14/03/2017 Tuesday in Parliament


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14/03/2017

Highlights of Tuesday in Parliament presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello there and welcome to Tuesday in Parliament.

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The Prime Minister calls the passing of the Brexit

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We will be a strong, self-governing, global Britain with control once

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again over our borders and laws. Labour says britain needs

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an inclusive government. decisions are made that we will pay

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the price for decades to come. Also

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on this programme... A Scotland minister tells

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Nicola Sturgeon to take a second independence referendum

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"off the table". A leading economist backs

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Philip Hammond's decision to raise national insurance

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for the self employed. And an MP calls for English

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sparkling wine to be served What could be a more appropriate

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setting to promote English wine than the famed Ambassador's reception?

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Theresa May came to the Commons to make a statement following last

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week's European Council meeting and told Mps the UK faces

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a "defining moment" as it leaves the European Union.

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Updating MPs on the Brussels meeting, Mrs May said European

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leaders had discussed security in the western Balkans

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and migration, and she announced the UK would be hosting a Somalia

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Theresa May then turned to the UK's future relationship with the EU.

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She was in the Chamber for the first time since legislation

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allowing her to trigger the Brexit process cleared Parliament

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Last night, the Bill on Article 50 successfully completed its passage

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It will now proceed to royal assent in the coming days so we remain

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on track with a timetable I set out six months ago and I will return

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to this House before the end of this month to notify when I have formally

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triggered Article 50 and begun the process

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through which the United Kingdom will leave the EU.

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This will be a defining moment for our whole country as we begin

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to forge a new relationship with Europe and a new role

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We will be a strong, self-governing global Britain,

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with control once again over our borders and our laws.

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The new relationship with the EU that we negotiate will work

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That is why we have been working closely

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..including the Scottish Government, listening to their proposals

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and recognising the many areas of common ground that we have come

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to such as protecting workers' rights and our security

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So, Mr Speaker, this is not a moment to play politics or create

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There is no doubt that if the wrong decisions are made,

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we will pay the price for decades to come.

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So now more than ever Britain needs an inclusive government that listens

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However, all the signs are that we have a complacent

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government, complacent with our economy, complacent

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with people's rights and complacent about the future of this country.

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When the Foreign Secretary says no deal with the EU

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would be perfectly OK, it simply isn't good enough.

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Far from taking back control, leaving into World Trade

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Organisation rules would mean losing control, jobs and,

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So when the Prime Minister says a bad deal is better than no

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deal, let me be clear - no deal is a bad deal.

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It was also Theresa May's first Commons appearance

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since Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to push

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for a second independence referendum in Scotland.

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The SNP's Westminster leader turned to what the Prime Minster

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Last July we were told by the Prime Minister herself,

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saying these very words, that she would not trigger

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Article 50 until she had, and I quote her own words,

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Now she knows that she has no agreement with the devolved

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administration despite months of compromise suggestions

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So will the UK Government, even at this very late

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days to secure a compromised UK wide approach or does she still plan

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to plough on regardless even though she knows what the consequences

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He talks about a single market, he talks about the importance

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of access to the single market of the EU.

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I would simply remind him and his colleagues once again

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that the most important single market for Scotland is the single

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The Prime Minister has said that no deal is better than a bad deal,

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and whilst we all wish her well in getting the best possible deal

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for the UK, will she now publish what the effects would be

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of crashing out of the EU on WTO rules so that we can have a debate

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in the country about her assertion that no deal is better

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I say to the right honourable lady, I'm grateful for the comment she has

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made, being in support of the Government in looking ahead

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and trying to negotiate the best possible deal for the United Kingdom

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and that is precisely what we will be doing.

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As my right honourable friend launches into the negotiations,

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I wonder if she has had time to consider the excellent House

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of Lords report that says we have no legal obligation to pay any money

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And does she share my view that this is an excellent basis

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I can assure my honourable friend that I have noted the House of Lords

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on the 23rd of June last year, I think they were very clear

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they did not want to continue year after year to be paying huge sums

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On the committee corridor, the Mayor of London called

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on the Prime Minister to strike an early "interim deal"

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on transitional trade arrangements with Brussels.

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Labour's Sadiq Khan warned that banks "can't wait" for the full

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two-year negotiation to be concluded and would start making plans to move

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operations out of the UK as soon as Theresa May triggers

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Facing the Exiting the EU Committee, Mr Khan said without assurances

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on a trade deal London could face a catastrophe.

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The Prime Minister talked about no deal being better than a bad deal.

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Of course there are circumstances where that is the case.

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If, for example, a bad deal with us paying a massive cheque

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and all the rest of it, without the right benefits to us.

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That's a bad deal, no deal may be better.

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But in most circumstances, no deal means WTO terms,

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which means tariffs for goods, nontariff barriers in relation

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to regulation legal frameworks for services, and bearing in mind

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we have a service surplus and when you speak to the service

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sector in particular, no deal equates to WTO terms,

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a catastrophe as far as they're concerned.

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What is your perception of the impact of the referendum

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result on what financial services companies are doing now?

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The bad news is already in the public domain are some

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of the decisions taken by financial institutions.

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Whether it is UBS talking about 1000 of their 5000

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Whether it is JP Morgan, they employ 16,000 staff in the UK.

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They have talked about moving 4000 out of the country.

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HSBC, of course, massive employer in the country.

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Their biggest presence is in the UK and Hong Kong.

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They have said publicly that they worry about 20%

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of revenue being affected and could move to Paris.

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You have already made very clear that, in your view,

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transitional arrangements in the absence of a deal

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being signed up in 18 months, are essential for London.

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I don't see a downside to having an interim deal there.

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It could well be we reach a deal within two years,

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which is fantastic, but an interim deal gives the certainty and clarity

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You say that if we don't conclude a deal and revert back to WTO

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that this will be a disaster and our economy will suffer.

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Surely your job as the Mayor of London actually is to talk up

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London and tell people that London is going to be an even greater city

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once we leave the European Union, not that it is at risk and it's

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going to suffer all these dire consequences.

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I appreciate the advice how to be a great Mayor but actually one

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of my jobs is to articulate what businesses tell me.

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It is my job and I can be naively optimistic

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I am optimistic with reason because our underlying strengths

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are not going to change but it will be, I think, unwise

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for me not to articulate to you what is being told to me

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about businesses by business leaders, from finance,

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creative and culture, public services, to construction.

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The transitional arrangement, as you envisage, is to make

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There is no circumstance in which they will want to punish

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us but wants to make that punishment painless.

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That is a point of view you've got but my point of view is different.

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I am quite clear in relation to what businesses are telling me,

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as demonstrated by the CBI in the evidence they have given

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which is that an interim deal would provide certainty,

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not least that financial services need in relation

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Over in the Lords, a minister was called to the Chamber to deal

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with the other big development of the week.

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Nicola Sturgeon's announcement on Monday that she wants another

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independence referendum for Scotland, to be

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held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring

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Lord Dunlop told peers why the Westminster government

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The UK Government remains of the view that there should not be

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a further referendum on independence and, even at this late hour,

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we call on the Scottish Government to take it off the table.

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Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty

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If a referendum is allowed, it is essential that it is held

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after the Brexit negotiations are completed, not in the midst

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of complex negotiations, with no ability whatsoever

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to understand the implications of the detailed agreements

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Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that she wanted

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I have to say, my Lords, I can think of nothing more

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calculated to undermine the achievement of a good deal

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than holding a divisive and disruptive independence

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referendum during the last six months of one of the most important

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peacetime negotiations this country has ever faced.

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We certainly call on tough negotiations, tougher than the last

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time, over the timing and the question, because it is

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quite clear that Mr Alex Salmond ran rings round the Prime Minister

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of the day at that time, and if they want any

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advice on negotiations, I'm available.

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It is not what people in Scotland want, not now nor after Brexit.

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The SNP should stand by the Edinburgh agreement and stick

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to their word that this was once in a generation, not

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a never-endum to be repeated and repeated and repeated.

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In the past half-hour, I have received an e-mail

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from a leading player in the Scottish commercial property

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market to say that overnight ?50 million worth of deals have been

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withdrawn as a consequence of the possibility of

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Would the noble Lord, the minister, agree with me that when the Scottish

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economy is already weakened, while we are seriously

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troubled about our education and our health sectors,

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that the First Minister's action is one of unpardonable folly?

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Well, yes, I would very much agree with the noble lady.

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I meet many Scottish businesses and I have yet to find one

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who thinks it is a good idea to engender this uncertainty

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by calling for another independence referendum.

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You're watching Tuesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.

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Last week's surprise announcement in the Budget of a rise

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in National Insurance paid by self-employed workers has been

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supported in Parliament by Paul Johnson, of the Institute

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The day after the Budget, Theresa May said decisions

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on changing NI would be made in the Autumn.

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At the Treasury Committee, Paul Johnson was asked about the gap

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between the NI amounts paid by employed people and

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Historically there has been a justification

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which is that the self-employed have been entitled to significantly

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smaller state benefits than employees.

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That gap is almost completely closed now, particularly

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with the introduction of a single tier pension, so the only difference

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is in terms of maternity benefits and contributing

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That might imply a difference in national insurance rates of up

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to one percentage point, certainly no more than that.

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Other differences are first of all very different according

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to the type of self-employment people are in.

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Let's talk about the genuinely self-employed.

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The self-employed self-employed, not people who might easily have

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Let's just concentrate at that end of the sector.

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Then you need to think about what exactly it is you want

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Is it that you want to compensate or subsidise for,

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as you were saying, risk people are taking?

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And you need to ask is the best way of doing...?

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First of all, why do we want to subsidise risk?

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We don't subsidise all risk and we don't think all

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Secondly, if you do want to do it, why do it through the tax system

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in a blanket way which subsidises or helps an awful lot of people

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Do you want to find some better way of achieving that.

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Mr Johnson was challenged on his use of the word "subsidy".

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On the whole, when one is talking about one group paying less

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than another doing very similar things, one can think

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Well, I think only if you assume that it is

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If you think there is a case of horizontal equity.

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And the Government isn't giving a subsidy by not taking your money.

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I think linguistically that is very important because it slightly shows

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To put it another way, you are charging other people more

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tax in order to reduce the tax on another group.

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You are charging people more tax not necessarily in order

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to do anything else, you are just charging

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But I think language is important because it gives an indication

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You always seem to be in favour of higher taxes, which worries me.

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What we are saying here is there is a case of horizontal

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equity between people and if you want to have a lower rate

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of tax across the board, that is absolutely reasonable.

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I think there is a case, but it is much harder to make a case

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for treating this group very differently from this

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group when they are doing very similar things,

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and that creates complexity at cost to the economy and to those

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who are not benefiting from the reduced tax.

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You didn't make a case for reduced tax for the others,

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you made a case for higher tax per self-employed.

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We are making a case for bringing the two together.

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The House of Lords is too big, leading peers have admitted

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The problem is no-one can agree on the best way to reduce it.

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Lady Smith, the Labour leader in the Lords,

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gave evidence along with the Lib Dem leader, Lord Newby,

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and the convenor of the crossbench or independent peers,

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Given how difficult it has been to attempt radical reform

:17:08.:17:11.

of parliament's second chamber, they were asked what smaller

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reforms they would make if it were up to them.

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Labour's Paul Flynn began with a reference to the recent

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BBC Two documentary Meet The Lords.

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My admiration for your house as a body for scrutinising

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legislation far superior to what happens here.

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But the position of the Lords, which is nothing to do with you, is

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one that is indefensible in so many ways, in

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that it is possible to buy a place in the Lords if you

:17:47.:17:51.

contribute enough to any of the three main parties.

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The fact it overrepresents London and underrepresents Scotland,

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All the problems that arise, all the illogical

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Could you list some practical ways to

:18:03.:18:07.

reforming the excesses in the near future?

:18:08.:18:14.

I think there are a number of things that can be achieved quite easily.

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Ending the hereditary by-elections, which are complete and

:18:18.:18:19.

utter nonsense and an embarrassment to the house would be

:18:20.:18:22.

a first, that could be done tomorrow.

:18:23.:18:23.

There is a private members bill which the

:18:24.:18:27.

The Government takes the view there should be consensus.

:18:28.:18:30.

To get complete consensus on anything is very difficult.

:18:31.:18:34.

There is a broad consensus that the House of Lords

:18:35.:18:41.

should be reduced in number, but there is no consensus

:18:42.:18:44.

Not least because each of the parties are differentially

:18:45.:18:47.

affected by virtually any reform that you might care to make.

:18:48.:18:54.

The convenor of the crossbench peers wanted to see the brakes put

:18:55.:18:57.

I would like an absolute cap but that depends

:18:58.:19:04.

Prime Minister, frankly, whose prerogative is affected by the

:19:05.:19:07.

appointments process said that she operates.

:19:08.:19:09.

Interesting statistic to bear in mind, we had a vote

:19:10.:19:11.

last week on the Brexit Bill, the largest

:19:12.:19:16.

vote since the 19th century, and

:19:17.:19:18.

Now, you test that against the nominal number of our membership,

:19:19.:19:23.

which is over 800, and you can see that

:19:24.:19:25.

actually, in practice, even

:19:26.:19:26.

with all the efforts to get people in,

:19:27.:19:28.

we don't get anything like the

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800 people coming in and so there is a question as to the actual

:19:31.:19:34.

working number, as opposed to the nominal number that is

:19:35.:19:36.

I would go for a cap, frankly, at around 600.

:19:37.:19:43.

And should there be a set retirement age?

:19:44.:19:50.

There are members in their 80s making a

:19:51.:19:52.

phenomenally great contribution, Alf Dubs, for example, on my side.

:19:53.:19:54.

Then you've got others in their 30s who you

:19:55.:19:56.

never see, so I think the committee will have to look at things like

:19:57.:20:00.

attendance, activity, whilst not the same time

:20:01.:20:01.

ignoring those people who

:20:02.:20:03.

bring expertise when they do come in, but there should

:20:04.:20:06.

Some of those things have been partially dealt with.

:20:07.:20:12.

If you don't attend in a session now,

:20:13.:20:14.

you're automatically retired and that's the end of your

:20:15.:20:16.

Lady Smith was referring there to a committee set up

:20:17.:20:22.

by Lord Fowler to aim to reduce the size of the House of Lords.

:20:23.:20:25.

The SNP's Ronnie Cowan had another idea.

:20:26.:20:30.

I've got a solution to this, which I'm sure you're not

:20:31.:20:33.

Have a second chamber, which is elected by all the

:20:34.:20:41.

people the United Kingdom and therefore will represent all the

:20:42.:20:44.

regions of the United Kingdom, and that seems to solve a lot

:20:45.:20:47.

Lord Newby agreed, although Lady Smith warned

:20:48.:20:49.

an elected second chamber might be a challenge to the primacy

:20:50.:20:52.

It's a dilemma presented to many a dog walker.

:20:53.:20:57.

Everyone knows that owners are supposed to clean up

:20:58.:21:03.

after their furry friend makes a doggy deposit, but increasingly it

:21:04.:21:06.

seems many then don't know what to do with the plastic poop bag.

:21:07.:21:09.

A Conservative MP set out the problem.

:21:10.:21:14.

There is no doubt that dog fouling is an anti-social, environmentally

:21:15.:21:17.

It blights parks, forests and farmland apart from

:21:18.:21:22.

being left on fields and verges and, to compound the problem,

:21:23.:21:25.

we've now seen the rise of the phenomenon of

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Fellow walkers, cyclists and families out

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with small children are met with lumps of dog faeces

:21:33.:21:34.

wrapped in pink, blue, black, even

:21:35.:21:37.

apricot coloured plastic, dangling from trees,

:21:38.:21:40.

bushes or decoratively tied to people's fences.

:21:41.:21:44.

Deers ingest the bags, children may handle

:21:45.:21:47.

the packages, cyclists have

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even ridden head on into them as they dangle from overhanging

:21:50.:21:52.

She called for better signage so owners knew where bins were.

:21:53.:22:01.

But there was an alternative in very rural areas.

:22:02.:22:10.

If the walker is further on in their walk

:22:11.:22:12.

out in a no-bin area, an area of natural habitats,

:22:13.:22:14.

that walk should show dog walkers that, in that area, they ought to

:22:15.:22:19.

This is an approach on the Forestry Commissions website.

:22:20.:22:23.

Having been on the Jeremy Vine show trying to flick a pseudo-poo

:22:24.:22:25.

eclair and didn't flick at all well, I can say it is actually quite

:22:26.:22:35.

an effective, in reality, way of doing things but actually

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stick and flick will cover the poo with leaves and vegetation,

:22:38.:22:40.

so we need clear, easy to recognise graphics for these

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The minister, Marcus Jones, said irresponsible dog owners

:22:43.:22:49.

spoiled the environment and that local councils were looking

:22:50.:22:51.

at improved signage and other "innovative solutions".

:22:52.:22:55.

The new MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central has made his maiden

:22:56.:22:59.

Gareth Snell was speaking on the last day of the Budget debate.

:23:00.:23:04.

He held the seat for Labour after Tristram Hunt stood down

:23:05.:23:07.

from the Commons to become the director of London's Victoria

:23:08.:23:09.

Gareth Snell turned to the potteries' most famous export.

:23:10.:23:20.

We were the beating heart of a ceramic

:23:21.:23:26.

empire that stretched to the

:23:27.:23:27.

Today, proud members of the turnover club

:23:28.:23:30.

can be seen inspecting their tableware for that

:23:31.:23:32.

hoping to find neatly inscribed on the back of their plate the five

:23:33.:23:46.

greatest words in the English language,

:23:47.:23:47.

It is a ceremony, Mr Speaker, which may own

:23:48.:23:51.

daughter Hannah has taken up with vigour.

:23:52.:23:52.

In doing so enthusiastically, she wished to

:23:53.:23:54.

discover the origins of the dinner plate that she has on occasion

:23:55.:23:57.

forgotten to finish its contents before turning it over

:23:58.:23:59.

there and depositing her lunch on her lap.

:24:00.:24:08.

The new MP for Stoke on Trent, Gareth Snell.

:24:09.:24:10.

Finally, feeling the need for a bit of sparkle in your life?

:24:11.:24:13.

How about a nice, cool glass of fizz?

:24:14.:24:15.

Not champagne, or prosecco, but English sparkling wine.

:24:16.:24:16.

According to a Conservative MP, the industry is on the up,

:24:17.:24:19.

with sales topping ?100 million in 2015.

:24:20.:24:21.

And Nusrat Ghani wanted to give the trade a bit more of a boost.

:24:22.:24:24.

She brought in a bill to have English wines served

:24:25.:24:27.

In a post-Brexit world, we must do all we can to get behind

:24:28.:24:34.

industries that show the sort of potential of our wine

:24:35.:24:37.

industry and what better way to do that than to give the world a taste

:24:38.:24:41.

by serving UK produced wine and sparkling wine

:24:42.:24:46.

in our 268 embassies, high commissions and consulates around

:24:47.:24:48.

What could be a more appropriate setting to promote

:24:49.:24:52.

English wine than the famed Ambassador's reception?

:24:53.:25:02.

However, the lack of consistency in embassy policies

:25:03.:25:04.

for hosting and serving British product mean we are missing

:25:05.:25:07.

opportunities to show it off in new markets that should be

:25:08.:25:09.

fertile territory for export, such as China,

:25:10.:25:11.

Japan, Singapore and even India where wine consumption among the

:25:12.:25:13.

professional classes is growing exponentially.

:25:14.:25:17.

So she argued the UK should make the most of the chance to promote

:25:18.:25:20.

Ms Ghani won the right to take her bill forward,

:25:21.:25:26.

though unless the Government backs it it may well fall flat.

:25:27.:25:32.

And that's it from us for now, but do join me at the same time

:25:33.:25:36.

tomorrow for another round-up of the day at Westminster,

:25:37.:25:38.

including the highlights from Prime Minister's Questions.

:25:39.:25:42.