10/02/2017 The Week in Parliament


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10/02/2017

BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Transcript


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Hello and Welcome to The Week In Parliament.

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The Brexit Bill clears the Commons and heads for the Lords.

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Plenty of democratic debate?

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Not everyone thinks so.

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What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a bill of this

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constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this

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disgraceful fashion?

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The Bill goes through unaltered.

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But there are concessions.

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A Brexit Minister promises that Parliament WILL get a meaningful

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vote on the final EU exit deal.

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I can confirm that the government will bring forward a motion on the

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final agreement to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before

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it's concluded.

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Also, a little local difficulty for John Bercow,

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after he suggests President Trump is sexist and racist and shouldn't

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be allowed to make an official address in Westminster Hall.

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Has the Speaker prompted a campaign to remove him?

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Funnily enough I don't think there was ever not a campaign

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to get rid of the Speaker.

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There's been a whole lot of Tory MPs, most of them in

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fact, who would be delighted to see him go.

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And...

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Message delivered OK, but to a surprise recipient.

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Did the text that came the Labour leader's way reveal a secret deal

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on social care?

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And is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the

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social-care crisis created by her government?

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But first...

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Joy for the Government, joy for Brexit supporters.

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But problems and high-profile resignations for Labour.

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The successful passage of the so-called Brexit Bill

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through the Commons produced several moments of turbulence

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for the political parties.

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Against expectations, the Notification of EU

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Withdrawal Bill was approved by MPs without any alterations.

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It now goes on to the House of Lords.

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The Bill, imposed on Parliament by the ruling of the Supreme Court,

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authorises Ministers to start the EU departure process.

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But before the Bill left the Commons there were key issues to debate,

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issues such as the rights of EU nationals working

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and living in the UK.

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Labour said, why no guarantees?

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They and their families are not pawns in a game

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of poker with the EU.

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They cannot be used as a human shield as we battle it out

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in Europe for our UK citizens in other countries abroad.

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I think, again, it would be completely wrong in terms

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of negotiating, in terms of our negotiating position,

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to declare unilaterally that all EU nationals up to a certain date can

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continue to live here without any fear or favour.

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Another day, another issue.

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On Tuesday MPs demanded that in two years' time Parliament gets

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a decisive vote on the final exit agreement from the EU.

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The central theme of the case I will seek to make this afternoon

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is that a vote in this House must be before the deal is concluded.

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That is the dividing line that makes the real difference here.

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I can confirm that the Government will bring forward a motion

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on the final agreement to be approved by both Houses

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of Parliament before it is concluded and we expect and intend that this

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will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes

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on the final agreement.

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I hope that is of assistance.

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I am very grateful for that intervention.

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That is a huge and very important concession.

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If that deal comes to this House and we vote it down

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and subsequently the Commission and the European Parliament agree it

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and say, "Like it or lump it," what will we do then?

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I would have thought that in the circumstance that this House

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had voted it down it would be highly unlikely that it would ever be put

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to the European Parliament.

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I think the point here is, for this to be a meaningful

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concession, what the House wants is the opportunity to send

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the Government back to our EU partners, to negotiate a deal if one

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hasn't been reached.

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Going on to WTO rules, I say to the Minister,

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will be deeply damaging for our economy and

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wholly unacceptable.

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We could end up with a situation where the agreement is one minute

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to midnight at the end of the two year period,

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and if the Government doesn't then conclude an agreement to bring it

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to the House before it

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goes to the European Parliament, we could end up with no deal at all.

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You could imagine, two years of travel, journey down that

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road and negotiation, we get to the edge of the canyon

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and we have a point of decision.

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Are we going to have that bridge across the chasm,

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which might be the new treaty, it might take us to that new future,

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or are we going to potentially decide to jump off into the unknown,

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into the abyss?

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And Parliament should have the right to decide that point.

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So to Wednesday, and at Prime Minister's Questions the SNP asked,

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what about the views of the Scottish Parliament?

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When the Prime Minister was in Edinburgh on the 15th of July

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last year, she pledged that she would, and I quote,

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not trigger Article 50 until she had an agreed UK-wide approach.

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So given that the Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly

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against her approach and all bar one MP representing a Scottish

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constituency in this House of Commons has voted

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against her approach, she does not have an agreed UK-wide approach.

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Now, Mr Speaker...

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Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister knows, a lot of people in Scotland

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watch Prime Minister's Questions, so will she tell those viewers

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in Scotland whether she intends to keep her word to Scotland or not?

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The Supreme Court was very clear that the Scottish Parliament does

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not have a veto on the triggering of Article 50.

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The bill that is going through the House obviously is giving

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the power to the Government to trigger Article 50.

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And I would also remind him of this point, because he constantly refers

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to the interests of Scotland inside the European Union.

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An independent Scotland would not be in the European Union.

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With all amendments voted down, the Brexit Bill reached the end

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of the road in the Commons.

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But before the final vote, expressions of anger.

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The Government's refusal to accept a single amendment means

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there will be no report stage.

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The programme motion means there's no debate on third reading.

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I'm informed by the library that the last time that combination

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happened was the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914,

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which was about the First World War.

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For this to happen in any bill would be an abuse.

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To happen on this bill is an outrage.

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What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a bill

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of this constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this

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disgraceful fashion?

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What I can say is that the House agreed to a programme motion

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and that is what's been adhered to.

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Point of order.

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Mr Deputy Speaker, this House has nobly represented

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the will of the British people in a referendum.

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That is why it's passed as it has.

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And so to the vote.

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The question is that the bill now be read.

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As many as are of the opinion, say "aye".

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Aye!

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To the contrary, "no".

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No!

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Division.

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Clear the lobbies.

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In fact, the verdict was never in doubt.

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With most Labour MPs supporting the Bill,

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there was a huge majority for the Government.

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The ayes to the right, 494.

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The noes to the left, 122.

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52 Labour MPs had defied their whip and voted against the Bill.

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That meant some resignations, most notably Clive Lewis

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from his job as Shadow Business Secretary.

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And a final footnote.

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The pro-European SNP MPs struck up a musical

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note in the chamber, by way of protest, singing

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Beethoven's Ode To Joy, the European anthem.

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THEY SING

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Until they were stopped.

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Order!

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I don't want a sing-off within the chamber.

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It's a very good of you, much appreciated, but if you'll just

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leave it for a little while, it's been a very tense week already,

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I just don't need any extra.

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Thank you.

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Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, bringing the Commons

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to order in his own way.

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It was quite a week for the Commons Speaker himself.

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A motion of no-confidence was put down on Speaker John Bercow,

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after he dramatically announced that he wouldn't want the US

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President, Donald Trump, to address Westminster Hall on his anticipated

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forthcoming state visit.

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The no-confidence motion, tabled by a Tory backbencher,

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is not likely to be debated.

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But it does add to the pressures on Mr Bercow.

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Critics say by speaking out he's undermined the traditional

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neutrality of the Speaker's role.

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Gary Connor now reports.

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Ever since it was announced that US President Donald Trump would come

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to the UK on a state visit this year, there's been a row brewing.

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Some state visits, such as those by Nelson Mandela,

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Pope Benedict and Barack Obama, have seen the leaders make a speech

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in Westminster Hall.

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But more than 200 MPs have signed an early day motion, a method

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for MPs to register their support for a course, against President

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Trump visiting Westminster.

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And on Monday the Speaker spoke out.

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I wondered, Mr Speaker, whether you could tell us

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what approaches have been made to you and what conversations

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or discussions have taken place with the relevant authorities,

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the key-holders for such an approach to go ahead,

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and whether or not there are ways in which those of us who have deep

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concerns about President Trump's comments could make that known

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to the responsible authorities?

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Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been

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strongly opposed to an address by President Trump

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in Westminster Hall.

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After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump,

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I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump

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in Westminster Hall.

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As far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly

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that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support

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for equality before the law and an independent judiciary

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are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.

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But an address to Parliament isn't just

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at the discretion of Mr Bercow.

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His House of Lords equivalent also has a say.

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And Lord Fowler said that he wasn't consulted.

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Yesterday Mr Bercow made it clear that he was opposed

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to the President speaking.

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I can say that I wasn't consulted on that decision.

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Although John Bercow received rapturous applause

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from the opposition benches, some on the government side,

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not always great fans of the Speaker, weren't so happy.

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So was the Speaker wrong to express a view shared by many MPs

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and members of the public?

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There's nothing wrong with that if you're the Prime Minister,

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possibly even if you're the monarchy, you know,

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that is what the leaders of the country are there to do.

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He's not the leader of the country, though, his job is to be a very

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independent arbiter of proceedings in the House of Commons.

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And the Speaker was taken to task by certain sections of the press.

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So he's been a very good Speaker certainly for backbenchers,

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for journalists too, regularly, almost every

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day, certainly once or twice a week he will call a minister

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to the House of Lords

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to answer an urgent question,

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which is great because that is almost always topical.

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When he does put his head above the parapet and goes a bit too

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far, as I think most people think he might have done this week,

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absolutely he's a target and newspapers are there

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to try and pull him down a peg or two.

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It's what we're quite good at.

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So what impact might John Bercow's stand have on his future as speaker?

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I think John Bercow's future is going to be incredibly

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interesting and this will play out this year.

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He said he was going to stand down in 2018.

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He said he would serve nine years and that was that.

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There was a lot of chat in the tearooms amongst MPs on both

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sides in the last week after the Trump furore that actually

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he might have done this simply to put his cards down

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for re-election.

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Maybe he's actually thinking, actually I'm rather enjoying this

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job, I don't want to go next year.

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I might just stay on a few more years and I'll be able to do that

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if I have the support of Labour MPs, and what better to get that support

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than giving Donald Trump a kicking?

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The people of Surrey were due to take part

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in a referendum in recent days, not on EU membership

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but on whether they were happy to see a large, 15% rise

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in their council tax to pay for the increasing costs of caring

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for elderly and vulnerable people.

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But the vote was called off. So what happened?

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At Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

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believed he knew why the vote and the 15% rise were abandoned.

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Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether or not a special

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deal was done for Surrey?

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We recognise the short-term pressures.

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That is why we have enabled local authorities to put more

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money into social care.

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We have provided more money.

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Over the next two years, ?900 million will be

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available for social care.

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Mr Speaker, my question was whether there had been a special

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deal done for Surrey.

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The leader said they had many conversations with the government.

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We know they have because I have been sent copies of texts sent

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by the Tory leader David Hodge intended for somebody called Nick

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who works for ministers and the Department for Communities

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and Local Government.

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And these texts read, "I'm advised that DCLG officials have

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"been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to

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"agree a memorandum of understanding."

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Will the government...

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Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding?

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What the Labour Party fails to understand is this is not just

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a question of looking at money, it is a question of spreading best

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practice, and finding a sustainable solution.

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And I have to say to him that if we look at social care provision

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across the entire country, the last thing social care

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providers need is another one of Labour's bouncing cheques.

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Mr Speaker, I wonder if it is anything to do with the fact

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that the Chancellor and Health Secretary represents

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Surrey constituencies.

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Mr Speaker, there was a second text from Surrey County

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Council leader to Nick.

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In the second text, it says, "The numbers you indicated

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"are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me

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"to accept and call off the R."

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I've been reading a bit of John Le Carre, and apparently,

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"R" means referendum.

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It is very subtle, all of this.

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And he goes on to say, in his text to Nick,

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"If it is possible for that info to be said to myself,

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"I can then revert back soonest, really want to kill this off."

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So, how much did that government offers sorry to kill this off?

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And is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing

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the social care crisis created by her government?

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Yet again, what we get from Labour are alternative facts.

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What...

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What they really need is an alternative leader.

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What he always fails to recognise, what he fails to recognise is that

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you can only spend money on social care and on the National Health

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Service if you have a strong economy to deliver the wealth you need.

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Theresa May, displaying her leadership style in the Commons.

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Well, the leadership approach of Britain's recent prime ministers

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is the subject of a new series produced by BBC Parliament.

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The political journalist

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Steve Richards will be examining the careers of six former

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British prime ministers.

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His unscripted talks were recorded at Westminster.

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Here, he considers David Cameron's decision to call the EU Referendum.

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I still think there was a case for doing it.

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I certainly understand why he did it.

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Leaders sometimes are trapped, and when you have MPs defecting

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to Ukip, and Ukip winning, as they did the European

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elections, topping that poll, you panic, as Prime Minister.

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And Cameron, he had already offered it by the time Ukip had one

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the European elections, so he had no choice

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if he wanted to keep his party together but to hold it.

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But one of the lessons of leadership is this,

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referendums are dangerous.

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They lure leaders towards them, thinking this is the way

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that they will be able to survive in politics and the referendum

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is their saviour.

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And when the leader actually announces one,

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it tends to clobber them.

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And finish them off.

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And the first of the series, Leadership Reflections is on

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BBC Parliament at eight o'clock on Sunday evening.

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Now, a look at some of the other stories around Parliament

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in the last seven days.

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Labour has described as shameful the Government's decision to wind

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down a scheme allowing vulnerable refugee children into Britain.

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The Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the programme risked acting

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as an incentive for children to make perilous sea crossings to Europe.

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The Labour peer whose name is associated with the scheme

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voiced his disappointment.

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I must confess, I'm slightly puzzled because if the government says a

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specified number of children, then after that total had been reached,

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the scheme had been closed.

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I believe in arbitrarily closing down the scheme,

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without any good reason for doing so,

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the government is in breach of its own commitment.

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At this point in time the scheme is not closed.

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What I think...

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Well, more children will come, the scheme is not closed.

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What I think we have to appreciate, and I've think the lords

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generally have appreciated, is that the capacity of local

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authorities is limited.

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The noble lords might rubbish that but the

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passage to have local authorities is limited.

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Are the banks ripping us off?

0:20:050:20:06

Which? magazine finds that customers who run up unauthorised overdrafts

0:20:060:20:09

face charges sometimes seven times higher than the cost of borrowing

0:20:090:20:11

from a payday lender.

0:20:110:20:12

It is a disgrace that the banks are charging more than payday

0:20:120:20:15

lenders for short term lending and getting away with it.

0:20:150:20:18

So, the government should take action.

0:20:180:20:20

The major banks currently make up ?1 billion per

0:20:200:20:22

year on charges on unauthorised overdrafts,

0:20:220:20:25

the majority of whom, says the head of the competitions

0:20:250:20:28

and markets authority, from financially vulnerable customers.

0:20:280:20:32

We've taken steps to encourage competition, we have taken steps to

0:20:320:20:36

support credit unions,

0:20:360:20:39

we have taken steps to improve financial education.

0:20:390:20:43

And it is through this comprehensive approach that this

0:20:430:20:46

government will continue to take steps to make sure British customers

0:20:460:20:50

have quality choices.

0:20:500:20:52

An important tradition?

0:20:520:20:54

Or do they give Parliament the wrong image?

0:20:540:20:56

The wigs worn by the clerks who sit in the chamber of the Commons

0:20:560:21:00

are to be phased out later this month.

0:21:000:21:02

The Speaker finds himself in more controversy.

0:21:020:21:05

And it will, in my view, which I recognise may

0:21:050:21:09

not be universally shared, convey to the public a marginally less

0:21:090:21:20

stuffy and forbidding image of this chamber at work.

0:21:200:21:24

And I had declared informally that I thought it was sensible to

0:21:240:21:27

continue the cause this, Mr Speaker, is the High Court of Parliament.

0:21:270:21:30

And I do think that the clerks, dressed as they are, add

0:21:300:21:36

to the dignity of the House.

0:21:360:21:38

But the idea that this was something that I dreamt up

0:21:380:21:41

and sought to impose against the will of the clerks

0:21:410:21:43

is 100% wrong.

0:21:430:21:46

Will building new homes, both for owning and renting,

0:21:460:21:50

provide the answer to England's "broken" housing market?

0:21:500:21:53

The Government announces ways to get more houses built,

0:21:530:21:56

including making it harder to object to new developments.

0:21:560:21:59

And we'll tackle unnecessary delays, caused by

0:21:590:22:02

everything from planning conditions to great crested newts.

0:22:020:22:05

They are young people right now in every one

0:22:050:22:08

of our constituencies staring into the windows of estate agents,

0:22:080:22:12

their faces glued to them, dreaming of renting or buying a decent home

0:22:120:22:17

but knowing that it is out of reach because prices have risen so high.

0:22:170:22:21

It is tragically clear, Mr Speaker, from the statement, that seven years

0:22:210:22:26

of failure on housing is set now to stretch to ten.

0:22:260:22:32

We were promised a white paper, we are presented with a white flag.

0:22:320:22:36

They're definitely increasing but are they also

0:22:360:22:39

becoming more aggressive?

0:22:390:22:40

The seagull problem and how to solve it occupies MPs' thoughts

0:22:400:22:44

in Westminster Hall.

0:22:440:22:46

They make a nest on the flat roofs of houses, they squabble

0:22:460:22:50

with each other, they squawk incessantly at all hours of the day

0:22:500:22:53

and night, creating an nasty racket, they bombard and soil windows.

0:22:530:22:59

We read stories about a diving seagull killing pet dog.

0:22:590:23:07

Things have become so bad, so widely publicised that our

0:23:070:23:15

former minister, David Cameron, said that he wanted a big conversation

0:23:150:23:22

about murderous seagulls.

0:23:220:23:24

And those juicy courgettes that we all miss so much.

0:23:240:23:26

How long will the courgette crisis go on for, after wintery weather

0:23:260:23:29

in Europe left the shelves short of veg?

0:23:290:23:31

A minister in the Lords reassures us things are not so bad.

0:23:310:23:34

It is certainly no crisis.

0:23:340:23:35

The only shortage will be of iceberg lettuce

0:23:350:23:37

which will be for about a few months.

0:23:370:23:39

And there is a wonderful variety called cos which is even better.

0:23:390:23:42

Isn't it time that the government's forthcoming green paper

0:23:420:23:45

on food and farming seeks to tackle this decline in home-grown veg?

0:23:450:23:49

Very much so.

0:23:490:23:51

In fact, I was pleased only this morning to hear that

0:23:510:23:56

cauliflowers from Cornwall are coming onto the market.

0:23:560:24:00

So, we have a great opportunity again, to buy

0:24:000:24:03

some British vegetables.

0:24:030:24:04

Lord Gardiner.

0:24:040:24:05

And finally, it's official.

0:24:050:24:06

As we long suspected, the Prime Minister is a keen

0:24:060:24:09

viewer of BBC Parliament.

0:24:090:24:11

At PMQs, Theresa May told MPs how often she tunes in

0:24:110:24:14

during the course of an evening.

0:24:140:24:17

It all stemmed from a question put to her by an SNP MP

0:24:170:24:20

about long-winded speeches.

0:24:200:24:23

Does she agree with me that the rules of the House should be changed

0:24:230:24:26

to prevent filibustering and to ensure that the members from all

0:24:260:24:29

sides of the House have their fair share of the time available?

0:24:290:24:32

I have to say, I find that rather curious

0:24:320:24:34

question from the honourable gentleman.

0:24:340:24:39

Last night, as it happens, I was out of the House

0:24:390:24:42

between the two votes.

0:24:420:24:44

I switched on the BBC parliamentary channel, and I

0:24:440:24:50

saw the honourable gentleman speaking.

0:24:500:24:52

I turned over to something else.

0:24:520:24:54

I switched back.

0:24:540:24:56

I switched back to the parliamentary channel.

0:24:560:25:03

I saw the honourable gentleman still speaking.

0:25:030:25:05

I switched over to something else.

0:25:050:25:09

I switched back and the honourable gentleman was still speaking.

0:25:090:25:14

He is the last person to complain about filibustering in this House.

0:25:140:25:18

Theresa May, clearly a big channel hopper.

0:25:180:25:22

But what was she switching over to?

0:25:220:25:24

That's it for this programme.

0:25:240:25:25

MPs and peers are now leaving Westminster

0:25:250:25:28

for their half-term break.

0:25:280:25:30

When they return, the House of Lords begins its debates

0:25:300:25:32

on that Brexit bill.

0:25:320:25:34

So, do join us in a fortnight's time for the next Week In Parliament.

0:25:340:25:37

Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

0:25:370:25:42