Prime Minister's Questions: 25 March 2020
25 March 2020
Today's PMQs lasted one hour, rather than the usual half an hour. 12 questions were allocated to the Leader of the Opposition and four to the SNP Westminster Leader.
During PMQs today MPs questioned the Prime Minister about support for the unemployed and those on zero-hours contracts, testing of NHS staff, Universal Credit and an eviction freeze for renters.
Questions from the Leader of the Opposition
This was the last PMQs for the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn began by thanking the NHS staff, public sector workers, supermarket staff and, particularly, cleaners working to keep up safe.
Mr Corbyn asked the Prime Minister:
- why the Prime Minister did not write to research institutes to ask for coronavirus testing machines earlier, in reference to a leaked email that showed he had asked this past weekend. Mr Corbyn asked what further actions were taking place to obtain testing equipment.
- when social care staff will be getting tested for coronavirus.
- how the Prime Minister plans to ensure care workers get the vital food and supplies they need for the people they are caring for. Supermarkets are now often sold out of goods.
- when NHS staff will get the personal protection equipment (PPE) that they need. The Healthcare Supply Association has been forced to ask hardware shops on Twitter to source equipment. Mr Corbyn said that NHS chiefs have said lack of testing and lack of PPE are their biggest concerns.
- if the Prime Minister will ban evictions for six months. Mr Corbyn said that the Prime Minister had agreed to this but "appears to have gone back on his word".
- what the Government is doing to "bring people home" and cover medical costs accrued by those stranded abroad.
- why construction sites for non-emergency projects were still open and construction workers having to go to work.
- why it has taken the Prime Minister "so long" to guarantee income for all self-employed workers (who were not covered in the Chancellor's package announced last week).
- if the Prime Minister give extra resources to boost the DWP's capacity to handle Universal Credit claims, amid reports that hundreds of thousands of people were trying to make claims. Mr Corbyn also asked him to relax the "draconian" requirements for Universal Credit and speed up the process for claimants.
- if the Prime Minister will increase statutory sick pay and give protection and access to benefits to those on zero-hour contracts.
- how the Government will "open itself to scrutiny" while Parliament is in recess so that the Government can be held to account.
He closed his remarks by saying that the crisis has shown us how we depend on each other: "at times like this we have to recognise the value of each other and the strength of a society that cares for each other and cares for all."
Questions from the Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader
The Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, asked about support for the self-employed, a freeze on evictions for private renters, and NHS staff.
Mr Blackford asked the Prime Minister:
- why a full package of support for the self-employed was not put in place before the lockdown.
- if, when the Chancellor announces his plans to support self-employed workers (on Thursday) there will be "parity and equality of support" between the job retention scheme announced last week and proposals to aid the self-employed.
- that we owe it to all of the "heroes" in the NHS, including doctors, nurses and cleaners, to stay at home if we are "non-essential workers".
- if the Prime Minister will "send out the message" that nobody should be evicted for a six month period during the pandemic.
Full list of topics and questioners
- Conservative MP, Suzanne Webb (Stourbridge) asked the Prime Minister if he will ensure people have the support to stay at home.
- Conservative MP, Ben Bradley (Mansfield) asked about support for self-employed people in his constituency.
- Conservative MP, Jane Stevenson (Wolverhampton North East) asked the Prime Minister he will give thanks to volunteers helping their neighbours in her constituency.
- Labour (Co-op) MP, Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) asked about when NHS staff at Northwick Park Hospital in his constituency will receive PPE and testing equipment.
- Conservative MP, Adam Afriyie (Windsor) asked if the Prime Minister will lift the measures at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Labour MP, Peter Kyle (Hove) asked when care home staff will receive PPE and same-day tests.
- Conservative MP, Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) asked if the Prime Minister is in contact with supermarkets to ensure goods are getting to shelves where they are needed.
- Plaid Cymru MP, Ben Lake (Ceredigion) asked about support for vulnerable elderly people who cannot get food deliveries.
- Conservative MP, Rob Butler (Aylesbury) asked about HS2 contractors not following social distancing rules.
- Labour MP, Tracy Brabin (Batley and Spen), asked when the Chancellor would announce a support package for the charity sector.
- Conservative MP, Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) asked about funding for the British Council.
- Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) asked for assurance that self-employed people will not in a worse financial position than if they were employed.
- Conservative MP, Scott Benton (Blackpool South) asked if the Prime Minister would continue to work with charities and the volunteer sector to aid vulnerable people.
- SNP MP, Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) asked what the consequences for non-essentials businesses who refuse to cease operations will be.
- Conservative MP, Jeremy Hunt (South West Surrey) asked when we would get back to routine testing, and if weekly tests for NHS staff should be introduced.
- SNP MP, Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) asked about a "bespoke package" of support for the aviation industry.
- Conservative MP, Bob Blackman, asked about the effects of lessening Transport for London services.
- Conservative MP, Sir Charles Walker (Broxbourne) asked about using black cab drivers to transport NHS staff.
- Labour MP, Sir Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) asked what the Government will do to ensure no family goes hungry while people wait for their Universal Credit claims or self-employment support (to be announced on Thursday) to process.
- Conservative MP, Flick Drummond (Meon Valley) asked if the Prime Minister agreed that this was an opportunity to plan for the future.
- Labour MP, Karen Buck (Westminster North) asked about people being evicted and what he would do to ensure nobody lost their home.
- Conservative MP, Neil Parish, asked about possible delays in getting payments to self-employed people.
- Labour MP, Christian Matheson (City of Chester) asked about insurance companies "letting down" events, sporting and conference companies.
- Conservative MP, Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) asked about support for fishermen.
- Liberal Democrat MP, Wendy Chamberlain (North East Fife) asked about consistency in shielding guidance.
- Labour MP, John Spellar (Warley) asked about using the Ministry of Defence to repatriate citizens stranded abroad.
- Conservative MP, Richard Holden (North West Durham) asked about a new community hospital in his constituency.
- SNP MP, Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) asked about reforming Home Office policies so that asylum seekers can gain access to public funds.
- Conservative MP, Tom Hunt (Ipswich) asked about criminals exploiting limited police resources.
- Labour MP, Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) asked about penalties for businesses like Sports Direct who refuse to close.
- Conservative MP, Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) asked about working with the Welsh Government to coordinate volunteering.
- Labour MP, Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) asked about ensuring charities that feed vulnerable children are able to get the food and resources they need.
- Conservative MP, Steve Brine (Winchester) asked about delivery slots for supermarkets.
Catch up on the full PMQs
Image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor