20/12/2016 Tuesday in Parliament


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20/12/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 20 December, presented by Kristiina Cooper.


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Hello and welcome to Tuesday in Parliament.

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Senior MPs quiz Theresa May over whether Parliament will get

:00:20.:00:24.

It is my intention that Parliament had every opportunity to consider

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these matters and we must ensure we deliver on the vote of the British

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people which was a vote to leave the European Union. Again was that a yes

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or no? I gave the answer I gave. Rupert Murdoch's bid for full

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control of the broadcaster Sky - the former Labour leader wants it

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to be stopped. This bid shows that the Murdochs

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have learned nothing and think they can get away with anything. If it

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was wrong for them to own 100% of sky in 2012 it is wrong today.

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I reached my breaking point and grabbed her mobile and threw it

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across the aisle. But first, the lorry attack

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in Berlin was on the minds of Mps as they met for the last sitting day

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before the Commons 12 people were killed and 48 injured

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when a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market

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in the German capital. The German police are calling it

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"a probable terrorist attack". In the Commons - before the day's

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business got underway - the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

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was the first to speak As we wish each other

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a Merry Christmas, the whole House will this

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morning remember the people of Berlin as they face up

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to yesterday's horrific Germany and its capital, Berlin,

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have been beacons of freedom All our thoughts and prayers

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are with them today. I would just like to take a moment

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to reflect on the appalling news that came in from Berlin

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and Ankara yesterday. And we have seen very vivid images

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in our newspapers and television and I think they have shocked us

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all and I just wanted to express our condolences and I'm

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sure the condolences of all of us It was Theresa May's

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first appearance in front of the Liaison Committee -

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which is made up of the chairmen No surprises that the main subject

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up for discussion was Brexit. Among other things, they wanted

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to know if MPs would be given a vote on the final deal

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with the European Union. Is it your intention to ensure that

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Parliament has a vote on the final The parliament is going to have

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every opportunity to vote through the Great Repeal Bill

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on the various aspects of the relationship that we will be

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having with the European Union. The question is when the final deal

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is negotiated with the 27, is it your intention to ensure that

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Parliament has a chance to vote It is my intention to ensure that

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Parliament has ample opportunity to comment on and discuss

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the aspects of the arrangements I'm not sure I understand why

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it is so difficult to answer a question as to whether Parliament

:03:26.:03:31.

will have a vote or not, given that we know the European Parliament

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will have a vote on the deal, why can't you say that the British

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Parliament will also have a vote? What I am saying is that there

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will be an opportunity for Parliament of course to consider

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and as more details do become available, how this

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is going to operate. There is a question

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about the timetable in relation to the agreement of the deal

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and the necessity, how that timetable will operate in relation

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to the European Parliament as well. What I am also clear

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about is ensuring that when we come to the point we are actually

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delivering on the vote of the British people,

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that we will be leaving The Prime Minister was unchallenged

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over whether she would use Brexit to reduce immigration.

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If you are to stand any chance of meeting your net migration

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target, you would have to get EU net migration down to what, 50,000?

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We will be putting into place the immigration arrangements

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for people coming from within the European Union that we believe

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are in the interests of the United Kingdom.

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So does that mean that if you conclude that it is not in

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the interests of the United Kingdom to get net migration

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from the EU down to 50,000, you will ditch the net migration

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target, or would you give the net migration target priority over

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what is in Britain's best interests in the negotiations?

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This government will retain its intention

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We set out very clearly for some time now that we believe

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it is sustainable levels and sustainable levels

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And we do that for very good reasons, because of the impact

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that we believe immigration does have, that research has shown it

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does have on people, particularly those at the lower end

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I understand the reasons behind it, I understand the reason.

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The question is what is your objective going forward?

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You have a net migration target to get below the tens of thousands.

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I'm asking you whether you are planning to meet that net migration

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target through the Brexit negotiations and if so,

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what are you aiming for on net EU migration?

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If you've got to get it down from 189,000

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to at least below 100,000, who do you want not to come?

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and I have been clear about the Brexit negotiations.

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The vote on the 23rd of June from people was that they wanted us

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to have control of immigration, to put in place controls

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on immigration for people coming from the European union.

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We also want to ensure we get the best possible deal

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for trading with and operating within the European Union.

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One MP was not sure she had given a clear answer on giving Parliament

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vote. Is it your intention that Parliament

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should vote on a final deal once it's been negotiated,

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this was a question And what I have said

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is it is my intention that Parliament should have every

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opportunity to consider What I'm also clear

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about is to ensure that we actually deliver on the vote of the British

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people which was about to leave OK, I'll leave you

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to decide that one. And questions on another pressing

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issue, social care. There is now around 1 million people

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who should be entitled to social care who are not receiving it,

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putting great pressure The reason, real-term spending

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on social care fell by 9% To use the form of words

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with which you might be familiar, do you agree that for social care,

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crisis means crisis? As I have said, previously,

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I accept that there are That is why the government has made

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available the opportunity for local authorities,

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as was set out in the local government finance settlement last

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week, the opportunity for extra money to be available to be

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spent on social care. But there is also a question

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not just about those short-term pressures,

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but in the medium term, ensuring that we are seeing delivery

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and best practice being introduced in terms of delivery of social

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care across the country. You talk about fewer people

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being able to access social care. Actually there are many local

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authorities around the country where we are now seeing more people

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accessing social care. Clive Betts told her

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he would be very interested Four years ago Rupert Murdoch failed

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in his ambition to take full control He abandoned his plan

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because of the public outcry over phone-hacking at one

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of his newspapers, But now Mr Murdoch is having another

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go at taking 100% ownership of Sky, There has been no formal

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notification of the takeover bid. When that happens,

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the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will have ten days to decide

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whether to refer the proposal to Karen Bradley told MPs that

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because of her "quasi-judicial" role she would not be able

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to comment further. But Ed Miliband -

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who's been very critical of Rupert Murdoch before -

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told the Commons it We're going into recess

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until January ninth. And the bid may be notified

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to government at any time. And it is very important,

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Mr Speaker, that the House understands the reality that in even

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launching this bid for 100% of Sky, the Murdochs are seeking to turn

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the judgment of this House, the regulator and indeed

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the country, on its head. In 2011 this House unanimously urged

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the withdrawal of the bid In 2012 Ofcom published a damning

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assessment of James Murdoch's behaviour in the running of News

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International. Mr Speaker, that report only stopped

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short of declaring Sky as unfit and improper to hold a licence

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on the basis that the Murdochs were And James Murdoch was no longer

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playing an executive role at Sky. Today, James Murdoch is back

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as chairman of Sky and chief This bid shows the Murdochs have

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learnt nothing and think they can If it was wrong for the Murdochs

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to own 100% of Sky in 2011 I do not for one second

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underestimate the huge public and parliamentary interest

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in this proposed merger. As well as the importance of this

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issue to the parties concerned. But the important thing

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is that I must ensure, given my quasi-judicial role,

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that I protect the integrity of the process and ensure that

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as and when, if the formal notification is given,

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that that is properly considered. I will be making no further

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comments on the merit While there may well be a case

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for asking the regulator to look at this bid,

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will she also recognise that this represents a ?12 billion investment

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into a British company and is a vote of confidence that Britain

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will remain a centre of international broadcasting

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after Britain leaves I know Christmas is a time for TV

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repeats, but this one was not hit the first time around and it is no

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more popular now. Mr Speaker, last week

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the Minister of State told the House categorically

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that the Prime Minister had not discussed this bid in her recent

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New York meeting with Rupert Will the Secretary of State

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repeat that assurance? How does she know, can she tell

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us what was discussed? Because after all, Leveson

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recommended that those Yesterday, Mr Speaker,

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Rupert Murdoch wrote I have made it a principal

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or my life never to ask for anything We will just pause to take that

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in a moment, Mr Speaker. You will recall John Major's

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testimony to the Leveson Inquiry in which he recalled Rupert Murdoch

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asking him to change his And warning that, if we couldn't

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change our European policies, his papers could not and would not

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support the Conservative government. Does the Secretary of State

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believe Rupert Murdoch, or the former Conservative Prime

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Minister? He has asked specifically

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about the meeting that the Prime She had a prearranged meeting

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with Wall Street Journal editors. Mr Murdoch dropped into that meeting

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and I can assure him that the proposed takeover

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was not discussed. I'm not entirely sure that a company

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controlled by Rupert Murdoch trying to buy another company largely

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controlled by Rupert Murdoch is of the great public interest

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that the Secretary of State seems This really is all about the party

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opposite not liking Rupert Murdoch. If this was Richard Branson

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in the same situation, they wouldn't be saying

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a word about it. A substantial number

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of my constituents have contacted me over the last week

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regarding this bid. And they are all of the same

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opinion, but Mr Murdoch has too much Many would like to see his bid

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being referred to Ofcom Karen Bradley apologised,

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saying she could not make comment on the process or the merits

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of the bid. You're watching Tuesday

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in Parliament, with me, The Foreign Affairs Committee

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is investigating the UK's With events in Ukraine and Syria -

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as well as Russia's engagement in cyber-warfare -

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there's much to discuss. But at the start of the session,

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the Europe Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, gave his reaction

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to the murder of Russia's With fully condemn this, it is a

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heinous attack and you can be assured the Foreign Office in the

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proper way has been in contact with our Turkish and Russian counterparts

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to express our condolences. The committee moved

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on to Russia's interference There's a strong suggestion being

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investigated by the CIA that the US election was interfered with by

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Russia. And for example today the bar a memorandum of agreement signed

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by the President Putin party with an Austrian party. There is an

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undermining here of the values of liberal open-minded Western models

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whether in the US or the European Union. And Russia is pursuing

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asymmetric warfare to undermine solidarity of Nato and the European

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Union. I think there is no doubt that using modern technology, they

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are interfering in many parts of the world. We saw that in Montenegro as

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well weather was a serious interference. Undeniably I think

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Russian inspired in the democratic process in Montenegro. Quite what

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the effect was, what exactly they did in the United States, it is

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unclear. But I think there is no doubt and we have got to accept that

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as a fact, that cyber warfare is now a part of modern life and the

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Russians are using it as best they can in the political dimension. Not

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just in the commercial one but there is political interference. We had

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our difficulties with Alexander Litvinenko, there have been

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impediments and also issues which we feel strongly about such as Ukraine

:15:48.:15:52.

and subsequently Aleppo. We need to balance the respect they deserve

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with firm talk about the things on which we thoroughly, of which we

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thoroughly disapprove. So I hope that the balance of language and

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action is finding its feet perhaps more than it has done in the past

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and our attitude and it is in the paper I gave the committee, is one

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of very firm views were we think they are behaving improperly such as

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challenging other countries with their territorial integrity and

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showing them the proper respect which are great nation is due. That

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is the balance that perhaps we could strike better but that is the

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balance we have got to strike. Labour's Ann Clwyd described

:16:30.:16:33.

a meeting between the committee and the Russian ambassador to London

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when the bombardment He was asked about the bombing of

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hospitals and his answer to that was that there are no hospitals in

:16:47.:16:51.

Aleppo. So we asked him, what are they then? You said they were

:16:52.:16:57.

jihadists training camps. Now, how do you develop a dialogue when

:16:58.:17:09.

people are dealing with so-called fair facts as opposed to our facts?

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Yes, I like to think we and our politics live in a rational world

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and we value the truth and one of the things that we set store by is

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knowing when someone is not telling the truth. In this conflict, there

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are clear and obvious occasions when people are not telling the truth and

:17:31.:17:36.

saying black is white when it isn't. I think with the issue of Aleppo,

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there are many such examples and they are very distressing. That is

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where we have two show the courage and leadership to have clear views

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and point out truth from fiction, and stand our ground. That, I hope,

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is what the UK is doing. And we are having to do so, let's be absolutely

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frank, with Russia in a number of areas. Aleppo and the Ukraine are

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two examples. We will not be pushed around and told what we believe to

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be the truth is not. We will advertise the truth and make it

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clear. That is what we will do and that is one of our main weapons of

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diplomacy. The Europe Minister,

:18:17.:18:18.

Sir Alan Duncan. The government has admitted

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that there are serious problems in the way the leasehold system

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works in England and Wales. Conservative and Labour MPs

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told the Commons some of their constituents had seen

:18:27.:18:28.

ground rent charges rocket - in some cases to levels where their

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houses became unsellable. What we are discussing today is

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nothing short of a national scandal. It is the PPI of the house-building

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industry. Every now and then, a sharp practice comes to light which

:18:47.:18:50.

is totally unconscionable and which every reasonable person looking at

:18:51.:18:53.

it would say, we cannot allow this to continue. Parliament must act.

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This is one such occasion. The practice that has developed is to

:19:00.:19:03.

sell new homes on a long-term lease with a misleading low grounds learnt

:19:04.:19:09.

rent and buyout price. This practice has become, in my constituency over

:19:10.:19:14.

the last few years and contrary to what is asserted by some developers,

:19:15.:19:17.

it is not a tradition in my constituency. It now seems to be

:19:18.:19:22.

part of the business model for a great many developers. It's a very

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clever way of selling more units, dropping the asking price a little

:19:27.:19:29.

to reflect the fact it is a leasehold but failed to make it

:19:30.:19:33.

clear that in the long run, the homeowner will pay far, far more

:19:34.:19:36.

than they would have done if the property had been freehold. My

:19:37.:19:45.

calculation as if a ?250,000 house with a ground rent the doubles

:19:46.:19:51.

over... Over 60 years, the successive leaseholders will have

:19:52.:19:59.

paid.... That's in the first 60 years of release. Sadly, there are

:20:00.:20:05.

too many bullies, cowboys and crooks and for the government to feel

:20:06.:20:09.

comfortable with the legislation as it stands is unacceptable. We need

:20:10.:20:13.

not only better regulation, we need not only better protection and

:20:14.:20:16.

advice, we need legislation. There are millions of citizens out there

:20:17.:20:21.

looking to their politicians, of whichever party, to remedy their

:20:22.:20:25.

distress. With my right honourable friend agree that many people

:20:26.:20:28.

entering these are the souls are entirely unaware that the landlords

:20:29.:20:32.

have the power to make huge increases in ground rents and that

:20:33.:20:37.

if this practice is deemed acceptable, at the very least,

:20:38.:20:41.

tenants going into these agreements should have very clear information

:20:42.:20:44.

about what the landlords can do, what their rights are and how they

:20:45.:20:49.

can challenge them? When one has worked hard to save up to buy a

:20:50.:20:53.

home, budgeted to be able to pay the costs needed to service any loan and

:20:54.:20:58.

the other costs one reasonably accepts -- expects, when should then

:20:59.:21:03.

expect security. For hard-working people, those who are doing the

:21:04.:21:07.

right thing by investing their hard earned cash into buying a home, are

:21:08.:21:11.

being ripped off, left right and centre. The government must act

:21:12.:21:18.

urgently to stop this gross explication of hard-working

:21:19.:21:20.

homeowners who are finding they cannot sell their homes. It seems to

:21:21.:21:25.

me and to the Secretary of State to be one of those cases where there is

:21:26.:21:30.

a gulf between the letter of the law and our sense of what is right. Some

:21:31.:21:35.

of the cases we've seen in the media is heard about in today's debate

:21:36.:21:38.

have highlighted some truly appalling behaviour. The secretary

:21:39.:21:43.

of State and I have been looking closely at the issues raised in

:21:44.:21:46.

recent weeks and I can tell the house that we are both absolutely

:21:47.:21:51.

determined to stamp out unfair, unjust and unacceptable abuse of the

:21:52.:21:52.

leasehold system. To the House of Lords now

:21:53.:21:54.

where the day started The Leader of Lords, Lord Fowler,

:21:55.:21:57.

announced a new inquiry into ways of reducing the size of the upper

:21:58.:22:01.

chamber. On December five, the house debated

:22:02.:22:11.

a motion on the size of the house. The motion sought agreement that the

:22:12.:22:17.

house believes that its size should be reduced and methods should be

:22:18.:22:20.

explored by which this could be achieved. 61 members spoke during

:22:21.:22:25.

the debate and the motion was carried unanimously. If each of many

:22:26.:22:28.

of the speeches that day was that we should not delay in such an

:22:29.:22:33.

examination. Accordingly, and setting up a 6-member Lord's

:22:34.:22:37.

speakers committee drawn entirely from the backbenches to examine the

:22:38.:22:41.

possible methods by which the house could be reduced in size. I'm

:22:42.:22:45.

pleased to announce that Lord Burns has agreed to chair the committee.

:22:46.:22:51.

Other members of the committee will be Lord Spieth, Baroness Browning,

:22:52.:22:55.

Baroness Crawley, Baroness Taylor of Bolton and Lord Wakeham. The

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committee would get to work as soon as the house resumes after the

:23:00.:23:04.

Christmas recess. I would just add that this is not an easy task but

:23:05.:23:09.

hopefully, if this issue can be settled, the public will be better

:23:10.:23:13.

able to recognise the true value of this size.

:23:14.:23:14.

One of the roles that the Lords takes very seriously is debating

:23:15.:23:17.

They're the means by which the Government can amend the law

:23:18.:23:20.

Peers have been discussing a measure to increase the number of penalty

:23:21.:23:26.

points imposed when a driver is caught using a mobile phone.

:23:27.:23:29.

One peer said using a mobile phone was a "breach of good manners"

:23:30.:23:32.

If the house will just indulge me, I will give my own experience with my

:23:33.:23:45.

god daughter aged 21, who I took with her parents to the theatre in

:23:46.:23:54.

Paris actually. Just about that time, it was a well-known singer in

:23:55.:23:58.

France he was giving us an evening, and just as the star came on and the

:23:59.:24:05.

lights went down, I'd goddaughter saw fit to send a text to somebody

:24:06.:24:11.

which created a light on the machine. I quickly reminded her, you

:24:12.:24:15.

may upset a few people here with a light, please put it off. She

:24:16.:24:24.

ignored me and went on doing it. Despite his requests, she continued

:24:25.:24:28.

using the phone. I reached my breaking point so I grabbed my bow

:24:29.:24:33.

bile and I threw it into the audience, across the aisle. I saw it

:24:34.:24:38.

bouncing off the head of maybe a Frenchman but it could have been

:24:39.:24:42.

anyone, back into the aisle. She was totally astonished by my behaviour

:24:43.:24:51.

and her aunt, who was also with us, said well done, well done. I've been

:24:52.:24:55.

longing to do that for a long time. I can tell the noble Lords that my

:24:56.:24:59.

god daughter the other day who is now 25, she was 21 at the time,

:25:00.:25:05.

said, because I remarked she'd had a mobile with her, I said is that the

:25:06.:25:10.

same one I threw into the audience? She said, yes it is, actually. That

:25:11.:25:14.

was a salutary lesson. I've never forgotten it.

:25:15.:25:16.

Lord Falkland on throwing mobile phones and the need

:25:17.:25:18.

Well that's it from Tuesday in Parliament.

:25:19.:25:21.

The Lords is sitting for one more day but the Commons has broken up

:25:22.:25:24.

Although there won't be a daily round-up until the New Year it's

:25:25.:25:28.

only good manners to point out that Alicia McCarthy will be

:25:29.:25:31.

here on Wednesday night with a review of the last few months

:25:32.:25:34.

But from me, Kristiina Cooper, it's goodbye - for now -

:25:35.:25:39.