Ben Bradshaw

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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 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?

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