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Prime Minister's Questions: 22 January 2020

22 January 2020


In PMQs this week MPs asked the Prime Minister about the Northern Rail service, trade deals, SEND funding and more.

Questions from the Leader of the Opposition

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, focused his questions on bonuses for Greggs staff, Universal Credit and the recent Resolution Foundation report into its impact, child poverty, the two-child limit and in-work poverty.  

Mr Corbyn asked the Prime Minister:

  • how much of a £300 bonus a worker earning just over £12,500 a year should be able to keep. This is a reference to the fact that Greggs staff on Universal Credit may have to give up almost all of their bonuses due to tax.
  • if the Government will ensure that workers on low pay should be allowed to keep their bonuses.
  • whether he believes that Universal Credit is meeting its aim of making the social-security system simpler. Mr Corbyn cited a report from the Resolution Foundation that highlighted "serious distress" resulting from the the Universal Credit system.
  • why he does not take action to end the five-week wait for benefits that Mr Corbyn states has led to in-work poverty (particularly from people on zero-hours contracts), an increase in food-bank usage and more people rough-sleeping than "ever before".
  • if the he will "admit a link" between poverty and the two-child limit, stating that there are "half a million more children living in poverty than there were in 2010".
  • when he will "finally accept that the Universal Credit system is broken, is damaging, is dangerous to people's living standards and it should go."

Questions from the Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader

The SNP's Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford MP, centred his questions around the Sewel Convention, devolution, and the Welsh Assembly's rejection of the Brexit Bill.

Mr Blackford asked the Prime Minister:

  • why he is "ignoring the principle of consent for our national Government". This is in reference to yesterday's vote in the Lords that supported the reinstatement of the Sewel Convention. Mr Blackford states that the Prime Minister is "ignores the Smith Commission that recognises it's up to the people of Scotland to determine its own future".
  • if he will "stop the attack" on devolved parliaments. Mr Blackford cites the fact that the Welsh Assembly voted yesterday against the Brexit Bill.

Full list of topics and questioners

  • Conservative MP, Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden) asked the Prime Minister a question regarding terrorist attacks.
  • Conservative MP, Ben Bradley (Mansfield) asked about support for schools which have not received good/outstanding in the recent OFSTED report.
  • Conservative MP, Mark Eastwood (Dewsbury) asked whether the Prime Minister thinks the Northern Rail service is fit for purpose.
  • Labour MP, Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) asked about the barriers to renewable energy projects from power cables over the Tyne.
  • Conservative MP, Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales) asked if the Prime Minister would visit quarries in the Peak District.
  • Labour MP, Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) asked if the Prime Minister will increase funding for primary care services, referencing a Kempston GP surgery placed in special measures.
  • Conservative MP, Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) asked about a successor to the non-renewable heat incentive.
  • Scottish National Party MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) asked the Prime Minister to commission and publish impact assessments on possible trade deals with America, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Conservative MP, Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) asked about protecting waterways to make sure that housing commitments can be met.
  • Labour MP, Holly Lynch (Halifax) asked whether the Prime Minister will commit to publishing the Oakervee report into HS2 this week.
  • Conservative MP, Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) asked about clearing the bottleneck in the £3.9 billion trans-Pennine upgrade.
  • Labour MP, Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) asked about funding for Wandsworth Council's special educational needs provision.
  • Conservative MP, James Sunderland (Bracknell) asked what is being done to develop new post-Brexit worldwide trade deals.
  • Labour MP, Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) asked about support given to the London Docklands.
  • Conservative MP, Julian Knight (Solihull) asked about improving the country's broadband.
  • Labour MP, Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) asked about health inequalities in Stockton.
  • Conservative MP, Amanda Solloway (Derby North) asked about period poverty.
  • Democratic Unionist Party, Sir Jeffrey M Donaldson (Lagan Valley) asked about goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after Brexit.

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Image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor