Prosperity and fairness

Mike Wood: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate on the closure of the offices in my constituency, which will affect many of his constituents. Does he agree that the success of the surge and rapid response team at the Waterfront demonstrates exactly the kind of modern capabilities that would add so much to delivering universal credit, and that the redeployment should be reconsidered, whether with DWP or with other bodies, to make use of the existing staff and skills at the Waterfront?

 

Mike Wood: I intend to speak only briefly, as this is a strong Bill that will empower people to take control of their data. I am pleased to see such broad support for it receiving its Second Reading, but I am not able to support the provisions in the Bill that would implement section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

Sandy Martin Labour, Ipswich

Mike Wood: Under this Government, the UK is leading international efforts to tackle tax avoidance. Can we have a debate on the impact that tax avoidance has on our vital public services and on what more can be done to make sure that everybody pays their fair share?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: Will the Minister work with banks and utilities to ensure that charges for paper billing are restricted to the actual cost of providing that service and are not allowed to become a cumulative fee for those who need or choose paper bills?

 

Sam Gyimah Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Higher Education), Minister of State (Education)

Yes, I am happy to work with them.

Mike Wood: I declare an interest as my wife volunteers at a refuge. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that Ministers have met organisations such as Women’s Aid to ensure that their views on the new funding model are properly listened to and considered?

 

Victoria Atkins (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)

Over the past two and a half years I have met many constituents who have been directly affected by the various changes to the state pension age. Listening to them, it is impossible not to feel every sympathy, given the circumstances in which many find themselves. If I suddenly found out that I would not be able to retire at the age I had expected, I am not sure that I could say how I felt—actually, I probably could, but I fear my language would not be parliamentary.

Mike Wood: The Secretary of State referred to the welcome increase in the number of girls doing STEM subjects at A-level. What measures will the Government take to increase the number of girls choosing careers that require STEM subjects?

 

Justine Greening (Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education)

Mike Wood: The fact that some women are still discriminated against during pregnancy or maternity leave is both unacceptable and unlawful. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government not only take the problem extremely seriously but are looking at how laws can be better enforced to give the protection she promises?

 

Claire Perry (The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

Mike Wood: While I welcome proposals to make it easier to switch away from poor deals, does my right hon. Friend agree that Ofgem needs to go much further than it suggested in its letter to him this morning to protect consumers from exploitation?

 

Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

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