BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to the programme.
The Government launches its Repeal Bill converting
EU law into UK legislation.
We'll be looking at the Parliamentary battles to come.
As the Prime Minister announces an inquiry into the abuse faced
by candidates at the general election, one MP worries
where the harassment will end.
I think there is a serious risk that actually something
much worse will happen.
Also on this programme:
We talk to Nicky Morgan, the new chair of the powerful
Commons Treasury committee.
I'll be reporting on the clash of the deputies at Prime
And MPs mark the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles
of the First World War.
The men couldn't even get into the shell holes
because they were full of water.
So they are absolute sitting ducks.
But first, it started life as the Great Repeal Bill -
and while the word "great" may have been dropped make no mistake that
the European Union Withdrawal Bill, to give it its proper title,
is going to be one of the big battle grounds of this Parliament.
It repeals the European Communities Act of 1972 and it transfers EU
law into British law.
This mega bit of legislation took just three seconds
to make its debut in Parliament.
The European Union Withdrawal Bill.
The Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, stressed
the bill's importance.
As the Brexit Secretary has said, this is one of the most significant
pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament.
And it is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal.
It means we will be able to exit the European Union
with maximum certainty, continuity and control.
But opposition parties didn't see it quite like that.
The Great Repeal Bill is out today.
A bill to unite the country and an invitation to climb aboard
the battered jalopy as it trundles over the cliff edge.
MPs will hold their first big debate on that bill in the Autumn.
And it's not going to be straightforward.
The Government faces opposition on all sides at Westminster,
including from some of its own MPs - meanwhile the First Ministers
of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones
of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones,
are threatening to make life very difficult.
Well, to discuss all this I'm joined by our political
correspondent Chris Mason.
Welcome to the programme.
On the face of it, this all sounds very technical.
You're turning EU law into UK law.
So why is it so controversial?
The fact that it's so technical is what makes it controversial
because the Government is very aware that it's got a tight timetable
for doing what it's doing.
One element of this cut and paste job, of laws coming from Brussels
back to the UK, involves the Government examining
the detail of those laws and where they need to tweak,
for instance if a particular sector is being governed by a European
regulator and will in future be governed by a UK regulator,
there has to be that change in legislation to make sure
there is no black holes and the law.
But in doing that via secondary legislation, what I call
These are ministerial powers.
Yeah, ministerial powers that then critics on the opposition
benches are saying, well, hang on a minute,
that's the problem.
These are ministerial powers, the so-called Henry VIII law,
which means that in their view they can't be scrutinised
And that's where complexity becomes controversy.
So that's Westminster.
But as we've been hearing, the first ministers of Scotland
and Wales are already not happy.
How much power have they got?
They can't stop Brexit.
They can stop it.
They can't stop it.
They can't veto it but they can certainly blow a raspberry
in the direction of Westminster, and we've seen that this week
in what Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales,
and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, have
been doing, because where they do have some power is, again it's
complex, they have power via what are known as legislative
consent motions to be able to say, we want a say on this because some
of the powers which are coming back from Brussels to the UK
are ones that have been handed over to the devolved administrations
and they say, get a move on, we want that power in Edinburgh and Cardiff,
not just in Westminster.
So you can be certain, and we've seen it already,
that they will seek to be involved as much as they can.
It doesn't amount to a veto but it could amount to a headache
for the Prime Minister.
Plenty for Theresa May to think about over the summer.
Thank you for joining us.
Now, Westminster is a rough and tumble place, with its fair
share of brutal battles.
But when MPs gathered in Westminster Hall on Wednesday
afternoon, they laid out the scale of the abuse they, their staff
and supporters regularly receive from the public.
The Government has announced an inquiry into the intimidation
of candidates during June's General election.
The Conservative leading the debate gave some examples of the problem.
In a three-month period, MPs received 188,000 abusive tweets.
That's in a three-month period.
That's one in 20 tweets received by colleagues.
He cited the experience of the former Conservative
MP Charlotte Leslie.
Charlotte Leslie, whose parents became victims of this
Their entire oil heating supply was drained into the garden
by somebody who had an objection to Charlotte's particular
position on fracking, which was a slightly ironic way
of dealing with an environmental consideration.
Nonetheless, it caused enormous distress, as did
the scratching of "Tory scum" in her elderly parents' car.
30 years ago when I first became an MP, if you wanted to attack MP,
you had to write a letter, usually in green ink,
you had to put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and you had
to walk to the post box.
Now they press a button and you read vile abuse which 30 years ago people
would have been frightened to even write down.
I've been an MP for just over two years and I can't remember a single
day that has gone by without having received some sort of abuse,
whether that be death threats or a picture of me being mocked up
as a used sanitary towel and lots of other things.
This last election was the most brutal I can certainly imagine.
We are not talking here about a bit of political banter,
we are not talking about the rough and tumble of political debate
or even satirising or caricaturing another person's point of view,
we are talking about vile abuse, dehumanising people,
offering and inciting sometimes violence against people.
This is the sort of activity that should not be deemed acceptable
in any democratic society.
My concern is it stops women especially entering politics
and I can very briefly give an example of a candidate
who unfortunately wasn't elected, who stood in Ealing,
and because members of Parliament have to declare their addresses
when they stand for Parliament, she says she started becoming
nervous when she noticed activity during the election campaign
by the opponents when they started, standing outside my door
at my home spitting in my face and following me.
Well, after that debate I caught up with Simon Hart and asked if he'd
been surprised by what he'd heard.
I've definitely been surprised from what I've heard from members
of all parties and certainly the increased amount of abuse
people have been suffering from between the years 2015-17.
To me, it's about the abuse which is being received
by members of the public, by volunteers, by donors,
people who are associating with us.
We have a degree of protection and we are sort of semi-used to it.
But it's actually all the other people around election time
who are getting an equal amount of hassle and I'm as interested
in the impact on them as the impact on colleagues here.
Theresa May has announced that there is now going to be
an investigation into all of this.
But where does it start and what do you particularly want it to look at?
To my mind, it's got to quantify the extent of the problem.
Take evidence from colleagues, volunteers, the public, election.
-- election officers.
Get a real feel for the extent of this problem, talk
to the social media platforms.
Then it's got to identify where we have existing law to deal
with that kind of thing.
Do enough people know about it?
Are the police enforcing it?
Do people have access to the legal system of the sort
that they should have?
And then identify gaps in the law.
For example, some election legislation is 150 years old.
It's not equipped to deal with social media campaigns.
Do we need to update the law and if so how?
And then there's the question of shining a light
on the social media platforms.
I hope the enquiry will fully investigate their
role in this and how
they could be better regulated and how they can play their part
in resolving this problem.
Obviously, this kind of abuse and harassment is nasty,
unpleasant, it's off-putting.
But do you fear that it's actually going to spill over into violence?
Well, I think there's a real line which we have to draw
between legitimate cut and thrust and the sort of rumbustious nature
of campaign politics, which we should all be thick-skinned
enough to deal with.
The other side of that line is abuse, intimidation,
threat, real or otherwise, and just general use
of campaigning to spread complete untruths about candidates.
That's a very different matter and has that spilled
over into violence?
Yes, I think it has.
It's certainly spilled over into criminal damage.
Plenty of examples of that in this election and in
local elections, too.
Yeah, by my estimation, if the next election is two or three
years away and the rate of decline is the same as it was between 15
and 17, then, yeah, I think there is a serious risk that
actually something much worse will happen.
You know, we are having this conversation 30 months
after Jo Cox was murdered.
-- 13 months.
And all the work that has been done in that 13 months by her family
and supporters to try and cleanse politics of this particular disease
could be wasted unless we take the opportunity now to do
something about it.
It was the turn of the understudies to step into the limelight for this
week's session of Prime Minister's Questions.
Watching for us was Henry Mance, political correspondent
of the Financial Times.
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are sometimes criticised for not
putting on a very good show at Prime Minister's Questions.
So could their stand-ins provide any more theatre?
This week, the Prime Minister was meeting the King and Queen
of Spain on their state visit to the UK, so the first Secretary of
State Damian Green took her place.
Meanwhile for Labour, Emily Thornberry,
the Shadow Foreign Secretary, filled in for Mr Corbyn.
It was Ms Thornberry who arrived with enough swagger
for the both of them.
By my reckoning, in the 20 years since he first joined this house,
he is the 16th member of the party opposite to be represented
at Prime Minister's Questions.
So how about I give him to the end of this session to be able
to name all the others?
I'm grateful to the right honourable lady for her kind remarks.
I might take up her offer to try and name all 16
in the tearoom later.
Rather than delay the house now.
There are many, many distinguished people of both sexes who have
done it in this party, because we of course elect women
Mr Corbyn sometimes avoids the topic of Brexit at PMQs.
Not Ms Thornberry.
She wanted to know what would happen if Britain didn't reach
a deal with the EU.
This isn't some sinister nightmare dreamt up by Remainers,
it was the Prime Minister who first floated the idea of no deal,
the Foreign Secretary who said it would be perfectly OK,
the Brexit Secretary who said that we'd be prepared to walk away,
but since the election, the Chancellor has said that
that would be a very, very bad outcome and a former
minister has told Sky News that no deal is dead.
So will the First Secretary clear this up?
Are ministers just making it up as they go along?
Or is it still the Government's clear policy that no
deal is an option?
I recommend the right honourable lady read the Prime Minister's
Lancaster House speech.
That is the basis on which we are negotiating.
We are also certain that it is conceivable
that we would be offered a kind of punishment deal that
would be worse than no deal.
The only problem with swaggering is that sometimes you trip up.
I know that the honourable member is new to this
but the way that it works is that he asks...
That I ask the questions and he answers them.
Mr Green saw his chance.
I've counted, had nine different plans on Europe,
they want to be both in and out of the single market,
in and out of the customs union, they said they wanted to remain,
they voted for Article 50, they split their party on that,
and she made one point about whether she would prefer to be
out of this despatch box rather than at that despatch box.
I would also remind her of the other event that happened recently
where the Conservative Party got more votes and more seats
than the Labour Party and won the election.
Mr Green was actually promoted to his current role
after the election but Toby Perkins, the Labour MP for Chesterfield
noticed that Mrs May have suffered something of a demotion,
at least online.
For the first time since she has become Prime Minister,
her image has now been removed from the front page
of the Conservative Party website.
Can the First Secretary tell us why she has gone from being the next
Iron Lady to the Lady Vanishes?
Recently as June last year, the honourable gentleman said
that the leader of the Labour Party is not destined to become
Prime Minister and he called on him to resign.
I suggest he might want to make peace with his own front
bench before he starts being rude about ours.
Even when the party leaders are away, they clearly
cast a very long shadow.
The Conservative Andrew Rosindell had a suggestion for the subject
of small talk for Mrs May in her conversations
with King Felipe of Spain.
Would he asked the Prime Minister to remind the king of Spain that
Gibraltar is British and their sovereignty
will remain paramount.
I'm happy to assure my honourable friend the government's position
on Gibraltar and the primacy of the wishes of its inhabitants
which are overwhelmingly to stay British will be respected
by the government.
By this stage many MPs had left their seats.
Ms Thornberry and Mr Green had put on some decent theatre but as anyone
in the West End knows, it is hard to replace
the headline acts.
Now, let's take a look at some other news from around
Westminster in brief.
Theresa May reported back on the latest G20
meeting in Hamburg.
There'd been plenty for the leaders of the world's top
economies to talk about - terrorism, internet security,
trade, and climate change.
Mrs May delivered an upbeat assessment
of the meeting and of Brexit.
At this summit, I held a number of meetings
with other world leaders, all of whom made clear their strong
desire to forge ambitious new bilateral trading relationships
with the UK after Brexit.
Talk of the UK/US trade deal was dealt a blow by the Prime
Minister's Justice Secretary who just hours after the summit
ended said, it wouldn't be enough on its own.
This government is the architect of the failed austerity policies.
And it now threatens to use Brexit to turn Britain into a low wage,
deregulated tax haven on the shores of Europe.
Staying with Brexit The Foreign Secretary told MPs
the European Union can "go whistle" for any "extortionate"
A Conservative had totted up what the UK had paid so far.
We will have given the EU and its predecessors in today's
money in real terms a total of ?209 billion.
Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the EU that
if they want a penny piece more that they can go whistle.
I'm sure that my honourable friend's words will have broken
like a thunderclap over Brussels and they will pay attention
to what he has said and he makes a very valid point.
I think that the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand
from this country seem to me to be extortionate and I think that go
whistle is an entirely appropriate expression.
A suggestion laughed off by the Brexit Secretary
when he appeared in front of a Lords committee.
You'll have to get the Foreign Secretary here to explain his views,
I'm not going to comment on other ministers.
But you will seek to levels of knowledge when you go
to our continental partners.
You will see a level of knowledge in Brussels in which frankly,
I think they take a lot, they read a lot of British
newspapers, you are quite right, and they take them,
if anything, too seriously.
It was a humorous exchange between Jean-Claude Juncker
and myself when I saw him.
But more importantly in the context of 27,
actually very little of what happens here percolates across.
Theresa May has ordered a UK wide inquiry into the use of contaminated
blood products in the NHS starting in the 1970s.
2,400 people have died, many of them were haemophiliacs
who contracted hepatitis C and AIDS-related illnesses.
The Labour MP who's campaigned for an inquiry said
the victims needed answers.
They deserve to be told what went wrong, why it went wrong,
and who is responsible for what happened.
The story needs to be set out and told to the wider public.
Their voices need to be heard.
Apologies, compensations, and other forms of support
are essential but if their right to answers are not also satisfied,
I feel that they will be denied true and meaningful justice.
The government's given its response to a report it commissioned
on modern working practices.
The author, Matthew Taylor, recommended sick and holiday pay
for workers in the so-called gig economy and a new employment status
of "dependent contractor".
Theresa May said flexible working should not be an excuse
to exploit employees.
But she also called flexibility "the British way".
Labour thought it was a missed opportunity.
In the words of the General Secretary of Unite,
the biggest union in the UK, instead of the serious programme
the country urgently needs to ensure that
pays in this country, we got a depressing
sense that insecurityis the inevitable new norm.
The wage increases we have seen in the last year have been
at their highest amongst the lowest paid, thanks to the
national living wage.
Today's response to the Taylor Review from the government tells us
everything we need to know about their frailty and their
approach to workers' rights.
A weak set of proposals that will probably not be implemented,
a set of talking points that leaves the balance of power
with employers and big business.
The King of Spain came to Westminster as part
of his state visit to the UK.
As we heard earlier, Theresa May missed Prime Minister's Questions
to take part in the day's events.
She and Jeremy Corbyn were part of the audience when the King
addressed both Houses of Parliament in the Lords Royal Gallery.
MPs held a debate to remember the half a million men
who lost their lives here at Passchendaele 100 years ago.
The battle in 1917 is generally regarded as the bloodiest conflict
of the First World War, with these Belgian fields seeing
weeks of heavy military bombardment and fierce fighting,
much of it in atrocious weather.
By October 1917, British and Commonwealth forces had advanced
just a few kilometres with the loss of more than 300,000 men.
Casualties on the German side numbered 200,000.
The men couldn't even get into the shell holes
because they were full of water.
So they are absolute sitting ducks, covered in filth, trying to go
forward, absolutely exhausted.
A new Parliament means a new set of elections to chair
the Commons select committees.
These groups shine a light on the work of departments,
launch inquiries into policies or - as with the last Parliament's
investigation into BHS - take a look at wider controversies.
This time round, with a minority government and Brexit looming,
elections for these key posts were hotly contested.
One of the most hard-fought was for the top spot
on the influential Treasury Committee after Andrew Tyrie stood
down as an MP at the election.
The winner was the former Treasury Minister and one time
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan.
I asked her why she wanted the job.
Having been a Treasury Minister, having served in the Cabinet,
I thought it was a great opportunity to take that role on from that
tireless Andrew Tyrie, and also it is fantastic to be
the first ever female chair of the committee.
I was going to ask you about that.
There was a lot of talk about how it would be a good thing to have
another woman chairing a heavyweight committee because we have
had relatively few.
How important was that to you?
Well, I'm the former Minister for Women so I am very conscious
of how important it is to have women out there taking on
roles in public life.
I don't think it affects the way that I would do the job,
and nor do I think that anybody should have voted
for me because of that.
But I am very pleased to add another female voice to the ranks
of the select committee chairmen.
Now, you mention you were elected by other MPs, it is no secret that
in the past you have had your disagreements
with Theresa May.
Did you think that some MPs would have thought that perhaps
you might had stuck it to the government a bit more
than some of your Conservative colleagues who were standing
for the post?
I have spoken out about things that I care about, things that
I feel strongly about, and I think that is what members
of Parliament are collected to do, and as the select committee
chairperson, you are accountable to Parliament, you work
on a cross-party basis, which I think I have shown I can
do on a whole variety of different issues.
I suspect like any electorate, there is going to be at different
number of reasons why people supported me.
It is the big ticket item of this Parliament.
Obviously a big issue for your committee.
Where are you going to start with that and what do
you see your committee's role being?
Things like the impact of Brexit on our economy,
on the decisions taken around not being members, or continuing
membership of the single market, for example, the customs union,
what the voices of businesses, and the financial
institutions are saying.
All of those are relevant areas for the select committee to be
asking the Treasury, ministers, and others
about the decisions they have taken in that context.
And aside from Brexit, are there other issues that
you have a particular passion for that you want your
committee to look at?
Well, I'm keen to broaden the work of the committee to reflect
the whole remit of the Treasury.
Having been a minister, I know that Treasury policy
impacts obviously tax, public spending, infrastructure
investments, skills funding, childcare funding, there is a whole
range of things.
I think probably the difficulty will be trying to cut
down what we do before we are completely swamped.
You are elected to this job, it is seen as one of the Commons
more powerful committees but we all know that
ultimately the government can take your reports,
pop them on a shelf, and carry on and ignore them.
How are you going to stop that happening?
Well, obviously, in terms of the issues, we want to work
with the government, and actually you are pointing
things out to ministers, and I know from my time
as a minister that actually it is helpful sometimes
when a committee points out that something hasn't happened
or they make a recommendation.
But if it is not helpful...
If it's not helpful, then I think, often what you will find is that
coverage of reports under pressure from outside, the pressure
from Parliament, and of course from what we have seen in this
Parliament, because of the election result, that I think the government
and ministers will have to listen to what Parliament is debating
and what Parliament is saying much more, and that is why I think
the select committees assume an ever greater importance,
and that is a good thing.
Should ministers be quaking in their boots at your arrival?
Not quaking in their boots but I hope they will know that
I will ask tough questions and I will want to get to the bottom
of decisions they are making, but I also understand from the other
point of view, having been a minister, what it is like,
the pressures that are there, so I hope people will find me to be
impartial, independent, fair-minded, but forensic.
We shall see.
Nicky Morgan, thank you very much for coming on the programme.
Nicky Morgan, the newly installed chair of the Treasury Committee.
And that's it from us for now, do join Kristiina Cooper on Monday
night at 11 for a full roundup of the day here at Westminster.
But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.