Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): Does the Minister intend to expand the One Public Estate initiative? It not only rationalises our public buildings for financial reasons, but gives us the opportunity to create better and more streamlined services for our residents.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Ben Gummer): My hon. Friend has it in one: not only does this initiative allow us to save costs so that we can direct money to the frontline, but it means that public services are far simpler for our citizens to deal with, because they are located in one place.

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Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): I applaud my right hon. Friend on three counts: his ability to understand, listen and act. He understands that the changes can be seen as a break with a manifesto commitment, he listened to colleagues on the Conservative Benches, and he acted swiftly and with certainty to give self-employed people the clarity that people in business want. In the review, will he ensure that we never lose sight of the fact that the self-employed are the risk takers and the entrepreneurs who power our economy, at great risk and uncertainty to themselves?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond): As I have said many times today and am very happy to say again, we will always support those who are taking risks to grow and found new businesses. Our job—I take this very seriously and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister takes it very seriously—is to do what is right for the country. When it becomes apparent that we have to do something because it is the right thing for the country—that is what has become apparent to us over the past couple of days—we will do it, however difficult it is. That is what I have done today.

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Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): My right hon. Friend will be aware of the concerns about the new business rates. Although there is a welcome from many of the businesses in the High Peak that will be taken out of business rates, there is a concern among those who have seen an increase—in one case one of as much as 85%. Can she give me an assurance, and give those businesses an assurance, that we will do all we can for these people, who work incredibly hard to be the engine room of our economy, as a rise of this size may threaten their livelihoods?

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May): As my hon. Friend will know, business rates are based on property value and it has been seven years since property values were last looked at, so I think it is absolutely right that we update them. But of course, as I recognised last week, there are different impacts on different businesses, and it is important that we have already put significant sums into transitional support for businesses so that we help the companies that are facing increased bills. As I said in this House last week, I have asked my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Communities and Local Government Secretary to make sure that the support that is provided is appropriate and is in place for the hardest cases. I would expect my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to say more about this next week in the Budget.

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Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): I recently met many of my local headteachers in the High Peak, and they are concerned about the new national funding formula. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that when we decide on the funding for our schools, we will look at unavoidable costs, such as the national apprenticeship levy, to ensure that our schools have the money that they need to educate our children?

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May): I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. The question of schools funding, and the system we have for schools funding, is important. I think the current system is unfair. It is not transparent and it is out of date. That has been the general view for some time now. The problem is that it cannot support the aspiration of all our children to get a great education. We do, indeed, want children to be able to get the education that they deserve and that ensures that they can go as far as their talents and hard work take them. The Labour Government did nothing to address the funding system. We are looking at that funding system. It is a consultation, and I am sure that the comments and the issue my hon. Friend has raised will be noted by the Secretary of State for Education.

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Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): Let me be clear at the outset that I want the FA to succeed. I want to be able to hold them up as an example of good—indeed, exemplary—governance across this country and beyond. I am not saying that everything that the FA does is wrong; it does many good things, which I will touch on in the time available.

The wording of the motion is strong and robust, and although it challenges the FA in the strongest terms, in many ways it echoes the frustration felt by football fans in the High Peak and beyond who have written to me and to colleagues. I was going to talk at great length about my history as a football supporter, but we do not have time—I am too old.

As a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, I too received the letter from the three previous FA chairmen, an ex-chief executive and a previous executive director. Collectively they delivered a withering view of the intransigence of the FA and its inability to change its governance. Those men have worked within the FA: they seem to have become disillusioned and frustrated by that intransigence and have just walked away. In their words, the FA’s decision-making structure has become

“arcane and convoluted leading to a lack of clarity about the role and purpose of these structures.”

They also claim that there are examples of “short-termism” and “vested interests”, with veiled and unveiled references to the FA’s relationship with the Premier League.

The letter reeks of all these senior figures’ frustration at their inability to get the FA to reform. As they say, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee concluded in 2011 and 2013—before my time as a member of that Committee, but when the current sports Minister was one—that the FA did need reform, yet it has not been done. It is right that we have tabled the motion for debate, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins), the Chairman of the Committee, for leading it, and to the Select Committee for having proposed it to the Backbench Business Committee.

I do not deny that the FA does good work, such as the good community work it does through the Football Foundation. We have benefited from significant funds across the High Peak, not least for the new changing rooms for Tintwistle Athletic at a cost of £300,000 to £400,000. I acknowledge that. The FA also acknowledges that there is need for governance reform, as the present chairman, Greg Clarke, said in his statement published on Tuesday evening.

I respect and have a lot of faith in Mr Clarke. He is combative in his defence of the FA, and I do not blame him. He says that the FA has a set of proposals to present to the Minister for her approval and I am interested to hear what she is looking for from those. However, as a fervent football supporter, I hope that Mr Clarke can resolve the matter without our having to get too heavily involved. I urge him to do so and to do so quickly.

Football is the people’s game. In recent years, as we have heard, it has had a huge influx of cash, with players earning eye-watering amounts of money, but it is still a game with 22 men—or indeed, women—kicking a football about, trying to get it into the opposition’s net. The FA is the organisation that oversees that, and it has all this growth in the football family to deal with.

On the 20th of this month, it will be the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Premier League—the juggernaut that has precipitated much of this growth. The FA has to deal with that, but the relationship has been called into question. The game is seemingly in rude health, so why is it being called into question today? There is support for the lower league. Glossop North End, in my constituency, has been in two FA Vase finals, in 2009 and 2015. In 2015, they could not sell the tickets direct and get a commission, as they did in 2009; it was done by the FA. Glossop North End got less money. It lowered the prices, but the gates were less, because of the FA. Sam Allardyce managed England for 67 days and one game, and allegedly walked away with £1 million.

Such things are destroying people’s faith in football. The FA is the governing body. It needs to address this matter, and quickly, starting with governance.

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