03/02/2017 The Week in Parliament


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Hello there and welcome to The Week in Parliament -


as MPs take the first Parliamentary step on the road to Brexit.


So the ayes have it, the ayes have it.


At Prime Minister's Questions, Jeremy Corbyn demands Theresa May


retracts her invitation to Donald Trump to come


Just what more does President Trump have to do,


before the Prime Minister will listen to the 1.8


million people who've already called for his state visit invitation to be


But Theresa May rejects that call, and says Labour has


He can lead a protest - I'M leading a country.


And, in a debate on the damage done by drinking, a former minister talks


about growing up as the son of an alcoholic.


I know what it's like to feel that cold nausea, when you find


the empty bottles hidden around the house.


But first: The result was never in doubt,


but there was still a sense of drama in the Commons when,


after two days of debate, the moment finally came for MPs


to vote on the bill allowing the government to trigger


So the ayes have it, the ayes have it.


That result was the culmination of a process started


when the government's plan to trigger Brexit WITHOUT


Parliament's consent was challenged in the courts.


Judges ruled that MPs and peers should have a vote before ministers


began the formal divorce proceedings.


And so, two days were set aside for debate on a bill


to trigger Article 50 - and in total nearly 200 MPs


had their say over 18 hours of debate in the Commons chamber.


It's not a bill about whether or not the UK should leave the EU,


It is simply about Parliament empowering


a decision already made, a point of no return already passed.


We asked the people of the UK if they wanted to leave


the European Union; they decided they did.


So at the core of this bill lies a very simple


question: Do we trust the people, or not?


I hope the respectful approach that I've tried to adopt to colleagues,


and to the anxiety among the 48%, is reflected across the House,


and that we will see a good deal less of the gloating,


from those who campaigned to leave, than we've seen in the past.


It is our duty to accept and respect the outcome of the referendum -


but we remain a European country, with a shared history.


Above all, it is our duty to ensure an outcome


that is not just for the 52%, or the 48%, but for the 100%.


Apparently, you follow the rabbit down the hole,


and you emerge in a wonderland - where suddenly, countries throughout


the world are queuing up, to give us trading advantages


and access to their markets, that previously we've never been


able to achieve as part of the European Union.


Don't let me be too cynical - I hope that's right.


I do want the best outcome for the United Kingdom


No doubt somewhere there's a Hatter holding a tea party,


You're not just divvying up the Nana Mouskouri records


here or divvying up the Borgen box set - this has an impact on each


Europe is where our future lies - it's one where we tackle inequality,


climate change, refugess get help, areas that don't


get much of a hearing in Whitehall these days...


Pooling our sovereignty and working together is a good thing.


Passing this bill, and turning your back on our amendment,


would turn its back on the progress made, and disrespect


The British people gave the government the mandate to pulll


The British people gave the government the mandate to pull


the United Kingdom out of the European Union.


The British people did NOT give this government the mandate to threaten


to turn our country into some tawdry, low-regulation,


low-tax cowboy economy - and the British people most


certainly did NOT give the mandate to the government


to indulge in this ludicrous, sycophantic farce we've


seen in recent days, in which this government,


having burnt every bridge left with our friends in Europe,


rushes across the Atlantic to sidle next to a US President


who they don't seem to be aware, whose nativism, whose isolationism,


whose protectionism is diametrically opposed to the long-term strategic


A Labour MP was one of those who defied her party's leadership,


and said she'd vote against triggering Article 50.


Some have been victims of racism and hate crimes,


like my friend Susanne who came to Cardiff from Germany,


and has a young daughter, Lilith, who is in primary school,


who have been spat at, and told to go "home".


And had bricks and stones thrown at them


And this is the climate that they and we are living


But other MPs welcomed the bill - and the decision to leave.


Those who wanted to vote to remain tried to scare the devil out


They told them all kinds of horrors were going to beset them...


Within a couple of days, they were going to be eating


bread and having to drink water, and lose our jobs...


I think the people, advocates of free speech and free press and a


powerful democracy, would view their wishes dimly. This is the moment we


begin to take back control of our laws, our borders and our money.


Once again we become a sovereign nation in command of our own


destiny. At the end of that epic debate,


MPs rejected an SNP amendment attempting to block the bill -


and passed it by a majority of 384. 47 Labour rebels, the SNP,


the Lib Dems and the former Conservative Chancellor,


Ken Clarke, all voted against. The bill will now reappear


in the Commons on Monday, Well, the next day, the government


published its 75-page Brexit policy document,


laying out what its objectives are in the forthcoming negotiations


on extracting the UK There were few surprises,


as the principles were contained in the Prime Minister's keynote


speech last month. The Secretary of State said it


confirmed the Prime Minister's vision of an independent,


truly global UK. I have said at this Despatch Box


that there will be any number of To that end, the White Paper makes


clear that we expect to bring forward separate legislation


in areas such as customs Delivering a smooth,


mutually beneficial exit, avoiding a disruptive cliff edge,


will be the key. Whatever the outcome


of our negotiations, we seek a more open,


outward-looking, confident and The White Paper is available


on the Government website, and I've arranged for copies to be


put in the library of both Houses. Mr Speaker, normally I would thank


the Secretary of State for early sight of his statement,


but this statement says nothing. Otherwise, all honourable members


will have to watch on their screens, as the European Parliament


debates our deal, before we get to express any views on it -


that is completely unacceptable, Now, before the big vote


on Wednesday night, Theresa May had faced Jeremy Corbyn for the regular


round of Prime Minister's Questions. The Labour leader pressed


the Prime Minister over her recent visit to the US, and meeting


with President Trump. Theresa May was the first overseas


leader to meet Mr Trump. The pair discussed Nato


and trade, before giving Just hours after Mrs May left


Washington, the President announced a ban on people from seven mainly


Muslim countries Mr Speaker, Downing Street has not


denied that the Prime Minister was told by the White House


that the Executive order on travel So let's be clear: was


the Prime Minister told about the ban during her visit,


and did she try to persuade If he's asking me whether I had


advance notice of a ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he's asking me


if I had advance notice that the Executive order could affect British


citizens, the answer is no. If he's asking if I had advance notice of


the travel restrictions, the answer is, we all did. Because President


Trump said he was going to do this in his election campaign. President


Trump has drawn at international agreements on refugees. He has


threatened to dump international agreements on climate change. He has


praised the use of torture. He has incited hatred against Muslims, he


has directly attacked women's rights. Just what more does the


President have to do before the Prime Minister will listen to the


1.8 million people who have already called for his state visit


invitation to be withdrawn? The right honourable gentleman's


foreign policy is to object to and insult the democratically elected


head of state of our most important ally. Let's just see what he would


have achieved in the last week. Would he have been able to protect


British citizens from the impact of the Executive order? No. Would he


have been able to lay the foundations of a trade deal? Would


he have got a 100% commitment to Nato? No. That's what Labour has to


offer this country. Less protection for British citizens, less


prosperous, less safer. -- less safe. He can lead a protest, I'm


leading a country. Well, staying with the fallout


from Donald Trump's travel ban, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd told


MPs on the Home Affairs Committee it could create a potential "propaganda


opportunity" for so-called Islamic I saw and Ayyash will use every


opportunity they can to make difficulties to create the


environment they want, to radicalise people, to bring them over to their


side. So it is a propaganda opportunity for them potentially. We


will continue to monitor what is said, continue to take down the sort


of literature and postings we see on the Internet, that try to encourage


that sort of extremism semicolon they may use this as an example, and


we will continue to take down the sites where we can.


The next stage in the plan to expand Heathrow Airport is under way.


In the Commons on Thursday, the Transport Secretary launched


a four-month consultation, and set out planning and


A Liberal Democrat was just one of the MPs to raise


Will he explain what he will do if the airport cannot be delivered


within legal obligation limits, proceed anyway, change the air


quality objectives, or pull the plug on the runway? The airport will not


be able to secure its development consent order if it cannot


demonstrate its ability to meet those targets. But some of the


things we are consulting on today, for example smart use of airspace,


one of the things we will be able to achieve through a space reform and


through the technology now available to us, is to avoid to anything like


the degree we experience at the moment, claimed stacking over the


south-east of England, using up more fuel, that is one of the benefits


that comes from smarter use of airspace.


It will help contribute, as will cleaner, newer generation more


fuel-efficient aircraft that we will see, I think,


extensively in this country in the coming years.


The Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and


Wales, Peter Clarke, says many of his reports


He told the Justice Committee that jails that did not


into practice, often failed to improve or even decline.


In 60 seconds, tell me what is wrong with


Basically, they are unsafe, they are full of drugs, we


have an ageing population, physically the environment is


appalling, and there are far too many people in our prisons suffering


In my judgment, those five issues will


create a major obstruction to the reform programme.


Mr Clarke, so who is holding up this reform?


You've identified the problems, you have


talked about what needs to be improved, where is the block in the


system that prevents the changes that need to be made?


Well, in terms of those issues which I have


mentioned, they are issues which we frequently


refer to in our report, and if I have a


frustration, it's that far too often, not always,


And not in all prisons, but in some, the


prisons which do not respond to the recommendations in our reports,


where there is a hugely low uptake of implementation of our


recommendations are those prisons which do not improve or which


actually decline in the way in which they treat prisoners and the


outcomes that prisoners encounter in those prisons.


The government is seen to need to do more to the


release of the British Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,


being held in Iran with her baby daughter.


The charity worker has been accused of security


offences and was detained while trying to leave the country after


Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who is


from London, said his wife's detention was a stain on Iran, and


her family denies she has broken any laws.


Here, we have a young mother, a British Iranian citizen imprisoned


after visiting her family with her daughter.


Her daughter is solely a British citizen.


Surely the time has come for the UK to call for


Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release before she,


her little daughter, and her


husband, here today with his own mother, suffer further.


My lords, the suffering of the family can only


And we should throughout all of this, regardless of some of


the extraordinary claims made on the internet,


we should remember that this is a loving father who simply


wants his family to be reunited, and I fully respect that.


That is why, my lords, we are urgently seeking


information on what further legal avenues are available


to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and undertake, the FCO


support the family, both here in London and in Tehran.


The former UK ambassador to the EU, Mr Ivan


Rogers, make the headlines in December after the BBC reported his


private remarks to the Prime Minister about how long Brexit


Sir Ivan stepped down last month and in his


resignation letter, he told officials to challenge muddled


Now, in his first public appearance since


his resignation, he has told the European Scrutiny Committee that


Brexit negotiations could be difficult.


This is going to be difficult on a humongous scale,


going to have enormous amounts of business running up


they involve difficult trade-offs for Her Majesty's Government, and


difficult trade-offs for the other 27 on the other side of the table.


Sir Bill Cash asked about an assertion


in the letter last October that exit negotiations could take ten years.


You said that it was going to take ten years.


Can you confirm whether in fact you actually said that?


Was it an intention that you thought you


would be able to get across the message without anyone really


I mean, can you give us a bit more information on that?


I can indeed. I never said it would take ten


Is this reporting by the BBC based on off-the-record remarks and


No. It isn't?


No. Where do you think it came from?


We hear threats, and I assume they are


threats, that is how I interpret them, of having to pay billions of


So far as joining a club, you pay every year to be a member, and when


you leave, you don't pay to leave the club.


You say, thank you very much, and you head off.


So, do you think this is a genuine, a real


threat to us to pay billions of euros to a club


Or do you think that is an unreasonable request to make at this


I think it can be both genuine and unreasonable, if I may


I hear it considerably, and it has been


He called it a predictably very hard line coming


from the EU commission and from some member states.


And Dane with Brexiter related committees, the


international trade secretary told MPs that the UK is already having


talks over potential trade deals with countries,


including Australia, China, and India.


Liam Fox told the Commons international trade


committee that the new trading relationships would not be something


But he hoped they would be an addition to a three


trade deal with the remaining member states.


In terms of Australia, we have an Australia UK trade working


In terms of China, we have a trade working group, and I'm


chairing the joint economic and trade committee in Beijing.


With a collection of Gulf states, we are working with them to


determine what relationship would be, and looking at our potential


FTA with India, we've got a joint working group, I chaired


And we have embarked on a process of trade


If you were to add up all those potential countries, the level


of exports that you have been talking about, on the list that you


had there, it doesn't come anywhere near the level of exports that we


Well, I'm sure our former chief Secretary all know that


adding up lots of small numbers gets lots of numbers in the end.


And, of course, it is not an either or.


We're not looking here at either trading with the EU or trading with


Your department issued a press release at the


beginning of the year, the item secures over 16 billion


The Financial Times went through the list that you had here.


In fact, most of those have been already


It is the continuity of what UKTI, now the IT


And it was an antidote to the idea that people are


not going to be investing in the United Kingdom.


I have just been in Qatar, and we will be cheering the


UK Qatar UK investment conference in March.


Do you regret the title of your press release?


It was really your department that's secured


I think the more good news we give to


the public, the better, and it counters some of the black


propaganda that still wants to undermine the referendum.


The government has been told to rethink


its alcohol strategy and bring in a minimum unit price


The call came from across the chamber, as MPs debated ways to


One MP focused on the damage done when pregnant women drank, revealing


his own adopted children were both affected by a condition called fetal


The debate was opened by the chair of the all-party


There are currently over 10 million people


drinking at levels which increased their risk of health harm.


those aged 15 to 49 in England, alcohol is now the leading risk


factor of ill health, early mortality, and disability.


MPs turned to the impact of drinking during pregnancy top fetal alcohol


As an adoptive parent, I discovered just


how common this is amongst children who are adopted, including amongst


I didn't know if he can recall when we were receiving


evidence in our all-party group about the impact of fetal alcohol


syndrome on adopt it and fostered children,


that one survey indicated that of the cohort of adoptive


fostered children who were assessed, up to 70% of them have been affected


A Labour MP and former minister had spoken previously about growing up


I know what it is like to feel that cold nausea when you've find


the empty bottles around the house, I know what it is like to feel sick


when you hear your parent being sick first thing in the morning


He said the children of alcoholics often fell


The shadow health minister said his alcoholic father have moved


to Thailand and not come back to the UK for his wedding,


Friends that he had made over there told me he was drinking


They told me he couldn't come to the wedding because he didn't


So, look, I'm the Shadow Health Secretary, I'm going to do


lots of criticising the Tories because it is my job.


But can I say this, minister, I will work with government to put


in place a proper strategy for supporting the children


of alcoholic on a cross-party basis because, quite simply,


2 million children are suffering, let's send them a message


that they should no longer suffer in silence.


The minister said there were grounds for optimism.


People under 18 are drinking less, attitudes are beginning to change,


and there has been a steady reduction in alcohol-related


There was more to do, she said, but she took courage


Great social change requires three things, I think.


It requires long-term political will, it requires


nonpartisan partnership, and it requires bravery.


And I have heard all three of those today.


And I hope that each member who has spoken here today will continue


to work with me as we fight together to tackle this social injustice.


The health Minister Nicola Blackwood.


But do join Joanna on Monday night at 11pm for another round-up


of the best of the day's events at Westminster, as MPs


begin their detailed debate on the bill triggering the start


But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.


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