Theresa May’s last Prime Minister’s Questions: 24 July 2019


>>Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth)
(Lab): If she will list her official engagements
for Wednesday 24 July.>>The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May):
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. Following my duties
in this House, this afternoon I shall have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen. I shall
then continue with my duties in this House from the Back Benches, where I will continue
to be the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead.>>Ruth Cadbury:
I profoundly disagree with many of the decisions that the Prime Minister has made and many
of the things she says, but I recognise that she does have a respect for public service
and for the future of our country, so how does she feel about handing over to a man
who, among many things, is happy to demonise Muslims, is prepared to chuck our loyal public
servants and diplomats under a bus, and promises to sell our country out to Donald Trump and
his friends?>>The Prime Minister:
I am pleased to hand over to an incoming leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister
who I worked with when he was in my Cabinet, and who is committed, as a Conservative who
stood on a Conservative manifesto in 2017, to delivering on the vote of the British people
in 2016 and to delivering a bright future for this country.>>Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con):
I rise to thank my right hon. Friend not only for her loyal service as Prime Minister over
the past three years, but for her 33 years of public service, which is a record to be
proud of. I also thank her for her personal support in helping me get my private Member’s
Bill—now the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017—on to the statute book. Does she agree
that it is far better to prevent people becoming homeless, to use the taxation system to combat
obesity, and to prevent people smoking in the first place? Does she agree that prevention
is far better than cure?>>The Prime Minister:
First of all, I thank my hon. Friend for all his work on the Homelessness Reduction Act,
which, crucially, we are seeing actually having an impact—that is so important for the people
who are benefiting from the work he did. I know that he has been doing a lot of work
as part of the all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health. I agree that we need
to start viewing health as an asset to protect throughout our lives. That is why we have
taken bold action on smoking and childhood obesity. I am proud that we have delivered
not only the biggest ever cash boost in the history of the national health service, but
a long-term plan that, as he said, will focus on prevention—as well as on cancer care
and mental health—trying to ensure that people do not get ill in the first place.
Preventing smoking and obesity are key parts of better lives for people in the future.>>Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab):
Today marks the final day in office for the Prime Minister, and I pay tribute to her sense
of public duty. Public service should always be recognised. Being an MP, a Minister or
indeed a Prime Minister is an honour that brings with it huge responsibility and huge
pressures personally and, I am sure the Prime Minister and probably the whole House would
agree, on those very closest to us, who are often not able to answer back for the criticisms
made against them. I hope she has a marginally more relaxing time on the Back Benches. Perhaps,
like the Chancellor, she will even help me oppose the reckless plans of her successor.
If I may continue— I am glad the Government party is in such good heart today, for tomorrow
it won’t be. In the past three years, child poverty has
gone up, pensioner poverty has gone up, in-work poverty has gone up, violent crime has gone
up, NHS waiting times have gone up, school class sizes have gone up, homelessness has
gone up and food bank use has gone up. Does the Prime Minister have any regrets about
any of the things I have just said?>>The Prime Minister:
It is very good to see the Conservative party in good heart; it is more than I can say for
the Labour party. But let me just say something to the right hon. Gentleman about my record
over the past three years and how I measure it. It is in the opportunity for every child
who is now in a better school. It is in the comfort for every person who now has a job
for the first time in their life. It is in the hope of every disadvantaged young person
now able to go to university. It is in the joy of every couple who can now move into
their own home. At its heart, politics is not about exchanges across the Dispatch Box.
Nor is it about eloquent speeches or media headlines. Politics is about the difference
we make every day to the lives of people up and down this country. They are our reason
for being here, and we should never forget it.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
Yes, politics is about real life and politics is about what people suffer in their ordinary
lives. I did not mention that per-pupil school funding has gone down, police numbers are
down and GP numbers are falling. In the 2017 Conservative manifesto, the Prime Minister
promised that no school would have its budget cut, that she would protect TV licences for
the over-75s and that she would halve rough sleeping. Which of those pledges is the Prime
Minister most sorry not to have achieved?>>The Prime Minister:
I am pleased to hear that the right hon. Gentleman spent some time reading the Conservative party
manifesto from 2017—he has not been known for always reading the documents he stands
up and talks about. Had he read the manifesto properly, he would know that we made a pledge
on rough sleeping: to halve it by 2022 and to stop rough sleeping by 2027. I am pleased
to say that in the past year we have seen rough sleeping going down. In particular,
rough sleeping is going down in those areas where this Government have been taking action.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
I do not quite know where the Prime Minister gets her figures from on rough sleeping. All
I know is that I travel around this country, just like other Members of this House, and
I talk to people who have had a disaster in their lives and end up rough sleeping. We
are the fifth richest country in the world. It is surely wrong that anyone should end
up sleeping on the streets of this country. We can and should do something about it. I have often disagreed with the Prime Minister
and have many criticisms of her policies, but I welcome the reduction in the stake on
fixed odds betting terminals, the adoption of the children’s funeral fund and the scrapping
of employment tribunal fees. Which of those policies is the Prime Minister most proud
of?>>The Prime Minister:
I am proud of all the policies that we have introduced that have been improving people’s
lives. I am proud of the fact that through the balanced management of the economy that
we have done, we now see more people in work in this country than ever before. I am proud
of the fact that there are more children in good and outstanding schools. I am proud of
the fact that the attainment gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged has been
narrowed under this Government. And I am proud of the fact that we are putting the biggest
cash boost in its history into our national health service. We are ensuring that the national
health service—the most beloved institution in this country—will be there for people
into the future. This is a Conservative Government—my Government—delivering on the things that
matter to people in their day-to-day lives.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
The Prime Minister may have noticed that none of those things that I mentioned were actually
in the Conservative party manifesto in 2017, but every one of them was a Labour pledge
in 2017. On Brexit, the Prime Minister’s own red lines ruled out any sensible compromise
deal. Only after she had missed her own deadline to leave did the Prime Minister even begin
to shift her position, but by then, she no longer had the authority to deliver. Her successor
has no mandate at all. Does she have confidence that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and
South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) will succeed where she has not?>>The Prime Minister:
I worked tirelessly to get a good deal for the UK, and I also worked hard to get that
deal through this Parliament. I voted for the deal. What did the right hon. Gentleman
do? He voted against a deal. He voted to make no deal more likely, and when there was a
prospect of reaching consensus across this House, the right hon. Gentleman walked away
from the talks. At every stage, his only interest has been playing party politics, and frankly,
he should be ashamed of himself.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
We have had three years of bungled negotiations, and we now have the spectacle of a Prime Minister
coming into office with no electoral mandate looking for a Brexit deal that has been ruled
out by the European Union, or in the case of a no deal, ruled out by the majority in
this House and by anyone who understands the dangers to the British economy of a no deal.
The next Prime Minister thought the Isle of Man was in the European Union and that the
European Union made rules about kippers that, in fact, were made by the Government that
he was part of. He also said that the UK could secure tariff-free trade through article 24
of the general agreement on tariffs and trade, despite the International Trade Secretary,
the Attorney General and the Governor of the Bank of England all confirming that that is
not possible. At the start of 2018, the— It’s coming,
don’t worry. At the start of 2018, the Prime Minister herself set up a new unit to counter
fake news, charged with “combating disinformation”. How successful does she think that has been?>>The Prime Minister:
I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that I fear that our success has not been
what we wanted it to be from the amount of fake news and fake information that he uses
at that Dispatch Box.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
Maybe the Prime Minister can have a word with her successor on the way out, but let me conclude—
For today. Let me conclude by welcoming some of the Prime Minister’s notable U-turns
over the last couple of years. The cruel dementia tax was scrapped. Plans to bring back grammar
schools were ditched. The threat to the pensions triple lock was abandoned. The withdrawal
of the winter fuel payments was dumped. The pledge to bring back foxhunting was dropped,
and the Government binned their plan to end universal free school meals for five to seven-year-olds.
The Prime Minister has dumped her own manifesto. Given that her successor has no mandate from
the people—no mandate on which to move into office—does she not agree that the best
thing that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip could do later on today
when he takes office is to call a general election and let the people decide their future?>>The Prime Minister:
My first answer to the right hon. Gentleman is no. If he wants to talk about people ducking
manifesto commitments and commitments made during general election campaigns, might I
remind him that the Labour party and he said that they would abolish student debt? After
the election, he rowed back on that promise. What else did he say during the general election
campaign? He said he was committed to Trident. What did he say afterwards? He said, no, he
was not committed to Trident at all. He has broken promise after promise to the people
of this country. As this is the last time that the right hon.
Gentleman and I will have this exchange across these Dispatch Boxes—[Hon. Member: “Are
you going to answer the question?”] I was going to say that it is a strength of our
British democracy that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have these
exchanges across the Dispatch Boxes every week, two swords’ lengths apart, and that
no quarter is sought and none is given. That is as it should be in our adversarial parliamentary
democracy. But he and I are very different people and very different politicians and
we approach the issues the country faces in different ways. I have spent all but one of
my years in the House on the Front Bench trying to implement the policies I believe in, while
he has spent most of his time on the Back Benches campaigning for what he believes in,
often against his own party, but what we have in common is a commitment to our constituencies.
I saw that after the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park mosque in his constituency. Perhaps then
I could finish by saying this: as a party leader who has accepted when her time is up,
might I suggest that perhaps the time is now for him to do the same?>>Mr Speaker:
I call Glyn Davies.>>Mr Speaker:
Don’t be shy, Mr Davies. Assert yourself, man. We must hear from you.>>Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con):
I first met the Prime Minister when she came campaigning with me in Berriew in the difficult
and dark days of the late 1990s, and she has been a great friend of Wales ever since. Only
recently, her Government approved the end of the M4 tolls and several other great measures
for Wales. Will she encourage her successor to introduce a Bill to extend the general
election franchise to all British citizens living overseas, where there is a wide Welsh
diaspora?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks and for highlighting the work the Government have
done in Wales. I would add that over 95,000 people in Wales had a pay rise this year as
a result of the national living wage and that employment in Wales has risen by 167,000 since
2010. Conservatives have indeed been delivering for Wales. I know the concern about the franchise
for overseas voters and I am sure that my successor will wish to look at that. I discovered a new part of my hon. Friend’s
past recently. I believe he was once the bodyguard to the legendary Hollywood actress Lauren
Bacall. [Interruption.] I think his red face tells us all.>>Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber)
(SNP): Prime Minister, it is fair to say that we
have had our differences—it has not often been a meeting of minds—but, with her standing
down today, the time for holding her to account has passed. The burdens of office are considerable,
the loneliness of leadership can be stark. At times we have clashed on points of political
difference, but equally we have stood together when it has been right to do so—over Salisbury
and other threats to the UK’s national security. She rightly made sure that Opposition leaders
were informed at key moments in national security. In particular, her chief of staff, Gavin Barwell,
always sought to make sure that I was kept informed of important developments. Prime
Minister, I wish you and Philip all the best for the future. As the Prime Minister departs, is she confident
that the office of Prime Minister can be upheld by her flagrant successor?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks. He is absolutely right: he and I have a difference
of opinion on some key issues, but I have been grateful for the position that the SNP
has taken on key issues of national security, when it has stood alongside the Government
as we have faced the actions of our enemy. I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s
point about keeping Opposition leaders in touch with things that have happened. I would
also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Gavin Barwell, who was a first-class
Member of this House, a first-class Minister, and has been an absolutely first-class chief
of staff. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s
question: yes, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip
(Boris Johnson) on winning the Conservative leadership election. He will take over as
Prime Minister and I look forward to a first-class Conservative Government under his leadership,
delivering for the whole of the United Kingdom.>>Ian Blackford:
The Prime Minister-elect has no mandate in Scotland. He has no mandate from the people.
The Government he is busy forming have no mandate in Scotland. Scotland deserves better.
A snap YouGov poll shows that 60% of people in Scotland are dismayed and disappointed
by the new Prime Minister. Those of us on the SNP Benches have tabled
an early-day motion, with friends from parties across this House, rejecting the idea of this
House being shut down before November. Following Parliament’s overwhelming message in last
week’s vote, may I invite the Prime Minister, in one of her first actions as a Back-Bench
MP, to sign our early-day motion and join efforts to stop the suspension of Parliament
under any circumstances?>>The Prime Minister:
As I said in answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s first question, I accept that he and I have
differences on a number of issues. We both have a passion for delivering for the people
of Scotland. I want to do that with Scotland as part of the United Kingdom; he wants to
take Scotland out of the United Kingdom. We have a mandate from the people to form a Government
of this country. That is how we run things in the parliamentary democracy that we have
in this country. We also have a mandate from the people to deliver on the result of the
2016 referendum. If the right hon. Gentleman is so interested in delivering on mandates
from the British people, he should have voted on the deal to take us out of the EU.>>Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con):
The Derwent valley cycle way is an aspirational project running through my constituency. It
would create an off-road cycle way between Derby and Baslow, providing an alternative
commuting route, encouraging tourism, encouraging cycling among the young, and improving the
health of the local population. Does the Prime Minister agree that more funding should be
made available to support this and other, similar projects?>>The Prime Minister:
I recognise the importance of increasing cycling and walking. It is important for people’s
health and the local environment. Schemes such as the Derwent valley cycle way provide
significant benefit to the local economy as well as to health and the environment. We
have doubled our spending on cycling and walking in England, and our local cycling and walking
infrastructure plan enables local authorities to take a strategic approach to planning improvements
and to integrate them into wider plans for transport and economic development. I am sure
the issue will continue to be supported by Conservatives in government.>>Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
(Lab): In Newcastle, the Prime Minister’s departure
invokes neither the despair of a Rafa Benitez nor yet the joy of a Mike Ashley, and she
may take comfort from that, but as she considers her choices—House of Lords, dignified retirement,
working with her successor—may I ask her to work to bring dignity and choice to others?
She is a WASPI woman; will she dedicate her prime ministerial retirement to justice for
all WASPI women?>>The Prime Minister:
We have put £1 billion extra into the pension system, recognising concerns that were expressed
by women about the changes to pensions. The hon. Lady references what I am going to be
doing in the future, but I thought I had already made that very clear: I will be continuing
in this House as the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead.>>Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):
What assessment she has made of the economic performance of the region governed by the
West Midlands Combined Authority since that authority’s formation; and if she will make
a statement.>>The Prime Minister:
I am sure my hon. Friend will want to join me in saying how pleased I am with the economic
growth that we have seen in the West Midlands Combined Authority area. Output has increased
by 27% over five years; productivity increased at twice the national rate last year; and
employment has increased since 2011. The record of the West Midlands Combined Authority shows
precisely what a local, visible, innovative leadership can do and how it can be the key
to building a strong economy and a fairer society.>>Michael Fabricant:
With the Prime Minister’s active encouragement the Mayor of the West Midlands was elected
in May 2017, and she has supported him and the region ever since. Over £2 billion has
been given to the region by the Prime Minister in the form of grants and guarantees for transport
and so many other worthwhile projects, so on behalf of the people of the west midlands
may I thank her and may I also ask that she continues in Parliament as a strong advocate
for local devolution?>>The Prime Minister:
I remember the conversation I had with Andy Street when I was encouraging him to stand
for the mayoralty of the west midlands, and I am very pleased that he did. He has been
delivering for the people of the west midlands ever since his election. I also thank my hon.
Friend for highlighting the excellent work that we have done for the west midlands: Government
working with that combined authority shows the benefits of the very local devolution
that my hon. Friend has referred to. This is a very good example of what that innovative
and visionary leadership can do at a local level in improving the lives of people.>>Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)
Outgoing American Presidents get to pardon anybody they want. If the Prime Minister could,
would she pardon her successor for sabotaging her premiership purely for his own personal
ambitions?>>The Prime Minister
My successor will continue to deliver the Conservative policies that have improved the
lives of people up and down this country since we were elected into a coalition Government
in 2010. There is a long list of improvements that have taken place in people’s lives,
and I look forward, on the Back Benches, to giving my full support to the next Prime Minister
as he takes us forward, delivering on Brexit and continuing to deliver on those Conservative
policies.>>Sir Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire Dales)
(Con) May I thank my right hon. Friend for the way
in which he has conducted herself as Prime Minister of this country, for the dignified
way in which she has approached the job and her responsibilities? May I ask her to reflect
on the fact that when we both first joined the Government in 2010, for every £4 the
Government were spending we were borrowing £1, yet as she leaves office today for every
£34 the Government spend we are borrowing £1? She has left an economy that is in a
much more stable position than when it was inherited. To do that she has had to make
some very difficult choices, and choices we may not have wanted to make, but we have got
the economy on a sound footing, and I thank her for that.>>The Prime Minister
I thank my right hon. Friend for pointing out that fact about Government borrowing and
for highlighting the work we have done for the economy, delivering that balanced approach.
I would like to thank my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for the work he has done in
delivering that. What does that mean? It means borrowing at its lowest level for 17 years;
it means the lowest unemployment since the 1970s, wages growing at their fastest for
a decade and debt falling. That is what my Government have delivered: more jobs, healthier
finances and an economy fit for the future.>>Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
The Education Committee published its report on Friday stating that the Government should
urgently address underfunding in further education by increasing the amount from £4,000 per
student to £4,760. Does the Prime Minister agree that raising the rate will benefit the
excellent Bolton sixth-form college in my constituency, as well as many other colleges
that are also under severe financial pressure, some of which are actually going under?>>The Prime Minister
Obviously, I always look at Select Committee reports with care. I commissioned the Augar
review of post-18 education funding, and that review has been very clear that more money
needs to go into further education and into sixth forms. I want to see that happening.
Indeed, I think that, just as my Government have given a priority to the national health
service in looking at funding for the future, the next Government should give priority to
education so that we can see that money going into further education and sixth forms and
ensure that for every young person there is an avenue through education and training that
suits them and their talents and gives them the best opportunities for their future.>>Mrs Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald)
(Con) The Prime Minister has always been a great
champion of victims of domestic violence, as Prime Minister and as Home Secretary, and
she has directed many millions of pounds into improving those support services during her
time in office, but does she agree that there is still much more work to be done on prevention
and early intervention, and on tackling the ongoing scepticism that still greets many
victims when they report violence?>>The Prime Minister
I thank my hon. Friend for raising an important issue. I also thank her for the work for victims
of domestic violence that she did in her legal practice prior to coming into this House.
This is a very important issue, and I am proud of the Domestic Abuse Bill that has been introduced
in this House. I look forward to the debates on the Bill as it goes through Parliament.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that we need to continue to focus on prevention
and continue to raise awareness. We must ensure that domestic violence is seen for what it
is. These are criminal acts that are being perpetrated and they should not be brushed
under the carpet. People should not just say, “Oh, it’s something that happens behind
closed doors” or “It’s just a domestic”. We need to take domestic violence very seriously.
We need to ensure that we are taking appropriate action in relation to the perpetrators, and
that victims are given support and feel confident and are able to come forward at the earliest
opportunity to report what has happened to them.>>John Mc Nally (Falkirk) (SNP)
My constituent is the wife of Captain Dean Sprouting, who was a brave, experienced and
decorated soldier with the UK military for 29 years. In January 2018, he was killed while
serving in Iraq, and it is believed that he was killed by a forklift driven by US soldiers.
Eighteen months later, Captain Sprouting’s family have still not had an answer as to
how he came to his death. His death has not been fully investigated, and those driving
the truck have not been brought to justice. Can the Prime Minister ensure that there will
be a continuing investigation into the cause of his death?>>The Prime Minister
The hon. Gentleman has raised an issue of great concern, and I am sure it will be of
concern to Members across the House and of course to the family of his constituent. I
will ensure that the Ministry of Defence provides a response to him on this issue.>>Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire)
(Con) I thank my right hon. Friend for her work
in supporting and overseeing the global health programme that the United Kingdom delivers
overseas, particularly in regard to vaccination and most notably the polio eradication vaccination,
for which she has been internationally recognised. The programme has saved and safeguarded millions
of children’s lives across the world. Does she agree that the need to combat misinformation
about vaccination is now as important as it ever has been? Will she, in her memo to her
successor, note the importance of this programme and the continuing need for a self-standing
Department for International Development?>>The Prime Minister
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reference to the work on polio, which enables me to
commend the work of my constituent, Judith Diment, with Rotary International in its work
against polio. It is important that we combat the disinformation about vaccinations and
ensure that people are willing to have those vaccinations, which will change their lives
and ensure that they can lead healthy lives, rather than succumbing to diseases and conditions
that can have an impact on their lives. I can also say to him that I am proud of the
fact that we have a Department for International Development, and proud of the fact that we
have legislated for 0.7% of gross national income to be spent on development aid overseas.
That is an important element of global Britain and an important element of our standing in
the world.>>Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
Last Friday, I had the honour of witnessing the presentation of the légion d’honneur
to Helene Aldwinckle, who is a constituent, for her work at Bletchley Park as a codebreaker
in world war two. She played a critical role in defeating the most disgusting fascist ideology.
Will the Prime Minister, on her last appearance at the Dispatch Box, join me in saying that
all politicians should remember the common goals that united people such as Helene and
must never resort to, nor fail to call out, nationalistic rhetoric which paints others
as enemies, victimises minorities, or espouses racism, because if they do, they are neither
fit to be a President nor a Prime Minister?>>The Prime Minister
As I have said on several occasions, it behoves all of us as politicians—indeed, everyone
in public life—to be careful about the language we use and to ensure that we give a clear
a message that there is no place in our society for racism or hate crime. We should all act
to ensure that we deliver on those sentiments. I thank Helene for her work at Bletchley Park
and thank all those who worked there. Unsung for some considerable time, they played a
crucial part in our ability to defeat fascism in the second world war. We should be very
proud of their work, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving the House
the opportunity to celebrate it.>>Mr Keith Simpson (Broadland) (Con)
I begin by commending the Prime Minister for her stamina and courage in her term of office—whatever
our views on Brexit and other issues—and also commend the support that she has received
from her husband Philip. For many of us, our husbands, wives and partners are the unsung
heroes. May I now ask her a specific question? She is going to the palace this afternoon,
and we assume that she is going to recommend that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and
South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) succeed her as Prime Minister, but will she tell the House
one piece of real, hard advice that she would like to give him on being Prime Minister?>>The Prime Minister
Can I— A number of my right hon. and hon. Friends are suggesting from a sedentary position
that my advice should be to read my right hon. Friend’s summer reading list. However,
he has also given me an opportunity to do something that I suspect many on my side may
not thank me for, but I am taking a lead from you, Mister Speaker, in saying that I am pleased
to be able to see my husband in the Gallery today.>>Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab)
I obviously disagree with the Prime Minister on many aspects of policy and the work that
she has done over the past few years, both as Prime Minister and as Home Secretary, but
it would be wrong not to commend her for the phenomenal work she has done to bring forward
the issue of modern slavery and to tackle human trafficking, so I congratulate her on
that. However, we still face many issues and challenges. Last year, as part of
Government policy, we locked up 507 potential victims of modern slavery as immigration offenders.
That cannot be right, and surely we need a change of public policy to treat them as victims,
not criminals.>>The Prime Minister
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks and also for his work on modern slavery, because
he and I have spoken about it on a number of occasions over the years, and he has also
been a great champion. We passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which took action in relation
to individuals who could find themselves on the receiving end of criminal charges effectively
because they had been forced to act in a certain way because of modern slavery. We have been
looking at how we deal with victims and the referral mechanism, It is important that we
have had an independent review of the 2015 Act, which proposed a number of recommendations
for improving how victims are treated, and we will be taking most of those recommendations
on board.>>Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con)
Further to the mention of modern-day slavery by the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker),
it is right to record that my right hon. Friend has long and distinguished service in this
House, both in government and in opposition, and her commitment to public service has been
outstanding. Her vision and her determination to bring forward legislation against modern-day
slavery led the world, and I hope she will continue her fight against slavery with us
from the Back Benches so that we stamp out this evil scourge together.>>The Prime Minister
I look forward to joining my right hon. Friend on the Back Benches and continuing to campaign
on this issue. I also pay tribute to her for the work that she has done on this issue.
She is right: it is an absolute scourge. We must continue to fight it, and we must continue
to raise awareness of it, because there are too many people today in this country—not
trafficked into this country, but British citizens—who find themselves taken into
effective slavery. We must raise awareness of this, and we must constantly work to combat
it and to end it.>>Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab/Co-op)
The Prime Minister has often spoken about the need for an industrial strategy during
her time in office, but the St Rollox railway works in Springburn, affectionately known
as the Caley, will be closed by its asset-stripping German owner Mutares on Friday, ending 163
years of engineering excellence and the jobs of 200 skilled workers. The Scottish and UK
Governments have both failed to intervene to save this strategic site since the closure
was announced late last year, while the workforce have been left devastated. Even though the
Prime Minister is losing her own job today, it is not too late for her to act now and
to instruct the Government to do everything they can to find a way to save these vital
jobs and this historic railway works. Will she at least commit to doing that?>>The Prime Minister
I recognise the concern that the hon. Gentleman is showing for his constituency, and the worry
and concern that there is for those people who are employed in the business that he has
referred to. Of course, whenever we see closures of factories and closures of industrial sites,
the Government do act to ensure that support is available for those who find themselves
losing their jobs, should that be the case. However, the hon. Gentleman says that I talked
of having a modern industrial strategy. We have a modern industrial strategy. It is a
modern industrial strategy that is essentially setting the background and the framework that
will enable the economy of the United Kingdom to be the economy for the 21st century.>>Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con)
You are in no doubt, Mr Speaker, that I think the Prime Minister is a thoroughly good egg,
and it has been an absolute privilege to serve her on the Back Benches. This Prime Minister’s commitment to mental
health has been simply fantastic; it was fantastic when she was the Home Secretary, and it has
been fantastic in her time as Prime Minister. We have had the Stevenson/Farmer review of
workplace mental health; Sir Simon Wessely’s review into the Mental Health Act 1983; her
commitment to reducing the tragedy of suicide, with her putting her office behind that; and
the introduction of places of safety for people experiencing a mental health crisis. We have
been filling the Prime Minister’s diary up with future commitments as she authors
the next chapter of her political life, but can she find space for a few more paragraphs
on mental health?>>The Prime Minister
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I also thank him and my right hon. Friend the
Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan) for the dignified way in which they
conducted the Conservative party leadership election. He has been an advocate for the
Government doing more on mental health during his time in this House, and he has championed
the need for us to do more on mental health. I want to continue to ensure that we do indeed
take that forward. We have set the record in putting that record funding into mental
health and in having those essential reviews—Stevenson/Farmer and Sir Simon Wessely’s review. We now need
to ensure that we implement the proposals and that we take this forward. If we do so,
we will make a significant improvement in the lives of those people with mental health
problems.>>Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab)
Professor John Snowden of Royal Hallamshire Hospital has just received a top NHS award
for pioneering work on stem cell transplantation for multiple sclerosis sufferers. I declare
a personal interest: John Snowden and his excellent team were responsible for my transplant
last year for multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Will the right hon. Lady give
an assurance, as she steps down as Prime Minister but remains an MP, that she will not support
any form of Brexit that prevents John Snowden from continuing to work with his EU colleagues
on the board of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, which will continue
to advance this treatment for patients with myeloma, MS, leukaemia and other conditions?>>The Prime Minister
I commend the individual to whom the hon. Gentleman referred for the work that he has
been doing. I am not aware of the organisation that the hon. Gentleman referred to, of which
the consultant that he mentioned is a member, but I do want a relationship between the United
Kingdom and European Union in the future that enables our scientists and academics to continue
to work with those in the EU, and around the rest of the world, to do the pioneering work
that—as the hon. Gentleman said, speaking from his own experience—is changing people’s
lives for the better.>>Mr Speaker
Ah yes, a singular denizen of the House: Sir John Hayes.>>Sir John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
(Con) The Prime Minister and I first encountered
the “bumping pitch and…blinding light” of parliamentary life together in 1997, and
since then, over many tests, have endured some defeats and enjoyed many victories. As
she reflects on her innings on the Front Bench, will she count among her greatest achievements
the falling number of workless households, which has succoured personal responsibility,
secured family stability and nurtured communal pride? Will she continue that work and, in
doing so, unite the whole House in that mission?>>The Prime Minister
I thank my right hon. Friend for that, and also thank him for all the work that we did
together when he was a Home Office Minister. He worked very hard to ensure that what I
believe is an extremely important and pioneering piece of legislation, the Investigatory Powers
Act 2016, went through this House. I am very happy to welcome the fact that we now have
that low number of workless households in this country. We all know that children brought
up in a household where there is work are more likely to do better at school, and more
likely to succeed further in their life. Reducing the number of workless households is an important
aim, and one that I would have hoped could be accepted and championed across this whole
House.>>Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Ind)
May I start by associating myself completely with the final answer that the Prime Minister
gave to the Leader of the Opposition about his need to consider his future? It is absolutely
clear to me that the vast majority of Labour MPs agree with her. Hundreds of people have
come to my community meetings in the last few weeks. They are worried about antisocial
behaviour, car crime, burglaries and violent crime. They want more police on the streets
and more criminals locked up, so will the Prime Minister urge her successor to make
sure that West Midlands police gets all the support it needs to keep people in Dudley
safe?>>The Prime Minister
First, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment as trade envoy to Israel.
He has done a lot of work on antisemitism, and should be congratulated on it. We have
been ensuring that we put more money into police forces: around £1 billion extra is
available to police forces this year, and many police forces around the country are
recruiting more officers. On the theme with which the hon. Gentleman started his question,
I imagine that to him and to others it is a matter of great sadness that the Leader
of the Opposition took the Labour party through voting against extra money for the police,
and against extra powers for the police.>>Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con)
Some 31 people were killed in Idlib yesterday, and many tens of thousands of people were
displaced—again. I thank the Prime Minister for her personal commitment to Syria, and
to international development more widely. I would like her to join me in reassuring
the people of Syria that all of us here will continue to remember them.>>The Prime Minister
First, I commend my hon. Friend’s work in setting up Singing for Syrians, which has
been raising funds for people in Syria, and the commitment that she has shown to the people
of Syria. We remain, and the Conservative Government will remain, committed to working
for a political solution in Syria that can provide the stability and security that the
people of Syria deserve.>>Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP)
I join others in thanking the Prime Minister for her years of public service as Home Secretary
and as the Prime Minister, for the thoroughly decent, dedicated, honourable way she has
carried out all her our duties, and for the very courteous and proper way she has dealt
with us as a party. Working together, we have ensured that there actually is a Conservative
and Unionist Government of the United Kingdom, which will please many in the House. I will
also please Labour Members by saying that we have ensured that there is no early general
election. Now that the Prime Minister has more time
on her hands with her dear husband, Philip, I urge her to come to Northern Ireland and
avail herself of the many walking opportunities there. She will have seen the wonderful Open
championship this weekend in Royal Portrush, which was a credit to Northern Ireland and
to the United Kingdom. The warm hospitality of the people of Northern Ireland was on show,
and it is open to her as well.>>The Prime Minister
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the discussions we have had and the support he has continued
to give to the Conservative and Unionist party so that there is a Conservative and Unionist
Government in this country. I thank him for the warm invitation to Northern Ireland he
has given to me and Philip. I have enjoyed my visits to Northern Ireland. I congratulate
all those in Northern Ireland who were involved in putting on the Open championship at Portrush.
There was a slight issue with the weather, which may have favoured those who came close
to the top of the championship, but it was an excellent championship, and many people
will have seen the delights and benefits of Northern Ireland when they attended that event.>>Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
(Con) As somebody who has not invariably seen eye-to-eye
with the Prime Minister, may I thank her for her remarkable public service, for showing
that highest of virtues, a sense of duty and, on top of that, for being willing to deal
with enormous courtesy with people who must on occasions have been annoying to her? On
behalf of many people, I thank the Prime Minister.>>The Prime Minister
Can I say—>>Mr Speaker
Order. Fortunately, because the hon. Gentleman’s voice carries, I was able to hear his question,
but I am at least as interested to hear the answer>>The Prime Minister
I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks. This place is about debate, argument and discussion
about the issues that we all believe in so passionately and that matter to us all. Those
debates and discussions are best held when they are held with respect and courtesy. I
thank my hon. Friend for the courtesy that he has shown to me in our discussions together.
I look forward to probably continuing some of those discussions when I join him on the
Back Benches.>>Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD)
When I think of girls growing up in East Dunbartonshire, I know it is inspiring for them to see women
in positions of power, whether that is as First Minister of Scotland or as Prime Minister
of our United Kingdom. What advice does the Prime Minister have for women throughout the
country on how to deal with those men who think they could do a better job but are not
prepared to do the actual work?>>The Prime Minister
My advice to all women is to be true to yourself, persevere, keep going and be true to the vision
that you are working for. I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election as leader of her
party. I am pleased that we have a Member representing a Scottish constituency who is
a leader of a United Kingdom party. That goes to show that we are one United Kingdom, and
MPs from the four nations of our Union sit in this House on the basis of equality. I
also congratulate the hon. Lady on becoming the first woman to lead her party. As I stand
down, I am pleased to be able to hand the baton on to another female leader of a political
party. As I look around the Chamber, I have to say
that we almost have a full set. My party has had two women leaders, the Liberal Democrats
now have a woman leader, and the SNP has a woman leader, as does the DUP, Plaid and the
Greens. Even— Wait for it. Even the independent TIGger group, Change UK, or whatever they
are calling themselves this week, are now on to their second woman leader. There is
only one party in this House letting the side down: the Labour party.>>Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent)
(Con) I thank my right hon. Friend for all she has
done for women in Parliament and in this country, from co-founding Women2Win to tackling domestic
abuse and modern slavery and legislating to make our society more equal. Will she urge
her successor to build on her work and make Britain the best place in the world to be
a woman?>>The Prime Minister
I am very happy to urge that commitment for the future. I thank my hon. Friend for raising
that issue. I am very pleased that under my Government, we have seen the gender pay gap
at a record low, female employment at a record high and a record percentage of women on executive
boards. With our women’s empowerment road map, we are now looking at how we can empower
women in this country from school to retirement. I want women in this country to feel that
there are no limits to how far they can go and what they can do with their lives.>>Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and
Castleford) (Lab) We have disagreed on many things over the
years, but the Prime Minister knows that I have long respected her resilience, commitment
to public duty and seriousness, as well as her work on national security. I assure her
that there is much to be done from the Back Benches. She knows that I once said to her
that I believed she was not the kind of person who would take this country into a chaotic
no-deal scenario, not least because of the advice she had had on the risks to our national
security. I am fearful about her successor, so can she reassure me that she really thinks,
in her heart, that her successor will take those national security warnings as seriously
as she has? If he does not, in October, will she speak out?>>The Prime Minister
First, I have every confidence that my successor will take all the issues that he needs to
look at in making these decisions and others across Government as seriously as they need
to be taken. I also say to her—I am sorry, but I will say this—that she is absolutely
right that I have always said that I believe it is better for this country to leave with
a good deal, and I believe we negotiated a good deal. I voted three times in this House
for a good deal. I spoke to the right hon. Lady about this issue. If she was so concerned
about the security aspect of no deal, she should have voted for the deal.>>Dame Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
(Con) In every aspect of her public life, the Prime
Minister has put her heart and soul into giving people the best chance in life. Without understanding,
autistic people and their families, who number 2.8 million in the UK, are all at risk of
being isolated and developing mental health problems. In thanking the Prime Minister for
all the work she has done in furthering the debate surrounding mental health and removing
the stigma, may I ask her whether, after she has left the Front Bench to spend more meaningful
time with her husband Philip, she will join the all-party parliamentary group on autism
and become a champion and advocate for autistic people throughout the country?>>The Prime Minister
I thank my right hon. Friend for her question and for the groundbreaking work she did on
the Autism Act 2009. That legislation helped to raise people’s awareness of the issues
experienced by those on the autistic spectrum and greatly increased our understanding of
what we need to do to enable people with autism to lead fulfilling lives. There are many issues
in which I want to take an interest when I am on the Back Benches and this, along with
mental health more widely, is something that I will want to continue to look at. I have
committed to taking the autism training that the all-party group has made available for
Members of Parliament.>>Mr Speaker
Finally, I call the Mother of the House, Harriet Harman.>>Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham)
(Lab) It is always a historic moment when a Prime
Minister leaves office, especially when the country faces such difficult times ahead,
as we do, but the right hon. Lady’s departure marks another milestone, because although
we are on to our 77th Prime Minister now, she is only the second woman ever to have
held that office. She made tackling human trafficking and the horrors of domestic violence
a priority at the heart of her Government, and in that respect her legacy is secure,
because everyone in this House backs that work and we will all be committed to taking
it forward. Even the Prime Minister’s harshest critics
must recognise her integrity, her commitment to public service and her dedication to this
country. Those are qualities that none of us should ever take for granted, but may I
offer her a word of sisterly advice? Sometimes, you just have to be a bit more careful when
a man wants to hold your hand. I thank her for her service as our Prime Minister, and
I sincerely wish her all the very best for the future.>>The Prime Minister
I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for her question. She joined this House in 1982
when there was a female Prime Minister, but there were very few other women in this House.
She has played a very important role—one of which she can be proud—in ensuring that
more women come into this House as Labour Members of Parliament. She started something
that began to change the face of this House, which has been very important. I came here
in 1997 as one of only 13 Conservative women—indeed, one Labour Member of Parliament approached
me to encourage me to sign a private Member’s Bill list because he assumed that, as a woman,
I must have been a Labour Member of Parliament. I am also proud to have played my part in
getting more women MPs in this House. I am sure that among the women in this House today
there is a future Prime Minister—perhaps more than one. Later today, as I said earlier, I will return
to the Back Benches. It will be my first time on the Back Benches in 21 years, so it will
be quite a change from standing here at the Dispatch Box. I am told that over the past
three years I have answered more than 4,500 questions over 140 hours in this House—more
than I might have expected. In future, I look forward to asking the questions. We are, as
the right hon. and learned Lady says, living through extraordinary political times. This
House of Commons is rightly at the centre of those events, and that is because of the
vital link between every single Member of this House and the communities—the commons—that
we represent. That is the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy and of our liberty, and each one
of us, wherever we sit and whatever we stand for, can take pride in that. That duty to
serve my constituents will remain my greatest motivation.

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