05/11/2015 Thursday in Parliament


05/11/2015

Georgina Pattinson presents highlights of Thursday 5 November in Parliament.


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Transcript


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Hello this is Thursday in Parliament,

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our look at the day at Westlinster.

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The headlines...

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Flights to and from Sharm el-Sheik are grounded, leaving thous`nds of

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Britons stranded, after a Rtssian passenger plane which took off from

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the resort crashed at the wdekend.

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We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of the aircraft

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but we are reaching the view that a bomb on board is

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a significant possibility.

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As the Egyptian president vhsits the UK, MPs debate human rights

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in his country.

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The human rights record in Egypt has plummeted.

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And peers warn about the dangers of pornography.

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Objectification, exploitation and, very often, abuse.

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About 20,000 Britons are stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh, after flights

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between the UK and the Egyptian resort have been suspended.

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David Cameron said it was "increasingly likely"

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a "terrorist bomb"

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caused a Russian passenger jet, which took off from the Red Sea

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resort, to crash, killing all 2 4 people on board on Saturday.

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In a statement to the Commons, Transport Secretary,

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Patrick McLoughlin, said the safety and securitx

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of the travelling public was the Government's highest prhority.

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We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of

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the aircraft, but we are re`ching the view that a bomb on board is a

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significant possibility.

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Were this to turn out to be the case, it

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clearly has serious implications for the security of UK nationals flying

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from Sharm el-Sheikh.

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We have therefore taken the decision that it

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was necessary to act.

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The decisions we have made are based on a review

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of all the information available.

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Some of it is sensitive and I am not

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able to go into detail on that information.

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But the House can be assured

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we have taken this decision on the basis of the safety of

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British citizens.

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He said specialist teams wotld be working with the Egyptians to allow

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scheduled flights to begin `gain.

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The decision to suspend flights is very serhous

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indeed and has not been takdn lightly, but the safety and security

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of the travelling public is of course

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the Government's highest prhority.

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We need to be confident security standards meet our

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expectations and those of the public before we allow services to resume.

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The airlines are working with us to bring their passengers home.

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No UK-bound aircraft

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will take off until it is s`fe to do so.

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The Shadow Transport Secret`ry said the opposition supported

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the government's move to ground flights to and from the resort.

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Mr Speaker, given that the Government bdlieves

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that the Metro Jet flight m`y have been deliberately targeted,

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will he reassure the House on how he reached the concltsion

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that there was no threat in the wider

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Sharm el-Sheikh resort?

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Will the Secretary of State also update the House on when he expects

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the security review of the `irport to conclude and can he give

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any further information on the possible new long-term leasures

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he referred to in his statelent

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Can I thank the honourable lady for the general support that has

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been given by the opposition?

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She is right to say this is not a decision that is taken lightly

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and was taken after very careful consideration of the details

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the Government had received.

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As this is a very concerning time, information will be the key,

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with many people getting their information from webshtes

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Can we get an assurance that consular support

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on the ground will be providing people with practical support?

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The Foreign Office have deployed people and they are deploying more

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people today to the airport and working with tour operators as well.

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I understand what he says about websites giving information

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and indeed, social media giving information, which can,

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some of information has been put out and turned out to not be correct.

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I think it is very important for people to check with totr

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operators, check with the officials from the Foreign Office.

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It has very serious implacations for the Egyptian tourist industry and

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some of the Egyptian sensithvity that we have experienced relates to

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that significant potential damage to their interests.

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But could my honourable fridnd impress upon his Egyptian opposite

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numbers that the same candotr and transparency in this investhgation

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is probably the quickest wax to restore confidence, for people being

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able to travel to Sharm el-Sheikh

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rather than resorting to dissembling and cover-up?

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Yes, I agree with my honourable friend.

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I do not think there is any desire for anybody

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to dissemble or cover-up.

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The focus is on Sharm el-Shdikh and the airport there,

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but now we know there is a suspicion Isis is targeting aviation.

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Are you taking a review of security at British airports

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We are always reviewing safdty at British airports.

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So, that is something which does not stop.

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I think anybody that goes to an airport sometimes will complain

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about the level of intrusivdness that is there in those airports

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But of course, we keep security under revidw.

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As I say, in this particular case, this is where we were not s`tisfied

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about some of the ways in which security measures werd being

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carried out.

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The current concern over flhghts into and out

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of Egypt has coincided with a visit to the UK by the Prdsident

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of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Shsi.

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President Sisi has been the subject of widespread criticism

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for the alleged oppression taking place in his country.

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This led to protests in Central London, as scores of demonstrators

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objected to his visit.

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The Egyptian leader went to Downing Street for talks with David Cameron.

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When an urgent Commons questions was asked about human rights in Egypt,

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a Foreign Office Minister ddfended President Sisi's visit.

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The visit provides an opportunity for the Prime Minister to elphasise

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his desire to see more political progress in Egypt, including on

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human rights and political freedoms, which are essential foundathons

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for long term stability.

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The Prime Minister invited President Sisi to the UK because it

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is in Britain's interest

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to help Egypt succeed as a stable, prosperous

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and democratic country and boost our strong commercial relathonship.

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The UK government position on human rights also appears to be wdakening.

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Asked if human rights were now ond of its

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lower priority activities, Simon McDonald,

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Permanent Secretary at the FCO, replied,

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"Answering as Permanent Secretary,

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"although it is one of the things we follow,

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"it is not one of our top priorities.

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"I would not dispute that rhght now the prosperity agenda is further

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"up the list of priorities."

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Will the Minister take this opportunity to confirm the TK

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government is not downgrading human rights in favour of trade

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It is now our view

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that we raise human rights as a matter of coursd,

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not instead of, but part of the package.

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It is part of the process that every time I go into a meeting

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and indeed every time my honourable friend from the Department for

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International Development goes into a meeting, we raise these m`tters.

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A Conservative MP recalled how President Sisi ousted Mohamled Morsi

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in 2013.

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Nobody should be in any doubt about what the price has bedn.

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Possibly thousands of people were killed

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when the squares were cleardd.

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40,000 are in prison.

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We have had the reports, we have seen death penalties handed out

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with batches of several hundred

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And many of us will have had first-h`nd

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testimony of people being tortured in the Egyptian justice system.

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And I am not entirely sure that inviting President Sisi to the

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United Kingdom is wholly appropriate at this time until these issues are

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fully addressed and there is some accountability for the condtct of

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the operation in 2013 and the conduct of policies since.

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As chairman of the all-partx Eygypt group

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along with the member for Morley,

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may I fundamentally disagred with my honourable friend and sax to

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the Minister that we welcomd the visit of President Sisi and we

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think it is a tremendous opportunity for the United Kingdom to engage

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for all the reasons my honotrable friend, the Minister, has sdt out.

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Egypt is an ally of ours and a key part in bringing `bout

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regional stability, not least in the work that it has done in trying

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to bring about a solution bdtween Israel and the Palestinians.

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The human rights record in Egypt has plummeted.

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The Minister knows that there was a trial where 520 death sentences

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were issued after one hour,

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683 were issued without a single defendant being prdsent.

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We don't hear about it becatse 125 journalists are locked tp.

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Can the Minister not understand that appearing to endorse Presiddnt Sisi

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is likely to make people more engaged with radical terrorhsm

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than the other way around?

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Any government founded on democracy

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and respect for human rights

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will see stability and prosperity follow.

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A government founded on oppression and denial of human rights will

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never be a stable government and a prosperous country.

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You're watching Thursday in Parliament.

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Our top story:

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Flights to and from the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh are suspended

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as thousands of tourists are stranded.

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And still to come:

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What's wrong with a particularly twisted turnhp?

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Now, the widespread availabhlity of pornography, especially on

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the Internet, is having a ndgative impact on society and espechally

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childhood, peers heard during a debate led by the Bishop of Chester.

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The Bishop acknowledged his personal knowledge

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of pornography was limited.

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He'd been struck by warnings, including

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an NSPCC ChildLine survey of 70 children aged 12 and 13, whhch found

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that 20% had seen pornography that shocked or upset them.

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The danger is that in tacitly or openly accepting the pervashve

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presence of adult pornography in people's lives, we are choosing to

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make the attitudes that lie behind and in pornography seem norlal.

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Objectification, explanation and very often, abuse.

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This leaves young people exposed to much damaging material,

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which presents them with distorted images of life.

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If this is true of both boys and girls, it is girls that suffer

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the worst consequences, with poor perceptions of their own bodies and

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the damage that comes from that

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The sharing of sexually specific images on the Internet and lobile

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phones is another dimension of the potential harm, especially when they

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are shared with other peopld and indeed in adults, of course, this

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can produce so-called revenge pornography

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which I am glad to say has now been recognised as a criminal offence.

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Since much of this, my lords, is historically unprecedentdd,

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and moving so rapidly, we cannot say with any confhdence

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where it will lead.

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The regulatory issues to me are huge, far more complex, I think

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than the Right Reverend indhcated.

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As are those drawing the boundaries between what is

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acceptable sexual experimentation and innovation and what is not.

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There is a whole new world out there which no

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generation of human beings has ever experienced before in the s`me way.

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My lords, I am very, very exercised as a grandparent with

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four grandchildren about thd uninhibited, unlimited effect that

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pornography on the Internet has

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And I believe there is an absolute moral duty resting on all of us to

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seek to come up with a solution that will indeed protect the young.

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Crossbencher Lady Murphy warned there was a lack

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of accurate research on the subject to come to conclusions and said that

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in Japan, where violent porn was watched, there was a low rape rate.

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Fantasies do not translate into behaviours

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and that is the core problel.

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Sexual fantasies are no different.

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They do not translate into behaviours.

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The Minister told peers the UK was leading the world in the

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fight to address the most hdinous crimes against children onlhne.

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The potential harm to children and young people with onlind

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pornography mean the most responsible approach to

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ensure they are protected should not jeopardise the rights of chhldren to

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a safe Internet experience.

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Children should be able to dnjoy the huge benefits

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the online world has to offdr but must have the right to experience

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a happy and healthy childhood.

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And Lady Shields said the Government was taking action on a rangd

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of fronts to tackle the viewing downloading and sharing

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of abuse imagery online.

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Myanmar, formerly Burma, goes to the polls on 8th November -

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the country's first elections since a civilian government was

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introduced in 2011, ending nearly 50 years of military rule.

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But there are concerns about the elections.

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The Labour MP Valerie Vaz asked an urgent question about thd release

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of political activists and `bout human rights ahead of the election.

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The Minister explained the situation in the countrx.

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Burma goes to the polls this very Sunday `nd has

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the possibility of being thd most important democratic opporttnity

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for Burma in over 50 years.

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Credible, inclusive and transparent elections would represent a huge

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step at consolidating Burma's transition towards a democr`cy.

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But we are under no illusions that these elections will be perfect and,

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more widely, human rights rdmain extremely troubling.

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But the Minister said the commitment to release all political

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prisoners remained unfulfilled.

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If the government really wants to move forward to democracy,

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no political prisoners, Mr Speaker, should be behind bars.

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Scores of political prisoners remain behind bars.

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The country has yet to move forward to democracy.

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Civil society groups need to push for amending the Draconian laws

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that attempt to silence acthvists.

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Large parts of the Christian majority state effectively remain

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in a state of civil war.

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More than 100,000 people have been displaced as a result of thd clashes

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and remain in temporary camps.

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The conflict shows that the government has failed to deliver

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on its promise to end armed clashes in Myanmar before the 8th

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of November vote.

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Totally unacceptable to imprison people in the run-up to

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the election, even if they `re freed, particularly given they

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can't campaign under Burmesd law is particularly concerning that this

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has all happened given, in 2012 the President did make an assertion that

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political prisoners will be freed and much progress had been lade

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since that visit in 2012 to London.

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However, we have gone backwards recently

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The Minister said the government had reports

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of more people being arrestdd.

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In relation to the number of groups that have signed tp to

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the ceasefire, I believe it's eight out of 15 or 16, and that cdasefire

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is broadly still in place.

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Human Rights Watch yesterdax identified concerns over thd

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electoral process being unddrmined by a systematic and structural

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problem, including the lack of an independent election comlission,

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ruling party dominance of state media and reservathon

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of 25% of seats for the milhtary.

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This is an anathema to us in this House to think that 25%

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of the seats in this Chamber might be filled by military gener`ls.

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This is not something that hs recognised, clearly,

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as part of a modern democracy.

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The Minister there.

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Now, a repeat of the 2008 fhnancial crisis could be on the cards

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unless the government thinks again on how it sells off its stake

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in the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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That's the view of a Labour MP.

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Starting a lengthy backbenchers debate on the sale,

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Kate Osamor said the sell-off should only proceed after a review of the

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whole UK banking sector was made.

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The UK has the most concentrated and homogeneous banking sector

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in the developed world.

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Just 3% of our banking systdm is locally controlled compared

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to two thirds in Germany.

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We are also uniquely reliant on shareholder-owned banks `t the

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expense of other ownership lodels.

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This lack of diversity makes us uniqudly

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vulnerable to financial crisis.

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Put simply, it makes it more likely that our

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banks will suffer the same problems at the same time as it did hn 2 08.

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Breaking up RBS and localishng our banking system would make us

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more resilient to future shocks

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I do favour, very much, the idea in this motion

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of a new model of banking.

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Since 2007, there's not been significant reform.

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There's been almost nothing done to reign in the worst excesses

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of fractional reserve banking.

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And it's this, this ability to conjure credit out of nothing that,

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first of all, creates chronhc malinvestment and credit bubbles in

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the wider economy, but also, which make banks intrinsically unstable

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and in need of bailouts - b`ilouts, incidentally,

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which I've consistently opposed

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We can debate and discuss the frailties which are still there in

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the Royal Bank of Scotland today and what it has to do to improvd its

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balance sheet but, I think, the real worry is that when banks ard in a

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much better position than pdrhaps they are today, where the b`lance

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sheets are strengthened, wh`t would stop the likes of Royal Bank

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of Scotland, even in the ringfenced scenario, of putting additional

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capital into investment banking

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That's the problem.

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It's the seduction of the charms of investment banking that we know

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in the last decade, the last 2-3 decades,

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has led to investment banks going down that road and, I think, that's

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what we have to be very cardful of.

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The easiest thing to do would be to leave RBS in state hands,

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to duck the difficult questhons but, in fact, no one in today's debate

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argued that the situation that we inherited in 2010, with large chunks

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of failing banks in taxpayer hands, is a situation that we should

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maintain forever.

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The right thing to do for the strength of the economy

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and for taxpayers is to start selling off our stake as part

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of a phased disposal progralme.

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Peers have dismissed a call for a national debate on Islam, sponsored

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by the Government, as divishve.

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The idea came from the Ukip peer Lord Pearson, who revealed that he'd

0:19:320:19:36

written a short summary of Hslam.

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Some noble Lords may not be aware that abrogation means that where

0:19:400:19:43

there is contradiction in the Koran, its later more valid versus outweigh

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its admirably peaceful earlx texts.

0:19:490:19:53

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that, together with some Koranic

0:19:530:19:58

scholars, I have written a short summary of Islam, which I whll send

0:19:580:20:03

him, and that we are asking the Guardian newspaper to hold

0:20:030:20:09

an open debate as to its accuracy?

0:20:090:20:13

And second, my Lords, given the seriousness

0:20:130:20:15

of our domestic situation, couldn't the government itself sponsor

0:20:150:20:20

a council of our Muslim leaders in which they could clarify the

0:20:200:20:24

modern meaning of their relhgion and cast the extremists out of Hslam?

0:20:240:20:35

My Lords, I look forward to receiving the noble Lord's summary

0:20:350:20:40

of the great religion of Islam, but perhaps, on his reflection, he would

0:20:400:20:44

have also noted, with the exception of one verse in the holy Koran,

0:20:440:20:47

every verse of the holy Kor`n starts with the word, "in the name of God,

0:20:470:20:51

the gracious, most merciful", which underlines the true sdntiments

0:20:510:20:54

and principle of that relighon.

0:20:540:20:56

In terms of engaging in deb`te, the government has been verx much

0:20:560:20:59

engaging in debate across Mtslim communities.

0:20:590:21:02

Indeed, the Prime Minister recently launched an engagement forul where

0:21:020:21:05

he is meeting with people of all denominations from across the Muslim

0:21:050:21:08

community and beyond to enstre we confront extremism, as I sahd

0:21:080:21:12

earlier, in all its ugly guhses

0:21:120:21:16

Does the noble Lord think it's helpful or constructive that any

0:21:160:21:18

religious text, be it from the Koran, the Old Testament or even the

0:21:180:21:23

Hebrew Scriptures, taken and quoted selectively, should be used in a

0:21:230:21:27

negative, divisive and political way to put whole communities on trial?

0:21:270:21:32

One peer quoted some very offensive remarks he'd read

0:21:320:21:36

in newspaper cuttings.

0:21:360:21:38

What are the government's vhews of the following comments?

0:21:380:21:41

"Most Nigerians are generally bad people."

0:21:410:21:45

"Jewish bankers financed Hitler "

0:21:450:21:48

"Islam is a cancer."

0:21:480:21:51

And what should be our response to a political party that holds such

0:21:510:21:55

views?

0:21:550:21:58

The views that the noble Lord has just arthculated,

0:21:580:22:01

which he's reporting to the House, are abhorrent and I think I speak

0:22:010:22:05

for the whole House.

0:22:050:22:08

First of all, I wasn't award that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson,

0:22:080:22:12

was a scholar of Islamic thdology.

0:22:120:22:16

I do not profess to have anx such expertise but I am concerned that

0:22:160:22:20

such a debate as he advocatds could be divisive and further exacerbate

0:22:200:22:27

the current rise in Islamophobia.

0:22:270:22:32

My Lords, I, like the majorhty, the vast majority of the 1.6 billion

0:22:320:22:38

Muslims around the world, w`s taught that peace, compassion and obeying

0:22:380:22:44

the law of the land are fundamental.

0:22:440:22:48

To me, that is the nature of Islam.

0:22:480:22:51

Now, about a third of the 41 million tonnes of food

0:22:510:22:54

that's bought in the UK every year is wasted and the highest proportion

0:22:540:22:58

of this is from households.

0:22:580:23:00

And the cost?

0:23:000:23:02

The campaigning organisation Wrap estimates that each household wastes

0:23:020:23:06

?480 - that's a total of ?12 billion a year.

0:23:060:23:11

Labour's Holly Lynch asked the environment, food and rtral

0:23:110:23:13

affairs team what progress was being made on combating food wastd.

0:23:130:23:19

We heard from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's War

0:23:190:23:20

on Waste documentary this wdek that supermarket practices, such

0:23:200:23:23

as unnecessarily strict cosletic specifications for products,

0:23:230:23:27

are contributing to huge amounts of waste in the supply chain.

0:23:270:23:30

Can I ask the Minister what he's doing to

0:23:300:23:32

ensure that supermarkets take much greater responsibility for reducing

0:23:320:23:35

food waste in their supply chains?

0:23:350:23:37

I'd like to pay tribute to some of the retailers.

0:23:370:23:39

Tesco's has made progress on bananas, there's been good progress

0:23:390:23:42

from the Co-op on potatoes for the Marfona range, which basically

0:23:420:23:46

reduces by 30% potato waste.

0:23:460:23:49

But I absolutely agree retahlers have to play a larger role

0:23:490:23:53

in reducing food waste in gdneral.

0:23:530:23:57

The consumers have a role to play, too.

0:23:570:23:59

What's wrong with an overbent banana?

0:23:590:24:02

What's wrong with a particularly twisted turnhp?

0:24:020:24:05

They can still taste just as good!

0:24:050:24:07

We've got to educate the consumer.

0:24:070:24:10

What will the Minister do about doing just that?

0:24:100:24:15

Ministers and Shadow Ministdrs walking around with strange,shaped

0:24:150:24:17

fruit is not always very positive!

0:24:170:24:20

However, in order to encour`ge this, I would be delighted to be seen

0:24:200:24:23

eating a wobbly banana.

0:24:230:24:27

Notably in the company of the honourable member for Lichfheld

0:24:270:24:31

Two new peers have taken their seats on the red benches.

0:24:310:24:34

They were, until recently, more at home on the green bdnches.

0:24:340:24:38

The Former Lib Dem leader Shr Ming Campbell and the former Lib Dem MP

0:24:380:24:41

Don Foster are now both peers.

0:24:420:24:45

Sir Ming will now be Lord C`mpbell of Pittenweem and his colle`gue

0:24:450:24:48

Lord Foster of Bath.

0:24:480:24:50

Know ye that we, of our espdcial grace, certain knowledge and mere

0:24:500:24:54

motion, in pursuance of the Life Peerages Act 1958 and of all other

0:24:540:24:59

powers on that behalf us en`bling do, by these presents, advance,

0:24:590:25:04

create and prefer our right trusty and well-beloved councillor,

0:25:040:25:08

Sir Walter Menzies Campbell, knight, member of our Order of

0:25:080:25:13

the Companions of Honour, commander of our most excellent Order of the

0:25:130:25:16

British Empire, one of our counsel, learned in the law, to the state,

0:25:160:25:22

degree, style, dignity, title and honour of Baron C`mpbell

0:25:220:25:25

of Pittenweem, of Pittenweel in our county of Fife.

0:25:250:25:29

I, Donald, Lord Foster of B`th, do swear by Almighty God th`t I will

0:25:290:25:35

be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth

0:25:350:25:41

her heirs and successors, according to law, so help md, God.

0:25:410:25:47

Thanks for watching and frol me Georgina Pattinson, goodbye.

0:25:470:25:55

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