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Sarah in Parliament

SARAH IN PARLIAMENT

Below is a full list of my speeches and questions in Parliament.

Photo of Sarah Jones
24 April 2024

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary, and a pleasure to follow all the contributors to what has been a thoughtful debate. I am grateful to the hon. Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) for securing the debate. I completely understand why he wanted to do so, and think I agree with everything he said in his speech. Although we have made some small progress, I agree that there is a silo mentality and it is disappointing that the Government are not as joined up as they should be on these issues. I also agree with the hon. Gentleman’s points about the need for more focus on the midstream. I have heard that several times from people I have engaged with while I have been in this role.

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) highlighted the potential role, as we learned, of Northern Ireland. When I was in Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago, I met representatives of the chamber of commerce and visited businesses including Harland & Wolff, and their ambitions were very high. It was reassuring and encouraging to hear that everybody is pushing forward now that the Assembly is back up and running; it feels as though real progress is being made.

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth (Cherilyn Mackrory) about her role on the all-party parliamentary group for critical minerals. I have met the Critical Minerals Association and others and I understand what she is saying. I agree that mining is not always the dirty industry that it once was, but in some places, it is. Our role is to try to make sure that it is not a dirty industry and that, where we do it and where we supply and rely on others, it is being done properly. I agree that the Government need to be more agile in responding to some of the challenges that we face. The role of the extractive industries and how that works is an important part of the debate, as the hon. Member for Gordon (Richard Thomson) said.

I will add to some of the key arguments that have been made. If people are not familiar with the term “critical minerals”, it has an air of mystery about it, but there is nothing clandestine about the importance of critical minerals and how key they are to our modern society. I welcome the Minister to his new role. If he has not already read “Material World” by Ed Conway, I encourage him to do so, because it brings to life how important critical minerals are for us all.

The first thing that many of us do when we wake up in the morning is check our phone, which is powered by a lithium battery. We might spend the day working on a laptop; its chip is laced with tin. In the coming years, we will get more and more of our electricity from turbines that are powered as much by metals like cobalt as by the wind that turns their blades. If the Minister has not already been to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, I encourage him to go, so he can see how important critical minerals are in the production of batteries, which will be important for electric vehicle manufacturing in this country.

As has been said, the move to net zero is key. The International Energy Agency has predicted that demand for critical minerals could more than double by 2030. There are different figures—the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth said that it would quadruple—but we know that the need for critical minerals will increase significantly. It is therefore vital that we secure the supply of lithium and other critical minerals to this country.

Labour is clear that the green transition is our biggest economic opportunity. It is our chance to bring economic growth back to this country—the driving mission of a future Labour Government—along with hundreds of thousands of jobs everywhere, from Cornwall to Carlisle. As the shadow Chancellor has set out, we are living in an age of insecurity. The vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic, by rising geopolitical tensions, which have been mentioned, and by the changing climate have made it clear that a joined-up approach to the economy is vital for our nation’s security.

Many of the 18 minerals that the UK defines as “critical” are concentrated in specific geographic areas, the majority of which, as has been said, are not dependable allies of the UK. China is the biggest producer of 12 of the 18 minerals. That makes it clear that strategic, co-ordinated and effective steps to secure our supply of those minerals are vital. Critical action is needed, on which we believe that the Government have critically underdelivered.

Other countries are racing ahead, but the Conservatives still refuse on ideological grounds to have an industrial strategy, which leaves our approach to critical minerals disjointed and scattergun. Instead of showing decisive leadership, we risk seeing the UK sidelined in the global race for the industries of the future. The EU Critical Raw Materials Act has introduced benchmarks for domestic capabilities along critical mineral supply chains. The US Inflation Reduction Act, which has accelerated the race for critical mineral production there, is a powerful intervention that the Chancellor dismissed as a “distortive …subsidy race”.

We welcomed the Government’s critical minerals strategy when it was finally published, but some parts of their approach were frankly baffling. For example, why did they choose not to assess the vulnerabilities of the UK’s industrial supply chains while drawing it up? Why did the strategy contain no specific targets for priority sectors? Why was there no plan to expand midstream capacity for processing and refining in the UK, including in the critical minerals refresh published last year? As the Critical Minerals Association said, without developing the UK midstream, there is a risk that the UK Government will not be recognised as integral to global critical mineral supply chains.

The strategy should have been a vital document, but as others have mentioned, the Foreign Affairs Committee concluded in a report that it is simply too broad to have real impact. That failure is deeply concerning, and it means that crucial investors in the critical minerals supply chain will look elsewhere. They will look to Europe, to countries such as Germany who are expected to have the largest battery manufacturing capacity on the continent by 2030. In comparison, the UK still has just one gigafactory that is actually operational.

The Government’s ad hoc approach has failed; the Conservatives have left Britain vulnerable, and Labour will take a new approach. Where this Government have proved themselves ideologically allergic to joined-up thinking, Labour knows that a real industrial strategy is the only adequate response to our age of insecurity. Building a resilient economy will be a core principle of our approach, which is why our industrial strategy provides for a new supply chains taskforce to analyse the potential supply chain needs across critical sectors, to review the vulnerability of critical supply chains to extreme risks and to assess the potential requirements of responding to those shocks.

That industrial strategy will work hand in glove with Labour’s green prosperity plan, built on the principle of using catalytic public investment to secure investment from the private sector—a principle that the hon. Member for St Austell and Newquay may be able to attest to the power of. Labour will make strategic public investments to develop and support critical supply chains here in Britain. Our national wealth fund will invest £1.5 billion in new gigafactories and aim to draw in three times as much from the private sector. Boosting Britain’s automotive industry at the one end and the critical minerals supply chain at the other, the new gigafactories will help to put Britain back on a competitive international footing and to secure Britain’s place in the international supply of those key materials.

When it comes to critical minerals, it is vital to look way beyond our borders, which is why a Labour Government would ensure that our trade policy works in step with our domestic plans. That is why we need to work with our friends and allies on secure and resilient supply chains, aligning capacities in key sectors with our wider security relationships. I was at a roundtable recently with the Critical Minerals Association and many others, including representatives from Australia and Canada, and we were talking about how the Foreign Office works in terms of its relationships and priorities. It is clear that the need for critical minerals needs to be stamped on what is done by the Foreign Office, as well as by other Departments. We need to make sure that we are building relationships with our allies from whom we will need to source materials in the future. We should also use our international position to boost standards, which, when it comes to critical minerals, have too often been sorely lacking.

Securing the supply of new critical minerals is crucial, but it is also vital to consider how we make the most of the materials that already surround us. I did not know that there is an estimated average of 20 unused electronic items in every household across the UK. We have to not make a mockery of recycling, as our Prime Minister has, but see it in its rightful place in helping to secure the circular economy, with buy-in from devolved Administrations across the UK. That is a real priority in moving towards a sustainable future.

Getting this right is vital, so I hope that the Minister can answer a few questions before the end of the debate. What is the Government’s plan to support the development of midstream critical mineral capacity in the UK? How do the Government plan to support the move to a circular economy to reduce our demand for new minerals? How is his Department working with the Foreign Office to engage with our allies so that we can secure our critical mineral supply and boost international standards? In the Government’s response to the task and finish group, they said that they would consider new supportive proposals. Have the Government done that yet? Securing our supply of lithium and other critical minerals needs leadership—leadership that the Government have so far failed to deliver. We risk letting the UK fall behind in securing our supply of critical minerals. Labour will put the UK back in the race.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 30 January 2024 to Question 10758 on Armed Forces, if he will name the regiments in the (a) Army and (b) Royal Marines which have been (i) disbanded and (ii) merged since 2010.

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19 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answers of 24 January 2024 to Questions 10872 and 10873 on Ranger Regiment, the Answers of 24 January 2024 to Questions 10657 and 10658 on Armed Forces: Recruitment, the Answer of 24 January 2024 to Question 10656 on Armed Forces: Discharges, the Answer of 24 January 2024 to Question 10655 on Armed Forces and the Answer of 30 January 2024 to Question 10874 on Defence Equipment: Theft, when he plans to write to the hon. Member for Croydon Central with the information requested.

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18 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what the decision-making process is for the potential release of land by the Nuclear Development Authority for nuclear development sites at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
18 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent assessment her Department has made of the viability of Moorside as a nuclear development site; and whether her Department has had recent discussions with Sellafield Ltd on the land requirements for developing that site.

Photo of Sarah Jones
17 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department made of the adequacy of proposals from Solway Community Power Company for the development of small modular reactors at Moorside; how much land is required for that proposed development; and how many meetings have taken place between the Department and that company.

Photo of Sarah Jones
17 March 2024

This Government are locked in a doom loop of inertia, and everyone is talking about it. Just this week, the National Infrastructure Commission said that the Government are taking too long, need to move faster, and that greater urgency is required. The CBI report that the Secretary of State mentioned says that

“strong future growth from green businesses is being put at risk”.

Labour’s national wealth fund will crowd in private investment and create thousands of good jobs for plumbers, engineers, electricians and welders. Is blowing our advantage and losing the race for the industries of the future part of the Government’s plan, or do they just not have one?

Photo of Sarah Jones
17 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has had recent discussions with (a) Sellafield Ltd and (b) the Nuclear Development Authority on its plans for nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
17 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many developers have expressed an interest in the development of new nuclear power at Moorside since its selection as a site for new nuclear power generation in 2009.

Photo of Sarah Jones
17 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the extent of regulatory support for potential nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
16 March 2024

I thank my hon. Friend for that excellent intervention. “Coronation Street”, like all the soaps, does quite a good job in helping to educate us about some of these issues.

I had to look online for information to ensure I was making the right choices. We ended up finding somebody who had brought a rescue dog over from Ukraine and had realised that the dog was pregnant, which they had not known at the time. The dog gave birth to only one puppy, which is quite rare and often means that the dog has had some maltreatment. We adopted that puppy, who was born in this country, with the mother having been brought over from Ukraine.

Lots of constituents have been in touch about this issue and lots of Members have given statistics showing why it is important that we take action. We are talking about a multimillion-pound industry across countries, with UK sales of up to 2 million puppies annually and a value of anything up to £2 billion. Some 50% of the industry is illegal or unlicensed. As the illegal trade has changed, so have its production systems. We were given many helpful briefings, from many organisations, for this debate. One from Battersea tells us that

“farms breeding puppies on an industrial scale are just as likely to be found in urban tower blocks, or warehouses in Eastern Europe, as they are in ramshackle, shiveringly cold, and filthy cages in sheds and shacks on repurposed smallholdings.”

A Four Paws report on the illegal puppy trade in the UK found that more than 30% of imported puppies were from Romania alone. According to respondents to Cats Protection’s “Cats and Their Stats” 2023 survey, 3% of the cats that were obtained in the 12 months preceding the survey were from abroad, which equates to 50,000 cats—there was no clarity as to the conditions.

As has been said, puppies and kittens that are imported too young face a much higher risk of developing illnesses or suffering an early death. I should have congratulated the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Dr Hudson), who made an excellent speech and knows much more about this and the impact that these things can have on our animals. I listened with great interest and learnt a lot during his speech. Raising the age minimum in this regard will allow animals to grow older and it will protect them a bit more from travelling long and stressful journeys. It would be welcome and would stop a lot of the sales of those very young pets; we do see that online and it is easy to find, with multiple adverts where young puppies or kittens are being advertised as four, five or six weeks old and ready for homing.

As I have said, puppy smuggling is an unchecked criminal activity, which causes suffering to animals and heartache and financial cost to their owners. It helps fund wider organised crime and presents an evidenced disease transmission threat. My constituents are very pleased with the hon. Member for North Devon for introducing this legislation. We have talked a lot about enforcement and the concerns that a piece of legislation is only as good as the enforcement that goes with it. The enforcement of existing laws and regulations is not adequate, so I have significant questions about enforcement. However, the Bill is a step on the journey in the right direction, and, on behalf of the dog, cat and ferret lovers in Croydon, I welcome it.

Photo of Sarah Jones
16 March 2024

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. If someone is caught smuggling drugs or people, they face years in prison. From the information I have looked at, if the police do a sting—they do so sometimes, although not often, because they do not have the resources —and manage to catch someone who has been smuggling pets into the country illegally, that person will be looking at a couple of months’ imprisonment as a maximum, and probably not even that. For a criminal gang managing the risks, it is a worthwhile crime to introduce the puppies into this country, particularly given that their cost can run into several thousand pounds each. We need to do more to get rid of and stamp down on this practice. I welcome the Bill’s provisions, but, as other Members have said, I think we need to go further on enforcement and other measures.

I want to briefly touch on my journey trying to buy and getting a pet. During the covid pandemic, my children were pushing me to get a dog, while my husband was very against it, which I think is not uncommon in families. My children finally won the argument, and we decided to get a dog. I had not bought an animal before and I realised that the whole situation was a bit of a minefield. The first thing I did was to go online, where there are hundreds of websites selling pets, and I had no idea where they had come from or what their quality of life had been so far, nor whether they had been brought into this country legally or not. Pets4Homes is a big site; and Gumtree sells thousands of pets, as do puppies.co.uk and foreverpuppy.co.uk.

I looked on many different sites and did not know what I was looking for, nor how to avoid doing something I should not. I looked at some charities, which provide really useful information on what to do and what not to do; Dogs Trust has particularly good information about what to avoid. I found out that I needed to see good pictures of the animal with its mother, and to ring up the person who was selling it and have a conversation with them. I then needed to go and see the animal, make sure its mother and father were there, and look at the surroundings. On several occasions, that meant I was able to pick up on something slightly dodgy. I reported several cases because I could not see the animal’s mother or its background, and the owner was not asking me anything about my background; it did not feel right. I also reported a seller when I went to visit some puppies in a flat, because the flat was immaculate and there was no evidence that anyone was living there—there was just a crate of puppies and a man. I was just not comfortable that the situation was what it should have been, so I reported the situation.

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16 March 2024

I thank the hon. Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) for introducing the Bill. I join everyone else who has spoken in support of it.

People in Croydon love their pets. We are lucky enough to be one of the greenest London boroughs with beautiful parks, as people will know. We have thousands of animal lovers and pets in our borough. As has already been mentioned, during the covid pandemic, there was a big increase in the number of people deciding that they wanted a cat or a dog. Croydon has seen a large increase in the same way. We need to ensure that, when people get a cat or a dog—or, indeed, a ferret, about which we learned much from my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Samantha Dixon)—things are done in the right way, and they are not buying an animal that has been illegally smuggled into the country.

Other Labour Members have pointed to the Labour Government’s record on animal welfare. My right hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) herself introduced legislation. In 1997, I was working for a Labour MP, and we were introducing the banning of foxhunting. I remember that we received literally hundreds of handwritten letters—we did not really use email back then—from people who were desperate to see an end to foxhunting, cosmetic testing and all the other things for which legislation was introduced under the last Labour Government.

I join colleagues in their disappointment that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was not passed. We are grateful to the hon. Member for North Devon for bringing in some measures that we can all support. Like other Members, many of my constituents have written, asking me to support the Bill. Jan, a big supporter of Cats Protection who writes to me often, says that according to the Cats Protection stats of 2023, 50,000 cats were obtained from an overseas source in the 12 months preceding its survey. Of course, it is unclear what condition those cats or kittens were subjected to during their travel.

When I was shadow Policing Minister, I would talk to senior police officers up and down the country about crime in their areas, and I heard increasingly about the smuggling of pets. I remember talking to a senior police officer in the north-east who said that they were dealing with very serious and large criminal gangs, with a presence across multiple countries, who would smuggle people, drugs, vapes and pets—it was big business. Of course, there was not much enforcement to stop that practice from happening.

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13 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the (a) total investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs forecast for the Sizewell C development on (i) Suffolk and (ii) the UK.

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13 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the total (a) investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs at Hinkley C on the economy in (i) Somerset and (ii) the UK.

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12 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how much financial support the Government (a) agreed to give to support the NuGen project in Moorside over the course of its proposed development and (b) gave to the project before it was cancelled.

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12 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of the NuGen development at Moorside on (a) electricity generation capacity, (b) investment, (c) the number of directly-created jobs, (d) the number of supply-chain jobs in (i) Cumbria and (ii) the UK; and what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of that project on gross value added in Cumbria.

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11 March 2024

It has been a while since I bounced up and down, Chair; I am too old for that. Is the Minister exploring incentives to keep scrap steel in this country? Because at the moment we export it all. Is she looking at VAT relief, tariffs or restrictions to help that process?

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11 March 2024

Will the Minister give way on that point?

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10 March 2024

The Minister is being very generous in giving way. I want to return to the point about whether it was this deal or the end of everything. If the Government had paid attention to their own report in 2017, which said, “Here are the problems with the steel industry: the supply chain, skills, R&D and transition,” and responded with a steel strategy, Tata would not hold all the cards and would not be able to say, rightly or wrongly, “It’s all or nothing.” We would not be in this situation. But the unions are supporting a reasonable deal that has a calmer transition and would not lead to job losses. Does the Minister think there is merit in that union plan?

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10 March 2024

Will the Minister give way?

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9 March 2024

On the point that the Minister makes about China, we know that the cheapest steel from China has been a factor, but major importers to the UK are western European nations: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. We are not competing with them, either. There is a fundamental problem in the way that we run this economy, which has meant that our industries cannot be competitive when others in the European Union can be.

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9 March 2024

Will the Minister give way?

Photo of Sarah Jones
8 March 2024

My hon. Friend makes a really good point, which is why we keep coming back to this cliff-edge approach and saying that it is not the way to transition. If we think about south Wales and the Celtic sea, we think about the huge opportunities with an industrial strategy and industry working together with Government, including the jobs and growth that we could create, but do we have any of that under this Government? No, because they do not even have the starting point of a plan for steel.

Members across the House do not want to see this country becoming the first developed country in the world without the capacity to produce primary steel. Is the Minister concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make steel here from scratch? Does she think that the Government’s plan is really money well spent? Can she answer the question that was originally put today: what conditionality has been placed on this deal? We keep asking for the answer to that question, but we have yet to receive it.

Labour will have clarity of vision on steel. We will invest to unlock private sector investment and we will work hand in glove with the private sector. We will use our flagship policies—the national wealth fund, GB Energy becoming a clean energy superpower, grid reform and an industrial strategy—to make the UK a place to invest in, not a place to leave.

Once again I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli for making such a brilliant speech today and I also thank all the Members who have contributed to the debate. I hope that this debate serves to raise the Government’s game, but Labour stands ready to step in if it does not.

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8 March 2024

That is not my understanding—no. What we are trying to focus on in any conversations we have about any industry on steel is what the future is and where we go from here—that is the important question.

My advice to the Minister is to go to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and talk to him about when he worked down the mines, and what happened to his communities when the mines shut—the cliff edge, the redundancies, and the closure of all the community assets that went with it. That is what we risk doing in Port Talbot with the cliff edge that we face—nearly 3,000 jobs, as well as the huge knock-on impact of one job in the plant linked to three jobs in the community. Let us not lose 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot. Do not spend half a billion pounds on that. Let that not be the Government’s legacy.

It is not too late; there is an alternative that we could all work towards. The multi-union plan helps us to transition in a way that protects jobs. That is what the Government should be talking about to Tata. It is not too late for the Government to have a steel strategy, to spend taxpayers’ money in a way that works for the UK, our economy and our security, and to listen to their own work, if not Labour’s. The Government’s 2017 review, “Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry”, identified the barriers to growth: supply chains, competitiveness, skills, and research and development capability. Has the Minister read that? What is the Government’s response to that review from 2017? It could do with an update now but the basics are there. The Harrington review is clear:

“The reality is that many of our competitors chase investments via their industrial strategies backed by substantial government support…The UK needs to respond.”

Has the Minister read the Harrington review and what is the response on steel? What is the Government’s steel strategy?

Ministers talk about how important scrap is going to be, and of course it is for electric arc furnaces, but how are they incentivising measures to keep our scrap here rather than exporting it, which is currently the case? Ministers talk about how we need new technology, but electric arc furnaces are not really the new technology any more—they are years old. What are we doing to take us towards a direct reduced iron facility in the UK using hydrogen? What is the plan? What is the plan to grow the steel industry and where is the ambition? What are the Government doing about carbon border adjustment mechanisms? The steel industry will be exposed to unfair competition, so what is the Minister going to do about that? What is the plan on skills, and what is the Government’s view of the multi-union plan for steel in Port Talbot?

Many of the manufacturing industries that I meet across different sectors are at a crossroads. Bills are high, there is no strategy to support them, they are reducing their output and they are struggling to find people to work with them. The steel industry in Wales is a case in point; the Government’s last-minute, chaotic deal was a masterclass in how not to run the transition. Members across the House are worried about the future of the UK steel industry. Members across the House do not want thousands of steel workers to lose their jobs.

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7 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what the decision-making process is for the potential release of land by the Nuclear Development Authority for nuclear development sites at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent assessment her Department has made of the viability of Moorside as a nuclear development site; and whether her Department has had recent discussions with Sellafield Ltd on the land requirements for developing that site.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department made of the adequacy of proposals from Solway Community Power Company for the development of small modular reactors at Moorside; how much land is required for that proposed development; and how many meetings have taken place between the Department and that company.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 March 2024

Obviously, we need to wait and see if there is a change of Government, and we would not assume that. Many of us are in constant conversation with Tata and the unions about the way forward, and we are also talking to the Government about a different approach. We are doing everything we can from an Opposition point of view, but obviously the Government hold the reins at the moment.

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 March 2024

This Government are locked in a doom loop of inertia, and everyone is talking about it. Just this week, the National Infrastructure Commission said that the Government are taking too long, need to move faster, and that greater urgency is required. The CBI report that the Secretary of State mentioned says that

“strong future growth from green businesses is being put at risk”.

Labour’s national wealth fund will crowd in private investment and create thousands of good jobs for plumbers, engineers, electricians and welders. Is blowing our advantage and losing the race for the industries of the future part of the Government’s plan, or do they just not have one?

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has had recent discussions with (a) Sellafield Ltd and (b) the Nuclear Development Authority on its plans for nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many developers have expressed an interest in the development of new nuclear power at Moorside since its selection as a site for new nuclear power generation in 2009.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the extent of regulatory support for potential nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

This Government are locked in a doom loop of inertia, and everyone is talking about it. Just this week, the National Infrastructure Commission said that the Government are taking too long, need to move faster, and that greater urgency is required. The CBI report that the Secretary of State mentioned says that

“strong future growth from green businesses is being put at risk”.

Labour’s national wealth fund will crowd in private investment and create thousands of good jobs for plumbers, engineers, electricians and welders. Is blowing our advantage and losing the race for the industries of the future part of the Government’s plan, or do they just not have one?

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the (a) total investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs forecast for the Sizewell C development on (i) Suffolk and (ii) the UK.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the total (a) investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs at Hinkley C on the economy in (i) Somerset and (ii) the UK.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how much financial support the Government (a) agreed to give to support the NuGen project in Moorside over the course of its proposed development and (b) gave to the project before it was cancelled.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of the NuGen development at Moorside on (a) electricity generation capacity, (b) investment, (c) the number of directly-created jobs, (d) the number of supply-chain jobs in (i) Cumbria and (ii) the UK; and what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of that project on gross value added in Cumbria.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

It has been a while since I bounced up and down, Chair; I am too old for that. Is the Minister exploring incentives to keep scrap steel in this country? Because at the moment we export it all. Is she looking at VAT relief, tariffs or restrictions to help that process?

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

The Minister is being very generous in giving way. I want to return to the point about whether it was this deal or the end of everything. If the Government had paid attention to their own report in 2017, which said, “Here are the problems with the steel industry: the supply chain, skills, R&D and transition,” and responded with a steel strategy, Tata would not hold all the cards and would not be able to say, rightly or wrongly, “It’s all or nothing.” We would not be in this situation. But the unions are supporting a reasonable deal that has a calmer transition and would not lead to job losses. Does the Minister think there is merit in that union plan?

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

Will the Minister give way?

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

On the point that the Minister makes about China, we know that the cheapest steel from China has been a factor, but major importers to the UK are western European nations: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. We are not competing with them, either. There is a fundamental problem in the way that we run this economy, which has meant that our industries cannot be competitive when others in the European Union can be.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

Will the Minister give way?

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

My hon. Friend makes a really good point, which is why we keep coming back to this cliff-edge approach and saying that it is not the way to transition. If we think about south Wales and the Celtic sea, we think about the huge opportunities with an industrial strategy and industry working together with Government, including the jobs and growth that we could create, but do we have any of that under this Government? No, because they do not even have the starting point of a plan for steel.

Members across the House do not want to see this country becoming the first developed country in the world without the capacity to produce primary steel. Is the Minister concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make steel here from scratch? Does she think that the Government’s plan is really money well spent? Can she answer the question that was originally put today: what conditionality has been placed on this deal? We keep asking for the answer to that question, but we have yet to receive it.

Labour will have clarity of vision on steel. We will invest to unlock private sector investment and we will work hand in glove with the private sector. We will use our flagship policies—the national wealth fund, GB Energy becoming a clean energy superpower, grid reform and an industrial strategy—to make the UK a place to invest in, not a place to leave.

Once again I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli for making such a brilliant speech today and I also thank all the Members who have contributed to the debate. I hope that this debate serves to raise the Government’s game, but Labour stands ready to step in if it does not.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 March 2024

That is not my understanding—no. What we are trying to focus on in any conversations we have about any industry on steel is what the future is and where we go from here—that is the important question.

My advice to the Minister is to go to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and talk to him about when he worked down the mines, and what happened to his communities when the mines shut—the cliff edge, the redundancies, and the closure of all the community assets that went with it. That is what we risk doing in Port Talbot with the cliff edge that we face—nearly 3,000 jobs, as well as the huge knock-on impact of one job in the plant linked to three jobs in the community. Let us not lose 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot. Do not spend half a billion pounds on that. Let that not be the Government’s legacy.

It is not too late; there is an alternative that we could all work towards. The multi-union plan helps us to transition in a way that protects jobs. That is what the Government should be talking about to Tata. It is not too late for the Government to have a steel strategy, to spend taxpayers’ money in a way that works for the UK, our economy and our security, and to listen to their own work, if not Labour’s. The Government’s 2017 review, “Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry”, identified the barriers to growth: supply chains, competitiveness, skills, and research and development capability. Has the Minister read that? What is the Government’s response to that review from 2017? It could do with an update now but the basics are there. The Harrington review is clear:

“The reality is that many of our competitors chase investments via their industrial strategies backed by substantial government support…The UK needs to respond.”

Has the Minister read the Harrington review and what is the response on steel? What is the Government’s steel strategy?

Ministers talk about how important scrap is going to be, and of course it is for electric arc furnaces, but how are they incentivising measures to keep our scrap here rather than exporting it, which is currently the case? Ministers talk about how we need new technology, but electric arc furnaces are not really the new technology any more—they are years old. What are we doing to take us towards a direct reduced iron facility in the UK using hydrogen? What is the plan? What is the plan to grow the steel industry and where is the ambition? What are the Government doing about carbon border adjustment mechanisms? The steel industry will be exposed to unfair competition, so what is the Minister going to do about that? What is the plan on skills, and what is the Government’s view of the multi-union plan for steel in Port Talbot?

Many of the manufacturing industries that I meet across different sectors are at a crossroads. Bills are high, there is no strategy to support them, they are reducing their output and they are struggling to find people to work with them. The steel industry in Wales is a case in point; the Government’s last-minute, chaotic deal was a masterclass in how not to run the transition. Members across the House are worried about the future of the UK steel industry. Members across the House do not want thousands of steel workers to lose their jobs.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what the decision-making process is for the potential release of land by the Nuclear Development Authority for nuclear development sites at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent assessment her Department has made of the viability of Moorside as a nuclear development site; and whether her Department has had recent discussions with Sellafield Ltd on the land requirements for developing that site.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department made of the adequacy of proposals from Solway Community Power Company for the development of small modular reactors at Moorside; how much land is required for that proposed development; and how many meetings have taken place between the Department and that company.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

Obviously, we need to wait and see if there is a change of Government, and we would not assume that. Many of us are in constant conversation with Tata and the unions about the way forward, and we are also talking to the Government about a different approach. We are doing everything we can from an Opposition point of view, but obviously the Government hold the reins at the moment.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. If we look at the stats that I just cited—more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping and only 10 fixed penalty notices—it is clear that people feel that they can get away with it. Of course we need more enforcement and appropriate punishment, when it is right to do that. This is a really pernicious, horrible crime, and the response in our courts should reflect that.

The promise that crimes will have consequences is central to our justice system. One idea that I think is interesting is Merton Council’s wall of shame, which puts that principle into action. The council uses its roaming CCTV to capture images of fly-tippers, and it puts those images up as posters around fly-tipping hotspots. Merton has only just started doing that, but it achieved seen results. Merton has even filmed, with the CCTV, people coming with their rubbish and looking at the poster and then walking away, because they realise that there might be consequences to their actions. What Merton is doing could be something that the Minister might look at on a more national scale.

Next, I want to talk about having a strategy. As we have established, fly-tipping is widespread across the country. Croydon Council has focused on blitz clean-up approaches to hotspots, which is a good in itself, but I agree with the suggestion that I have had from many constituents that a more joined-up approach is needed. Each council—Croydon Council being one—should develop a fly-tipping strategy that explores the root causes of fly-tipping, identifies the hotspots in each borough, outlines what tools the council already has at its disposal, and produces a plan to deploy those tools to address the problem. Let me give one example of councils using the resources that they have. Several councils use their YouTube page to show pictures of perpetrators of fly-tipping—again, to try to shock people into realising that they are committing an offence and should stop.

I am grateful to have had this debate to highlight the pestilence that is fly-tipping, to commend community efforts to address it and to outline some ways to address it. Everyone deserves to live in a neighbourhood that they feel proud of. The levels of fly-tipping in Croydon and across the country are completely unacceptable. I am suggesting to Croydon Council that it set up mega-skip days to provide freely available skips so that residents can more easily get rid of unwanted items for free, that it set up a fly-tippers wall of shame—learn from Merton Council and publicise images of fly-tippers—and that it approach fly-tipping strategically. We need to use the enforcement measures and other tools that we have, look at what we can do in the online space, and develop a fly-tipping strategy to tackle the problem across the borough. We cannot and must not allow this situation to continue. We know that there are solutions. We know that things can be done. I want to see a future in which fly-tipping is drastically reduced, and I look forward to working with the local community, council and Government to clean up Croydon.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 March 2024

The hon. Lady makes another good point. We have seen, probably across the country, many areas where recycling centres have closed. If people do not have cars or if they struggle to travel, it is even more difficult for them to reach those areas. She is absolutely right. We could have a much wider debate about funding for local authorities, but I will focus on some of the ideas that some local authorities are using.

Under Newham Council and Keep Britain Tidy’s award-winning and innovative crime scene investigation approach, fly-tipping was cut by up 70%. Fly-tips were surrounded by bright yellow tape and left for a few days, to highlight their lasting impact on the area to perpetrators, before then being cleaned up. It was an imaginative approach and demonstrates the spirit that we need to combat a persistent problem. That is why the suggestions that follow are as much as possible aimed at utilising the powers that councils already have.

The first idea is mega-skips. Many people have told me that the accessibility of waste removal services and centres—the hon. Lady made this point—is a major barrier to bringing down levels of dumping. Nearly one in five jobs in my constituency is paid below the London living wage, yet services to dispose of bulky items of household waste are often expensive. On top of that, levels of car ownership in the borough are at record lows, putting recycling centres out of reach of many in our community.

One fantastic suggestion that I support is to replicate the mega-skip days run by Wandsworth Council, whereby skips are provided around the borough on certain days of the year so that residents can simply get rid of items for free. I hope the Minister will join me in encouraging Croydon and other councils to look at mega-skip days. Are they something that he would support?

The second idea is changing behaviours. Many who wrote to me were dismayed by the feeling that fly-tippers were getting away without facing any consequences. That is extremely understandable, given that official statistics show that Croydon is the second easiest place in the country to fly-tip and get away fine-free. Last year Croydon Council issued just 10 fixed penalty notices, despite recording more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has had recent discussions with (a) Sellafield Ltd and (b) the Nuclear Development Authority on its plans for nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many developers have expressed an interest in the development of new nuclear power at Moorside since its selection as a site for new nuclear power generation in 2009.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the extent of regulatory support for potential nuclear power developments at Moorside.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 March 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders who went on to commit a serious further offence were classified as (a) high risk, (b) medium risk and (c) low risk in each year since 2010.

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 February 2024

This Government are locked in a doom loop of inertia, and everyone is talking about it. Just this week, the National Infrastructure Commission said that the Government are taking too long, need to move faster, and that greater urgency is required. The CBI report that the Secretary of State mentioned says that

“strong future growth from green businesses is being put at risk”.

Labour’s national wealth fund will crowd in private investment and create thousands of good jobs for plumbers, engineers, electricians and welders. Is blowing our advantage and losing the race for the industries of the future part of the Government’s plan, or do they just not have one?

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 February 2024

This Government are locked in a doom loop of inertia, and everyone is talking about it. Just this week, the National Infrastructure Commission said that the Government are taking too long, need to move faster, and that greater urgency is required. The CBI report that the Secretary of State mentioned says that

“strong future growth from green businesses is being put at risk”.

Labour’s national wealth fund will crowd in private investment and create thousands of good jobs for plumbers, engineers, electricians and welders. Is blowing our advantage and losing the race for the industries of the future part of the Government’s plan, or do they just not have one?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the (a) total investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs forecast for the Sizewell C development on (i) Suffolk and (ii) the UK.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the total (a) investment, (b) number of directly-created jobs and (c) number of supply-chain jobs at Hinkley C on the economy in (i) Somerset and (ii) the UK.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how much financial support the Government (a) agreed to give to support the NuGen project in Moorside over the course of its proposed development and (b) gave to the project before it was cancelled.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of the NuGen development at Moorside on (a) electricity generation capacity, (b) investment, (c) the number of directly-created jobs, (d) the number of supply-chain jobs in (i) Cumbria and (ii) the UK; and what estimate her Department has made of the potential impact of the cancellation of that project on gross value added in Cumbria.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

It has been a while since I bounced up and down, Chair; I am too old for that. Is the Minister exploring incentives to keep scrap steel in this country? Because at the moment we export it all. Is she looking at VAT relief, tariffs or restrictions to help that process?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

The Minister is being very generous in giving way. I want to return to the point about whether it was this deal or the end of everything. If the Government had paid attention to their own report in 2017, which said, “Here are the problems with the steel industry: the supply chain, skills, R&D and transition,” and responded with a steel strategy, Tata would not hold all the cards and would not be able to say, rightly or wrongly, “It’s all or nothing.” We would not be in this situation. But the unions are supporting a reasonable deal that has a calmer transition and would not lead to job losses. Does the Minister think there is merit in that union plan?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

Will the Minister give way?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

On the point that the Minister makes about China, we know that the cheapest steel from China has been a factor, but major importers to the UK are western European nations: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. We are not competing with them, either. There is a fundamental problem in the way that we run this economy, which has meant that our industries cannot be competitive when others in the European Union can be.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

Will the Minister give way?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

My hon. Friend makes a really good point, which is why we keep coming back to this cliff-edge approach and saying that it is not the way to transition. If we think about south Wales and the Celtic sea, we think about the huge opportunities with an industrial strategy and industry working together with Government, including the jobs and growth that we could create, but do we have any of that under this Government? No, because they do not even have the starting point of a plan for steel.

Members across the House do not want to see this country becoming the first developed country in the world without the capacity to produce primary steel. Is the Minister concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make steel here from scratch? Does she think that the Government’s plan is really money well spent? Can she answer the question that was originally put today: what conditionality has been placed on this deal? We keep asking for the answer to that question, but we have yet to receive it.

Labour will have clarity of vision on steel. We will invest to unlock private sector investment and we will work hand in glove with the private sector. We will use our flagship policies—the national wealth fund, GB Energy becoming a clean energy superpower, grid reform and an industrial strategy—to make the UK a place to invest in, not a place to leave.

Once again I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli for making such a brilliant speech today and I also thank all the Members who have contributed to the debate. I hope that this debate serves to raise the Government’s game, but Labour stands ready to step in if it does not.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

That is not my understanding—no. What we are trying to focus on in any conversations we have about any industry on steel is what the future is and where we go from here—that is the important question.

My advice to the Minister is to go to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and talk to him about when he worked down the mines, and what happened to his communities when the mines shut—the cliff edge, the redundancies, and the closure of all the community assets that went with it. That is what we risk doing in Port Talbot with the cliff edge that we face—nearly 3,000 jobs, as well as the huge knock-on impact of one job in the plant linked to three jobs in the community. Let us not lose 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot. Do not spend half a billion pounds on that. Let that not be the Government’s legacy.

It is not too late; there is an alternative that we could all work towards. The multi-union plan helps us to transition in a way that protects jobs. That is what the Government should be talking about to Tata. It is not too late for the Government to have a steel strategy, to spend taxpayers’ money in a way that works for the UK, our economy and our security, and to listen to their own work, if not Labour’s. The Government’s 2017 review, “Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry”, identified the barriers to growth: supply chains, competitiveness, skills, and research and development capability. Has the Minister read that? What is the Government’s response to that review from 2017? It could do with an update now but the basics are there. The Harrington review is clear:

“The reality is that many of our competitors chase investments via their industrial strategies backed by substantial government support…The UK needs to respond.”

Has the Minister read the Harrington review and what is the response on steel? What is the Government’s steel strategy?

Ministers talk about how important scrap is going to be, and of course it is for electric arc furnaces, but how are they incentivising measures to keep our scrap here rather than exporting it, which is currently the case? Ministers talk about how we need new technology, but electric arc furnaces are not really the new technology any more—they are years old. What are we doing to take us towards a direct reduced iron facility in the UK using hydrogen? What is the plan? What is the plan to grow the steel industry and where is the ambition? What are the Government doing about carbon border adjustment mechanisms? The steel industry will be exposed to unfair competition, so what is the Minister going to do about that? What is the plan on skills, and what is the Government’s view of the multi-union plan for steel in Port Talbot?

Many of the manufacturing industries that I meet across different sectors are at a crossroads. Bills are high, there is no strategy to support them, they are reducing their output and they are struggling to find people to work with them. The steel industry in Wales is a case in point; the Government’s last-minute, chaotic deal was a masterclass in how not to run the transition. Members across the House are worried about the future of the UK steel industry. Members across the House do not want thousands of steel workers to lose their jobs.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

Obviously, we need to wait and see if there is a change of Government, and we would not assume that. Many of us are in constant conversation with Tata and the unions about the way forward, and we are also talking to the Government about a different approach. We are doing everything we can from an Opposition point of view, but obviously the Government hold the reins at the moment.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 February 2024

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Dame Nia Griffith) was able to secure this debate, and I want to congratulate her on such an excellent speech. She is right: we stand at a crossroads and we risk being left behind. She painted a lovely picture of the tinplate factory—as she knows, that is where my grandfather worked—and how long that has been there.

I also want to mention the other speeches, particularly that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), who told us that this is not about the past; this debate is about the future and what the steel industry can become. My hon. Friends the Members for Neath (Christina Rees) for Newport East (Jessica Morden) and for Newport West (Ruth Jones) made, along with others, really brilliant speeches that highlighted the problem incredibly well. I listened carefully to the debate, and I am very proud to have such Members on this side of the House standing up for workers in south Wales.

My main takeaway from considering everything that has been said is: what is this Government for? What are they usefully doing? What is their plan on steel? The challenges we face in Wales have been excellently set out, but let me set out the broader context. The steel industry is badly broken. It has been lurching from crisis to crisis for more than a decade, and there are two fundamental points where the system is not working.

First, the steel industry does not serve the needs of the UK—of our economy or of our security. Companies pursue completely legitimate corporate objectives, but those are no longer aligned with what we need as a country for our security or our economy.

Secondly, the steel industry is not serving the needs of private investors either. Companies are struggling to make money or find opportunities for growth. We have seen investment in the steel industry in other equivalent countries—big investment—but it has been staggeringly low for many years in the UK. It is not working for anyone.

What have the Government done in the face of this challenge? Well, we have the worst of all worlds. They do not know whether they want to be interventionist or not. They do not know whether they want to encourage competition or not. They do not know whether they want to have a plan or not. They dither; Ministers change; obsessions lie elsewhere, so this Government end up treating each crisis in isolation. They support existing players in the market rather than encouraging new ones, failing to tackle the lack of competitiveness and pouring billions of pounds of public investment into the steel industry without any improvement in the sector or any increase in capability. The result has been a significant fall in the amount of steel we are making. What is the overall outcome? Our steel industry is now smaller than that of Belgium, jobs have been offshored and we have damaged our communities.

Labour’s approach could not be more different. We will not pour billions of pounds into an industry without being clear what it is for, what the outcome will be or how the security and economy of the UK will be enhanced. We will not stifle competition; we welcome competition. We will go after new entrants to the market to encourage investment. We want the UK to be the most attractive country in western Europe to invest in steel. Labour’s £3-billion investment in steel will unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment. We will not just shore up a broken model, as this Government are doing. We will not dither. Our industrial strategy will clearly define the objectives for UK growth. We will identify the space in which UK national objectives align with corporate objectives, and we will be agile enough to respond to the different scenarios facing the industry by the time this wretched Government have finished their work.

Labour also has a commitment to primary steel making, unlike this Government. We will not jeopardise the security of our nation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
24 February 2024

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. If we look at the stats that I just cited—more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping and only 10 fixed penalty notices—it is clear that people feel that they can get away with it. Of course we need more enforcement and appropriate punishment, when it is right to do that. This is a really pernicious, horrible crime, and the response in our courts should reflect that.

The promise that crimes will have consequences is central to our justice system. One idea that I think is interesting is Merton Council’s wall of shame, which puts that principle into action. The council uses its roaming CCTV to capture images of fly-tippers, and it puts those images up as posters around fly-tipping hotspots. Merton has only just started doing that, but it achieved seen results. Merton has even filmed, with the CCTV, people coming with their rubbish and looking at the poster and then walking away, because they realise that there might be consequences to their actions. What Merton is doing could be something that the Minister might look at on a more national scale.

Next, I want to talk about having a strategy. As we have established, fly-tipping is widespread across the country. Croydon Council has focused on blitz clean-up approaches to hotspots, which is a good in itself, but I agree with the suggestion that I have had from many constituents that a more joined-up approach is needed. Each council—Croydon Council being one—should develop a fly-tipping strategy that explores the root causes of fly-tipping, identifies the hotspots in each borough, outlines what tools the council already has at its disposal, and produces a plan to deploy those tools to address the problem. Let me give one example of councils using the resources that they have. Several councils use their YouTube page to show pictures of perpetrators of fly-tipping—again, to try to shock people into realising that they are committing an offence and should stop.

I am grateful to have had this debate to highlight the pestilence that is fly-tipping, to commend community efforts to address it and to outline some ways to address it. Everyone deserves to live in a neighbourhood that they feel proud of. The levels of fly-tipping in Croydon and across the country are completely unacceptable. I am suggesting to Croydon Council that it set up mega-skip days to provide freely available skips so that residents can more easily get rid of unwanted items for free, that it set up a fly-tippers wall of shame—learn from Merton Council and publicise images of fly-tippers—and that it approach fly-tipping strategically. We need to use the enforcement measures and other tools that we have, look at what we can do in the online space, and develop a fly-tipping strategy to tackle the problem across the borough. We cannot and must not allow this situation to continue. We know that there are solutions. We know that things can be done. I want to see a future in which fly-tipping is drastically reduced, and I look forward to working with the local community, council and Government to clean up Croydon.

Photo of Sarah Jones
24 February 2024

The hon. Lady makes another good point. We have seen, probably across the country, many areas where recycling centres have closed. If people do not have cars or if they struggle to travel, it is even more difficult for them to reach those areas. She is absolutely right. We could have a much wider debate about funding for local authorities, but I will focus on some of the ideas that some local authorities are using.

Under Newham Council and Keep Britain Tidy’s award-winning and innovative crime scene investigation approach, fly-tipping was cut by up 70%. Fly-tips were surrounded by bright yellow tape and left for a few days, to highlight their lasting impact on the area to perpetrators, before then being cleaned up. It was an imaginative approach and demonstrates the spirit that we need to combat a persistent problem. That is why the suggestions that follow are as much as possible aimed at utilising the powers that councils already have.

The first idea is mega-skips. Many people have told me that the accessibility of waste removal services and centres—the hon. Lady made this point—is a major barrier to bringing down levels of dumping. Nearly one in five jobs in my constituency is paid below the London living wage, yet services to dispose of bulky items of household waste are often expensive. On top of that, levels of car ownership in the borough are at record lows, putting recycling centres out of reach of many in our community.

One fantastic suggestion that I support is to replicate the mega-skip days run by Wandsworth Council, whereby skips are provided around the borough on certain days of the year so that residents can simply get rid of items for free. I hope the Minister will join me in encouraging Croydon and other councils to look at mega-skip days. Are they something that he would support?

The second idea is changing behaviours. Many who wrote to me were dismayed by the feeling that fly-tippers were getting away without facing any consequences. That is extremely understandable, given that official statistics show that Croydon is the second easiest place in the country to fly-tip and get away fine-free. Last year Croydon Council issued just 10 fixed penalty notices, despite recording more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping.

Photo of Sarah Jones
23 February 2024

The hon. Member is absolutely right. This is a problem across the whole country, and we see it in different forms in different places. I am sure her farmers in Somerton and Frome are very frustrated at this persistent crime, as it is sometimes hard, particularly in rural areas, to catch those responsible. This is a big part of the cost that farmers bear, on top of all the other challenges they have to face, so she makes a good point.

Fly-tipping is dangerous. It is a public health hazard that attracts rats and vermin. I am frequently contacted about a hotspot on the corner of Sherwood Road and Lower Addiscombe Road in Croydon, where, as well as discarded mattresses and furniture, black bin bags filled with used nappies and sanitary products are being ripped open by foxes and strewn across the pavement. Fly-tipping is damaging to local economies. People living near London Road, a busy main road in my constituency, frequently tell me how frustrated they are by the rates of fly-tipping there. For areas that are home to many small businesses, cafés, grocers and hairdressers, the feeling of dirtiness and neglect that fly-tipping causes is far from helpful to their custom.

Fly-tipping is also unsightly, which is a problem in more than just an aesthetic sense. The environment we live in can have a profound impact on our sense of wellbeing. The streets we tread each day help to bind our communities together—that is, our neighbours, the staff of our favourite café and the postman. When streets are clean, we get more than cleanliness in return. Clean streets tell us that we are part of a community and that people take pride in the spaces they share, the memories they make there and the community they are part of. People in Croydon are immensely proud of their community. There is already a great deal of work being done to try to keep our streets clean. Rowenna Davis and Ellily Ponnuthurai, two Labour councillors in Waddon, have been fighting tirelessly to get the mess on Purley Way, probably one of the biggest fly-tips in London, cleared up.

The Litter Free Norbury group is doing fantastic voluntary work and frequently organises group litter-picking sessions. Croydon Council’s Love Clean Streets app, which allows users to report fly-tips for the council to clear them away, is very effective in getting fly-tips cleaned up. There are many individuals across the country, as well as in my patch, spending their free time cleaning up our streets. We recognise and commend their tenacity and their determination to make sure we can all enjoy our boroughs at their best, but we cannot and should not just rely on the generosity of community groups to address the problem; we need to prevent it in the first place.

In advance of this debate, many of my constituents wrote to me with many excellent ideas about how we tackle fly-tipping, but there is not enough time to outline them all. I will therefore focus on three. I am acutely aware that local authorities are severely limited by resources—the Government’s record on that is a debate for another time. The reality is that local authorities have to work much harder to use the resources they have to effectively tackle fly-tipping on a budget.

Photo of Sarah Jones
23 February 2024

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping is a pernicious and inexcusable form of antisocial behaviour that causes great distress to many of my constituents. I will set out the extent of the problem, highlight some of the fantastic community efforts to address it, and then turn to the potential solutions. I have not secured this debate to score political points. The Minister may have a few pre-prepared lines, but I want this to be a constructive discussion about how we bring about change, and I hope he will respond in the same spirit. Many of my constituents have written to me with fantastic suggestions of what could be done. I am immensely grateful for their ideas and look forward to sharing them in the course of the debate.

Fly-tipping is a persistent and acute problem in Croydon, but it is not just a problem in Croydon. This blight on our communities should not be treated as some inevitable feature of city living—quite the opposite. The statistics show that fly-tipping affects all parts of our country. Around 3,000 incidents of fly-tipping hit communities across England every single day, costing local authorities up to £58 million each year. Worryingly, the mountain of rubbish being heaped on Britain’s streets is growing. Over the past two years, the number of large fly-tips that were tipper lorry-load size or larger has increased by 13%. Whether we live in rolling hills or in a concrete jungle, no one should have their neighbourhood polluted by piles of junk. People in Croydon are angry and frustrated at the persistence of fly-tipping on their streets, from Central Parade in New Addington to Gonville Road in Thornton Heath.

Photo of Sarah Jones
23 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders who went on to commit a serious further offence were classified as (a) high risk, (b) medium risk and (c) low risk in each year since 2010.

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23 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Prison Transfer Agreements were in place in each year since 2010.

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23 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much ammunition of each ammunition type has been stolen in each year since 2015.

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23 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much military equipment of each equipment type has been (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since 2015.

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22 February 2024

It has been a while since I bounced up and down, Chair; I am too old for that. Is the Minister exploring incentives to keep scrap steel in this country? Because at the moment we export it all. Is she looking at VAT relief, tariffs or restrictions to help that process?

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22 February 2024

Will the Minister give way on that point?

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22 February 2024

The Minister is being very generous in giving way. I want to return to the point about whether it was this deal or the end of everything. If the Government had paid attention to their own report in 2017, which said, “Here are the problems with the steel industry: the supply chain, skills, R&D and transition,” and responded with a steel strategy, Tata would not hold all the cards and would not be able to say, rightly or wrongly, “It’s all or nothing.” We would not be in this situation. But the unions are supporting a reasonable deal that has a calmer transition and would not lead to job losses. Does the Minister think there is merit in that union plan?

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22 February 2024

Will the Minister give way?

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22 February 2024

On the point that the Minister makes about China, we know that the cheapest steel from China has been a factor, but major importers to the UK are western European nations: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. We are not competing with them, either. There is a fundamental problem in the way that we run this economy, which has meant that our industries cannot be competitive when others in the European Union can be.

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22 February 2024

Will the Minister give way?

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22 February 2024

My hon. Friend makes a really good point, which is why we keep coming back to this cliff-edge approach and saying that it is not the way to transition. If we think about south Wales and the Celtic sea, we think about the huge opportunities with an industrial strategy and industry working together with Government, including the jobs and growth that we could create, but do we have any of that under this Government? No, because they do not even have the starting point of a plan for steel.

Members across the House do not want to see this country becoming the first developed country in the world without the capacity to produce primary steel. Is the Minister concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make steel here from scratch? Does she think that the Government’s plan is really money well spent? Can she answer the question that was originally put today: what conditionality has been placed on this deal? We keep asking for the answer to that question, but we have yet to receive it.

Labour will have clarity of vision on steel. We will invest to unlock private sector investment and we will work hand in glove with the private sector. We will use our flagship policies—the national wealth fund, GB Energy becoming a clean energy superpower, grid reform and an industrial strategy—to make the UK a place to invest in, not a place to leave.

Once again I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli for making such a brilliant speech today and I also thank all the Members who have contributed to the debate. I hope that this debate serves to raise the Government’s game, but Labour stands ready to step in if it does not.

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22 February 2024

That is not my understanding—no. What we are trying to focus on in any conversations we have about any industry on steel is what the future is and where we go from here—that is the important question.

My advice to the Minister is to go to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and talk to him about when he worked down the mines, and what happened to his communities when the mines shut—the cliff edge, the redundancies, and the closure of all the community assets that went with it. That is what we risk doing in Port Talbot with the cliff edge that we face—nearly 3,000 jobs, as well as the huge knock-on impact of one job in the plant linked to three jobs in the community. Let us not lose 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot. Do not spend half a billion pounds on that. Let that not be the Government’s legacy.

It is not too late; there is an alternative that we could all work towards. The multi-union plan helps us to transition in a way that protects jobs. That is what the Government should be talking about to Tata. It is not too late for the Government to have a steel strategy, to spend taxpayers’ money in a way that works for the UK, our economy and our security, and to listen to their own work, if not Labour’s. The Government’s 2017 review, “Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry”, identified the barriers to growth: supply chains, competitiveness, skills, and research and development capability. Has the Minister read that? What is the Government’s response to that review from 2017? It could do with an update now but the basics are there. The Harrington review is clear:

“The reality is that many of our competitors chase investments via their industrial strategies backed by substantial government support…The UK needs to respond.”

Has the Minister read the Harrington review and what is the response on steel? What is the Government’s steel strategy?

Ministers talk about how important scrap is going to be, and of course it is for electric arc furnaces, but how are they incentivising measures to keep our scrap here rather than exporting it, which is currently the case? Ministers talk about how we need new technology, but electric arc furnaces are not really the new technology any more—they are years old. What are we doing to take us towards a direct reduced iron facility in the UK using hydrogen? What is the plan? What is the plan to grow the steel industry and where is the ambition? What are the Government doing about carbon border adjustment mechanisms? The steel industry will be exposed to unfair competition, so what is the Minister going to do about that? What is the plan on skills, and what is the Government’s view of the multi-union plan for steel in Port Talbot?

Many of the manufacturing industries that I meet across different sectors are at a crossroads. Bills are high, there is no strategy to support them, they are reducing their output and they are struggling to find people to work with them. The steel industry in Wales is a case in point; the Government’s last-minute, chaotic deal was a masterclass in how not to run the transition. Members across the House are worried about the future of the UK steel industry. Members across the House do not want thousands of steel workers to lose their jobs.

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22 February 2024

Obviously, we need to wait and see if there is a change of Government, and we would not assume that. Many of us are in constant conversation with Tata and the unions about the way forward, and we are also talking to the Government about a different approach. We are doing everything we can from an Opposition point of view, but obviously the Government hold the reins at the moment.

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22 February 2024

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Dame Nia Griffith) was able to secure this debate, and I want to congratulate her on such an excellent speech. She is right: we stand at a crossroads and we risk being left behind. She painted a lovely picture of the tinplate factory—as she knows, that is where my grandfather worked—and how long that has been there.

I also want to mention the other speeches, particularly that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), who told us that this is not about the past; this debate is about the future and what the steel industry can become. My hon. Friends the Members for Neath (Christina Rees) for Newport East (Jessica Morden) and for Newport West (Ruth Jones) made, along with others, really brilliant speeches that highlighted the problem incredibly well. I listened carefully to the debate, and I am very proud to have such Members on this side of the House standing up for workers in south Wales.

My main takeaway from considering everything that has been said is: what is this Government for? What are they usefully doing? What is their plan on steel? The challenges we face in Wales have been excellently set out, but let me set out the broader context. The steel industry is badly broken. It has been lurching from crisis to crisis for more than a decade, and there are two fundamental points where the system is not working.

First, the steel industry does not serve the needs of the UK—of our economy or of our security. Companies pursue completely legitimate corporate objectives, but those are no longer aligned with what we need as a country for our security or our economy.

Secondly, the steel industry is not serving the needs of private investors either. Companies are struggling to make money or find opportunities for growth. We have seen investment in the steel industry in other equivalent countries—big investment—but it has been staggeringly low for many years in the UK. It is not working for anyone.

What have the Government done in the face of this challenge? Well, we have the worst of all worlds. They do not know whether they want to be interventionist or not. They do not know whether they want to encourage competition or not. They do not know whether they want to have a plan or not. They dither; Ministers change; obsessions lie elsewhere, so this Government end up treating each crisis in isolation. They support existing players in the market rather than encouraging new ones, failing to tackle the lack of competitiveness and pouring billions of pounds of public investment into the steel industry without any improvement in the sector or any increase in capability. The result has been a significant fall in the amount of steel we are making. What is the overall outcome? Our steel industry is now smaller than that of Belgium, jobs have been offshored and we have damaged our communities.

Labour’s approach could not be more different. We will not pour billions of pounds into an industry without being clear what it is for, what the outcome will be or how the security and economy of the UK will be enhanced. We will not stifle competition; we welcome competition. We will go after new entrants to the market to encourage investment. We want the UK to be the most attractive country in western Europe to invest in steel. Labour’s £3-billion investment in steel will unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment. We will not just shore up a broken model, as this Government are doing. We will not dither. Our industrial strategy will clearly define the objectives for UK growth. We will identify the space in which UK national objectives align with corporate objectives, and we will be agile enough to respond to the different scenarios facing the industry by the time this wretched Government have finished their work.

Labour also has a commitment to primary steel making, unlike this Government. We will not jeopardise the security of our nation.

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11 February 2024

Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker. That was an error.

Would the Minister read that letter, consider these issues and perhaps meet us to talk about it? They are good people, and we want to keep their pharmacies open.

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11 February 2024

The three pharmacies in Shirley, in my constituency, have been there for decades. They are very well known and very trusted, but they are all on the edge of having to close. To stay open, one pharmacist is using their own savings and not paying themselves a wage. I welcome your announcement, but would you read a letter from them—

Photo of Sarah Jones
11 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each munition type was (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
11 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each ammunition type was lost from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
10 February 2024

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. If we look at the stats that I just cited—more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping and only 10 fixed penalty notices—it is clear that people feel that they can get away with it. Of course we need more enforcement and appropriate punishment, when it is right to do that. This is a really pernicious, horrible crime, and the response in our courts should reflect that.

The promise that crimes will have consequences is central to our justice system. One idea that I think is interesting is Merton Council’s wall of shame, which puts that principle into action. The council uses its roaming CCTV to capture images of fly-tippers, and it puts those images up as posters around fly-tipping hotspots. Merton has only just started doing that, but it achieved seen results. Merton has even filmed, with the CCTV, people coming with their rubbish and looking at the poster and then walking away, because they realise that there might be consequences to their actions. What Merton is doing could be something that the Minister might look at on a more national scale.

Next, I want to talk about having a strategy. As we have established, fly-tipping is widespread across the country. Croydon Council has focused on blitz clean-up approaches to hotspots, which is a good in itself, but I agree with the suggestion that I have had from many constituents that a more joined-up approach is needed. Each council—Croydon Council being one—should develop a fly-tipping strategy that explores the root causes of fly-tipping, identifies the hotspots in each borough, outlines what tools the council already has at its disposal, and produces a plan to deploy those tools to address the problem. Let me give one example of councils using the resources that they have. Several councils use their YouTube page to show pictures of perpetrators of fly-tipping—again, to try to shock people into realising that they are committing an offence and should stop.

I am grateful to have had this debate to highlight the pestilence that is fly-tipping, to commend community efforts to address it and to outline some ways to address it. Everyone deserves to live in a neighbourhood that they feel proud of. The levels of fly-tipping in Croydon and across the country are completely unacceptable. I am suggesting to Croydon Council that it set up mega-skip days to provide freely available skips so that residents can more easily get rid of unwanted items for free, that it set up a fly-tippers wall of shame—learn from Merton Council and publicise images of fly-tippers—and that it approach fly-tipping strategically. We need to use the enforcement measures and other tools that we have, look at what we can do in the online space, and develop a fly-tipping strategy to tackle the problem across the borough. We cannot and must not allow this situation to continue. We know that there are solutions. We know that things can be done. I want to see a future in which fly-tipping is drastically reduced, and I look forward to working with the local community, council and Government to clean up Croydon.

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10 February 2024

The hon. Lady makes another good point. We have seen, probably across the country, many areas where recycling centres have closed. If people do not have cars or if they struggle to travel, it is even more difficult for them to reach those areas. She is absolutely right. We could have a much wider debate about funding for local authorities, but I will focus on some of the ideas that some local authorities are using.

Under Newham Council and Keep Britain Tidy’s award-winning and innovative crime scene investigation approach, fly-tipping was cut by up 70%. Fly-tips were surrounded by bright yellow tape and left for a few days, to highlight their lasting impact on the area to perpetrators, before then being cleaned up. It was an imaginative approach and demonstrates the spirit that we need to combat a persistent problem. That is why the suggestions that follow are as much as possible aimed at utilising the powers that councils already have.

The first idea is mega-skips. Many people have told me that the accessibility of waste removal services and centres—the hon. Lady made this point—is a major barrier to bringing down levels of dumping. Nearly one in five jobs in my constituency is paid below the London living wage, yet services to dispose of bulky items of household waste are often expensive. On top of that, levels of car ownership in the borough are at record lows, putting recycling centres out of reach of many in our community.

One fantastic suggestion that I support is to replicate the mega-skip days run by Wandsworth Council, whereby skips are provided around the borough on certain days of the year so that residents can simply get rid of items for free. I hope the Minister will join me in encouraging Croydon and other councils to look at mega-skip days. Are they something that he would support?

The second idea is changing behaviours. Many who wrote to me were dismayed by the feeling that fly-tippers were getting away without facing any consequences. That is extremely understandable, given that official statistics show that Croydon is the second easiest place in the country to fly-tip and get away fine-free. Last year Croydon Council issued just 10 fixed penalty notices, despite recording more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping.

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10 February 2024

The hon. Member is absolutely right. This is a problem across the whole country, and we see it in different forms in different places. I am sure her farmers in Somerton and Frome are very frustrated at this persistent crime, as it is sometimes hard, particularly in rural areas, to catch those responsible. This is a big part of the cost that farmers bear, on top of all the other challenges they have to face, so she makes a good point.

Fly-tipping is dangerous. It is a public health hazard that attracts rats and vermin. I am frequently contacted about a hotspot on the corner of Sherwood Road and Lower Addiscombe Road in Croydon, where, as well as discarded mattresses and furniture, black bin bags filled with used nappies and sanitary products are being ripped open by foxes and strewn across the pavement. Fly-tipping is damaging to local economies. People living near London Road, a busy main road in my constituency, frequently tell me how frustrated they are by the rates of fly-tipping there. For areas that are home to many small businesses, cafés, grocers and hairdressers, the feeling of dirtiness and neglect that fly-tipping causes is far from helpful to their custom.

Fly-tipping is also unsightly, which is a problem in more than just an aesthetic sense. The environment we live in can have a profound impact on our sense of wellbeing. The streets we tread each day help to bind our communities together—that is, our neighbours, the staff of our favourite café and the postman. When streets are clean, we get more than cleanliness in return. Clean streets tell us that we are part of a community and that people take pride in the spaces they share, the memories they make there and the community they are part of. People in Croydon are immensely proud of their community. There is already a great deal of work being done to try to keep our streets clean. Rowenna Davis and Ellily Ponnuthurai, two Labour councillors in Waddon, have been fighting tirelessly to get the mess on Purley Way, probably one of the biggest fly-tips in London, cleared up.

The Litter Free Norbury group is doing fantastic voluntary work and frequently organises group litter-picking sessions. Croydon Council’s Love Clean Streets app, which allows users to report fly-tips for the council to clear them away, is very effective in getting fly-tips cleaned up. There are many individuals across the country, as well as in my patch, spending their free time cleaning up our streets. We recognise and commend their tenacity and their determination to make sure we can all enjoy our boroughs at their best, but we cannot and should not just rely on the generosity of community groups to address the problem; we need to prevent it in the first place.

In advance of this debate, many of my constituents wrote to me with many excellent ideas about how we tackle fly-tipping, but there is not enough time to outline them all. I will therefore focus on three. I am acutely aware that local authorities are severely limited by resources—the Government’s record on that is a debate for another time. The reality is that local authorities have to work much harder to use the resources they have to effectively tackle fly-tipping on a budget.

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10 February 2024

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping is a pernicious and inexcusable form of antisocial behaviour that causes great distress to many of my constituents. I will set out the extent of the problem, highlight some of the fantastic community efforts to address it, and then turn to the potential solutions. I have not secured this debate to score political points. The Minister may have a few pre-prepared lines, but I want this to be a constructive discussion about how we bring about change, and I hope he will respond in the same spirit. Many of my constituents have written to me with fantastic suggestions of what could be done. I am immensely grateful for their ideas and look forward to sharing them in the course of the debate.

Fly-tipping is a persistent and acute problem in Croydon, but it is not just a problem in Croydon. This blight on our communities should not be treated as some inevitable feature of city living—quite the opposite. The statistics show that fly-tipping affects all parts of our country. Around 3,000 incidents of fly-tipping hit communities across England every single day, costing local authorities up to £58 million each year. Worryingly, the mountain of rubbish being heaped on Britain’s streets is growing. Over the past two years, the number of large fly-tips that were tipper lorry-load size or larger has increased by 13%. Whether we live in rolling hills or in a concrete jungle, no one should have their neighbourhood polluted by piles of junk. People in Croydon are angry and frustrated at the persistence of fly-tipping on their streets, from Central Parade in New Addington to Gonville Road in Thornton Heath.

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9 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when was the last (a) division level and (b) brigade level manoeuvre exercise in the field that was not a CAS exercise.

Photo of Sarah Jones
9 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) recruitment target and (b) actual number of joiners was to the Ranger Regiment for each year since its creation.

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