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Yet today we still have the naysayers. They say intervention does not work. They say we will only make them hate us more. It is clear that they already hate us, regardless of whether we bomb them or not. There is no reasoning with these monsters. The naysayers say our involvement will only lead to civilian casualties, when the fact is civilians are dying en masse without our involvement. One thing is clear: there is not going to be an end to civilian casualties without an end to Daesh. The only way to stop civilian casualties is to eradicate the cause of such casualties: to take the battle to Raqqa and liberate that town, and to take the battle to those organising the attacks in Belgium, France and elsewhere in Europe, and take away their ability to earn money. It is time to blast a scar so deep into these jihadi monsters’

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memories that never again will they think of attacking a city, regardless of where Daesh may be conspiring and hiding.

Today this great country—this great democracy, this beacon of liberty through this House—the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will vote on whether to join the coalition of the civilised. Let us not be on the wrong side of history. Let us put Daesh out of business.

9.12 pm

Chloe Smith (Norwich North) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon).

Courageous Tornado crews based at RAF Marham in my county have been flying to Iraq already in the last year. The question today is whether we should ask them to do more, and my answer is yes. We have a clear, present and extreme threat and we have the ability to help defeat it.

I vote today in favour of diplomacy, of united resolve through the UN, of continued humanitarian leadership, of planning for stabilisation, reconstruction and peace in Syria, of cutting off the sources of finance, fighters and weapons, and of extending our advanced military capabilities in a fight that is already going on, in which we are already involved, and in which our enemies want us dead—a fight which we must win to keep British people safe both at home and abroad, and in which our allies need our help.

It is also right that the Government take domestic action, which is not necessarily named in this motion, but which goes with that coherent military, humanitarian and diplomatic action.

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Chloe Smith: I will not give way; I want to proceed and there are a few other Members who have been waiting patiently and want to come in.

We all know we are under threat. No action is not an option. We all know there is history behind and there is risk ahead. People are naturally concerned that we may make things worse, and that being part of airstrikes may make us more of a target here in Britain. Those concerns are valid, but we can only hope to have a safer world for British children, and Syrian children too, by having the courage to defeat the evil that we face. Indeed, Syrians are already fleeing it, and desperately. We must act; the UN is asking us to act.

I am prepared to back UK action with all its risks because I want to protect civilians there, here and anywhere in the world from the greater and more certain threat they face from IS: the threat of death, repression and torture.

People rightly argue that it is not possible to bomb an ideology out of existence. That is true, which is why we need the breadth of the motion. We also need to ask what the alternative is. Is it to allow an ideology that recruits from its own military success so far to continue to do so, with a headquarters, and to invoke our silence in its cause? No, it is not. We must back the motion. My morals, my conscience and my heart and head say that it is Parliament’s duty to support the Government in the

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actions they must take to keep British citizens safe against that active ideological evil. It would be foolhardy to fail to take an action that may allow us to do our part.

9.15 pm

Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab): My close school friend James Adams was blown up on the Piccadilly line outside Russell Square on 7 July 2005. Five of my constituents—Anna Brandt, Ciaran Cassidy, Arthur Frederick, Lee Harris and Samantha Badham—also lost their lives.

Terrorism needs to be defeated, and the whole House comes together in that effort. The Prime Minister is right to say that bombing might degrade ISIL; I am with him on that. He is right to say that a coalition needs to come together to challenge the force of Daesh. He is also right to say that there are moderates on the ground who might support our efforts after the aerial bombing. However, having listened to the Prime Minister and to this debate, and having reflected on Turkey’s attack on the Russians, I have come to the conclusion that I am not able to support the Government tonight, for three reasons.

First, having looked into the eyes of so many young Muslim men who might be seduced by extremism, I am deeply concerned that there remains a vacuum, because there is not a sufficient number of Sunni moderates on the ground. I remember this House saying we would deal with al-Qaeda, but in doing so we made way for ISIL. Given that there are 65 disparate groups—many of which are jihadists—this will result in future extremists.

Much has been said about the Parisian bombings being an act of terror. Of course, they were an extreme act of terror, but they were also an act of holy war. They were bait for us and others to engage in that holy war. We must tread very, very gently over the coming days and months.

The Prime Minister could have come to this House and committed to ground troops, but I know that no one would want to put boots on the ground. We simply cannot continue to expect aerial bombardment to do the job. It has become the sop—the blanket—of the west. The truth is that civilians—cousins, brothers, sisters—will die and a new generation of extremists will come up from the vacuum. That is why, unfortunately, I am not prepared to put my name to the Government motion.

9.18 pm

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): Had I been a Member of this House in 2003, I too would have voted against the Iraq war, and had I been a Member at the time of the last vote on Syria, I would also have opposed the Government. I stand here today not as a warmonger or somebody who revels in military action, but as a pragmatist who has listened to, and been convinced by, what my Front Benchers have said, which is why I will support the Government this evening.

It would have been in the spirit of honest politics—indeed, it would have been far more honest—if the leader of the Labour party had come to this House, put up his hands and said, “I am a committed, long-standing pacifist of conviction,” instead of trying to hide behind

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artificial barriers and tests. His silence on the subject of our activity in Iraq, and the absence of any support from him for our military personnel there, spoke volumes—it was deafening, and the House heard it.

Last night, I spent a pleasant half-hour talking to four of the anti-war protesters outside this House: a taxi driver, a teacher, a charity worker and a tour guide. They asked me why I was voting in favour, and I shall tell Members why. This is not a war, it is a recalibration and extension of an existing operation. There are civilian casualties now, and we cannot sit idly by. We have to have an element of trust in those who can see the security documents and who are convinced by them. We also cannot rely continually on our security services to be 100% right, 100% of the time.

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a threat and a present danger to this country, and that it is only thanks to our security services that it has not been realised? We need to recognise that threat now.

Simon Hoare: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, as are a number of Members on all sides of the House. I agree with the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins) that there is no certainty in this. We have all come under a huge amount of pressure from constituents—90% of mine who have emailed me are opposed—but I rely on Edmund Burke, who said in 1774—[Interruption.] This is as true today as it was then—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker: Order. Let us hear about what Burke said in 1774.

Simon Hoare: I am grateful, as long as I am not the Burke of 2015.

Burke said, “Your representative”—that is, one’s Member of Parliament—

“owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

We are here to exercise our judgment, and in my judgment the wording of the motion covers all the bases, all the challenges and all the tests that Members of this House have set the Prime Minister.

We are not the policemen of the world, but we find nothing splendid in isolation. What we do reflects on our values, and the value we place on our strategic and political partners. “Je suis Parisien” has to be far more than just a Twitter tag. It is time for action.

9.22 pm

Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP): As a number of my hon. Friends have said tonight, this is the first time we have had to take such a serious decision, and it is not one that we take lightly. We do not ask whether we should tackle Daesh, but what the most effective means of doing so is.

Drew Hendry: Earlier, my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) talked about choking off Daesh propaganda. Does my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) agree that there has been a lack of discussion from the Government about how to choke off the money supply and the propaganda?

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Stephen Gethins: My hon. Friend raises a valid point, which was picked up in the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report. Before I touch on that, however, I want to say that when we think about how we vote tonight, we think about the lessons we have learned. We all do. I respect everybody in the House, regardless of the Lobby they go through tonight. We learn from the facts of Libya, and that we spent £320 million bombing the country and £25 million on reconstruction. We learn from the catastrophic failure of post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq, which led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, and to a political vacuum in that country that has led to many of the problems we see today.

It has been a privilege to sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I pay particular credit to its Chairman, the hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt). We will go through different Lobbies tonight, but I give him credit for his work. I also pay tribute to the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) and the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), and I am sure that all Members will join me in wishing them a speedy recovery.

I hope you will not mind my saying, Mr Speaker, that those who have not yet read the Committee’s report have about half an hour. Perhaps they can skim-read it. I would thoroughly recommend it. It sets out a series of recommendation and is based on evidence.

Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP): According to the Prime Minister’s statement last week, the Government’s strategy is predicated on a new Syrian Government, but does my hon. Friend agree that given that the Prime Minister has ruled out regime change or boots on the ground, it is extremely unclear how that new Government will come about?

Stephen Gethins: We have not seen enough on the forward planning and the long-term planning, which is a cause for concern for me, as I know it is for other Members. We need ground troops, but we have not heard enough on how we have got them; where did the 70,000 come from? I raised this with the Foreign Secretary back in July, and this was something that we included—

Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman has the Floor. It would be a courtesy if he would respect my wish that two other colleagues briefly contribute. I feel sure that he is reaching his peroration, which will not last longer than 30 seconds or so.

Stephen Gethins: In that case, Mr Speaker, let me just touch on a couple of points. We are often accused of using the tactics of the past, and the criticism is made that we are fighting the last war, rather than a current war. We do not want to do that. I give credit to Members across this House when I say that we want the same thing: to put an end to Daesh for good. It is my view that taking the same old route of bombing without a long-term strategy will lead only to failure, which is why I will back the multi-party amendment tonight.

9.25 pm

Ben Howlett (Bath) (Con): It has been an absolute privilege to be a parliamentarian today, and to listen to fantastic contributions from across the entire House. Only a few weeks ago, one of Britain’s key allies was

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attacked by an unprecedented enemy. For centuries, Britain has taken a lead in helping to fight tyranny and promote democracy and freedom around the world, and we have a responsibility to support our allies. Daesh is the antithesis of everything we hold dear, and it must be stopped. Now is the time to stand firm against our enemies; we cannot delay any further, or we risk people being killed in our streets. I feel that those people who have contacted me to say that our streets are safer if we stay out of the conflict have heard only part of the explanation. Daesh will not think twice about slaughtering our citizens in the UK, as it believes our culture, our society and everything we believe in should be crushed. Even though we have no military intervention in Syria at the moment, Daesh will still threaten attacks on our country every single day.

Having followed this debate and listened to contributions from across this House, I am absolutely reassured about the need for airstrikes in Syria, especially as we have precision technology that will reduce the number of civilian casualties. Obviously, we cannot talk about the particular intelligence we have, but it is clear that Daesh’s headquarters in Raqqa are tweeting tens of thousands of messages a day, in dozens of different languages, and we absolutely need to stop that. When I am asked whether or not this proposed action will encourage Daesh to attack us, I say that it is absolutely clear that we need to take out its recruitment operations, which are promoting jihad around the world.

One of my key concerns was that we cut off the head of the ISIL snake, only for it to grow up elsewhere. To prevent that happening, we need to grow a very strong ground strategy. That cannot be rushed, but it also cannot be delayed. Daesh is looking at targets all the time, and the atrocities in Paris could just as easily have been in London. Daesh is dangerous, and we should start taking the fight to it.

I conclude, as I started, by saying that when one of our key allies has been attacked, our freedoms, liberties and beliefs are at risk. When women are raped, children killed, gay people thrown off roofs and Christians decapitated, can we seriously stand by and watch this atrocity happen from afar? We absolutely have to act now. We have a decent diplomatic solution and a strong international aid plan, and the opposition forces desperately need some respite from being attacked on two fronts. As I have clearly said, I will not shy away from calls for a stronger ground strategy, but that should be created while there is an aerial campaign in Syria. We cannot afford to risk our security as we wait, which is why I will vote in favour of military action this evening.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Lastly, and until 9.30 pm, I call Mr Clive Efford.

9.28 pm

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): I will not vote with the Government tonight, but I want to get it on the record that I unequivocally condemn those people who have been intimidating Members of this House over tonight’s vote. I know that hon. Members weigh these issues up very heavily, and whatever side of the argument they come from, I give them my full respect.

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I have not been convinced by the Government about the presence of 70,000 moderate Free Syrian Army forces on the ground; the Government have failed to make the case that they exist. Those forces are made up of a number of very disparate groups, some of several thousand soldiers, and some of just a few hundred.

Unfortunately, the Government have also failed to make the political case. One issue that they did not address was the treatment of the Sunni minority in Iraq, and that must be done. That will fundamentally undermine the future of Daesh more than any bombing campaign. A bombing campaign without troops on the ground will not be effective. The Government have completely failed to make the case, which is why I cannot support them tonight.

9.30 pm

Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab): Before I respond to the debate, I would like to say this directly to the Prime Minister: although my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and I will walk into different Division Lobbies tonight, I am proud to speak from the same Dispatch Box as him. He is not a terrorist sympathiser. He is an honest, principled, decent and good man, and I think the Prime Minister must now regret what he said yesterday and his failure to do what he should have done today, which is simply to say, “I am sorry.”

We have had an intense and impassioned debate, and rightly so given the clear and present threat from Daesh, the gravity of the decision that rests on the shoulders and the conscience of every single one of us, and the lives that we hold in our hands tonight. Whatever decision we reach, I hope that we will treat one another with respect.

We have heard a number of outstanding speeches. Sadly, time will prevent me from acknowledging them all. I would just like to single out the contributions, both for and against the motion, from my right hon. Friends the Members for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) and for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper); my hon. Friends the Members for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) and for Wakefield (Mary Creagh); my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden); my hon. Friends the Members for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg), for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood), for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth) and for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood); the hon. Members for Reigate (Crispin Blunt), for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), and for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat); the right hon. Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie); and the hon. Member for Wells (James Heappey).

The question that confronts us in a very complex conflict is, at its heart, very simple. What should we do with others to confront this threat to our citizens, our nation, other nations and the people who suffer under the cruel yoke of Daesh? The carnage in Paris brought home to us the clear and present danger that we face from Daesh. It could just as easily have been London, Glasgow, Leeds, or Birmingham and it could still be. I believe that we have a moral and practical duty to extend the action that we are already taking in Iraq to

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Syria. I am also clear—and I say this to my colleagues—that the conditions set out in the emergency resolution passed at the Labour party conference in September have been met. We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states

“to take all necessary measures…to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL… and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”.

The United Nations is asking us to do something; it is asking us to do something now; it is asking us to act in Syria as well as in Iraq.

Mr Baron rose

Hilary Benn: If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, it was a Labour Government who helped to found the United Nations at the end of the second world war. Why did we do so? It was because we wanted the nations of the world working together to deal with threats to international peace and security, and Daesh is unquestionably that. Given that the United Nations has passed this resolution, and that such action would be lawful under article 51 of the UN charter—because every state has the right to defend itself—why would we not uphold the settled will of the United Nations, particularly when there is such support from within the region, including from Iraq? We are part of a coalition of more than 60 countries, standing together shoulder to shoulder to oppose the ideology and brutality of Daesh.

We all understand the importance of bringing an end to the Syrian civil war, and there is now some progress on a peace plan because of the Vienna talks. Those are our best hope of achieving a ceasefire—now that would bring an end to Assad’s bombing— leading to a transitional Government and elections. That is vital, both because it would help in the defeat of Daesh and because it would enable millions of Syrians who have been forced to flee to do what every refugee dreams of—they just want to be able to go home.

No one in the debate doubts the deadly serious threat that we face from Daesh and what it does, although we sometimes find it hard to live with the reality. In June, four gay men were thrown off the fifth storey of a building in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. In August, the 82-year-old guardian of the antiquities of Palmyra, Professor Khaled al-Asaad, was beheaded, and his headless body was hung from a traffic light. In recent weeks, mass graves in Sinjar have been discovered, one said to contain the bodies of older Yazidi women murdered by Daesh because they were judged too old to be sold for sex. Daesh has killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia; 224 Russian holidaymakers on a plane; 178 people in suicide bombings in Beirut, Ankara and Suruç; 130 people in Paris, including those young people in the Bataclan, whom Daesh, in trying to justify its bloody slaughter, called apostates engaged in prostitution and vice. If it had happened here they could have been our children.

Daesh is plotting more attacks, so the question for each of us and for our national security is this: given that we know what it is doing, can we really stand aside and refuse to act fully in self-defence against those who are planning these attacks? Can we really leave to others the responsibility for defending our national security? If we do not act, what message will that send about our solidarity with those countries that have suffered so

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much, including Iraq and our ally, France? France wants us to stand with it, and President Hollande, the leader of our sister Socialist party, has asked for our assistance and help. As we are undertaking airstrikes in Iraq, where Daesh’s hold has been reduced, and as we are doing everything but engaging in airstrikes in Syria, should we not play our full part?

It has been argued in the debate that airstrikes achieve nothing. Not so: the House should look at how Daesh’s forward march has been halted in Iraq. It will remember that 14 months ago, people were saying that it was almost at the gates of Baghdad, which is why we voted to respond to the Iraqi Government’s request for help to defeat it. Its military capacity and freedom of movement have been put under pressure. Ask the Kurds about Sinjar and Kobane. Of course, airstrikes alone will not defeat Daesh, but they make a difference, because they give it a hard time, making it more difficult for it to expand its territory. I share the concerns that have been expressed this evening about potential civilian casualties. However, unlike Daesh, none of us today acts with the intent to harm civilians. Rather, we act to protect civilians from Daesh, which targets innocent people.

On the subject of ground troops to defeat Daesh, there has been much debate about the figure of 70,000, and the Government must explain that better. But we know that most of those troops are engaged in fighting President Assad. I will tell Members what else we know: whatever the number—70,000, 40,000, 80,000—the current size of the opposition forces means that the longer we leave it to take action, the longer Daesh will have to decrease that number. So to suggest that airstrikes should not take place until the Syrian civil war has come to an end is to miss the urgency of the terrorist threat that Daesh poses to us and others, and to misunderstand the nature and objectives of the extension to airstrikes that is proposed.

Of course we should take action—there is no contradiction between the two—to cut off Daesh’s support in the form of money, fighters and weapons, of course we should give humanitarian aid, of course we should offer shelter to more refugees, including in this country, and yes, we should commit to play our full part in helping to rebuild Syria when the war is over.

I accept that there are legitimate arguments, and we have heard them in the debate, for not taking this form of action now. It is also clear that many Members have wrestled and, who knows, in the time that is left may still be wrestling with their conscience about what is the right thing to do. But I say the threat is now and there are rarely, if ever, perfect circumstances in which to deploy military forces.

We heard powerful testimony earlier from the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Antoinette Sandbach) when she quoted that passage. Karwan Jamal Tahir, the Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative in London, said last week:

“Last June, Daesh captured one third of Iraq overnight and a few months later attacked the Kurdistan Region. Swift airstrikes by Britain, America and France and the actions of our own Peshmerga saved us... We now have a border of 650 miles with Daesh. We have pushed them back and recently captured Sinjar ...Again Western airstrikes were vital. But the old border between Iraq and Syria does not exist. Daesh fighters come and go across this fictional boundary.”

That is the argument for treating the two countries as one if we are serious about defeating Daesh.

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I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues. As a party we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road. We are faced by fascists—not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this Chamber tonight and all the people we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy—the means by which we will make our decision tonight—in contempt.

What we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. It is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists, trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It is why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. My view is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. That is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight. [Applause.]

9.44 pm

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Philip Hammond): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) on an outstanding exposition of the case for the motion. It will go down as one of the truly great speeches made in the House of Commons.

The proposal before the House is clear, simple and specific: to extend the airstrikes that we are already carrying out against ISIL in Iraq across a border that they themselves do not recognise and into their heartland in Syria. The Prime Minister set out the compelling arguments in favour of taking this action as part of a comprehensive strategy for Syria. In response, the Leader of the Opposition set out his well known and well understood principled objections to military intervention, objections that he has developed over many years and which are obviously sincerely held. I respect those objections as such, although I believe them to be profoundly misguided.

It is clear from the shadow Foreign Secretary’s speech, and from those of the right hon. Members for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) and for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) and many others, that for many Opposition Members the real issue of conscience at stake here is our obligation to act in the best interests of the UK and for the protection of British citizens.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech was his repeated refusal to confirm whether it is his party’s policy to support the current action in Iraq, which this House voted for overwhelmingly in September 2014. Not only is he opposed to extending action to protect Britain against Daesh, but we have to assume from his silence that he wants to roll back the action that we are taking in Iraq now to protect the Kurds, the Yazidis and others and to support the steady erosion of ISIL control by the Iraqi security forces and the peshmerga. I ask Opposition Members whether that is now the position of the Labour party, despite its long and honourable tradition of fighting what the right hon. Member for Leeds Central has himself described as fascism. I hope

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that we will have confirmation as soon as possible that the Labour party remains committed to the current action in Iraq.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): Will the Foreign Secretary give way?

Mr Hammond: I will not give way, because time is very short.

I believe that today we saw the House at its best. A total of 104 Members have spoken. We heard forensic analysis and passionate conviction. I think that we can collectively be satisfied that, as a House, we have done justice to the gravity of the subject. With so many contributions and only a few minutes remaining, I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will forgive me if I do not acknowledge them all individually, but I will do my best to try to address the principal themes and questions that have arisen during the debate.

One of the key issues is the need to understand what the military plan is and who will deliver it. I have to say that there appears to be some confusion about that, so let me try to clarify it. We all agree that airstrikes alone will not finish ISIL, but they will deliver immediate benefit. They will reduce ISIL’s external attack planning capability, making Britain safer, and they will, over time, degrade ISIL and force a change in its behaviour. However, airstrikes alone will not create a vacuum.

During the debate, some hon. Members have sought to have it both ways, arguing that bombing ISIL in Raqqa will not make a difference, and at the same time suggesting that bombing ISIL in Raqqa will immediately create a power vacuum. Ultimately, there will need to be a ground assault on Raqqa, supported by continued airstrikes. However, as the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) said, that will come not in days or weeks, but in months and perhaps years, and that is before it even begins, let alone ends. We have had questions about ground forces—where are the ground forces going to come from? The context of this is a comprehensive strategy—a military track against ISIL and a political track against Assad. The time for retaking ISIL’s heartland in Syria will be when the civil war is ended, a transitional Government are in place, and the world can then once again support the Syrian Government so that that Syrian army, the Syrian opposition forces and the Kurdish forces can turn their guns on ISIL, liberating their own country from this evil organisation, supported by the coalition with weapons, with training, with technical support, and with air power.

Much has been made during the course of this debate about the number of opposition fighters available to join in that effort. The number of 70,000 is a number produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee. It is a number corroborated by the evidence of our US allies. But the situation on the ground is complex. There is a spectrum of views included in that 70,000-strong force. Yes, it includes a large element of secularists who have views that we would recognise as democratic, and yes, it also includes Islamists, but there are Islamists in the parliaments of Kuwait and Tunisia. We can work with Islamists who accept the democratic process and are prepared to take part in it.

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The second issue that has arisen during the course of this debate is a question about the overall strategy. The Prime Minister was absolutely clear that military action is just one part of a comprehensive strategy. There has to be a political track and there has to be a humanitarian track. It is clear that we have to pursue the political track in parallel with the military. It is the only way to end the civil war in Syria and bring about the defeat of ISIL. Now we have an international Syria support group—the Vienna process. That is a major change in the context here, bringing together all the major international players behind a common vision of what is needed to end the war. It includes Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US, UK, France, Turkey and China. For the first time, all these countries have accepted the need for Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva principles—a transition that will leave the institutions of the state intact, avoiding the mistakes that were made in Iraq. Of course differences remain between the parties, particularly about Assad how will transition out, but they have agreed together a time frame for political negotiations, including transitional government within six months and a new constitution and free and fair elections within 18 months.

I know that there are those who question the commitment of the United States or the engagement of Russia in this process, so I want, if I may, to quote from a letter that I have received this morning from the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry. He says:

“The United States has long believed that while military action can reinforce diplomacy there can be no military solution to the civil war in Syria. We have to pursue a political track. And at the same time there can be no political deal with Daesh. They have to be degraded by military force.”

He goes on to say that

“the Vienna process presents the best opportunity in four years for an agreement that can establish a ceasefire and create a political process leading to a new constitution and democratic elections.”

Importantly, he concludes by telling me this:

“Senior Russian officials have helped lead the effort to find a common way forward and have expressed firm commitment to the Geneva principles. Russian leaders have indicated both publicly and privately on numerous occasions that they are open to a political transition, including a new constitution and elections.”

The third issue that came up several times during the course of today is the question of whether airstrikes will make a difference. The right hon. Member for Leeds Central and several other Members made the point that they were effective in halting the precipitate advance of Daesh in Iraq last year and are now contributing to the erosion of Daesh positions in Iran. The UK already provides a significant element of the high-precision strike available to the coalition, and that high-precision strike will be vital to the campaign in Raqqa.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden) asked about the rules of engagement. Rules of engagement are classified, but I can tell him that the UK’s rules of engagement are among the most restrictive in the world. Bringing British discipline, British skills and British precision weapons to bear will save lives as we prosecute this campaign. We will minimise civilian casualties. There is no military logic and no moral logic to prosecuting ISIL in Iraq but not targeting its HQ in Syria.

Finally, I want to turn to the fourth issue that has arisen during the course of this debate: will Britain’s taking part in airstrikes increase the threat to our security?

2 Dec 2015 : Column 489

In 2014, there were 15 ISIL external attack plans. This year, so far, there have been 150. The scale of this problem is rising exponentially. ISIL already poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom: 30 British tourists killed on the beaches of Tunisia, what could have been a British plane downed over the deserts of Sinai and seven different terrorist plots disrupted by the security services in the UK in the past 12 months.

The judgment of the Joint Intelligence Committee and the director general of the Security Service is that the UK is already a top tier of ISIL’s target list. They hate us for who we are, not for what we do. We have to be clear—I think the right hon. Member for Derby South was the first to say this—that the risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of action. We have to act now to degrade this threat to our security, and we will do it by targeting their heartland and their control centre.

We are not debating tonight, as some would have us believe, whether or not to “go to war”. Fifteen months ago, this House voted overwhelmingly to begin airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. The simple question that we are deciding tonight is whether to extend those operations to tackle ISIL in their heartland in Syria—targeting the head of the snake. This is not a fight that we have chosen. By the atrocities they have committed, by the murderous regime of brutality and terror they have inflicted on the people of Iraq and Syria, and by their clear intent and capability to strike us in the UK and at British citizens abroad, ISIL have made that choice for us. To answer the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), yes, ISIL do represent a direct and imminent threat to the UK and to British citizens.

The decision tonight is this: do we take the fight to them, or do we wait for them to bring the fight to us? Do we strike them in Syria, or do we wait for them to strike us on the streets of London? What kind of country would we be if we refused to act in the face of a threat to our security as clear as the one that ISIL poses? Indeed, what kind of country would we be if we were unmoved by the murder, the rape, the beheadings and the slavery that ISIL imposes on its subjects? And what kind of country would we be if we ignored the calls for help from our nearest neighbours even as they grieve for their dead? We cannot contract out the responsibility for our national security. We cannot rely on others to take actions to protect our citizens that we are not willing to take ourselves.

The threat is clear. Our ability to respond to it is undoubted. The moral imperative to act is compelling. The legal case to do so is watertight. We do not propose military action lightly and we do not propose it in isolation. We will vigorously pursue the Vienna process to ceasefire, transition and a new representative Government in Syria. We will lead the international community in planning and delivering post-conflict reconstruction. Let us tonight give a clear and simple message to our allies, to the enemy and to our brave armed forces, who we are asking to do the job for us. Let us show beyond doubt what kind of a country we are by endorsing decisively the motion before us this evening.

10 pm

The Speaker put the Questions necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that time (Order this day).

2 Dec 2015 : Column 490

Amendment proposed: (b), leave out from ‘That this House’ to end and add

‘, while welcoming the renewed impetus towards peace and reconstruction in Syria, and the Government’s recognition that a comprehensive strategy against Daesh is required, does not believe that the case for the UK’s participation in the ongoing air campaign in Syria by 10 countries has been made under current circumstances, and consequently declines to authorise military action in Syria.’. —(Mr Baron.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 211, Noes 390.

Division No. 138]

[

10 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Baron, Mr John

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cooper, Julie

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Davies, Geraint

Davis, rh Mr David

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Durkan, Mark

Efford, Clive

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jones, Gerald

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leigh, Sir Edward

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McPartland, Stephen

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Rotheram, Steve

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Mr Andrew

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Stephen

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Winnick, Mr David

Wishart, Pete

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Owen Thompson

and

Jonathan Edwards

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, Heidi

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Austin, Ian

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barron, rh Kevin

Bebb, Guto

Beckett, rh Margaret

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benn, rh Hilary

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Bryant, Chris

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cooper, rh Yvette

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Coyle, Neil

Crabb, rh Stephen

Creagh, Mary

Crouch, Tracey

David, Wayne

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Dugher, Michael

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Frank

Field, rh Mark

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flint, rh Caroline

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunt, Tristram

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jarvis, Dan

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kendall, Liz

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Kyle, Peter

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McDonagh, Siobhain

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Reynolds, Emma

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Ryan, rh Joan

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turley, Anna

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Gavin Barwell

and

Jackie Doyle-Price

Question accordingly negatived.

2 Dec 2015 : Column 491

2 Dec 2015 : Column 492

2 Dec 2015 : Column 493

2 Dec 2015 : Column 494

Main Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 397, Noes 223.

Division No. 139]

[

10.15 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, Heidi

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Austin, Ian

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barron, rh Kevin

Bebb, Guto

Beckett, rh Margaret

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benn, rh Hilary

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berger, Luciana

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Bryant, Chris

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cooper, rh Yvette

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Coyle, Neil

Crabb, rh Stephen

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crouch, Tracey

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

De Piero, Gloria

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Dugher, Michael

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Frank

Field, rh Mark

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunt, Tristram

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jarvis, Dan

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kendall, Liz

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Kyle, Peter

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Lynch, Holly

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McDonagh, Siobhain

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Powell, Lucy

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Reed, Mr Jamie

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Reynolds, Emma

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Ryan, rh Joan

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turley, Anna

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, rh Keith

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Watson, Mr Tom

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gavin Barwell

and

Jackie Doyle-Price

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bardell, Hannah

Baron, Mr John

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cooper, Julie

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Davies, Geraint

Davis, rh Mr David

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McPartland, Stephen

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Rotheram, Steve

Salmond, rh Alex

Shah, Naz

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaz, Valerie

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Winnick, Mr David

Wishart, Pete

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Noes:

Owen Thompson

and

Liz Saville Roberts

Question accordingly agreed to.

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2 Dec 2015 : Column 499

Resolved,

That this House notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom; welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an ‘unprecedented threat to international peace and security’ and calls on states to take ‘all necessary measures’ to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to ‘eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria’; further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter; notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria; welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement; welcomes the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria; welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons; notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance; acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties, using the UK’s particular capabilities; notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; welcomes the Government’s commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House; and accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria; and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I thank you for going through all these hours of debate, and as a doctor may I say that that is not terribly healthy?

Mr Speaker: I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady for what she has said. I take note of her health advice, but there have to be exceptions and I wanted to be here to hear every speech. I thank colleagues for what overall I must say was the remarkably decent and gracious tone that characterised the contributions over several hours.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. May I put on record that it is unlikely that any previous Speaker has ever done what you have done today: sit throughout without a single break? I think the whole House should congratulate you.

2 Dec 2015 : Column 500

Mr Speaker: I am very flattered and honoured by what the hon. Gentleman has said. I sought no such compliment, but the hon. Gentleman first came into the House 49 years ago and he knows I hold him in the highest esteem, and I thank him for that. The credit is that of the House, however, for the way it has conducted itself today. I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman said. [Interruption.] Indeed; I will bank it while I can.

Petition

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

10.33 pm

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituent Mr Tom Perry and 202,731 individuals who are residents of the UK, concerning the mandatory reporting of child abuse. They hope it will improve the position and protection of children in the care of people in regulated activities.

The petition declares:

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that child protection in Regulated Activities is dependent upon a reporting procedure external to the institution(s) in which the concern arises; further that Regulated Activity is defined in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (SVG) Act 2006 as amended as any paid or unpaid work with children; further that child protection is placed in jeopardy by the absence of any direct statutory legal obligation to report the concern to the local authority or police; and further that online petitions on this matter were signed by 202,731 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to introduce legislation which requires persons in a position of trust who work with children in Regulated Activities and who know, suspect, or have reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting child abuse, to inform the Local Authority Designated Officer or in appropriate circumstances Children’s Services and make failure to inform a criminal offence.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P001652]

2 Dec 2015 : Column 501

New Build Homes

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

10.35 pm

Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con): I do not expect you to stay in the Chair for the whole of this Adjournment debate, Mr Speaker. You might be able to hear that I have a slightly croaky voice, so I will by necessity keep my remarks relatively brief.

I welcome the opportunity to raise this issue with the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (James Wharton). It has been a recurring theme over the past few months, but perhaps that is inevitable as the Government promote house building, and because the number of both starts and completions is up significantly. There are, therefore, more new build homes with the potential to provoke complaints. My right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) led a similar debate in July, and my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) is chair of the all-party group on excellence in the built environment, which is conducting an inquiry into this very issue.

I will speak on behalf of one constituent in particular, but I will also refer to others, because, sadly, the problems tend not to happen in isolation. Test Valley borough, which covers the greater part of my constituency, has followed what the Government have asked of local planning authorities. Over the past three years, Test Valley has had either the highest or the second highest number of housing completions in the whole of Hampshire, including the two cities of Southampton and Portsmouth. Test Valley has consistently been in the top 10 for housing completions across the whole of the south-east region. Unfortunately, and as one might expect, areas with high levels of house building can also have high levels of complaints from new residents.

Buying a new home is an enormous step for most people. It is exciting, challenging and stressful, probably in equal measure. I think it is true to say that moving home is one of the most stressful things that any individual, couple or family can go through, but it is also certainly exciting. How much more exciting can it be for someone than to move into a new build home that they can put their own mark on and that no one else has lived in?

My hon. Friend the Minister will be delighted to hear that, during the general election campaign earlier this year, I talked to residents at Abbotswood, a new 800-home development on the edge of Romsey. One resident invited me into her new home, which was bought with help from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. She proudly showed me a photograph—it had pride of place in the sitting room—of her and her husband at Downing Street with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. For Lisa and her husband, there was nothing but joy in being in their own brand new home. Sadly, however, that is not the case for everyone. I requested this debate to highlight some of the challenges facing purchasers of new build properties when things do not go according to plan.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I am conscious of the hon. Lady’s voice, so I do want to keep her here for long. I understand that anybody who buys a new build

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house gets a 10-year warranty, but it is a very informal arrangement. Does she think it is time for the Government to formalise the legislation and make sure that buyers of new build homes are protected?

Caroline Nokes: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention and I know that he also has a keen interest in this issue. The nub of the matter is the 10-year guarantee and how effectively it comes into play when there is a problem.

As a society we have become very aware of our consumer rights. When making substantial purchases we look for warranties, for quality assurance and for customer service. There is no purchase in life more substantial than buying a house, yet over the past 18 months some of my constituents have felt less protected than they would have been if they had, for example, bought a new car. The protections they believed that they had, and which they had taken for granted, assuming that they would come into action should there be a problem, have simply not had the effect any reasonable consumer would want.

We all know that with new build properties there can be snagging problems. Indeed, back in 1996 I well remember buying a new house and some minor issues needed fixing. The builder came back and sorted them out, and I remember the pride I had in that house and in being able to put my own identity on it, and how happy I was.

What about when the issues are not minor, as was the case with my constituents Evelyn and Riccardo Lallo? Some 18 months after they first identified the problems with their brand new house, they remain in rented accommodation paying a mortgage on a house that they cannot live in. Unfortunately, they are still waiting for the builder, in this case Taylor Wimpey, to remove the undersized ceiling joists, some of the walls and the roof. To be frank, it sounds awfully like a total rebuild, and although they are in rented accommodation, one of their neighbours lived in a hotel for six months.

One of the problems I would like to draw to the Minister’s attention is the assumption by house purchasers that building control is necessarily performed by the local authority. That is not always the case. It is in some, but in many cases the building control checks are done instead by the warranty providers, such as the National House Building Council. There can be very good reasons for that. The warranty companies might prefer it, as they will then be providing the warranty for the building with which they have been involved from a very early stage. Several inspections take place at various stages, from checking the depth of foundations and making sure that cavities are the appropriate size, through to the pre-plaster check. There is a log for each inspection, which my constituents argue should be freely available automatically to the prospective purchaser.

The customer is not necessarily aware of that, and there needs to be a better understanding that a local authority building control inspector might never have seen the building, and the local authority, beyond granting planning permission, might have no direct interest in the subsequent build process. The assumption, however, is that no matter who has carried out the inspection process, problems will be flagged up throughout the process and could be amended in the build process before it moves on to the next stage.

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I am conscious that my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke has raised in detail with the Minister the flaws in the inspection regime, and how that might leave the homeowner in a more vulnerable position than they had ever imagined when entering into the contract to buy a home. I do not intend to repeat those arguments. Suffice it to say that I wholly endorse her view about the need for a duty of care to be established between approved inspectors and the homebuyer, and I welcome the Ankers report in that respect, but we also need somehow to convey to purchasers that they need to be vigilant in the process, and to be aware that it might not be their local authority that has inspected the build.

In the case of my constituents, Mr and Mrs Lallo, they feel very much as if they have been pushed from pillar to post, with each one shrugging shoulders and all pointing back to the builder as the one who must rectify the problems, and that is undoubtedly right. The NHBC system and other warranty providers require the builder to rectify any problem within the first two years, and in this situation the builder, Taylor Wimpey, has accepted that it is its responsibility to replace all the joists and trusses, which had not been installed properly as required. Tonight the scaffolding is up and I understand that the roof will come off tomorrow. We must hope that the sun will be shining.

When a defect is discovered and the builder refuses to carry out the remedial work, a free resolution service is offered by the warranty providers, but what happens when the builder agrees to carry out the work but drags their feet and does not get on with the repairs? That is the point at which my constituents first contacted me. Their bright, shiny new house had unacceptable levels of vibration and investigations revealed the joists and trusses were acting independently of each other. They have to come out, all the plaster must be removed, the ceilings must be taken out and the roof will come off. They contacted the local authority, which very quickly stated that it was not its responsibility, but could find no agency to act as an intermediary between them and the builder to exert the pressure that they wanted to facilitate a speedy and appropriate remedy.

For six months, the family lived with no ceilings after they had been stripped out, walls were missing and their living room furniture was in storage. For a further six months, they have lived in rented housing, expecting at every moment work to start on the house that was meant to be their pride and joy—a home for their boys. My constituents feel that for big purchases such as houses there should also be some protection—someone to speak up on their behalf, to act as an intermediary. It is their contention that there should be some sort of ombudsman, and that idea certainly has some attraction.

My real concern is that if, as happened in the case of my constituents, fundamental structural flaws that should have been picked up in the pre-plaster inspection were being missed, what can we expect as rates of house building accelerate? I hope the Minister can provide some reassurance that the inspection regime remains robust, and that the case of my constituents and their neighbours, who were similarly affected, is unusual. I say that because as house building necessarily increases, we want the owners of new homes to be happy, to have pride in their new homes and, above all, to be protected adequately should the worst happen.

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10.46 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (James Wharton): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) on securing this debate about the protections for purchasers of new build homes. I know that is a matter of concern to a number of hon. Members, and I have personally discussed it previously here in the House, as she recognised in her comments.

Homeowners rightly expect their homes to be built to high standards and to be high quality. I understand that things do not always go right when buying a new home, and it can then be disappointing, time-consuming, stressful and expensive to get things put right. I was concerned to hear about the experiences of my hon. Friend’s constituents. I cannot comment on particular cases, but I am sure the builder concerned will reflect on this debate in how they respond to the situation she described.

The quality of build and compliance with regulatory requirements or standards required under any warranty are the primary responsibility of the builder. There are protections in place, which I will describe, but the industry has to take responsibility for the quality of what it builds. The warranty provides an important protection. If a warranty is in place, the homeowner can contact the warranty provider. Most warranties, such as the NHBC Buildmark, the LABC—local authority build control—warranty and the Premier Guarantee warranty, last for 10 years from the completion of the building works. As my hon. Friend said, in the first two years after completion the builder remains responsible for righting defects caused by breaches of the technical requirements covered by the warranty. The warranty provider will try to get the builder to carry out any necessary work or, in some cases, arrange for work to be carried out themselves. In years three to 10 from the completion of the building work, the warranty provides insurance cover against the cost of repairing defined sorts of defects covered by the scheme.

Warranties are not compulsory for new homes, but the Department is aware that the majority of new homes are covered by a warranty such as the NHBC Buildmark. Mortgage lenders will also expect there to be a warranty in place. Out of all the homeowners covered by NHBC warranties, fewer than 5% need to make a claim under the warranty. Warranty providers also carry out their own inspections, which may be carried out by the building control body as an adjunct to building control inspections.

From what my hon. Friend says, it sounds as though the builder in the specific case she raises accepted responsibility for taking action, which is as it should be, but I fully accept the concerns about the time this has taken. She may wish to raise that with the builder and the warranty provider, if she has not already done so. As I have said, I am sure their attention will be drawn to, if it is not already focused on, the comments that she has made in the House this evening.

A homeowner may also be protected by the consumer code for home builders, an industry-led scheme that aims to give protection and rights to purchasers of new homes. The code applies to all homebuyers who reserve to buy a new or newly converted home, on or after 1 April 2010, built by a home builder registered with one of the supporting warranty bodies, such as the NHBC, the LABC and Premier Guarantee.

2 Dec 2015 : Column 505

According to the code’s annual report for 2014, between 2010 and 2013, there were 57 cases referred to the code’s independent dispute resolution scheme of which 21 succeeded in part and two succeeded in full. Sanctions for homebuilders not adhering to the code could include financial penalties and suspension from the new home warranty providers’ registers. The code’s management board is undertaking a review to ensure that the code continues to meet the needs of homebuyers in terms of driving up industry standards and customer satisfaction in the new home-buying market. Again, I am sure that their attention will be drawn to the comments that my hon. Friend has made this evening and that can inform the process that is now being undertaken.

It may help if I explain the building control process. Building control systems can contribute to the quality of new homes. Building work, including new build, is subject to supervision by either the local authority building control service or by an approved inspector. In the case of new housing, it is mainly approved inspectors who inspect the work. Again, that was reflected in the speech of my hon. Friend. I should also point out that NHBC has separate corporate entities that carry out the building control function as an approved inspector and that provide warranties.

Building control can only ever be a spot-checking process and in no way removes the primary responsibility for ensuring work complies with the building regulations from the person carrying out the work. However, building control bodies are not clerks of works nor are they responsible for quality issues beyond what is required in the building regulations.

Building control bodies, both local authorities and approved inspectors, have a statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to ascertain that the relevant requirements of the building regulations have been complied with. Building control bodies carry out this duty by checking plans, by carrying out on-site inspections and by checking the validity of energy and water efficiency calculations and other relevant documents. Where there is a need to do so, building control bodies may carry out their own tests and take samples to check compliance.

Based on those processes, the building control body will come to a view on whether the work complies, although that cannot be a guarantee and it does not detract from the ultimate responsibility of the builder. Building control bodies provide advice and guidance throughout the building process on how to bring work up to compliance standards, and in most cases that is sufficient to ensure compliance with the building regulations on completion of the construction work. If an approved inspector is unsuccessful in getting compliance, they can revert the work to the local authority for enforcement action. If the local authority considers that there has been a breach of the building regulations, it can take formal enforcement action, including prosecution.

2 Dec 2015 : Column 506

If anyone believes that a building control body has been negligent in carrying out its building control function, a complaint can be made to the local government ombudsman about local authorities and for approved inspectors to CICAIR Limited, the body designated by the Secretary of State to carry out his executive and administrative functions in respect of the approval and re-approval of approved inspectors.

The quality of new homes is an important issue. My hon. Friend has spoken eloquently about her concerns and is aware of the work of the all-party parliamentary group on excellence in the built environment, which is currently considering this issue.

I am pleased to see that those involved in the built environment have the opportunity to express their views on the quality of new homes as well as on how improvements can be made to ensure new houses are of high quality. In particular, NHBC’s submission to the group explains that they are undertaking a number of initiatives to help ensure that the quality of new homes continues to improve. These include introducing, in 2016, construction quality audits of sites under construction and registered with a Buildmark warranty.

These audits will involve NHBC’s inspection managers undertaking structured detailed audits of construction quality throughout the construction stages. The data collected will be analysed and used to provide feedback at industry and builder-specific levels in order to assist the industry in identifying opportunities for improvement including how this may be achieved.

Members have raised serious issues on this occasion and on others. The Government are concerned that standards are adhered to and look forward to the findings of the APPG to see what further work might be done to continue to improve the quality of new homes both by my Department and by others involved in the construction process.

My hon. Friend has raised some very important issues on behalf of her constituents this evening. I have certainly taken note of what she has said. I have no doubt that others, both those directly involved in some of the specific cases that she raised and those working more generally in this field, will be aware of the concerns that Members from across the House have brought to this place in recent times. We want to ensure that people can confidently buy new homes, and confidently make what is often the largest investment that they will ever make. She raised some important points in that regard and I will be happy to discuss issues with her as they progress and to work with her to ensure that her constituents and mine can have confidence in the systems that are in place and the protection that they should rightly be able to expect.

Question put and agreed to.

10.54 pm

House adjourned.