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  • >> Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con): If he will list his official engagements for

  • Wednesday 2 October.

  • The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State (Dominic

  • Raab) I have been asked to reply. My right hon.

  • Friend the Prime Minister is in Manchester for the Conservative party conference. He

  • is making, as we speak, the keynote speech, setting out that we will leave the EU on 31

  • October, so that we can get on with our dynamic domestic agenda.

  • >> Julian Sturdy: Askham Bog, a world-renowned nature reserve

  • in my constituency, has been described asirreplaceableby, no less, Sir David

  • Attenborough; yet it is threatened by proposals to build more than 500 houses on adjoining

  • land. Will my right hon. Friend put in a good word with the Prime Minister to ask him to

  • join me in lying down in front of the bulldozers to save that important piece of natural heritage?

  • >> Dominic Raab: I thank my hon. Friend. I always put in a

  • good word with the Prime Minister on his behalf, and I share his passion for preserving our

  • precious natural habitats. Local community views are of course incredibly important to

  • the local planning process; that is what our revised national planning policy framework

  • provides. He will understand that I cannot comment on individual planning applications.

  • >> Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab):

  • Yesterday marked the start of Black History Month, so I will begin by paying tribute to

  • a young woman already making history this month. Dina Asher-Smith became the first British

  • woman in 36 years to win a sprint medal when she won silver at the 100 metres in Doha.

  • Tonight she aims to go one better in the 200 metresand I am sure the whole House will

  • wish her well.

  • >> Mr Speaker: I think that was a preface to a question.

  • >> Ms Abbott: If I may continue, uninterrupted!

  • Last week, my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) raised the very specific

  • issue of how many of the hundreds of abusive and violent messages that she receives use

  • the Prime Minister's own words. The Prime Minister dismissed those concerns as simply

  • humbug”. Since that exchange, my hon. Friend has received four further death threats,

  • some again quoting the Prime Minister's words. Women across this House experience

  • death threats and abuse. Will the Foreign Secretary take the opportunity to apologise

  • on behalf of the Prime Minister for his initial dismissive response?

  • >> Dominic Raab: I thank the right hon. Lady for her question.

  • My eagerness to rise to the Dispatch Box was because, in Black History Month, as she becomes

  • the first black MP to take to the Dispatch Box for PMQs, it is only fitting to say that

  • she has blazed a trail and made it easier for others to follow in her footsteps. That

  • is something in which I and every hon. Member in this House can take pride in paying tribute.

  • The right hon. Lady raises the increasing level of online and wider abuse that politicians

  • from all parts of the House get, and we should come together to be clear that there must

  • be zero tolerance of any abuse or any threats. May I also say that I have found the level

  • of abuse that she herself has received online to be totally disgusting and totally unacceptable.

  • At the same time, I am sure that, as a passionate champion of free speech, she will defend our

  • right in this House to defend the issues of substance. The remarks that the Prime Minister,

  • my right hon. Friend, made were aimed at the suggestion that he could not describe the

  • surrender Act in such terms. It is absolutely clear, given the substance of the legislation,

  • that it would achieve that and undermine the ability of the Government to go and get a

  • deal in the EU, which on all sides we want to achieve.

  • >> Ms Abbott: So, we can take it that there is no apology

  • from the Foreign Secretary. I raised the very specific point that my hon. Friend the Member

  • for Dewsbury made about the abuse she gets that uses the Prime Minister's language.

  • Deliberately disturbing billboards showing unborn foetuses have been put up in the London

  • borough of Walthamstow. They are upsetting for women walking past, but particularly upsetting

  • for my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), because these billboards

  • are targeted at her in response to her work to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

  • Abortion in Northern Ireland should be decriminalised on 21 October. What will the Foreign Secretary

  • do to ensure that, from later on this month, women in Northern Ireland will have the same

  • human rights to legal and safe abortion as women in England, Wales and Scotland?

  • >> Dominic Raab: The right hon. Lady has referred to the hon.

  • Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) and the abuse that she has received, which I and

  • all Members of this House, I know, believe is totally unacceptable. There is a place

  • for free speech, but we should never allow that to cross over into abuse, intimidation

  • or harassment of hon. Members from all parts of the House going about their business. The

  • most important thing that we can do on the specific issue that the right hon. Lady raises

  • is get the institutions in Northern Ireland back up and running so that they can exercise

  • their rights, their prerogatives, on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland.

  • >> Ms Abbott: I notice that the Foreign Secretary has not

  • said anything about those horrific postersthey are not posters that anyone would want to

  • see, particularly someone who is pregnant, as is my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow.

  • Last week, Labour reiterated its call to end the rape clause, which forces women to fill

  • out a four-page form to prove their child was born of rape in order to get financial

  • help. Will the Foreign Secretary today back Labour's pledge to remove the abhorrent

  • rape clause from universal credit?

  • >> Dominic Raab: I would say that we have looked at this issue

  • and we continue to look at it. On the subject of using inflammatory language, it is incumbent

  • on Members in all parts of the House to be very careful about it. I know that my right

  • hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions is looking

  • at this matter and will continue to take questions and scrutinise it very carefully, so that

  • we get the balance right. I gently say to the right hon. Lady that Labour wants to abolish

  • universal credit and engage in an open spending spree on handouts. That is the wrong thing

  • to dotrapping people in the welfare trap. On our side, we want to help those people

  • from the poorest backgrounds get into work, and our record speaks for itself.

  • >> Ms Abbott: How much more dismissive can the Foreign Secretary

  • be of people and families dependent on benefits? We are not talking about a spending spree;

  • we are talking about a system that is fair and just, and which does not subject people

  • to undue humiliation.

  • Last week, the 100-year-old travel company Thomas Cook went out of business. We know

  • that 72% of its workers are women. We also know that, although Governments around the

  • world stepped in to save Thomas Cook subsidiary companies in their own countries, the UK Business

  • Secretary thought that this was not her job. Can the Foreign Secretary explain to those

  • workers, some of whom are with us today, why their Government sat idly by?

  • >> Dominic Raab: First, we did not sit idly by. The Government's

  • efforts, co-ordinated by the Transport Secretary, to ensure that the holidaymakers and travellers

  • who were caught overseas could be returned back to the UK, have been very effective and

  • required a huge amount of cross-Government work, including in my own Department. On whether

  • the Government should have stepped in to bail out Thomas Cook, it is very clear from looking

  • at the financing that such a step would not have rendered the company more sustainable

  • and would not have saved jobs in the long run. We are, of course, concerned to ensure

  • that we have a sound economic base in the long term. We have created 3 million new jobs

  • in this country since 2010, and will continue with that. What we are not going to do is

  • routinely bail out companies that are unsustainable. That is not the right way to go about this.

  • >> Ms Abbott: Nobody is asking the Government routinely

  • to bail out companies. We are asking the Government why they will not even meet the workers.

  • Whether it is women Members in this House, women claiming benefits, women's reproductive

  • rights in Northern Ireland or the failure to support women workers at Thomas Cook, is

  • not this a Government letting women down?

  • >> Dominic Raab: On this side of the House, we are proud to

  • be on our second female Prime Minister.

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. The Foreign Secretary has embarked

  • on his answer. I want to hear it, and I think the House and everybody else will want to

  • hear it as well.

  • >> Dominic Raab: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

  • Members on the Labour Front Bench are pointing to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead

  • (Mrs May). Well, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my right hon.

  • Friend for her accomplishments in tackling human trafficking, for her accomplishments

  • and drive to tackle violence against women and for the domestic violence Bill that we

  • will be introducing in the House today for further debate.

  • >> Ms Abbott: The Foreign Secretary has not mentioned the

  • fact that there are over 600,000 more women and girls in poverty now than in 2010. I gently

  • say to him that I was a Member of this House when Tory MPs defenestrated the first female

  • Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, and I was a Member of this House when the Tory MPs worked

  • their will against the second female Prime Minister. It seems to me that Tory Members

  • of Parliament may on occasion make women their leaders, but they need to learnThey need

  • to learn how to treat them less cruelly.

  • >> Dominic Raab: The right hon. Lady mentions Margaret Thatcher.

  • I gently say to her that if she wants to talk about treating women better, she might have

  • a word with the shadow Chancellor, who talked about going back in time toassassinate

  • Margaret Thatcher. That is not appropriate language from the Opposition.

  • The right hon. Lady talked about Labour's record. Let me remind her that female unemployment

  • rose by over a quarter because of Labour's economic mismanagement, and now Labour wants

  • more debt, more borrowing and higher taxes. On our side, we are proud: female unemployment

  • at record lows, a higher percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards and a record low gender

  • pay gaplower than under the last Labour Government.

  • >> Ms Abbott: rose

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. I believe I am right in saying that

  • the shadow Home Secretary has had her six questions. [Hon. Members: “More!”] There

  • will be more.

  • Margot James (Stourbridge) (Ind): Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that legislation

  • to establish a tough independent regulator of internet companies empowered to challenge

  • the automatic right to anonymity online should be a priority for the Queen's Speech?

  • >> Dominic Raab: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We want

  • to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online for our children, but also for

  • all members of our society. Our online harms White Paper set out our plans to make companies

  • more responsible for their users' safety online, especially children, and also sets

  • out measures to reinforce powers to issue fines against those who put them at risk.

  • >> Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP):

  • It is a disgrace that the Prime Minister is not here. Since he was elected in July, he

  • has been to only one Prime Minister's questions. Quite simply, he is running scared from this

  • Chamber.

  • Right now the Prime Minister is setting out his Brexit fantasy at the Tory party conference—a

  • deal that he knows is unacceptable and doomed to failure. When this deal fails, as Tory

  • Members know it will, Downing Street sources have insisted that the Government will not

  • seek an extension. They will not obey their legal obligations. Yet again, this Prime Minister

  • is prepared to act unlawfully. Has the Prime Minister not learnt his lesson? He is not

  • above the law. Can the Foreign Secretary confirm whether those sources are correct that the

  • Prime Minister will not obey the law? Are this Government seriously planning to take

  • on Parliament in the courts to force through a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, or will the

  • Foreign Secretary now rule that out?

  • >> Dominic Raab: Of course this Government will always adhere

  • to the law. The Prime Minister has written to Jean-Claude Juncker setting out our proposals.

  • We want to take forward the negotiations. We want to avoid a no-deal scenario, and I

  • would urge the SNP, rather than undermining the negotiations in Brussels, to try and support

  • the Government in securing a deal that is good for this country. The right hon. Gentleman

  • talks about respecting judgments. We will always respect legal judgments. I call on

  • the SNP to respect the judgment of the people of Scotland when it comes to staying in the

  • United Kingdom and the judgment of the people of the United Kingdom to give effect to the

  • referendum on the EU.

  • >> Ian Blackford: “We will always respect legal judgments.”

  • The fact is that this Prime Minister cannot be trusted, and his Foreign Secretary cannot

  • even commit the Prime Minister to the letter of the law. This Government must be stopped.

  • I am looking now to colleagues on the Opposition Benches, and I urge them: we must unite. We

  • must stop this Prime Minister by removing him from office. The Scottish National party

  • stands ready to bring this Government down. Other parties need to step up at this moment

  • of national crisisprepare a vote of no confidence, ensure a Brexit extension, prevent

  • a no deal and call a general election. Doing nothing is not an option. We must act. So

  • I ask the Foreign Secretary: will he give the Prime Minister a message from the Scottish

  • National party? It is not a case of if but when: we will bring this dangerous Government

  • down. The right hon. Gentleman is at risk of sounding like he is all mouth and no trousers,

  • because he had the chance to vote for a general election and he turned it down; he had the

  • chance to avoid no deal; and the best chance now is to back this Government in securing

  • a good dealgood for the United Kingdom and good for all quarters of the United Kingdom,

  • including the people of Scotland.

  • >> Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On Saturday, I was out knocking on doors with

  • my listening team, listening to the views of local people, as we do every week. The

  • message to me, whether they were leave or remain voters, was crystal clear: get Brexit

  • done by 31 October. Deputy Prime Minister, can you reassure my constituents that we will

  • leave the European Union by the end of this month, come what may, no ifs, no buts?

  • >> Dominic Raab: My hon. Friend gets straight to the crux of

  • the matter. We must leave by the end of October, come what may. We are committed to doing that.

  • The most effective way of doing it that will unite this House and bring the country back

  • together is to get behind the Prime Minister's efforts to secure a good deal. I think it

  • is incumbent on all Members on both sides of the House to support the United Kingdom

  • rather than try to undermine the negotiating position in Brussels.

  • >> Teresa Pearce (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab): Housing, I believe, is the first of the social

  • services; without it, we cannot have education, productivity or health. The NHS has a diagnosis

  • code for inadequate housing. The Department of Health wrote to me saying that poor housing

  • costs the NHS £1.4 billion a year, but that figure is now four years old. Will the Secretary

  • of State ensure that the Department of Health writes to me with the most up-to-date figures

  • and places that information in the Library?

  • >> Dominic Raab: I will certainly pass on the hon. Lady's

  • specific request to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

  • She is right to raise the quality of housing. When I was Housing Minister, we developed

  • proposals for a social housing Green Paper. We want social housing tenants to feel they

  • are treated with respect. I remember meeting an individual who said that he ran his own

  • business, and when he went to work he was treated with respect but when he came back

  • home he was treated disrespectfully by his housing association. That is not right.

  • I would gently say to the hon. Lady that we have delivered over 222,000 additional homes

  • in the past yearthe highest level in all but one of the past 31 yearsand we have

  • built more council housing than in the previous 13 years of the last Labour Government.

  • >> Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Ind): Sir John Major rang me about half an hour

  • ago simply to give vent to his indignation, which

  • I already fully shared, that a major policy announcement of historic significanceour

  • last offer, apparently, to the EU of a withdrawal agreementwas being made not to this House

  • of Commons, which is not even to have a statement, and not after discussion in the Cabinet, most

  • of whose members know nothing about it, but in a speech to the Conservative party conference

  • in which the Prime Ministerwho, I remind you, was one of those who voted to stop us

  • leaving the European Union at the end of Marchbegan with an attack on Parliament. If a deal is

  • obtained, I will be delighted and I will apologise to the Prime Minister. I will vote for any

  • deal that is agreed among the 28 member states of the European Union. But can