BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to the Week In Parliament.
MPs return to Westminster after their summer break and begin
debating a bill transferring EU laws into UK legislation.
The Brexit Secretary says it's vital for an orderly Brexit,
but Labour accuses the government of a power grab.
Let me be clear, this bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit
and... The combined effect of the provisions of this bill would reduce
MPs to the position of spectators as power pours into the hands of the
vicarage. -- of the executive. Jeremy Corbyn calls for an end
to the pay cap for nurses - the Prime Minister reckons
he's being profligate... As a result of the decisions taken
by Labour, we have to spend more on debt interest than on NHS pay.
And a Labour peer tries again to end hereditary
We had a by-election last year where there was an electorate of three and
there were seven candidates. It was no surprise that the first
week back after the summer break Talks on the terms of the UK leaving
the EU had continued over the summer, with both sides
expressing frustration over In the Commons, David Davis provoked
laughter in the chamber on Monday when he told MPs that no-one had
ever said the negotiations While on Wednesday,
at Prime Minister's Questions, a Conservative MP tackled
Theresa May over the powers contained in the EU Withdrawal bill,
which MPs were due to begin debating The Bill repeals the European
Communities Act of 1972 and also transfers EU laws
into UK legislation. Whilst some rules and regulations
will simply transfer across, many will have to be changed
so that they remain However, many MPs are concerned
that the Withdrawal Bill gives ministers the ability to make
sweeping use of powers, known as Henry VII powers,
to change legislation without full Could my right honourable friend
assure me that she will look in particular at those amendments which
seek to change the EU withdrawal bill so it does not become an
unprecedented and unnecessary government power grab? Minister. I'm
grateful for my right honourable friend for raising this is you and I
know that like me, she wants an orderly exit from the European Union
and will be supporting this bill which enables us not just to leave
the EU but you do so in an orderly manner with a functioning statute
book. We will require certain powers to make corrections to the statute
book after the bill becomes law, because negotiations are ongoing. We
will do them via secondary legislation which will receive
parliamentary scrutiny. An approach that has been endorsed by the House
of Lords Constitution committee. Well, the next day that committee
released an updated report which was rather less helpful
to the government, and we'll be hearing from two of its members
later in the programme. When the first day of debate began
on Thursday, the Brexit Secretary sought to reassure MPs
about its aims. Put simply, this bill is an
essential step. Whilst it does not take us out of the European Union,
it does ensure that on the day we leave, businesses know where they
stand. Workers' rights are held and consumers remain protected. This
bill is essential to ensure that when really, we do so in an orderly
manner. This bill does only what is this is
very for a smooth exit and to provide stability. That we are
leaving is settled. How we are leaving is not. This bill encourages
us to surrender all power and influence to the government and
ministers. That would betray everything we were sent here to do.
We have got to make sure that on the day of exit, the statute book works.
The only way we can achieve it in the timescale with which we are
constrained and which are set out in Article 50, is to have a flexible,
pragmatic system such as the system laid out in the draft Bill. If you
look at the amendments put forward, the very powerful reasons that MPs
from different parties have come up with for rejecting this bill, that
shows there is something seriously and fundamentally flawed in the bill
and it cannot be allowed to go forward in its present form. If that
gives a problem for government timetable is, tough. We do not need
to legislate in this fashion to carry out the technical task of
leaving the EU. I remain bemused as to why the legislation has been
drafted in this form. Parliament has a job to hold the government to
account and this bill as drafted stocks are standing up for democracy
in this House and stops us making sure the government doesn't screw up
Brexit in the process as it takes through and its decisions. This bill
was always going to be a sows ear because the government started the
negotiation without clear objectives or outcomes. Therefore the bill had
to take into account any scenario, Deal or no Deal. The government
claimed the bill will restore some of the two Parliament and secure
certainty post Brexit. That is not the case. It transfers huge powers
to ministers, not members of this House over matters that are vital to
this House. Like maternity and paternity leave, holidays, and all
sorts of other issues. I think the bill could increase uncertainty,
including the likelihood of judicial review because the powers in the
bill also broadly drawn. You can love Parliament and wanted jealously
guard its rights and privileges, but still show pragmatism in the
national interest when the times demand it. Because that is politics,
that is the job we are sent to hear -- here to do. That is poetry and
pragmatism. MPs will conclude that debate
and hold their first votes on the bill at around
midnight on Monday. Well, to discuss all that
I was joined a little earlier by the Conservative peer and member
of the Lords constitution Ann Taylor - now Lady Taylor,
who was a Labour whip during her party's turbulent time
in office in the late '70s. She's also now chair of that
constitution committee which released its latest report
on the EU Withdrawal And Pete Wishart,
the SNP's spokesman I began by asking him, given
that the UK was leaving the EU - My view is that there functionality
of the repeal bill, the way it applies across the nations of the
United Kingdom, suggest this is not the means to deliver it. I have just
come from the debate and my sense is that some of the themes of the bill
are starting to be set, a sense from the back bench of the Conservative
Party and the front bench of the labour and two others of us, there
could be progress made on all this. With respect, you haven't answered
my question, what would you do differently? The key debate is going
to come around the Henry VII powers. To give his government all these
powers when it comes to legislation. And I think it was a means to deal
with all of these big powers. And less unpalatable of that. Even if
the SNP had a bill that dealt with the worst aspects of the Henry VIII
powers, I was still be troubled. The idea from us that it is a power
grab. Let's pick up on this power grab. It's a real concern. The
committee described it as breathtaking in its scope and
potential. Doesn't the government have to this? It is not challenging
the principle of the bill, if you have withdrawal, you have to get the
mechanisms and right. We are focusing on what is the mechanism,
and the government has introduced into the bill some provisions which
are moving in the right direction but there is still an awful long way
to go to ensure the relationship between Parliament and the executive
is right and enabling Parliament to be involved in scrutiny and approval
of the measures. The way it is done at the moment, it is complex and
confers on ministers exceptional powers. Ann Taylor, whether you like
it or not, Henry VIII powers are perfect the legitimate, they are
used all the time? There has been an increase in the use of Henry VIII
powers and we have been experts in concern about that. This is on a
totally different level. Call 17 more less says that government
ministers can make themselves any act of Parliament that Parliament
would normally make. This is giving totally different powers. Let's put
your whip's hat on. If you were in the government whips' office and you
were facing no majority at all in the Commons, what would you be
doing? How would you be trying to keep your team onside? Is not just
your team, is the whole of Parliament. If you alienate
Parliament, you will run into more and more difficulty. What we have
done on the House of Lords Constitution committee its router
provides mechanisms which would help Parliament to deal with a situation
which could end up as a crisis if we are not careful. We have said that
with the Henry VIII powers and the delegated legislation, every measure
that the government rings forward should have a certificate saying
whether it is any change to current law. And if it is, we should have
special measures to give it more scrutiny than if it is just a
straightforward transition. That is a very simple thing but we have to
make sure that Parliament has the power and committee and
parliamentary time to deal with this. The key thing about this is
that we normally have eight days in the -- we only have eight days...
But the government's counterargument is that this is technical. Treated
like Maastricht were changing the law. This is changing the whole of
UK law. Disentangling us from an institution. Pretending that you can
do this in a days when there will be thousands of is nonsense. But the
clock is ticking. Maastricht took many days. To have eight days for
just -- is just bizarre. If the government suffered defeats in the
Commons and Lords, how serious is that? Is that something that will be
the end of the government? Because it's not an issue of a policy, it's
a principle and people have voted in a referendum. The task of both
houses is to improve the bill. There are two elements to it. One is to
ensure that there is proper Parliamentary scrutiny of the
process and the other is certainty in law once it is enacted. We have
to get the bill right, and the government doesn't accept it, it is
defeated. I don't see a problem with that and the government should be
looking to itself to ensure the outcome is a bill that actually
achieves those objectives. I am sure this is something we will return to.
Where will see what happens on Monday. But for the moment, thank
you very much for coming into the programme.
And if you'd like to see a longer version of that interview it's
available on our website, bbc.co.uk/parliaments.
Now let's go back to Wednesday and Prime Minister's Questions.
Jeremy Corbyn used the first session since the summer break
With nurses protesting outside, he stepped
up his calls for an end to the public sector pay cap.
Today, thousands of nursing and other health care staff are outside
Parliament. They are demanding that this government scrapped the 1% pay
cap. Wolpe means experienced staff are leaving and fewer people are
training to become nurses. There is already a shortage of 40,000 nurses
across the UK. Will the Prime Minister see sense and any public
sector pay cap and ensure our NHS staff are properly paid.
Theresa May said pay guidelines would be published later in the year
but it was balance between those being paid
He asks consistently for money to be spent. He can do that in opposition
because he knows he doesn't have to pay for it. The problem with Labour
is that they do it in government as well. As a result of the decisions
Labour Party took in government, we now have to pay more on debt
interest than on NHS pay. That is the result of Labour!
The SNP's Westminster leader turned to a leaked document suggesting
the Government would take a much tougher line on EU
Does the Prime Minister agree with me that immigration is essential to
the strength of the UK as well as enhancing our cultural and diversity
fabric. As I have said many times before, immigration has been good
for the UK. But what people want to see is control of that immigration.
Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has
outlined her programme for Government - pledging to scrap
the 1% cap on public sector pay rises.
Our Scotland political correspondent, Glenn
Having lost seats in the UK general election, this was a chance for
Nicola Sturgeon to refresh, if not we launch, the SNP government.
Independents got just one mention. Instead the blizzard of
announcements on devolved topics. Education, she said, was her top
priority with school reform and more power for head teachers. On just she
wants to do away with short jail terms of less than one year in most
cases. On the environment she wants to end the sale of petrol and diesel
cars in Scotland by 2032, eight years ahead of the UK. The First
Minister also proposes to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay rises,
prompting some to speculate she might be prepared to raise income
tax to pay for it. She has committed to a fuller debate on that topic. In
order to get anything done as leader of a minority government the First
Minister has been careful to choose a programme that will avoid uniting
all the opposition against her. Now let's take a look
at some other news Boris Johnson updated MPs
on North Korea's missile tests. The country has fired a missile over
Japan and claims to have Boris Johnson set out
the gravity of the situation The House must be under no illusion
that this is another advance in North Korea's clear ambitions. In a
country blighted by economic failure where hundreds of thousands people
died of starvation or reduced to eating grass and leaves to survive,
the regime has squandered its resources on building an illegal
armoury of nuclear bombs. The house will wish to join me in condemning a
nuclear test that poses a grave threat to the security of every
country in East Asia and the wider world.
The British Government has promised urgent assistance to territories
and Commonwealth countries hit by Hurricane Irma.
Believed to be one of the most powerful storms on record, it's
Among the islands - hit by winds of more than 180mph -
were British overseas territories and members of the Commonwealth,
including Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.
The United Nations says the number of Rohingya refugees
crossing from Myanmar - also known as Burma -
into Bangladesh has surged in recent days.
The Rohingya are a stateless, mostly Muslim, ethnic
minority who have faced persecution in Myanmar.
More than 123,000 are now said to have fled violence
This is one of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades and the
international community is effectively staying silent.
Peers also wanted to know what the UK government was doing to help.
The minister there insisted its concerns had been made clear.
We do condemn this violence and we're trying to look to ways to
assist Burma and to assist those who are directly affected.
Twelve weeks after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Communities
Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs that just two families had moved
Of the 196 households affected, 29 more had moved
One reason for the low take-up of temporary home offices some
residents do not want to move twice. They have said it is Tuesday where
they are until a permanent home becomes available. I don't want to
see anyone living in emergency, a -- accommodation for longer than is
necessary. Nor do I want to see families make snap decisions simply
because I have better numbers to report at the dispatch box.
The Government says it has no plans to review the new law banning
psychoactive substances - formerly known as "legal highs" -
following the collapse of a prosecution last month.
The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing two cases
after a judge said nitrous oxide, better known as "laughing gas",
was exempt from the ban, as it's used by doctors for pain-relief.
It has not taken long for the courts to expose the vulnerability are part
of the legislation. Based with the pressing problem of psychoactive
substances will the Government seem reason and accept that prohibition,
orthodoxy of the last century and reiterated on a crude model in the
20 16th act has failed with disastrous consequences in terms of
the growth of crime, the blighting of innumerable lives were not to
mention chaos in our prisons? From this month, all three
and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 30 hours of free
childcare a week, up from 15 hours. But Labour says parents
are in "limbo" because of failings This childcare has been advertised
as free but it will be subsidised by carers or providers. Will he now
listen and commit to re-evaluating the policy's funding? As we are only
six days into September, 152,829 parents have secured a place. That
is 71%. Now there's a row brewing over
the make up of a handful Public bill - or standing
committees - scrutinise The Government wants
to have a majority on the committees in this session of Parliament,
even though it doesn't This government has no means to
expect a majority. They do not command the majority. This is a
House of minorities. That has to be reflected into the Parliamentary
standing committees of this house. The make-up of those committees is
due to be voted by MPs next weeks will stop -- next week.
Now to the Lords where, although most hereditary peers
were kicked out of the House of Lords in 1999,
Vacancies in their ranks are filled by a system
A bill to scrap the system was talked out by opponents last year.
Now its author, Labour life peer Lord Grocott,
is trying again and his bill had its second reading
We had a by-election last year. I'll have to say this slowly because it
was unbelievable. There was an electorate of three and 07
candidates. I don't know of any electoral system anywhere on the
planet or in history where you have twice as many candidates as they our
electorates will stop I have no doubt that 90% of peers in the House
of Lords would actively like to see this by-election system scrapped all
at least are indifferent to its whole continuation. It was blocked
last year by a handful, a very small number, largely hereditary peers.
That go on forever. They may think it can but you can only be King
Canute was so long. Be very nice if the Government said, yes, this is an
indefensible system which they know it is and we will give you full
backing. The Government is or is able to say we have far more
important things to do, which is true. This is a two year session.
Mine is a two clause bill. It would take a day maximum if people were
sensible about it. It is only a small improvement but it is an
improvement in our parliamentary system and just time you got on and
did it. And Lord Grocott's Bill will now
move on to scrutiny by a committee Let's take a look at some
of the other stories making Here's Richard Morris
with our countdown. Five, four, three, two, one. Over
the summer Big Ben fell silent for repair work. That has caused upset
in the Commons where one MP had the question. If Big Ben's bonds are
silent, they are loved by the community and international
visitors, could we please have a debate as to why this has happened
and is it beyond the rich man manful silencers to be worn by the workers?
First week back in the first defeat for the Government in the Lords.
There was surprise in the Commons on Thursday after Labour's and fluid
revealed she had missed a vote because she was stuck in a lift. The
leader of the Has promised to elevate the issue. I hope she won't
take it out of good humour if I say I am rather surprised the lift
dared. Protest descended on Parliament to oppose the Henry VIII
powers which could be used under the EU withdrawal bill. Protesters claim
it could amount to a ministerial power grab. In Brussels, a fire
alarm interrupted the chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on
Thursday. It is the monthly drill. Was this a sign of a swift and
orderly exit? I was talking about something quite important.
And that's it from me for now, but do join Keith Mcdougall on BBC
Parliament on Monday night at 11 for a full round up
of the day at Westminster, including the second day of debate
But for now from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.