Ben Bradshaw

Working Hard for Exeter

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On trade:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

The Secretary of State will be aware of the great anger felt by Britain’s wealth creators at the comments of his right hon. Friend the International Trade Secretary, which were damaging not just to them but to our reputation abroad. What conversations has the Secretary of State had with his right hon. Friend and with the Prime Minister about limiting that damage?

Greg Clark

My right hon. Friend has been vigorous during the summer in going around the world to promote the case for British business, as is his job. Opposition Members will have the support of everyone in this House if they join the efforts we are making to promote the great opportunities there already are in this country and the further opportunities to come.

 

On mobile phone use while driving:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Further to the Secretary of State’s inadequate reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) on the deadly menace of mobile phone use, may I ask him whether he heard an expert say on the radio this morning that the use of mobile phones impairs drivers’ ability more seriously than drinking? Does he accept that a £50 increase in the already paltry fine is a totally inadequate response to this deadly menace on our roads?

Chris Grayling

I am sorry if the right hon. Gentleman thought that. I will be announcing tough plans on this matter shortly, in response to sensible pressure from a wide variety of outside groups. The hon. Member for Cambridge mentioned one national newspaper group. In fact, the campaign is coming from both sides of the spectrum, because the Daily Mail is running the same campaign. Those newspapers are right to do so, and the truth is that, in my view, this requires strong action. It is happening far too often.

 

On the BBC:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Given where we could have ended up, may I warmly welcome today’s statement, and particularly the fact that the Government have backed down on the composition of the board? ​Given that Rona Fairhead was appointed specifically, in effect, to abolish her own organisation—she has done so—and to oversee a smooth transfer to the new unitary board, has her treatment not been a little rough?

Karen Bradley

I do not accept that there has been a backdown about the board; it is about considering what is an appropriate, balanced board which is the most effective way of helping the BBC to deliver on its charter requirements. I do not agree about Ms Fairhead. The proposal is no reflection on her or her ability to perform the role; it is merely a brand new role.

 

On Hinkley Point C:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

The Secretary of State will be aware that Britain’s two most respected economy and finance publications, the Financial Times and The Economist, have both come out strongly against Hinkley C on value for money and on energy policy grounds, with The Economist describing it just last month as a white elephant before it is even built. Can he confirm that nothing that he has announced today is an improvement on the dreadful deal negotiated by the former Chancellor on the guaranteed price? Absolutely dreadful.

Greg Clark

I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It is a good deal that will secure 7% of our energy into the future. Given that 20% of our nuclear capacity will be decommissioned over the next 10 years, it is incumbent on him and his hon. Friends to tell us how they would replace it if they are not going to be forward looking and make positive decisions such as those that we have made.

My Questions in the Commons Last Week

On trade: Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) The Secretary of State will be aware of the great anger felt by Britain’s wealth creators at the comments of his right hon....

On the EU:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

We learned more of substance from the Prime Minister’s briefing of journalists in China than we heard in those 15 minutes of talk about stakeholders and round tables. Will the Secretary of State please confirm that the points-based immigration system, the cut in VAT on fuel, and the £350 million extra every week for the NHS—the three main promises of the leave campaign—now lie in tatters?

Mr Davis

The task of my Department is to deliver on three things. The British people, in the referendum, voted for the return to Parliament of control of our laws, control of our money, and control of our borders, and that is what my Department will bring about. What happens then is down to the Government and Parliament.

Let me deal with just one issue that the right hon. Gentleman raised: the points-based immigration system. What the Prime Minister said in China was very clear. Her concern was that a points-based system was too open-ended and did not actually control the number of people coming to the United Kingdom, and she therefore wanted something that sounded as if it would be more rigorous, not less.

On Hinkley C:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Given what the Minister says about transparency, accountability and the paramount importance of safety in the nuclear industry, and given the Prime Minister’s clear concerns about security and the more widespread concerns about the economics, can the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the Government will come back to this House before making a final decision on Hinkley C?

Mr Hurd

I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s point. I have nothing to add to the public statements about the process of reviewing the Hinkley decision, which will look at all aspects of that deal, and we will make suitable announcements when we are ready.

On the G20:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Does the Prime Minister accept that, like all developed economies with ageing populations, Britain needs to import labour to thrive? Would it therefore not be an act of extreme self-harm for us to give up our full and unfettered access to the single market out of a dogmatic and arbitrary desire to reduce immigration?

The Prime Minister

It is not an arbitrary and dogmatic desire. We recognise the impact that uncontrolled immigration can have on people, particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. The right hon. Gentleman needs to consider carefully the message that the British people gave in the vote on 23 June. I think that vote told us that they want to see the Government able to take control of the movement of people from the European Union into the United Kingdom, and that is what we will do.

On trade deals:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

“No running commentary” is politician-speak for not having a clue. How is the Minister getting on with delivering on the promise made by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that the Government would

“trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners”

by tomorrow?

Greg Hands

It is a bit rich for Opposition Members to talk about having a clue. I noted with interest the Leader of the Opposition yesterday attacking something he called “free trade dogma”. Let us be absolutely clear: the Prime Minister has said that under her leadership, Britain will seek to become the global leader in free trade, and that is what we will do.

On grammar schools:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

I have listened carefully to the Secretary of State, and I have not heard her explicitly support the policy that was announced by the Prime Minister at last night’s private Back-Bench Conservative meeting and leaked to the media. The Secretary of State smiles, but that is an interesting fact. The Prime Minister has repeatedly boasted that she likes to make decisions—thinking very carefully about them—on the basis of evidence. Is the Secretary of State aware of any evidence that shows that a grammar school system improves attainment across the piece, or improves social mobility?

Justine Greening

As I have said in the past, we have not set out the policy proposals—they will be set out in due course—but I refer the right hon. Gentleman to research conducted by the Sutton Trust, which clearly identified improved attainment by children on free school meals in grammar schools. The trust also said that its research showed no negative impact on the attainment of children outside the grammar school system. I recognise that different studies have identified different challenges relating to selection, but if that is the view that Members take, is there not all the more reason to open up a debate and discuss how we can develop a sensible policy on grammar schools?

My Questions in the Commons Last Week

On the EU: Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) We learned more of substance from the Prime Minister’s briefing of journalists in China than we heard in those 15 minutes of...

The full text of my debate on Great Western Railway's Bicycle Policy can be read online here.

You can also read the most recent letter I have received from GWR: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3.

My Debate on GWR Cycle Policy

The full text of my debate on Great Western Railway's Bicycle Policy can be read online here. You can also read the most recent letter I have received from GWR:...

In the House of Commons yesterday I asked the Minister about invoking Article 50.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Is it not the case that referendums are advisory and that this Parliament is sovereign? Is it not a constitutional outrage and supreme irony that those on the Conservative Benches who based their argument for Brexit on parliamentary sovereignty now want to deny this House a vote and are suggesting that an unelected Prime Minister, with no mandate, agrees to such a fundamental decision for this country? That is a disgrace, and they must not be allowed to get away with it.

John Penrose

With the greatest possible respect to the right hon. Gentleman, who is extremely experienced, he may be right on strict constitutional legalities but democratically he is fundamentally wrong. We have had a referendum, the people have spoken and it would be unconscionable—it would be impossible—for us collectively to turn around and thumb our noses at the British people and ignore that democratic verdict.

My Question on Article 50

In the House of Commons yesterday I asked the Minister about invoking Article 50.

My latest letter for the Express and Echo, following the outcome of the EU referendum, is now available to read online here.

My Letter On The EU Referendum

My latest letter for the Express and Echo, following the outcome of the EU referendum, is now available to read online here.


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