Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way and for securing this debate. I have a constituent who has a very similar story to the one he has just outlined. She asked me not to reveal her name, but she was using her tumble dryer and it actually exploded. Flames went up and hit the roof. We talk about the consequences of such fires for people’s lives. She lost pretty much everything and unfortunately she was not insured. This happened some time ago and she is still living with the consequences. All that time, as the hon. Gentleman said, Whirlpool seems to have been completely ambivalent about the consequences of these incidents for people’s lives.

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, because I believe that Whirlpool is cynically trying to delay everything from legal actions on liability through to inquests, to resist what in the end will undoubtedly be very substantial payments that it will have to make. However, the consequences of these incidents, particularly for poorer people who may not have insurance and who—as is the case with some of my constituents—have lost all their belongings as well as their homes, are absolutely devastating.

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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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This website was established while I was an MP, and previous content on it relates to that period. I am not currently an MP, as Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election. I have therefore reverted to the status of Parliamentary Candidate.

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