Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Monday 13 November, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to our look back
at the day here in Westminster.
Coming up, the Brexit
secretary makes a
surprise concession to pro-EU MPs,
the Foreign Secretary admits he was
wrong over controversial remarks
about the British woman jailed in
Iran, And the Ministry of Justice
gets a dressing down over its
electronic tagging system.
Whoever put this down
as a procurement
strategy I don't think had any idea
what they were trying to achieve.
But first, Tuesday will be
a big day for Brexit,
MPs are to start their long-awaited
scrutiny of the
European Union withdrawal bill.
But as something of
a curtain raiser the
government has offered
a concession to MPs,
calling for Parliament
have a greater say
on the final Brexit agreement.
In a significant shift
the Brexit secretary told the
Commons he intends
on bringing forward
a new lot to implement
final deal, giving MPs the chance
to go through it in detail.
Labour described the
move as a climb-down
by ministers facing potential defeat
on the EU withdrawal bill.
David Davis warns
that if MPs voted the
new bill down the UK
with leave without a deal.
Mr Davis unveiled a plan
while reporting back on last
week's talks with Brussels.
I can now confirm that once we have
reached an agreement we will bring
forward a specific piece of primary
legislation to implement that
agreement known as the withdrawal
agreement and implementation bill.
This confirms the major policy set
out in the withdrawal agreement,
will be done correctly implemented
in the UK by primary legislation.
Not by secondary legislation
of the withdrawal bill.
This also means that
Parliament will be given time
to debate, scrutinise
and vote on the final
agreement we strike
This agreement will only hold
of Parliament approves it.
Can the Secretary
of State confirm to
this house that this house will get
a vote in the event that there is no
Mr Speaker these questions have been
pressing for months, this
last-minute attempt to climb-down
brings them into very sharp focus.
And we are entitled
to clear answers.
Will it simply be a question
of take it or leave it?
The deal or no deal.
Will the house be given
an opportunity to amend that
bill as the house must
have the opportunity to amend any
bill and therefore will the house
opportunity to amend
to amend the agreement?
I don't think it is in the gift
of the government to put a
piece of primary legislation before
the house which is incapable of
It is the nature of primary
legislation that it is
always capable of amendment.
Of course we will have the practical
limitations of having a deal with
signed and there will be
applications to that, and the whole
thing will be put in
front of the house.
I welcome the Secretary of State's
announcement that there will
be primary legislation to implement
EU withdrawal agreement and I would
say it is other recognition
of the government having to listen.
If the House of Commons
votes down the new
withdrawal bill, will the
consequence be that we will still
leave on the 29th of March 2019
but without an agreement?
What was that?
The Secretary of State said yes.
Can he confirm that in the event
of no agreement, no deal, this
place will have no say
and we will leave on that date
because it is on the face
of the bill without any say
from this supposedly sovereign
Parliament which voted to take back
What I can say to her is that
if we don't have a withdrawal
agreement we can have
a withdrawal agreement Bill.
Hasn't he does giving
the game away on what a sham
offer this is?
Totally worthless to Parliament,
essentially tried to buy
people by saying we're
going to give you an act
to shake things when
fact is a post-hoc after
the horse has bolted
piece of legislation,
might have left the EU,
the Treaty and the deal would have
been done and Parliament could do
all to shape the nature of that
He has to do much better than this.
Parliament must have a say
on that withdrawal
agreement before we are thrown
over the cliff edge.
Let the repeated and the probable
sequence of events.
If Mr Barnier hit
his target and I had
mine we will include the withdrawal
agreement and associated agreements
in the latter part of next year.
He is aiming for October next year,
that is his stated aim.
If we do that then
the withdrawal, the first
withdrawal and treaty vote will come
to the house, the simple in
principle vote and then as soon
as possible thereafter
the withdrawal agreement Bill
will come through the
That is the sequence and that
will be plenty of time and it will
be implemented at the time.
If the agreement only
happens on the very
last day in March,
could he explain how
the bill which is intended
ensure the meaningful vote only
comes forward after that date,
in any sense meaningful?
A meaningful vote is a vote that
allows you to say you want the deal
or you don't want the deal.
While Parliamentary involvement
is essential, this is not and never
should be construed as
an opportunity to reverse Brexit, to
return the UK to the EU
or go behind the wishes
of the British people
expressed in last
year 's referendum.
My honourable friend is entirely
right, it is a meaningful
vote but not meaningful
in the sense that some
is that you can reverse Article 50.
That is not available.
Now the case of British Iranian
national being held in prison in
Iran continues to make headlines.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being
held on charges of plotting to
overthrow the Iranian regime.
You may remember that the Foreign
Secretary issued a clarification
after appearing to suggest
she was in the country training
journalists Rather than merely
on holiday as her
family have stated.
The remarks prompted
fears that her five-year
term could be extended.
Boris John was called
to the Commons to update
MPs on the situation
and there was anger on both
sides of the house.
The whole house will join me
in expressing our deep concern about
the ordeal of this young mother
who has spent the last 19
months in jail in Iran
and have the honourable
member will join the government
in urging the Iranian authorities to
release on humanitarian grounds.
I spoke by phone to her husband,
Richard Ratcliffe, yesterday, and we
agreed to meet later this week.
I told Mr Ratcliffe that the whole
country is behind him and we all
want to see his wife home safe.
The Foreign Secretary
argued last week
that his comments to the select
committee and I quote no connection
whatsoever with the latest threat
by the Iranian authorities to extend
Nazanin's sentence and that it was
simply untrue to suggest otherwise.
That, Mr Speaker, is entirely
contradicted by what has been said
by the Iranian courts last weekend
and an Iranian judiciary websites
and an Iranian state TV.
All of them set explicitly
that the Foreign
Secretary's remarks were the basis
of the renewed action against
Nazanin so in conclusion after one
week of obtuse Cajun and plaster,
though he finally take the
opportunity today to states simply
and unequivocally for the removal
of any doubt, either here or in
Teheran, that he
simply got it wrong?
Mr Speaker I am more than happy
to see again what I said to
the Right Honourable Lady last week,
that yes of course I apologise for
the distress, for the suffering,
but that has been caused by the
impression that I gave
that the government believed,
that I believe that she was there
capacity she was there on holiday
and that is the view of...
I do apologise, I do
apologise and of
course I retract any suggestion
that she was there in a professional
You must have heard that from me
about a dozen times.
Regrettably more than a faint whiff
of opportunism hangs over this
Others will question
the wisdom of having this
discussion at all.
Would my right honourable
friend not agree with me
that it is incumbent on each
and every one of us in this house
to pay very close attention
to what we may
may not be about to say
because the Iranians
will be watching
deliberations and we do not want
to exacerbate an already extremely
At the weekend when asked
about the case the
said he did not know
why Nazanin had been
Why and another Cabinet member not
briefed properly and said live
on television that he did not
know why she was there?
What is going on in the heart
of this government?
Every time he says things
like my words were open
to misinterpretation for,
he provides a lack of clarity
and sounds like he's wriggling
in a way other people can exploit.
So could see for
the sake of the -- of
Miss Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, say
unequivocally for the record I got
I hope that the house will
understand, with crystal clarity,
that Mrs Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
was there on holiday and she was not
there in any professional capacity,
insofar as people got a different
impression of what I
was seeing at the FAC
that was my mistake,
should have been, they should
have been clearer.
In the Foreign Secretary
tell me if you've
considered in the quality
and competitiveness of the Foreign
Office briefings and that they are
promptly made available to other
government ministers in advance
of media appearances?
If not, will he sorted out?
If so does he accept that
that is most useful ministers
to continue to get it wrong?
Does my right honourable
friend accept that
this has not been his finest hour?
But before the opposition
make too much of that
may I offer them
right deadlines such as that
in the independent online where it
says Boris to should resign
mother stays in Iranian jail
for even one more day.
The Iranian regime plays
politics with hostages
and thus my right honourable friend
agree that if they believe that they
can get rid of the British Foreign
Secretary by jailing a hostage for a
longer then they will jail
that hostage for longer?
Could he reflect on this
and the rest of his conduct
as Foreign Secretary
and realise that his
brand of incompetence
joke that is no longer funny
and consider being replaced by a
competent politician who will
attract the respect of the world and
not the ridicule that he attracts?
You're watching Monday In Parliament
with me, Mandy Baker.
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is available as a download
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Now, some 40 months have passed
since voters north of the border
decided that Scotland should stay
in the United Kingdom.
The winning margin for No
to independence was 55% to 45%.
So that was that then.
Well, not quite.
Over the last three years,
a second referendum,
sometimes called Indy Ref 2,
has been much discussed.
Now a petition on the Parliamentary
website is demanding that
a second vote is held.
While a rival petition
is demanding that a second
referendum is not held.
The two pertitions made
for an interesting debate
in Westminster Hall.
When people go to the polls
and make their deocratic
choice to stay part
of the United Kingdom,
that should be respected.
Respected for a number of reasons,
one, it's democratic, but secondly,
we were promised by the proponents
of an independent Scotland it
would be once in a generation,
or indeed once in a lifetime.
When proponents say that,
when you go to the polls
and you put your cross in the box,
whether it's yes or no, you should
be able to trust what people say
when your are doing that.
I appreciate that Scotland
being dragged out of the EU
against its will hasn't yet caught
the fire the general populace
as a reason to hold a major
referendum just now.
However, surveys have shown that
people would like a referendum
when the impact and the effects
of Brexit are fully understood.
So there is actually
a will to have another referendum,
just not right now,
but sometime in the future.
The majority of people in East
Lothian recognise that devolution
was created to empower
Scotland within the Union,
not pull it further apart.
During the recent election,
I ran on the promise of no second
and I know some members
of this House do not agree.
But the evidence from East Lothian
is that they did not want,
that they do not want,
a second independence referendum.
70% of the voters who cast
their votes voted for a party
or parties that did not want
a second independence referendum.
It will be no surprise that
I often wear a Yes badge,
it's something I'm proud
of my involvement in.
But the reasons are more important
than just being in or out of Europe,
although that's a very important
issue at the moment.
My motivation is a hope that
Scotland can become a fairer
and more equal society.
But that, to me, requires us
to have the full levers of power
to make it a successful country.
Just now, with 70% of tax
and 85% of welfare powers
remaining controlled by Westminster,
the Scottish Parliament has no say
over immigration and is powerless
to prevent Trident weapons of mass
destruction sitting a few miles
from our largest city.
We need an alternative
to the economics of austerity,
where our Scottish Government is not
merely restricted to mitigating some
of the worst aspects of Westminster.
Since September 2014,
there've been over 17 polls
taken across Scotland,
and they have consistently said
the Scottish people do not want
independence and they don't
want to have another referendum.
After all these elections that
you have suffered so much from,
what's it's going to take
for the Scottish National Party
to listen to the people of Scotland,
who they supposedly represent?
I feel that reflecting on the binary
nature of that referendum
was what truly destructed the civic
discourse in Scotland.
Having the yes or no position
offered a simplistic answer
to a very complex question.
That was what was so
unsatisfactory about it.
I was one of those people
at the very early stages of that
referendum that favoured a third
option, and that would have actually
opened up the debate in Scotland
during that referendum for a more
nuanced discussion about
the process of devolution,
which, we recall, Donald Dewar
called a process, not an event.
Indeed, we've heard all the figures.
There is now no reason,
no will and a lot of
people would argue no need
for a second referendum.
Since the Smith Commission,
and the latest tranche of powers,
which remarkably seems to slip
the minds of the SNP
at any given opportunity, when they
tell us about the rosy picture
they've created in Scotland
and ignoring the lack of GPs,
the shortage of teachers,
the closing of GP practices.
Christine Jardine there.
The Government's flagship wellfare
policy, Universal Credit,
dominated Work and Pensions
questions at the beginning
of the Commons day.
Universal Credit combines six
into a single payment.
The Government says it's been
designed to make the system simpler.
There have been criticisms
from Labour and the SNP over
length of time claimments
wait for money and the system
of advance payments.
While many Conservative MPs have
supported the rollout.
We hear a lot on the other side
about Universal Credit,
but we do need to remember this
is a much more effective system
at getting people into work
and that, nationally,
113 people move into work under
Universal Credit for every
100 under the previous system.
And in my constituency,
which was a pathfinder
for Universal Credit,
we are seeing very substantial falls
in people claiming it.
Isn't this a better
My honourable friend
is absolutely right.
Universal Credit is helping
people get into work,
to progress in work,
and it is also clear that people
on Universal Credit are spending
more time looking for work
than on the legacy benefits.
And I think it's really important
we all work to ensure that
Universal Credit is a success.
We believe it will result
in 250,000 more jobs in this country
as a consequence of its operation,
and that is something
that is worth achieving.
I wonder if the Secretary of State
has seen the report from
the Child Poverty Action
Group on the IPPR?
They say that cuts to
Universal Credit will leave an extra
1 million children in poverty.
Is a million more children
in proverty not evidence enough
for the UK Government to reverse
the cuts to work allowances
and make work pay?
My point was that the Scottish
Government are delivering
Universal Credit in a different way,
but in a way
that I think is worse
than the situation
in England and Wales.
I have to say, the point
about Universal Credit is that it
will help people in the work.
I'll give one brief example,
if I may, Mr Speaker.
I heard of an account last week
of someone, a single mother,
on income support, not currently
or previously able to claim
for her childcare costs.
Now under Universal Credit,
she is able to do so.
She is taking up a job working eight
or nine hours a week,
which she was previously
unable to do.
A first step on the ladder,
that is an example of
what Universal Credit is delivering.
I won't ask the Government bench
for a fifth time whether I should
believe his statement
that the roll-out of
Universal Credit in Birkenhead
will go hunky-dory, or the foodbank
that says it will need ten times
more food to prevent a scenario
of people going hungry.
They can't abide the word starving.
We have a debate on Thursday,
which is signed by members
across the House of Commons.
It will be the first time
when members opposite can actually
vote whether they want to reform
Will he be opening that debate
and hearing it and taking
a message directly back
to Cabinet, please?
Well, the position we have made very
clear for a long time
is that we want to ensure that
Universal Credit works.
This is a test and learn system,
and we are always looking for ways
in which we can improve the system,
particularly for that first period.
The top civil servant
at the Ministry of Justice has
admitted to MPs his department
was too ambitious when it attempted
to introduce a new form
of electronic tagging for criminals.
The ankle tagging scheme makes use
of GPS satellite technology.
It was meant to be a cheaper
alternative to prison.
But a National Audit Office report
found that, by March,
it cost the Government £60 million
and still hasn't been implemented.
Monday's session of the Public
Accounts Committee investigated
the report's findings.
The failure to pilot
is something we all now regret.
I think it was done
because the Department wanted to see
results quickly and had faith
in the contract being able
to deliver more quickly
than we realise now that they
could have delivered.
And there was an overoptimistic
belief that tagging could be
used as an alternative
to other disposals.
And without an insight into either
behaviour of sentences
or behaviour of offenders
under a tagging regime.
There was some basic research done,
I understand, by the Home Office,
but it was very limited.
What I am accepting is that,
by the time we came to renew
the contracts that we had that
were running out in 2013,
we were effectively looking at this
as a reprocurement, with wanting,
through that reprocurement,
to provide options for the future.
What we got wrong was not
recognising that this was a major
and that should have been based
on a much more solid policy base
than we had,
and we should have had
better research to be able
to launch it in that way.
Having been an IT procurement badger
myself, I do have insights here.
The procurement was
You had untested providers.
You had no clear accountability for
who was responsible for the service.
And you didn't have an integrator,
so whoever put this town
as a recruitment strategy,
I don't think had any idea
what they were trying to achieve.
It was completely,
This is a mistake we made thinking,
as part of the reprocurement,
we could somehow get suppliers
to invent on the hoof tags that
could do everything.
That was an overly ambitious
reading of what the market
was capable of delivering.
Earlier this year, new penalties
were introduced for people
caught driving while using
a hand-held mobile phone.
A fine of £200 as well as six
penalty points could be imposed
for first-time offenders.
More than 15,000 drivers have been
fined under the new rules.
In the Lords, peers asked
about the impact of the regulations.
Young people aged between the ages
of 17 and 29 are more likely to use
hand-held mobile phones
and other hand-held devices.
Can my noble friend the Minister say
what the Government is doing to take
action against this,
and also in relation to further
education for that particular group?
My noble friend is right
to highlight the importance
of addressing young drivers.
Around 20% of new drivers
will have a crash within the first
six months of passing their test.
So any novice drivers caught
using a mobile phone
within the first two years
will have their licence revoked.
We've announced changes
to the practical driving test,
which will come
into force in December.
I've mentioned the Think campaign,
which is targeting young drivers,
we have also produced a provisional
licence mailing insert
which is estimated to reach nearly
1.7 million new drivers annually.
What representations, if any have
Transport Ministers been making
to the Treasury that
road traffic offences,
including vehicle theft
and using hand-held mobile phones
while driving cannot,
even in increasing
numbers of occasions,
even be pursued by the police,
let alone see perpetrators brought
to justice, due to the continuing
squeeze on police budgets
and continuing reductions
to the number of police officers?
Can I take it the Department
for Transport, despite the recent
publicly expressed concerns of HM
Inspectorate of Constabulary, has
remained utterly silent on the issue
of inadequate police resources?
My Lords, we are very sensitive
to the pressures which police face
and we recognise the importance
of wider police spending in the
2015 Police Spending Review,
which did protect overall
police spending in real terms.
It is of course up to Police
and Crime Commissioners and chief
constables for each force to decide
how they deploy resources.
Can the Minister tell us what she's
going to do about cyclists
who use their phones,
often at high speed,
and are becoming a danger
on our roads?
My Lords, I agree that everyone
who uses highways does have
responsibility to behave safely.
There are a number of offences that
can cover cycling behaviour.
Fixed penalty notices,
or officers can report the
road user for prosecution.
The Government announced last
month its cycle safety review that
will involve a consultation on these
were issues, and is working
with stakeholders for their input
and will publish results this year.
Members of the Lords come
from all walks of life.
Lord Bradshaw worked for
Thames Valley Police association,
specialising in road safety.
He was concerned about drivers
stopping to take calls.
Throughout the area,
the regulations about parking
are universally ignored,
and some very dangerous parking
is taking place in a town centres.
Does this not indicate a lack
of respect for the law?
I wonder what the Government
is doing about that?
I'm afraid am not aware of
the incident the noble Lord raises.
Obviously, we're working with police
forces across the country to ensure
enforcement is taking place.
Because laws are only as good
as their enforcement.
That's it, but do join us
at the same time tomorrow
for another round-up
of the day at Westminster.
For now, from me,
Mandy Baker, goodbye.