Parliamentary Contributions

12th March 2015

Defence Spending

When the cold war ended in the early 1990s, the established view was that there would be a peace dividend. Defence spending would decline as countries spent money on initiatives that would create peace and stability rather than on arms. Russia was expected to become a fully integrated member of the international community; deadlock in the UN Security Council would become a thing of the past; and Russia would engage productively with its European neighbours. There was even talk of it joining NATO.

Those aspirations have since dissolved, and the illusion that we live in relative peace has now been lifted. The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) painted a very good picture of this new insecurity in the world. The most pressing concern is the continued ambition of Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish his dominance over eastern Europe. His tactics go beyond conventional warfare. Using subversive tactics such as political destabilisation, informal military units, information warfare and energy blockades, he has destabilised and partly occupied Ukraine. We saw such tactics for the first time in the 2008 Georgian war in which, under the pretext of aiding Russian citizens, he annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We have now seen him do the same with Crimea and large parts of eastern Ukraine.


4th March 2015

Future Government Spending

The Minister will recall that prior to the 2010 general election, the then Conservative Opposition promised to get rid of the deficit by the end of this
Parliament. We have already seen that the Government are planning to borrow £200 billion more than was originally estimated, which is clearly way off track. If they could not get their promises right before the last election, why should we believe them, in government, about what they will do after the next election?

13th October 2014

Palestine and Israel

It is very easy to call anyone who opposes the views of the Israeli Government an anti-Semite. Does my hon. Friend believe that building a wall and separation barrier on Palestinian land and building settlements that now house some 400,000 settlers is any way forward and gives the international community any confidence that Israel is willing to go through any sort of peace process? Does she also agree that this vote today is going to send a message to the Israeli Government that this Parliament and this country feel very strongly about their attitude towards Palestine?

10th September 2014

Ukraine, Middle East, North Africa and Security

Does the Foreign Secretary believe that a man who spent 16 years rising to the top of the KGB and who is currently the President of Russia will be deterred by economic sanctions when it is clear that Russia has territorial ambitions, as we have seen elsewhere in Europe?

1st September 2014

EU Council, Security and Middle East

Russia is invading Ukraine by stealth. I accept that EU sanctions will bite in the mid term and longer term, but in the meantime Putin is quite happy to let his troops carry on and take eastern Ukraine. Will the Prime Minister look seriously at arming the Ukrainians, because otherwise the state will not exist as we know it today

 21st July 2014

 Ukraine (Flight MH17) and Gaza

Benjamin Netanyahu said on TV over the weekend that the US, the UK and others supported Israeli action in Gaza. Given that the Prime Minister said in his statement today that the indiscriminate targeting of men, women and children is a war crime, why does he not condemn Israeli actions, rather than just making excuses for them, as he has done today?

17th July 2014

Children with Autism (Education)

I remind the hon. Gentleman that Lancashire county council has 1,435 children and young people suffering from autism spectrum disorder and, as he will hear in my speech, does an excellent job. He omitted from his remarks the fact that Rossendale is a private school and that the council provides excellent state facilities, with specialist experts, and can make that provision available, but he—I am sure that he will expand on this later—is insisting on private education when public education is adequate.

3 July 2014

North and West Africa (UK Response) [Westminster Hall]

My hon. Friend said “linked”; what is the link between criminal gangs that are smuggling, arms dealing and dealing in drugs from south America, and those who claim that their movement is about faith, ideology and the Islamic religion? What is the connection between the two? I cannot see one, so how does my hon. Friend make that link, and, for that matter, how do they make links with each other?

17th June 2014


Given the fact that the Russians have recently switched off the gas to Ukraine, what does the Foreign Secretary make of the discussions that took place during the D-day commemorations between newly elected President Poroshenko and President Putin? Were they a waste of time?

12th June 2014

The Economy and Living Standards

 An economic recovery for whom? My constituents still struggle. Many are on part-time hours or zero-hours contracts, and those who are in work see their wages stagnating. The Prime Minister wants people to believe that the economy has picked up, but that is not the experience of many of my constituents. Many still feel the pressure and worry about their future and job security.

Recent updated statistics from the Office for National Statistics found that there are 1.4 million zero-hours jobs in the UK, even though Ministers claimed as recently as September last year that there were just 250,000. The ONS also found that in a further 1.3 million contracts, employees were given no hours at all during a sample two-week period.

Continue reading the speech here


12th June 2014

The Economy and Living Standards

By modernising, which the hon. Gentleman is very much against, does he mean reneging on the pledge to commit 0.7% of the gross national product to international aid, which was a manifesto promise of the three major parties in this country?

30th April 2014

Prime Ministers Questions

Nuclear power is a very important component of the UK’s energy mix, because it produces large amounts of electricity with very little CO2. This Government call themselves “the greenest government ever” but have ceded control of our nuclear energy policy to foreign companies. What will the right hon. Gentleman’s Government do to ensure that nuclear power stations such as Hinkley Point C, which is already five years behind schedule, are brought on line on time?

30th April 2014

Stop and Search

In seeking to improve stop-to-arrest ratios, how will the Home Secretary measure
success: by a reduction in the number of stops or an increase in the number of
arrests—rightful or wrongful—which she may inadvertently encourage?


28th April 2014


In just over three weeks, there will be presidential elections in Ukraine. The Foreign Secretary said in his statement: “NATO agreed a set of measures to provide reassurance and confidence to NATO allies.” Are any NATO measures under consideration to give material military help and support to Ukrainian forces if Ukraine’s eastern border is invaded by Russia in order to disrupt those elections?


18th March 2014

Teaching Assistants

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) on securing this very important debate on the value of teaching assistants. Teaching assistants make up something like a quarter of the schools work force and carry out a huge range of responsibilities, supporting teachers and forming a crucial part of the modern education system. Any Member of Parliament who visits schools in his or her constituency will see the excellent work that teaching assistants do and the tremendous support they give to teaching staff. I have seen many schools in my constituency where they are doing a fantastic job in backing up and supporting the work of teachers. Behavioural levels, for example, have improved significantly as a result. Teaching assistants, however, feel that their work is poorly understood and undervalued. They are among the lowest paid in public services, and they are overwhelmingly women and part-time workers. They work hard for little reward, often dealing with the most challenging and difficult children in school. They are very much valued in their communities, as I have seen from my visits to schools.

Continue reading the speech here

18th March 2014


Russia’s military deployment into Ukrainian territory is extremely disturbing and without justification. That invasion is reminiscent of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. I was just a boy at the time but I can still remember those events in 1968. It took nearly 30 years to get the Soviets out of Czechoslovakia. The only difference in the case of the recent invasion by Russia is that it was done by troops who did not dare to speak their name. We saw troops in what were obviously Russian uniforms, but with no insignia identifying them as Russian. We saw people in masks or covering their faces who did not respond to questions from interviewers.

Continue reading the speech here

4th March 2014


On 9 July 1997 the charter on a distinctive partnership between Ukraine and NATO was signed, and on 21 August 2009, the declaration to complement that charter was signed. If possible NATO involvement is totally ruled out, are those signatures worth the paper they are written on?


13th January 2014


I had a meeting earlier today with the chief of staff of the Syrian National Coalition, who claimed he had evidence that the Iranian and the Assad regimes are providing covert support for ISIS—the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant—and Islamists operating in Syria. He said that the target of ISIS is not the Assad regime but the Free Syrian Army. Is the Foreign Secretary aware that all attacks are taking place on the Free Syrian Army with the support of Assad? If he is and believes it to be true, does it not put a totally different complexion on the war in Syria in that the Free Syrian Army is on its own? We should look at more ways to support it and not just provide humanitarian assistance.

6th January 2014

Academies and Free Schools

Fulwood academy in Preston had a recent Ofsted report that stated that pupil achievement, quality of teaching and leadership and management were inadequate. The head teacher Richard Smyth has received extra funding for free school meals, disabled pupils and special educational needs. Why should that man remain in post when he has been at the school for three years and is himself inadequate?


10th December 2013

Defence Procurement

How will the further involvement of the private sector and the introduction of the GoCo model square with the national interest of having a proper defence industrial strategy for the UK, or do the Government no longer believe in a defence industrial strategy?


22nd November 2013

European Union (Referendum) Bill

My hon. Friend’s amendment would not only mean some or most Conservative Members of Parliament campaigning with UKIP; it would also raise the difficulty of some—albeit a few—Conservative Members of Parliament having to campaign with us to remain within the European Union. There would also be the problem that if changes were made to the treaty a couple of years later, then whichever Government were in power would be forced to hold another referendum in the UK, two or three years after already holding one, because of our commitment under the European Union Act 2011.


11th November 2013

Iran and Syria

I congratulate the Foreign Secretary and E3 plus 3 Foreign Ministers on getting Iran to the negotiating table and on getting as far as they have, but would it not have been better to get the E3 plus 3 together before meeting the Iranians to get a united position, rather than letting the Iranians negotiate differences between the six countries and ending up with the failure in discussions that we currently face?



 21st October 2013

UK Nuclear Energy Programme

The Secretary of State says that the deal is not a deal at any price. How can he anticipate that the decommissioning, clean-up and waste disposal costs will be around £2—that is what he said in his statement—when there is no identifiable or accepted disposal site in this country, and when the project is on a scale this country has never seen before?



8th October 2013

Middle East Peace Process/Syria and Iran

My I add to the many tributes that have been paid to the hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt)? I am sure that he has received many letters—from me, and from many other Members—about his excellent work in relation to the middle east, and I am sure that he will be missed by Front Benchers.

I agreed with what the Foreign Secretary said about the catastrophic situation in Syria and the fact that more than 2 million refugees are fleeing from the country into the wider region, but what assessment has been made of the likelihood of the conflict’s spreading within the region as well? We know that there is already sectarian violence in Lebanon, but what is happening elsewhere, and what can we do about anything that is happening?


9th September


Given President Hollande’s recent indication, if the UN Security Council votes in favour of military action, could the Prime Minister tell us whether he has ruled out giving the House a vote on whether to go along with such a decision?


29th August 2013

Syria and the Use of Chemical Weapons

Syria’s use of chemical weapons is either a huge mistake or, in my view, a calculated attempt to test the resolve of the west, post Iraq and post Afghanistan. If we look at the possibility that it was a mistake, it could have been an official or a general who gave orders to the relevant Government department for the use of chemical weapons without the direct instruction of Assad; that scenario has been put forward by reports appearing in Foreign Affairs magazine. Alternatively, it could be a test to see whether Syria could get away with the use of weapons of mass destruction, and whether the west would not have the stomach for a challenge. Chemical weapons have been used in Syria earlier, and until the recent red line from Obama the west did not react, other than to threaten a red line.



4th July


 In connection with the intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), does not my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley) think that it is a bit peculiar that Croatia, a former Soviet bloc country, entered the European Union a few days ago whereas Turkey, which has been a staunch ally of European countries for many years and is a member of NATO, still finds considerable opposition to its membership of the EU from within the EU?


 19th June


The last Labour Government took 1 million children out of poverty. Figures released recently show that one in six children in this country now lives in poverty. In my constituency, one in three is living in poverty, compared with one in 10 in the Prime Minister’s constituency. What is he going to do about it?


17th June 2013


At the risk of lazy labelling, before the election we were told that six hardliners had been vetted to go on the ballot paper, but now we are told that a moderate slipped through the net and is President. What is the Foreign Secretary’s assessment of the new President, Dr Rouhani, and what are his hopes for improvements in UK-Iranian relations?



12 June 2013

In Amenas Hostages [Westminster Hall]

The Minister will be aware that the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs is holding an inquiry into terrorism in north and west Africa. To our mind, it seems that many of the terrorists who carried out the attack, and who were involved as well in the destabilisation of the Malian force, were trying to help Colonel Gaddafi before his regime in Libya fell. Many of them are not from Algeria but from neighbouring countries in the Sahel. Does he accept that the outcome of the Libyan conflict had some bearing on the attack, and indeed on what is happening in Mali?

20 May 2013


What leads the Foreign Secretary to believe that the commitments made by members of the Syrian National Coalition in the compact are worth the paper they are written on?


16th May 2013

Mental Health

Is the hon. Lady saying that FGM is taking place in this country, or are parents taking their children abroad to have it done before coming back?

I am sure that my hon. Friend, like many other hon. Members, has come across many constituents attending surgeries who are developing serious mental health problems purely and simply because of the pressures caused by the reforms to the benefits system. I am finding that people who are mentally ill and do not know it are getting worse—they are under pressure from the benefit changes that have been made and those that will take place in future.



10th May 2013

Jobs and Business

The hon. Gentleman will know that Barnoldswick, which is not very far from his constituency, has a major manufacturer of aerospace blades for Rolls-Royce engines. Why do not Rolls-Royce and other similar companies working in the aerospace sector take on and train more apprentices to meet the demand he is talking about?



15th April 2013

G8 Foreign Ministers

The Foreign Secretary has commended the Chinese and referred to Secretary Kerry’s visit to China. That is positive and is in stark contrast to the position a couple of weeks ago, when the Americans, and to some extent our country, were saying that the Chinese were not doing enough with regard to North Korea. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary accepts the co-operation that is now taking place, but does he accept that if there was a major conflict on the Korean peninsula, the Chinese Government would have to deal with millions of refugees and the scale of the humanitarian disaster would make Syria look like a fairly small-scale operation?

5 March 2013


What discussions he has had with the Governments of Mali and France on protection of British civilian and military personnel in Mali

 5 March 2013

 1 March 2013

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Minister has now been speaking for 45 minutes. Each Conservative Member who spoke in the debate did so for about an hour. Clearly, this is a tactic to stop us getting to the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which the Government supposedly support.


 30 January 2013


The Prime Minister’s much anticipated and delayed Europe speech of last week, announcing an in/out referendum after the next election, was an unnecessary gamble. It was a Machiavellian gesture, seeking to placate the increasingly frustrated Tory Back Benchers, as the Front-Bench team tries to manage party disquiet over Europe and the realities of coalition government. At best, it is a diversion and kicks Europe into the long grass; at worst, it will undermine investment into the UK, creating uncertainty and weakening our relationships with other EU member states. That is not a desirable place for the Government to be in if they are serious about renegotiating competences.

What we need is a clear vision and policy on the UK’s role in Europe and what sort of Europe the UK should be fully involved in. In general, I believe it is the role of politicians to make informed judgments and generate policies that are in the interests of our constituents and the general public, and I am therefore generally opposed to the use of referendums, except on strictly constitutional issues.


23 January 2013


Does the Prime Minister believe that it is fair that Preston city council, which represents one of the areas of highest deprivation and poverty in the country, is receiving a 12% cut in its local government funding, while his own West Oxfordshire district council receives a cut of only 1%? Will he look at that again and give Preston a fairer deal?


7 January 2013

 Commission Work Programme 2013

 The hon. Gentleman criticises the Commission for trying to do something about cross-border crime. He was against the introduction of the European arrest warrant, but it is working well and providing tangible results. Why is he critical of it?



19 December 2012

Shale Gas Profits


11 December 2012

 Adjournment Debate: Israel and Palestine


31 October 2012

European Union Free Movement Directive 2004 (Disapplication): Multiannual Financial Framework


20 November 2012

Attorney - General: Middle East

In his response to Sir Menzies Campbell, the Foreign Secretary declined to say what he felt was proportionate. When an organisation such as Hamas gets international sympathy and support, and unprecedented support in the region, does he not think Israel’s approach is a mistake, and if so, is he willing to say so?


23 October 2012

Communities and Local Government: Council Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will commission a survey of local authorities to ascertain which councils have asked housing applicants to move to another local authority; and how many households were affected between January and August 2012.


15 October 2012

Transport: DVLA: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what costs his Department will incur in respect of redundancy for the 39 DVLA offices that are scehduled to close; and what proportion of such costs will be spent on redundancy for the Preston DVLA office.


15 October 2012

Transport: Motor Vehicles: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his officials have had with Co-operative Insurance and Insure The Box on smart box tecnology.


15 October 2012

Transport: Motor Vehicles: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what meetings (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have had with the Association of British Insurers on how to reduce insurance premiums for motorists.


17 September 2012

West Coast Main Line Debate


17 September 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Justice: Magistrates Court

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice in how many magistrates courts in England and Wales non-stipendiary magistrates are expected to provide their own paper.


03 September 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Defence:Defence Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the urgent question of 17 July 2012, on defence procurement, whether defence procurement is subject to European single market procurement rules.


02 July 2012 

EU Council


26 June 2012

Rio and G20 Summit

 25 June 2012

G20 Summit

On the basis of what authority is the Prime Minister lecturing the eurozone when two and half years of his Government’s policies have driven this country into a double-dip recession?

10 May 2012

Queens Speech:Home Affairs and Justice

10 May 2012

Queens Speech: Home Affairs and Justice 

The Minister will be aware that antisocial behaviour in Lancashire has been cut in recent years from 155,000 incidents per year to about 100,000 because of Labour’s measures. What does he think a 20% cut to policing will do to that?


25 April 2012

Prime Ministers Questions

Does this out - of - touch Prime Minister still believe that the British economy is "out of the danger zone"?

24 April 2012

Housing (Selective Licensing of Private Landlords in Exempted Areas) Bill: Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment)  

Housing (Selective Licensing of Private Landlords in Exempted Areas) Bill: Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment)

26 March 2012

Budget Day Debate

08 February 2012

Oral Questions: Police

Will the Minister tell us why the Lancashire constabulary is losing 500 police officers?

08 February 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Home Department: Civil Disorder: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will estimate the cost of sending officers from Lancashire Constabulary to assist the Metropolitan Police with public disorder in London in August 2011; and how much financial assistance Lancashire Constabulary will receive from her Department towards these costs.

08 February 2012

Prime Ministers Questions

The people of Preston are furious that the Indian Government have selected a French company as their preferred bidder for the Indian air force jet contract. The Prime Minister repeatedly talks about rebalancing the British economy, but this is a major blow to manufacturing in this country. Other European leaders go to help their companies get major contracts. Why is this weak Prime Minister not doing that and why have we not got the contract with the Indian Government?

08 February 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Home Department: Police: Accountability

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will estimate the cost of holding elections for police commissioners in (a) Preston and (b) Lancashire in 2011; and what additional funding will be provided to (i) Preston city council and (ii) other local authorities in Lancashire in respect of such costs in 2012-13.

08 February 2012

Parlimentary Question Written Answer

Home Department: Police: Accountability

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the costs of elected police commissioners in financial year (a) 2012-13, (b) 2013-14 and (c) 2014-15; and from which budgets this funding will be drawn.

08 February 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Work and Pensions: Employment and Support Allowance: Preston

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many successful appeals there were against refusal to grant (a) employment and support allowance and (b) disability living allowance in Preston constituency in 2011.

08 February 2012

Parliamentary Question Written Answer

Work and Pensions: Universal Credit: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff employed by his Department in Lancashire will be made redundant as a result of the introduction of universal credit.

06 February 2012

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Gift Aid: Schools

(1) What the value was of tax relief on gift aid donations to state schools in Lancashire in the last two tax years.

(2) What the value was of tax relief on gift aid income received by (a) Eton and (b) Winchester schools and the charities attached to them in the last two tax years.

06 February 2012

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Local Government and Finance: Market Stalls 

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information his Department holds in the amount of income local authorities in Lancashire derived from renting out market stalls in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011.

27 January 2012

Prime Ministers Questions

Why does the Prime Minister want NHS hospitals to hand over up to half their beds to private patients?


15 December 2011 


The factory in Preston recycles computer equipment—if any business is sustainable in the foreseeable future, it is the recycling of computer equipment. The factory is running at only half its actual capacity, which makes me think, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) has said, that there is work out there, but the factory is just not receiving it. That fact of the matter is that, when I have spoken to the workers, they have said that they feel that they are being condemned to a life of unemployment. The chances of getting work are negligible, and this signals the death knell for what has been recognised as a very important company since the war.

 6 December 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer


5 December 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer




1st December 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Affordable Housing: Preston

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new units of social housing were built or acquired by social landlords in Preston constituency in each of the last five years.


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many homophobic incidents have been reported to the police (a) in Lancashire and (b) nationally in each year since 2005.


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Hospital Beds: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds were available for people with (a) mental health needs and (b) neurological conditions in Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust in (i) 2006 and (ii) the latest period for which figures are available.


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Religiously Aggravated Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of hate crime against Muslims have been reported to the police in (a) Lancashire and (b) nationally in each year since 2005.

30th November 2011

Prime Minister's Questions

May I ask the Prime Minister if he came into politics to sack three quarters of a million civil servants and public sector workers, most of whom are women and most of whom have families?


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

National Football Museum

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what the cost to the public purse was of the closure of the National Football Museum in Preston.


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Theft: Churches

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of theft or vandalism relating to churches were reported to the police in the last year for which figures are available.

29th November 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Business: Closures

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many businesses in (a) Preston constituency and (b) Lancashire have ceased trading since 1 June 2010.


Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Fuel Poverty: Preston

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Preston constituency living in fuel poverty.

25th November 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Defence: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the prospect of future job losses at defence manufacturing sites in Lancashire.

24th November 2011

BAE Systems

I am well acquainted with Andrew Witty, having met him at GlaxoSmithKline’s research and development centre in China. It is now a global business that employs thousands of Chinese people, and although the company returns a lot to the UK, it also has major investments abroad in the same way BAE Systems will have when it is employing people in India

24th November 2011


Coming back to the point about job losses, many manufacturing jobs were lost under the previous Government over the 13-year period, but some of them have moved, as the Minister said, to the far east and elsewhere. Many of these jobs were not particularly high-skilled, and modern technology and manufacturing has moved on. The problem was that those jobs were not replaced quickly enough by more modern, hi-tech skilled jobs. That is the challenge the Government must face for the future.

21st November 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Prisons: Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many serving prisoners are working and earning a weekly wage of over (a) £100, (b) £150 and (c) £200.

7th November 2011

Illegal Immigration (Olympics)

What assessment she has made of the potential effects of the London 2012 Olympics on the level of illegal immigration?

The Government’s wait-and-see approach is dangerous. When Greece hosted the Olympics in 2004 and Germany held the World cup in 2006, the authorities adopted a forward-thinking strategy that included extra training for police to spot trafficking, and PR campaigns to raise awareness among the public. Will the Government consider adopting a more proactive strategy ahead of the games to ensure that human trafficking does not become part of the London 2012 legacy?

27 October 2011

BAE Systems (Lancashire)

(Click on the link above to view the full text of the debate)

BAE Systems recently announced 1,423 job losses in Lancashire, including 822 at the Warton site in the constituency of the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies), 565 at the Samlesbury site in your Chorley constituency, Mr Deputy Speaker, and a further 136 elsewhere in Lancashire. Many of the highly skilled workers who will find themselves out of work live in Preston and the surrounding area of central Lancashire

27 October 2011

Topical Questions

The Secretary of State will be aware that Remploy businesses were set up across this country after the second world war to give work to disabled people returning from the war. Those businesses have gone on for decades and given great work to disabled people. Why are the Government going to axe the programme?

26th October 2011

Parliamentary Question for Written Answer

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to consult (a) staff and (b) union officials of the tax credit office in Preston prior to making any decision on staffing levels following the introduction of the universal credit; [76403]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the effect on staffing levels at tax credit offices of the introduction of a universal tax credit. [76564]

14 October 2011

Business of the House

Is the Leader of the House aware of the 1,400 job losses that will occur at BAE Systems as a result of the Government’s cutting the defence budget too far and too fast? That is having a devastating effect on families across Lancashire and on the manufacturing base in this country. May we have a debate specifically on the future of manufacturing in this country?


14 October 2011

Middle East and North Africa

Would not a successful resolution on UN membership for Palestine strengthen the hand of Fatah, whereas at the moment, with the prisoner exchange, Hamas is looking as though it is more successful than Fatah?


14 September 2011

Prime Minister's Questions

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Contrary to the Prime Minister’s answer at the Dispatch Box last week, will he confirm that the winter fuel allowance this year will be £50 less for the over-60s and £100 less for the over-80s? Age UK has called that a cut. Does he agree?

19 July 2011

Foreign & Commonwealth Office - China

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What steps he is taking to maintain a close bilateral relationship with China.

As the Minister has just mentioned, £1.4 billion-worth of trade deals were signed between China and the UK. After his visit to the UK, Premier Wen went to Germany and signed deals worth £9 billion, which is six and a half times the value of the deals signed with the UK. There were 13 Chinese Ministers in Berlin signing deals with 10 German Ministers. The Economist described the UK visit as a “sideshow” compared with the German visit. What are the Government doing to make sure that the UK does not play second fiddle to the Germans when it comes to economic partnership with China?

19 July 2011

Adjournment Debate - Health Questions

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There is increasing evidence that the number of people taking part in shisha smoking is on the rise. Hookah pipes have become a regular sight on university campuses, and shisha cafés or bars are springing up across the country. I have seen evidence of this in my own constituency of Preston, and it is particularly true of young people from ethnic minority Asian communities, as shisha smoking is seen as a legitimate social activity compared with drinking alcohol. This is creating a number of issues for both the Government and local authorities. Chief among them is how best to educate smokers about the health risks associated with shisha.

First, what is shisha? To avoid confusion, let us be clear that shisha is the process of smoking tobacco through an ornate water pipe. Tobacco is mixed with fruit or syrup and then wrapped in aluminium foil before being heated by charcoal. The smoker then uses a pipe to breathe in, forcing the smoke through the water, producing bubbles, before it is inhaled. Shisha is also referred to as hookah, hubble-bubble, goza and narghile and is a common pastime in parts of Asia and Africa, where it dates back around four centuries.

There are a number of myths surrounding shisha, the most prevalent of which is the belief that it is either not a danger to your health, or much less serious than smoking cigarettes. This is simply not the case. There is of course variety in what is smoked, but in the majority of cases it is tobacco. The fact that it is flavoured or described as herbal hides the impact it can have. I stress this because reports have suggested that some people do not realise that tobacco is involved and many do not regard the activity to be the same as smoking cigarettes.

In addition, there is a belief that the process of passing the smoke through water filters out many of the harmful chemicals that are released by burning tobacco, but it does not. Shisha smokers expose themselves to nicotine, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other cancer-causing chemicals, and they do so in much greater quantities than those smoking a cigarette. Research carried out by the World Health Organisation found that the average cigarette involves eight to 12 intakes and produces a total of between 0.5 and 0.6 litres of smoke over a five to seven-minute period. When looking at shisha, it was found that the average smoking session involves between 50 and 200 intakes, producing between 0.15 and 1 litre of smoke per intake, over a 20 to 80-minute period.

The health dangers associated with smoking tobacco are now well established. Shisha smokers expose themselves to the same risks as those who smoke cigarettes. Increased risks of heart disease, cancer and gum disease are all direct consequences of smoking tobacco. As I mentioned at the start of my speech, the increasing popularity of shisha smoking as a social activity is resulting in a number of challenges. How can we effectively regulate shisha cafes and bars to ensure that they comply with the Health Act 2006? How can we ensure that safety is maintained and risks minimised?

In short, Britain is witnessing the emergence of a shisha culture. Young people from a range of backgrounds, but especially those from ethnic minority communities are taking up shisha smoking. We need to do more to dispel the dangerous myths out their relating to shisha smoking. Today I call upon the Government to instigate a nation-wide campaign, similar to that instigated by the previous Labour Government, to talk about the dangers of this type of smoking.

 9 May 2011

Trafficking in Human Beings

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The details of this European directive are to be welcomed. They will strengthen Britain’s ability to prosecute those who carry out these horrendous crimes and ensure that adequate care is provided for victims of human trafficking. This debate is taking place close to the 224th anniversary of the first meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. On 22 May 1787, 12 men, led by Thomas Clarkson, met in a printing shop in London and sparked a movement that led to the abolition of the slave trade within the British empire in just 20 years.

Human trafficking is a modern-day version of the slave trade. When people think of slavery, they think of 17th-century ships transporting Africans across the Atlantic. When children study slavery, they look at the role slaves played in the British empire or the impact slavery had on the American civil war. For many, the issue is resigned to the history books. However, the United Nations estimates that 12 million men, women and children are enslaved today. This is likely to be a conservative estimate, with the actual number closer to 30 million. In other words, slavery and human trafficking is very much a contemporary issue. The nature of slavery has changed dramatically, so it is important that we continue to review how we combat human trafficking.

The changing nature of slavery can be demonstrated by a study conducted on the retail cost of a slave. The study looked at slavery over the past 4,000 years and concluded that in the period up to the 20th century, the average cost of a slave was around £24,000 in today’s money. After advances in technology and the population explosion of the past 100 years, the cost of a slave today is estimated to be around £55.

Rather than being kidnapped, many of those enslaved today walk into it. They are searching for employment in order to improve their families’ lives. When a seemingly legitimate offer of moving away from home with the promise of a decent paid job is made, many take it. They give all their savings to groups or individuals who transport them thousands of miles away from home. However, they soon find that the job is not what they were promised, and when they try to leave, they are forced through violence, or the threat of violence, to stay. Given that they are often in a country illegally, with no documentation, they have no choice but to stay. Those who are most at risk from human trafficking are therefore among the world’s most vulnerable people. In addition to providing support and prosecuting those who commit criminal acts, we need to ensure that the root causes of why people become trafficked are addressed.

In conclusion, the measures in the EU directive will strengthen our ability both to prosecute criminals and to support victims. Britain has a long history of leading and shaping international responses to issues such as human trafficking, a crime that is transnational and in all our interests to eradicate. I hope that Britain will continue to do that under this Government, and that any latent Euroscepticism will not get in its way.


The Prime Minister spoke of the myths about bin Laden. Is he not concerned about the possibility that the swift burial of bin Laden will lead to conspiracy theories and further myths about whether he is still alive?

Further to the question from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), has the Prime Minister assessed—or is he aware of any such assessment—how soon a no-fly zone must be implemented for it not only to save civilians on the ground, but to change the course of events there?

15 December 2010

13 December 2010

Topical Questions

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The Secretary of State will be aware of the 1,400 job losses announced by BAE Systems as a result of Government cuts. That is a tremendous blow to the people of Preston, particularly those working at Samlesbury and Warton. Will he undertake to support tranche 3B of the Eurofighter Typhoon project, which they have not yet approved, and the joint strike fighter aircraft for the new two aircraft carriers?

9 December 2010

8 December 2010

Initially, the plan was to be realised and carried out in secret, without the knowledge or consent of the democratically elected governors of the trust. However, once the staff at the Avondale unit of the Royal Preston

7 December 2010

10 November 2010

9 November 2010

I congratulate my neighbour, the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies), on securing the debate. I reiterate his point that I am sure your fellow Deputy Speakers would have loved to speak in the debate, Madam Deputy Speaker. Indeed, I am sure that you would have been keen to take part as well, given the constituency interest.

Aerospace is an industry that touches every part of the UK economy, including the south-west, but nowhere more than the north-west. We in the north-west are extremely concerned about the job losses that will almost definitely occur there in the coming months, particularly at Samlesbury and Warton. We know that 149 jobs are

15 July 2010