12/01/2018 The Week in Parliament


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12/01/2018

BBC Parliament's programme looking back at the week in Westminster presented by Mandy Baker.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to

the Week In Parliament.

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It's pressure on the NHS

which dominates the week.

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The Labour leader mocks Theresa May.

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We know that the Prime Minister

recognises there is a crisis

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in our NHS, because she wanted

to sack the Health Secretary last

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week but was too weak to do it.

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The Prime Minister

defends her health policy.

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Preparations for winter in the NHS

have been more extensive

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and meticulous than ever before.

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And is the head of the energy

regulator OFGEM just too laid back?

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Do you ever roll your sleeves up

and really get stuck in,

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because I don't really see

the evidence of that.

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But first...

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The Government called

it winter pressures,

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the opposition called it

a winter crisis.

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New figures showed that last month

300,000 people had to wait longer

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than they should have at Accident

and Emergency

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departments in England.

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These were the worst

figures since the targets

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were introduced in 2004.

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The Labour leader led the attack

at Prime Minister's Questions.

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Mr Speaker, I know it

seems a long time ago,

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I know it seems a long time ago

but just before Christmas I asked

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the Prime Minister about the 12,000

people left waiting more than half

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an hour in the back

of an ambulance at accident

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and emergency departments.

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She told the House the NHS

was better prepared

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for winter than ever before.

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So what words of comfort does

the Prime Minister have to

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the 17,000 patients left waiting

in the back of ambulances

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in the last week of December?

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Is it that nothing is

perfect by any chance?

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I fully accept that the NHS is under

pressure over winter,

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it is regularly under pressure

at winter times.

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I have been very, I have been very

clear, I apologise to those people

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who have had operations delayed

and those people who have had

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admissions to hospital delayed.

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But it is indeed the case

that the NHS was better prepared

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this winter than ever before.

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We know the Prime Minister

recognises there is a crisis

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in our NHS because she wanted

to sack the Health Secretary last

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week but was too weak to do it.

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And if the NHS is so well resourced

and so well-prepared,

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why was the decision taken last week

to cancel the operations

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of 55,000 patients during

the month of January?

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This is what NHS providers

said only last week.

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Preparations for winter in the NHS

have been more extensive

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and meticulous than ever before.

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The Health Secretary said

that the government wanted to be

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the best in the world for cancer

diagnosis, treatment and care.

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Today, according to a memo

from the head of chemotherapy

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at Oxford Churchill Hospital,

terminally ill cancer patients

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will have their chemotherapy cut

because of a massive shortfall

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in specialist nurses.

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Will the Prime Minister

apologise to cancer

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patients and their families

for this appalling situation?

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I say to the honourable lady

that the trust has made clear

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there are no plans to delay

the start of chemotherapy treatment

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or reduce the number of cycles

given to cancer patients.

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What Simon Stevens has said

is happening is that,

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over the past three years,

the highest cancer survival rates

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ever, and latest figures show

an estimated 7000 more people

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surviving cancer, after successful

NHS cancer treatment compared

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to three years prior.

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With record funding,

our NHS is doing more than ever,

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but when the UK is in the bottom

third of countries for heart attack

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deaths, when we have significantly

worse survival for strokes

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than France and Germany,

and when our closest match

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for cancer survival is Chile

and Poland, isn't it time

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to act across this house,

back this week by the Centre

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for Policy Studies,

to establish a royal commission

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on health and social care,

in the 70th anniversary year

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of our most cherished

national institution?

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My honourable friend is right

that we need to continue to look

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at the NHS and ensure

that we are continuing

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to improve the performance

in a variety of areas.

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And the NHS remained firmly

on the agenda on Wednesday afternoon

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when Labour used an opposition

debate to highlight

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the strain winter was placing

on the health service.

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This is not just a winter crisis -

it is an all-year-round funding

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crisis, a year-round staffing

crisis, a year-round social care

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crisis and a year-round

health inequality crisis,

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manufactured in Downing Street

by this Government.

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The truth is that doctors and nurses

have lost confidence in him,

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patients have lost confidence

in him, and it seems

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the Prime Minister has

lost confidence in him.

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He fights for his own job,

but he will not fight for the NHS.

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Our patients are crying

out for change.

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It is a big deal for patients

who are told that their planned

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procedure is to be postponed.

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No one minimises the distress that

that causes, but last year

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and in previous winters operations

were cancelled at the last moment,

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which is much more distressing

and challenging for hospitals

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to plan around.

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This Government have put in an extra

£437 million specifically

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for the winter period?

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Would he not at least give

the Government credit for that

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planning, which we have

never seen before?

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All of us recognise that this

is a particularly tough winter

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because there has been an outbreak

of flu on top of a bad freeze.

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I point out to those who think

the worst is past that the flu

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season lasts until March

and at the moment this

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is an outbreak, not an epidemic,

but it comes on top of underlying

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pressures, and across the four

nations this has involved staff

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having to go above and beyond

the call of duty.

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One of the real problems

is the absence of any

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acknowledgement from Ministers

of the huge knock-on effect that

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rescheduling a whole month s

operations will have.

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It will simply mean that existing

patients who are already

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on the waiting list will have

to wait even longer, too,

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and it will be very,

very difficult to bring that list

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back down.

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Labour's motion condemning

government spending on the NHS

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was later passed unopposed,

as Conservative MPs continued

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their tactic of abstaining

on opposition motions.

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Another big announcement of the week

was the Prime Minister's pledge

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to eradicate all avoidable plastic

waste by 2042.

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She made the commitment

after tramping around

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a wetland centre in London.

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The strategy is part

of the Government's 25-year plan

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for England to improve

the natural environment.

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The amount of plastic in the oceans

has caused an outcry.

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The new measures include urging

supermarkets to introduce

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"plastic-free" aisles,

while taxes and charges

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on single-use items such as takeaway

containers will be considered.

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The issue seemed to be the talk

of Parliament on Thursday.

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In the Commons, a Labour

MP complained it was

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a long time coming.

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This UK Government has finally got

around to bunching is 25 year plan

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catching up with the Welsh Labour

government on the rustic bag levy

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just six years later. This plan

lacks substance is full of missed

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opportunities, weak proposals and no

laws. It is not innovative, not

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radical and it is a cheap attempt by

this Prime Minister of rebranding

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the Tories green wash. Will the

Government commit to making a

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statement on this plan in this House

to allow for proper scrutiny?

I am

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disappointed she is is a little

churlish to what we are sickened to

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do. There are some issues across the

House we can unite and do what is

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right for future generations. I

would really caution her to learn

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more information as to what is being

decided. I'm sure it will be

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discussed at length across the House

in the forthcoming business and she

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will learn more today I hope and

more in the future as well.

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During a debate on forestry,

the Chair of the Environment

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Committee, said he had "much

enthusiasm" for the plan.

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I think what I want to see now is a

practical application on how we are

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going to meet these goals because if

you want to change and

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environmental, financial regulation

in banking, you change financial

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regulation in banking and that fixes

hopefully the problem. If they

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actually say aye want to plant

millions of trees you physically

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have to plant the trees and have to

find the land for it and the policy

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to do it. I'm not saying we can't do

it but it is how we deliver that

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into the future.

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And in the Lords, the former Chair

of the Green Party said she'd been

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hoping for concrete measures,

but she was disappointed.

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There was absolutely nothing new on

climate change and there was no

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measures, no strong measures or

suggestions for legislative change

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that could actually make a

difference. And for example I just

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don't understand how the Prime

Minister can claim we as a country

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are leading on climate change when

she is about to give the green light

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for more fracking. We are still

earning onshore wind developers. We

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are still trying to build new

nuclear power stations and we are

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giving tax breaks to oil and. None

of these things are going to help us

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to have a greener and safer planet.

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Lady Jones.

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Westminster awoke on Tuesday

still ruminating on how Theresa May

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had reshuffled her cabinet pack.

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The changes may have

been rather limited,

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but that didn't mean there weren't

several ministers getting to grips

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with new departments.

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And there was no

gentle warm-up either.

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Less than 24 hours into the job,

the Justice Secretary,

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David Gauke was answering questions

about the decision to

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release the serial sexual

offender, John Worboys.

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Worboys was convicted of 19 offences

and is suspected of attacking

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more than 100 women.

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But the decision by the Parole Board

to free him, nine years

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after he was jailed,

has raised concern

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among his victims.

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David Gauke said he'd look

into the transparency surrounding

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the parole board's decision.

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I should be absolutely clear that

I think that parole board should

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remain an independent body,

responsible for making decisions

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about the on going risk

that individuals pose

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after serving their tariff.

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But I agree with my predecessor's

assessment that there is a strong

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case to review the case

for transparency in the process

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for parole decisions and how victims

are appropriately engaged in that

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process and consider the case

for changes in policy, practice,

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or the parole board rules or other

guidance or procedures,

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including the victims' code.

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It is all too clear that the victims

of the vile crimes committed

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by John Worboys feel that this

process has failed to do so.

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And such failings risk

undermining public trust

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in our wider justice system.

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Mr Speaker, many women, both

the victims and others more widely,

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will be every anxious indeed

about Mr Worboys being freed.

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And the current legal restrictions

on the parole board mean

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that we do not know why this

decision was taken.

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Some of the victims

still have heard nothing

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from the victims liaison officer.

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They still don't know

what the parole board terms are,

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and whether this man may end up

living near them.

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Given that the tariff is a minimum,

why does the sole test applied

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by the parole board appear to be

simply whether the criminal

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still poses a risk to others?

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What has happened to the concept

that the punishment

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should fit the crime?

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In his review, is he going to look

explicitly not at what transparency

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there was about how decisions

were being made, but how victims'

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voices were actually being heard

as part of that process?

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Since the privatisation of probation

in the West Midlands,

0:13:050:13:07

there is one victims'

officer for an area with

0:13:070:13:10

three million people in it.

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So, in this review, can

I ask the very welcome

0:13:130:13:16

new Justice Secretary to look

at what was taken away

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and potentially why an e-mail

to a victim isn't enough

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when a relationship

is what we used to have?

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Worboys was up prolific sex attacker

for up to ten years.

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There are likely to be

hundreds of victims.

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Yet in court, he showed no remorse,

he dismissed his actions as banter,

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and even two years ago,

he was claiming that he had done

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absolutely nothing wrong.

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So, it is impossible for people

to understand how the board

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could possibly have deemed this man

to be safe.

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So, would my right honourable friend

agree with me that unless,

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and until the board explains

publicly the rationale behind

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the decision it took,

people can't possibly have

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confidence in our room

and justice system.

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I completely understand the point

that my honourable friend is making.

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As presently stands,

the parole board is not able

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to provide in public the reasons

for their decision.

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The chair of the parole

board has made clear

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that he wishes that he could.

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The new Justice

Secretary David Gauke.

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One of the Cabinet whose

job never seemed to be

0:14:380:14:41

in peril was Amber Rudd,

the Home Secretary.

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In fact she gained a new role, as

Minister for Women and Equalities.

0:14:430:14:46

One of the first issues

to confront her in her additional

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capacity was the row about equal pay

at the BBC.

0:14:480:14:51

The corporation's China editor

Carrie Gracie resigned

0:14:510:14:52

from her post accusing the BBC

"unlawful pay discrimination."

0:14:520:14:55

Here in the 21st century,

surely women deserve total equality.

0:14:550:14:57

Can the Minister tell us what steps

the government is taking to make

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sure there isn't a pay gap

in the civil service,

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in light of the fact that

Carrie Gracie has resigned recently

0:15:030:15:05

as China editor of the BBC,

citing pay issues there?

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Well, I thank my honourable

friend for raising such

0:15:090:15:15

an important element.

0:15:150:15:16

It is absolutely essential

that we all ensure that the equal

0:15:160:15:19

pay act is enforced and much

as I admire the BBC and enjoy

0:15:190:15:23

listening and looking

at their programmes,

0:15:230:15:27

they clearly have a very

serious question to answer

0:15:270:15:29

here which I certainly hope

they will address.

0:15:290:15:34

And in terms of gender pay gap,

we are committed to ensuring

0:15:340:15:38

that we do address that as well,

and of course, we have

0:15:380:15:41

new disclosure arrangements.

0:15:410:15:42

Amber Rudd's predecessor as Women

and Equalities Minister

0:15:420:15:44

was the Education Secretary Justine

Greening, who quit in the reshuffle.

0:15:440:15:47

From her new position

on the backbenches, she rose

0:15:470:15:49

to ask her first question.

0:15:490:15:50

First of all, I would like to

congratulate the Home Secretary

0:15:500:15:53

on her expanded role.

0:15:530:15:54

I know she will do a brilliant job.

0:15:540:15:56

She will know that young people,

parents, and teachers think

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that it is vital in a modern

internet world to see sex

0:15:590:16:05

and relationships education updated.

0:16:050:16:12

Can she confirm that

the government will push ahead

0:16:120:16:15

with updating the guidance

that is now so out of date but also

0:16:150:16:18

if she will meet with myself,

my right honourable friend

0:16:180:16:20

the member for Basingstoke,

and also the honourable

0:16:200:16:22

member for Rotherham,

to make sure we can have cross-party

0:16:220:16:24

support for the work

that is being undertaken?

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Can I start by thanking the Minister

for the enormous good work

0:16:260:16:30

she did in this role,

and I will try my best to keep up

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the momentum that she has provided.

0:16:360:16:40

And one of the fantastic things

that she had was lead on making sure

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that sex and relationship education

is going to be provided

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in all schools.

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I would be delighted

to work with her to make

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sure that is the case,

and also across the House,

0:16:500:16:52

to make sure that the outcome we get

is one that the whole House can

0:16:520:16:56

support, as I know that everyone

believes this is an important part.

0:16:560:16:59

Amber Rudd.

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The chief executive of the energy

regulator Ofgem admitted

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the organisation "should have done

better" for vulnerable consumers.

0:17:020:17:04

Dermot Nolan was given

something of a roasting

0:17:040:17:06

by the Commons Business Committee.

0:17:060:17:10

So, given that you accept

you have a statutory duty to protect

0:17:100:17:14

those vulnerable customers,

do you think that...

0:17:140:17:16

Well, you have effectively just

admitted that you have

0:17:160:17:18

failed them today.

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ball I think we have not done

as well as we could have.

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You are the single most important

player in the market

0:17:250:17:27

because you have the most

extraordinary powers

0:17:270:17:29

as the regulator.

0:17:290:17:33

And, yet, your testimony sounds

so incredibly passive.

0:17:330:17:37

Do you ever just roll your sleeves

up and really get stuck in?

0:17:370:17:40

Because I don't really see

the evidence of that.

0:17:400:17:42

I apologise if I seem passive.

0:17:420:17:44

I honestly do not feel passive.

0:17:440:17:45

I did exhibit, I think...

0:17:450:17:46

As I said before, I wish

we had moved earlier

0:17:460:17:49

in putting the price caps in.

0:17:490:17:50

What lessons have

you taken from that?

0:17:500:17:53

And how has that

changed your behaviour?

0:17:530:17:55

We are rolling up our sleeves very

strongly at the moment,

0:17:550:17:58

and we have been doing so over

the last year, since the BMA

0:17:580:18:01

finished, in terms of bringing

a price cap for vulnerable

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customers, which I

think is the limit.

0:18:030:18:09

You have just admitted

that you acted earlier.

0:18:090:18:11

But the consequence of you not

acting earlier has been

0:18:110:18:18

that many customers,

particularly vulnerable customers,

0:18:180:18:19

have paid much more money

than they should have done.

0:18:190:18:22

I accept that and we should

have moved earlier.

0:18:220:18:24

Do you apologise to those customers?

0:18:240:18:25

I do.

0:18:250:18:28

Ofgem's chief executive.

0:18:280:18:34

Labour told ministers that they're

rewarding failure by bailing out

0:18:340:18:36

train companies that

run into trouble.

0:18:360:18:38

In 2014, Virgin and its partner

Stagecoach signed a deal to run

0:18:380:18:41

the East Coast line until 2023.

0:18:410:18:42

But in November, ministers allowed

the companies to withdraw

0:18:420:18:44

from running the service

three years early.

0:18:440:18:46

The Shadow Transport Secretary

condemned the move.

0:18:460:18:48

In 2016, the Department

for Transport set out its objectives

0:18:480:18:52

for rail franchising.

0:18:520:18:54

These were to encourage

a flourishing, competitive passenger

0:18:540:18:58

rail market which secures high

performing, value for money services

0:18:580:19:03

for passengers and tax payers,

whilst driving cost effectiveness.

0:19:030:19:08

Deputy Speaker, it is clear

that the department has failed

0:19:080:19:12

to meet these objectives.

0:19:120:19:13

The latest collapse

of the East Coast franchise

0:19:130:19:18

announced in November makes

a mockery of the

0:19:180:19:21

department's 2016 aims.

0:19:210:19:25

Virgin Stagecoach didn't deliver

and defaulted on their contract,

0:19:250:19:29

and the Secretary of State has given

them a gift.

0:19:290:19:33

I am grateful to my honourable

friend for giving way.

0:19:330:19:36

Given on the East Coast mainline

that this will be the third occasion

0:19:360:19:46

in just over a decade

that the private contractor has

0:19:460:19:48

announced that it wishes

to hand back the keys,

0:19:480:19:51

was it not a fundamental mistake,

on the part of the government, not

0:19:510:19:54

to have allowed East Coast Trains

that successfully run the franchise

0:19:540:19:56

for over five and a half years,

paid back £1 billion

0:19:560:20:01

to the Treasury, to allow carrying

on its good work and instead

0:20:010:20:04

ideological elite demanding that

anyone could bid to run it but not

0:20:040:20:07

the state owned company that had

done it so successfully?

0:20:070:20:15

My right honourable friend has made

an absolutely perfect point,

0:20:150:20:17

and it is the scene that will be

consistent throughout this debate.

0:20:170:20:20

I have absolutely no doubt.

0:20:200:20:26

Indeed, the government should have

followed the example of Labour

0:20:260:20:28

in 2009 when theh operator defaulted

and taken the the contract back

0:20:280:20:31

into the public sector.

0:20:310:20:38

If a company defaults,

it doesn't deserve the contract.

0:20:380:20:40

That way, there would be

no reward for failure,

0:20:400:20:42

and other companies in the industry

wouldn't expect the same treatment.

0:20:420:20:45

When it came to his turn, the

Transport Secretary was scathing.

0:20:450:20:48

We've just heard something like 45

minutes of complete nonsense

0:20:480:20:50

from the party opposite.

0:20:500:20:51

I suspect it might also be

unparliamentary of me

0:20:510:21:07

to call him hypocritical,

so I won't call him personally

0:21:070:21:13

hypocritical, but I have no doubt

that others in the know will be

0:21:130:21:16

astonished by the gall

with which they simply

0:21:160:21:18

forget their actions in government.

0:21:180:21:19

With which they pretend their ideas

won't cost a penny.

0:21:190:21:22

I keep hearing their ideas

won't cost a penny.

0:21:220:21:24

It is absolutely untrue.

0:21:240:21:25

And with which they make inaccurate

claims, based on a lack of facts

0:21:250:21:28

on subjects they appear

to not understand.

0:21:280:21:30

Chris Grayling.

0:21:300:21:31

The Government has been warned that

moves to cut the size of the House

0:21:310:21:34

of Lords could be undermined

if the Prime Minister

0:21:340:21:37

appoints new peers.

0:21:370:21:37

Reports have suggested Theresa May

is preparing to create 12

0:21:370:21:40

new Conservative peers to help get

Brexit legislation

0:21:400:21:41

through the Lords.

0:21:420:21:43

In a debate last year,

there was strong support among peers

0:21:430:21:45

for the recommendations

of the Burns Committee to reduce

0:21:450:21:47

the numbers from 800 to 600.

0:21:470:21:49

Mrs May was urged to show restraint.

0:21:490:21:51

Would it not be a embarrassment

and make a nonsense of any further

0:21:510:21:54

consideration of the Burns report

if the Prime Minister was to go

0:21:540:21:56

ahead and make a series

of nominations before we had

0:21:560:21:59

considered it fully?

0:21:590:22:00

The point that the noble

Lord has just made was

0:22:000:22:02

made during the debate.

0:22:020:22:12

And I thought, if I may say

so, that it was dealt

0:22:130:22:16

with very well indeed

by the Lord Butler of Brockwell.

0:22:160:22:18

And he said this, we are told that

a further list of appointments

0:22:180:22:21

is about to be published,

but I do not share the apocalyptic

0:22:210:22:24

view expressed earlier

by the noble lord Lord Steele.

0:22:240:22:26

I believe this can be regarded

as a legacy issue arising

0:22:260:22:29

from the May general election that

does not inhibit the adoption

0:22:290:22:32

of the approach indeed

of the Burns report.

0:22:320:22:34

I hope the noble lord

is reassured by the words

0:22:340:22:38

of the former Cabinet Secretary.

0:22:380:22:39

If the government is prepared

to accept the Burns proposals,

0:22:390:22:47

and that includes departures

from and introductions to this House

0:22:470:22:53

should be on the basis

of two out and one in,

0:22:530:22:57

and on a 15 year term limit,

probably from the last general

0:22:570:23:00

election, we will abide by that.

0:23:000:23:01

Will the government

agreed to do so as well?

0:23:010:23:03

As I said, the government

is considering the report and will

0:23:030:23:06

make its views known shortly.

0:23:060:23:07

But if I can just take up

the point that the noble

0:23:070:23:10

baroness made in her speech.

0:23:100:23:12

And she made a good speech,

if I may say so, as did my noble

0:23:120:23:16

friend and the leader of the Lib

Dems.

0:23:160:23:18

What she said is this -

it is not about giving up

0:23:180:23:20

patronage or appointments,

but about showing some

0:23:200:23:22

restraint, as it used to be.

0:23:220:23:23

Now, the Prime Minister has

demonstrated restraint,

0:23:230:23:25

putting on one side David Cameron's

resignation honours,

0:23:250:23:27

in the last 18 months,

the Prime Minister has appointed

0:23:270:23:37

eight, eight new peers,

five crossbenchers,

0:23:370:23:39

and three ministers.

0:23:390:23:40

Now, I think that is demonstrating

the restraint that the noble

0:23:400:23:43

lady has just asked for.

0:23:430:23:44

Is there not another

way that an this little

0:23:440:23:46

dilemma might be resolved?

0:23:460:23:51

Quite clearly, if you look

at the electorate as a whole,

0:23:510:23:54

and the votes which have been cast

at recent elections,

0:23:540:23:56

the Lib Dem peers are grossly

overrepresented here.

0:23:560:23:58

Suppose 50 of them did

the decent thing and resigned,

0:23:580:24:05

this would all be resolved!

0:24:050:24:06

LAUGHTER.

0:24:060:24:07

Well, I think that question,

if I may say so, from my noble

0:24:070:24:10

friend, was not addressed to me,

but addressed to

0:24:100:24:12

the benches opposite.

0:24:120:24:14

It is indeed the case that on almost

any objective basis,

0:24:140:24:19

the Liberal Democrats

are overrepresented,

0:24:190:24:22

and credit to them, they actually

recognise this during the debate.

0:24:220:24:25

The noble lord Lord Newby,

when he spoke on behalf

0:24:250:24:27

of the Lib Dems, recognised

that their numbers would have

0:24:270:24:31

to come down under the proposals

of the Burns report.

0:24:310:24:33

Whether one could expect the Lib Dem

is to unilaterally cut their numbers

0:24:330:24:38

without anybody else doing anything

at all would be to exhibit

0:24:380:24:48

a generosity for which the Liberal

Democrats are not well-known.

0:24:490:24:52

The ever-understated Lord Young.

0:24:520:24:53

Well, during the course of the week

there were many words

0:24:530:24:56

of congratulation for the various

ministers who moved or gained

0:24:560:24:58

jobs in the reshuffle.

0:24:580:24:59

But one of the main talking points

was the erroneous and then

0:24:590:25:02

hastily deleted tweet

from Conservative Central Office

0:25:020:25:04

that Chris Grayling had been made

chairman of the party.

0:25:040:25:06

The Shadow Transport Secretary felt

it important to mark

0:25:060:25:12

Mr Grayling's achievement.

0:25:120:25:14

Also, I want to congratulate

the Secretary of State

0:25:140:25:16

for his superb stewardship

of the Conservative Party.

0:25:160:25:18

There has never been a fine record.

0:25:180:25:23

No elections were lost,

no major scandals, and I think

0:25:230:25:28

he has maintained his membership

around 70,000, so not bad

0:25:280:25:31

for 27 seconds work.

0:25:310:25:33

So, the best to him.

0:25:330:25:35

Chris Grayling - the mayfly

of Conservative chairmen.

0:25:350:25:37

And that's all we've got time for.

0:25:370:25:38

Keith MacDougall will

be here on Monday.

0:25:380:25:40

But for now from me,

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:400:25:42