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  1. Today
  2. Good afternoon, And thank you for joining me. I know after an uneventful week you’ll be hanging onto everything I say. The last week has made clear there’s only one sector that can depend on this Conservative Party, and that’s tabloid journalism. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is crying out for a new economic vision. Just as in 1979 Britain had to confront that its economic model was no longer working, we must once again confront the reality that our approach has once again become stale. Underneath the democratic demand we leave the European Union there was something more profound: a demand for change and taking back control. Under the neoliberal consensus we’ve operated under, that loss of control has been felt by communities for too long. Despite empty free market rhetoric of giving people more control over their lives, the reality is that people feel as if their fate and their destiny has been outsourced to unaccountable corporations, to unaccountable bureaucrats in Whitehall or – as we’ve seen in recent days – to the whims of politicians and governments abroad. There is a reason the slogan of the Leave campaign resonated so profoundly with the British public, even those who voted Remain. But while we’ve left the European Union, we’ve had Conservative governments refuse to return that control to the British people. This hasn’t just worn down the social fabric of our country, with Britons feeling more lonely, more divided and more powerless than before. It has economic consequences too. The Conservative Party has resided over continuous low growth, low productivity and low wages. These are not coincidences. Instead of an economic model which promises wealth creation, the reality is we’ve seen wealth extraction. The Tories’ low growth economy has unhealthily coincided with record profits for the richest few every year and Britain producing more and more billionaires exclusively from its upper middle classes. The privatisation and outsourcing of public resources meant for everyone has done little to benefit British families, but has gone far in establishing a crony capitalism that profited from the pandemic on the back of taxpayers. All this while workers in the North and Midlands struggle on insecure pay and conditions, knowing their children and grandchildren will only have avenues opened for them if they move to the capital. Communities that once powered Britain through industrial revolutions and wars have been left operating call centres or Amazon warehouses, taking dignity and opportunity from these proud towns. Meanwhile professionals in London and the South East wonder if they’ll ever be able to afford a home and securely raise a family despite doing everything society told them to do. While the rest of the country has been neglected, Londoners have been hurt by an overheated economy and housing market. This is not sustainable. I want to be clear: I do not believe the solutions do not lie in the Old Labour solutions to centralise, nationalise and create a command economy. Those solutions were necessary and worked when it came to guiding our country through a great war and its aftermath. But they ceased to work then, and they won’t get us through this challenge now. Similarly, while New Labour harnessed a neoliberal economic model to share prosperity and opportunity, we must be frank that in the wake of the global financial crisis an uncritical embrace of the current economic model will no longer work and deliver the change the British people demand. William Croft and Cole Harris are simply not up to the job. They want more and more of the model that has for too long been allowed to let Britain fail. Instead of prioritising investing in the country and in the small businesses that put in the graft, they want to hand £20 billion in a corporation tax cut to big multinational corporations. While the former Chancellor decried inequality, his interventions have simply not stepped up to the challenge. A bailout for energy companies here and the creation of an advisory quango within the Treasury there won’t create good jobs in Hartlepool or help young people afford a home in Hampstead. It is completely devoid from grappling with the economic reality of so many working families. I want to be clear before I outline some of the policies Labour will support both now and the future: when the challenge is this grand, no policy is a single silver bullet. But if we’re going to even need to address the problems so many feel, we need to begin to allow the British people to take back control and to have more agency within their community, their workplaces and their public services. That will be the underpinning of our economic strategy. Firstly, while William Croft tries a divide and conquer strategy on public sector pay – deeming that some public sector workers wages will drive up inflation, some won’t, and letting off the people at the top who continue to have massive bonuses funded by record profits – Labour is clear that we must listen to public sector pay boards to find a reasoned way forward. But we know all too often that while public sector pay boards make recommendations informed by fantastic industry representatives we know their sector, the recommendations are often too separated from the lived reality of workers who have seen their pay squeezed or even cut in real terms time and time again in the past decade and are being told once again to make immense sacrifices during a cost of living crisis. We can find a path forward. But it’s crucial workers’ voices are an integral part of that. That is why Labour would pledge to put workers on public sector pay boards. Their personal experience is vital for us finding a compromise. We know when workers are put into crucial decision making processes, they participate reasonably and effectively: the Low Pay Commission has been a resounding success not in spite of but because of the Trade Union representatives within it. And we need to ensure workers have a bigger stake in their workplace and their voices are heard throughout the economy and throughout different sectors. That is why Labour would legislate that workers are represented on company boards, guaranteeing workers have representation and a stronger voice in their workplaces. We have seen that this model in Germany doesn’t just increase job security, but has a positive effect on investment. When a company has a range of voices from the shop floor to the very top contributing, it’s more likely to make stronger decisions on its day to day management. And we must give sectors that are vital to our economy and society more recognition and prestige. When establishing our sectoral fair pay agreement structures, we’d ensure Royal Colleges are established across those sectors, starting with social care and retail, so workers are given a national voice to improve standards and inform policy. And we must ensure that we prioritise British industry and ensure we make, sell and buy more in Britain. Prioritising our industry should have always been a given, but recent events have made the case for an industrial strategy. As Chancellor, I would immediately begin work on an industrial strategy and make industrial strategy a cornerstone to our economic strategy. We have a fantastic manufacturing sector, but we know if it was prioritised it could be world leading. We know we can make more in Britain, but we choose not to, letting so much of Britain’s potential and the potential of workers, towns and communities across Britain go to waste and contributing significantly to our low productivity economy. Abandoning industrial strategy was one of the most self-destructive things done by this Conservative government, met with derision from the TUC and the CBI alike as it left businesses and industries without a framework to tackle the challenges facing businesses and the country, removing business certainty and disincentivising investment into Britain in the process. And we know a well-crafted industrial strategy can be a crucial asset in the challenge to level up the country. But it is crucial that towns and communities across Britain are provided not just with more power, but with more wealth in the process. I would prioritise the levelling up agenda. That’s why in the Treasury, a Labour government would immediately set up a local wealth building unit with representatives of each of the UK’s regions and nations so we can come up with a bold and clear strategy to level up with clear targets that must be met, with our first priority to be a root and branch review of Treasury green book rules so that strict orthodoxy can no longer hold back the potential of Britain’s towns. For too long, we’ve been told if money is put in the hands of the largest multinationals and Whitehall we can trust that it is put back in the pocket of workers, towns and communities. And for too long we’ve seen poor decisions be made nationally and locally, because those most empowered to make the best decisions are disempowered. It’s time we follow some old fashioned common sense and put that money back in the hands of the communities it is meant to serve. Only Labour will put an end to our failed economic model and forge a new way forwards instead of more of the same. A Labour Treasury’s priority will be restoring power to communities, workers, and families across Britain – to you: and we’d ensure we grant the funding to boot. Thank you.
  3. Yesterday
  4. Mr. Speaker, I beg that this bill be read a second time.
  5. Mr Speaker The honourable member for Hove has already given an excellent summary of our opposition to this statement. The Prime Minister announced in his statement that he would issue more credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme. The reality of this policy is that he is handing out more licenses to pollute. A significant amount of that does not go on energy - it goes on big industry or aviation - which will have almost no impact on most struggling families. Why did the Prime Minister not, as Labour has suggested, introduce a "Green Dividend" worth on average over £200 per family - which would ensure that the UK continued to meet its carbon budgets while returning the proceeds of the ETS to hardworking families and to the economy? Does he have any comment on what impact that the ETS changes will have on the UK's ability to meet its carbon budget?
  6. Last week
  7. The Leader of the Opposition, Arya West, this morning made a statement from Labour Party HQ on yesterday's events in Westminster, and the path forward. Thank you all for coming this morning. Yesterday was a dramatic day in Westminster. Amid all the urgent questions, so-called emergency press releases, government resignations; it’s very easy to lose sight of what politicians are arguing about, and what that means for what should happen next. I want to emphasise something right off the bat. William Croft and I agree that China represents a serious threat to Britain’s national security; and economic reliance on China - indeed any country - makes Britain’s economy less secure and British workers more vulnerable to - well, to events such as these. I set this out to the Prime Minister when he announced his initial measures, and have long been sceptical of the last 12 years of Conservative Prime Ministers opening the open door to Chinese investment in our economy and critical infrastructure. But the Prime Minister made three serious errors of judgement in how he executed this, such that he left our country isolated, unprepared, and weak on the international stage. Those three errors were: Lack of preparation: the Government had no plan for replacing the investment or jobs in our economy or infrastructure; and no plan in the event of Chinese retaliation. That left hundreds of thousands of families on the front line of a potential trade war with no support from the Prime Minister. Making no international outreach: William Croft didn’t speak to a single British ally, or to the Chinese Government, to gauge international reaction to - or attempt to build support for - Britain’s unilateral actions. That meant that Britain, rather than leading the world, was simply left isolated and weaker for it. Not consulting or acting on the advice of his national security or intelligence advisers: a mistake that has cost him the resignation of two of his top officials, including the Director General of MI5. Both the security and intelligence services could have provided valuable insight on China’s likely reaction, or the issues to focus on - but William Croft wasn’t interested. Those failures led Britain into a disastrous trade war. And it crucially left it without a good hand to play in any negotiations, isolated in the world. It is not unpatriotic or parroting the lines of the Chinese Communist Party to point that out; nor does it stop us condemning the way in which China escalated tensions and sanctions. It is simply holding William Croft and his Government accountable. Don’t take my word for it - the former Chancellor euphemistically called the approach “disjointed”. I do not care for such political euphemisms. The Prime Minister was naive to think there would be no retaliation, incompetent to not prepare, or arrogant in his belief only he knew best. Or perhaps he was all three. We have given him the benefit of the doubt, all of us. He has thrown that trust in the face of every British job he put on the line as a result of his cowboy diplomacy. So where are we now? William Croft to great fanfare announced a deal - and immediately it transpired that in his rush to solve a political problem, he had announced something that he hadn’t read. And even the bits that he had read were bad enough, including allowing the Chinese Communist Party to make British tax policy and increasing our economic dependence on China - a key shared objective of both parties not only failed but going backwards. The deal takes us backwards, not forward. William Croft called it “a great victory”, seemingly claiming that this had been his grand vision and plan all along. Even putting aside that ridiculous spin, throwing hundreds of thousands of jobs on a gamble - or suggesting that you would be willing to - really says it all. Of course, the announcement that this “great victory” would need to be renegotiated means that we are thrown right back into the uncertainty we started with. So what next? What is 100% clear is that William Croft is not the right man to lead these negotiations. He has shown himself to be a diplomatic liability. He does not listen to expert advice, has not shown that he has learned anything from this saga, and seems more interested in tough-guy press releases than real action and solutions. So in the immediate term, William Croft must hand over operational control of any renegotiation to the experts in the diplomatic service, before he does more damage, and set out his objectives and intentions clearly to Parliament. But the broader question here is whether the Prime Minister and this Government can learn from this debacle. We face grave economic and international challenges. If the Government is to respond to those challenges without further chaos, then it needs to learn. Or it needs to change. That is why Labour is calling for a full inquiry into the circumstances leading up to the Prime Minister’s initial announcements, the escalating trade tensions, and the Government’s response at the time; with the purpose of learning lessons for the conduct of delicate diplomatic affairs and for the response to diplomatic crises. If the Prime Minister is not willing to convene such an inquiry and commit to learning the lessons now and during that process, then my simple message is this: he must go. I do not expect him to heed that suggestion. I do not think that he understands the gravity of the crisis that Britain faced, and his role in instigating it. His actions in the press yesterday, in which he called the Labour Party “useful idiots of the CCP” for asking very reasonable questions, do not show a Prime Minister taking any responsibility or learn any lessons. But my hope is that his colleagues and friends may encourage him to do the right thing. Thank you very much.
  8. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the Government and the opposition in my resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will begin by foremost addressing the leading cause of my resignation in the disjointed policy approach of the Government and the vitriol Members of Parliament have taken to each other. I have reconciled with the Prime Minister that amidst fast-paced negotiations it was genuine that he did not receive information of a 50 million pound concession to the Chinese Government in exchange for their gesture to accept 6 billion pounds for a 7 billion pound stake in nuclear provider Hinckley C. This was an oversight as the agreement was not formalized until the FCO and Chinese Foreign Ministry could formalize it. I have not, however, reconciled with the Prime Minister the disjointed policy approach of the Government or destroying an agreement with a 1 billion concession from China in exchange for 50 million on our part. While I will not disclose which of our allies, civil service members, and senior members of government expressed those concerns I will disclose that they were discussed frequently. It is critical that Members of Parliament, the civil service, and our allies coordinate closely while handling foreign policy. It is further critical that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition may speak candidly in private. This requires a level of public respect for Great Britain itself that the opposition not only failed to show, but officially endorsed. I do not make these statements to harm my colleagues opposite political prospects. I make these statements to preserve the prospects of a United Kingdom. Great Britain cannot stand under such vitriol that we weaken ourselves abroad when Her Majesty’s official opposition reinforces statements such as the Government is going “cap in hand” to a foreign power. This was unequivocally false as demonstrated by the significant concessions received. Too many Members of Parliament took the moment in which our workers truly were being threatened as a moment for political opportunism and prideful boasting. The trade threat was disproportionate against Great Britain and our partners. It challenged not only Great Britain, but the norms of the world trade organization as we have known them for over 70 years. Our allies abroad were in agreement this could not stand, but at home we found an opposition mired in tabloid headlines as their official talking points. I have been known to make brutally fiery statements against the enemies of the Conservative Party, and of Great Britain. There is no like among myself and members of the opposition. However, there should always remain an understanding of countrymen to do what is right by Great Britain. That understanding collapsed. We cannot go on with a disjointed Parliament and foreign policy to the threats we face. I urge the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to reconcile from this, and to meet within Her Majesty’s privy council to align the strength of Great Britain against our enemies once again, regardless of political party. I thank our allies, civil service, and the senior members of the Government for their ongoing service amid confusing and hard times, but I must resign so long as we cannot carry on against the threats against us all, with a sense of calm and rationality, at the most senior levels of Parliament.
  9. Mr Speaker I may have missed it among the length of the Chancellor's very political and largely unnecessary statement. But has he published this deal struck with the Chinese Government, and if not, why not?
  10. Mr. Speaker, Today I have finished our negotiations with the Chinese government and I am proud to announce the divestment of China from our nuclear plans in Hinckley C with redoubling in investment from the Government in our exporters. I am proud to announce that amidst trade negotiations we are announcing a Billion Pound tax exemption to British exporters to close in on lessening our trade deficits. Workers were placed under a lot of fear from some in the opposition in a moment of international brinksmanship. Rather than reassure workers and stand together on the side of the United Kingdom some in the opposition took it as a moment to instill fear and attempt to gain political advantage at a time workers faced a foreign threat. This government not only responded to the threat and did away with it by having all threatened tariffs removed, but we found a way to expand and grow our trade and competition abroad. I want to extend my gratitude to our partners abroad for assisting in the diplomatic effort with China. The responses we saw during recent tensions demonstrate the dangers of international misunderstandings. I would like to take a moment to give my thanks to those in Parliament who supported Britain foremost during recent tensions with the Chinese government, regardless of their party. I want to also thank our friends at home and take note of those who tried to exploit the moment to attack the government and make Britain out to look weak on twitter. It is no secret I am a fan of twitter to engage the public and the opposition in an open and transparent way. I will be direct, passionate, and trade barbs in debates that are at the core of our future while engaging the opposition at home. Ultimately, they are also Britons, and despite terrible ideas from the opposition this Government wants the success of all Britons. However, Members of Parliament attacking and blaming Britain for the disproportionate actions of a foreign power during a crisis was also noted, and it was disheartening to say the least. When the going got serious some in the opposition did too, including the Shadow Chancellor, who expressed his dismay to the government on British workers potentially losing their livelihoods as he should. The Shadow Chancellor left it at that when asked to cease instilling fear in the public before we could respond. However, many in the opposition instead jumped to announce they immediately expect money be sent from the helicopters again rather than taking a sensible diplomatic approach to preventing job losses or tariff increases at all. Now the government has prevented job losses entirely while maintaining our steadfast decisions to protect the privacy of British citizens. So, credit to my counterpart, and shame to those that decided to attack the Prime Minister and Britain as weak in a show of disunity for the CCP to enjoy in the middle of tensions. You know who you are.
  11. Mr. Speaker, I move to introduce this act to be read a second time. Treasury Review and Procurement Reform Act 2022 Part One: Treasury Review Reform This Act: 1. Establishes reforms in HM's Treasury reviews by creating an Independent Monetary Policy Office (IMPO). 2. The IMPO shall provide the Chancellor with recommendations on the effects of fiscal policy decisions on monetary flow in the economy. 3. The IMPO shall provide the Chancellor with recommendations on tax rates or exemptions that may limit or increase monetary supply and demand. 4. The IMPO shall be led by an Office Committee composed of at least two Senior Civil Service officials with at least 20 years of experience in economics, two private sector members with at least 20 years of experience in Finance, and one private sector member with at least 20 years of experience in international trade. Committee members will be appointed by the Chancellor. 5. Additional committee members may only be added upon authorization from the Chancellor and must have at least 20 years of experience in economics, finance, or international trade. 6. The IMPO shall designate a Chair among the members of the Office Committee to represent the APO. 7. The IMPO Office Committee shall vote to approve all recommendations to be presented to the Chancellor and be available for follow-on questions by HM's Government. Part Two: Treasury Procurement Audits This Act: 1. Establishes standards to advise the Chancellor on potential procurement waste 2. Standards will be demonstrated in a color coded format of green-yellow-red for procurement requests. a. Green - The scope, work breakdown, schedule, and cost of procurement almost certainly (80-99% confidence) will lead to on-time delivery with requested funding. b. Yellow - The scope, work breakdown, schedule, and cost of procurement probably (51%-79% confidence) will lead to on-time delivery with requested funding. c. Red - The scope, work breakdown, schedule, and cost of procurement probably will not (less than 50% confidence) lead to on-time delivery with requested funding. 3. Establishes the Accountability Procurement Office (APO) as an independent committee of Her Majesty's Treasury to audit funding requests and provide the appropriate indications to HM's Treasury in the budget. 4. The APO shall govern approvals of overspending in procurements exceeding 1 Million with substantion for any such overspending of funds and a recommendation to mitigate the overspending. 5. The APO shall be led by an Office Committee composed of at least two Senior Civil Service officials with at least 20 years of experience in conducting audits, two Senior Civil Service officials with at least 20 years of experience in Procurement, and one Senior Civil Service officials with at least 20 years of experience in finance and/or economics. Committee members will be appointed by the Chancellor from the Civil Service. 6. Additional committee members may only be added upon authorization from the Chancellor and must have at least 20 years of experience in accounting, procurement, finance, or economics. 7. The APO shall designate a Chair among the members of the Office Committee to represent the APO. 8. The APO Office Committee shall vote to approve all designations to be presented to the Chancellor and be available for follow-on questions. Part Three: Procurement Standards This Act: 1. Establishes that orior to the cancellation or write-off of a contract surpassing 1 Million the Permanent Secretary of the Department shall review and approve the decision with substantiation. 2. Establishes that prior to the cancellation or write-off of a contract surpassing 1 Million the Permanent Secretary of HM Treasury shall review and approve the decision with substantiation. 3. Establishes that prior to the cancellation of a contract surpassing 100 Million the Chancellor shall be notified to review the cancellation decision before it is finalised by HM Government. 4. Establishes that no project shall receive more than 1 Million in funding beyond the allotted budget without approval from HM Treasury's Permanent Secretary after review by the APO. 5. Ensures that all government procurements, contracts, and projects must report their progress to schedule ratio on a quarterly basis to their appropriate office. i.e 10% progress with 10% of the schedule elapsed shall equal a ratio of 1. 6. Ensures that all government contractrs and/or projects exceeding 1 Million which fall under a ratio of .7 shall be considered failing to meet procurement standards and shall automatically go under review and audit by the APO. 5. Establishes that all government projects over 100 Million which fail to meet these standards shall be reviewed by the Chancellor quarterly. Part Four: Public Transparency This Act: 1. Ensures all reviews, results, and other information that is produced as a result of the Act set forth shall be publicly available. 2. Establishes that all government contracts should be competed under a clearly auditable standard. 3. Establishes that procurement decisions will be relayed with substantiation for the decision to competing contractors. 4. Establishes that contractors that consistently fail to meet the standards set forth may be subject to disqualification from future procurements offered by HM Government if reviewed by HM Treasury and determined to be unfit for HM Government's procurement standards.
  12. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce this act to the house which in the first part creates the strongest sanctions proposed by a global economic power against the organized crime machine that composes the current Russian regime. The actions of the Russian regime in Ukraine amount to violations of international law that will not be tolerated by this Government. We are establishing a national effort to deter the aggression of the Russian war machine and cut off the fiscal fuel that feeds the same. While we stand with the Russian people, it is my hope they will also stand against the criminal Mafia running their government, and it is also my hope we see this invasion of a sovereign European country utterly and completely defeated as a lesson to dictators for the rest of history. In the following parts of this act we give relief and mercy to our friends in Ukraine and our Ukrainian friends coming to the United Kingdom. The situation of migration is hard as times are hard all throughout Europe. This government believes it is in challenging times like this we must rise to the oblige we have as global leaders, leaders of Europe, and to the very fabric of Europe by being merciful to our Ukrainian friends. Our Ukrainian friends stand on the front lines for the same global order and peace on Europe we are obliged to preserve as leaders of the same. Altogether this act, prepared at the urging of the Right Honourable Lady the Home Secretary, provides a framework for utterly defeating our enemies and vehemently supporting our friends.
  13. Mr Speaker, I never thought I would find myself in this position, but after that statement by the Prime Minister I find myself in agreement with his predecessor in our opposition to fracking. I do wonder if the Prime Minister considers his former boss to have lost his mind when the manifesto he put forward at the last election placed a moratorium on all fracking. There’s not much I agree with this Conservative Government but the moratorium on fracking was the right decision to protect our environment and countryside, but like any sensible idea from a Conservative – it never lasts long. It is rather interesting to hear this new Prime Minister stand at that despatch box and decry the manifesto that he was elected on as something that is rooted baseless fear and climate paranoia. Is that what he told his constituents? I wonder if the Prime Minister will welcome hydraulic fracturing to his constituency, although it matters what his constituents think of course. Will the Prime Minister be a vocal proponent for drilling in Rugby, or will the Prime Minister’s seat be spared that fate? Well, we all know what Conservative Associations can be like. If he doesn’t, I’m certain his backbenchers will soon find out what it is like to really upset their constituents. Returning back to the Prime Minister’s broken promise, well his broken manifesto, which clearly states that no new fracking would be approved unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely. No science has been presented, no new evidence, no new statistics that demonstrates the categoric safety of fracking beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is because there is none, Mr Speaker. He and I both know that the science is not there and this is a decision the Prime Minister is taking to suit his political ideology over the needs and safety of all of our constituents. Fracking does not bring down the costs of energy prices, because it is unstable and based on British Geological Society own reports show that the levels of shale gas could be much lower than expected. And even Cuadrilla admits that the average production of a well would require the UK to have over 20,000 wells to deliver what they claim. That’s a lot of community buy in the Prime Minister is going to need. Fracking will be harmful to our natural environment and will not deliver the energy security that the Government believes it will. Nor will this new fast tracking of oil and gas exploration licenses. Because, Mr Speaker, there is no oil field that will instantly start producing oil tomorrow for use, quite the opposite actually. It will take years for new exploration to start producing oil, so what are we supposed to do until then? Continue to depend on foreign energy because the Government has spectacularly failed to act in their 12 years of governing. And even when this new, fast tracked licenses start to deliver oil there will be no real benefit for Britain because the moment that license is issued the oil they discover belongs to them to sell as they wish. And sell to the foreign market they will. These license-holders are multinational, private equity firms or state-backed oil firms owned by other governments – well atleast the Tories are happy for some governments to profit of our oil, it just won’t be the British government. There is no legal requirement for these firms to sell to the domestic UK market, and the oil predominantly found in the North Sea oil fields is not even oil that we use in UK refineries. In October 2021, when this country was entering the energy crisis there was extraordinarily high levels of oil and gas exports – in fact in October 2021 exports were the highest for a decade. So, claims that unleashing UK oil and gas will deliver energy security for the UK is a redherring at best – what this Government will be ensuring is that Oil and Gas giants will continue to make record profits after giving them a £7 billion loan. Even if the government were to suddenly change their tune and start a state-backed oil firm there would be no long term results. Let’s look at one example, Abigail Gas field. Thai gas field is located to the East of Scotland - it will cost millions to develop and to access the gas but will only produce enough gas to mett UK demand for 36 hours. That’s 36 hours total. Let’s look at another example, Rosenbank oil field to the west of Shetland, it is believed that this oil field has over 300 barrels of oil - that sounds great - but the license holder for this oil field is Equinor. The Norweigan oil and gas giant which is back by the Noreweigan government. So it is Norway that will profit from this oil not the UK. Mr Speaker, these are just two examples of existing licenses and the reserves of oil and gas in the North Sea is dwindling with every new license issued. And new drilling will not lead to greater prosperity or energy security for the UK - just more profit for oil and gas giants. That’s who the Government is supporting with this plan, not the British people. What I am also surprised with is this Government’s flagrant disregard of the international commitments it made at COP26 which is clear in the need to transition away from fossil fuels and to move towards greater renewable energy sources. COP26 was not something that was forced onto this Conservative Government but it was something they actually negotiated and led. It seems the Conservative tendency of reneging on international agreements hasn’t ended with the change of leadership, however I did expect a little more time to have passed before they completely forgot they were ones who brokered it. And it is quite galling to see the Government weaken the emission trading scheme, watering it down so polluters can pollute even more and pollute even cheaper. This plan from the Government is the Prime Minister standing with his arms wide open ready for polluters and oil and gas companies to jump right on in. And why should we be surprised? That is exactly what they bought with their 3 month decision to not increase fuel prices. Britain is addicted to gas and like any addict we can’t see that our supply is running out and it is killing us. And the Government is acting like a dealer forcing more and more oil and gas into our country that we are nowhere near kicking the habit. It is time that this country take serious steps to ensure our energy security for the long term, energy that is produced in the UK for the benefit of the UK. Green, renewable energy that lasts, nuclear, wind, solar, wave - we have the expertise and technology ready to go but this Government will not invest in it. They would rather ingratiate themselves to oil barons instead of delivering for British people with the energy that they want and need. Our country needs a government that will deliver energy security and independence that is sustainable and credible, frankly Mr Speaker this Government is neither of those things. Labour will make those right calls, Labour will invest in our country’s real energy security, Labour will protect our natural resources from wanton destruction. It’s time for this tired, tory government to go.
  14. Her Majesty, in pursuance of section 1, subsection 1 of the Import, Export & Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939, is pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, as follows: (1) The importation into, or exportation from, the United Kingdom, or the carriage coastwise or the shipment as ships’ stores, of goods manufactured or sold by: A) The Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. B) The Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd. is henceforth prohibited.
  15. Speaker: I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer for second reading.
  16. Mr. Speaker, I would like to move for the following act to be moved to second reading in support of our friends in Ukraine. Ukraine Act 2022 Part One: Sanctions against Russia This Act: 1. Suspends the convertibility of Rubles into Pounds and vice versa; 2. Prohibits investment by UK firms and individuals in Russian firms; 3. Prohibits the payment of debt by Russian firms and the Russian state in currency under British jurisdiction; 4. Freezes all Russian state and business assets in the UK 5. Effectively imposes capital controls in respect of any money transferring to the Russian Federation 6. Suspends all visa applications by Russian individuals 7. Closes British airspace to Russian-registered aircraft Part Two: Aid for Ukraine This Act: 1. Applies an exemption to the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 in respect of those joining the International Legion of Territorial Defence of Ukraine 2. Authorises the transfer of £1 billion in direct financial aid to Ukraine, and commits to a further £2 billion in “reconstruction aid” following the cessation of hostilities 3. Places a responsibility upon the Ministry of Defence to offer non-nuclear equipment being decommissioned (except for reasons of malfunction) to the defence forces of Ukraine at the discretion of the Minister of Defense 4. Establishes the British Ukrainian Refugee Expansion of Rights Part Three: The British Ukrainian Refugee Expansion of Rights This Act: 1. Suspends certain parts of asylum law to give Ukrainian refugees enhanced rights, particularly the right to work 2. Establishes a right to apply for indefinite leave to remain for Ukrainian refugees after two years (or at the cessation of hostilities)
  17. Andy

    Independent

    Migrant support groups resume legal challenge against ‘pushback’ tactics Human rights organisations have restarted their legal efforts to block the Government from turning back boats of migrants in the Channel. Freedom from Torture, Care4Calais and Channel Rescue filed the case, alongside the Public and Commercial Services Union, who represents Border Force workers. They argue that the policy to redirect boats carrying refugees back into French territorial waters is unlawful. The four claimants originally launched their judicial review in December 2021, but halted it following confirmation in April this year from Home Office lawyers that the policy had been withdrawn, just days before the first hearing was due. Last month, a Royal Navy ship pushed 27 dinghies back into French waters, signalling that the policy was back in place. Explaining its legal move to block the proposal, Kim Bryan, a Channel Rescue volunteer, said: “We believe this policy is life-threatening, inhumane and unlawful. It is outrageous for the Home Office to have suddenly reinstated it, just months after abandoning it in the face of our legal challenge.” As well as changing the policy itself, the law firm Reed Smith LLP, acting on behalf of Channel Rescue, has asked the government to publish its “pushback” plan for transparency. The claimants argue that the policy has no legal basis in law, and is also in contravention of several UK laws, international treaties and common law principles. The Home Secretary, Juliet Manning, told the House of Commons that she is confident that the Government’s actions are fully compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of non-refoulement of refugees.
  18. Mr. Speaker, I am actually shocked that this is what I have to respond to today. But here we are, and respond I shall. The Government, Mr. Speaker, is wasting this House's time by making us debate this order, something we discussed last year, again. Let's look at the facts. First - Public Health England is not made up of "some bureaucrats in a stuffy office" who know better than everyone else. Public Health England and its successor organisation, the UK Health Security Agency, are staffed with experts in their fields. UKHSA is led by Dame Jenny Harries, an accomplished physician with significant public health experience who helping to lead our nation's coronavirus response. Everything that we did in those early months - "Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives" to our further efforts to mask up to keep each other safe, happened because of leaders like her. We are here and alive because of experts like Dame Harries and her colleagues at UKHSA, so I find it mind-bogglingly stupid that we're going to ignore the scientific evidence now that it says something the Government disagrees with. Although, remembering the tragic tale of the Rt Hon member for West Suffolk and his member, I am not entirely surprised. Obesity is a public health crisis. The Impact Assessment on this policy notes the following: "Obesity is a major cause of ill health in England, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and some cancers, imposing a substantial burden and negative externality on the NHS and the wider economy in the long run." Enough said there, Mr. Speaker. But in the world that we live in now, obesity is even more of an issue. Obesity increases the risk of severe disease, mortality, and infection with COVID-19, the virus that is still present in our country. Researchers across the world have found the same thing - a higher body mass index was associated with ICU admission and critical disease. Be it in France, the United States, Singapore, or here in the UK, people died because they were obese and thus more susceptible for the virus. It is nice that the Rt Hon Prime Minister wants to give people freedom, but let's be clear - they can’t be free if they’re dead. The Prime Minister also states that moving forward with this policy would cost British families an additional £634 a year in food-related costs. That, Mr. Speaker, is clearly untrue, and I question where he is getting his data. Again, looking at the Impact Assessment, paragraph 39 states the following: "Although price promotions appear to be mechanisms to help consumers save money, data shows that they increase consumer spending by encouraging people to buy more than they intended to buy in the first place. Price promotions appeal to people from all demographic groups and increase the amount of food and drink people buy by around 20%." Multibuy promotions cause people to spend more money. They cause these large multinational chains, including his favorite, McDonald's, to earn more money because people will spend more money and buy more food. And the people who buy the more food will find that their wallets empty quicker than usual, and they're running on a tighter budget than ever before. Foodbanks, Mr. Speaker, are seeing a record number of patrons. In fact, they're so in need of volunteers, that the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, volunteers at his local food co-op, the Chippy Larder, despite the fact that usage of foodbanks went up by over two thousand percent during his tenure as Prime Minister. If the current Prime Minister really wants to reduce the cost of living in this country, a crisis that only exists because his party has failed to adequately respond to the economic changes of Brexit and the pandemic, he can start by actually funding foodbanks and other charities, as the Labour Party has continued to call for over the last decade. The Prime Minister wants to give this country a sucker's deal with the illusion of lower prices, but more money ending up in the pockets of corporate executives in the fast food and energy industries. The real support that people across the United Kingdom need can only come through investing in communities - something I might call "levelling-up."
  19. Andy

    Daily Mail

    Militant union pay demands are revealed in full: Now firefighters, NHS staff and postal workers threaten to join barristers, railway workers and teachers in walkouts that will ruin the rest of YOUR year Firefighters' union leader is warning of the first strikes since 2003 after reacting angrily to a 2% pay offer More than 115,000 Royal Mail postal workers also started voting this morning on whether to strike over pay Doctors demand an inflation-busting THIRTY per cent pay rise Civil servants, council staff, rail workers, nurses and teachers are all threatening walkouts in 2022 Britain is spiralling further towards a national strike today after firefighters threatened to walk out in what would be their first industrial action for approaching 20 years. More than 115,000 Royal Mail workers also started voting this morning on whether to strike in a dispute over pay in action that would likely shut down the postal service. Doctors have threatened to strike unless they get a pay rise of up to 30 per cent. Nurses, meanwhile, want a rise of more than 12 per cent. Swathes of the public sector have demanded inflation-plus pay rises, and threatened strikes that could wreck the run through to Christmas if their wishes are not met. The leader of the firefighters' union is warning of the first strikes since 2003 after reacting angrily to a two per cent pay offer. The executive of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is recommending rejection of the offer, which it said is well below the soaring rate of inflation. Between 2009 and 2021, firefighters' real pay has been cut by 12 per cent, or nearly £4,000, the FBU said. The Communication Workers Union is demanding that Royal Mail Group negotiates with them to secure a 'straight, no-strings' pay increase for employees. The union said management intends to impose a 2% pay rise which will be a 'dramatic real-terms wage cut' because of soaring inflation. Royal Mail claims that they offered a deal worth up to 5.5%. Strike action amongst doctors and nurses is almost unprecedented. The Royal College of Nursing has not staged UK-wide industrial action since its foundation in 1916. But other healthcare unions such as Unison, GMB and Unite have held strikes in 1988, 2014, 2015 and 2016 over pay. The news will compound fears that Britain is facing an end of the year with strikes crippling everyday life, as unions representing other professions also flex their muscles in pursuit of inflation-busting pay rises. Here are the areas of the public sector threatening to strike and what they are demanding:
  20. Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning with yet another announcement about this Government's work to reign in the power of the state in order to meaningfully reduce the price of everyday goods. The core mission of the Right Way Forward agenda is to ensure the Government adopts a "slash and step back approach," whereby we eliminate costly and burdensome red tape in order to reduce the financial burden weighing on British families. One way in which Governments of all political persuasions over the past few decades has acted to drive up food prices is by instituting nefarious taxes on price floors on the cost of food. Under the guise of "helping," the British people make "better" decisions, bureaucrats have advocated for sin taxes and minimum prices in order to forcibly alter the behavior of individuals. The principle is flawed, and the impact is that every day people throughout the United Kingdom are forced to spend more of their hard earned pay packets on purchasing needlessly expensive food items. That is why, effective immediately, I am announcing that the Government is rescinding the planned introduction of a ban on multi-buy deals on food considered to be high in fat, sugar, and salt. This ban, scheduled to go into effect in just a few months time in 2023, would see small businesses and large fast food chains from being legally prohibited from offering Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) deals at their locations across the United Kingdom. BOGOFs, which are currently permitted under law, allow grocery store and food retailers to offer discounted deals on packages of food. The most common example are the deals you'll find in, say, your local Nandos, that permit you to get two entrees or two sides for the price of one. Public Health England has recommended that these deals be banned in the interest of "public health," and my predecessor had planned to implement their recommendations. Today, the Government is announcing that the planned implementation of this recommendation is being terminated because we believe it will unfairly increase the cost of food, hamper business growth, and sets a dangerous precedent about the size and scope of the state. First, there is no doubt in my mind that this policy would serve only to force families to spend even more money on food and groceries at a time when the cost of living crisis is making it harder for families to put food on the table. Based on their own estimation, Public Health England admits that their policy would cost British families an additional £634 a year in food-related costs. As the supply chain crises and the war in Ukraine continues to drive up the cost of goods, families simply cannot afford to see their yearly food bills rise by even £60, let alone £600. The action we are taking today to preemptively terminate the implementation of this policy will save people money, and provide confidence to families across Britain that they're going to be able to keep food on the table for their children in the months to come. Second, allowing this policy to move forward would force unnecessary and burdensome regulation on businesses right at the time when our country needs business to flourish in order to create more jobs and drive economic growth. Businesses should be free to innovative, and pursue dynamic decisions when economic conditions require creativity. No one could have imagined just two years ago how radically our country, and indeed the entire world, would change in such a short amount of time. History has shown us that when adverse and unanticipated circumstances face our country, that it is individuals and small businesses that have the power and ability to use their unique skills to overcome the challenges we face as a nation. Tying the hands of businesses to provide innovative solutions to the cost of living crises prevents them from doing their part to help consumers, and creates undue costs that they will either have to eat, for lack of a better term, or pass on to already overwhelmed customers. Finally, and arguably most importantly, today's announcement sends the clear signal that under this Government the state will be doing less, not more. The entire concept of sin taxes, the tip of the spear wielded by the Nanny State, is inconsistent with a free society. As Prime Minister, I will always and unwaveringly fight to allow the British people to make their own decisions based on what they believe is right for them, rather than what some bureaucrats in a stuffy office believes they "should" be doing. Individuals, not the state, are best placed to make their own decisions. If we had the financial headway to remove sin taxes altogether, I'd be speaking with the Chancellor right now about doing away with them permanently. For now, however, the elimination of the proposed ban on multi-deal food buys sends a clear signal that this is a Government that will get out of people's way and empower citizens to lead their own lives free of state interference. I commend this statement to the House, and look forward to leaving the chamber and picking up two Big Macs on my way home.
  21. Mr. Speaker, Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear: the Labour Party welcomes the government’s multiple u-turns as it’s become increasingly clear the scale of the situation we were facing. After a week of Ministers showing indifference in the face of an unprecedented cost of living crisis, we have finally seen some level of action. I am glad we have pushed the government into keeping its original cost of living proposals and I am glad the government has ensured the energy price cap will not rise this winter. Whatever issues I have with the proposals – believe you me Mr. Speaker there are issues – my constituents and people up and down the country, for this winter at least, will be provided with a temporary respite that will get them through the worst of this winter. That is always something the Labour Party will welcome, and though we did not get everything we wanted I am glad the Labour Party went some way in pushing for action on the cost of living crisis in the face of Conservative indifference. That is the difference Labour in opposition makes, and the case for Labour in power could never be stronger. Because Mr. Speaker we must be clear that what the Conservatives have offered households today is not enough. The Conservatives have stretched out the costs and told the British public to be grateful for it. When the former Chancellor, the Right Honourable Member for Richmond Yorks, told this very House he would give energy companies a loan to get us through the crisis, we knew that bailout was not good enough. Now we're given a bigger bailout with interest payments attached and are told it is the panacea for struggling households. This represents what constitutes a significant bailout for energy companies: a bailout that doesn't pass the smell tests when those very companies are making a profit. I know Centrica will bemoan that British Gas “only” made profits of £97million. But we should be clear Centrica made 1.3 billion in profit. When being on the precipice of financial oblivion, the British public will not be shedding tears for Centrica and other oil and gas giants who have had to endure the misery of £97 million in profit in a single division of their business. And when 75% of energy is domestically sourced, we need to make clear it is a deliberate choice to put up prices for consumers. It is fair to ask them to cut bills instead of demand the taxpayer fund a bailout and consumers pick up the tab for it later down the line. We need to be clear Mr. Speaker that when asked to provide any financial relief for hard working families the Prime Minister and Chancellor refuse, dither and eventually are forced into providing that relief kicking and screaming if we’re lucky. But the moment the gas and oil giants ask for a handout the government will provide that – £6.8 billion in taxpayers’ money, I’ll add – proudly and without a second thought. All while a 5% hike is still forced on consumers with interest on top for the long term. This is still a deal that prioritises oil and gas giants over businesses and families across Britain which is why the Labour Party will be opposing it. Because while the government are adamant interest payments will go back to the Treasury, we know exactly how energy companies will make up the shortfall put on them through interest payments: by putting the cost onto consumers. The interest payment the government have put on the energy companies is little more than an extra tax on energy bills. That £6.8 billion will have to be paid back, and we know energy companies will not hesitate to make British consumers bear the brunt of that bill. A £6.8 billion bill. We also know the Chancellor’s claims to save the average household £1,000 are wrong because his sums are based on an annual cap. I know he isn’t a fan of doing his homework, but this loan only covers three months. This bailout is snake oil because the Chancellor knows he could have chosen Labour’s plan, to provide further support to every household and to extend that additional support to the most vulnerable as Labour has offered. I suspect the government knows that this delays instead of cuts costs. But because they know how poorly the former Chancellor’s energy company bailout was received, they have tried to present this as something it is not to the British public. So, Mr. Speaker, Labour is clear that gas and energy giants should be taxed to support British households through this crisis, the Conservatives are adamant that it is the consumers that have to pay in the end, with their plan creating the conditions for consumers having to deal with higher energy bills in years to come. And this £6.8 billion is not risk free. If you owe a bank £100, that’s your problem. If you owe a bank £1 million – or, let’s say hypothetically, £6.8 billion Mr. Speaker, that’s theirs. On top of a cost of living crisis the government has now made the viability of energy company's the British taxpayer's problem. And, as this government have been privy to doing, this Chancellor and Prime Minister have swindled taxpayers’ money on a political bet, with all of us needing to pick up the pieces if that bet falls through. I know the Prime Minister has enjoyed discussing Labour's proposals. I think there is some well needed clarification: The government seems to think the Labour Party is not committed to long term solution because we do not think the solution is to pollute the country, wreck our planet and trash our net zero goals. But we know that investing in cheaper and more effective renewables can bring Britain closer to energy independence, push down bill costs and help us reach our net zero target. But the government has not announced a single initiative which would support Britain’s renewable energy sector. We know we need to work with global partners to come up with a wider strategy to resolve Britain’s supply chain issues. The government has not shown that it has even began to take that global action, let alone act on it. But we also know that to get people through the winter, the sacrifice cannot be made by British taxpayers and consumers at the expense of oil and gas giants. While people’s wages will be driven down, the government has made clear to oil and gas companies that their profits can stay high in the process. That cannot stand. This hashed out loan, a tribute act of previous ineffective government schemes makes one thing clear - we have a government that is out of ideas, out of steam and out of touch. Only a Labour government will be on the side of British households, not oil and gas giants who have profited from a cost of living crisis we have all had to suffer through.
  22. Mr Speaker, I thank the Right Honourable Home Secretary for her statement, and for demonstrating that someone can take complete pride in admitting failure. She says in her own statement that “the British people have cried out time and again for strong borders” and for a solution to migrant Channel crossings. And she points out that this Government has failed. Part of the selling point of Brexit was the ability to take control of our borders and to address issues related to migrants coming to the United Kingdom while fleeing desperate circumstances. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on flashy deterrent measures: more and faster patrol boats for Border Force, expanding hiring of Border Force officers, direct payments to France to boost security, and now payments to Rwanda for asylum processing. And the Home Secretary admits that none of those have worked to actually stop crossings. Far from coming up with new solutions, the Home Secretary has begged for the Royal Navy to take over- after they said in February this year that they would not be participating in pushback operations, and on Twitter no less. The Home Secretary begged for the Royal Navy to use techniques that they stated to Parliament were inappropriate to the circumstances and contrary to the mission and reputation of brave sailors that are trained to save lives and keep this country safe. Labour agrees that there needs to be a solution to the issue of migrant crossings. It is a complex issue that requires solutions rooted in compassion and reason rather than brute force like the Home Secretary has proudly hailed. And if this Government wants to discuss reasoned, compassionate, and effective measures, Labour stands ready to assist in resolving an issue that is of concern to millions. But instead of looking for those solutions, the Home Secretary begged to have sailors of the Royal Navy, in armed and armored patrol boats, use force and the implied threat of violence to turn away men, women, and children fleeing desperate circumstances, and in the busiest commercial shipping lane in the world. Rather than asking Royal Navy sailors to do their job to assist vessels in distress and protect life- something that these sailors train for- the Home Secretary begged to have these sailors ordered to go against years of training and centuries of tradition and reputation as a force for good. Her own statement confirms this. Not only did the Royal Navy use loudspeakers, but water hoses and physical contact with vessels to turn them away. Tactics that the Ministry of Defence recommended against in this very House because of the danger to life and that were inappropriate. But nevertheless, the Home Secretary begged for them to be used because she could not solve the problem. I hope, Mr Speaker, that the Home Secretary will clarify the rules of engagement that the Royal Navy is now using. Or perhaps since it is no longer something she is handling, I hope that the Defence Secretary will answer to that. Because we are nearing a point with these tactics- particularly with high-pressure water and with physical contact between boats- where an armored Royal Navy patrol boat could cause injury or loss of life to men, women, and children that are trying to cross the Channel in an overloaded dinghy. Will the Home Secretary outline the rules of engagement that the Royal Navy is using in stopping migrant boats? What other means would be used if the tactics we saw today didn't result in turning boats back? Did the Home Secretary assess whether their tactics- particularly the use of water cannons and physical contact- put lives, particularly those of children, at risk given that this is in the busiest shipping lane in the world? We are in a danger zone where a child, coming from a warzone with her parents, having sold off everything in a chance to escape, and the first thing they see of the United Kingdom is a vessel with an automatic cannon ramming into them or spraying them with high-pressure hoses in an effort to get them to turn back. I know that the sailors of the Royal Navy will do everything in their power to protect life and to help people. I’m afraid, though, that the Government has ordered them- at the Home Secretary’s pleading- to act differently. It is beyond doubt that the duty to rescue and save lives at sea is one of the oldest and best-established principles of customary international law of the sea. It is a duty that dates back centuries and has been further enshrined in numerous international treaties, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, and International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue. The Royal Navy has done this honourably for centuries. And did the Home Secretary seek any legal advice from her own department, or from the Ministry of Defence, that the orders made- and the “success” that is being trumped- complies with these very real laws and treaties? I know that she is convinced enough to tell the French that nothing untoward happened, but was this the result of legal advice? I know the Home Secretary spoke to the European Convention on Human Rights and was saved by a technicality, but these other conventions and treaties hold just as much weight. But lastly, I am concerned that we are also in a danger zone where this failure to address the issue directly, and just adopting a stance that looks strong, is the most we’ll see from this Government which has had years to get control of our borders- like they promised- and that has little to show for the time and money spent for it. We need a better solution. We need one that works. That’s what people of this country want, as the Home Secretary rightly points out. And in this statement, the Home Secretary admits she is unable to offer it.
  23. Prime Minister William Croft announces the energy cap agreement to the House. Reprieve for consumers as ministers agree to lower price cap Ministers secured a smaller increase in the Ofgem energy price cap following a meeting with utilities and their regulator, Ofgem. In return for a £6.8 billion loan in the fourth quarter to offset increases in wholesale energy prices, the utilities and Ofgem agreed to a rise in the price cap of 5%, down from a planned 68% increase in the price cap. The new cap will be set at £2,069 for the fourth quarter - significantly lower than the anticipated £3,311 cap. Resolution Foundation praised the announcement and said that they "hope to see continued action from the government on confronting the cost of living crisis." Other analysis noted that this action would constrain inflationary pressures felt by consumers temporarily. "Under the structure of the agreement, prices will rise at some point, but a catastrophic hike has been averted," said one analyst. "I'm just so thankful. I don't think I could have paid my heating bills come December," said one person on the government's announcement. "While families are still squeezed, this prevents the squeeze from becoming a noose," said an LSE professor studying the cost of living. Responding to concerns that this amounted to a hand out for highly profitable companies, Centrica pointed out that the majority of its profits come from its oil and gas exploration activities. A spokesman said that British Gas, the division the provides residential gas and power, had a profit of £97 million in the half year to date, down from a profit of £157 million at an equivalent point in 2021. Energy research group Cornwall Insight noted that this is "a temporary reprieve". Models put forward by Cornwall indicated that, absent another loan in Q1 2023, the price cap would have to increase to at least £3,443 on existing energy trends. "We are monitoring potential for further long term disruption in British energy markets," said a Cornwall researcher. Cornwall indicated that it would likely increase its projected price cap levels for Q2 2023 and beyond to account for the cost faced by utilities of servicing the loan granted to them. The price cap is expected to be lowered in Q2 and Q3 2023 as wholesale energy prices stabilise. In particular, a Cornwall Insight research brief pointed to concerns over the nuclear industry. In particular, planned changes in investment and engineering use could push back the commissioning date for Hinkley Point C by one to two years. Sizewell C could also have its planned construction time pushed back by one to two years. Bradwell B risks a further five year delay should Chinese investors back out. "We'll see what happens," said an industry insider.
  24. Mr. Speaker, We're back again! I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, and certainly my friends across the aisle are beginning to grow tired of seeing me behind the dispatch box today. It is, however, of paramount importance that I continue to avail myself to MPs and the British people at large to discuss the Government's work to bring down energy costs. Over the past few weeks, the Government has worked at warp speed and with frenetic energy to pursue policies that will increase the supply of fuel, cut regulatory barriers that are increasing costs, and amplify the corrective power of the free market to solve this crisis. Early today, I announced that the Government was introducing a raft of energy policies aimed at increasing the extraction of oil and gas, and taking emergency measures provided to us under law to reduce the UK ETS carbon price. These are meaningful steps towards ending the fuel crisis and providing the British people with the return to normalcy they want and deserve. Now, however, I'd like to address another looming issue that is on the minds of many across the country: the potential energy price cap increase. As this House well knows, the war in Ukraine and the breakdown of supply chains is resulting in a lack of available energy and an explosive in the cost of fuel, set of course by global markets. As a result, there are very serious concerns that our country's energy price cap could explode to over £3,500, and remain well above £3,000 for the entirety of 2023. For this Government, Mr. Speaker, that scenario is unacceptable. The solutions on offer by the Opposition, if you can even call them solutions, fail to address the economic reality our country faces. The lack of supply is fueling this crisis, and one off cost-correcting payments provided by the state to individual families will not do anything to meaningfully address the problem. If anything, the proposes flaunted by the Labour Party will only serve to increase demand without addressing supply issues, jacking up the cost of energy and increasing inflation. The Labour Party is determined to sentence Britain to a never ending cycle of despair, with haphazard cash hands outs causing fuel prices to surge, resulting in the need for even more cash hands outs. Their ideas may sound good to some on paper, but in practice they spell disaster for working families. Energy prices are going to continue to rise until demand falls or supply increases. Labour may not want to admit that, but it is an economic fact that I, as this country's Prime Minister, will not run from. That is why the Government understands this solemn truth: an immediate settlement between the Government, Ofgem and energy providers is required if we are to prevent a shocking and disastrous spike in the energy price cap. I am happy today to confirm that such a settlement has been reached. Under the terms of the agreement, the Government has provided utility providers a loan to be paid back to British taxpayers that will allow Ofgem to keep price increases to a stabilized 5% increase in October until this historic energy price increase stabilizes on global markets. This limited increase, negotiated between by the Government and guaranteed by the loan, will prevent what could have been a massive price cap increase that would have crushed families, destabilized the economy, and thrown Britain into financial disarray. It is a win for working people up and down the crisis, who have unfairly been forced to suffer as a result of global events that have destabilized energy markets and rocketed the prices of commodities. I commend the Chancellor for his leadership and determination on securing this historic deal. At the same time, the Government is working diligently to increase domestic oil and gas production and secure trade deals with major natural gas producers in order to ensure stabilization occurs. This two pronged effort, detailed in the two statements I have made today to the House, provides a wholistic and comprehensive approach to the crisis we face. It responds directly to the concerns of the British people, promote economic consistency, and guarantees that we emerge on the other side of this crisis as quickly as possible. Fundamentally, Mr. Speaker, it reflects our core promise to the British people: that their Government will take aggressive and determined action to overcome the challenges we face. This is at the core of Right Way Forward agenda: leveraging the power of economic freedom, industrial development, and the ingenuity of the British people to drive our country forward. More work is undoubtedly needed, and the Government remains committed to providing support to those who need it most. This landmark agreement makes real progress, however, and does so without requiring empty promises, short term band aids, or harmful erosions of personal and economic freedoms. I commend this statement to the House, Mr. Speaker. The full details of the agreement can be found here.
  25. Mr. Speaker, I rise today, alongside our excellent Secretary of State for Energy, the Environment, and Climate Change to announce a series of policy changes the Government will be implementing immediately as a means to solve the root causes of the energy crisis. Now before the Leader of the Opposition and her lackeys lose their absolute minds, let me say this: my announcement today is one of two that the House should expect to receive from the Government. Later today, the Chancellor and I will speak to the House about the agreement we've reached with Ofgem and the major energy companies in order to avoid a disastrous increase to the price cap. I am confident the agreement we have reached there will provide greater confidence to consumers about their ability to afford energy bills, while also preventing damaging market interventions that will stifle investment and push off higher costs to the long term. Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to share three key policy developments that the Government will be ordering to take immediate effect. First, I am announcing that the Government will be officially executing a policy of permitting "fast tracking," for oil and gas companies looking to engage in exploratory or drilling practices. In the immediate term, this will greenlight the six permits that were previously selected by the Government for fast tracking. In the long term, it will reduce the regulatory burden faced by companies seeking to earn permitting rights to begin either exploring for oil and gas, or drilling for these commodities. The regulators at the North Sea Transition Authority, the UK's main oil and gas regulator for the purposes of obtaining drilling rights, are directed to process all exploration and drilling requests on an expedited time frame and are encouraged to accept permits unless glaring issues pertaining to public safety exist. Second, I am formally announcing the end of the 2019 moratorium on fracking. The decision to end the practice of fracking was one rooted in baseless fear and climate paranoia, not in science and fact. Natural gas produced through the process of hydraulic fracking is cleaner to burn and safer to extract than comparative fuels, and requires far less space than wind turbines and solar panels. Existing permits that were frozen by the moratorium will be accepted immediately upon notice of this Ministerial Order, so long as community buy in has already been established. Moving forward, natural gas companies looking to extract fuel through hydraulic fracturing will be permitted to do so, and permitting requests will be expected in a similar manner as those previously mentioned relating to oil drilling. Where a fracking site exists near a community, the relevant company must receive the formal consent and legal permission from the community's local government in order to begin drilling. Companies will be required to enter into a profit-sharing agreement with local communities, in order to ensure that the residents of areas in which fracking occurs benefit from the extraction. Finally, I am announcing a major change to regulatory policy as it regards carbon pricing. With our departure from the European Union, politicians on both sides of aisle celebrating our newfound regulatory freedom when it comes to setting the price of carbon - an artificial pricing tool that results in higher costs which are always passed on to the consumer. Unfortunately, the political will on both sides of the aisle to actually make these changes never materialized. Today, that changes. Effectively immediately, I am ordering the UK ETS regulator to exercise their emergency Cost Containment Mechanism (CCM) authority to act to correct prices caused by market shocks. In effect, this decision will result in a reduction of the current UK ETS, which stands at an inappropriately and internationally high rate of £75–85 per tonne of CO2. This existing rate adds to the cost of living by artificially inflating the price of gas for generation and industrial purposes, which is then pushed off on British families. The Regulator is ordered to reduce this price in a manner that is consistent with the far lower EU ETS. Experts at the IEA estimate that this regulatory reform will save the average household roughly £240 in annual energy costs. Today's announcement achieves two key goals of this Government, and of our Right Way Forward agenda. First, it immediately reduces energy prices by cutting through the red tape that exists because of persistently high UK ETS rates, that were inappropriately jacked up in order to meet net-zero goals at the expense of British workers. Second, it begins the process of rapidly increasing the supply of energy, which is the most important action any Government can take in order to meaningfully solve the energy crisis. Nations across the globe are acting to do the same, increasing drilling and extracting more energy in order to meet the growing demand. Britain, on the other hand, has thus far sat on our hands and neglected to tap into our reserves while our people suffer. As I said earlier this month, I refuse to be a Prime Minister who has access to the tools needed to solve this crisis but chooses not to use them. The British people deserve relief to skyrocketing energy bills, and they need it now. These policy changes will provide that relief both today and in the long term. Unlike the Opposition, who seek to provide one off cash injections that are designed to ignore the root of the problem, the Government I lead is taking bold and comprehensive action to address this crisis at its core. Under our leadership, regulators are being directed to slash costly red tape and producers are being given the greenlight to unleash the full power of British energy. We are a Government committed to less politicking and more action - and today's announcements make good on that promise.
  26. Ministers ‘need to come to grips’ on military strategy MPs accused the UK government of leaving Britain unprepared for crises such as the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the Ukraine war. The defence select committee criticised Ministry of Defence strategic planning, warning that "a credibility gap exists between what the UK advertises it can do and what the military is capable of". In their report, the committee said "It is difficult not to feel a sense of déjà vu as we see British military ambitions which are not entirely matched by resources." MPs urged the government to revisit both the Integrated Review and the defence white paper in light of "obvious material changes". Tobias Ellwood, chair of the defence select committee, said that "we run the risk of not learning the lessons of Afghanistan and Ukraine and deeming them insignificant despite the obvious need to learn lessons." The committee praised the uplift announced to the defence budget in recent years. In their report, the committee pointed to Chief of the General Staff's characterisation of cuts to the British Army as "perverse". In their defence strategy, the Ministry of Defence last year announced plans to reduce the size of the British Army to 72,500, the smallest size in recent memory, as well as plans to cut a third of Britain's Challenger tank force and scrap the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. Ellwood stated that "the facts have patently changed since 2021 when the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper were published". "There is a need to scrap key components of the Integrated Review and Defence in a Competitive Age and refine them for the challenges we face. There combination of a ground war in Europe and the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan emphasize our lack of preparedness for international crises." The committee further pointed out that "while previously announced increases in the defence budget were welcome, they are unlikely to prove sufficient in the face of inflation, which will drive procurement and maintenance costs higher. Ellwood noted that the report was compiled during the tenure of Boris Johnson and Ben Wallace at the Ministry of Defence and does not represent plans or testimony taken by either William Croft or Marcus Drummond-Macbeath, the new defence secretary. "I hope they take this report to heart and revise the strategic planning at the core of Ministry of Defence assessments," said Ellwood. A full copy of the report is viewable here.
  27. Chinese foreign minister summons British ambassador following "anti-China tirade" The British ambassador in Beijing was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry today following the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons, which was characterised as a "sad, petulant, anti-China tirade" by Chinese government sources. It is understood that, at the meeting, the ambassador was informed that the "blanket ban" on exporting certain goods to Chinese firms would spark a trade war. Likewise, the ambassador was informed that the China General Nuclear Power Corporation is willing to part with its interest in the Hinckley Point C nuclear power station at "a reasonable market cost" and that efforts to seize CGN's stake in the project would "unnecessarily raise tensions". As a preliminary measure, China has announced an additional 125% tariff on scotch whiskey. China represents a £221 million market for scotch whiskey exports, comprising nearly 5% of scotch exports. Industry experts now expect exports to fall below £100 million, in a blow to the scotch industry. "This is a significant loss - not catastrophic, but significant," said an industry executive. A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the China's Customs Tariff Commission said that further measures were being prepared. The Chinese Ministry of Education will also be seeking renumeration for the Confucius Institutes that are expected to close in the coming year, reportedly seeking upwards of £50 million from British universities for violations of the agreements establishing the institutes.
  28. Mr Speaker, With your permission I would make a brief statement to the House regarding ongoing events in the English Channel. Nearly 5,000 illegal migrants have crossed the English Channel from France in order to claim asylum in the United Kingdom this year. In doing so they risk their own lives and the lives of others, put funding into the hands of people smugglers who are often organised criminals involved in other nefarious dealings, undermine the integrity of the UK border and attempt to enter the United Kingdom illegally. The Government’s position is abundantly clear: migrants travelling from France are not fleeing persecution or indeed any tangible threat. They are already residing in a safe country. Thus at the moment of their departing across the Channel, they become in effect economic migrants: and their attempts to enter the UK illegally should be resisted. This morning, the Home Office received intelligence that as many as forty small boats were preparing to cross the channel in the most significant crossing yet this year. After meeting with Cabinet colleagues and securing the cooperation of the Ministry of Defence, the government ordered the Commander UK Strike Force to implement new tactics as part of Operation Isotrope. From today, orders have been given that boats attempting to cross the Channel illegally can be intercepted and pushed back by the Royal Navy. Today, loudhailers and water hoses - as well as physical blocking techniques - were used to prevent the crossing of a total of 27 small vessels. All 27, each carrying 20 or 30 migrants, were turned around in international waters and escorted back to the boundary with French waters. This action is nothing more or less than what the British public expects. For too long the security of our borders has been under threat by persistent small boat crossings. And there is a humanitarian consideration here too: for as long as the migrants and the people smugglers know they have a chance of success, they will continue to attempt a crossing which leads too many to their deaths. By taking a firm approach and ensuring the failure of crossing attempts, we can disincentivise further such attempts and spread the word throughout Calais that the treacherous voyage across the Channel is no longer a viable route to claiming asylum in the UK. I am confident that our actions today are fully compliant with Protocol 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights; there was no expulsion of migrants, as the boats were turned before they reached British seas. And I am also confident that we are compliant with the principle of non-refoulement, given that Britain and the international community regard France as a safe country where individuals are not in danger of facing persecution. Mr Speaker, the British people have cried out time and time again for strong borders and for the government to put an end to the Channel crossings crisis. This government is delivering on those priorities. The Royal Navy will continue to conduct pushback operations, and I anticipate the same high level of success in the future that we have seen today. The government is delivering the right way forward: and Britain is feeling the benefit. I commend this statement to the House.
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