PMQs: Here are all the questions Theresa May dodged this time

The Prime Minister appeared evasive

Jon Stone
Wednesday 14 September 2016 16:04
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Theresa May at PMQs
Theresa May at PMQs

Theresa May faced Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs over the noon dispatch box for the third time at PMQs this week.

The Prime Minister sometimes appeared evasive – more often than not avoiding answering the questions put to her.

Below are the questions she failed to provide MPs with any direct answer on.

Single market for financial services

A study last month showed that, on average, chief executives were paid 140 times more than their employees

Deidre Brock asked whether British banks would continue to get so-called “passporting” to operate in the European Union after Brexit

“Will she tell us whether she agrees with her Foreign Secretary that passporting for the financial services is guaranteed to continue after the UK leaves the European Union?” she asked

Theresa May would not say whether passporting would continue, explicitly ruling out giving a new answer.

“I am not going to give the hon. Lady a different answer from the one I gave the House on many occasions last week, which is that this Government will be working to ensure the right deal for the United Kingdom in trade in goods and services. That includes listening to the concerns that the Scottish Government and the Governments in Northern Ireland and Wales might wish to raise with us. We will be fully engaged with the devolved Administrations.”

Grammar schools experts

Pupils make their way to class past photographs of former headboys at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys

Jeremy Corbyn asked the PM whether any experts backed her policy on grammar schools.

“I wonder if it is possible for her this morning, within the quiet confines of this House, to name any educational experts who back her proposals on new grammar schools and more selection,” he asked.

The PM did not directly answer the question.

“I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has raised the issue of education, because it enables me to point out that over the past six years, we have seen 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools. That is because of the changes that this Government introduced: free schools and academies, head teachers being put in charge of schools, and more choice for parents. I note that the right hon. Gentleman has opposed all those changes.

“What I want to see is more good school places and a diversity of provision of education in this country so that we really see opportunity for all and young people going as far as their talents will take them.”

Feeder primary schools

Teachers revealed pupils have nightmares, been left in tears and are sick from anxiety in the wake of harder tests

Jeremy Corbyn asked whether planned “feeder” primary schools would give automatic places for grammar schools under Theresa May’s new plans.

“Will the children in those feeder primaries get automatic places at grammar school or will they be subject to selection?” he asked.

Theresa May would not give a direct answer to the question.

We are setting up a more diverse education system that provides more opportunities. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be defending the situation we have at the moment, where there is selection in our school system, but it is selection by house price.

“We want to ensure that children have the ability to go where their talents take them. I gently remind the right hon. Gentleman that he went to a grammar school and I went to a grammar school, and it is what got us to where we are today—but my side might be rather happier about that than his.”

Grammar school admissions policies

The National Audit Office previously said £6.7bn is needed to bring all existing school buildings up to a 'satisfactory' standard

Jeremy Corbyn asked whether grammar school admissions policies would be widened under Ms May.

“The Secretary of State for Education said on Monday that the Government “have not engaged much in the reform of grammars”. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether existing grammars, such as those in Kent and Buckinghamshire, will now be instructed to widen their admissions policies?” he asked.

Ms May would not be specific in her answer.

“The right hon. Gentleman is right that what we are looking at and consulting on is a diversity of provision in education. We want to make sure that all grammar schools actually do the job that we believe is important—providing opportunities for a wide range of pupils—and there are many examples across the country of different ways in which that is done through selective education. He talks about a good education for every child, and that is exactly what our policy is about. “

Visa-free travel to Europe

Engineering work means Eurostar trains will be slower

Angus Robertson of the SNP asked whether the Prime Minister was in favour of protecting visa-free travel to Europe.

“Millions of people from across the United Kingdom depend on freedom of movement across the EU for business and for pleasure. They face the prospect of having to apply and possibly pay for visas. Is the Prime Minister in favour of protecting visa-free travel—yes, or no?” he asked.

She would not give a direct answer to whether British citizens would continue to be able to visit Europe without a visa.

“There was a very clear message from the British people at the time of the referendum vote on 23 June that they wanted to see an end to free movement as it operated and control of the movement of people from the European Union into the UK and that is what we will deliver,” she said.

Immigration from outside the EU

Immigration and border control signs at Edinburgh Airport

Conservative MP John Baron asked whether new immigration rules after Brexit would be different for those in the EU and outside it.

“What assurance can my right hon. Friend give that, whatever criteria come to guide our immigration system, it will be fairer than the present system—it will no longer discriminate against peoples from outside the EU, as the present system does?” he asked.

The Prime Minister did not answer the question directly and would give no details.

“As I mentioned earlier in response to a question, one aspect of the vote on 23 June was that people want us to control movement from the European Union into the UK, and, of course, we are already able to control movement from outside the European Union into the United Kingdom,” she said.

“The details of the system we will introduce for EU citizens are currently being worked on, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we will have the ability to control movement from the EU and movement from outside the EU, and therefore bring that greater degree of fairness that I think people were looking for.”

Carbon capture storage

Labour’s Alex Cunningham asked about a long-awaited report on Carbon Cature Storage for coal power plants.

“On Monday, the parliamentary advisory group on carbon capture and storage published a report about the potential of CCS to create thousands of jobs, save the country billions of pounds, and play a major role in meeting the UK’s emission reduction targets. CCS is critical to Teesside, so will the Prime Minister tell the House when the Government will publish their long-awaited new strategy?” he asked.

The Prime Minister gave no timescale for the report.

“The issues of climate change, reducing emissions, and our energy policy are very important to this Government. We have a fine record in this area, and we will be continuing with that. The issue of carbon capture and storage has been looked at carefully in the past.

“One of the key issues is the cost. We will continue to invest in the development of CCS. We are investing over £130 million to develop the technology, through innovation support, with the aim of reducing its costs, and so we will continue to look at the role that it can play.”

Child sexual abuse inquiry

The case will be heard on 13 October

Conservative MP Lucy Allan asked the Prime Minister whether she would agree for an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in Telford.

“Child sexual exploitation is an issue that affects many communities. Does the Prime Minister agree that shining a light on the events of the past is the best way to learn lessons for the future, and will she agree to an independent review of child sexual exploitation in Telford?” she asked.

She did not call for or reject an inquiry into alleged abuse in the area.

“It is absolutely right, as she says, that we are able to look into the abuses and crimes of the past. We will need to learn important lessons from that as to why institutions that were supposed to protect children failed to do so.

“It is for the authorities in Telford to look specifically at how they wish to address those issues in Telford, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has heard my hon. Friend’s comments and that she will want to take that up with her.”

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