last 48 hours will become more and more frequent, as will the kinds of statement that the Secretary of State has sadly had to make today in consequence. What steps will her Government take to further improve the resilience of the transport network to cope with events such as we have seen, and will she undertake to be engaged with all the Governments in this island as the aftermath of Storm Ciara is dealt with?

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Our £2.6 billion of investment in flood defences up to 2021 has a very strong emphasis on ensuring that our transport networks are more resilient. I would also emphasise that on those matters and many others we are keen to work with the devolved Administrations to the mutual benefit of all our citizens.

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Many of my constituents who were flooded last year watch severe weather warnings with dread, expecting to be flooded again every time they see them, and many of them have not been able to apply successfully for Flood Re insurance or for resilience funding. What can the Department do to communicate to councils the importance of working with the people affected—the victims of flooding—to enable them to access this resilience funding?

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I would certainly encourage all local authorities to engage with residents affected by flooding in particular areas and with the various schemes that are available.

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I cannot begin to convey the sense of absolute devastation across Calderdale that, for so many residents, we are in the same position again, having been flooded in the Boxing day floods in 2015. To update the Secretary of State, we are now looking at 400 residential properties flooded, 400 businesses, eight schools and two care homes, and two bridges have sustained damage. I have written to her today with a number of asks. Will she agree to meet me and representatives from Calderdale Council to go through those in detail so that we can start the recovery? Will she commit to making available the flood grants that came so quickly after those 2015 Boxing day floods, so that we can start that process straight away?

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I want to extend my sympathies to all the hon. Member’s constituents—it has been devastating for many of them—and I would be very happy to meet her and representatives from her constituency to discuss what has happened and how we can help in the future.

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I thank the Secretary of State for her time yesterday, for making herself available and for the support and help she gave. As I have told her, many of my constituents who were flooded over the weekend are exactly the same people who were flooded on Boxing day 2015, which really is completely unacceptable. Can she assure me that the flood defence programme the Government have in place will ensure that my constituents in Shipley will not have to suffer this fate yet again?

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I am afraid there can be no absolute guarantees on flooding, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government are determined to press on with their major investments in our flood defences to better protect thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Certainly one of the things we will do as a result of what has happened over the weekend is take a fresh look to make sure that everything possible is being done to keep those flood defence projects on track for delivery.

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There are two essential railway lines in Dwyfor Meirionnydd: the Conwy valley and the Cambrian coast lines. Neither has trains running today, following river and sea flooding. Given that the rail infrastructure of Wales is reserved to Westminster, what is the Department doing to work alongside the Welsh Government and ensure that essential communication links in Wales are resilient in the face of climate change?

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My Department has very extensive contacts with the Welsh Government on a range of issues. Obviously, in circumstances like this, it is essential that there is excellent working between the devolved Administrations in relation to the transport network. That is what is under way, and it will continue.

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Will the Secretary of State join me in paying tribute to the hard-working staff of the Environment Agency in West Sussex and nationally, who have been working diligently at antisocial hours, not just over this weekend, to protect life and property, but in many cases since the flooding in mid-December? I also thank her for making the link between the planning system and the incidence of flooding.

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I certainly join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the hard-working staff of the EA and all those involved in the response to this emergency. They do a tremendous job, and they need our support in very difficult circumstances.

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May I say to the Secretary of State that three months on from the floods that hit my constituency in November, many people are still suffering and are still out of their homes, and I am afraid Government help for those particularly without insurance, despite promises made, is inadequate? May I direct her to the issue of matched funds, raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) on the Front Bench, because what this means in South Yorkshire is that, although the Government have said they are making up to £1 million available—itself a measly sum compared to the need—that money is not being released because £600,000 has been raised from local businesses and people, but it does not reach the £1 million? This is penny-pinching, narrow-minded and wrong, so may I ask the Secretary of State to look at this again because it is just wrong for the people in my constituency?

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I am more than happy to look at this, but I would emphasise that there are many successful examples of where funding has been sought from a range of sources, including businesses, which has led to very successful results, including in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

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The recent flooding incidents show very clearly that there is a need for better resilience and better planning for flooding events. May I ask the Secretary of State to look closely at the bid submitted by Humberside fire authority, along with Hull university and North Lincolnshire Council, for a national flood resilience centre at a site in Scunthorpe?

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Yes, I am happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance, and I understand that DEFRA officials have been engaging with the people putting forward the bid, which will be looked at very seriously.

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Kirkstall in my constituency was devastated by floods on Boxing day 2015, and we were on high alert all day yesterday. In many ways Leeds had a close escape yesterday, but there remains a £23 million gap between what the Government have committed to flood defences in Leeds and what is needed to protect us against the floods we experienced just four years ago. We had a lucky escape yesterday but may not be so lucky next time. When will the Government release that £23 million so that Leeds gets the flood defences we need?

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As I have said, we have an extensive programme that we are in the course of delivering; we are determined to do that to ensure that many more homes and businesses are protected from flooding.

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Brigg and Goole and the Isle of Axholme is probably the most flood-prone constituency in the country. We are grateful for the hundreds of miles of flood defences that protect us and for Governments of all parties over the last decade and a half announcing more money for flood projects after events, but the problem at the moment actually is not so much accessing funding for capital projects but ongoing maintenance, which is absolutely vital to ensure our ditches and dykes are free to take the water. I urge the Secretary of State to continue the excellent work on capital funding, but to look at what maintenance funding has been made available to drainage boards, local authorities and the EA?

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My hon. Friend makes a very valid point. In many areas, capital spending is not effective unless it is accompanied by resource spending to ensure that appropriate maintenance takes place, and nowhere is that clearer than in relation to floods. That, no doubt, will be considered at the Budget and the spending review.

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Promises broken and programmes undelivered: tomorrow morning at five o’clock the River Ouse is likely to rise to the same level as under Storm Desmond, yet we have seen a lack of delivery on issues such as insurance, upper catchment management and even putting in resilience in the city itself. Will the Secretary of State not only expedite action but meet me to discuss the threats that flooding causes my constituents in York?

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I will be very happy to meet the hon. Lady. The situation in relation to the Ouse is indeed still very serious, but I reassure her that significant numbers of flood defences have been built over recent years. As I said in my opening statement, we fully recognise that there is more to do, particularly as the climate is changing and extreme weather events become more common, but a huge amount of effort has gone into delivering flood defences, and more is on the way.

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Recent months have led to a very difficult start of the season for many farmers, particularly arable farmers forced into exceptionally late drilling. Given that farmers are likely to be very badly affected by these latest floods, what reassurances can my right hon. Friend give me that farmers will receive the support and assistance they need?

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So often, farmers are the victims of flooding and the providers of heroic help to others who are also affected by flooding. We will be working closely with the farming community in the days ahead to see what assistance can be given.

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I, too, want to pay tribute to the emergency services, who have responded so well. My heart goes out to the families and communities who have yet again been hit by this disaster.

There is no denying that the climate emergency causes such extreme weather events. Planting millions of trees is one part of responding to the climate emergency. Indeed, the right hon. Lady’s party has pledged to plant millions of new trees every year. Do the Government have a plan for where those millions of trees will go, and when will it be published?

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The Government are already running a range of schemes to promote the planting of trees, including the urban tree challenge fund, where we announced successful bids at the weekend. We will publish further details in our tree strategy for England, which will come out in a few weeks’ time.

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I am sure the Secretary of State and many Members will have seen the dramatic pictures from Hawick in my constituency, where Sonia’s Bistro and the Bridge House bed and breakfast collapsed into the River Teviot. That was devastating for the business, but thankfully nobody was injured. May we pay tribute not only to the emergency services but to the Hawick flood group and all the other volunteers who made sure that that building was evacuated, and kept many other communities and people safe from what could otherwise have been a disaster?

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I am very happy to do that. The Hawick flood group volunteers deserve our praise and thanks, as do so many volunteers in similar groups around the country.

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I join the Secretary of State in praising all agencies, including the Environment Agency, local authorities, police and volunteers. Will she also recognise the enormous contribution of our fire and rescue services in dealing with recent flooding? In order that they are properly resourced, equipped and trained for these responsibilities, as a one nation Conservative will she agree to extend a statutory duty on flood response to fire and rescue services in England, in line with the duty that already exists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

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I very much join the hon. Gentleman in paying a warm tribute to the fire and rescue services for their efforts in this situation and in so many others around the rest of the year. I will certainly give consideration to the other matters he raises regarding the duties relating to flooding.

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Many of our coastal communities, which are vital to our economy, will be particularly badly hit by Storm Ciara. Will the Secretary of State assure me that she will do everything in her power to ensure that those communities receive the support and assistance they need at this critical time?

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We will be doing that. We appreciate the really difficult circumstances that our coastal communities have faced over recent days. We will be doing our best to support them in the days ahead.

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As a Hull MP, may I add my support to the comments made by the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) on basing a national flood resilience centre in the Scunthorpe area?

I want to ask the Secretary of State about Flood Re. What is her advice to those who are not covered under the present scheme—leaseholders, homeowners who live in properties built after 2009 and businesses, particularly microbusinesses or businesses run from home—and are finding it very difficult to get any insurance?

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These matters will be considered in the independent review, which is under way. I am also happy to raise them directly with Flood Re.

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Parts of my constituency have been underwater since yesterday, particularly Redvales and Ramsbottom. Redvales has benefited from the £40 million Radcliffe and Redvales flood defence scheme—the Government provided £7 million—for which we are grateful. It has mitigated some of the problems that we saw yesterday, but Ramsbottom does not have its own flood defence scheme. Will my right hon. Friend meet me and other relevant agencies to ensure that Ramsbottom has a flood defence scheme at the earliest opportunity to protect local residents and businesses?

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I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the situation and see what more can be done. I reiterate to him and all Members whose constituents have been affected by flooding my sympathy and support for those going through this extremely difficult time.

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Along with my hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker), I was in Brighouse yesterday, where I am a councillor, helping some of the businesses affected by flooding. He is still in Calder Valley helping with the relief efforts and discussing the response with the Under-Secretary. The Government’s response to the devastating floods in 2015 was excellent. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the same support package will be offered to householders and businesses who have been affected once again?

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We will be looking at the appropriate response. I emphasise that there are plans for improved flood defences for Brighouse, on which we hope work will start very soon.

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I am sure that the thoughts of the whole House will be with all those families who suffered as a result of the storm and floods over the weekend. Penrith and The Border was hit very hard and my thoughts go out especially to the communities in Appleby. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that she will mobilise efforts across the whole Government to ensure that we can support these people as quickly as possible?

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I can give him that assurance. The DEFRA emergency operating centre has been activating. We are leading cross-government efforts to make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that people are kept safe in these difficult circumstances. I convey my sympathies to those in Appleby who are facing the trauma of flooding.

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Will the Secretary of State join me in thanking the contractors for Worcestershire County Council who have been clearing all the fallen trees from our roads? In Worcestershire, we have the River Severn, the River Avon and the River Teme, so we experience frequent river flooding. Six new flood defence schemes have been built in West Worcestershire, but we still need more. How much of the £4 billion—the increase in flood defence funding she has announced—has already been programmed?

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The Environment Agency has a fairly long pipeline of flood defence improvements, but it will be important to consider the representations that my hon. Friend made in future decisions on the allocation of that £4 billion fund.

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My right hon. Friend has twice mentioned the planning system. In my view, too many houses are still being built on floodplains, causing problems not only for them but for houses downstream from them. Will she work with colleagues from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government so that where the local authority planning decision is overturned on appeal the Planning Inspectorate always encloses a condition that the local authority must approve a satisfactory drainage system?

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My hon. Friend raises very important points. It is vital to ensure that our planning system properly takes into account flood risk, and I will continue to engage with colleagues in MHCLG on how we ensure that takes place.

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Flooding in urban areas such as Dudley South is often made worse by overflowing drains, often caused not by blockages in the drains but downstream in the water waste pipes. Will my right hon. Friend keep pressure on water companies properly to maintain waste water drainage pipes to ensure that our local communities do not suffer an unnecessary risk of flooding?

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I will certainly maintain the pressure on water companies to act responsibly on flooding and to play their part in mitigating it, as is the case with the pressure that we apply to them to improve their record on pollution.

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I offer my sympathy to all those who have been affected and my praise to all those who have played such a significant role in trying to ensure that everyone is safe. On a visit to North Yorkshire, I saw at first hand the damage that flowing water can do in the small gullies that, under normal circumstances, hold virtually no water, and to the small rural communities whose houses dot the side of the gullies. Huge stones and mud ripped down the hillside, undermining the homes. Who do these people go to in order get that fixed and ensure that in years to come their homes are literally not swept off the hill?

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It is crucial that we support rural communities as part of our programme to improve flood defences. We have seen on our television screens in recent days the potentially devastating impacts of severe weather. No system can protect everyone in all circumstances, but flood defences will be an important part of our agenda to level up all parts of the country, including rural areas.

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For too many homes, businesses and villages in Rushcliffe, flooding is a recurring issue. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to reconsider what support we can offer to areas that repeatedly flood and how we can encourage the many different agencies and organisations involved in preventing and responding to flooding to better work together to prevent it in the first place, because it is a very complex landscape for residents to navigate?

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A huge amount of cross-government and cross-agency work is being done on resilience and flood programmes, but I am sure that more can be done. We will want to learn lessons from the events of recent days.

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I thank the Secretary of State for her responsiveness to the flooding over the weekend. On this occasion, the issues in my constituency were minor, but I have been told by residents that those affected by flooding from the River Weaver in Nantwich in November have still not had the support they deserve to help them to recover and get their homes and businesses back on track. Will she meet me to see what we can do to make sure that the Environment Agency and Cheshire East Council work together to look after residents affected since November?

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Yes, I will. It is very important that people affected by the flooding in November can access the package of support that was introduced. I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to talk about it.

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My beautiful constituency is not immune to flooding, and neither is it immune to the reckless growth ambitions of the Labour-led council. We must take steps to look after the houses that are already there. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that the Government remain committed to protecting an extra 300,000 houses from flooding?

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I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. Our £2.6 billion programme is designed to protect 300,000 properties and give significant protection to agricultural land and the transport system. It is a record level of investment. We are investing more in flood defences than any previous Government, because we know how important that is in the context of a changing climate.

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Flooding is not only caused by heavy rain. Coastal areas in my constituency regularly experience flooding when heavy storms coincide with high spring tides. This can result from storm damage to harbour walls or coastal erosion. Will the Secretary of State make sure that our future plans include funding to build resilience into our coastal regions?

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Supporting our coastal areas is an important element of our plan for improving flood defences, so I can give my hon. Friend those assurances. I should take this opportunity to highlight to everyone that we are not out of the woods yet, and that difficulties in coastal areas could continue, so people should try to avoid taking unnecessary risks in those areas.

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Will the Secretary of State join me in paying tribute to Buckinghamshire County Council, the emergency services and volunteers who worked tirelessly to clean up wind-blown rubbish after the flooding at the weekend? Will she consider community payback schemes using ex-offenders to help with dredging and other things we need to prevent flooding in the future?

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I am happy to reiterate my support and thanks to those involved in the relief effort in my hon. Friend’s constituency and across the country. On getting ex-offenders involved in such programmes, I should note that much of this work is quite specialist, so I am not sure how that would work, but I welcome her suggestion.

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I thank the Secretary of State for the conversation I had with her yesterday as I was inspecting flood damage in Ribchester and Whalley in the Ribble Valley. I am extremely grateful.

Bills Presented

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As the House can see, we have a good many Bills to be presented today. In order to save time and so that we can get on with today’s main business, I will accept private notice of the dates of the Second Readings. Those dates will be minuted accordingly in Hansard and Votes and Proceedings.

Anxiety in Schools (Environmental Concerns) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for guidance to schools about reducing anxiety about environmental concerns among pupils and staff; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 30).

Decarbonisation of Road Transport (Audit) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for independent audits of the costs and benefits of the decarbonisation of road transport, and of the regulation of the sale and production of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 31).

Net Zero Carbon Emissions (Audit) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for an independent audit of the costs and benefits of meeting the requirement under the Climate Change Act 2008 for net United Kingdom carbon emissions to be zero by 2050; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 32).

Anxiety (Environmental Concerns) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to reduce anxiety about environmental concerns among the general population; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 33).

Housing Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to amend Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 to provide that any selective licensing scheme for residential accommodation extends to social housing.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 34).

Caravan Sites Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to amend the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 to remove planning permission requirements for caravan site licence applicants; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 35).

Mobile Homes Act 1983 (Amendment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to amend the Mobile Homes Act 1983; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 36).

Public Sector Exit Payments (Limitation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to limit exit payments made by public sector organisations to employees; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 March, and to be printed (Bill 37).

Student Loans (Debt Interest) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to limit the rate of interest chargeable on outstanding student loan debt; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 38).

Local Authorities (Removal of Council Tax Restrictions) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope presented a Bill to make provision for the removal of restrictions on principal local authorities in England to set levels of council tax; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 39).

Healthcare (Local Accountability) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the local accountability of clinical commissioning groups; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 40).

Human Rights and Responsibilities Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to require persons bringing claims or proceedings under the Human Rights Act 1998 to satisfy a test of reasonableness and equity; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 41).

Public Service Broadcasters (Privatisation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the privatisation of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Channel 4; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 42).

BBC Licence Fee (Civil Penalty) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Mike Penning and Sir Edward Leigh, presented a Bill to make provision to decriminalise the non-payment of the BBC licence fee.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 43).

Tax Rates and Duties (Review) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to require the Government to publish an annual review of the net yield to HM Treasury of tax rates and duties levied, including estimates of the impact on yield of changes to rates of those taxes and duties; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 44).

National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope presented a Bill to make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 April, and to be printed (Bill 45).

Value Added Tax Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to enable the maximum turnover threshold for exemption from the requirement to register for VAT to be raised; to make provision for the exemption of certain goods and services from liability to VAT; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 46).

Deregulation Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the reduction of burdens resulting from legislation for businesses or other organisations or for individuals; to make provision for the repeal or amendment of regulations; to make provision about the exercise of regulatory powers and functions; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 47).

Illegal Immigration (Offences) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to create offences in respect of persons who have entered the UK illegally or who have remained in the UK without legal authority; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 April, and to be printed (Bill 48).

Border Control Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about requirements for non-UK citizens seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom; to make provision about a process for the removal from the United Kingdom of non-UK citizens, in certain circumstances and on the basis of established criteria; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 April, and to be printed (Bill 49).

Foreign Nationals (Criminal Offender and Prisoner Removal) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the removal from the United Kingdom of foreign national criminal offenders and prisoners; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 April, and to be printed (Bill 50).

Free Trade (Education and Reporting) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to impose duties relating to the provision of public education on free trade; to require regular reports from government on trade arrangements with other countries; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 51).

International Development Assistance (Definition) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the definition of international development assistance; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 52).

Schools Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to enable schools to select pupils on the basis of published criteria; to allow schools to determine maximum class sizes; to remove restrictions on the expansion of the number of pupils in schools and on the creation of new schools; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 53).

Bat Habitats Regulation Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision to limit the protection for bat habitats in the built environment where the presence of bats has a significant adverse impact upon the users of buildings; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 March, and to be printed (Bill 54).

Green Belt Protection Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to establish a national register of green belt land in England; to restrict the ability of local authorities to de-designate green belt land; to make provision about future development of de-designated green belt land; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 March, and to be printed (Bill 55).

International Payments (Audit) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision to require cost-benefit analysis and independent audit before payments are made by the Government to a foreign country or international organisation; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 56).

Local Authorities (Borrowing and Investment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the acquisition of land and property by local authorities in England outside their own local authority boundaries; to limit the power of local authorities to invest in commercial risk-taking enterprises; to limit public borrowing by local authorities for non-core activities; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 57).

Benefits and Public Services (Restriction) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision to restrict the entitlement of non-UK citizens to publicly-funded benefits and services; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 58).

Public Services (Availability) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the availability of public services during weekday evenings, at weekends and on bank holidays; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 59).

Working Time and Holiday Pay Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the expiration of the Working Time Regulations 1998; to provide for regulations governing working time; to make provision about holiday pay for employees; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 60).

Local Roads (Investment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the maintenance and repair of roads by local authorities in England; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 61).

Electronic Cigarettes (Regulation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the regulation of the sale and use of electronic cigarettes; to exempt electronic cigarettes from UK law derived from the Tobacco Products Directive; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 12 June, and to be printed (Bill 62).

Mobile Homes and Park Homes Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to require the use of published criteria to determine whether mobile homes and park homes are liable for council tax or non-domestic rates; to make provision in relation to the residential status of such homes; to amend the Mobile Home Acts; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 63).

Sublet Property (Offences) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make the breach of certain rules relating to sub-letting rented accommodation a criminal offence; to make provision for criminal sanctions in respect of unauthorised sub-letting; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 64).

Student Loans (Debt Discharge) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about the forgiveness or discharge of student loan debt in certain circumstances; to make provision about the treatment of student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 65).

Stamp Duty Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the reduction of stamp duty rates on residential property.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 66).

Speed Limits (England) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to prohibit permanent derogations from a 30 mile per hour speed limit in built-up areas in England; to make provision for the circumstances in which speed limits below 30 miles per hour may be introduced; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 10 July, and to be printed (Bill 67).

Judicial Appointments and Retirements (Age Limits) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to repeal provisions for the compulsory retirement of holders of judicial office on the grounds of age; to remove upper age limits for appointment to judicial office; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 16 October and to be printed (Bill 68).

Domestic Energy (Value Added Tax) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to reduce Value Added Tax on domestic energy bills; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 69).

Criminal Fraud (Private Prosections) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision about private prosecutions in cases of suspected criminal fraud in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 70).

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope, presented a Bill to amend the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 to make provision about the number and size of parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 March 2020, and to be printed (Bill 71).

Voter Registration Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Nigel Mills, Henry Smith, presented a Bill to prohibit persons from being registered to vote in Parliamentary elections at more than one address; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time Friday 15 May and to be printed (Bill 72).

Hospitals (Parking Charges and Business Rates) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Philip Davies and Henry Smith, presented a Bill to prohibit charging for car parking at NHS Hospitals for patients and visitors; to make provision for NHS Hospitals to be exempt from business rates; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 March, and to be printed (Bill 73).

General Election (Leaders' Debates) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone presented a Bill to set up a commission to make arrangements for debates between leaders of political parties during a General Election; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 15 May, and to be printed (Bill 74).

Prime Minister (Temporary Replacement) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Philip Davies, Henry Smith and Nigel Mills, presented a Bill to make provision for the carrying out of the functions of the Prime Minister in the event that a Prime Minister, or a person temporarily carrying out the functions of the Prime Minister, is incapacitated; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 June, and to be printed (Bill 75).

Prime Minister (Accountability to the House of Commons) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone presented a Bill to impose duties on the Prime Minister relating to accountability to the House of Commons; to require the Prime Minister to be available to answer questions in that House on at least two occasions during a sitting week except in specified circumstances; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 June, and to be printed (Bill 76).

British Broadcasting Corporation (Oversight) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Henry Smith and Nigel Mills, presented a Bill to create an independent body to monitor broadcasting impartiality at the British Broadcasting Corporation; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 September, and to be printed (Bill 77).

Homeless People (Current Accounts) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Philip Davies and Sir Christopher Chope, presented a Bill to require banks to provide current accounts for homeless people seeking work; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 15 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 78).

Electoral Candidates (Age) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone presented a Bill to allow a person who is age 18 or older on the day of a parliamentary or local election to stand as a candidate; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 September, and to be printed (Bill 79).

Child Safety (Cycle Helmets) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope and Nigel Mills, presented a Bill to require children under 16 to wear a safety helmet when riding a bicycle on a public highway; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 15 January 2021, and to be printed (Bill 80).

Human Trafficking (Child Protection) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the creation of secure safe houses for children that have been subject to human trafficking; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 September, and to be printed (Bill 81).

Isham Bypass Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone presented a Bill to impose duties relating to the completion of the Isham Bypass; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 30 October, and to be printed (Bill 82).

North Northamptonshire (Urgent Care Facilities) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone presented a Bill to make provision about the restructuring of urgent care facilities in North Northamptonshire; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 30 October, and to be printed (Bill 83).

Local Government (Governance) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Sir Christopher Chope, presented a Bill to require local authorities to operate a committee system of internal governance; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 30 October, and to be printed (Bill 84).

Evictions (Universal Credit Claimants) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Chris Stephens presented a Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 November, and to be printed (Bill 85).

Universal Credit Sanctions (Zero Hours Contracts) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Chris Stephens, presented a Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 November, and to be printed (Bill 86).

Asylum Seekers (Accommodation Eviction Procedures) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Chris Stephens presented a Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 November, and to be printed (Bill 87).

Point of Order

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On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It has come to my attention that I have again been mistaken for another black MP—this time on parliamentary TV. My name is Abena Oppong-Asare. I would like to know what you are going to do about this, because it is unacceptable.

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I think the hon. Lady has made her point, quite rightly, and I am sure that broadcasters and others will take note. I hope that they will pay a lot more attention and ensure that people are properly identified in this House. I thank her very much for her point of order; I appreciate it.

Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill

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I beg to move, That the Bill now be read a Second time.

Members of the Windrush generation came to the United Kingdom to rebuild Britain after the war, and they have contributed so much to our country, our economy and our public services. It is no exaggeration to say that we would not be the nation we are today without the men and women who came here to build a life, to work hard, to pay taxes and to raise families. They included nurses and midwives, and their overall economic contribution helped to rebuild post-war Britain. That is why the whole country was shocked by the unacceptable treatment of some members of the Windrush generation by successive Governments over a significant number of years. They are people who have done so much for our country and who had in some cases arrived on these shores when little more than infants, yet they were effectively told that they were not welcome.

This was a terrible mistake by successive Governments, and the implications will be felt for many years. Some suffered tremendous hardship and indignity as a result of an erroneous decision. They were denied a right to work, or to rent a place to live. Some individuals were even detained or removed, leading to families being broken up and left without parents or grandparents, and it is only right that those who have experienced hardship as a result are offered proper compensation. No amount of money can repair the suffering and injustice that some have experienced, and this Bill is therefore a vital and important step in righting the wrong, but there are still many issues to be addressed.

The Windrush compensation scheme was formally launched on 3 April 2019, and it was designed to ensure that full and proper compensation could be made. The scheme rightly includes a personal apology to each person issued with the award of compensation and, most importantly, it allows those who suffered to avoid court proceedings in the pursuit of justice.

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The explanatory notes for the Bill show the full scale of this scandal, and state that the estimated compensation cost based on 15,000 claimants would range from £120 million to £310 million. The Home Secretary was not in the Chamber for my question to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), a few moments ago when I said that the wider issues with the immigration system and the failings of the Home Office, including unlawful detentions and deportations, are also costing millions of pounds. Will she commit to publishing the full cost of the wrongful deportations, outside the Windrush scheme, over the past few years and put that information before the House, so that we can see what has been going on in her Department? She is refusing to give that information at the moment.

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The hon. Gentleman has raised some significant issues here. We are still waiting for the lessons learned review from the independent—

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When will it be published?

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If the hon. Lady will let me finish instead of jumping up in such a way, I will answer her question. [Interruption.] Let me just state this, and I will answer her question if she will bear with me. The lessons learned report has yet to be submitted to Ministers in the Home Office by the independent adviser, Wendy Williams. That is not a shock to anybody, and it is right that she should have the time to undertake her review. It is a fact that the review has been going on for two years, but she will bring it forward in due course and I will receive it when it is ready. It is fair to say—I do not think anybody can question this right now—that we want to know the full scale of what has happened and the background to it, and that is the purpose of the review. At the right time, we will be able to look at everything in the round. If I may say so, this is not about publishing pieces of evidence at this stage. It is important that we look at everything. The report will come to me once Wendy Williams has had the time and space to consider everything, because this is an independent review. It is not for the Home Office to dictate anything around that report. We will wait for that, and then of course we will look at everything that is required.

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I thank the Home Secretary for giving way. I know she is impatient with my impatience, but I am speaking on behalf of constituents of mine who died while waiting for their compensation. They were promised that compensation before they died, and their relatives are still unclear about whether any of this is ever going to be resolved. That is why I am impatient. Can she even tell us how many people have died while waiting for their compensation to be settled?

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Let me say a few things to all hon. Members about not just the compensation scheme but Windrush. Many of us, including me, have made representations to the Home Office on behalf of our constituents. That is a fact and we have all worked constructively in doing so. The hon. Lady mentions being impatient. If I may say so, these cases are complicated, as I am sure she recognises. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady is shaking her head, but the cases are complicated in terms of the provision of information, background, data and evidence, and this will take time. [Interruption.] They are complicated cases. They have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. This is not about providing a carte blanche assurance or a cheque to people. It is right that there is due process. We want to get this right and I make no apology for that.

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rose

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I have given way already. If I can just finish, it is important that we do this in the right way, provide the right amount of time and ask people to work with the Home Office to find whatever evidence is required.

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I thank the Home Secretary for giving way. Some of the cases are, indeed, complicated, but does she agree with me and many of my constituents with whom I have spoken, that her Department has overcomplicated the issue? As she said at the beginning of her speech, we cannot put a value on some of these things. The approach being taken is arbitrary, but she could apply discretion and make it a lot simpler

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It is a fact that this is not about money. Money cannot compensate for the awful experience and hardship that people have been affected by. We should be very clear about that. [Interruption.] An hon. Lady says, “It helps.” There is a scheme and a process, which I will come on to as I make progress with my speech. It is right, however, that we have the right process, and I will explain how we will do that. We should never lose sight of the fact that this scheme has been established. It is difficult but there are ways in which we are going to make this simpler, undo some of the bureaucracy and make swift progress with some of the cases that have been raised.

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A moment ago my right hon. Friend used the word “mistake”, and I think it is right to remind ourselves that the Windrush scandal was not a conspiracy but a cock-up of the most enormous magnitude. Will she confirm that she is confident that her Department and ministerial team are now fully on top of these kinds of issues so that that sort of scandal will not happen again?

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My hon. Friend raises issues that go right to the heart of what happened in the Windrush scandal. No Government would want to preside over something so scandalous, and there has to be recognition that responsibility was attributed to successive Governments. It is right that we wait for the review from the independent adviser, Wendy Williams, which will have lessons for us all, including the Home Office and previous Governments. I think it will have plenty of information about what happened. We want to build on that and make sure that we learn the lessons.

Many of the comments made thus far have reflected on the compensation scheme and its complexities and design. I will now focus on its design. The Home Office’s first priority was to ensure that the scheme was accessible to claimants. In doing so, it has considered some 650 responses to the call for evidence and nearly 1,500 responses to the public consultation. The Home Office held several public events across the country to give potential claimants the chance to make their voices heard. Martin Forde QC, himself the son of Windrush parents, has a wealth of experience and complex knowledge of public law and compensation matters, and he was appointed by the then Home Secretary in May 2018 to advise on the scheme’s design. Late last year, Martin and I launched the Windrush stakeholder advisory group and met key stakeholders and community representatives to hear their personal testimonies and views. Ministers and civil servants will rightly continue to work with them, and they will continue to listen to those who have been affected to ensure this scheme works for them. Their personal views and considerations have been taken into account in the development of this scheme, and the House should note that the views of stakeholders have been instrumental to its design. That is why, last week, the Home Office announced the scheme will be extended by two years so that people will be able to submit claims up until 2 April 2023.

The Home Office also announced amendments to migration policy to apply a more flexible approach to the cases under review, and rightly so. The Home Office will now consider all evidence provided on the steps an individual will take or has taken to resolve their situation, which is an important change.

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The Home Secretary is being generous in giving way.

I welcome the extension for applications to the scheme, but the Home Secretary will be aware that, nearly two years ago, the Select Committee on Home Affairs also recommended a hardship scheme. We were concerned that, in practice, this compensation scheme would take too long for many people who are in urgent need of compensation and some sort of support following these shocking injustices. Our report mentioned four people: Anthony Bryan, Sarah O’Connor, Hubert Howard and Judy Griffith. Shockingly, two of them have still had nothing, despite facing great hardship, and the other two died before they could get any compensation or hardship support at all.

Will the Home Secretary urgently consider a hardship scheme, as well as a compensation scheme, because this affects too many people? I have been contacted about someone today who is currently homeless and still struggling to get any support at all. Will she look at these cases urgently to see what hardship support can be given?

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I will look into those cases. Of course we have the exceptional payments scheme, which should stop anybody falling through—such people should receive those payments.

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I was interested to read the updated impact assessment, which reduces the assumption that there will be 15,000 claims to 11,500 claims. Will the Home Secretary explain why that is the case and whether the Bill will cover the 160,000 Commonwealth citizens who could be affected, to which the Public Accounts Committee drew attention last year?

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The numbers were reduced in the impact assessment due to the fewer-than-anticipated claims thus far. I will come on to Commonwealth citizens because, of course, this is not specific to Caribbean nationals.

Even though time has elapsed since individuals may have effectively been caught up in the Windrush issue—experiencing hardship, losing their job and, in some cases, also losing their home—I will, as I said to the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), look into any specific cases that hon. Members would like to raise with me. Our changes may help some people to qualify for a potentially higher award, particularly where it relates to the loss of employment.

“Windrush” has been used to describe what happened to a specific group, but that term and this scheme are not limited to those of Caribbean nationality. The scheme, of course, is open to anyone of any nationality who arrived and settled in the UK before the end of 1988, and to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973. The scheme is also open to the children and grandchildren of Commonwealth citizens who arrived and settled before 1973, and to other close family members of such a person who may have been affected. In the cases of those who sadly passed away before compensation could be paid, a claim can be made by their estate.

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I welcome the steps my right hon. Friend is taking in this Bill. Will she outline how the measures she has just described are going to be widely publicised, to make sure that everyone who might be entitled to claim under this legislation knows about it?