08/09/2017 The Week in Parliament


08/09/2017

BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to the Week In Parliament.

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MPs return to Westminster after their summer break and begin

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debating a bill transferring EU laws into UK legislation.

:00:25.:00:29.

The Brexit Secretary says it's vital for an orderly Brexit,

:00:30.:00:33.

but Labour accuses the government of a power grab.

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Let me be clear, this bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit

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and... The combined effect of the provisions of this bill would reduce

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MPs to the position of spectators as power pours into the hands of the

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vicarage. -- of the executive. Jeremy Corbyn calls for an end

:00:58.:01:11.

to the pay cap for nurses - the Prime Minister reckons

:01:12.:01:14.

he's being profligate... As a result of the decisions taken

:01:15.:01:23.

by Labour, we have to spend more on debt interest than on NHS pay.

:01:24.:01:25.

And a Labour peer tries again to end hereditary

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We had a by-election last year where there was an electorate of three and

:01:28.:01:35.

there were seven candidates. It was no surprise that the first

:01:36.:01:36.

week back after the summer break Talks on the terms of the UK leaving

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the EU had continued over the summer, with both sides

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expressing frustration over In the Commons, David Davis provoked

:01:44.:01:45.

laughter in the chamber on Monday when he told MPs that no-one had

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ever said the negotiations While on Wednesday,

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at Prime Minister's Questions, a Conservative MP tackled

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Theresa May over the powers contained in the EU Withdrawal bill,

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which MPs were due to begin debating The Bill repeals the European

:02:00.:02:03.

Communities Act of 1972 and also transfers EU laws

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into UK legislation. Whilst some rules and regulations

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will simply transfer across, many will have to be changed

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so that they remain However, many MPs are concerned

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that the Withdrawal Bill gives ministers the ability to make

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sweeping use of powers, known as Henry VII powers,

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to change legislation without full Could my right honourable friend

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assure me that she will look in particular at those amendments which

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seek to change the EU withdrawal bill so it does not become an

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unprecedented and unnecessary government power grab? Minister. I'm

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grateful for my right honourable friend for raising this is you and I

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know that like me, she wants an orderly exit from the European Union

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and will be supporting this bill which enables us not just to leave

:03:13.:03:16.

the EU but you do so in an orderly manner with a functioning statute

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book. We will require certain powers to make corrections to the statute

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book after the bill becomes law, because negotiations are ongoing. We

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will do them via secondary legislation which will receive

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parliamentary scrutiny. An approach that has been endorsed by the House

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of Lords Constitution committee. Well, the next day that committee

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released an updated report which was rather less helpful

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to the government, and we'll be hearing from two of its members

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later in the programme. When the first day of debate began

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on Thursday, the Brexit Secretary sought to reassure MPs

:03:51.:03:55.

about its aims. Put simply, this bill is an

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essential step. Whilst it does not take us out of the European Union,

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it does ensure that on the day we leave, businesses know where they

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stand. Workers' rights are held and consumers remain protected. This

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bill is essential to ensure that when really, we do so in an orderly

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manner. This bill does only what is this is

:04:25.:04:28.

very for a smooth exit and to provide stability. That we are

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leaving is settled. How we are leaving is not. This bill encourages

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us to surrender all power and influence to the government and

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ministers. That would betray everything we were sent here to do.

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We have got to make sure that on the day of exit, the statute book works.

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The only way we can achieve it in the timescale with which we are

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constrained and which are set out in Article 50, is to have a flexible,

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pragmatic system such as the system laid out in the draft Bill. If you

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look at the amendments put forward, the very powerful reasons that MPs

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from different parties have come up with for rejecting this bill, that

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shows there is something seriously and fundamentally flawed in the bill

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and it cannot be allowed to go forward in its present form. If that

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gives a problem for government timetable is, tough. We do not need

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to legislate in this fashion to carry out the technical task of

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leaving the EU. I remain bemused as to why the legislation has been

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drafted in this form. Parliament has a job to hold the government to

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account and this bill as drafted stocks are standing up for democracy

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in this House and stops us making sure the government doesn't screw up

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Brexit in the process as it takes through and its decisions. This bill

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was always going to be a sows ear because the government started the

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negotiation without clear objectives or outcomes. Therefore the bill had

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to take into account any scenario, Deal or no Deal. The government

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claimed the bill will restore some of the two Parliament and secure

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certainty post Brexit. That is not the case. It transfers huge powers

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to ministers, not members of this House over matters that are vital to

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this House. Like maternity and paternity leave, holidays, and all

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sorts of other issues. I think the bill could increase uncertainty,

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including the likelihood of judicial review because the powers in the

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bill also broadly drawn. You can love Parliament and wanted jealously

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guard its rights and privileges, but still show pragmatism in the

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national interest when the times demand it. Because that is politics,

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that is the job we are sent to hear -- here to do. That is poetry and

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pragmatism. MPs will conclude that debate

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and hold their first votes on the bill at around

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midnight on Monday. Well, to discuss all that

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I was joined a little earlier by the Conservative peer and member

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of the Lords constitution Ann Taylor - now Lady Taylor,

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who was a Labour whip during her party's turbulent time

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in office in the late '70s. She's also now chair of that

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constitution committee which released its latest report

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on the EU Withdrawal And Pete Wishart,

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the SNP's spokesman I began by asking him, given

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that the UK was leaving the EU - My view is that there functionality

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of the repeal bill, the way it applies across the nations of the

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United Kingdom, suggest this is not the means to deliver it. I have just

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come from the debate and my sense is that some of the themes of the bill

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are starting to be set, a sense from the back bench of the Conservative

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Party and the front bench of the labour and two others of us, there

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could be progress made on all this. With respect, you haven't answered

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my question, what would you do differently? The key debate is going

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to come around the Henry VII powers. To give his government all these

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powers when it comes to legislation. And I think it was a means to deal

:08:39.:08:43.

with all of these big powers. And less unpalatable of that. Even if

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the SNP had a bill that dealt with the worst aspects of the Henry VIII

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powers, I was still be troubled. The idea from us that it is a power

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grab. Let's pick up on this power grab. It's a real concern. The

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committee described it as breathtaking in its scope and

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potential. Doesn't the government have to this? It is not challenging

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the principle of the bill, if you have withdrawal, you have to get the

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mechanisms and right. We are focusing on what is the mechanism,

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and the government has introduced into the bill some provisions which

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are moving in the right direction but there is still an awful long way

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to go to ensure the relationship between Parliament and the executive

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is right and enabling Parliament to be involved in scrutiny and approval

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of the measures. The way it is done at the moment, it is complex and

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confers on ministers exceptional powers. Ann Taylor, whether you like

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it or not, Henry VIII powers are perfect the legitimate, they are

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used all the time? There has been an increase in the use of Henry VIII

:10:05.:10:08.

powers and we have been experts in concern about that. This is on a

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totally different level. Call 17 more less says that government

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ministers can make themselves any act of Parliament that Parliament

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would normally make. This is giving totally different powers. Let's put

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your whip's hat on. If you were in the government whips' office and you

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were facing no majority at all in the Commons, what would you be

:10:40.:10:43.

doing? How would you be trying to keep your team onside? Is not just

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your team, is the whole of Parliament. If you alienate

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Parliament, you will run into more and more difficulty. What we have

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done on the House of Lords Constitution committee its router

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provides mechanisms which would help Parliament to deal with a situation

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which could end up as a crisis if we are not careful. We have said that

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with the Henry VIII powers and the delegated legislation, every measure

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that the government rings forward should have a certificate saying

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whether it is any change to current law. And if it is, we should have

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special measures to give it more scrutiny than if it is just a

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straightforward transition. That is a very simple thing but we have to

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make sure that Parliament has the power and committee and

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parliamentary time to deal with this. The key thing about this is

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that we normally have eight days in the -- we only have eight days...

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But the government's counterargument is that this is technical. Treated

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like Maastricht were changing the law. This is changing the whole of

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UK law. Disentangling us from an institution. Pretending that you can

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do this in a days when there will be thousands of is nonsense. But the

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clock is ticking. Maastricht took many days. To have eight days for

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just -- is just bizarre. If the government suffered defeats in the

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Commons and Lords, how serious is that? Is that something that will be

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the end of the government? Because it's not an issue of a policy, it's

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a principle and people have voted in a referendum. The task of both

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houses is to improve the bill. There are two elements to it. One is to

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ensure that there is proper Parliamentary scrutiny of the

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process and the other is certainty in law once it is enacted. We have

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to get the bill right, and the government doesn't accept it, it is

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defeated. I don't see a problem with that and the government should be

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looking to itself to ensure the outcome is a bill that actually

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achieves those objectives. I am sure this is something we will return to.

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Where will see what happens on Monday. But for the moment, thank

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you very much for coming into the programme.

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And if you'd like to see a longer version of that interview it's

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available on our website, bbc.co.uk/parliaments.

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Now let's go back to Wednesday and Prime Minister's Questions.

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Jeremy Corbyn used the first session since the summer break

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With nurses protesting outside, he stepped

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up his calls for an end to the public sector pay cap.

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Today, thousands of nursing and other health care staff are outside

:13:45.:13:51.

Parliament. They are demanding that this government scrapped the 1% pay

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cap. Wolpe means experienced staff are leaving and fewer people are

:13:58.:14:03.

training to become nurses. There is already a shortage of 40,000 nurses

:14:04.:14:08.

across the UK. Will the Prime Minister see sense and any public

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sector pay cap and ensure our NHS staff are properly paid.

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Theresa May said pay guidelines would be published later in the year

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but it was balance between those being paid

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He asks consistently for money to be spent. He can do that in opposition

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because he knows he doesn't have to pay for it. The problem with Labour

:14:33.:14:36.

is that they do it in government as well. As a result of the decisions

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Labour Party took in government, we now have to pay more on debt

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interest than on NHS pay. That is the result of Labour!

:14:51.:14:52.

The SNP's Westminster leader turned to a leaked document suggesting

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the Government would take a much tougher line on EU

:14:55.:14:57.

Does the Prime Minister agree with me that immigration is essential to

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the strength of the UK as well as enhancing our cultural and diversity

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fabric. As I have said many times before, immigration has been good

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for the UK. But what people want to see is control of that immigration.

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Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has

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outlined her programme for Government - pledging to scrap

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the 1% cap on public sector pay rises.

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Our Scotland political correspondent, Glenn

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Having lost seats in the UK general election, this was a chance for

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Nicola Sturgeon to refresh, if not we launch, the SNP government.

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Independents got just one mention. Instead the blizzard of

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announcements on devolved topics. Education, she said, was her top

:15:54.:15:58.

priority with school reform and more power for head teachers. On just she

:15:59.:16:01.

wants to do away with short jail terms of less than one year in most

:16:02.:16:06.

cases. On the environment she wants to end the sale of petrol and diesel

:16:07.:16:16.

cars in Scotland by 2032, eight years ahead of the UK. The First

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Minister also proposes to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay rises,

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prompting some to speculate she might be prepared to raise income

:16:26.:16:28.

tax to pay for it. She has committed to a fuller debate on that topic. In

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order to get anything done as leader of a minority government the First

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Minister has been careful to choose a programme that will avoid uniting

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all the opposition against her. Now let's take a look

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at some other news Boris Johnson updated MPs

:16:41.:16:43.

on North Korea's missile tests. The country has fired a missile over

:16:44.:16:47.

Japan and claims to have Boris Johnson set out

:16:48.:16:50.

the gravity of the situation The House must be under no illusion

:16:51.:17:11.

that this is another advance in North Korea's clear ambitions. In a

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country blighted by economic failure where hundreds of thousands people

:17:18.:17:21.

died of starvation or reduced to eating grass and leaves to survive,

:17:22.:17:26.

the regime has squandered its resources on building an illegal

:17:27.:17:30.

armoury of nuclear bombs. The house will wish to join me in condemning a

:17:31.:17:35.

nuclear test that poses a grave threat to the security of every

:17:36.:17:39.

country in East Asia and the wider world.

:17:40.:17:40.

The British Government has promised urgent assistance to territories

:17:41.:17:42.

and Commonwealth countries hit by Hurricane Irma.

:17:43.:17:44.

Believed to be one of the most powerful storms on record, it's

:17:45.:17:47.

Among the islands - hit by winds of more than 180mph -

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were British overseas territories and members of the Commonwealth,

:17:54.:17:56.

including Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.

:17:57.:18:02.

The United Nations says the number of Rohingya refugees

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crossing from Myanmar - also known as Burma -

:18:05.:18:07.

into Bangladesh has surged in recent days.

:18:08.:18:11.

The Rohingya are a stateless, mostly Muslim, ethnic

:18:12.:18:13.

minority who have faced persecution in Myanmar.

:18:14.:18:17.

More than 123,000 are now said to have fled violence

:18:18.:18:19.

This is one of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades and the

:18:20.:18:33.

international community is effectively staying silent.

:18:34.:18:38.

Peers also wanted to know what the UK government was doing to help.

:18:39.:18:41.

The minister there insisted its concerns had been made clear.

:18:42.:18:47.

We do condemn this violence and we're trying to look to ways to

:18:48.:18:53.

assist Burma and to assist those who are directly affected.

:18:54.:18:55.

Twelve weeks after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Communities

:18:56.:18:57.

Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs that just two families had moved

:18:58.:19:00.

Of the 196 households affected, 29 more had moved

:19:01.:19:03.

One reason for the low take-up of temporary home offices some

:19:04.:19:18.

residents do not want to move twice. They have said it is Tuesday where

:19:19.:19:24.

they are until a permanent home becomes available. I don't want to

:19:25.:19:30.

see anyone living in emergency, a -- accommodation for longer than is

:19:31.:19:34.

necessary. Nor do I want to see families make snap decisions simply

:19:35.:19:36.

because I have better numbers to report at the dispatch box.

:19:37.:19:38.

The Government says it has no plans to review the new law banning

:19:39.:19:41.

psychoactive substances - formerly known as "legal highs" -

:19:42.:19:43.

following the collapse of a prosecution last month.

:19:44.:19:46.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing two cases

:19:47.:19:48.

after a judge said nitrous oxide, better known as "laughing gas",

:19:49.:19:51.

was exempt from the ban, as it's used by doctors for pain-relief.

:19:52.:20:03.

It has not taken long for the courts to expose the vulnerability are part

:20:04.:20:09.

of the legislation. Based with the pressing problem of psychoactive

:20:10.:20:14.

substances will the Government seem reason and accept that prohibition,

:20:15.:20:21.

orthodoxy of the last century and reiterated on a crude model in the

:20:22.:20:26.

20 16th act has failed with disastrous consequences in terms of

:20:27.:20:29.

the growth of crime, the blighting of innumerable lives were not to

:20:30.:20:32.

mention chaos in our prisons? From this month, all three

:20:33.:20:35.

and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 30 hours of free

:20:36.:20:37.

childcare a week, up from 15 hours. But Labour says parents

:20:38.:20:41.

are in "limbo" because of failings This childcare has been advertised

:20:42.:20:52.

as free but it will be subsidised by carers or providers. Will he now

:20:53.:20:59.

listen and commit to re-evaluating the policy's funding? As we are only

:21:00.:21:08.

six days into September, 152,829 parents have secured a place. That

:21:09.:21:11.

is 71%. Now there's a row brewing over

:21:12.:21:13.

the make up of a handful Public bill - or standing

:21:14.:21:16.

committees - scrutinise The Government wants

:21:17.:21:19.

to have a majority on the committees in this session of Parliament,

:21:20.:21:25.

even though it doesn't This government has no means to

:21:26.:21:42.

expect a majority. They do not command the majority. This is a

:21:43.:21:48.

House of minorities. That has to be reflected into the Parliamentary

:21:49.:21:53.

standing committees of this house. The make-up of those committees is

:21:54.:21:56.

due to be voted by MPs next weeks will stop -- next week.

:21:57.:22:00.

Now to the Lords where, although most hereditary peers

:22:01.:22:02.

were kicked out of the House of Lords in 1999,

:22:03.:22:05.

Vacancies in their ranks are filled by a system

:22:06.:22:08.

A bill to scrap the system was talked out by opponents last year.

:22:09.:22:12.

Now its author, Labour life peer Lord Grocott,

:22:13.:22:14.

is trying again and his bill had its second reading

:22:15.:22:17.

We had a by-election last year. I'll have to say this slowly because it

:22:18.:22:30.

was unbelievable. There was an electorate of three and 07

:22:31.:22:34.

candidates. I don't know of any electoral system anywhere on the

:22:35.:22:38.

planet or in history where you have twice as many candidates as they our

:22:39.:22:41.

electorates will stop I have no doubt that 90% of peers in the House

:22:42.:22:49.

of Lords would actively like to see this by-election system scrapped all

:22:50.:22:56.

at least are indifferent to its whole continuation. It was blocked

:22:57.:23:01.

last year by a handful, a very small number, largely hereditary peers.

:23:02.:23:07.

That go on forever. They may think it can but you can only be King

:23:08.:23:12.

Canute was so long. Be very nice if the Government said, yes, this is an

:23:13.:23:16.

indefensible system which they know it is and we will give you full

:23:17.:23:21.

backing. The Government is or is able to say we have far more

:23:22.:23:24.

important things to do, which is true. This is a two year session.

:23:25.:23:31.

Mine is a two clause bill. It would take a day maximum if people were

:23:32.:23:35.

sensible about it. It is only a small improvement but it is an

:23:36.:23:39.

improvement in our parliamentary system and just time you got on and

:23:40.:23:41.

did it. And Lord Grocott's Bill will now

:23:42.:23:43.

move on to scrutiny by a committee Let's take a look at some

:23:44.:23:46.

of the other stories making Here's Richard Morris

:23:47.:23:50.

with our countdown. Five, four, three, two, one. Over

:23:51.:24:02.

the summer Big Ben fell silent for repair work. That has caused upset

:24:03.:24:07.

in the Commons where one MP had the question. If Big Ben's bonds are

:24:08.:24:12.

silent, they are loved by the community and international

:24:13.:24:15.

visitors, could we please have a debate as to why this has happened

:24:16.:24:21.

and is it beyond the rich man manful silencers to be worn by the workers?

:24:22.:24:24.

First week back in the first defeat for the Government in the Lords.

:24:25.:24:34.

There was surprise in the Commons on Thursday after Labour's and fluid

:24:35.:24:37.

revealed she had missed a vote because she was stuck in a lift. The

:24:38.:24:42.

leader of the Has promised to elevate the issue. I hope she won't

:24:43.:24:49.

take it out of good humour if I say I am rather surprised the lift

:24:50.:24:54.

dared. Protest descended on Parliament to oppose the Henry VIII

:24:55.:24:59.

powers which could be used under the EU withdrawal bill. Protesters claim

:25:00.:25:02.

it could amount to a ministerial power grab. In Brussels, a fire

:25:03.:25:10.

alarm interrupted the chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on

:25:11.:25:14.

Thursday. It is the monthly drill. Was this a sign of a swift and

:25:15.:25:20.

orderly exit? I was talking about something quite important.

:25:21.:25:26.

And that's it from me for now, but do join Keith Mcdougall on BBC

:25:27.:25:31.

Parliament on Monday night at 11 for a full round up

:25:32.:25:33.

of the day at Westminster, including the second day of debate

:25:34.:25:38.

But for now from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.

:25:39.:25:47.