The Secretary of State was asked—
The industrial strategy is a strategy for the whole UK and will bring significant opportunities for Scotland. We are working with businesses, universities and business groups across Scotland to seize those opportunities. In line with devolution, the Scottish Government, of course, hold many of the levers to boost and support the growth that we hope the strategy will bring.
Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for International Trade launched a drive to attract more than £2 billion of investment into Scottish companies as part of the modern industrial strategy. Does my hon. Friend welcome the Government’s efforts to boost exports and to ensure that the benefits of free trade are spread right across the UK?
I agree with my hon. Friend. Driving investment is one of the key ways we will deliver the industrial strategy, which will bring the benefits we want to see for Scotland. This pro-investment approach will see a truly global Britain hopefully becoming a leading place for people to invest.
I call Angus Brendan MacNeil.
The hon. Gentleman is gesticulating from a sedentary position in respect to some other question that we have not reached, but might, and on which he may or may not be called.
What is the Secretary of State doing to argue that Scotland should be able to bid for onshore wind in contract for difference auctions?
As the hon. Gentleman will know, there will be an announcement shortly. Of course, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has many meetings with his Cabinet colleagues to discuss such issues.
In November, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a review of how the UK and Scottish Governments could work more closely to support business in Scotland as part of the modern industrial strategy. Will my hon. Friend update the House on the progress of that review?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that an important part of delivering this industrial strategy is the UK and Scottish Governments working collaboratively. My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary gave evidence to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee in April, and he has also hosted a roundtable with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, so a lot is going on.
As a football fan, I wish England good luck tonight in their semi-final. Although 1966 may have been a very good year, 1967 was even better.
In 1999 it was a Labour Secretary of State for Scotland who stood up for Scottish shipyards and ensured that the contract for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary was given to the shipyards in Govan. Roll forward to 2018 and the contract for the fleet solid support ships is out for tender. Analysis by the GMB shows a direct tax and national insurance benefit and return to the Treasury of £285 million, but so far, the current Conservative Secretary of State has refused to stand up for Scottish shipyards. I therefore ask him a very straightforward question: why not?
As someone who was born in Wales, who now lives in England and whose father and family come from Scotland, I join the hon. Lady in wishing the English team every success today.
I do not accept the hon. Lady’s premise that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not fighting for shipbuilding in this country. Our warships, which are being built in the UK, are securing 4,000 jobs and 20 years of work on the Clyde, and the British industry is preparing to bid for a new Type 31 class. We want all British yards to take part in the latest applications for the new contracts, and we hope that they are successful.
I am disappointed that the Secretary of State did not reply for himself, which answers my question about why he is not standing up for Scotland.
Without the fleet solid support ships contract, Rosyth will be struggling for work and thousands will be worse off as a result. Labour’s Opposition day debate today will call on the Government to build these ships in the UK—build them here. The Government have a majority of 13, and there are 13 Scottish Tory MPs. Will this finally be the issue on which Scottish Tories stand up for Scotland? Will they and the Secretary of State back the motion, and will the Secretary of State encourage his other Westminster colleagues to do the same? Build them in Britain.
Our Scottish Conservative MPs work day in, day out, not just for their constituencies, but for Scotland as a whole, and I am very proud of the work they do—they really are a formidable team. Last year, we unveiled an ambitious new national shipbuilding strategy, which met the challenge set by the independent Sir John Parker, who said:
“I am very impressed by the courage that the Secretary of State has shown—and the Government—in adopting my recommendations, which were very extensive”.
That shows that we are behind the shipbuilding industry.
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: Legislative Consent
The Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations) met last Thursday and the Prime Minister was fully briefed on the outcome.
After repeated exclusion from Brexit discussions, the Secretary of State was finally allowed a place at the table at Chequers last week. How did he use that time to speak up for Scotland? What representations did he make on behalf of the Scottish Parliament, given the majority vote to withhold legislative consent?
The hon. Lady is conflating a number of issues, but what I can confirm to her is, as I discussed with Mr Russell last Thursday, that the Scottish Government produced a very complete document with their views to be fed into that meeting of the Cabinet, and I fed them in.
That was a bit of a disappointing answer, so may I probe a bit further? The Prime Minister’s Chequers agreement rides roughshod over the Scottish Parliament. Scotland’s economy is heavily reliant on services. Thousands of my constituents work in that sector, yet she is determined to make a deal in which services are taken out. Has the Secretary of State worked out the impact of the Prime Minister’s decision on the Scottish economy yet, and what is he going to do about it?
At the heart of the issue is a fact in the Scottish Government’s document that this Government could not accept—the Scottish National party Scottish Government do not want to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister is focused on leaving the EU on a basis that not only does the best for British business, but respects the outcome of a referendum across the whole of the UK.
I hear that the Secretary of State has been going about boasting that he is the longest serving member of Cabinet in role, but it seems odd that being invisible and ineffective has been rewarded. He has failed to represent and respect the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament. He has failed to speak up for Scotland in the Cabinet and failed to meet his promise to debate devolution in the Commons. When will he accept those failures and resign?
Goodness—the hon. Lady did not get a chance in the debate last week, so she just reheats the same old stuff. At the heart of this is the fact that the SNP does not accept and does not like the representations I make on behalf of Scotland, which are about keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Over the past year, it has been a huge privilege to work closely with my right hon. Friend on this issue. Does he agree that the ludicrous theatrics of the nationalist party are a disservice to the people of not only Scotland, but the whole United Kingdom, because of the detrimental effect they had on the passage of the EU withdrawal Act?
I commend my hon. Friend for his efforts as a Minister. He was one of the hardest working Ministers I have ever encountered, and I absolutely agree with what he said. Although there are people in this Chamber who have their differences on Brexit, the SNP is not interested in Brexit—Brexit has been weaponised purely to take forward the cause of independence and have another independence referendum.
Will my right hon. Friend reassure my constituents that the 2018 Act will not remove any of the Scottish Parliament’s current powers?
I can absolutely do that. We have heard repeatedly from the SNP about a power grab, but when Nicola Sturgeon reshuffled her Cabinet, she needed more Ministers because of the powers and responsibilities that the Scottish Government were taking on. Today, we learn that they have taken on additional office space in Glasgow for a bigger organisation because they are delivering existing priorities while embracing additional responsibilities.
Scotland trades around four times as much with the rest of the United Kingdom as it does with the European Union. Does my right hon. Friend agree that our top priority must be to ensure that the internal UK market is protected as soon as we leave the European Union?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. The UK internal market, which, as he says, is worth four times as much to Scotland as trade with the whole of the EU put together, may not be important to the Scottish National party, but it is important to businesses and for jobs in Scotland, and we will stand up to protect it.
With regard to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act or any issue to do with the EU in this House, will the Secretary of State tell us how many times Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has demanded that he or any of the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs vote against the Government line?
Ruth Davidson makes a very clear statement of her position on European issues and contributes fully to the debate. Government Members want to achieve a good deal for Scotland and the UK as we leave the EU. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bring himself to support that.
I am keen to get some clarity on the Secretary of State’s discussions with the Scottish Government and the debate at Chequers last Friday. Given that the Chequers agreement talks about a free trade area and a common rulebook, and therefore impacts directly on the areas that were discussed in respect of joint arrangements after Brexit, will he confirm that the content of that agreement was discussed with the Scottish Government in advance?
This comes back to the same question that the hon. Gentleman asks on each occasion. He cannot accept that Scotland has two Parliaments and two Governments.
I will take that as a no, then, which is beyond disappointing. The Secretary of State continues his disrespect for devolution. Given that the Government are changing their entire direction with respect to this matter, will he commit today to consulting the Scottish Government and coming to an agreement with them on how to administer things in Scotland after Brexit?
I am very keen and willing to work with the Scottish Government. As I said, the Scottish Government set out a helpful summary of their position, which we discussed with Mr Russell last week. I then set out the Scottish Government’s concerns and issues during the Cabinet meeting. After that Cabinet meeting, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and people from the Prime Minister’s office updated the Scottish Government on the Chequers summit.
We need to make faster progress; it is far too slow.
I feel that I ought to congratulate the Secretary of State on achieving a new milestone as the longest-serving member in one role in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, but I fear that may be by virtue of his invisibility, rather than his invincibility. As we have just heard, the Secretary of State is failing to stand up for Scotland’s interests when it comes to shipbuilding, and he and his 12 Scottish Tory colleagues have failed to stand up for Scotland’s devolution settlement. Will he use the influence that he should have developed over the past few years and condemn his Government’s handling of the devolution settlement, thereby demonstrating that he is not just Scotland’s invisible man in the Cabinet?
What I condemn is the once proud Unionist Scottish Labour party repeatedly voting with the SNP in Holyrood. I am afraid they have become just Nicola’s little helpers.
Leaving the EU: Fishing
I am proud to say that this Conservative Government are unequivocally taking Scotland’s fishermen out of the hated common fisheries policy. Just last week, the UK Government published their fisheries White Paper, which sets out that as an independent coastal state, we will at long last regain control of our waters.
Does the Secretary of State know whether the Scottish Government are supporting the central aims of that fisheries White Paper—namely that we leave the CFP; that we decide who catches what, where and when; that we manage the expansion of our industry in a sustainable way; and that we are not blackmailed by Brussels for our market—or does the SNP want to keep us in the hated CFP?
Hopelessly long. I have already said that we need to speed up. The trouble is that people have these pre-prepared, scripted questions—[Interruption.] Well, the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) has learned it, and we are grateful to him.
Sadly, the Scottish Government’s position remains exactly as it has been throughout: to take Scotland back into the CFP.
Last week’s publication of the fisheries White Paper was a hugely welcome step for an industry that is looking to capitalise on the benefits of leaving the EU. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, during the exit negotiations with the EU, this Government will keep the issues of access to British waters for EU vessels and access to the EU market for British fish separate, as they must not be conflated?
Yes, we will.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it will take many years to build the Scottish fishing fleet back up to full strength, but that that would never happen if the SNP got its way and kept us in the common fisheries policy?
Absolutely, and we can see that in the response of the fishing industry. This Government are right behind the fishing industry in taking advantage of what it sees as a sea of opportunity.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) has secured a very apposite debate on that matter this evening. I am very conscious of this issue, and I will be meeting the Home Secretary next week.
I am very conscious of the issues around not just catching and processing fish, but the markets, and those will be at the forefront of our thinking as we take forward leaving the EU.
Will my right hon. Friend tell me what benefits there will be from leaving the common fisheries policies for the whole of the United Kingdom?
Mr Speaker, you have asked me to be brief, so I will refer my hon. Friend to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation document “Sea of Opportunity”.
I do not know what the Secretary of State plans to be doing at 7 o’clock this evening, but I shall be here, along with the Immigration Minister, for the end-of-day Adjournment debate on the subject of visas for non-EEA nationals in the fishing industry. If he could fix that and get the industry the labour that it needs between now and 7 pm, we could both probably think of something else to be doing.
I am afraid that I cannot meet the right hon. Gentleman’s timescale but, like him and others, I wish England well in their game this evening. On the substantive issue that he raises, I would be very happy to speak to him directly ahead of my meeting with the Home Secretary.
Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is, as we heard a moment ago, four times that with the EU, so good connectivity is vital to our shared prosperity. The recent vote on Heathrow was critical. Maintaining and enhancing routes to Scotland will bring key benefits, and more frequent and new routes will be served to help to improve connectivity.
Many businesses in my constituency depend on customers and staff from south of the border, so what discussions has the Minister had with the Scottish Government about improving cross-border links on the A1, A68 and A7, and, crucially, the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that cross-border connectivity is crucial right across the United Kingdom. He and his constituents will quite rightly expect the UK Government to commit to working closely and constructively with the Scottish Government so that we have a joined-up approach. We are working on a day-to-day level, and at an official level between the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland. As for long-term projects, the potential of the borderlands growth deal could stand to be transformative for his constituents.
Does my hon. Friend agree with the managing director of Glasgow airport, Derek Provan, who said that additional flights resulting from a third runway at Heathrow are “imperative for Scottish business”, and can he guarantee that a good proportion of those additional flights will go from Glasgow?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and so is the MD of Glasgow airport. The third runway is imperative for Scottish businesses, which is why we have set very clear expectations that 15% of the slots that are made available will be for domestic flights. It is disappointing that the Scottish National party did not vote for this expansion. [Interruption.]
I understand the sense of anticipation and excitement in the Chamber, but it seems very unfair on the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton) that his question was not fully heard, and that we could not properly hear the mellifluous tones of a very courteous Minister. If there could be greater attentiveness to these important matters, it would be a great advance.
Will the Minister confirm his support for local councils, including my own of East Lothian, in their application for wave 3 funding for broadband roll-out from this Government?
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman specific confirmation at this point, but I would be more than happy to write to him, if he would allow me to.
Does the Minister share the concern in Scotland that, although the third runway for Heathrow might be helpful to the south-east of England, the effect on the Scottish climate of those extra flights—rather than direct flights or improved rail services—could actually be damaging?
As the hon. Lady is probably aware, when we made the announcement and had the vote, we made a commitment to having a strong environmental plan. We will be looking at that very seriously.
Telecommunications: Rural Areas
May I first welcome my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright) to his role as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and thank his predecessor for his energy and the interest that he showed in Scotland? I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues regarding a wide range of issues relating to Scotland and look forward to working closely with the new Secretary of State on this issue.
The Secretary of State will be aware that mobile reception in my constituency is variable, to say the very least. The Home Office has given a company called EE a large amount of money to install infrastructure. Will the Secretary of State help other providers to access this infrastructure?
The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue for rural Scotland; it is also very important in my own Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency. I will give him that undertaking.
Last month, the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport warned that Scotland was due to miss its target of connecting every business and home in Scotland with superfast broadband. Does the Secretary of State for Scotland agree that the SNP is letting down rural areas such as my constituency of Angus?
My hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate for improved broadband in rural Scotland. Indeed, she is correct that the Scottish Government have let Scotland down on this issue.
According to thinkbroadband, 93.4% of premises in Scotland now have access to superfast broadband, which compares with 95% in the UK. This has been done with some of the most challenging geography in the whole of Europe, with some £580 million of Scottish Government money being put into the last 5%. Will the Secretary of State now congratulate the Scottish Government on achieving this and thank them for investing in a reserved area, which is his responsibility?
Rather than reading out Scottish Government press releases, the hon. Gentleman should be standing up for his constituents and people across rural Scotland who get a poor deal on broadband, which is primarily due to the ineffectiveness of the Scottish Government.
My ministerial colleagues and I frequently meet the Scottish Government to discuss a range of issues relating to the implementation of the Scotland Act 2016. Only last week, I gave my agreement to a section 104 order for the delivery of welfare benefits. This makes changes to UK legislation so that the Scottish Government can take on Executive responsibility for carer’s allowance.
I am sure that they are very grateful for that. The Secretary of State has said:
“The UK Government will continue working closely with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations to develop a fishing policy that works for the whole of the UK.”
In reality, they were shown a copy of the White Paper with no consultation. Will he please define “working closely”?
My definition of “working closely” is that, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I met Fergus Ewing, the Minister responsible for fishing, at the highland show, it was very cordial.
As most people in the House know, the Smith commission will have the cross-party commitment to have more devolution from Edinburgh to local authorities, and not to centralise power. What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the devolved Administration to ensure that that happens?
As my hon. Friend knows, these matters are devolved, but it is a matter of profound disappointment that, rather than devolving powers on within Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government have become one of the most centralised Governments anywhere in the world.
I see it is a five-way contest in the SNP ranks, but we have got to hear from the Select Committee Chair, and I hope he will be brief.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker—you are a great man indeed.
Devolving powers over work visas would make a tremendous difference to the fishing industry and get people in from non-EEA countries such as, in particular, Ghana and the Philippines, who are very valued in Scotland. Will this Government get on with their job, stop the Brexit soap opera, lift the pin, get the men in, get the boats fishing, and get taxes being paid—and move now?
I have already advised the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael)—who, as the hon. Gentleman will have heard, is having a debate at 7 pm this evening; I am sure he will want to be there—that I take this issue very seriously. I am meeting the Home Secretary on it next week.
I do not think that meeting Fergus Ewing at the highland show can really count as consultation, so what formal consultation was carried out before the fishing White Paper was published?
As I think the hon. Lady will appreciate, the White Paper is itself a consultation, so let us hear her and the SNP’s views on fishing. But of course they do not really want to tell us, because their view is, “Take Scotland back into the common fisheries policy.”
The Prime Minister was asked—
I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the NATO summit in Brussels.
I know that Members on both sides of this House would like to join me in paying tribute to Lord Carrington, who died on Monday. His was an extraordinary life of public service, including as Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, and Secretary General of NATO.
I am sure, too, that all Members would also wish to commend the incredible efforts of the authorities in Thailand and the volunteers from the British Cave Rescue Council for their role in the successful rescue operation. We wish them, the boys and the coach who were rescued and their families well. I know that we would all wish also to offer our condolences to the family of the Thai diver, Saman Gunan, who sadly lost his life during the rescue operation.
Finally, I am sure that all Members, whichever part of the United Kingdom they come from, would join me in congratulating Gareth Southgate and the England team on their fantastic performance in the quarter-final on Saturday, and in wishing them the very best for this evening’s match against Croatia. I will happily buy the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) a flag to help her to join in.
In addition to my duties in this House, I have had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others and will have further such meetings later today.
As someone who supports the principle of independence for England, I have no problem in supporting England tonight.
I thank the Minister for his role in helping to secure a public inquiry into contaminated blood. My constituent Cathy Young and many infected blood campaigners, however, remain concerned that the inquiry will be delayed, like Chilcot, by those who may have a case to answer through the Maxwellisation process. Does the Minister agree that truth and justice should not be delayed? Will he commit to the Government looking at legislative changes to the Maxwellisation process?
This is of course a tragedy that has caused unimaginable hardship and pain for the people affected. Let me say straightaway that we recognise the hard work that the hon. Gentleman and others from all political parties here have put into campaigning on this issue.
In relation to the specific issue that the hon. Gentleman raises, I am sure he will understand that whether or not the inquiry adopts a Maxwellisation process is a matter for the independent inquiry itself. It is, as the term suggests, independent of ministerial direction, but having talked to Sir Brian Langstaff directly, I know that he and his team are very mindful of the need for speed. Victims of infected blood continue to die, and I know that Sir Brian is determined to complete the inquiry’s work as quickly as a thorough examination of the facts allows. The Government are committed to ensuring that the inquiry has all the resources and everything else it needs to complete that task as rapidly as possible.
My hon. Friend is right to say that the accessibility of local officers is a vital principle of British policing. He will know that we have provided a strong and comprehensive settlement that is increasing total investment in the police system by more than £460 million in this financial year, and for Lancashire police specifically, we have provided more than £6 million for 2017-18. As he says, decisions about resources, including the use of police stations, are a matter for police and crime commissioners and chief constables, but I encourage those who make those decisions to listen to their local communities to best assess their needs.
Before I call the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), I should mention that we are very fortunate today to be joined in one of our Galleries by two members of the Osmond family, Jay and Merrill Osmond. It takes some of us back to the 1970s. We are very pleased to have you—well done.
May I join the Minister in paying tribute to Lord Carrington, who served his country with such distinction in both the forces and in government and whose decision to resign the office of Foreign Secretary will be remembered as an act of great principle and honour?
I share the joy at the rescue of the boys in Thailand and salute the bravery and sacrifice of the diving teams, including the seven British divers.
On the question of tonight’s match, I am afraid that I am not going to be watching it. It will be the only game that I have missed, but I will be representing the Labour party at tonight’s memorial event for the anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide—something very close to my heart, given my father’s role in trying to prevent it.
Let me wish Gareth Southgate and the England team the best of luck for this match and hopefully for the final on Sunday. I may know very little about football, but even I can see that England’s progress so far at the World cup shows what can be achieved when all the individual players work effectively as a team, when there is a clear game plan, when they are all working together and, of course, when everyone respects and listens to the manager. Can I simply ask the Minister what lessons he thinks the England team could teach this shambles of a Government?
I think that the England team does teach some good lessons about the importance of having a clear plan which the leader, the team captain, has the full support of the squad in delivering. We will of course be publishing tomorrow full details of the United Kingdom plan for Brexit, which we will be putting to the British public and to our 27 European partners. When the right hon. Lady gets up again, perhaps she will tell us what the Labour party’s alternative plan is, for at the moment that is one of the best kept secrets in politics.
I thank the Minister for that answer, but who does he think he is kidding? Even Donald Trump can see that the Government are in turmoil, and he has not even got to Britain yet.
May I ask the Minister once again the question I asked him at PMQs in December 2016, when he compared Labour’s shadow Cabinet to “Mutiny on the Bounty” remade by the “Carry On” team. By those standards, what would he describe his lot now as—perhaps “Reservoir Dogs” remade by the Chuckle Brothers? But let me take him back to our first PMQs in 2016, when I asked him how it was possible to retain frictionless trade with Europe without remaining in a customs union. I got no answer then. Let me try again today. Can he explain how frictionless trade is going to be achieved under this Government’s Chequers plan?
The right hon. Lady will see the detail in the White Paper but, if she had been listening to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on Monday, she would have heard the Prime Minister explain very clearly that we believe a combination of the common rulebook on goods and on agri-food, coupled with the facilitated customs arrangement that we are proposing, will provide just that. What is more, that takes full account of the wish of United Kingdom business to ensure that frictionless trade will continue. If the right hon. Lady disagrees, will she stand up and say what her alternative proposal is?
I thank the Minister for that answer on the Chequers free trade proposal, but I was hoping today that he would go beyond the theory and explain in practice how it works. So let me check one specific, but important point. For the Chequers proposal to work in practice, based on what the Prime Minister said on Monday, not just the UK, but every EU member state will have to apply the correct tariff to imports, depending if they are destined for the UK or the EU, and then will have to track each consignment until it reaches its destination to stop any customs fraud. If that is correct, can I ask the Minister what new resources and technology will be required to put that system in place across the EU? How much is it going to cost, who is going to pay and how long is it going to take?
No, I am afraid the right hon. Lady is incorrect in her assumptions. For a start, the customs model that we are proposing would not, under the arrangements that we suggest, affect either imports or exports involving this country and the European Union. They would not involve exports from this country to the rest of the world. We are talking about imports to this country from non-EU member states. Our calculation is that when, in particular, we look at the importance of those sectors where either zero tariffs or very low tariffs already exist under World Trade Organisation arrangements, or where finished goods are involved and therefore it is easy to identify the final destination, we will find that 96% of UK goods trade is going to pay either the correct or no tariff at all at the border.
The Minister has, I believe, said something quite interesting, and I do hope that his Back Benchers are listening very carefully. He says that the Chequers free trade proposal will require no new technology and will involve no tracking of goods, but how can that be possible if there is no divergence on tariffs and no divergence on regulation—in other words, on trade in goods we will continue exactly as we are at present?
I am afraid the right hon. Lady might not have sat through all the Prime Minister’s statement and responses to questions on Monday, but my right hon. Friend made it very clear that we are actively looking in these new circumstances—frankly, we would, as a sensible Government, be looking anyway—at the opportunities that new technology offers, and will offer in the future, to minimise friction on trade for businesses of all kinds.
The Minister cannot answer these simple questions of detail because he cannot admit the truth. The truth is that the Chequers proposal is total delusion. The UK cannot set its own tariffs on goods and keep frictionless trade with the EU. The technology to do so does not exist. There will be no divergence on tariffs in a free-trade area and no divergence on regulation. It is a customs union in all but name, but it does not cover our service industries, because—the Government claim—that is the great area of potential to negotiate trade agreements with the rest of the world. Can I ask the Minister to explain why a country such as China would agree to import more of our services if we cannot agree, in turn, to lower tariffs on its goods?
First, I think that the right hon. Lady still misunderstands the customs arrangements that we are proposing, and I advise her to look at the White Paper when it is published tomorrow. The reason we are proposing to treat services differently is that it is in services that regulatory flexibility matters most for both current and future trading opportunities. Although the EU acquis on goods has been stable for about 30 years, the EU acquis on services has not been, and the risk of unwelcome EU measures coming into play through the acquis on services is much greater.
Well, I have asked the Minister why China would accept such a one-way deal on services, and the answer is that it would not. It is simply another Chequers delusion—a Brexit dream with no grip on reality. There is an easy answer to this mess: an alternative that will offer all the benefits of the Chequers free trade area with no new technology, no cost and no delay; an alternative that both this House and Europe will accept; and an alternative covering both goods and services. Can I appeal to the Minister to accept that alternative, do what I urged him to do two years ago, and, instead of trying to negotiate some half-baked, back-door version of the customs union, get on with negotiating the real thing?
Again, the right hon. Lady keeps silent about what the Labour party is proposing. The truth is—[Interruption.]
Order. I want to hear the reply of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I say, in the most genial spirit possible, to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Karen Lee) that she is allowing her blood pressure to rise unduly. I say in a humanitarian spirit, calm yourself, and let us hear the ministerial reply.
The Labour party says that it would strike new trade deals, but its plan to stay in the customs union would prevent that because it would bind us to the common commercial policy for all time. It used to say that it would control our borders, but it backed an amendment to the withdrawal Bill to let freedom of movement continue.
The Labour party also used to say that it respected the referendum result, but now it is toying once again with the idea of a second referendum. The Labour leader will not rule it out; the deputy leader will not rule it out; and the shadow Brexit Secretary will not rule it out. Nothing could be better calculated to undermine our negotiating position, and lessen our chances of a good deal, than holding out that prospect of a second vote. Whichever side any of us campaigned on in that referendum, the country made a decision, and we should now get on with the task in hand. That is what the Government are doing.
The Minister seems to argue that by leaving the EU the British people voted against a customs union, but that is the complete opposite of what he used to say. I take him back to 2011, when he said that a yes-no referendum would not give us that information. He said:
“that sharp division between the status quo and quitting the EU does not reflect the breadth of views held in…the country.”
For example, he said:
“If people voted to leave the EU would that mean having no special relationship with the EU or would it mean a relationship like Norway’s?”
He said it. My question is, we understand what he is saying, but when did he stop agreeing with himself? I fear that we will look back on this week as one where the Government could have taken a decisive step towards a sensible workable deal to protect jobs and trade. We have ended up with them proposing a dog’s Brexit, which will satisfy no one, which will not fly in Europe, which will waste the next few weeks and will take us—
Order. Thank you. [Interruption.] Order. No, I think we have heard it fully, and that is absolutely right.
The right hon. Lady gave away her misunderstanding, as her question seemed to imply that she thinks Norway is in a customs union with the European Union. It is not. What we have on the table from the Government is a comprehensive set of proposals that we believe will deliver for British business in terms of frictionless trade and will deliver on what people voted for in the referendum—to restore to this House control of our laws, control of our borders and control of our money—and achieve a new security partnership with our European neighbours that is in the interests of every European country. The right hon. Lady should get behind us, support us and work in the common interest instead of carping from the side lines.
Reports of crimes involving motorcycles, mopeds and scooters are clearly a concern. We have been working with the police, industry and other partners to develop a comprehensive action plan to focus on what works and what more needs to be done. The police are now using new tactics, including off-road bikes and DNA marker sprays, to catch those committing these crimes. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is now consulting on proposals to give greater legal protection to police officers pursuing offenders. It takes action to secure a reduction in these crimes, not just a press release from the Mayor’s office. Action is what the Government are undertaking.
Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Yesterday, I witnessed the heartbreaking testimony of two survivors of those heinous crimes against humanity, Dr Ilijaz Pilav and Nusreta Sivac. Today, we all must remember the victims who were tortured, raped and murdered. Will the Minister join me in remembering those victims, and will he commit, on behalf of the Government, to bring forward a debate before the summer recess to put on record our united position that we remember and to debate what measures we can take to help to make sure that such genocide can never be allowed to happen again?
The right hon. Gentleman reminds us that the horror of Srebrenica 23 years ago should remind us all of the intolerance that still exists in the world and why we all have a duty to do what we can to confront and overcome it and to promote genuine reconciliation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will have heard his request for a debate. I hope that the whole House will also, while remembering the appalling tragedy of Srebrenica, take some heart from the fact that yesterday’s western Balkans summit in London, bringing together the leaders of all western Balkans countries in a spirit of co-operation and reconciliation, demonstrates that we have moved a long way in 23 years. The right hon. Gentleman is correct that we must never become complacent. We must always be aware of the need for continuing work and effort.
I thank the Minister for his response. Such anniversaries should remind us all of the dangers of extreme bigotry. The world that we live in today is a dangerous one. Tomorrow, the President of the United States of America will regrettably have the red carpet rolled out for him by this Conservative Government, but from the public, the welcome will be far from warm. With protests planned across Scotland and the United Kingdom against President Trump’s abhorrent policies and dangerous rhetoric, will the Minister follow the SNP’s lead and challenge President Trump on his abysmal record on human rights, his repugnant attitude towards women and his disgusting treatment of minorities, or does the Minister think that he will simply follow the Prime Minister’s lead and join the President hand in hand?
I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. This country’s relationship with the United States of America is probably the closest between any two democracies in the west. It has lasted through Democrat and Republican presidencies alike and through Labour and Conservative premierships on this side of the Atlantic. Because of the security co-operation that we have with the United States, UK citizens are alive today who might well not be alive had that co-operation and information and intelligence sharing not taken place. It is therefore right that we welcome the duly elected President of our closest ally, as we shall do tomorrow.
As my hon. Friend knows, shale gas has the potential to boost economic growth and support thousands of jobs across a number of sectors, as well as adding to this country’s energy security. The Government have outlined how we believe shale gas planning decisions should be made quickly and fairly to all involved. We are committed to consulting on further shale gas planning measures. Those consultations are planned to open over the summer, and I reassure my hon. Friend that these decisions will always be made in a way that ensures that shale use can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment.
First, I recognise the work that the right hon. Gentleman personally has put into campaigning on this issue. I am also aware of his personal experience of the devastating impact that this condition can have on families. I reassure him that the Government are committed to promoting the best possible care and treatment for people with diabetes as a priority. The National Institute for Health Research biomedical research centre in Cambridge is pioneering the development and use of the artificial pancreas, and the prototype system is now being tested by people in their own homes. I understand that the NIHR infrastructure supported more than 100 new studies and recruited almost 38,000 patients to help with those studies. That work is ongoing to test the efficacy of the artificial pancreas, and I shall certainly draw the right hon. Gentleman’s comments and campaign on this issue to the attention of the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
My hon. Friend raises an important issue. First, I am sure we would all want to salute the incredible work that firefighters, the military and other partner agencies have done in responding to the wildfires we have seen in various parts of the country in the past couple of weeks. I encourage all organisers of summer events to exercise caution in this hot climate, to follow Home Office guidance on outdoor fire safety and to take steps to prevent the risk of fire from lanterns and fireworks, and to think about both the fire risk and the impact that debris from lanterns has too often had on farmers’ livestock.
First, I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are absolutely committed to getting the Royal Liverpool Hospital built as rapidly as possible and to securing best value for money in doing so, and we are supporting the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust in that work, but I do not think that what he advocates, which is to buy out the interests of the banks that have lent money to this project, is the right approach. It would encourage irresponsible lending against the prospect of a Government bail-out down the line. It is important that risk be seen to lie with the banks and the lenders and not be underwritten by the taxpayer. We are working actively with the trust and the existing private sector funders to find a way forward for them to complete the remaining work on the hospital, and we hope that this work will conclude in the very near future.
I have known the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) for more than 30 years, so I fully understand that the comprehensiveness of his replies reflects his past distinction as a noted academic, but I gently make the point that I am determined to get through the questions on the Order Paper.
First, as far as this Government are concerned, NATO is, and will remain, the bedrock of our collective security, and certainly the threat posed by Russia will be one of the subjects that the Prime Minister and other leaders will be discussing at the summit in Brussels. I reflect with regret on the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has said on the record that he wishes that we were not part of NATO. The use of nerve agents in this country is appalling and impossible to excuse. The police continue to investigate what happened and how the attack was caused. The Government are fully committed to supporting the region and its residents and have announced new financial help to Salisbury and the surrounding area today.
I know that the hon. Gentleman has campaigned on the issue of DIPG for some time. I think the whole House will want to offer sympathy—which I certainly share—to his constituent and to anyone affected by that appalling condition. I will certainly draw the points that he has made to the attention of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and I am sure that a meeting will be arranged for him with either the Secretary of State or one of her Ministers.
I commend my right hon. Friend for the work that she continues to do, through the all-party parliamentary group on autism, to lead the campaign for better, more effective care and support for people with autistic spectrum disorders. I think that the changes in the special educational needs and disability system that were introduced four years ago have enabled us to join up state-provided services more effectively than in the past, but I am more than happy to welcome the new app and any other new technologies that will help people with autistic spectrum disorder.
The Information Commissioner’s report has only just been published, and the Government will want to consider its recommendations in detail before responding. However, I think that the hon. Gentleman’s point focused on the possible commission of criminal offences. We are in a country in which, rightly, it is not for Ministers either to initiate or to stop criminal investigations or potential prosecutions. When there is evidence, it should be drawn to the attention of the police and the prosecuting authorities, and then let the law take its course.
My hon. Friend is right. I think that those of us who campaigned on the remain side need to respect the decision that the people of the country took, and to ponder the damage that would be done to what is already fragile confidence in our democratic institutions were that verdict to be ignored. I am confident that when my hon. Friend reads the White Paper tomorrow, she will see that we have a vision for a future relationship that will meet the vote that the people delivered.
I am very happy to pay tribute to the work done at the Pendleside Hospice and hospices around the country. It is important that we see hospices as a very important element on a spectrum of palliative care and care at the end of life, which takes place sometimes in a hospice setting and sometimes in other settings. My right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will of course now be considering with the NHS leadership how to deliver on the ambitious long-term funding arrangement that the Government recently announced, and I am sure he will bear the hon. Lady’s comments in mind.
I confirm that any investment that is legally able to be made within state aid rules now would be able to continue in the future, and any United Kingdom funding for money currently received as EU regional aid would comply with those same state aid rules going forward.
We certainly recognise the hard work and incredible risks that miners took in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and many others. The important thing about the miners’ pension scheme is that it should pay out all the promised benefits in full. My understanding is that the scheme is funded to do just that and that no former miner will lose out.
The UK and the US have a uniquely strong relationship when it comes to security and intelligence services, the results of which regularly save lives not only in the UK but across Europe. May I ask that when our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister meets President Trump, she thank him for that relationship and the results of it, but might also take the opportunity to share with him the many instances that I know my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office knows about, where it is UK intelligence and UK security services that have saved lives in the US?
My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct: the intelligence sharing and other security co-operation we have with the United States have saved lives in both countries, and it is vital to both our interests that those relationships continue.
My constituents in Brighton are, sadly, used to chaos from Govia Thameslink Railway, but the last seven weeks have been a new level of rail hell. Since the GTR franchise is, effectively, run by the Department for Transport, will the right hon. Gentleman shake up the Government so that they finally take some action and show some leadership: action in restoring the Gatwick Express services at Preston Park, which have inexplicably been slashed, and leadership in getting rid of the hapless Transport Secretary? The Prime Minister has been reshuffling her Cabinet over the last week; will she reshuffle it a bit more and get that Transport Secretary replaced by—
Thank you very much indeed.
As regards GTR, improvements are simply not happening quickly enough, despite the assurances that the operators have given. We have launched a review of Govia Thameslink, which will report in the next few weeks. If those findings show that Govia is at fault, we will not hesitate to take action, whether through fines, restricting access to future franchises or stripping it of the franchise. Passengers deserve a far better service than they are getting at the moment, and we will hold those operators to account.
Albania has one of the highest rates of honour killing in Europe. Will the Government look very closely at the case of Mrs Emiljana Muca, who was staying in the constituency of the hon. Member for Norwich South (Clive Lewis) and is now, thanks to the generosity of her therapist, staying in the therapist’s own house in south Norfolk to reduce the risk of self-harm? If she were to be deported to Albania, possibly as early as tomorrow, she might be the victim of an honour killing.
Obviously I do not know all the details of this case, but I am aware that this issue has brought together my hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Norwich South and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman). The Home Secretary or the Immigration Minister will be happy to meet the Members concerned to discuss the case.
I call Clive Lewis. [Interruption.] Well, that is a great self-denying ordinance on the part of the hon. Gentleman. He says that his question has been answered and that he is therefore satisfied. If that were a template for the House as a whole, just think of the possibilities!
Will the Minister explain what the Prime Minister’s Brexit proposals would mean for those working for two of the largest employers in my constituency, Bentley Motors and the NHS?
It would be very good news for both of them. In particular, the automotive industry has been arguing for months that we need a deal that ensures frictionless trade with the EU27, and that is what the model we are proposing will deliver.
I strongly welcome the extra £20 billion and the long-term plan for the NHS, but does the First Minister agree that, at a time when local authority budgets are under pressure, it would be attractive to have more pooling of budgets between health and social care?
It is important that the national health service and local authorities work closely together to ensure that community-based care, funded from whichever source, is effective and meets patients’ needs. I know that the new Health Secretary, like his predecessor, is determined to take that forward further.
Is the Minister aware that his Government have already taken more than £3.5 billion out of the miners’ pension? They are like Philip Green and Maxwell put together. Stop stealing the miners’ pension!
The benefits due from the pension scheme to all former miners have, as I understand it, been paid in full and continue to be paid in full, and the scheme is fully funded to meet those commitments into the future.