Ben Bradshaw

Working Hard for Exeter

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I recently wrote for the Huffington Post on the Mueller investigation. You can read this online here.

Huffington Post Piece

I recently wrote for the Huffington Post on the Mueller investigation. You can read this online here.

On Russia

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Did the EU Council discuss Russia, and in that context have the UK Government or their agencies been asked for help or information by the American congressional team or US special counsel Robert Mueller, who are investigating alleged Russian subversion of the US presidential election?

The Prime Minister

As it happens, on this occasion, Russia was not one of the subjects on the agenda of the European Union council. As I say, we did discuss a number of foreign policy issues—North Korea and Turkey were on the agenda—but Russia was not.

On South West Rail

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) on securing this debate on an issue that is hugely important not only to his constituency, but to all our constituencies in the region.

I have some sympathy for the Minister. As a Transport Minister I am sure he would love to have extra money from the Treasury to invest in all our schemes and in the railway network more generally. However, I am afraid that he, like successive Transport Ministers, is a victim of what I call Treasury orthodoxy. I want to encourage a debate, perhaps within the governing party as we move towards the Budget, on the arguments we have made about productivity. We have had an absolutely appalling productivity record in this country in recent years. It is one of the worst in Europe and has got worse since the 2008 global financial crisis and since the European referendum.

I think there is general consensus in this debating Chamber that we should improve productivity in a number of ways, including investing in education and skills and in infrastructure. We have had an incredible opportunity in the past few years since the global financial crash of record low long-term interest rates. There is an absolute opportunity to invest big-time in infrastructure for the future of our economy and our productivity. With the storm clouds of Brexit gathering and with the uncertainty that that is causing in our economy, it is even more critical now, before interest rates go up, that the people having discussions, particularly in the governing party, win that debate with the Treasury, because we are running out of time to secure meaningful investment in our infrastructure.

I completely support what my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport said about the discrepancy between comparative spends up and down the country. I saw an even more graphic map than the one he referred to in which the south-west was not even featured because the amount of spend per head was so low. The map was produced by an organisation called Statista and was published in the Financial Times earlier this year. It showed us at the bottom of the regional list for infrastructure spend. I do not think there is any debate in this Chamber as to whether we have come off badly in terms of spend in our railway and infrastructure in general.

I must express my concern to the Minister that some of the money that has been allocated has not been spent well by Network Rail. It has a terrible record of cost overruns, and we are all paying the price with the fiasco of the cost overrun to the electrification of the mainline ​from Paddington to south Wales, which is having a knock-on effect on all of our schemes. Network Rail told us in a session earlier today that work on the Cowley Bridge flood defences—let us not forget that Cowley Bridge goes back even longer than Dawlish; we lost the line at Cowley Bridge twice in the three years running up to Dawlish, which cut our region off as well—is going to start, but only on the culverts, which are to protect Cowley Bridge next spring. As the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) said, there is no funding allocated at the moment for the much more important work on the weir or for the upstream work on the Hele and Bradninch section of the lines, which are the important bits of the flood defence. As we enter into our winter of storms and heavy rains, we face another risk that the line will flood there and in other places.

We were also told that Network Rail has increased its assessment of the risk of a failure at the Dawlish line owing to heavy rain and/or storms to one in every three years. This matter is absolutely urgent. Our region cannot afford to suffer the disruptions that we have had in recent years, which have done so much damage to our economy. I hope the Minister will go away and have gentle words with the Treasury and with Network Rail about its performance on cost control so that we get the schemes delivered on budget and on time.

New stations are vital. Exeter is a bit like a mini-Bristol. The urban rail services in my city are incredibly important for moving people around, particularly at commuting times. We need more regular services; we need trains to stop at more stations; and we need new stations. Again, station builds are running behind time.

Rebecca Pow

The right hon. Gentleman is making a passionate case. The Government committed to £4.6 million to transform our railway station in Taunton. We are still waiting for one spade to go into the ground. I understand exactly what the right hon. Gentleman is saying: we need the promised services to be delivered. Will the Minister report on how that is going, because GWR and Network Rail still have not got on with it?

Mr Bradshaw

There is hardly a station that has been built and opened that has not overrun on cost. I was about to refer to the station in Marsh Barton, a very important industrial estate in my constituency. It was supposed to happen this year and we now understand no date at all has been fixed for it, which indicates that no money has been allocated for it, which is really disappointing not only for those who live and work in Exeter, but for those who commute in from outside.

On rolling stock, it was terribly unfortunate to hear about the initial trip of the new high-speed train serving our region. We understand from Great Western that it was unlucky. All the other trains that travelled that day were fine, but will the Minister assure us that when we get these long-awaited trains they will not pour water over people, they will work, will not break down and will be reliable? I also have a concern about the design for our luggage demands. Our trains were built in an age when suitcases were not the size of wheelie bins—people did not used to be able to carry those huge great cases—but I am worried that, having lost the guards ​van, and as a regular cyclist who puts my bike on the train, we will see conflicts between the people who regularly put their bikes on trains and people who need luggage space. If that becomes a problem, that is not only a problem for passengers, but for the staff who have to resolve the disputes.

Let us not neglect the Waterloo line, an important substitute line. It is a replacement line and an additional line for our region. It could be so much better if we had a few more passing places. That would allow swifter journeys and would service more stops, including places such as Pinhoe in my constituency. My basic plea to the Minister and to Opposition Members is to keep fighting the battle against Treasury orthodoxy and keep fighting for a fair deal for our region.

On Syria

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Some Members of this House received and continue to receive considerable abuse for the decision we took back in November 2015 ​to support the extension of the RAF mission to Syria. Does the liberation of Raqqa and this considerable setback to Daesh not show that we were absolutely right?

Alistair Burt

Yes, in a word. We have been learning over time the consequences of not taking action. We have all learned that there are consequences of action and of inaction, and sometimes the choices are impossible. But it is perfectly clear that decisions not to do anything will almost inevitably result in a situation becoming worse and steadily more difficult for those involved. The right decisions have to be taken on intervention or not, but the decision of the House to support David Cameron’s determination to take action in Syria was the right one.

On Fisheries

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

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11. Whether the rules of the common fisheries policy will apply to the UK during any transition period in the event that the UK leaves the EU.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice)

As the Prime Minister made clear to the House on 11 October, when we leave the European Union we will leave the common fisheries policy, and we leave the EU in March 2019. However, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will bring across current ​EU legislation to provide continuity on the day we leave. In the context of fisheries, that will include the body of technical conservation regulations currently set by the EU.

Mr Bradshaw

That is very interesting: we will not have a voice at the table but we will have to abide by all the CFP rules. Can the Minister give an assurance to our industry, which exports more than 80% of what it catches straight to the rest of Europe, that it will not face any tariffs or other barriers during or after that transition period?

George Eustice

We are seeking a comprehensive free trade agreement and trade would continue as usual during the transition period. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that we would not have a seat at the table. He is familiar with fisheries negotiations and knows that they are annual events, whether we are negotiating with EU member states at December Council, with EU-Norway or at coastal states meetings. We will become an independent coastal state on the day we leave the European Union in March 2019.

On Same Sex Marriage

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

8. What recent discussions Church of England bishops have had on allowing parishes to hold ceremonies to celebrate same-sex marriages.

Dame Caroline Spelman

The Church’s doctrine, as set out in canon law and as explicitly recognised by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, is that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. As hon. Members will be aware, a resolution was passed over the weekend by the synod in Hereford. That motion will go to the General Synod and will be considered by its business committee for debate.

Mr Bradshaw

Given that many Anglican churches, including my wonderful cathedral in Exeter, already perform ceremonies to celebrate same-sex marriages, would it not be better for the Church just to get on with it and for bishops to make an announcement, rather than carrying on with what is in effect an institutionalised hypocrisy?

​Dame Caroline Spelman

Obviously it is open to the right hon. Gentleman’s diocese to follow the same process that the Hereford diocese has just undertaken, but the Church is active in this area with two initiatives. A pastoral advisory group has been set up—led by the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman—to work on the development of pastoral practice within the Church’s existing teaching, and a major teaching document is being produced on marriage and sexuality.

On Brexit

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Sorry, but the answer is not good enough. This is a critical question. The Secretary of State says that if the House votes against the deal, which could be a bad one, the Government will move ahead without a deal. Does that mean that the only choice is to crash out on to World Trade Organisation terms, which would be an absolute disaster for our country, or does it leave open the option of the Government continuing to negotiate, seeking more time or even staying in on current terms?

Mr Davis

What I was saying was exactly in answer to the question; it was what was given as an undertaking by the Minister in the article 50 debate.

On Russia and the US election

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

I wonder whether the Leader of the House can answer a question the Prime Minister failed to answer when I asked her on Monday, or ensure that I get a written answer: have the Government or their agencies received any requests from Robert Mueller, the special counsel, or the congressional investigators in the United States for help or information in connection with their inquiry into Russian subversion of the American presidential election?

Andrea Leadsom

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to write to me on this, I will see whether I can get him an answer.

On the Mueller investigation

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you had any indication from the Government on whether they intend coming to this House to make a statement about the British connection in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian subversion of the American presidential election, and in particular, the apparent role of an academic, a Professor Mifsud, who met in London more than once, we understand, George Papadopolous, who has already pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI in connection with Russian help in the presidential election?

Mr Speaker

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his notice a few moments ago of his intention to raise it. The short answer is that I have received no indication from any Government Minister of an intention to come to the House to make a statement on that matter. However, not being unconscious of the indefatigability of the right hon. Gentleman, I am confident that if the matter is not brought to the House, he will try to ensure, by one means or t’other, that it is.

On the Mueller Investigation

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Given today’s news that the Electoral Commission is investigating Arron Banks, the main financial backer of Brexit, and given the significant British connections being uncovered by the American Department of Justice’s special counsel Robert Mueller in investigating Russian interference in the US presidential election, will the Prime Minister assure me that the UK Government and all their agencies are co-operating fully with the Mueller investigation or will do so if asked?

The Prime Minister

We take very seriously issues of Russian intervention, or Russian attempts to intervene in electoral processes or the democratic processes of any country, as we would with any other states involved in trying to intervene in elections. We do, of course, work closely with our United States partners. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that, as part of that relationship, we co-operate with them when required.

On the NHS and Brexit

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

My right hon. and learned Friend may also be interested to know that when the Health Committee asked the Health Secretary yesterday whether he had read the four reports of great relevance to the NHS and public health, he seemed rather unsure. Given the huge negative impact that Brexit will have, particularly on our NHS workforce, is it not extraordinary that the Health Secretary cannot remember if he has even read the reports?

Keir Starmer

If the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was right in his evidence to the Brexit Select Committee, it appears that the Health Secretary has not read the reports because he has not had them.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was asked by the Brexit Select Committee whether the reports had been passed to the Scottish Government. In reply to a question from the SNP spokesperson, the Secretary of State said that he did not know whether they had been shared with the Scottish Government. These reports, which are in lockdown and cannot be seen and not a word of which can be disclosed, have not been read by the Cabinet, and nobody knows whether they have been disclosed to the Scottish Government, yet nothing can be made available to this House.

Commons Interventions October and November

On Russia Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) Did the EU Council discuss Russia, and in that context have the UK Government or their agencies been asked for help or information...

Below is my contribution in yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on Proportional Representation. You can read the full debate here.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

I shall keep my remarks very brief, Mr Gray. I do not want to rehearse the arguments for and against electoral reform, because they are always well rehearsed in this place and outside. My position is well known and long standing. I suspect that I will not convince the hon. Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena), some other hon. Members or indeed many people outside who are against electoral reform, but my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) put the case incredibly well.

I want to give some constructive and friendly advice to the people outside who campaign on this issue, and who have helped ensure that we have today’s debate, about the tactics of winning this battle rather than rehearsing the old and sometimes stale arguments of the past. We will only get electoral reform in Britain if a major political party stands in a general election with a manifesto commitment to introduce it, or if a general election throws up a hung Parliament and one of the coalition parties is in favour of electoral reform and can deliver it. Recent experience shows that the auspices for the second option are not good. I do not want to rehearse all the reasons why the AV referendum was such a disaster but, as we have heard, the people who still argue for electoral reform often refer to it.

The best chance we have to achieve electoral reform, which I have fought for my whole political life—before I was in the Labour party and since then—is to elect a Labour Government who have committed to it in their manifesto. To misquote Nick Clegg, just as people who want to stop Brexit need to join the Labour party, people who want to reform our electoral system need to join the Labour party. I have some good news for those people: although there are relatively few Conservative Members of Parliament who support electoral reform—a small but growing number who tend to be shy—there is a growing number of Labour politicians, trade union leaders and others in the Labour movement who recognise the arguments in favour. I am told that even our shadow Chancellor is an electoral reformer, which even surprised me. That is very encouraging.

To all those extremely well meaning and right people out there who share our passion for a fairer and just electoral system, I say, “Come and join the Labour ​party in that fight.” It is possible to get that commitment through the grassroots of the Labour party putting pressure on the leadership, through our motions at conference and our policy formation process. Only the Labour party has delivered constitutional and electoral reform in this country, as hon. Friends have said. We did it under the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Governments, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for the European elections. We partially reformed the House of Lords. All the meaningful political and constitutional reforms in Britain have happened under a Labour Government. I am confident that we will have a radical manifesto for constitutional reform for the next election, so let us help to ensure that it contains a commitment to electoral reform.

Proportional Representation Debate

Below is my contribution in yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on Proportional Representation. You can read the full debate here. Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) I shall keep my remarks very...

On Hurricane Irma

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

My constituent Mark Wilson has been stuck on St Martin since the hurricane, his house completely demolished, with no access to food and water, and increasingly frightened about roving mobs. He finally managed to get off the island last night under his own steam. I am sorry to have to tell the Minister that he and his family in Exeter have been extremely angry and frustrated by what they see as the inadequacy of the British Government response, particularly compared with that of the French and Dutch Governments. However, my question is on the longer term. These territories receive significant European Union help. Will the Minister guarantee that, if and when we leave the European Union, this will continue?

Sir Alan Duncan

I have taken a close interest in the calls to the centre, particularly from Members of Parliament. I saw the right hon. Gentleman’s name among those who had called a specific helpline and investigated the plight of his constituent and confirmed that he had come off the island. As I said earlier, we have about 70 British people on St Martin, but I would ask the House to understand that it is not one of our overseas territories. It is half Dutch and half French. That is why we have been working with them, as they are best equipped on an island that is one of theirs, to help the British. I would like to send warm words of gratitude to the French and the Dutch for the co-operation they have shown in helping British citizens as much as they have helped their own.

 

On Article 50

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Is it the Prime Minister’s understanding that, if necessary, it is possible to halt the article 50 process?

​The Prime Minister

The position was made clear in a case that went through the Supreme Court in relation to article 50. The Government have made it clear that we have no intention of revoking that. We will be delivering on the vote of the British people.

 

On nursing

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

University admissions departments have reported an 8% fall in the number of people accepted on to nursing courses this autumn, so the situation is getting worse, not better as the Secretary of State claims. What contingency does he have in place, in the event that we crash out of the European Union, to address a further haemorrhaging of European Union staff from the NHS, and when will he review his disastrous decision to abolish nurse bursaries, which has had such a negative impact?

Mr Hunt

Let us be clear: we took the difficult decision on nurse bursaries precisely so that we could have the biggest expansion in nurse training places we have ever had. When we had the higher education reforms in 2011, which the right hon. Gentleman’s party opposed, we also saw a drop in initial applications, but then we saw them soaring to record levels. That is what we want to happen with nurses, because we need more nurses for the Royal Devon and Exeter, and all the hospitals that serve our constituents.

 

On border facilities

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

10. What contingency (a) funding and (b) planning her Department has for new customs check-points and other border facilities in the event that negotiations with the EU do not result in a deal.

The Minister for Immigration (Brandon Lewis)

We are confident that a positive deal can be reached, but we are of course preparing for every outcome. Although we cannot comment on the detailed planning, Departments are working together across a range of complex issues to develop our future approach to the border, including for a possible no-deal scenario. Those options will be subject to the outcome of our negotiations with our partners in the EU.

Mr Bradshaw

The Minister’s former immigration director, David Wood, said last week that, with current resources, the challenge of Brexit “can’t be met”, and that is with a minimum two-year transition, let alone the chaos of a no-deal scenario. Given all the other demands on his budget that we have heard about today, is it not grossly irresponsible for some of his Cabinet colleagues to be running around talking up the prospects of a no deal, instead of being level with the public about any trade-offs that will inevitably result in a Brexit deal?

Brandon Lewis

I am optimistic that we will get a good deal both for the UK and for our partners in Europe, so that we can work together as forward-looking partners, but we are also actively monitoring work flows at the border to ensure that we have sufficient resources in place to meet demand. As my colleagues across the Government and in the Cabinet have said, it is absolutely right that we do plan for all eventualities.

 

On Brexit

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Does this episode not illustrate the folly of breaking from our natural friends and allies in Europe and throwing in our lot with an unpredictable and irrational American President? That would be the outcome of the extreme hard Brexit that the Minister’s boss and the other hard Brexiteers on his Benches are pursuing.

Alistair Burt

I might be the wrong Minister to answer all the details of that question. I simply want to make it clear that I get no indication from my friends in the EU who have been connected with this agreement that any distinction is made between our relationship before the referendum and our relationship now or in the future in relation to these matters. We are firm colleagues and we will remain firm colleagues. This matter override those considerations, and I am absolutely sure that those strong friendships and the way in which we see the world will remain the same.

 

On Vauxhall

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden) said, the company’s statement makes it clear that uncertainty over our future relations with EU is jeopardising future investment in the plant. The Minister is a reasonable person—she was one of a small band of brave Conservatives to rebel during the article 50 process—so I ask her to acknowledge that the Government’s boneheaded determination to leave the single market and customs union is already costing jobs, livelihoods and prosperity up and down Britain.

Claire Perry

Just to clarify, the company’s statement about this change relates to sales of the model, which are not reaching its forecast potential, but that is something that, with the best will in the world, can always happen if a company gets the design or marketing wrong. The House has to work together to deliver the best possible ​deal for the country in the EU negotiations, and that is what the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are doing—[Interruption.] I have avoided making any political points in this statement, but it would be nice to hear just one position from Labour that its Members felt they could get behind for longer than 24 hours.

 

On the Intelligence and Security Committee

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier this afternoon, my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) asked the Home Secretary an important question about why the Intelligence and Security Committee had not been reconstituted since the election, and indeed had not met since April. I do not think that she can have heard or understood the question correctly, because she did not give my hon. Friend an answer. This is incredibly serious—as I am sure you appreciate, Mr Speaker, as the champion of this place—because that Committee scrutinises the important work of the Government and the intelligence services. We have had a number of dreadful terrorist attacks and all sorts of allegations about Russian interference in our democratic process, and the Committee needs to get on with its job. Will you please ensure that my hon. Friend gets a proper response from the Home Secretary or the relevant Secretary of State? It is unacceptable for the ISC not to be doing its work for such a long time?

Mr Speaker

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I certainly agree that the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) ought to have an answer to the question that he did ask, rather than perhaps to one which he did not. If there was a failure to answer, I am sure that it was inadvertent rather than calculated. More widely, I point out to the House that the method of composition of the Intelligence and Security Committee is different from that of other Committees. It is a Committee of Parliament, but it is not a Select Committee, so it was not constituted in the same way or at the same time as the other Committees. However, its work is just as important and as pressing as the work of any of the Select Committees of Parliament, so I agree that it is important that it should be constituted and up and running as quickly as possible. This is a point that I am happy to mention to the Leader of the House myself, but I rather hope that Members who feel strongly about it might be inclined to raise the matter with the Leader of the House, perhaps at the upcoming business questions, at which time I eagerly anticipate that the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) will be in his seat and leaping up and down with enthusiasm from it.

 

On the openDemocracy report

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Has the Leader of the House seen the very worrying series of openDemocracy reports this week on the role of dark money in the EU referendum, including revelations of illegal donations to the Democratic Unionist party and new questions today over the real wealth of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of Leave.EU? Given the widespread public concern about foreign, particularly Russian, interference in western democracies, will she assure the House that the Government and the Electoral Commission will examine these reports very carefully, and reassure our country that all the resources spent during the referendum were from permissible sources?

​Andrea Leadsom

The right hon. Gentleman raises an incredibly important point. Of course, any specific information should always be raised with the Electoral Commission to ensure that any wrongdoing is caught. I absolutely share his concern that we need to make sure that all donations are indeed permissible and legal.

 

On Valproate

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Given what the right hon. Gentleman has said, is it not even more extraordinary that, even now, this information and these warnings are not getting through effectively to pregnant women and their families? My constituent David Tout’s son has been affected by this, as have 20,000 children across the country in every one of our constituencies. There is no sense of urgency from the MHRA—Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency—or from the Government.

Norman Lamb

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that, and he is right in what he says; I, too, feel that there is a sense of inertia. For goodness sake, for as long as women are not getting told about this, more such babies are being born. That is the awful horror of this.

Commons Interventions October 2017

On Hurricane Irma Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) My constituent Mark Wilson has been stuck on St Martin since the hurricane, his house completely demolished, with no access to food...

On dermatologists

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Dermatology is one of the specialisms that is particularly dependent on doctors from other EU countries. Is it not becoming clearer by the day, whether on the staffing crisis in the NHS or the threat to our pharmaceutical industry highlighted by the Health Secretary in his letter today, that the extreme hard Brexit being pursued by the Prime Minister is disastrous for our NHS? What are the Minister and the Secretary of State doing to pull the Prime Minister back from that damaging course?

Mr Speaker

Order. In relation to dermatologists is, I think, what the right hon. Gentleman had in mind.

Mr Dunne

I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman precisely how many of the excellent dermatologists come from the EU, but I can tell him that, since the referendum, 562 non-UK EU doctors have come to work in the NHS.

 

On Tarriffs

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

More than 80% of the fish caught around the south-west coast and 30% of our lamb is exported straight to the rest of the EU, yet under World Trade Organisation rules, that produce would face very high tariffs. What guarantees can the Minister give that our fishermen and our agricultural industry will not face tariffs or any other barriers if we leave the European Union?

Mark Garnier

This is all part of our negotiations with the European Union. It is an ongoing process, which will hopefully reach its end by March 2019. The United Kingdom Government are very keen to secure a deal with the European Union that sees no change whatever for businesses. We want as smooth a transition as possible into independence from the European Union, and the interests of fishermen down in the south-west are as important as those of everyone else.

 

On Euratom and the EMA

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

The Prime Minister says that she wants help in building consensus for sensible policies. There are majorities in this House to stay in Euratom and in the European Medicines Agency, so why does she not do that?

​The Prime Minister

As I referred to in answer to the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), membership of Euratom is inextricably linked with membership of the European Union. As we leave the European Union, we will be leaving Euratom, but we will be looking to put in place a similar relationship with Euratom, just as other countries around the world that are not members of the EU have access to the movement of scientists and materials and to Euratom’s standards. We recognise the importance of this matter, which is why a Bill on this subject was in the Queen’s Speech.

 

On the European Court of Justice

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Does the Foreign Secretary agree with the Chancellor and the First Secretary of State that we shall need a transitional period of at least three years during which we will remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice?

Boris Johnson

No. Neither the Chancellor nor the First Secretary of State has said any such thing.

 

On Mosul

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Following the comments from the Scottish nationalist spokesman, the hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law), does the Secretary of State agree that the crucial difference between the actions of the British and coalition forces on the one hand and Daesh on the other is that we go out of our way to minimise civilian casualties, while Daesh does exactly the opposite? At a time when one of our colleagues is being hideously bullied and threatened over her vote in favour of the action against Daesh, do we not need to send a clear message that this House was absolutely right to take the decisions to take military action against Daesh, both in Iraq and in Syria?

Priti Patel

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that we did the right thing, and we will continue to do the right thing by standing up to those poisonous ideologies and the conduct of those awful groups around the world. The liberation of Mosul speaks volumes about the sacrifices that the people in that community—and those who fought against Daesh—have made.

 

On House Building

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Will the Secretary of State congratulate Exeter’s Labour council on building more council homes and housing association homes in the last 10 years than all the surrounding Conservative districts put together? What more can he do to encourage those rural councils to provide more homes in their market towns and villages, instead of plonking their developments on the edge of cities such as Exeter in unsustainable urban sprawl?

Sajid Javid

I would like to see all councils playing an active role in getting more homes built in their area. It is to be welcomed when councils work with private partners to deliver more homes themselves. To make sure those homes are in the right place, local people should be involved in formulating the local plan and then the neighbourhood plans.

 

On School Cuts

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Will the Secretary of State confirm that protecting per-pupil funding from next year does nothing to reverse the cuts that are leading schools in Exeter to lay off teachers and staff now? What assessment has she made of the impact of raiding her own capital budget on vital improvements, for which many schools in my constituency will now have to wait longer?

Justine Greening

The funding I have set out is indeed for 2018-19, which is when the national funding formula will be introduced. In relation to capital, I simply believe that we can make better use of our budget. Significant funding has been set aside from the sugary drinks industry levy, and we have been able to retain that additional money despite the fact that receipts from the levy were slightly lower than we originally expected. I hope hon. Members welcome the fact that I am therefore pushing that to the frontline.

 

On Trade

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

8. What recent discussions he has had with food exporters in the west country on safeguarding tariff-free access to EU markets. 

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice)

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have a number of leading west country food manufacturers in my constituency, including Falfish and Rodda’s cream, both of which are successful exporters. In addition, we are working closely with trade organisations, such as the Food and Drink Federation, to understand the needs of the industry. We have been clear that we intend to put in place a new partnership with the EU, which will include a comprehensive free trade agreement.

Mr Bradshaw

The Minister will know that 80% of west country fish and 30% of our lamb is exported straight to EU markets, free—currently—of tariffs and other barriers. Those food producers will be extremely concerned by the comments today of the International Trade Secretary, who appears completely relaxed about the prospect of leaving the EU with no deal. Does the Minister agree with him, or with the Chancellor, who said that this would be a very, very bad thing?

George Eustice

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the UK has a significant trade deficit in food and drink products with the EU, so the EU needs access to our market as well. We have a significant deficit of around £18 billion a year, and I believe it is in the EU’s interests, therefore, to secure a free trade agreement too.

 

On Cabinet

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

T2. Is“thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus”an appropriate description to use for a fellow Cabinet member? If hard Brexiteers in our Government are falling out in that way, how on earth can the Secretary of State expect our European Union partners to take our negotiations seriously?

Michael Gove

The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, is aware that we are working well together in government—[Laughter]—and I do not recognise the description he just gave as fitting any Member of this House.

 

On Referendum Funding

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

1. What discussions she has had with the commission on allegations of illegal funding during the EU referendum campaign. 

Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South)

The commission has published two reports that include its assessment of the rules on campaign funding for the EU referendum. The commission has also completed investigations of issues with a small number of campaigner spending returns, none of which related to impermissible donations. It is continuing to consider issues with some campaigners’ spending returns, in line with its published enforcement policy. The commission publishes the outcome of all investigations on its website once investigations have been completed.

Mr Bradshaw

Can my hon. Friend confirm—or, if not, ask the Electoral Commission—whether it has received allegations of illegal financial funding from Russia to elements of the leave campaign?

Bridget Phillipson

The commission is aware of media reports that allege that there could have been Russian involvement in the EU referendum. These cover a wide range of alleged activities that are beyond the commission’s remit. Any allegation with evidence that a registered campaigner accepted impermissible donations from Russia would be investigated in line with the commission’s enforcement policy, but I am sure that officials from the commission would be more than happy to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss this matter further.

 

On the Church of England

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

But would not growth in the Church of England be easier if it moved on from its cruel and outdated approach to both clergy and laity who are in same-sex relationships? Will the right hon. Lady tell the bishops that simply kicking this issue into the long grass for another three years, as the General Synod agreed last week, is just not acceptable?

Dame Caroline Spelman

It is important to see in balance the progress that has been made by the Church. At the Synod, important decisions were made, including on tackling homophobic bullying in Church of England schools—the Church is the largest provider of education in this country—and on taking steps to ban trans and conversion therapies; that was voted on in the Synod. The fact that the Church is making progress in this area is hopefully an indication of more to follow.

Commons Interventions July 2017

On dermatologists Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) Dermatology is one of the specialisms that is particularly dependent on doctors from other EU countries. Is it not becoming clearer by the...

My latest Express and Echo colummn is now available to read online here.

My Latest Echo Column

My latest Express and Echo colummn is now available to read online here.

My latest Express and Echo column is available to read online here.

My Latest Echo Column

My latest Express and Echo column is available to read online here.

On EU Nationals

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

The Prime Minister does not seem to understand that the election has changed everything and that her extreme, damaging Brexit is dead, so why is she making an offer that, as it affects British nationals living on the continent and EU nationals here, is far less generous than the offer that the EU made to us just two weeks ago?

​The Prime Minister

There is no “extreme Brexit” that we have been talking about. There is no hard Brexit and there is no soft Brexit; what we want is the right deal for the United Kingdom. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that over 80% of people who voted in the recent election voted for parties that were committed to taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union. We have made a fair and serious offer; I believe it is a generous offer. There is one way in which it is different from the offer that the European Union has made, and that is in relation to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. When people voted in the referendum last year, they voted to ensure that we stopped the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice here in the UK.

 

On Brexit

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

All the five business organisations to which the Secretary of State refers have come out against the Prime Minister’s extreme and damaging Brexit. What is he personally doing to ensure that the Prime Minister not only hears what they are saying, but listens to it?

Greg Clark

The right hon. Gentleman will know that the five business organisations have put forward a sensible set of principles to govern the transition and the shape of a final agreement. Those suggestions seem very sensible. Part of the point of engaging with business, as I do rigorously and frequently, is to ensure that that voice is heard.

 

On NHS Shared Business Services

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

May I commend to the House the record of the debate I secured in November 2011, in which I warned the Government in terms about the very poor record of SBS and urged them not to part-privatise what had been an excellent NHS service? Ministers said at the time that the new contract would save £250 million. Will the Secretary of State now tell the House how much this scandal has cost, rather than saved, the taxpayer? Will he apologise both to the staff and the patients affected?

Mr Hunt

The costs are in excess of £6 million, and we are seeking to recover as much of that as we can from the company involved. I know that the regime in the Labour party has changed, but to try to turn this into an issue of privatisation when under the right hon. Gentleman’s own party’s Government—and indeed, during his own time as Health Secretary—we had problems at Mid Staffs that were squarely in the public sector is wholly inappropriate. This is about proper assurance of what is going on in the NHS, and both sides of the House need to learn the lessons.

 

On Leveson

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

The Secretary of State asks us to judge her on her record, which I will happily do. So when will she keep the promises that were made to the victims after the Leveson inquiry, announce Leveson 2 and implement section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which was passed almost unanimously by both Houses and, disgracefully, has still not been implemented by the Government?

Karen Bradley

We have had a consultation on the next steps regarding the second part of the Leveson inquiry and section 40, and I will publish the responses to that consultation. As Secretary of State, there is a process I need to go through in order to take anything further. We need to remember that the Leveson inquiry was in 2011. Many things have changed in that time. We have to think about how best to support local press and have a free, fair and vibrant local press. I will look at all those points when I consider the consultation responses.

Latest Commons Interventions

On EU Nationals Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) The Prime Minister does not seem to understand that the election has changed everything and that her extreme, damaging Brexit is dead,...

If you don't want the South West to become a one party state in a Conservative landslide you need to vote Ben Bradshaw in Exeter. Delighted to have Exeter City star & player of the year, David Wheeler saying as much in his Express & Echo column today: Link

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If you don't want the South West to become a one party state in a Conservative landslide you need to vote Ben Bradshaw in Exeter. Delighted to have Exeter City...

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