Twelve years on, we should rule nothing out in dealing with Daesh. It is indeed illogical to conduct strike missions in Iraq, yet not to contemplate doing the same in Syria against an organisation that respects no national boundaries. I suspect that we can lead public opinion on that. Where I think we may have problems is in committing boots on the ground, other than special forces. We will face grave difficulty if such strike missions

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succumb to mission creep. Right hon. and hon. Members will, I know, be very mindful of their duty to reflect public opinion more fully in this endeavour than perhaps we did in 2003, when this House gave the green light to an unpopular war which badly stretched the patience of the public. We must not do so again. We must reflect on the lessons of the past.

Trust and confidence were very much part of the Anderson report that we debated in this place last Thursday, and were reflected in the title of that report, “A Question of Trust”. Next Tuesday will mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings. We can see when terrorists win, but generally not when they are foiled, yet the public do not necessarily understand—Anderson touches on this—when it is necessary to do things in their name which they do not fully understand to protect their liberty. An attack foiled is a liberty upheld.

The pre-legislative stage of the investigatory powers Bill this autumn and the passage of that Bill in advance of the axe falling on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 in December 2016 is an opportunity to socialise, as far as prudence allows, the activity of the intelligence and security community honestly, openly and with candour. Fear of the unknown and the unseen always promotes mistrust. Reality is often rather dull, but in this context dull is good.

As defence and security face down the rather techie challenges of the future, we have to ensure that there is no 21st century equivalent of the wild west—no ungoverned space, nowhere for organised criminals and terrorists to go, no refuge for the ill-inclined state and non-state actors from where they can threaten the people whose interests we represent.

In addition to its vital inquisitorial role, I look forward to the reconstituted Intelligence and Security Committee being in the vanguard of the promotion of better public understanding of the intelligence activities carried out in their name, and reaffirming consent, reducing suspicion and improving the trust to which Anderson refers and to which the hon. Member for Dundee West alluded.

The other subject on which I think we might be at risk of parting company with the public is international development, which is a vital part of what we are debating today. Let me be clear that I, like most Members of the House, support spending substantial sums of money on international development, because it is right that we do so. I support the Government’s spending of £11.7 billion on aid.

Conflict states do not meet millennium development goals, and states cannot attain prosperity without stability. It follows that if we are serious about international development, we have to be serious about the kind of contribution that our armed forces can make to stability and up-stream conflict prevention. It is strange that we cannot count the cost of the 500 British servicemen in Kabul who are training up security forces simply because they are part of the military and the OECD does not recognise soldiers. It appears that we count finding mates for lovelorn tropical fish in Madagascar as aid, but not squaddies teaching Afghans how to prevent their country from collapsing into civil war. That is clearly wrong.

I am pleased that the OECD is this month belatedly considering its rules for official development assistance—ODA. Perhaps it is time for a parallel system: it has been called total official support for sustainable development,

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known as TOSSD—acronyms in this field are rarely attractive—which would encompass some element of peacekeeping and up-stream conflict prevention. I think that is well worth considering. The Prime Minister has said that he is open to spending more aid on peacekeeping and security, and he is right to do so. The vehicle is the highly successful conflict pool, which it seems would be far better aligned with TOSSD than ODA, and much easier to sell to a sceptical British public.

4.26 pm

Alan Mak (Havant) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in today’s debate on the defence of our country. I join my hon. Friends in congratulating the hon. Members for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Stuart Donaldson) and for Dundee West (Chris Law) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) on their superb maiden speeches.

May I begin by sending my condolences to the families of the victims who have been injured or killed in Tunisia, France and Kuwait? They have our sympathy and solidarity. The attacks demonstrate more than ever that we need to confront and defeat those who threaten our peaceful and prosperous way of life and our rules-based international order. They show that Britain’s defence decisions affect not only this country, but countries around the world.

The attacks also remind us how much we rely on our armed forces and security services to keep us safe. They do a superb job around the world. Today, 4,000 men and women of our armed forces are deployed on 23 different joint operations in 19 countries. That includes taking on Daesh. Since last September our planes have carried out over 1,000 missions and 300 air strikes. Our military are training local forces in 15 countries around the world. As my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) reminded us, 500 British troops remain in Kabul. It is thanks to their efforts that more than 6.7 million Afghan children now have the opportunity to go to school. More than 200 of our servicemen and women remain in Sierra Leone, helping to contain the Ebola epidemic. We have 10,000 service personnel stationed overseas, everywhere from Cyprus to the Falkland Islands. Few nations can match that footprint or respond to such challenges so rapidly and at such scale.

I have recently been given a snapshot into the world of our armed services. As a member of the new intake, I have had the privilege of participating in the armed forces parliamentary scheme, which allows hon. Members across the House to experience life in the armed forces, to understand their working environment and engage with servicemen and women of all ranks. Having recently returned from the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham, where we met senior officers to discuss current operations, finances and strategy across all three services, I commend the scheme to the House. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) for his work in chairing the all-party armed forces group and leading the work of the armed forces parliamentary scheme.

Amid all that activity it is easy to forget that the past quarter of a century, although punctuated by periodic and dramatic crises, has been one of relative peace, compared with the past 1,000 years. The proportion of people killed in armed conflict has fallen and living standards have risen as globalisation and technology help lift millions out of poverty.

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In the year that we celebrate Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, we must also remind ourselves that that success was built on the foundations of an international rules-based order. That order did not exist by accident. From the peace of Westphalia to today’s NATO alliance, it is underpinned by states working together for their collective defence. We cannot take it for granted, because today it faces a set of multiple and concurrent challenges. In Europe, we see Russia trying to change an international border by force. In the middle east, we see ISIL, Daesh and al-Qaeda trying to establish a caliphate. In Africa, we see Boko Haram trying to cause mayhem in Nigeria.

Against that backdrop, our armed forces and this country’s security and defence are more important than ever. That view is certainly shared by my constituents in Havant, which has a long and proud naval tradition. We are home to many naval personnel and veterans who have given so much to our country’s defence and who have not hesitated to press their new MP on defence issues. We are also home to defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Eaton Aerospace, as well as a number of supply chain partners who provide the equipment that enables our armed forces to operate.

I welcome this Government’s continued investment in our military, especially in our equipment and our Navy. From the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and the new Type 26 global combat ships, to the seven Astute-class submarines and the renewal of our nuclear deterrent through successor-class submarines, these hardware upgrades will ensure that this country remains at the forefront of technology for many years to come, particularly as the nature of the threat to our country changes.

I am proud to say that our country spends 2% of our national income on our defence budget; long may that continue. Our defence budget is in fact the fifth biggest in the world, the second biggest in NATO, and the biggest in the EU. Although our commitment to the safety of our citizens cannot be measured simply in pounds and pence, the commitment of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to investing £160 billion over the next 10 years is certainly welcome. Our plans to buy new aircraft carriers, the joint strike fighter, attack helicopters and armoured vehicles show that some of the threats that we face are still from conventional forces, even in a world where cyber-attack and chemical attack are equally likely.

As I said, the threats we face today are constantly changing, and those behind them are constantly adapting to find new ways of destroying our way of life. I welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcement of the strategic defence and security review, which will reassess the new threats that we now face in today’s world. That review will help us to assess those threats and, I hope, ensure that we have the right equipment, strategies and solutions to deal with them in the coming years. I especially welcome his decision to look into the use of unmanned aircraft, cyber-defence and precision weaponry. The review will ensure that we are ready, willing and able to act to defend our national interests and our values, as we always have done.

The coming strategic defence review will build on a very strong track record that we have had since 2010. Over the past five years, we have established the National

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Security Council to ensure proper strategic decision making, balanced the defence budget, led the world in promoting women’s rights and tackling sexual violence in conflicts—for that, I pay tribute to my fellow Yorkshireman and former Foreign Secretary William Hague—and continue to play a leading role in NATO and the UN in maintaining a strong defence.

I join my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in praising the contribution that our armed forces are making at home and abroad. This Government rightly put security—economic security and national security—at the heart of our election manifesto. They have also promised to do whatever it takes to maintain our defence and keep our country safe and prosperous in a changing world. I am proud to support that work during this Parliament, both inside this House and outside it.

4.33 pm

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab): This has been an important debate at a very appropriate time to be considering Britain’s security and our place in the world. We gather here today knowing that our national security is affected by events far from home and actions taken by people thousands of miles away.

Last week, our country was touched by the tragedy of terrorism. Our thoughts are of course with the families of the 30 British citizens who lost their lives. The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) rightly spoke of the importance of observing the minute’s silence tomorrow. There is perhaps no better and more chilling an illustration of the interconnected nature of the threats that we now face in the modern world than the horrors that took place on that beach. Today, we have discussed how to keep Britain safe knowing that events in Syria and Iraq can inspire a terrorist to seek out training in Libya and turn a gun on British holidaymakers in Tunisia.

We hold this debate knowing that terror has no respect for borders, from the streets of Kuwait, to the suburbs of southern France, to the forests of sub-Saharan Africa. We know that we face threats that are varied and ever changing—from instability in eastern Europe and uncertain economic events unfolding in Athens, to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, people fleeing conflicts in failed states and a region still recovering from the outbreak of Ebola. Never has it been more timely to debate our essential partnership with Europe and Britain’s place in the wider world. This excellent debate has risen to that task.

Let me begin by saying how good it is to see the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) in his place to respond to it. I know that he has plenty on his plate at the moment, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North (Stephen Pound) has said, he has been so impressive in responding to the appalling events in recent days. I pay tribute to him for that.

We have heard many excellent speeches by hon. and right hon. Members. My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) and the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) made powerful tributes to their constituents who were killed in Tunisia.

I also congratulate those who have made excellent maiden speeches. If I may say so, the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Stuart Donaldson)

2 July 2015 : Column 1731

gave a speech beyond his years, and I thank him for recommending the salads in the Terrace cafeteria, even though he is of Aberdeen Angus stock. The hon. Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) spoke powerfully about the importance of science and innovation across the world. Of course, no debate in this place would be complete without a mention of Winston Churchill, so I wish the hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law) well as he follows in his predecessor’s footsteps.

This debate has shown that we live in an unstable, stormy and rapidly changing world. Global wealth and influence are shifting from north to south and west to east. Technology is changing our lives beyond recognition. This is the year when the human beings on a small planet will be outnumbered for the first time by mobile phones, three quarters of them owned by people in developing countries.

That holds important lessons for our security. Our global village has never been wealthier, healthier or more connected, but the number of people made homeless by conflict and disaster has never been higher. The forces of change have ratcheted up the pressure on volatile states and fragile regimes. That means that today our challenge is to keep Britain safe in a world where the only certainty is uncertainty.

Much has been made over recent months of Britain’s apparent retreat from the world. Let us be clear: withdrawing from the world is not an option, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), the shadow Defence Secretary, rightly said at the beginning of this debate. Britain can and should continue to play a leading role in global affairs. We must never allow a false choice to be created between nation building at home and engagement on the world stage. We can do both. Our future success and security depend on it.

The hon. Member for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti) talked about Britain’s unique reach as a nation. He is absolutely right. We are members of the UN Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the G7, the G20 and the Commonwealth. We have a time zone, history, language and cultural exports, and we are home to the capital of global finance.

We should not underestimate how much people are looking for our country to show a lead. Research by Chatham House has shown that more than 60% of the great British public remain ambitious for Britain to play a leading role in world affairs. Across the globe, many countries still expect Britain to play our part as a senior power that led the world in prioritising humanitarian development and upholding human rights. We should continue to live up to that.

Many hon. Members have reflected on the tremendous debt we owe our armed forces. Nothing should give us greater confidence than our brave men and women in uniform, who, like the hon. Member for Havant (Alan Mak), I thank, together with the Foreign Office staff working in consulates and embassies around the world, often in difficult and dangerous situations and often well beyond the call of duty. They are the best of British and we thank them for what they do for our country.

As we begin the strategic defence and security review, the Government’s task is to plot a course for how we best marshal that talent and ensure that we have the capabilities we need to keep our country safe in the years ahead. That is not limited to our capacity on land, sea and in the air. At a time when Britain is reported to

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suffer more cyber-attacks than any other country in Europe, we must also ensure that we have the means to protect ourselves online. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that they can deliver the comprehensive plan for our future security that we need?

Several hon. Members have rightly concentrated on the new threats that we face. Terror and extremism are as formidable an enemy as any that our country has ever faced, but it is not one that we can easily pin down on a map. It is every bit as fierce as the evil this country waged war on more than 70 years ago. This is the challenge of our generation, and we must use every single asset at our disposal to respond to ISIL or Daesh. The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) spoke about his reasons for using the term “Daesh”, and we have had a good debate about that this afternoon.

As hon. Members will know, ISIL or Daesh is a different entity from al-Qaeda and other foes we have faced in recent times, as the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) pointed out. May I take this opportunity to congratulate him on his new role as Chair of the Defence Committee? We wish him well in that important post. ISIL occupies ground, commands huge resources and is very effective at disseminating its messages. We will defeat its poisonous ideology, which the hon. Member for Salisbury (John Glen) mentioned, only if we work together with our allies and international partners to take on this threat wherever it occurs. That includes the co-ordinated military action against ISIL in Iraq voted for by this House in 2014.

The Defence Secretary spoke about a possible case for extending air strikes to Syria. As the Opposition, we stand ready to work with the Government to defeat ISIL, and we will carefully consider any proposals that they decide to bring forward. These are important judgments that must be made carefully on their own merits. There must be clarity about the nature, objectives and legal basis of any action, and about how it would help us to achieve our shared objective of defeating ISIL.

We must ensure that any potential action commands the support of other nations in the region, including Iraq and the coalition of nations already taking action in Syria. We also know from past conflicts that decisions on military action need to be accompanied by a broader political strategy. That point was made by the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat), whom it is very good to see in this place, although he is not in the Chamber at the moment. We should also reflect on the comments made by the hon. Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon) on engaging with partners such as Jordan.

What diplomatic efforts are the Government making to work with the regional powers? What efforts are being made to build alliances with countries that hold a shared interest with us in defeating ISIL? That includes working together to disrupt the means by which ISIL spreads its propaganda, and involves sharing intelligence where appropriate. Crucially, we need to follow the money, which means doing all we can to cut off the finances that fund the bloodshed. More broadly, we need to work with our partners to tackle the illegal trade in narcotics and the people trafficking that is spreading disorder and funding such atrocities across the globe. What efforts are the Government making to address those issues?

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This has been a wide-ranging debate, but let me briefly touch on some of the broader issues. The way in which we use our soft power is key to ensuring our security in the modern world. That particularly applies to maintaining peace in eastern Europe following the annexation of Crimea and to the role Russia has played in destabilising Ukraine. The hon. Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart)—his arrival in the Chamber is very timely and just in time—particularly focused on how we can support Ukraine. As I am sure he knows, European Foreign Ministers voted just last week to extend the economic sanctions against the Russian regime. If the Minister has time, will he give us his assessment of whether the current sanctions are working? What further diplomatic efforts are the Government making in this area?

Does the Minister acknowledge the variety of grave threats that we face in the coming years? They include patterns of migration, pandemic disease—the hon. Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) rightly made that point—and the impact of climate change. The effects of climate change are already contributing to the scarcity of resources and making populations more transient. It is estimated that as many as 200 million people will have been displaced by climate change by 2050, which is five times the world’s entire refugee population in 2008. I would be grateful if the Minister updated the House on the steps that the Government are taking to ensure that there is a binding agreement at the UN climate change conference in Paris this December.

I welcome the agreement between the Front-Bench teams about the important role of international development. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and the hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) made good points about that. Supporting developing countries is not only the right thing to do morally but the right choice for our national security, because it will help to build a safer world in the long term. As we approach the deadline for the millennium development goals, I would welcome anything that the Minister can say about how the Government will help to build on the progress that has been made.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) made a passionate speech about the lessons that we can draw from history, particularly in the region we have discussed today. Perhaps to nobody’s surprise—certainly not to mine—the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) also referred to learning the lessons of the past, so I will conclude with a reflection from history. Some 70 years ago, a new majority Government took office and a new Foreign Secretary issued a warning that foreign affairs would present them with their most vexed and difficult problems. Ernest Bevin said that we would secure a safer and more peaceful future

“by patience. By trying to understand one another’s point of view, and bringing people together for a common purpose.”

He spoke from a generation that overcame fascism and worked to repair a world shattered by conflict. Today we face different threats that bring new dangers and complexities, but when people look back on our political generation, let it be said that we kept true to that, brought people together for a common purpose and stood up to the varied challenges before us. Let it be

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said that we were not cowed by those who lived to spread fear and hatred, but that we acted to keep Britain safe and to pursue a safer and more prosperous world. Let us deliver on that.

4.46 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Tobias Ellwood): I begin, as I am obliged to, by acknowledging my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests as a reserve member of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

This has been an invaluable debate. Today, Parliament is not just debating but learning about and understanding the challenges that we face. I commend all Members who have contributed, and it is an honour to respond to the debate.

We live in a complex and uncertain world in which we are exposed to a wide range of threats, which Members have articulated in their contributions today. That was brought home by last Friday’s brutal terrorist attack on the beach in Tunisia. Our first priority has been to help the British victims and their families. British experts and officials have been working around the clock to support British nationals—the fallen, the injured and the bereaved.

On Monday I visited Sousse with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and we offered the Government’s sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones. We also met Tunisian senior Ministers to offer a variety of UK support. Yesterday I was with the families of eight of the deceased who were returned to RAF Brize Norton in a dignified ceremony. I join the House in reiterating my deepest sympathies to all the victims and their families.

Although the attacker appears to have been a lone actor, the same ideology of violent extremism is spreading, and sadly that ideology will be behind the next attack as more terrorist groups than ever before seek to do us harm at home and abroad. We must not allow terrorists to dictate our lives. We must learn and adapt to protect our people, but we must not give in to hatred and intolerance. That is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his statement on Monday, and the Defence Secretary repeated today, that we will pursue a full spectrum response. What that response will be, and what Britain can and should do, has rightly been at the heart of today’s debate.

I turn to some of the contributions that Members made. The shadow Secretary of State made a thoughtful and constructive contribution. He said that he stood ready to work with the Government and agreed about the need for a considered assessment. We note the criteria that he set out, and all Members of the new House of Commons must ask the important question about what greater role Britain might play across the full spectrum of capability to expedite the defeat of ISIL.

I join other Members in welcoming my neighbour and right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) to his elected position, and I congratulate him on his appointment as Chair of the Defence Committee—it is wonderful to see him there. He spoke of the challenge of the Sunni-Shi’a divide, and I am pleased with his cautious welcome for further debate on what Britain might do.

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The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) spoke about Tunisia. He will be aware that, sadly, four Scots were killed in Tunisia, and they were repatriated today. He also advanced the debate about the threat of ISIL which, as right hon. and hon. Members know, does not exist only in Syria. In the Sinai there is Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, and in Libya there is Ansar al-Sharia. In Nigeria we have Boko Haram, which has been mentioned by other Members. The House must ask itself whether, if we are to take on an adversary, we are limited by geography.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Ellwood: I apologise but I will not because I have a lot to get through.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) has huge experience in international development and spoke of the importance of supporting those caught up in these dreadful conflicts. He mentioned his visit to Zaatari camp, which I have also seen. I intervened on the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) to confirm the difference between NATO and Warsaw pact weapon systems, and he spoke about the numbers of weapons in Libya, which now outnumber the people there. That shows the challenge we face.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) was robust and knowledgeable in his speech and spoke about the importance of a relationship and co-operation between DFID and the MOD.

The hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Stuart Donaldson) made an incredible maiden speech, on which I congratulate him. He suggested that looking youthful might be a deficit, but I suggest that he should play on it because it will not last for ever. He clearly has good connections if he has the Balmoral estate in his constituency, and I noticed that he also got in his tuppence worth on Trident to force his position—it might cost a bit more to keep that in place, but that is for further debates.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) made an equally composed speech and spoke about the importance of a mixed economy and innovation, offering Bolton West as a place to invest. I am pleased that his skills as an engineer have already been recognised in his position on the Science and Technology Committee, and I congratulate him on that.

The hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) spoke of the twisted ideology and false promise of a place in paradise for those who believe in ISIL. He also mentioned his constituent Trudy Jones, and I confirm that she has been repatriated today.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) spoke about the importance of the one-minute silence in tribute to the fallen victims that will take place tomorrow. That will be honoured not only in the UK but in all our embassies across the world. Usual channels permitting, I hope that a full list of victims will be presented to Parliament next week to allow right hon. and hon. Members to pay their respects and condolences. I also hope that the BBC will acknowledge the one-minute silence.

The hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law) gave a confident performance. I noticed his stature and snappy

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dress sense, and I am pleased that I was here for his maiden speech—




We will not mention the hair. He spoke with pride about his constituency and has huge knowledge of the area he represents. I am sure that he will be feisty and formidable in representing his constituency, as he spelled out.

My hon. Friends the Members for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti) and for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) illustrated their command and understanding of defence matters and the importance of appropriate funding, which we will probably debate on a further occasion in the House.

I am grateful for the kind words of the hon. Member for Ealing North (Stephen Pound), whom I can call a friend. I am pleased with the repatriation process—all hon. Members can acknowledge that that is an important step. It is the least we can do in the House to support those in their time of need.

The hon. Member for Halton (Derek Twigg) spoke of the wider strategy required to help those countries away from Iraq and Syria—Jordan and so forth. That important matter was also reflected by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (John Glen). My hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) spoke of the importance of defining our role and ensuring that appropriate defence spending is met. That was also reflected by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips), who gave a thought-provoking speech and spoke with some authority on the Sahel.

I commend the work of my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) on the centenary of the first world war. He made a profound statement when he said that we must reconnect with the views of the public following the Iraq invasion of March 2003. Those are important words.

As an active, open and forward-thinking global player in an interconnected world, the United Kingdom is exposed to those who would do us harm, but we are one of a small number of countries with the aspiration, the means and the relationships to play a significant role, if we choose, in shaping a safer and more stable world. As has been said, being a member of such important organisations as the UN Security Council, NATO, the EU, the G7, the G20 and the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom is in a unique position to act as a strong and stabilising force for good in today’s uncertain world. That is why we were one of the first nations to join the counter-ISIL coalition. The cautious tone of the debate was clear. We must ask ourselves how we can further leverage our distinctive, decisive global role, our diplomatic network, our military capability and our influence, working with our partners overseas, to expedite the defeat of ISIL and tackle its ideology. That ambition needs to be considered properly and carefully. It is not only in Britain’s interests, but in the interests of building stability, security and prosperity for the people of the middle east, north Africa and around the world. We have started a very important debate today and it should continue.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered Britain and international security.

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Hatfield Colliery

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Kris Hopkins.)

4.58 pm

Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of Hatfield colliery in my constituency. The first mine shaft was sunk 99 years ago at Hatfield, in 1916. Over the years since, tens of thousands of workers at the mine have laboured on our behalf to keep the lights on. On Monday night, production ceased, probably for the final time. Four hundred miners and staff at Hatfield discovered they were losing their jobs. The vast majority of the men who turned up for work were told on the spot to turn around and go home because they had worked their last shift. The jobs they had done for 20, 30 or 40 years had come to an end.

The average age of a miner at the pit is 50 years old. One of the men I met on Tuesday is 57. He first went down the mines at 16. He has a job to go to, but it is at £7 an hour. That is the reality of what has happened. Hundreds of men and their families have lost their jobs—jobs that pay far better than the ones they might get in their place if they are lucky. The last deep mine in south Yorkshire—one of only three remaining in our country—has closed, with all the effects on the community that will have.

Today, I want to talk about Hatfield and the specific issues arising, but I also want to draw some wider lessons for Government energy policy.

At the heart of the debate is the following question: how do we shape a just transition to a low-carbon economy? I believe that this transition is right and necessary, and I support the Government in their endeavours to make it happen, but a just transition means fairness to workers in affected industries. Hatfield’s early closure is not, in my view, just, fair or right.

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 9(3)).

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Kris Hopkins.)

Edward Miliband: Let me explain how we got here. I want to place on record my thanks to Vince Cable and to the former Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for West Suffolk (Matthew Hancock), for what they did before the election. As the mine faced a serious crisis, they agreed at least to prolong its life until summer 2016, with up to £20 million of closure aid. Unfortunately, even after the aid was granted, things deteriorated quickly for Hatfield. In April, the Government doubled the carbon price floor, a tax on high carbon fuels. The levying of the tax at point of sale rather than when the coal is burned means that the energy companies have an incentive to stockpile coal, and they did so in advance of April to avoid the higher levy. Companies had huge stockpiles of coal and orders at Hatfield dried up.

That was the grim situation the Minister discussed with me two weeks ago. My argument to her was not that the Government should not have increased the carbon levy, but that they should take responsibility for its effect on Hatfield. We needed to piece together orders that might have made it possible for the mine to

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remain open. Thanks to the effort of the management, one energy company did offer to buy half the coal and part of the rest could also have been sold. In the end, however, there was a fundamental stumbling block to the mine remaining open.

In contrast with what was said before the election, the Minister said that not a penny more of Government aid could be provided. My argument to the Minister was, and remains, that early closure will end up costing more, not less, when we take into account the revenues that would come back to the Government if the miners were employed for another year. Calculations made by the company suggest that the extra investment required to keep the mine open as planned to summer 2016 would have been more than offset by tax and VAT revenues coming back to the Government. That calculation does not even take account of the money the Government will now pay out in benefits to miners who do not find work; nor does it factor in the impact of early closure on the 100 companies in the local supply chain or on the local economy, never mind the social effect of what has happened. The miners feel they have had the rug pulled from under them. I do not believe the decision makes economic or industrial sense, and nor is it morally right. I believe the Minister should think again.

I also want to use the debate to raise specific issues on which I hope the Minister can be of help. As I do so, I hope she will consider the context. Historically, we have asked the miners throughout our country to put themselves at some risk, in dangerous conditions, to help the rest of us to power our country. We therefore owe them a special duty of care. The miners at Hatfield were led to believe that they would have another 12 months of work and could therefore plan their futures. However, that situation changed in large part due to a Government decision. Inevitably, this chain of events leads to a deep sense of grievance against the Government. That grievance is compounded by the fact that the Treasury has benefited to the tune of £300 million from the high carbon tax. Our ask, therefore, is that the Government accept their share of responsibility and use a small part of the Treasury’s windfall gain to help the miners and their families. One option is to extend the life of the mine, but there are other things the Minister could do and I want to raise them with her.

First, I want to raise the issue of redundancy. Hatfield miners will be getting the minimum statutory redundancy of as little as £475 for every year worked, rather than the £900 for every year worked that was the norm in the industry. Since the mine closed briefly in the early 2000s and only reopened in 2006, the maximum service any miner can claim for is nine years. We are talking about very small sums of money that the men will receive. It means they have a very small margin to support them as they seek other employment. The Minister will want to reflect on that. I ask her to do so.

In those circumstances, and as a gesture of goodwill to the miners at Hatfield—as well as at the last two remaining deep mines, Kellingley and Thorsby, which are due to close in the coming months—I hope the Minister will seriously consider the possibility of enhanced redundancy.

I also believe that the miners at Hatfield deserve the best support to find fulfilling and well-paid work, as well as retraining. Will the Minister undertake that the work of the Employment Service will continue—not

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just for a short period, but at least for the eight weeks that the mine will remain open and beyond? I hope she will work with the Coal Authority, which will take over running of the site, as it might be able to take on some of the former workers. I ask the hon. Lady, as a BIS Minister, to use her good offices to work with the owners of the site, ING, to think about what a creative and possible future for the site would look like.

Those are some specific asks about Hatfield that I put to the Minister, but I want to make a broader argument about Hatfield and the low-carbon transition and what we should learn from this episode. Coal is definitely a polluting fuel, and it is right that environmental standards are applied to it as part of the battle against climate change. That means that there is no viable future for unabated coal, but there is a future for clean coal technology through carbon capture and storage as part of our potential armoury in the transition to a low-carbon economy. [Interruption.] As my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris) says, there are tens of thousands of jobs along with it.

However, the Government’s energy policy does not add up. There is a plan for a CCS plant at Drax by 2020. It will be burning coal, and it could be coal from Hatfield colliery, which is less than 20 miles from Drax. Yet it will not be: it will be coal imported from thousands of miles away, from Colombia or Russia, with all the associated environmental costs.

Projections from the Department for Energy and Climate Change say that by 2029 we are set to burn 26 million tonnes of coal or natural gas through CCS, but none of that will be from deep mines in the UK. I think people will look back on this and wonder how we got to this position. I would like the Minister to reflect in her reply on whether she believes that is a rational or sensible state of affairs and on what it says about the Government’s energy policy. I would like her to reflect, too, on how we got here.

The first CCS plant was due to be up and running by 2014. The last Labour Government committed to two to four CCS projects, and agreed a small levy to fund them. At the time, when I was the Secretary of State, I remember the Conservative Opposition criticised me—Oppositions tend to do this—for not being nearly bold enough. They said there should be four projects—never mind two to four—and asked why I was not getting on with it. What then happened is that the coalition Government came to power, dithered for two years and decided to scrap the previous Government’s plan and start all over again. As a result, as the Climate Change Committee noted in its report earlier this week, CCS will be up and running not by 2014 as projected, but by 2020.

That delay has been fatal for Hatfield and the other deep mines in our country. I say that not to score points, but because I hope the Minister will learn lessons for the future. My constituency has an interest in a gas-fired CCS project at Hatfield—the Don Valley project, which has secured European resources. Yesterday I met the director of Sargas Power, which owns the site and is now overseeing the project, and he emphasised above all the need for timely decision making by Ministers, so we cannot afford more dither and delay.

This takes me to a wider point that I hope the Minister will consider. In the two discussions we had—I hope the Minister will allow me to say this—the most

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heated moments were about whether the Government’s decision was motivated by ideology.


I see that she agrees from a sedentary position.

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry): Only about having the conversation.

Edward Miliband: Only about the conversation. The ideology I referred to was one of a narrow view of faith in the market. The Minister said that that was not the case and not her motivation. In fact, she vehemently and perhaps characteristically denied it. In some sense, the issue goes well beyond what she believes and into a deeper issue about the ethos of government, particularly the ethos at the Treasury, which has controlled so much of what the Government do—not just under this Government, but under previous Governments.

If we look at the history, we find that until 2007 there was no Government Department that even had “energy” in the title—and there had not been since 1992. Why was that? It was because the prevailing assumption had been that energy could be treated more or less like most other markets. Of course, that is all changed by climate change, because without serious intervention by the Government we will not make the low-carbon transition. Part of the incoherence of energy policy at the moment is that we are stuck in a halfway house where at times the Government pretend that this is a market-oriented system, when the truth is that in large part it is not any more.

Let me give the House an example. The Government have negotiated a 35-year fixed price for new nuclear power stations. The last time I looked, price fixing was not an intrinsic part of a free market ideology. I do not blame the Government, because the risks associated with new nuclear and the difficulty of low-carbon transition demand a different response. However, I find it frustrating when new nuclear is given a multi-billion-pound bill payer subsidy, but a few million more for a coal mine is seen as an option that either cannot be afforded or should not be entertained—particularly in the context of the extra revenue from the carbon levy, and the billions that the Government have received in surpluses from the miners’ pension fund.

My appeal to the Minister is this. The reality that the Government need to embrace is that we are moving towards a much more managed market. They need to drive that logic through everything they do, not just some of what they do. That takes me to the issue of how we can prosper economically, and how we can create jobs that are worthy of the skills of the men who went underground at Hatfield and other mines in the country. How can we use those precious skills?

There is another tension that the Government need to resolve. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who drives so much of what the Government do, famously said, referring to climate change,

“I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world.”

He has presented environmental progress and a strong economy as being in conflict, but in my opinion he is dead wrong. It is that view that has led to uncertainty, dither and ambiguity in the Government’s approach to the environment. We have seen that in the delays on CCS, and in the recent decision on onshore wind.

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Quite simply, the more mixed messages the Government send, the fewer jobs—jobs that could be taken by the men at Hatfield and elsewhere—and successful businesses will be located here. I hope that the Minister, in her new job at BIS—and as someone who cares about good-quality jobs—will see it as her role to champion the environmental cause. I hope that she will think of that cause not as the enemy of a successful economy that some consider it to be, but as its friend, because that, I believe, is the reality.

Let me finally return to Hatfield. I want to record my thanks to the National Union of Mineworkers, to all the management who sought to keep the mine open, and to my former parliamentary colleague John Grogan, who chaired the employee benefit trust and made a herculean effort to save the mine. Without all their efforts, it would undoubtedly have gone under earlier. I also pay tribute not just to the current work force, but to all who have worked at Hatfield during its 99-year history—the tens of thousands of miners who have gone underground and worked in the most difficult conditions to power our country, and who have risked their lives over the years—and to their families. I thank them for their sacrifice, their service, and their hard labour on behalf of our country. They created strong and vibrant communities that were built on the mining industry. Theirs is a legacy of hard work, solidarity and comradeship, for which they deserve respect and admiration.

5.13 pm

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) on securing the debate. I also pay tribute to all the men who have served at Hatfield and who now face the end of that work, and to their families. I say “served” because there is a service in the working of coal, especially when it takes place underground in a deep pit.

I absolutely understand about the age of those men, and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I understand—perhaps better than many Members, including those on the Opposition Benches—the effects of coalmining, and of the closure of a mine, on a community. I was brought up in Worksop, next door to Manton colliery, and I went to the comprehensive school that served the Manton estate. Because of my background, I fully understand the huge sacrifices made by men when they work underground. I will be frank: they are indeed lions, often led by donkeys in my experience.

I have never understood, however, why there has been such an over-sentimental attachment to working underground in, often, the most appalling conditions. As a girl, I was never allowed underground, but at Manton we built a coalface on the top: we could all visit, and see the photographs and understand the experience of men who were stripped to the waist and often worked squatting for long shifts in the most appalling conditions, as these men will have undoubtedly done at some stage in their lives. It is indeed darned hard work and it is a service.

I want to make it absolutely clear, however, that the right hon. Gentleman is effectively saying that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money should now go, and continue to go, to keep open this mine until next August

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even though, unfortunately, it has failed to secure a single contract, despite all the hard work and efforts of its board and the will and determination of all those involved in the pit.

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) (Lab): My right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) talked about the economic benefits of keeping the mine open at the moment. The Minister’s earlier rhetoric was really positive, but what comes out of this same old Tory Government are ideological attacks on the miners. When will the Government give them a break and give them what they deserve?

Anna Soubry: I am afraid I am going to treat that contribution with the contempt it deserves and will continue with my speech.

We have made a commitment, and this is what we have done. In May 2015 the Government announced we had agreed to provide Hatfield with a longer-term repayable grant of up to £20 million to enable the colliery to continue operating until its planned and agreed closure in August of next year. This funding is state aid which has been approved by the European Commission. Further funding would require further state aid approval.

Last week the directors of Hatfield Colliery Partnership Ltd told my officials they had been unable to secure sufficient customers for their coal, thus calling into question the viability of the original closure plan. Since being advised of this position, the Government have done all we can to assist the directors of Hatfield, including reiterating our earlier commitment to provide up to £20 million to help the company achieve an orderly and safe closure, and accepting that this funding is, in the light of developments, now unlikely to be repaid. Despite this, the directors concluded it was not economically viable to continue mining and so took the decision to stop coal production on 30 June. It was their decision.

To understand the cessation of mining at Hatfield, it is important—[Interruption.] No, we did not pull the plug on it; absolutely not. We said we would give £20 million. We will continue to give up to £20 million. The decision was taken by the directors because they failed to secure the contract. This is the history, which I hope the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett) will listen to.

Hatfield’s difficulties go back some time. I believe it closed in 2001 and 2004. Most recently it entered administration in 2010—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner) continues to mutter in the way she is doing, I will take great exception, especially if she makes sexist comments.

Angela Rayner rose

Anna Soubry: And no, I will not give way. I have already heard what the hon. Lady has to say.

Hatfield was restructured at the end of 2013,and in September 2014 had to secure a £4 million loan from the NUM to allow mining to continue. Owing to the continued deterioration in world coal prices, together with production issues, the NUM funding was fully utilised by November, so all that money had already been spent.

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Unable to secure further funding elsewhere, Hatfield approached the Government in November of last year to request funding. In January of this year, the Government provided Hatfield with a short-term commercial bridging loan of £8 million. The intention was to provide time for the Government to consider options for longer-term financial support, which would allow mining to continue at Hatfield until 2016.

In undertaking the due diligence, and owing to changing conditions in the coal markets, it became clear that Hatfield would require funding in excess of the initial £8 million bridging loan and that longer-term support could not be delivered commercially. The Government worked extensively with the company directors and the European Commission to facilitate further support, and approval for state aid was quickly agreed with the Commission. I know that the right hon. Member for Doncaster North has paid tribute privately to, and I know he will join me in thanking publicly, all the officials in my Department for the really hard work that they put in to secure that arrangement.

It has been suggested that the Government could have provided Hatfield with additional support in the light of possible offers to buy Hatfield coal which might have kept the mine open until August 2016. The directors’ managed closure plan had assumed that replacement contracts, from June this year onwards, would be secured for all Hatfield’s coal output at pricing similar to what had been achieved before. I am aware that there was a possible offer—I have seen the email—from one company for about 50% of Hatfield’s coal output, in addition to other possible commitments and bridging loans. Those offers were at a significantly lower price than the previous contracts that were being replaced. That level of interest was deemed insufficient by the directors—it was they who made the decision—to support the planned closure through to August 2016, and, as we know, no contract was even drafted, even less signed.

Edward Miliband: I attempted in my remarks to make the tone of this debate as constructive as possible. It is correct that the mine would have needed more money to keep going, but does the Minister or her officials dispute the central proposition that more money would have come back in tax and VAT revenue? That is the central economic question that faces the House.

Anna Soubry: I do take issue with the right hon. Gentleman, and absolutely undertake to provide him with all the figures. My argument—it is not just my argument; it is the argument of the officials—is that there is effectively no market for that coal. It would be wrong to mine that coal and stockpile it for—what?—six years on the off-chance that perhaps somebody might come along and buy it. If there had been any way in which any company might have thought it could buy that coal, those contracts would have been secured, but, despite best efforts, they were not. It would be wrong—it would be a complete failure of the Government’s duty to the taxpayer—simply to hand over over and above the £20 million that was originally a loan, but which we now accept will never be repaid.

Edward Miliband: Forgive me, Mr Deputy Speaker, for intervening on the Minister again. With respect, she acknowledges that contracts were possible for 50% of

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the coal from one company. I have the email and could read it out, but I will not trade emails with her in the House. Another significant part of the coal could have been sold. It is acknowledged that more money would have been required, but, on the basis of the contracts that she has acknowledged could have been put in place, my contention is that more money would have come back to the Government. That is why it does not make economic sense.

Anna Soubry: That is where we completely fall out, unfortunately, because there was not even a draft contract. The email I saw was not even the beginnings; it was couched in terms of “perhaps”, “maybe”—

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): No.

Anna Soubry: The hon. Gentleman says “No” from a sedentary position. He has not seen the email—

Jon Trickett: I have seen it.

Anna Soubry: Well, we will talk about it later. If the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene, he should stand up and do it in the right place.

In the emails I have seen, there is no contract. There is, unfortunately, no possible contract.

Edward Miliband rose—

Anna Soubry: No, I will not give way, because I want to finish this point.

Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): Give way!

Anna Soubry: No, hang on, hang on. I have given way. [Interruption.] Hang on. This is a debate. I need to finish my sentence, and I am running out of time.

There was no possibility of a contract. The right hon. Member for Doncaster will accept that the directors and others—all involved in the future of the pit—were doing everything they could to secure a contract, but the one thing that nobody has been able to do is to secure a contract. There is no debate about that.

Edward Miliband rose—

Anna Soubry: I will give way again, but I will run out of time.

Edward Miliband: I hope the hon. Lady does not run out of time.

I shall read an email from the head of generation liaison at the company concerned—I will not name the company but the Minister knows it. Let me just read this paragraph, because it is important:

“with the objective of working with you to support a managed closure of the mine with dignity, we have reviewed our procurement strategy and have determined upon a higher risk/higher stock approach that we could manage within to facilitate contract volume with you. Indicatively, subject to internal approvals, we could therefore commit to procuring”.

Then it lists the procurement of, essentially, half the coal. If that is not an offer, I do not know what is.

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Anna Soubry: That is the same email that I have seen, and the whole point about it is the “coulds” and the “maybes”. Why did they not draft the contract? They had more than two weeks to do so, so why was it never done? If there was any chance of a contract being put in place, the process of deciding terms and conditions would have begun, but it never did. Why? Because the reality is that the companies knew that they could not afford to pay the prices to get the coal and to keep the colliery open.

Let us dig further into that email and make it clear that the offers involved a significantly lower price than those in the previous contracts that were being replaced. The level of interest was deemed insufficient by the directors, and that is the point. The right hon. Gentleman seeks to have a debate with me, and of course he is entitled so to do, but he should be having that debate with the directors. They were in possession of this information, and they were in contact with this particular company. They are the people who should have been getting the contract, but they did not do so. That is because they knew that they could not achieve what they wanted.

Edward Miliband: The contracts were not put in place because the Minister was saying, “Not a penny more.” That is the whole point. It was a chicken-and-egg situation. An offer was made by the company concerned but it required the Minister to agree to further aid. My contention is that that would have been economically rational.

Anna Soubry: If the right hon. Gentleman is right, why did the directors never say that to me? They certainly did not say it. They knew that if there was any chance of a contract, they would have pursued it. They did not do so. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not have this debate with the directors? Why did he not say to them, “Come on, guys, you’ve got an offer here. Get it written down in black and white. Get the contract signed.” That never happened because the directors had taken the honourable and the right decision. I am sure they took that decision with bucket-loads of regret, but the mine cannot continue because it is no longer financially viable, notwithstanding the fact that up to £20 million of taxpayers’ money will undoubtedly help to ease it, as it has done in the past. That money has been spent far more quickly than was ever anticipated. It was due to last all the way through to next August, but unfortunately, at this rate, there could be only a few weeks left, if that. And of course that includes the £4.5 million to ensure that the mine is put good.

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I reiterate that Hatfield has been unable to secure contracts to sell sufficient volumes of coal at the price necessary to support its closure plan. That is why the directors decided that it was not economically viable to continue mining. It is not a question of the Government putting in additional short-term funding. We have reiterated our continued commitment to make up to £20 million available—that was originally announced in May—to assist the company in achieving a managed closure. The reality is that there is a lack of economically viable contracts to sell the coal that is mined. I am running out of time, but I promise to answer in writing all the other questions that the right hon. Gentleman has rightly raised about the carbon price floor and other matters. He also asked about carbon capture and storage, which I will try to deal with in a moment.

I noticed on yesterday’s news that the first step had been taken towards opening a £1.7 billion potash mine in north Yorkshire, with the local authority giving its approval for the mine. That will provide 1,000 permanent jobs in the area. Those of us who have lived in or represented a coalmining area will know that there is a history of coalminers travelling to find work. I remember that one of the first National Union of Mineworkers officials I met was Jimmy Hood. He was at Ollerton at the time. He had travelled down from Scotland to work there, and many miners across the country came to Nottinghamshire or travelled to Wales to find work. I very much hope that some of the new jobs in north Yorkshire will go to the men of Hatfield.

I want to deal briefly with the question of carbon capture and storage. It has been claimed that the closure of Hatfield is short-sighted because it could have been used to supply the proposed new power station at Drax, which will be fitted with carbon capture and storage capabilities. The long-term future of coal is inextricably linked to CCS, and the Government have committed significant resources to facilitate its commercialisation, including committing £1 billion to our CCS competition, plus operational support under contracts for difference. However, on current plans, the coal-fired CCS project at Drax, one of the two CCS projects being supported through the Government’s competition, is unlikely to be generating until 2021, so that would not have been of assistance to Hatfield. I reiterate—

5.30 pm

House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).