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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. 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.

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