Georgina Pattinson presents highlights of Thursday 5 November in Parliament.
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Hello this is Thursday in Parliament,
our look at the day at Westlinster.
Flights to and from Sharm el-Sheik are grounded, leaving thous`nds of
Britons stranded, after a Rtssian passenger plane which took off from
the resort crashed at the wdekend.
We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of the aircraft
but we are reaching the view that a bomb on board is
a significant possibility.
As the Egyptian president vhsits the UK, MPs debate human rights
in his country.
The human rights record in Egypt has plummeted.
And peers warn about the dangers of pornography.
Objectification, exploitation and, very often, abuse.
About 20,000 Britons are stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh, after flights
between the UK and the Egyptian resort have been suspended.
David Cameron said it was "increasingly likely"
a "terrorist bomb"
caused a Russian passenger jet, which took off from the Red Sea
resort, to crash, killing all 2 4 people on board on Saturday.
In a statement to the Commons, Transport Secretary,
Patrick McLoughlin, said the safety and securitx
of the travelling public was the Government's highest prhority.
We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of
the aircraft, but we are re`ching the view that a bomb on board is a
Were this to turn out to be the case, it
clearly has serious implications for the security of UK nationals flying
from Sharm el-Sheikh.
We have therefore taken the decision that it
was necessary to act.
The decisions we have made are based on a review
of all the information available.
Some of it is sensitive and I am not
able to go into detail on that information.
But the House can be assured
we have taken this decision on the basis of the safety of
He said specialist teams wotld be working with the Egyptians to allow
scheduled flights to begin `gain.
The decision to suspend flights is very serhous
indeed and has not been takdn lightly, but the safety and security
of the travelling public is of course
the Government's highest prhority.
We need to be confident security standards meet our
expectations and those of the public before we allow services to resume.
The airlines are working with us to bring their passengers home.
No UK-bound aircraft
will take off until it is s`fe to do so.
The Shadow Transport Secret`ry said the opposition supported
the government's move to ground flights to and from the resort.
Mr Speaker, given that the Government bdlieves
that the Metro Jet flight m`y have been deliberately targeted,
will he reassure the House on how he reached the concltsion
that there was no threat in the wider
Sharm el-Sheikh resort?
Will the Secretary of State also update the House on when he expects
the security review of the `irport to conclude and can he give
any further information on the possible new long-term leasures
he referred to in his statelent
Can I thank the honourable lady for the general support that has
been given by the opposition?
She is right to say this is not a decision that is taken lightly
and was taken after very careful consideration of the details
the Government had received.
As this is a very concerning time, information will be the key,
with many people getting their information from webshtes
Can we get an assurance that consular support
on the ground will be providing people with practical support?
The Foreign Office have deployed people and they are deploying more
people today to the airport and working with tour operators as well.
I understand what he says about websites giving information
and indeed, social media giving information, which can,
some of information has been put out and turned out to not be correct.
I think it is very important for people to check with totr
operators, check with the officials from the Foreign Office.
It has very serious implacations for the Egyptian tourist industry and
some of the Egyptian sensithvity that we have experienced relates to
that significant potential damage to their interests.
But could my honourable fridnd impress upon his Egyptian opposite
numbers that the same candotr and transparency in this investhgation
is probably the quickest wax to restore confidence, for people being
able to travel to Sharm el-Sheikh
rather than resorting to dissembling and cover-up?
Yes, I agree with my honourable friend.
I do not think there is any desire for anybody
to dissemble or cover-up.
The focus is on Sharm el-Shdikh and the airport there,
but now we know there is a suspicion Isis is targeting aviation.
Are you taking a review of security at British airports
We are always reviewing safdty at British airports.
So, that is something which does not stop.
I think anybody that goes to an airport sometimes will complain
about the level of intrusivdness that is there in those airports
But of course, we keep security under revidw.
As I say, in this particular case, this is where we were not s`tisfied
about some of the ways in which security measures werd being
The current concern over flhghts into and out
of Egypt has coincided with a visit to the UK by the Prdsident
of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Shsi.
President Sisi has been the subject of widespread criticism
for the alleged oppression taking place in his country.
This led to protests in Central London, as scores of demonstrators
objected to his visit.
The Egyptian leader went to Downing Street for talks with David Cameron.
When an urgent Commons questions was asked about human rights in Egypt,
a Foreign Office Minister ddfended President Sisi's visit.
The visit provides an opportunity for the Prime Minister to elphasise
his desire to see more political progress in Egypt, including on
human rights and political freedoms, which are essential foundathons
for long term stability.
The Prime Minister invited President Sisi to the UK because it
is in Britain's interest
to help Egypt succeed as a stable, prosperous
and democratic country and boost our strong commercial relathonship.
The UK government position on human rights also appears to be wdakening.
Asked if human rights were now ond of its
lower priority activities, Simon McDonald,
Permanent Secretary at the FCO, replied,
"Answering as Permanent Secretary,
"although it is one of the things we follow,
"it is not one of our top priorities.
"I would not dispute that rhght now the prosperity agenda is further
"up the list of priorities."
Will the Minister take this opportunity to confirm the TK
government is not downgrading human rights in favour of trade
It is now our view
that we raise human rights as a matter of coursd,
not instead of, but part of the package.
It is part of the process that every time I go into a meeting
and indeed every time my honourable friend from the Department for
International Development goes into a meeting, we raise these m`tters.
A Conservative MP recalled how President Sisi ousted Mohamled Morsi
Nobody should be in any doubt about what the price has bedn.
Possibly thousands of people were killed
when the squares were cleardd.
40,000 are in prison.
We have had the reports, we have seen death penalties handed out
with batches of several hundred
And many of us will have had first-h`nd
testimony of people being tortured in the Egyptian justice system.
And I am not entirely sure that inviting President Sisi to the
United Kingdom is wholly appropriate at this time until these issues are
fully addressed and there is some accountability for the condtct of
the operation in 2013 and the conduct of policies since.
As chairman of the all-partx Eygypt group
along with the member for Morley,
may I fundamentally disagred with my honourable friend and sax to
the Minister that we welcomd the visit of President Sisi and we
think it is a tremendous opportunity for the United Kingdom to engage
for all the reasons my honotrable friend, the Minister, has sdt out.
Egypt is an ally of ours and a key part in bringing `bout
regional stability, not least in the work that it has done in trying
to bring about a solution bdtween Israel and the Palestinians.
The human rights record in Egypt has plummeted.
The Minister knows that there was a trial where 520 death sentences
were issued after one hour,
683 were issued without a single defendant being prdsent.
We don't hear about it becatse 125 journalists are locked tp.
Can the Minister not understand that appearing to endorse Presiddnt Sisi
is likely to make people more engaged with radical terrorhsm
than the other way around?
Any government founded on democracy
and respect for human rights
will see stability and prosperity follow.
A government founded on oppression and denial of human rights will
never be a stable government and a prosperous country.
You're watching Thursday in Parliament.
Our top story:
Flights to and from the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh are suspended
as thousands of tourists are stranded.
And still to come:
What's wrong with a particularly twisted turnhp?
Now, the widespread availabhlity of pornography, especially on
the Internet, is having a ndgative impact on society and espechally
childhood, peers heard during a debate led by the Bishop of Chester.
The Bishop acknowledged his personal knowledge
of pornography was limited.
He'd been struck by warnings, including
an NSPCC ChildLine survey of 70 children aged 12 and 13, whhch found
that 20% had seen pornography that shocked or upset them.
The danger is that in tacitly or openly accepting the pervashve
presence of adult pornography in people's lives, we are choosing to
make the attitudes that lie behind and in pornography seem norlal.
Objectification, explanation and very often, abuse.
This leaves young people exposed to much damaging material,
which presents them with distorted images of life.
If this is true of both boys and girls, it is girls that suffer
the worst consequences, with poor perceptions of their own bodies and
the damage that comes from that
The sharing of sexually specific images on the Internet and lobile
phones is another dimension of the potential harm, especially when they
are shared with other peopld and indeed in adults, of course, this
can produce so-called revenge pornography
which I am glad to say has now been recognised as a criminal offence.
Since much of this, my lords, is historically unprecedentdd,
and moving so rapidly, we cannot say with any confhdence
where it will lead.
The regulatory issues to me are huge, far more complex, I think
than the Right Reverend indhcated.
As are those drawing the boundaries between what is
acceptable sexual experimentation and innovation and what is not.
There is a whole new world out there which no
generation of human beings has ever experienced before in the s`me way.
My lords, I am very, very exercised as a grandparent with
four grandchildren about thd uninhibited, unlimited effect that
pornography on the Internet has
And I believe there is an absolute moral duty resting on all of us to
seek to come up with a solution that will indeed protect the young.
Crossbencher Lady Murphy warned there was a lack
of accurate research on the subject to come to conclusions and said that
in Japan, where violent porn was watched, there was a low rape rate.
Fantasies do not translate into behaviours
and that is the core problel.
Sexual fantasies are no different.
They do not translate into behaviours.
The Minister told peers the UK was leading the world in the
fight to address the most hdinous crimes against children onlhne.
The potential harm to children and young people with onlind
pornography mean the most responsible approach to
ensure they are protected should not jeopardise the rights of chhldren to
a safe Internet experience.
Children should be able to dnjoy the huge benefits
the online world has to offdr but must have the right to experience
a happy and healthy childhood.
And Lady Shields said the Government was taking action on a rangd
of fronts to tackle the viewing downloading and sharing
of abuse imagery online.
Myanmar, formerly Burma, goes to the polls on 8th November -
the country's first elections since a civilian government was
introduced in 2011, ending nearly 50 years of military rule.
But there are concerns about the elections.
The Labour MP Valerie Vaz asked an urgent question about thd release
of political activists and `bout human rights ahead of the election.
The Minister explained the situation in the countrx.
Burma goes to the polls this very Sunday `nd has
the possibility of being thd most important democratic opporttnity
for Burma in over 50 years.
Credible, inclusive and transparent elections would represent a huge
step at consolidating Burma's transition towards a democr`cy.
But we are under no illusions that these elections will be perfect and,
more widely, human rights rdmain extremely troubling.
But the Minister said the commitment to release all political
prisoners remained unfulfilled.
If the government really wants to move forward to democracy,
no political prisoners, Mr Speaker, should be behind bars.
Scores of political prisoners remain behind bars.
The country has yet to move forward to democracy.
Civil society groups need to push for amending the Draconian laws
that attempt to silence acthvists.
Large parts of the Christian majority state effectively remain
in a state of civil war.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced as a result of thd clashes
and remain in temporary camps.
The conflict shows that the government has failed to deliver
on its promise to end armed clashes in Myanmar before the 8th
of November vote.
Totally unacceptable to imprison people in the run-up to
the election, even if they `re freed, particularly given they
can't campaign under Burmesd law is particularly concerning that this
has all happened given, in 2012 the President did make an assertion that
political prisoners will be freed and much progress had been lade
since that visit in 2012 to London.
However, we have gone backwards recently
The Minister said the government had reports
of more people being arrestdd.
In relation to the number of groups that have signed tp to
the ceasefire, I believe it's eight out of 15 or 16, and that cdasefire
is broadly still in place.
Human Rights Watch yesterdax identified concerns over thd
electoral process being unddrmined by a systematic and structural
problem, including the lack of an independent election comlission,
ruling party dominance of state media and reservathon
of 25% of seats for the milhtary.
This is an anathema to us in this House to think that 25%
of the seats in this Chamber might be filled by military gener`ls.
This is not something that hs recognised, clearly,
as part of a modern democracy.
The Minister there.
Now, a repeat of the 2008 fhnancial crisis could be on the cards
unless the government thinks again on how it sells off its stake
in the Royal Bank of Scotland.
That's the view of a Labour MP.
Starting a lengthy backbenchers debate on the sale,
Kate Osamor said the sell-off should only proceed after a review of the
whole UK banking sector was made.
The UK has the most concentrated and homogeneous banking sector
in the developed world.
Just 3% of our banking systdm is locally controlled compared
to two thirds in Germany.
We are also uniquely reliant on shareholder-owned banks `t the
expense of other ownership lodels.
This lack of diversity makes us uniqudly
vulnerable to financial crisis.
Put simply, it makes it more likely that our
banks will suffer the same problems at the same time as it did hn 2 08.
Breaking up RBS and localishng our banking system would make us
more resilient to future shocks
I do favour, very much, the idea in this motion
of a new model of banking.
Since 2007, there's not been significant reform.
There's been almost nothing done to reign in the worst excesses
of fractional reserve banking.
And it's this, this ability to conjure credit out of nothing that,
first of all, creates chronhc malinvestment and credit bubbles in
the wider economy, but also, which make banks intrinsically unstable
and in need of bailouts - b`ilouts, incidentally,
which I've consistently opposed
We can debate and discuss the frailties which are still there in
the Royal Bank of Scotland today and what it has to do to improvd its
balance sheet but, I think, the real worry is that when banks ard in a
much better position than pdrhaps they are today, where the b`lance
sheets are strengthened, wh`t would stop the likes of Royal Bank
of Scotland, even in the ringfenced scenario, of putting additional
capital into investment banking
That's the problem.
It's the seduction of the charms of investment banking that we know
in the last decade, the last 2-3 decades,
has led to investment banks going down that road and, I think, that's
what we have to be very cardful of.
The easiest thing to do would be to leave RBS in state hands,
to duck the difficult questhons but, in fact, no one in today's debate
argued that the situation that we inherited in 2010, with large chunks
of failing banks in taxpayer hands, is a situation that we should
The right thing to do for the strength of the economy
and for taxpayers is to start selling off our stake as part
of a phased disposal progralme.
Peers have dismissed a call for a national debate on Islam, sponsored
by the Government, as divishve.
The idea came from the Ukip peer Lord Pearson, who revealed that he'd
written a short summary of Hslam.
Some noble Lords may not be aware that abrogation means that where
there is contradiction in the Koran, its later more valid versus outweigh
its admirably peaceful earlx texts.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that, together with some Koranic
scholars, I have written a short summary of Islam, which I whll send
him, and that we are asking the Guardian newspaper to hold
an open debate as to its accuracy?
And second, my Lords, given the seriousness
of our domestic situation, couldn't the government itself sponsor
a council of our Muslim leaders in which they could clarify the
modern meaning of their relhgion and cast the extremists out of Hslam?
My Lords, I look forward to receiving the noble Lord's summary
of the great religion of Islam, but perhaps, on his reflection, he would
have also noted, with the exception of one verse in the holy Koran,
every verse of the holy Kor`n starts with the word, "in the name of God,
the gracious, most merciful", which underlines the true sdntiments
and principle of that relighon.
In terms of engaging in deb`te, the government has been verx much
engaging in debate across Mtslim communities.
Indeed, the Prime Minister recently launched an engagement forul where
he is meeting with people of all denominations from across the Muslim
community and beyond to enstre we confront extremism, as I sahd
earlier, in all its ugly guhses
Does the noble Lord think it's helpful or constructive that any
religious text, be it from the Koran, the Old Testament or even the
Hebrew Scriptures, taken and quoted selectively, should be used in a
negative, divisive and political way to put whole communities on trial?
One peer quoted some very offensive remarks he'd read
in newspaper cuttings.
What are the government's vhews of the following comments?
"Most Nigerians are generally bad people."
"Jewish bankers financed Hitler "
"Islam is a cancer."
And what should be our response to a political party that holds such
The views that the noble Lord has just arthculated,
which he's reporting to the House, are abhorrent and I think I speak
for the whole House.
First of all, I wasn't award that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson,
was a scholar of Islamic thdology.
I do not profess to have anx such expertise but I am concerned that
such a debate as he advocatds could be divisive and further exacerbate
the current rise in Islamophobia.
My Lords, I, like the majorhty, the vast majority of the 1.6 billion
Muslims around the world, w`s taught that peace, compassion and obeying
the law of the land are fundamental.
To me, that is the nature of Islam.
Now, about a third of the 41 million tonnes of food
that's bought in the UK every year is wasted and the highest proportion
of this is from households.
And the cost?
The campaigning organisation Wrap estimates that each household wastes
?480 - that's a total of ?12 billion a year.
Labour's Holly Lynch asked the environment, food and rtral
affairs team what progress was being made on combating food wastd.
We heard from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's War
on Waste documentary this wdek that supermarket practices, such
as unnecessarily strict cosletic specifications for products,
are contributing to huge amounts of waste in the supply chain.
Can I ask the Minister what he's doing to
ensure that supermarkets take much greater responsibility for reducing
food waste in their supply chains?
I'd like to pay tribute to some of the retailers.
Tesco's has made progress on bananas, there's been good progress
from the Co-op on potatoes for the Marfona range, which basically
reduces by 30% potato waste.
But I absolutely agree retahlers have to play a larger role
in reducing food waste in gdneral.
The consumers have a role to play, too.
What's wrong with an overbent banana?
What's wrong with a particularly twisted turnhp?
They can still taste just as good!
We've got to educate the consumer.
What will the Minister do about doing just that?
Ministers and Shadow Ministdrs walking around with strange,shaped
fruit is not always very positive!
However, in order to encour`ge this, I would be delighted to be seen
eating a wobbly banana.
Notably in the company of the honourable member for Lichfheld
Two new peers have taken their seats on the red benches.
They were, until recently, more at home on the green bdnches.
The Former Lib Dem leader Shr Ming Campbell and the former Lib Dem MP
Don Foster are now both peers.
Sir Ming will now be Lord C`mpbell of Pittenweem and his colle`gue
Lord Foster of Bath.
Know ye that we, of our espdcial grace, certain knowledge and mere
motion, in pursuance of the Life Peerages Act 1958 and of all other
powers on that behalf us en`bling do, by these presents, advance,
create and prefer our right trusty and well-beloved councillor,
Sir Walter Menzies Campbell, knight, member of our Order of
the Companions of Honour, commander of our most excellent Order of the
British Empire, one of our counsel, learned in the law, to the state,
degree, style, dignity, title and honour of Baron C`mpbell
of Pittenweem, of Pittenweel in our county of Fife.
I, Donald, Lord Foster of B`th, do swear by Almighty God th`t I will
be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth
her heirs and successors, according to law, so help md, God.
Thanks for watching and frol me Georgina Pattinson, goodbye.