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Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 20 April 2022

Q10. Prime Minister’s questions is a wonderful opportunity for a constituency MP like me to ask the Prime Minister for a new hospital for Doncaster, and to ask for Doncaster to be the home of the Great British Rail headquarters. Sadly, there is a more pressing issue, and that is that men are dying so much younger than they should be. Will the Prime Minister meet me to discuss the merits of having a Minister for men, and the benefits of a men’s health strategy? That way, the next time I am fortunate enough to get a PMQ, I can lobby the Prime Minister for a new hospital for Doncaster, and for Doncaster to be the home of the Great British Rail headquarters. (906443)

I thank my hon. Friend for his work in this area, and we are determined to tackle all the health conditions that he describes and cares about, particularly mental health and suicide prevention. I note his plea for a new hospital, and I know it is shared by many of my hon. and right hon. Friends. This Government are funding that and making it possible, thanks to the decisions we have taken allowing our economy to grow, which would not have been possible if we had listened to the Opposition.

Q4. In the Labour party, we believe not only that law breakers cannot be law makers, but that tax raisers should be taxpayers. When people in powerful positions pick and choose where they pay their taxes, it is an insult to everyone else who does not have that luxury. May I ask the Prime Minister how many members of his Cabinet have ever been involved in a tax avoidance scheme? (906437)

What we try to do in this Government is cut taxes for the whole country, and I am proud to say that what the Chancellor did in the recent spring statement, by lifting the threshold for national insurance contributions, was to have a tax cut of about £330 for most people in this country. That is a fantastic thing.

Q12.   Mr Speaker, if you live in north Wales and want to watch international sport, you will have to travel four hours to Cardiff or Swansea. The Wrexham Racecourse, with its historic Kop stand, is home to Wembley-bound Wrexham football club. It is the oldest international stadium in the world, and forms part of our levelling-up fund bid. Does the Prime Minister agree that round 2 of the levelling-up fund offers an excellent opportunity to level up access to sport? (906446)

There could be no better campaigner for Wrexham and for the interests of Wrexham sport. I will do what I can, but my hon. Friend will know that £121 million from the first round of the levelling-up fund was awarded to Wales, and I am sure that Wrexham has every chance of success in the future.

Q5. The Prime Minister has been asked about the sodium valproate scandal previously, but Shaun Lintern at The Sunday Times this weekend revealed that campaigners were blacklisted, including my constituent Emma Murphy, who is here in the Gallery today. Advice from the Cumberlege report has been ignored, warnings are still not on medication as of a couple of weeks ago and a redress scheme is still not forthcoming. Will the Prime Minister meet me and campaigners such as Emma to discuss what can be done to right this incredible wrong? (906438)

I thank the hon. Member very much for raising the point. I understand that we have had a review already of the issue, but I will make sure that he has a proper meeting or that he and the campaigners he mentions have a proper meeting with the relevant Minister in the Health Department.

My constituent Aiden Aslin has served in the Ukrainian armed forces for four years. Last week, he was captured by the Russian army in Mariupol. Yesterday, a video emerged of my constituent handcuffed, physically injured and being interviewed under duress for propaganda purposes. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is a flagrant breach of the Geneva convention, that treating any prisoner of war in that manner is illegal, that the interviewer—Graham Phillips—is in danger of prosecution for war crimes and that any online platform such as YouTube that hosts propaganda videos of that kind should take them down immediately?

I thank my right hon. Friend very much, and I think everybody will want to urge the Russian state to treat his constituent humanely and compassionately, because in my view, although we do not encourage people going to that theatre of conflict—in fact, we actively dissuade them from doing so—I understand that he had been serving in the Ukrainian forces for some time, and his situation is very different from that of a mercenary. I hope that he is treated with care and compassion. I thoroughly echo the sentiments that my right hon. Friend has expressed about those who broadcast propaganda messages.

Q6. This Conservative Government are raising taxes on working people in the middle of a cost of living crisis. May I press the Prime Minister on whether he agrees that it would add insult to injury if his Chancellor or any other Government Ministers were to benefit from overseas tax havens in their personal tax affairs? (906439)

Good point, Mr Speaker, but we are responsible for cutting taxes for everybody, which is what we are actually doing.

Newcastle-under-Lyme is receiving over £50 million of Government investment into our high street and the high street of Kidsgrove in the neighbouring constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis), but it is all being overshadowed by the ongoing environmental disaster at Walleys Quarry. In January, the operator was hit with three category 1 breaches by the Environment Agency. My constituents are utterly sick of it, and it has been going on for far too long, Prime Minister. We need to see tougher enforcement and we need to see the permit taken away. What hope can he give my constituents? How can we stop the stink?

My hon. Friend has raised this issue before and I know how infuriating it is for his constituents. That is why the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now ordered action against the site operator, and I can tell my hon. Friend that permanent capping will begin on site next month, which will improve things for thousands of residents in his constituency. If it is necessary to take further action to remove those malodorous vapours, we will do so.

Q7. With details of the Sue Gray report trickling out, a flood of photos of partygate yet to be released and any number of fixed penalty notices liable to be leaked, this is a Prime Minister who is not fit to run a bath never mind this country. It is time for him to stop this ridiculous charade that he believes no rules were broken. Will he commit to making public every fixed penalty notice he receives; will he publish the party photos taken by the official photographer; and will he ensure that Sue Gray’s report is published at the earliest opportunity? We have a right to know the truth. (906440)

On my own fixed penalty notice, I have been transparent with the House—and will be—and I have apologised. On the rest of it, I really think, as I have said before, that the House should wait for the conclusion of the investigation when Sue Gray finally reports.

Long ago in a far off place, thousands of British servicemen sailed into what was for them the unknown as they witnessed the early tests of nuclear weapons. They have lived with the consequences of that service to our nation ever since. Following a question to the Prime Minister from the hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Rebecca Long Bailey), he agreed to meet us and those veterans. Will he now assure the House that he will take personal charge of the decision on whether to grant the remaining servicemen—for there are few left—the service medal they so richly deserve?

I thank my right hon. Friend very much for campaigning on this issue, which I know attracts support across the House. I will certainly take personal charge of the matter and make sure that the veterans receive the recognition they deserve.

Q8. My constituents across Blaydon knew the rules and stuck to them, nurses and teachers included—no after-work drinks for them. The Prime Minister set the rules. Night after night, he was on national television to exhort us to stick to the rules for everyone’s sake, but he continues to say that he does not think he broke any rules. My constituents are angry that while they stuck to the law, the Prime Minister broke it. Trust in his Government is broken: when will he go? (906441)

I understand the feelings of the hon. Lady’s constituents and I continue to express my apologies for the FPN that I received, but the Government will get on with tackling the issues that face this country and delivering for the British people. That is my priority.

Like many others across the country, one of my constituents has been helping directly with the humanitarian effort in Ukraine and the region. He received the most troubling message from a resident of the city of Kherson only days ago, which said that

“there are no green corridors for evacuation. People are trying to flee the city at their own risk, under fire. The Russians are living in our homes, they are plotting terror, robbing, harassing, kidnapping and killing our people, doing whatever they want.”

What more can my right hon. Friend and the international community do to ensure that Putin and those who do his bidding are brought to justice for their crimes?

My right hon. and learned Friend makes an incredibly important point. The savagery that the Russians are unleashing on Ukraine knows no limits and is clearly authorised from the very top. He asks what more we can do. What we need to do is make it clear to serving officers in the Russian forces that if we can proceed with the international criminal prosecutions that we want to see, they will eventually face justice in the way that those who participated in massacres in Bosnia faced justice in the past. I hope that that will have a chilling effect on their current appalling conduct.

Q9. Every week, examples emerge of Government waste during covid, and last year the former Health Secretary told me that there had been no profiteering and no cronyism. Does the Prime Minister still agree with him? (906442)

I am sad to say that I think a lot of people made money out of covid in a way that perhaps they should not have done. We deplore that and we are trying to recoup as much as we possibly can, but I remind the hon. Gentleman of the constant clamour from the Opposition and from the country for us to equip our country with PPE and medicines as fast as possible, and that we did.

Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking the brilliant staff and volunteers at Watford General Hospital for their tireless work for our community over many years? Does he agree that we should get started as soon as possible on the ambitious plans put forward by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust as part of the new hospital programme to transform healthcare across our whole community, so that staff and patients can access world-class health services and facilities fit for the 21st century? I will add, if I may, that these ambitious plans are truly shovel-ready, and I will gladly go and buy a shovel today to get started.

My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for Watford. I know, because I have been to see him several times, that he has been campaigning to get this hospital in Watford ever since he was triumphantly elected, and he is going to be successful, because there will be a new hospital scheme in his local area as part of our plan to deliver 48 new hospitals in this country by 2030.

Q11. The Prime Minister’s fundamental political problem at the moment is not about parties, or fixed penalty notices, or cake. It is about the lack of trust, integrity and credibility at the heart of Government, which he himself now personifies. When is the Prime Minister going to realise that people do not want to hear any more glib, half-hearted non-apologies, or hear him witter on about getting on with the job? They just want this Pinocchio Prime Minister to pack his bags and go. (906444)

Sorry, Mr Speaker. When are the Scottish people going to hear an ounce of sense from the Scottish nationalist—

Order. Prime Minister, we cannot both stand up at the same time. I am trying to be helpful. We have got to be more moderate in the type of language used. “Pinocchio” is not acceptable. I am sure the hon. Member wishes to withdraw it quickly.

Sorry, Mr Speaker, but I do not know what the question is, because the hon. Gentleman has withdrawn it. The answer is that we are going to get on with the job, and it would be nice to hear an ounce of sense from the Scottish nationalist party, or see some competent government.

The London Borough of Barnet is surrounded by Labour councils, all of which have higher council tax and have abandoned weekly bin collections. Will the Prime Minister urge everyone to come out on 5 May and vote Conservative in order to keep council tax lower than Labour would and to protect our weekly bin collections?

Quite right—Conservative councils fix four times more potholes, recycle twice as much, and charge less.

Q13.   The ministerial code states that Ministers have a “duty…to comply with the law and to protect the integrity of public life.”The Prime Minister has broken the law and repeatedly shown contempt for the British public. Conservative MPs seem content to decry the principles of honesty and integrity, as they unashamedly defend him. The public want him gone. We want him gone. When will he do the right thing and resign? (906447)

I know why they want me gone. It is because we are going to get on and show that this Conservative Government are going to deliver for the British people—fixing our cost of living issues, making sure that we solve our long-term energy problems, and delivering everything we promised—and they have absolutely no plan. That is the difference.

On the Conservative Benches, we were elected to make the most of our Brexit freedoms—[Interruption.] They don’t like it, Mr Speaker, they don’t like it. That includes tackling illegal immigration, securing our borders and cracking down on the evil people-smuggling trade. Does my right hon. Friend agree that our groundbreaking partnership with Rwanda will do just that?

It is a part of the solution. It is something that, as I said just now, was advocated in 2004 by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett, a Blairite Home Secretary. It is now attacked in the most ludicrous terms by the current Labour Opposition, who are obviously, as I just said, Corbynistas in Islington suits.

Q14. I wonder what the Prime Minister makes of this quote:“When a regime has been in power too long, when it has fatally exhausted the patience of the people, and when oblivion finally beckons…across the world you can rely on leaders of that regime to act solely in the interests of self-preservation, and not in the interests of the electorate”.His words, Mr Speaker: The Daily Telegraph, 28 February 2011. Does he still agree: yes or no? (906448)

All I can say is that I am delighted that the hon. Lady is a reader of The Daily Telegraph. What she needs to do is keep going to the end of the article. That is my advice to her.