- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I raised the chaos of the Government’s flagship policy on universal credit which is causing real hurt to people. We now have the intervention of two former Prime Ministers. Half of all lone parents and two thirds of couples with children stand to lose £200 each month. That is what the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions allegedly said to the Cabinet. I asked the Leader of the House if this is correct and called on the Secretary of State to clarify her remarks and to provide an impact assessment at the Opposition Day debate on Universal Credit next Wednesday.
You can read my speech in full:
I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business.
“Mamma Mia!”, Mr Speaker, we have only four days of business, and nothing for the week after. If this was an exam paper, the Government would have an “F” for fail. I do not know whether the Leader of the House knows something that we do not when she said that “a week changes a lot.” I do not know whether she was referring to the Business of the House, or to whether the PM will lead her party into the next election. She could have said that the Prime Minister is a “Super Trouper.”
Is it too much to ask for the dates of the February and Easter recesses? I will give the Leader of the House a clue: Easter is on 21 April, so it cannot be difficult to work recess dates around that. Will she press the Government on fixing those dates? It seems that the Government are breaking conventions and are in chaos. I do not know where you were, Mr Speaker, when you found out that the Budget will be on Monday 29 October, but the date was on Twitter, which shows no courtesy to the House. The Government seem to be making it up as they go along.
I want to raise another breach of convention with the Leader of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) was not invited to the launch of a frigate in his constituency. He tried on a number of occasions to contact the Defence Secretary, but he was not invited. Later, it seems that the Defence Secretary was with Members of his own party, including the hon. Members for South West Devon (Mr Streeter), for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray), and for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer). Was it a ministerial or a private visit? My hon. Friend has a lot of correspondence, so could I ask the Leader of the House to look into the matter and provide him with a response?
More chaos and incompetence. The Secretary of State for Education was reprimanded on Monday by the UK Statistics Authority for his misuse of statistics, yet two days later the Prime Minister repeated the same statistics. Is anybody speaking to the Prime Minister to let her know about this issue? She said to the House that next year “per pupil funding is being protected in real terms.”
However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that per pupil funding is projected to fall in the next fiscal year. Will the Leader ensure that my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State for Education receives a response to her letter to the Prime Minister, and could the record be corrected? I am sure the Prime Minister would not want to mislead the House.
More chaos: the Government flagship policy on universal credit is causing real hurt to people. We now have the intervention of two former Prime Ministers. Half of all lone parents and two thirds of couples with children stand to lose £200 each month. Is that correct? That is what the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions allegedly said to the Cabinet. We want to know in this House whether that is true. We will be having an Opposition day debate on universal credit. I hope the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will give us an impact assessment and clarify her remarks. More importantly, will the Leader of the House guarantee that the regulations for the migration to universal credit will be debated on the Floor of the House, and not in some upstairs Committee Room?
The Government are sticking their heads in the clouds—or in the ozone layer, while we still have one. Their response to the intergovernmental panel on the climate change report has been muted. The report said that unprecedented changes to limit global warming are needed across society and across the globe, yet the Government are continuing to reduce feed-in tariffs, next generation tariffs and export tariffs. May we have an urgent debate on this issue? One of the greatest gifts we can leave to the next generation is to act now on climate change. This is not a short-term game.
We have had our last summer in the EU. We all agree with the leader of the Democratic Unionist party, when she said: “What we need to see is the legal text.”
Yes—her and everybody else. We all want to see the text on what the backstop will be for a border in Northern Ireland. And I am sure the Prime Minister will want to update the House on discussions with Gibraltar.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I want to thank you for your statement on Tuesday. The verdict from the inquest into the innocent victims who died in the Westminster attack were announced on Wednesday, sadly on the same day that the Prime Minister gave her speech to the Tory party conference. I do not think it was mentioned in that speech. I want to add my condolences to the families and friends of PC Keith Palmer and the other innocent victims of the attack. It cannot have been easy to relive that day in public. I am sure the House can agree, in consultation with PC Keith Palmer’s family, on a suitable prominent memorial to him.