09/03/2018 The Week in Parliament


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09/03/2018

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.....

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Where the government

promises "robust" action

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following the poisoning of a former

Russian spy in the UK.

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The investigation is moving apace

and this government will act without

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hesitation as the facts become

clear.

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As the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

arrives for a three day visit -

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the Prime Minister hails

the historic links

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between the two nations.

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But Jeremy Corbyn condemns

the country's record

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on human rights --

and argues the UK shouldn't be

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selling arms there.

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They cannot be right that her

government is colluding in what the

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United Nations says is evidence of

war crimes.

We have a very tight

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arms export regime in this country

and when there are allegations of

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arms not being used within the lot

dummy expect that to be

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investigated.

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Also on this programme: Parliament

marks international women's day --

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but is it time for a statue

to the 18th Century author

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and activist Mary Wollstonecraft?

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And: Ever signed an online

petition to Parliament?

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We find out if they really

make a difference:

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We have seen that some petitions to

change the Government's mind. Maybe

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not on gate to the Mac day one but

as we go through.

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But first....

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The Home Secretary told Mps

that the poisoning of a Russian

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double agent and his daughter

in Salisbury was a "brazen

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and reckless act."

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Sergei Skripal was living in the UK

following a spy swap .

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He was found slumped on a bench

in Salisbury in Wiltshire,

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along with his daughter Yulia.

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The couple had been poisoned

with a rare nerve agent.

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Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey

from Wiltshire police -

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who went to help them -

was also taken to hospital.

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At prime minister's questions

on Wednesday Theresa May told

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the Commons she'd held a meeting

of the national security council.

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And the next day the

Home Secretary came

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to the Commons to update Mps.

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The use of a nerve agent on UK soil

is a brazen and reckless act. This

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was attempted murder and the most

cruel and public way. The

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investigation is moving at a pace.

This government will act without

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hesitation as the facts become

clearer. As my right honourable

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friend the Foreign Secretary made

clear on Tuesday, we will respond in

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a robust and appropriate manner once

we ascertain who was responsible.

We

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on this side of the House are

appalled that the idea that anyone

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might be poisoned on the streets of

our towns and cities. We share with

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the Government a determination that

this case be brought to a speedy and

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just conclusion and that similar

incidents are prevented in the

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future.

I have written to her to ask

that there could be a review of 14

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other cases and she will know there

are many ways in which lack it

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happen and precedents for doing so.

Can I also asked her, in terms of

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this initiate the leader-mac

immediate investigation has she

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considered going to the UN Security

Council to ask for a statement

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calling on all nations to provide

assistance including willingness to

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extradite suspects should not be

needed.

She makes a suggestion

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regarding international activity and

I can say to the right honourable

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lady that at some stage we will be

coming back to the House with our

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proposals but for now we are merely

preparing and concentrating on the

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incident.

Isn't it time we,

realistic and Russia and Canada Home

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Secretary confirm whether that

memorandum of understanding between

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UK and the Russian nuclear power

company that was so strongly

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championed by the former Prime

Minister Mr Cameron has formally

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ended. Event has been ended, can she

make it's ended so the previous love

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in with Russia that we saw a few

years ago is completely finished.

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Does the Home Secretary share my my

constituents anger of the cruel

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nature of this crime which could've

resulted in considerably more

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collateral damage. Will she assured

that eventually the full force of

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the law will be brought down on the

perpetrators?

My honourable friend

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is exactly right. Just because you

want to approach this with a cool

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tide in order to collect the

evidence doesn't mean that we do not

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share the outrage that his

constituents and he himself clearly

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feels about this.

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The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

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Now let's take a look at some other

news from Westminster in brief.

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There was a call for misogyny to be

treated as a hate crime.

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MPs argued the definition should be

extended to include the abuse

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of women, if they are targeted

simply because of their gender.

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Misogyny is everywhere in our

society. To the point where we often

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miss it because it's been so

normalised by being continually

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unchallenged.

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She went on to detail,

in very explicit language,

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some of the insults she'd received.

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Now all of these insults have been

put to me because I am a woman. We

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can kid ourselves that these are a

few bad and ominous depot on twitter

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but it's not. This is every day

common language.

I think we need to

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be careful about creating laws which

would an inverted leak conflict with

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the principles of equality.

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MPs held their first big debate

on a bill to cap gas

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and electricity prices.

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The aim is to provide some

protection to customers who don't

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shop around for the cheapest

possible energy deals.

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Those paying the terrorists are much

more likely to be in reduced

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circumstances. 80% of households

with an income of less than £18,000,

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ten not switch supplier in the last

three years.

I welcome the

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governments foray into a policy

which are previously denounced as

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Marxist. But it remains a case that

as a result of this government in

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action, millions of households have

been left to scrape through this

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winter facing a choice between cold

homes or astronomical bills.

If the

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average saving between the cheapest

tariff for the big six and a

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standard tariff is £300 per annum,

then somebody else apart from he can

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do the math to assess that the sums

that we sought to recover from this

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company...

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The big thaw following the big

freeze led to thousands of homes

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being left without water

as engineers battled to deal

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with leaks and burst pipes.

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Some areas were without supplies

for several days, relying

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on emergency stocks

of bottled water.

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There is absolutely no excuse for

water companies making huge profits

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not being able to provide the

resilience by what a protected

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businesses and indeed residents

around the country.

Thames water

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made pre-tax profits of £638 million

last year. Or is simply no excuse

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for not having robust emergency

plans in place.

Thames water are

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very much under the spotlight. I'm

angry with them too. This is

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returning. They recognise there's

been a change of ownership and

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leadership. I'm determined that

Thames water customers receive a far

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better service than they have today.

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Ministers have been urged

to introduce a licensing

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regime for air weapons.

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In the Lords, peers heard

that there had been thousands

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of attacks on pets involving airguns

in the last five years.

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The charity recorded 164 attacks and

cats within airgun last year while

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they received nearly 900 calls to

their cruelty hotline to report in

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air weapon attacks on animals making

4.5 thousand attacks in the last

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five years. Is it time to licence

these weapons to ensure they are

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possessed only for legitimate

purposes by responsible owners and

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not by those who would truly inflict

pain and suffering and often death

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and defenseless domestic animals.

The Government does take animal

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welfare seriously. With causing

unnecessary suffering. We are

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increasingly the maximum penalty for

this offence from six months

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imprisonment and or in unlimited

fine to five years imprisonment and

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or in unlimited fine.

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Does the fake fur bobble

on your winter hat contain real fur?

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The Environment Committee has been

gathering evidence after a spate

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of cases where garments trimmed

with fake fur contained

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the real thing.

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Samples sent to a laboratory

were found to contain a variety

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of different animal furs,

which were often cheaper

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than synthetic fibres.

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To the naked eye into the field you

wouldn't necessarily tell the

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difference would you?

No,

absolutely. The use of Friday of

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completely unreliable cues including

price. 50% of people used cheap

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price as an indicator of fake fur.

Colour. If it's bright pink then you

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know there is no bright pink

animals.

We've come a long way from

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the 1930s.

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were used in circuses -

with lion tamers as

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the star attraction.

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Even into the 1960s elephants

were performing gravity defying

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tricks to the amazement of children

crowded into the big top.

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Now one MP wants a total ban on wild

animals in circuses.

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According to the department

for the environment there

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are currently 18 wild animals

licensed for travelling shows

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in England, including six reindeer,

three camels, three zebra,

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three raccoons, one fox,

a macaw and a zebu.

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Is it right I question that we allow

wild animals to travel around the

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country from temporary enclosures to

circus tent and back to a lorry for

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a journey onto the town? What sort

of a life is bad for animals such as

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zebras and camels? Without space to

forage and interact with other

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animals of their own kind in the way

that they would naturally. These

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wild animals cannot truly be said to

be wild.

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Emboldened by her latest speech

on Brexit , Theresa May told

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the Commons she's confident Britain

can reach an agreement

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with the European Union.

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She said she wants trade

across borders which is

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as frictionless as possible,

and that while the UK

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will leave the single market,

and the jurisdiction

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of the European Court of Justice,

some regulations will remain

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in step with the EU.

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A short time later the chancellor

appeared in front of a committee

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of MPs and told them the UK needed

a free-flowing border between Dover

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and Calais and that he was setting

aside £3 billion over the next two

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years to prepare for Brexit.

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The next day it was the turn

of the Brexit Secretary

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to answer questions.

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In a lively session he was asked

whether the UK would stay in the EU

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if Parliament voted down the final

Brexit deal in what's called

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a "meaningful vote."

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With respect that is been dealt with

at length. I don't want to retract.

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I recommend you go back. When he was

a Minister your colleague on the

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committees comments on this

matter...

I think we have a right to

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ask these questions. There's no with

respect. Will there be an

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opportunity to suspend Article 50

the event that there isn't time to

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have a meaningful vote?

I don't

think a meaningful vote is

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overruling the referendum.

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And after a request

from the Committee Chair

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for the government to tell the EU

it can't dictate terms,

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David Davis gave his top tips

on how to negotiate.

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At the beginning of this process I

said to the House one of the debates

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that they would be astonished how to

play I was going to be in the next

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two years. I take the view that when

public aggression in negotiations

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generally doesn't work very well. It

creates an attitude on the other

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side and I avoid it. What anyone

else does is up to them. We've give

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me different advise?

Now, two prime

Ministers questions were Theresa May

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defended the UK's relationship with

Saudi Arabia the start of a

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three-day visit by the crown prince.

His schedule included talks with

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Theresa May and once with the queen.

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The ground and is credited with

kick-starting economic forms in the

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kingdom such as the the ban on women

driving.

Despite much talk of

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reform, there has been a sharp

increase in the arrest and detention

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of dissidents, torture of prisoners

is common, human rights defenders

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routinely sentenced to lengthy

prison terms. Unfair trials and

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executions are widespread as Amnesty

International confirms. As if she

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makes her arms sales pitch will she

also call on the crown prince to

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halt this shocking abuse of human

rights in Saudi Arabia?

I look

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forward to welcoming the crown

prince from Saudi Arabia to this...

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Labour backbenchers from sedentary

preventions are shouting shame. Can

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I say to those backbenchers that the

point we have with Saudi Arabia is

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historic, an important one, and it

has saved the lives of potentially

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hundreds of people in this country.

Jeremy Corbyn moved on from Saudi

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Arabia's human rights record to its

involvement in the war in Yemen,

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where it is backing attempts to

restore the country's President.

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Germany has suspended arms sales to

Saudi Arabia, but British arms sales

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have sharply increased and British

military advisers are directing the

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war. It cannot be right that her

government... Mr Speaker, it cannot

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be right that her government is

colluding in what the United Nations

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says is evidence of war crimes.

We

have a very tight arms export regime

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in this country, and when there are

allegations of arms not being used

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within the lob and we expect that to

be investigated and to be -- lessons

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to be learned on that.

Theresa May.

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Ever felt so annoyed -

or so concerned - about an issue

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that you wanted to have it

aired in Parliament?

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Two recent debates by MPs -

one on live animal exports

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and the other calling

for British Sign Language to be

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on the National Curriculum -

both stemmed from online

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petitions to Parliament.

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So how does the system work?

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There's a website where you can

click on a link to set

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up your own petition.

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If you can attract 10,000

signatures, the government

0:15:310:15:34

has to give a response.

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If 100,000 people sign up,

the petition might be

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debated in Parliament.

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Liz Twist is on the Commons

Petitions Committee and was involved

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in that recent sign language debate.

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On a rather windy day

at Westminster, I asked her why

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petitions weren't automatically

debated once they reached that

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magic 100,000 figure.

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As the petitions committee,

we look at them quite carefully.

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Sometimes they've been debated

very recently and it

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will be repeated in debate.

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Sometimes they are about things that

perhaps the Government cannot deal

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with, so rejected from that

point of view.

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So, we have a certain

criteria that we look at.

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That's

a set of criteria.

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And how you do you decide?

0:16:200:16:21

What kind of thing are

you looking for in a petition?

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Well, we are looking to see that it

has a clear point to make,

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that it's something that can be

debated and that we are able

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to take that forward.

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There is a threshold

for 100,000 signatures

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for something to be debated,

but you do occasionally debate

0:16:340:16:37

things which don't reach

that 100,000 threshold.

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Your debate on sign language

being an example of that.

0:16:400:16:46

Yeah.

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OK, so there are two things.

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First of all, once a petition

gets 10,000 signatures,

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the Government has to produce

a response and publish that

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on the petition's website.

0:16:540:16:55

Very often as a committee we ask

the Government to go back and look

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at its response and improve it.

0:16:580:16:59

So, that is something

we take very seriously.

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But beyond that, we do look

at issues like the sign language

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one, where we felt it would be

really difficult for the petitioners

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to get to that 100,000 threshold.

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And yet it was still a matter

of great importance

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in the public interest.

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These debates are not

binding on the Government.

0:17:160:17:18

The Government doesn't have

to do anything once these

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debates have been had.

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Do you think that it perhaps gives

people a bit of false hope

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because they think I've signed this

petition, it's been debated,

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something has to change now.

0:17:280:17:30

I think everything has to start

somewhere, and for some people it

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starts on the campaign

to raise awareness.

0:17:320:17:34

But we have seen that some petitions

do change the Government's mind.

0:17:340:17:37

Maybe not on day one,

but as we go through,

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for example the debate that was held

on brain tumours a couple of years

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ago, has actually seen

the Government responding

0:17:430:17:44

and putting some extra money in,

£45 million into research.

0:17:440:17:51

Let's take a look at some

of the other stories making

0:17:510:17:53

the political news this week.

0:17:530:17:56

Here's Ryan Brown

with this countdown.

0:17:560:18:01

The UK's first purple plaque

was unveiled at Cardiff Bay.

0:18:060:18:08

The plaque commemorates

notable women.

0:18:080:18:16

This one on their former

Welsh Assembly Member,

0:18:160:18:18

and equalities campaigner.

0:18:180:18:19

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom

wishes resident rock star

0:18:190:18:21

Keith Richards a happy birthday.

0:18:220:18:23

I hear, Mr Speaker,

that he's 21 again.

0:18:230:18:25

But actually, I might be confusing

that with his majority.

0:18:250:18:33

Former first lady meets her biggest

fan after a photo of her enamoured

0:18:330:18:36

by Michelle Obama's

portrait goes viral.

0:18:360:18:38

Shake it off, shake it off.

0:18:380:18:42

Ministers questioned

the environmental audit

0:18:420:18:43

committee's proposed 25p charge

on disposable coffee cups.

0:18:430:18:47

They say voluntary discounts

are better for shops.

0:18:470:18:49

Caffeine addicts are safe for now.

0:18:490:18:52

At question time Jeremy Corbyn asked

Theresa May about human rights

0:18:520:18:55

abuses in Saudi Arabia

and reminds her of the importance

0:18:550:18:57

of International Women's Day.

0:18:570:19:01

I think that's what's

called mansplaining.

0:19:010:19:06

Women took to the streets to mark

International Women's Day,

0:19:150:19:18

including a march on Parliament

and mass strikes and

0:19:180:19:20

demonstrations in Spain.

0:19:200:19:24

In a speech in Westminster

the grandaughter of suffragette

0:19:240:19:26

Sylvia Pankhurst said 2018 could be

a turning point for women's rights.

0:19:260:19:36

Is it that one, two, three

generations down from that act we

0:19:370:19:41

have women who have been able to

occupy many more spaces through

0:19:410:19:45

education, through their work,

through political spaces, and they

0:19:450:19:48

are coming across all the continued

barriers and they are feeling that

0:19:480:19:51

maybe again another place, another

weight is required and it really

0:19:510:19:55

does feel that we are at one of

those moments that 2018 will be

0:19:550:19:59

remembered not because it's... That

because something else was

0:19:590:20:03

happening.

0:20:030:20:04

On international Women's day

itself the Commons held

0:20:040:20:06

a debate to celebrate that,

and to mark 100 years

0:20:060:20:09

since some women got the vote.

0:20:090:20:10

The Labour MP Jess Philips began

by reciting of women killed

0:20:100:20:13

by men in the last year.

0:20:130:20:20

As always the women are all ages and

were killed in violent episodes at

0:20:200:20:24

the hands of men. Violence against

women and girls is an epidemic. If

0:20:240:20:28

as many people died every week at a

sporting event or because they had a

0:20:280:20:34

specific job, there would be

national outcry. These women deserve

0:20:340:20:39

the same. We must all do better to

hear their stories and to end the

0:20:390:20:44

culture of male violence that killed

them.

0:20:440:20:46

Over the next nearly four minutes,

she read out the names

0:20:460:20:48

of all the women who had died

from domestic violence

0:20:480:20:51

in the UK since the last

International Women's Day.

0:20:510:20:56

Our test should always be did we do

everything we could to protect all

0:20:560:21:02

women? For too many women in this

country the answer to this is still

0:21:020:21:07

simply now. We must do better.

0:21:070:21:10

An SNP MP argued sexism was deeply

embedded in our culture.

0:21:100:21:13

Other MPs spoke of encouraging more

women into politics -

0:21:130:21:17

We see it in this House, a juvenile,

grinning idiocy that is so offensive

0:21:170:21:24

sometimes that the smugness of a

minority of men who think that

0:21:240:21:28

supposedly clever point scoring

proves something. An

0:21:280:21:33

anti-intellectual nonsense that

makes this continuing debate so

0:21:330:21:37

tiring. There are many in this House

who had a record of opposing

0:21:370:21:41

progressive politics without

substantive argument, but with

0:21:410:21:46

plenty of bluster and filibuster,

opposing equality is as a playground

0:21:460:21:51

joke. I command I'm sure others, are

tired of engaging with men with so

0:21:510:21:57

little, so very little to offer. And

I am pleased that they represent a

0:21:570:22:02

tiny percentage of the men I

encounter.

Other MPs spoke of

0:22:020:22:07

encouraging more women into politics

and Westminster.

The best thing that

0:22:070:22:11

we are doing at the moment to

encourage young women to be

0:22:110:22:14

interested in politics is having a

female prime Minister, because

0:22:140:22:19

suddenly for me it was when I saw

Margaret Thatcher become prime

0:22:190:22:22

Minister and in the leader of the

party and prime Minister of our

0:22:220:22:25

country, which may politics relevant

for me. It turned politics from

0:22:250:22:29

being frankly a lot of old men in

grey raincoats to something which

0:22:290:22:34

was a Technicolor relevant issue for

me to be involved in as a

0:22:340:22:37

14-year-old girl living in South

Wales where there weren't too many

0:22:370:22:41

Tories around and I could see an

amazing role model on the

0:22:410:22:49

television.

It is important that we

in this House take responsibility

0:22:490:22:53

for inspiring other women, our

daughters, but I think we should

0:22:530:22:56

also remember in this day that many

of us owe our inspiration to our

0:22:560:23:01

mothers and our grandmothers and

important women in our lives. My own

0:23:010:23:04

grandmother when she was born did

not have the right to vote, and I

0:23:040:23:08

wear her writing link to this

chamber every day and occasionally

0:23:080:23:10

it serves as a reminder of what we

owed to generations past -- I wear

0:23:100:23:13

her wedding ring.

0:23:130:23:15

And while we're on the subject

of groundbreaking women,

0:23:150:23:17

this year sees several new statues

of suffrage campaigners to mark

0:23:170:23:20

the centenary of votes for women.

0:23:200:23:21

This one in Leicester

is of Alice Hawkins, with others

0:23:210:23:24

planned for Emmeline Pankhurst

in Manchester and Millicent

0:23:240:23:26

Fawcett in London.

0:23:260:23:29

But women campaigners argue that

a statue to the pioneering

0:23:290:23:33

18th century feminist -

Mary Wollstonecraft -

0:23:330:23:35

is long overdue.

0:23:350:23:39

Now a group of male

Labour politicians has

0:23:390:23:41

joined that campaign.

0:23:410:23:42

Among them, Lord Adonis.

0:23:420:23:48

This is a statute to Emeline

Pankhurst, right by Parliament. She

0:23:480:23:53

was crucial in getting women to

vote, but Mary was it anything more

0:23:530:23:58

important. Her book, a vindication

of the rights of women published 225

0:23:580:24:03

years ago established the whole idea

that women were on a par with men

0:24:030:24:08

when it came to social, political

and economic rights. That was a

0:24:080:24:12

revolutionary idea. It is now a

century since women got the vote and

0:24:120:24:16

as we look at the great achievements

of women over that period and how it

0:24:160:24:20

was that the social campaigns got

going, in order to give them those

0:24:200:24:24

rights, it all was back to Mary

Wollstonecraft and her extraordinary

0:24:240:24:28

book, the vindication of the rights

of women, which started the modern

0:24:280:24:31

feminist movement. When you read it

today, I got a copy here, I tried to

0:24:310:24:35

get a first edition from the House

of Lords but it was revolutionary

0:24:350:24:38

for the House of Lords in seven to

92 as they haven't got one. Even as

0:24:380:24:46

you read it now you realise how

explosive it was -- 17 92. This is

0:24:460:24:49

what Mary Wollstonecraft said in

1792 when Louis XVI was being

0:24:490:24:51

executed in Paris: to render her a

really virtuous and useful she must

0:24:510:24:55

not, if she did -- discharge occurs

all duties one individual is he that

0:24:550:25:01

production of the lot, she must not

be dependent on her husband's bounty

0:25:010:25:04

for her subsistence during her life

or support after his death. For how

0:25:040:25:07

can a woman be generous who has

nothing of her own? Or virtue is who

0:25:070:25:11

is not free? Those are revolutionary

ideas in 1792. We now regard them as

0:25:110:25:18

of course absolutely commonplace.

The fact that they were

0:25:180:25:21

revolutionary then,, lace now is why

they should be a statute to Mary

0:25:210:25:26

Wollstonecraft in Parliament Square

-- revolutionary then and

0:25:260:25:28

commonplace now. The heart of our

democracy since she did so much to

0:25:280:25:33

liberate women.

Lord Adonis on the

revolutionary Mary Wollstonecraft.

0:25:330:25:36

And that's it from me for now,

but do join Lucy Grey on BBC

0:25:360:25:39

Parliament, on Monday night at 11

for a round up of the day

0:25:390:25:43

here at Westminster.

0:25:430:25:44

But for now from me, goodbye.

0:25:440:25:49