BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster presented by Keith Macdougall.
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Hello and Welcome to The Week In Parliament.
The Brexit Bill clears the Commons and heads for the Lords.
Plenty of democratic debate?
Not everyone thinks so.
What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a bill of this
constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this
The Bill goes through unaltered.
But there are concessions.
A Brexit Minister promises that Parliament WILL get a meaningful
vote on the final EU exit deal.
I can confirm that the government will bring forward a motion on the
final agreement to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before
Also, a little local difficulty for John Bercow,
after he suggests President Trump is sexist and racist and shouldn't
be allowed to make an official address in Westminster Hall.
Has the Speaker prompted a campaign to remove him?
Funnily enough I don't think there was ever not a campaign
to get rid of the Speaker.
There's been a whole lot of Tory MPs, most of them in
fact, who would be delighted to see him go.
Message delivered OK, but to a surprise recipient.
Did the text that came the Labour leader's way reveal a secret deal
on social care?
And is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the
social-care crisis created by her government?
Joy for the Government, joy for Brexit supporters.
But problems and high-profile resignations for Labour.
The successful passage of the so-called Brexit Bill
through the Commons produced several moments of turbulence
for the political parties.
Against expectations, the Notification of EU
Withdrawal Bill was approved by MPs without any alterations.
It now goes on to the House of Lords.
The Bill, imposed on Parliament by the ruling of the Supreme Court,
authorises Ministers to start the EU departure process.
But before the Bill left the Commons there were key issues to debate,
issues such as the rights of EU nationals working
and living in the UK.
Labour said, why no guarantees?
They and their families are not pawns in a game
of poker with the EU.
They cannot be used as a human shield as we battle it out
in Europe for our UK citizens in other countries abroad.
I think, again, it would be completely wrong in terms
of negotiating, in terms of our negotiating position,
to declare unilaterally that all EU nationals up to a certain date can
continue to live here without any fear or favour.
Another day, another issue.
On Tuesday MPs demanded that in two years' time Parliament gets
a decisive vote on the final exit agreement from the EU.
The central theme of the case I will seek to make this afternoon
is that a vote in this House must be before the deal is concluded.
That is the dividing line that makes the real difference here.
I can confirm that the Government will bring forward a motion
on the final agreement to be approved by both Houses
of Parliament before it is concluded and we expect and intend that this
will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes
on the final agreement.
I hope that is of assistance.
I am very grateful for that intervention.
That is a huge and very important concession.
If that deal comes to this House and we vote it down
and subsequently the Commission and the European Parliament agree it
and say, "Like it or lump it," what will we do then?
I would have thought that in the circumstance that this House
had voted it down it would be highly unlikely that it would ever be put
to the European Parliament.
I think the point here is, for this to be a meaningful
concession, what the House wants is the opportunity to send
the Government back to our EU partners, to negotiate a deal if one
hasn't been reached.
Going on to WTO rules, I say to the Minister,
will be deeply damaging for our economy and
We could end up with a situation where the agreement is one minute
to midnight at the end of the two year period,
and if the Government doesn't then conclude an agreement to bring it
to the House before it
goes to the European Parliament, we could end up with no deal at all.
You could imagine, two years of travel, journey down that
road and negotiation, we get to the edge of the canyon
and we have a point of decision.
Are we going to have that bridge across the chasm,
which might be the new treaty, it might take us to that new future,
or are we going to potentially decide to jump off into the unknown,
into the abyss?
And Parliament should have the right to decide that point.
So to Wednesday, and at Prime Minister's Questions the SNP asked,
what about the views of the Scottish Parliament?
When the Prime Minister was in Edinburgh on the 15th of July
last year, she pledged that she would, and I quote,
not trigger Article 50 until she had an agreed UK-wide approach.
So given that the Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly
against her approach and all bar one MP representing a Scottish
constituency in this House of Commons has voted
against her approach, she does not have an agreed UK-wide approach.
Now, Mr Speaker...
Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister knows, a lot of people in Scotland
watch Prime Minister's Questions, so will she tell those viewers
in Scotland whether she intends to keep her word to Scotland or not?
The Supreme Court was very clear that the Scottish Parliament does
not have a veto on the triggering of Article 50.
The bill that is going through the House obviously is giving
the power to the Government to trigger Article 50.
And I would also remind him of this point, because he constantly refers
to the interests of Scotland inside the European Union.
An independent Scotland would not be in the European Union.
With all amendments voted down, the Brexit Bill reached the end
of the road in the Commons.
But before the final vote, expressions of anger.
The Government's refusal to accept a single amendment means
there will be no report stage.
The programme motion means there's no debate on third reading.
I'm informed by the library that the last time that combination
happened was the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914,
which was about the First World War.
For this to happen in any bill would be an abuse.
To happen on this bill is an outrage.
What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a bill
of this constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this
What I can say is that the House agreed to a programme motion
and that is what's been adhered to.
Point of order.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this House has nobly represented
the will of the British people in a referendum.
That is why it's passed as it has.
And so to the vote.
The question is that the bill now be read.
As many as are of the opinion, say "aye".
To the contrary, "no".
Clear the lobbies.
In fact, the verdict was never in doubt.
With most Labour MPs supporting the Bill,
there was a huge majority for the Government.
The ayes to the right, 494.
The noes to the left, 122.
52 Labour MPs had defied their whip and voted against the Bill.
That meant some resignations, most notably Clive Lewis
from his job as Shadow Business Secretary.
And a final footnote.
The pro-European SNP MPs struck up a musical
note in the chamber, by way of protest, singing
Beethoven's Ode To Joy, the European anthem.
Until they were stopped.
I don't want a sing-off within the chamber.
It's a very good of you, much appreciated, but if you'll just
leave it for a little while, it's been a very tense week already,
I just don't need any extra.
Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, bringing the Commons
to order in his own way.
It was quite a week for the Commons Speaker himself.
A motion of no-confidence was put down on Speaker John Bercow,
after he dramatically announced that he wouldn't want the US
President, Donald Trump, to address Westminster Hall on his anticipated
forthcoming state visit.
The no-confidence motion, tabled by a Tory backbencher,
is not likely to be debated.
But it does add to the pressures on Mr Bercow.
Critics say by speaking out he's undermined the traditional
neutrality of the Speaker's role.
Gary Connor now reports.
Ever since it was announced that US President Donald Trump would come
to the UK on a state visit this year, there's been a row brewing.
Some state visits, such as those by Nelson Mandela,
Pope Benedict and Barack Obama, have seen the leaders make a speech
in Westminster Hall.
But more than 200 MPs have signed an early day motion, a method
for MPs to register their support for a course, against President
Trump visiting Westminster.
And on Monday the Speaker spoke out.
I wondered, Mr Speaker, whether you could tell us
what approaches have been made to you and what conversations
or discussions have taken place with the relevant authorities,
the key-holders for such an approach to go ahead,
and whether or not there are ways in which those of us who have deep
concerns about President Trump's comments could make that known
to the responsible authorities?
Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been
strongly opposed to an address by President Trump
in Westminster Hall.
After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump,
I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump
in Westminster Hall.
As far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly
that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support
for equality before the law and an independent judiciary
are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.
But an address to Parliament isn't just
at the discretion of Mr Bercow.
His House of Lords equivalent also has a say.
And Lord Fowler said that he wasn't consulted.
Yesterday Mr Bercow made it clear that he was opposed
to the President speaking.
I can say that I wasn't consulted on that decision.
Although John Bercow received rapturous applause
from the opposition benches, some on the government side,
not always great fans of the Speaker, weren't so happy.
So was the Speaker wrong to express a view shared by many MPs
and members of the public?
There's nothing wrong with that if you're the Prime Minister,
possibly even if you're the monarchy, you know,
that is what the leaders of the country are there to do.
He's not the leader of the country, though, his job is to be a very
independent arbiter of proceedings in the House of Commons.
And the Speaker was taken to task by certain sections of the press.
So he's been a very good Speaker certainly for backbenchers,
for journalists too, regularly, almost every
day, certainly once or twice a week he will call a minister
to the House of Lords
to answer an urgent question,
which is great because that is almost always topical.
When he does put his head above the parapet and goes a bit too
far, as I think most people think he might have done this week,
absolutely he's a target and newspapers are there
to try and pull him down a peg or two.
It's what we're quite good at.
So what impact might John Bercow's stand have on his future as speaker?
I think John Bercow's future is going to be incredibly
interesting and this will play out this year.
He said he was going to stand down in 2018.
He said he would serve nine years and that was that.
There was a lot of chat in the tearooms amongst MPs on both
sides in the last week after the Trump furore that actually
he might have done this simply to put his cards down
Maybe he's actually thinking, actually I'm rather enjoying this
job, I don't want to go next year.
I might just stay on a few more years and I'll be able to do that
if I have the support of Labour MPs, and what better to get that support
than giving Donald Trump a kicking?
The people of Surrey were due to take part
in a referendum in recent days, not on EU membership
but on whether they were happy to see a large, 15% rise
in their council tax to pay for the increasing costs of caring
for elderly and vulnerable people.
But the vote was called off. So what happened?
At Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
believed he knew why the vote and the 15% rise were abandoned.
Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether or not a special
deal was done for Surrey?
We recognise the short-term pressures.
That is why we have enabled local authorities to put more
money into social care.
We have provided more money.
Over the next two years, ?900 million will be
available for social care.
Mr Speaker, my question was whether there had been a special
deal done for Surrey.
The leader said they had many conversations with the government.
We know they have because I have been sent copies of texts sent
by the Tory leader David Hodge intended for somebody called Nick
who works for ministers and the Department for Communities
and Local Government.
And these texts read, "I'm advised that DCLG officials have
"been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to
"agree a memorandum of understanding."
Will the government...
Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding?
What the Labour Party fails to understand is this is not just
a question of looking at money, it is a question of spreading best
practice, and finding a sustainable solution.
And I have to say to him that if we look at social care provision
across the entire country, the last thing social care
providers need is another one of Labour's bouncing cheques.
Mr Speaker, I wonder if it is anything to do with the fact
that the Chancellor and Health Secretary represents
Mr Speaker, there was a second text from Surrey County
Council leader to Nick.
In the second text, it says, "The numbers you indicated
"are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me
"to accept and call off the R."
I've been reading a bit of John Le Carre, and apparently,
"R" means referendum.
It is very subtle, all of this.
And he goes on to say, in his text to Nick,
"If it is possible for that info to be said to myself,
"I can then revert back soonest, really want to kill this off."
So, how much did that government offers sorry to kill this off?
And is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing
the social care crisis created by her government?
Yet again, what we get from Labour are alternative facts.
What they really need is an alternative leader.
What he always fails to recognise, what he fails to recognise is that
you can only spend money on social care and on the National Health
Service if you have a strong economy to deliver the wealth you need.
Theresa May, displaying her leadership style in the Commons.
Well, the leadership approach of Britain's recent prime ministers
is the subject of a new series produced by BBC Parliament.
The political journalist
Steve Richards will be examining the careers of six former
British prime ministers.
His unscripted talks were recorded at Westminster.
Here, he considers David Cameron's decision to call the EU Referendum.
I still think there was a case for doing it.
I certainly understand why he did it.
Leaders sometimes are trapped, and when you have MPs defecting
to Ukip, and Ukip winning, as they did the European
elections, topping that poll, you panic, as Prime Minister.
And Cameron, he had already offered it by the time Ukip had one
the European elections, so he had no choice
if he wanted to keep his party together but to hold it.
But one of the lessons of leadership is this,
referendums are dangerous.
They lure leaders towards them, thinking this is the way
that they will be able to survive in politics and the referendum
is their saviour.
And when the leader actually announces one,
it tends to clobber them.
And finish them off.
And the first of the series, Leadership Reflections is on
BBC Parliament at eight o'clock on Sunday evening.
Now, a look at some of the other stories around Parliament
in the last seven days.
Labour has described as shameful the Government's decision to wind
down a scheme allowing vulnerable refugee children into Britain.
The Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the programme risked acting
as an incentive for children to make perilous sea crossings to Europe.
The Labour peer whose name is associated with the scheme
voiced his disappointment.
I must confess, I'm slightly puzzled because if the government says a
specified number of children, then after that total had been reached,
the scheme had been closed.
I believe in arbitrarily closing down the scheme,
without any good reason for doing so,
the government is in breach of its own commitment.
At this point in time the scheme is not closed.
What I think...
Well, more children will come, the scheme is not closed.
What I think we have to appreciate, and I've think the lords
generally have appreciated, is that the capacity of local
authorities is limited.
The noble lords might rubbish that but the
passage to have local authorities is limited.
Are the banks ripping us off?
Which? magazine finds that customers who run up unauthorised overdrafts
face charges sometimes seven times higher than the cost of borrowing
from a payday lender.
It is a disgrace that the banks are charging more than payday
lenders for short term lending and getting away with it.
So, the government should take action.
The major banks currently make up ?1 billion per
year on charges on unauthorised overdrafts,
the majority of whom, says the head of the competitions
and markets authority, from financially vulnerable customers.
We've taken steps to encourage competition, we have taken steps to
support credit unions,
we have taken steps to improve financial education.
And it is through this comprehensive approach that this
government will continue to take steps to make sure British customers
have quality choices.
An important tradition?
Or do they give Parliament the wrong image?
The wigs worn by the clerks who sit in the chamber of the Commons
are to be phased out later this month.
The Speaker finds himself in more controversy.
And it will, in my view, which I recognise may
not be universally shared, convey to the public a marginally less
stuffy and forbidding image of this chamber at work.
And I had declared informally that I thought it was sensible to
continue the cause this, Mr Speaker, is the High Court of Parliament.
And I do think that the clerks, dressed as they are, add
to the dignity of the House.
But the idea that this was something that I dreamt up
and sought to impose against the will of the clerks
is 100% wrong.
Will building new homes, both for owning and renting,
provide the answer to England's "broken" housing market?
The Government announces ways to get more houses built,
including making it harder to object to new developments.
And we'll tackle unnecessary delays, caused by
everything from planning conditions to great crested newts.
They are young people right now in every one
of our constituencies staring into the windows of estate agents,
their faces glued to them, dreaming of renting or buying a decent home
but knowing that it is out of reach because prices have risen so high.
It is tragically clear, Mr Speaker, from the statement, that seven years
of failure on housing is set now to stretch to ten.
We were promised a white paper, we are presented with a white flag.
They're definitely increasing but are they also
becoming more aggressive?
The seagull problem and how to solve it occupies MPs' thoughts
in Westminster Hall.
They make a nest on the flat roofs of houses, they squabble
with each other, they squawk incessantly at all hours of the day
and night, creating an nasty racket, they bombard and soil windows.
We read stories about a diving seagull killing pet dog.
Things have become so bad, so widely publicised that our
former minister, David Cameron, said that he wanted a big conversation
about murderous seagulls.
And those juicy courgettes that we all miss so much.
How long will the courgette crisis go on for, after wintery weather
in Europe left the shelves short of veg?
A minister in the Lords reassures us things are not so bad.
It is certainly no crisis.
The only shortage will be of iceberg lettuce
which will be for about a few months.
And there is a wonderful variety called cos which is even better.
Isn't it time that the government's forthcoming green paper
on food and farming seeks to tackle this decline in home-grown veg?
Very much so.
In fact, I was pleased only this morning to hear that
cauliflowers from Cornwall are coming onto the market.
So, we have a great opportunity again, to buy
some British vegetables.
And finally, it's official.
As we long suspected, the Prime Minister is a keen
viewer of BBC Parliament.
At PMQs, Theresa May told MPs how often she tunes in
during the course of an evening.
It all stemmed from a question put to her by an SNP MP
about long-winded speeches.
Does she agree with me that the rules of the House should be changed
to prevent filibustering and to ensure that the members from all
sides of the House have their fair share of the time available?
I have to say, I find that rather curious
question from the honourable gentleman.
Last night, as it happens, I was out of the House
between the two votes.
I switched on the BBC parliamentary channel, and I
saw the honourable gentleman speaking.
I turned over to something else.
I switched back.
I switched back to the parliamentary channel.
I saw the honourable gentleman still speaking.
I switched over to something else.
I switched back and the honourable gentleman was still speaking.
He is the last person to complain about filibustering in this House.
Theresa May, clearly a big channel hopper.
But what was she switching over to?
That's it for this programme.
MPs and peers are now leaving Westminster
for their half-term break.
When they return, the House of Lords begins its debates
on that Brexit bill.
So, do join us in a fortnight's time for the next Week In Parliament.
Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.