On a good day, there may be a million words spoken in the Palace of Westminster. Here are a very few of them, from the floor of the Commons. They are not always verbatim but are reliable. That is, reliably reported.
Robert Halfon (Con): The Education department has appointed 13 Attendance advisers, but we have 1.7 million absent children and 100,000-plus so-called “ghost children”.
Grant Shapps (Con): Professor Jay’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard from 7,300 victims. It processed 2 million pages of evidence and cost £184 million. £4.5 million is to be allocated to seven organizations to support victims.
James Murray (Con): The out-of-turn estimates will increase overall spending by £71.4 billion [with £60 billion sought by BEIS to implement the energy price cap].
Christopher Chope (Con): The Paul Ehrlich Institute (the German regulator for vaccine safety) tried to raise the alert that one in 5,000 vaccinated people experienced a serious side effect, such as heart muscle inflammation. It said that, statistically, every tenth person must expect a severe consequence from having a course of three or four vaccines.
Scott Benton (Con): More than 70% of successful deportation appeals are now based solely on Article 8 [the right to respect for private and family life’].
Rachael Maskell (Lab): 7.5 million people are on pre-payment meters.
Graham Stuart (Con): In the Scotwind auction, Scottish fields have been sold off cheap, netting £700 million, while New York garnered £4.3 billion for a quarter of what was on offer in Scotland.
Andy Slaughter (Lab): The briefing from the National Residential Landlords Association says that 70% of landlords could envisage operating without section 21. Kevin Hollinrake (Con): That means in effect somewhere between 20% and 30% of supply (of rented accommodation) might go overnight.
Alison Thewliss (SNP): The gas bill of the Toryglen Community Base has gone from £9,700 a year to £62,273.36.
Richard Fuller (Con): In 2019, almost 243,000 net additional homes were delivered.
Anne McLaughlin (SNP): 40% of those entitled to pension credit do not apply for it.
Damien Hinds (Con): The e-petition for verified ID to be required to open a social media account has almost 700,000 signatures.
Taino Owatemi (Lab): In the last four years in this country, £3 billion has been lost to online fraud and 60,000 offences relating to online sexual abuse and grooming have been committed.
Guy Opperman (Con): Google made $14 billion profit last quarter.
Paulette Hamilton (Lab): (Before Putin’s invasion) Ukraine grew enough food to feed an estimated 400 million people despite having a population of only 44 million.
Matt Vickers (Con): There is a street in Stockton where if someone travels from one end to another just five miles, they pass through two areas where the difference in life expectancy is 20 years. Those living in Yarm in my constituency can be expected to live until the age of 84, whereas those living in Stockton Town Center, and neighboring Stockton North, can expect to live only to the age of 64 – that is equivalent to the life expectancy of those living in Ethiopia.
Drew Hendry (SNP): Scotch whiskey exported to India attracts a tariff of 150%.
Robert Halfon (Con): New Spanish consumer laws will force big companies and utility firms to answer customer service calls within three minutes or face fines of up to £85,000.
Theresa Villiers (Con): [On revoking the retained EU laws] We do not know with certainty how many laws there are within DEFRA’s food, animal welfare and environmental remit because that has not been comprehensively counted on the Government’s dashboard. (Greener UK estimates 570 pieces of legislation in DEFRA. Estimates for the total number of laws to be examined by the end of 2023 fall between 2,500 and 2,700 – around five a day.)
Patricia Gibson (SNP): There have been four secretaries of state for education in the last year and nine out of 10 schools in England say they will run out of money this year. The dogs in the street know that the government is so unstable as to be unfit for purpose. Does today’s Secretary of State for Education agree with me and the hon. member for Christchurch (Christopher Chope) that the new Prime Minister will face an “ungovernable” and “riven” Tory party and that a general election is the only answer, otherwise things will go from very bad to much worse? Mr. Speaker: What does that have to do with education? I do not think it has anything to do with education, so let us go to Elliot Colburn.
Jim Shannon, DUP: Does the minister agree that human rights provisions must be included in the India trade deal and can he guarantee that no blind eye will be turned to human rights abuses for the sake of economic benefit? Greg Hands (Con): I think this government have a fantastic record of promoting religious tolerance and religious diversity abroad. (In English: No.)
If an MP had spent a whopping £7,000 of taxpayers’ money on top tech gear, “comms management” and social media training, you would expect to see some results. Ruth Cadbury billed the taxpayer for a Macbook Pro, an iPad Air 2 and an office full of new computers, as well as funnelling £2,575 to former Gordon Brown SpAd Caroline Badley to teach her, among other things, how to use social media. Your money well spent? After the social media splurge Ruth has a measly 680 Facebook followers, just 5,000 odd Twitter followers, and a grand total of zero YouTube subscribers. Is this taxpayer cash actually being spent on anything or is it just lining the pockets of a Labour crony?
Have you ever heard of SNP MP Anne McLaughlin? Guido hadn’t either. So it’s perhaps forgiveable that she’d want to boost her profile by claiming £1,800 on expenses for “Social Media Consultancy” as part of an attempt to build a “Social Media Strategy”. What’s less forgiveable is that, despite this taxpayer cash, her Twitter account has just a few thousand followers, her Facebook just a couple of thousand likes, and her YouTube channel – inactive for five years – has just six subscribers. Your money well spent.