Community

Mike Wood: I want to speak, very briefly, about new clause 1 and amendment 6. I congratulate my right hon. Friend Sir Greg Knight on the progress that his Bill has made, and particularly congratulate him on the new clause and amendment, which clarify the possibilities for a truly independent appeals procedure.

Mike Wood: As well as the world’s best beer, one of the things that brings people into our pubs is live music. What assessment has the Minister made of the importance of the music industry’s contribution to our economic and cultural health?

 

Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dudley South MP, Mike Wood, opened the brand new Costa Coffee drive-thru i

Prison serves many functions and purposes: to punish, to reform, but also to protect wider society. That protection relies on being able to restrict and prevent criminal activities in order to break up the existing networks and ensure that the crimes and offences for which prisoners are in jail cannot continue while they remain there.

Mike Wood: Britain has a record number of outstanding breweries, including four in my constituency and the excellent Hook Norton Brewery in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Victoria Prentis), whom I am meeting this afternoon. Might we have time for a debate on the opportunities after Brexit to restructure beer duty in order to support not only our excellent brewers, but our vital community pubs?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: It is a pleasure to follow Stuart C. McDonald, who made a number of points that certainly deserve far more examination and scrutiny. Like other Members, I congratulate Angus Brendan MacNeil on securing this important debate. I did not know whether I would get the pronunciation of his constituency right, but I think I was close enough—I am afraid that that might be as good as I get on Thursday afternoon.

Mike Wood: Given the serious questions that have been raised about the disposal of council land in Sandwell, does my hon. Friend agree that the council should also investigate the case of my constituent, Patricia Barlow? Her late mother repeatedly tried to buy a piece of land next to her house, only to find out—after years of asking—that the council had disposed of that land to another business without even notifying her. Should the council look at the price at which that land was sold, and at whether it was all above board?

 

Mike Wood: I declare an interest as my wife volunteers at a refuge. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that Ministers have met organisations such as Women’s Aid to ensure that their views on the new funding model are properly listened to and considered?

 

Victoria Atkins (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)

In my constituency, we have both private and local authority-owned Traveller sites, but those are not the subject of this debate; this debate is about the kind of unauthorised encampments that many of us will have had a series of, summer after summer. In my constituency many of these encampments cause significant disruption, misery and loss of amenity for local residents.

Everyone in the House will agree that members of our communities have a right to choose alternative ways of life, but none of them has the right to opt out of British law. When that breaks down, not only community cohesion but respect for the rule of law and those who represent the people affected break down as well.

Mike Wood: The Black Country flag has come under attack from Labour Members in recent days. Will the Prime Minister join me in again congratulating Gracie Sheppard, who designed the flag, reflecting our industrial heritage, when she was just 12 years old? Does the Prime Minister agree that the latest figures showing the west midlands as the fastest growing part of this country show once again that the Black Country remains a great place to do business?

 

Mike Wood: Some illegal Traveller camps in Dudley have left behind criminal damage and large clean-up bills for council tax payers. May we have a debate on the use of police powers to remove illegal camps and on proposals to allow combined authorities to pool provision for authorised Traveller sites, rather than insisting that each local authority has its own provision?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: Some media outlets have suggested that Grenfell survivors have been forced to move to cities in the north of England. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House that nobody who chooses to not move out of London will be deemed intentionally homeless?

 

Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Mike Wood: All Members will have their own examples of mental health casework. Often, those constituents will have attended an advice surgery or sent an email for help about a different problem entirely. It could be housing; it could be employment or welfare; it could even be a problem involving the criminal justice system. But it soon becomes clear, after a few questions and a little bit of probing, that the underlying problem is one of undiagnosed—or unsupported—mental illness.

Mike Wood: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the potential cost of repairing historic windows in churches.

 

Caroline Spelman (The Second Church Estates Commissioner)

Mike Wood: To proceed in the tone that I thought had been set for the debate, does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the work the Government are doing, through the Bill, to authorise HMRC to work with NCS to reach more people is a key part of ensuring that the NCS reaches a far wider range of eligible young people? Hopefully that will increase participation rates, as well as diversity in the schemes.

 

Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Civil Society)

Mike Wood: I rise as a member of the Campaign for Real Ale and one of the vice-chairmen of the all-party group on beer and brewing.

Given what we hear about the number of pubs closing each week, a proposal such as new clause 9 has a superficial attraction. After all, pubs are at the heart of our communities not only as a place for people to come together, with all the social and health benefits that that brings, but increasingly as community hubs, as more and more services are operating out of licensed premises.

Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to support library provision.

 

Rob Wilson (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport):

Mike Wood: This issue has always been of personal importance to me. For nearly 30 years, my father was a West Midlands police officer, serving in the mounted branch and the firearms unit. In the 1980s, I remember kissing him goodbye as he went off to police football matches and riots, city centre riots and, yes, Orgreave. Having seen all that makes watching footage of assaults on police officers that bit more real. It is even more devastating when the person going home injured is one’s own father.

 Mike Wood: Was my hon. Friend as startled as I was to discover that in the last quarter, nearly 5,000 people were judged to be homeless but not a priority case? Does he welcome the changes in the Bill to address those extremely vulnerable people who are not covered by the existing legislative framework?

 

Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

Like many colleagues, I have seen a substantial spike in the number of tax credit inquiries following the letters from Concentrix. Our constituents expect action to be taken to ensure that benefits and tax credits are paid to the right people, and not to people who should not qualify for them. They also expect that process to be fair and sensitive. It is clear, however, that that has not been the case with Concentrix. So I am relieved—indeed, delighted—that the contract with Concentrix will not be renewed.

Mike Wood: My constituency, like my hon. Friend’s, has been occupied by a number of unauthorised Traveller camps over the summer, which have caused a large amount of criminal damage and left a great deal of litter. Local residents have had to witness defecation and urination in play areas and playgrounds, and near schools. Does my hon. Friend agree that the police need better and clearer guidance on when it is appropriate to use their section 61 powers?

 

Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire

Dishonest individuals have always sought to deceive and to take advantage of the most vulnerable in society. Sadly, as our world has increasingly moved online, transforming the way we communicate, do business and live so much of our lives, many fraudsters have used the same technologies to increase their activity and come up with ever more elaborate ways of defrauding vulnerable people. Action Fraud estimates that about 70% of fraud is either conducted online or is cyber-enabled.

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