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.....
Where the government
promises "robust" action
following the poisoning of a former
Russian spy in the UK.
The investigation is moving apace
and this government will act without
hesitation as the facts become
As the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
arrives for a three day visit -
the Prime Minister hails
the historic links
between the two nations.
But Jeremy Corbyn condemns
the country's record
on human rights --
and argues the UK shouldn't be
selling arms there.
They cannot be right that her
government is colluding in what the
United Nations says is evidence of
We have a very tight
arms export regime in this country
and when there are allegations of
arms not being used within the lot
dummy expect that to be
Also on this programme: Parliament
marks international women's day --
but is it time for a statue
to the 18th Century author
and activist Mary Wollstonecraft?
And: Ever signed an online
petition to Parliament?
We find out if they really
make a difference:
We have seen that some petitions to
change the Government's mind. Maybe
not on gate to the Mac day one but
as we go through.
The Home Secretary told Mps
that the poisoning of a Russian
double agent and his daughter
in Salisbury was a "brazen
and reckless act."
Sergei Skripal was living in the UK
following a spy swap .
He was found slumped on a bench
in Salisbury in Wiltshire,
along with his daughter Yulia.
The couple had been poisoned
with a rare nerve agent.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey
from Wiltshire police -
who went to help them -
was also taken to hospital.
At prime minister's questions
on Wednesday Theresa May told
the Commons she'd held a meeting
of the national security council.
And the next day the
Home Secretary came
to the Commons to update Mps.
The use of a nerve agent on UK soil
is a brazen and reckless act. This
was attempted murder and the most
cruel and public way. The
investigation is moving at a pace.
This government will act without
hesitation as the facts become
clearer. As my right honourable
friend the Foreign Secretary made
clear on Tuesday, we will respond in
a robust and appropriate manner once
we ascertain who was responsible.
on this side of the House are
appalled that the idea that anyone
might be poisoned on the streets of
our towns and cities. We share with
the Government a determination that
this case be brought to a speedy and
just conclusion and that similar
incidents are prevented in the
I have written to her to ask
that there could be a review of 14
other cases and she will know there
are many ways in which lack it
happen and precedents for doing so.
Can I also asked her, in terms of
this initiate the leader-mac
immediate investigation has she
considered going to the UN Security
Council to ask for a statement
calling on all nations to provide
assistance including willingness to
extradite suspects should not be
She makes a suggestion
regarding international activity and
I can say to the right honourable
lady that at some stage we will be
coming back to the House with our
proposals but for now we are merely
preparing and concentrating on the
Isn't it time we,
realistic and Russia and Canada Home
Secretary confirm whether that
memorandum of understanding between
UK and the Russian nuclear power
company that was so strongly
championed by the former Prime
Minister Mr Cameron has formally
ended. Event has been ended, can she
make it's ended so the previous love
in with Russia that we saw a few
years ago is completely finished.
Does the Home Secretary share my my
constituents anger of the cruel
nature of this crime which could've
resulted in considerably more
collateral damage. Will she assured
that eventually the full force of
the law will be brought down on the
My honourable friend
is exactly right. Just because you
want to approach this with a cool
tide in order to collect the
evidence doesn't mean that we do not
share the outrage that his
constituents and he himself clearly
feels about this.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.
Now let's take a look at some other
news from Westminster in brief.
There was a call for misogyny to be
treated as a hate crime.
MPs argued the definition should be
extended to include the abuse
of women, if they are targeted
simply because of their gender.
Misogyny is everywhere in our
society. To the point where we often
miss it because it's been so
normalised by being continually
She went on to detail,
in very explicit language,
some of the insults she'd received.
Now all of these insults have been
put to me because I am a woman. We
can kid ourselves that these are a
few bad and ominous depot on twitter
but it's not. This is every day
I think we need to
be careful about creating laws which
would an inverted leak conflict with
the principles of equality.
MPs held their first big debate
on a bill to cap gas
and electricity prices.
The aim is to provide some
protection to customers who don't
shop around for the cheapest
possible energy deals.
Those paying the terrorists are much
more likely to be in reduced
circumstances. 80% of households
with an income of less than £18,000,
ten not switch supplier in the last
I welcome the
governments foray into a policy
which are previously denounced as
Marxist. But it remains a case that
as a result of this government in
action, millions of households have
been left to scrape through this
winter facing a choice between cold
homes or astronomical bills.
average saving between the cheapest
tariff for the big six and a
standard tariff is £300 per annum,
then somebody else apart from he can
do the math to assess that the sums
that we sought to recover from this
The big thaw following the big
freeze led to thousands of homes
being left without water
as engineers battled to deal
with leaks and burst pipes.
Some areas were without supplies
for several days, relying
on emergency stocks
of bottled water.
There is absolutely no excuse for
water companies making huge profits
not being able to provide the
resilience by what a protected
businesses and indeed residents
around the country.
made pre-tax profits of £638 million
last year. Or is simply no excuse
for not having robust emergency
plans in place.
Thames water are
very much under the spotlight. I'm
angry with them too. This is
returning. They recognise there's
been a change of ownership and
leadership. I'm determined that
Thames water customers receive a far
better service than they have today.
Ministers have been urged
to introduce a licensing
regime for air weapons.
In the Lords, peers heard
that there had been thousands
of attacks on pets involving airguns
in the last five years.
The charity recorded 164 attacks and
cats within airgun last year while
they received nearly 900 calls to
their cruelty hotline to report in
air weapon attacks on animals making
4.5 thousand attacks in the last
five years. Is it time to licence
these weapons to ensure they are
possessed only for legitimate
purposes by responsible owners and
not by those who would truly inflict
pain and suffering and often death
and defenseless domestic animals.
The Government does take animal
welfare seriously. With causing
unnecessary suffering. We are
increasingly the maximum penalty for
this offence from six months
imprisonment and or in unlimited
fine to five years imprisonment and
or in unlimited fine.
Does the fake fur bobble
on your winter hat contain real fur?
The Environment Committee has been
gathering evidence after a spate
of cases where garments trimmed
with fake fur contained
the real thing.
Samples sent to a laboratory
were found to contain a variety
of different animal furs,
which were often cheaper
than synthetic fibres.
To the naked eye into the field you
wouldn't necessarily tell the
difference would you?
absolutely. The use of Friday of
completely unreliable cues including
price. 50% of people used cheap
price as an indicator of fake fur.
Colour. If it's bright pink then you
know there is no bright pink
We've come a long way from
were used in circuses -
with lion tamers as
the star attraction.
Even into the 1960s elephants
were performing gravity defying
tricks to the amazement of children
crowded into the big top.
Now one MP wants a total ban on wild
animals in circuses.
According to the department
for the environment there
are currently 18 wild animals
licensed for travelling shows
in England, including six reindeer,
three camels, three zebra,
three raccoons, one fox,
a macaw and a zebu.
Is it right I question that we allow
wild animals to travel around the
country from temporary enclosures to
circus tent and back to a lorry for
a journey onto the town? What sort
of a life is bad for animals such as
zebras and camels? Without space to
forage and interact with other
animals of their own kind in the way
that they would naturally. These
wild animals cannot truly be said to
Emboldened by her latest speech
on Brexit , Theresa May told
the Commons she's confident Britain
can reach an agreement
with the European Union.
She said she wants trade
across borders which is
as frictionless as possible,
and that while the UK
will leave the single market,
and the jurisdiction
of the European Court of Justice,
some regulations will remain
in step with the EU.
A short time later the chancellor
appeared in front of a committee
of MPs and told them the UK needed
a free-flowing border between Dover
and Calais and that he was setting
aside £3 billion over the next two
years to prepare for Brexit.
The next day it was the turn
of the Brexit Secretary
to answer questions.
In a lively session he was asked
whether the UK would stay in the EU
if Parliament voted down the final
Brexit deal in what's called
a "meaningful vote."
With respect that is been dealt with
at length. I don't want to retract.
I recommend you go back. When he was
a Minister your colleague on the
committees comments on this
I think we have a right to
ask these questions. There's no with
respect. Will there be an
opportunity to suspend Article 50
the event that there isn't time to
have a meaningful vote?
think a meaningful vote is
overruling the referendum.
And after a request
from the Committee Chair
for the government to tell the EU
it can't dictate terms,
David Davis gave his top tips
on how to negotiate.
At the beginning of this process I
said to the House one of the debates
that they would be astonished how to
play I was going to be in the next
two years. I take the view that when
public aggression in negotiations
generally doesn't work very well. It
creates an attitude on the other
side and I avoid it. What anyone
else does is up to them. We've give
me different advise?
Now, two prime
Ministers questions were Theresa May
defended the UK's relationship with
Saudi Arabia the start of a
three-day visit by the crown prince.
His schedule included talks with
Theresa May and once with the queen.
The ground and is credited with
kick-starting economic forms in the
kingdom such as the the ban on women
Despite much talk of
reform, there has been a sharp
increase in the arrest and detention
of dissidents, torture of prisoners
is common, human rights defenders
routinely sentenced to lengthy
prison terms. Unfair trials and
executions are widespread as Amnesty
International confirms. As if she
makes her arms sales pitch will she
also call on the crown prince to
halt this shocking abuse of human
rights in Saudi Arabia?
forward to welcoming the crown
prince from Saudi Arabia to this...
Labour backbenchers from sedentary
preventions are shouting shame. Can
I say to those backbenchers that the
point we have with Saudi Arabia is
historic, an important one, and it
has saved the lives of potentially
hundreds of people in this country.
Jeremy Corbyn moved on from Saudi
Arabia's human rights record to its
involvement in the war in Yemen,
where it is backing attempts to
restore the country's President.
Germany has suspended arms sales to
Saudi Arabia, but British arms sales
have sharply increased and British
military advisers are directing the
war. It cannot be right that her
government... Mr Speaker, it cannot
be right that her government is
colluding in what the United Nations
says is evidence of war crimes.
have a very tight arms export regime
in this country, and when there are
allegations of arms not being used
within the lob and we expect that to
be investigated and to be -- lessons
to be learned on that.
Ever felt so annoyed -
or so concerned - about an issue
that you wanted to have it
aired in Parliament?
Two recent debates by MPs -
one on live animal exports
and the other calling
for British Sign Language to be
on the National Curriculum -
both stemmed from online
petitions to Parliament.
So how does the system work?
There's a website where you can
click on a link to set
up your own petition.
If you can attract 10,000
signatures, the government
has to give a response.
If 100,000 people sign up,
the petition might be
debated in Parliament.
Liz Twist is on the Commons
Petitions Committee and was involved
in that recent sign language debate.
On a rather windy day
at Westminster, I asked her why
petitions weren't automatically
debated once they reached that
magic 100,000 figure.
As the petitions committee,
we look at them quite carefully.
Sometimes they've been debated
very recently and it
will be repeated in debate.
Sometimes they are about things that
perhaps the Government cannot deal
with, so rejected from that
point of view.
So, we have a certain
criteria that we look at.
a set of criteria.
And how you do you decide?
What kind of thing are
you looking for in a petition?
Well, we are looking to see that it
has a clear point to make,
that it's something that can be
debated and that we are able
to take that forward.
There is a threshold
for 100,000 signatures
for something to be debated,
but you do occasionally debate
things which don't reach
that 100,000 threshold.
Your debate on sign language
being an example of that.
OK, so there are two things.
First of all, once a petition
gets 10,000 signatures,
the Government has to produce
a response and publish that
on the petition's website.
Very often as a committee we ask
the Government to go back and look
at its response and improve it.
So, that is something
we take very seriously.
But beyond that, we do look
at issues like the sign language
one, where we felt it would be
really difficult for the petitioners
to get to that 100,000 threshold.
And yet it was still a matter
of great importance
in the public interest.
These debates are not
binding on the Government.
The Government doesn't have
to do anything once these
debates have been had.
Do you think that it perhaps gives
people a bit of false hope
because they think I've signed this
petition, it's been debated,
something has to change now.
I think everything has to start
somewhere, and for some people it
starts on the campaign
to raise awareness.
But we have seen that some petitions
do change the Government's mind.
Maybe not on day one,
but as we go through,
for example the debate that was held
on brain tumours a couple of years
ago, has actually seen
the Government responding
and putting some extra money in,
£45 million into research.
Let's take a look at some
of the other stories making
the political news this week.
Here's Ryan Brown
with this countdown.
The UK's first purple plaque
was unveiled at Cardiff Bay.
The plaque commemorates
This one on their former
Welsh Assembly Member,
and equalities campaigner.
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom
wishes resident rock star
Keith Richards a happy birthday.
I hear, Mr Speaker,
that he's 21 again.
But actually, I might be confusing
that with his majority.
Former first lady meets her biggest
fan after a photo of her enamoured
by Michelle Obama's
portrait goes viral.
Shake it off, shake it off.
the environmental audit
committee's proposed 25p charge
on disposable coffee cups.
They say voluntary discounts
are better for shops.
Caffeine addicts are safe for now.
At question time Jeremy Corbyn asked
Theresa May about human rights
abuses in Saudi Arabia
and reminds her of the importance
of International Women's Day.
I think that's what's
Women took to the streets to mark
International Women's Day,
including a march on Parliament
and mass strikes and
demonstrations in Spain.
In a speech in Westminster
the grandaughter of suffragette
Sylvia Pankhurst said 2018 could be
a turning point for women's rights.
Is it that one, two, three
generations down from that act we
have women who have been able to
occupy many more spaces through
education, through their work,
through political spaces, and they
are coming across all the continued
barriers and they are feeling that
maybe again another place, another
weight is required and it really
does feel that we are at one of
those moments that 2018 will be
remembered not because it's... That
because something else was
On international Women's day
itself the Commons held
a debate to celebrate that,
and to mark 100 years
since some women got the vote.
The Labour MP Jess Philips began
by reciting of women killed
by men in the last year.
As always the women are all ages and
were killed in violent episodes at
the hands of men. Violence against
women and girls is an epidemic. If
as many people died every week at a
sporting event or because they had a
specific job, there would be
national outcry. These women deserve
the same. We must all do better to
hear their stories and to end the
culture of male violence that killed
Over the next nearly four minutes,
she read out the names
of all the women who had died
from domestic violence
in the UK since the last
International Women's Day.
Our test should always be did we do
everything we could to protect all
women? For too many women in this
country the answer to this is still
simply now. We must do better.
An SNP MP argued sexism was deeply
embedded in our culture.
Other MPs spoke of encouraging more
women into politics -
We see it in this House, a juvenile,
grinning idiocy that is so offensive
sometimes that the smugness of a
minority of men who think that
supposedly clever point scoring
proves something. An
anti-intellectual nonsense that
makes this continuing debate so
tiring. There are many in this House
who had a record of opposing
progressive politics without
substantive argument, but with
plenty of bluster and filibuster,
opposing equality is as a playground
joke. I command I'm sure others, are
tired of engaging with men with so
little, so very little to offer. And
I am pleased that they represent a
tiny percentage of the men I
Other MPs spoke of
encouraging more women into politics
The best thing that
we are doing at the moment to
encourage young women to be
interested in politics is having a
female prime Minister, because
suddenly for me it was when I saw
Margaret Thatcher become prime
Minister and in the leader of the
party and prime Minister of our
country, which may politics relevant
for me. It turned politics from
being frankly a lot of old men in
grey raincoats to something which
was a Technicolor relevant issue for
me to be involved in as a
14-year-old girl living in South
Wales where there weren't too many
Tories around and I could see an
amazing role model on the
It is important that we
in this House take responsibility
for inspiring other women, our
daughters, but I think we should
also remember in this day that many
of us owe our inspiration to our
mothers and our grandmothers and
important women in our lives. My own
grandmother when she was born did
not have the right to vote, and I
wear her writing link to this
chamber every day and occasionally
it serves as a reminder of what we
owed to generations past -- I wear
her wedding ring.
And while we're on the subject
of groundbreaking women,
this year sees several new statues
of suffrage campaigners to mark
the centenary of votes for women.
This one in Leicester
is of Alice Hawkins, with others
planned for Emmeline Pankhurst
in Manchester and Millicent
Fawcett in London.
But women campaigners argue that
a statue to the pioneering
18th century feminist -
Mary Wollstonecraft -
is long overdue.
Now a group of male
Labour politicians has
joined that campaign.
Among them, Lord Adonis.
This is a statute to Emeline
Pankhurst, right by Parliament. She
was crucial in getting women to
vote, but Mary was it anything more
important. Her book, a vindication
of the rights of women published 225
years ago established the whole idea
that women were on a par with men
when it came to social, political
and economic rights. That was a
revolutionary idea. It is now a
century since women got the vote and
as we look at the great achievements
of women over that period and how it
was that the social campaigns got
going, in order to give them those
rights, it all was back to Mary
Wollstonecraft and her extraordinary
book, the vindication of the rights
of women, which started the modern
feminist movement. When you read it
today, I got a copy here, I tried to
get a first edition from the House
of Lords but it was revolutionary
for the House of Lords in seven to
92 as they haven't got one. Even as
you read it now you realise how
explosive it was -- 17 92. This is
what Mary Wollstonecraft said in
1792 when Louis XVI was being
executed in Paris: to render her a
really virtuous and useful she must
not, if she did -- discharge occurs
all duties one individual is he that
production of the lot, she must not
be dependent on her husband's bounty
for her subsistence during her life
or support after his death. For how
can a woman be generous who has
nothing of her own? Or virtue is who
is not free? Those are revolutionary
ideas in 1792. We now regard them as
of course absolutely commonplace.
The fact that they were
revolutionary then,, lace now is why
they should be a statute to Mary
Wollstonecraft in Parliament Square
-- revolutionary then and
commonplace now. The heart of our
democracy since she did so much to
Lord Adonis on the
revolutionary Mary Wollstonecraft.
And that's it from me for now,
but do join Lucy Grey on BBC
Parliament, on Monday night at 11
for a round up of the day
here at Westminster.
But for now from me, goodbye.