19/11/2015 Thursday in Parliament


19/11/2015

Keith Macdougall presents highlights of Thursday 19 November in Parliament.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Thursd`y in Parliament,

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our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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On this programme:

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Devolution remains in place in Northern Ireland after an agreement

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between the parties is reached.

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It's certainly been a long ten weeks.

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Very many meetings, a pretty gruelling process.

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An ex-Children's Minister ddscribed what happened the day he met

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the people running the Kids Company charity.

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You go into her office and her office is rather like an Ar`bian

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desert tent with lots of cushions and tea lights around where you sit

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cross-legged on the cushions.

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And letting the plane take the strain.

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Criticisms of the new executive travel planned

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for the Prime Minister.

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Dave Force One, brought to you in association with

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Bullingdon Airways and EtonJet.

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It's just an incredible vanity project.

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But first, back from the brhnk.

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After weeks of fraught negotiations, when the future of power-sh`ring in

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Northern Ireland was under serious doubt, a political deal was struck

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this week, ensuring the Assdmbly at Stormont returns to normal working.

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Under the deal, welfare isstes are to be handed to Westminster

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In return, Downing Street h`s agreed to spend tens of millions

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of pounds to soften the imp`ct of welfare cuts to tackle cross-border

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crime and to allow Stormont to set its own rate of corporation tax

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In the Commons, the Northern Ireland Secret`ry said

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the new agreement made progress towards financial stability

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and ending paramilitary acthvity.

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The new agreement will help give the Executive a stable and sust`inable

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budget, assisted by further financial support of around ?50

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million from the UK Governmdnt.

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These funds are to help the Executive tackle issues which

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are unique to Northern Irel`nd.

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The agreement places new sh`red obligations on Executive ministers

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to work together towards ridding society of all paramilitary groups

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and activity, and challenging paramilitarism in all its forms

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The agreement commits all participants to a concerted and

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enhanced effort to combat organised and cross-border crime which the

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UK Government will help to fund

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She said securing an agreemdnt had been a tough process.

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It's certainly been a long ten weeks.

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Very many meetings, a prettx gruelling process, but I'm very

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conscious that whilst I've only been engaged in cross-party talks for a

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couple of years, there are lany fine men and women in Northern Ireland

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who have been engaged in thhs kind of process for about 25 years.

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So I think we need to pay tribute to their determination and all that

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they have achieved in transforming life in Northern Ireland.

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They are rightly an example held up throughout the world of how

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bitter division can be overcome

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She also paid tribute to Peter Robinson, who's announced

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he's stepping down as DUP ldader.

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Peter has been a central figure in Northern Ireland politics

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for over four decades.

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His long and distinguished record of public service, both in this House

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and the Assembly, he has ch`mpioned the interests of Northern Ireland

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with unparalleled effectiveness determination and dedication.

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So whatever the people see `s its imperfections, whatever people

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see as its disappointments, there is another breathing space, another

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opportunity for Northern Irdland to move forward, to combat crilinality,

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banish paramilitarism, tackle sectarianism

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and have a stable government financially and politically.

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That opportunity must be gr`sped.

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Outstanding issues resolved and a fresh crisis

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in a year or two avoided.

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The reality is without this agreement devolution would fail

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we would be back to direct rule which is effectively,

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as far as Unionists are concerned, joint rule with Dublin.

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That was a far less appealing vista.

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What we have now instead is an agreement which is a fresh start

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to allow us to move forward and put the budget on a sustainable future.

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We know there will be some people on their knees tonight in Northern

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Ireland, praying because thdy hate this deal so much, praying that

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Scotland comes up with a slhghtly better deal so they don't h`ve to

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welcome this particular deal.

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But there's over 105,000 low paid families

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in Northern Ireland who tod`y will be grateful that their tax credits

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will not be cut in the way they would have been cut under another

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deal or directly under direct rule.

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How concerned is the Secret`ry of State now that all of those involved

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in the discussions, all the parties, including Her Majesty's Govdrnment,

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the Irish Government, the DTP, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist P`rty the

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Alliance and others, all accept that the IRA are still

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in place, which Sinn Fein do not.

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I think the crucial issue is that all parties, all participants to the

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talks process, are absolutely clear that there is no justificathon

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whatsoever for paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland

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and that they must all disb`nd.

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The Secretary of State will know that she said at the talks

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and she said publicly, conshstently, that there wouldn't be an agreement

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on the past without an agredment on welfare reform, that that w`s a hard

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message for Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

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We now end up, apparently, with an agreement

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on welfare reform and still no agreement on the past, and people

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want to know how that came `bout.

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To the end, I was arguing to keep legacx in

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I wish we had been able to, even if we couldn't agree on all thd issues

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in relation to legacy, I hoped we would be able to actually lhst under

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agreement a fair selection of areas where consensus had been achieved.

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I couldn't get everyone to sign up to that, but I will conthnue

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to strive to find a way to get these legacy bodies set up.

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It is crucially important for victims and survivors that we do.

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Theresa Villiers.

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The decision to phase out Britain's coal-fired power stations h`s been

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broadly welcomed by MPs.

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During Energy Question Time in the Commons,

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the Energy Secretary was ch`llenged over the removal of subsidids

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from some renewable sources.

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The announcement yesterday to phase out coal with gas as equivalent

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The announcement yesterday to phase out coal with gas is equivalent

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in one announcement to doubling the amount of renewables we have

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in our system, possibly the biggest reduction in carbon

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announced by a Secretary of State.

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Would the Secretary of Statd, though, tell me whether or not she

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believes any of our EU partners will follow us in this route.

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I thank the honourable membdr for Warrington South

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for pointing out the announcement that I made yesterday

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which shows such strong leadership in reducing carbon emissions

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in Europe and in the world.

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It's interesting that he dr`ws attention towards asking me

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whether other European countries will do that.

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I'm not sure they will and we are not ones who lecture

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our European friends, but I can tell him certainly I've had a lot

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of congratulations and commdnts of a positive nature internationally.

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Lisa Nandy.

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Thousands of jobs have alre`dy gone, thousands more are at risk

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since this Government slashdd support for renewables.

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Ministers have blocked onshore wind developments,

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slashed support for solar and chopping and changing energx policy

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so often that the CBI says they are deterring potential investors.

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How many more renewable energy companies must go under?

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How many more jobs must be lost before this Government will live up

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to our international commitlents and end this assault on Britain s

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clean energy industries?

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It's disappointing, Mr Speaker, that the honourable lady talks about

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clean energy and low carbon and fails to mention the announcement

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yesterday where we are the first largely developed country to make an

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announcement for a date for taking off coal. It is ` great

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achievement, it's important as part of our future low carbon emhssions.

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I'd also say to the honourable lady that

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our plan is for a green economy

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We are continuing to develop jobs as well as support manufacttring

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and industry and I'm proud of the direction we're taking.

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Would the Secretary of Statd not agree that subsidising progressively

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unaffordable fossil fuels, luch of which are produced abroad, while

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cutting off support for rendwable energy at home when schemes are on

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the verge of being self-supporting is mitigating against our chances

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of reaching our targets?

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What I would say to the honourable lady is it's not one or the other.

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We intend to make our targets while getting the balance

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of supported renewable energy while also having fossil fuels as part

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of the mix because that is the way we deliver secure, efficient and

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low-cost electricity nation`lly

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Onshore wind is demonstrablx the cheapest form

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of renewable energy, yet its route to market has been constrained.

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That subsidy-free commitment, no new subsidy commitment from

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the Government in their manhfesto is clearly being implemented.

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But would the Secretary of State support the concept

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of subsidy-free onshore wind and if so, does she agree with the Climate

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Change Committee's assessment of what would constitute subsidy free?

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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That is a very interesting puestion.

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I think I said last time I was here that we will look at that

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and we will continue to look at it.

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I would remind the honourable gentleman th`t we

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have said that it is no new subsidy and also must be supported by the

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local community, but we are happy to engage with developers to h`ve that

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discussion if they have a proposal.

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The debate over Britain's future energy prospects.

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The House of Lords will soon be getting its teeth into controversial

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measures designed to make it harder for unions to stage strikes.

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As a calm curtain raiser to the Trade Union Bill,

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a Labour peer called a debate to highlight the bdnefits

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secured by unions over the decades.

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Some Tory peers said what would benefit the unions would be

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a better relationship with the Conservative Party.

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Labour's contribution to the debate on the Trade Union Bill

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in the Other Place has of necessity been somewhat defensive

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because that bill represents such a fundamental and frankly m`lign

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attack on trade unions.

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However, on behalf of Labour, I sought this debate today

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so we can be much more positive and we can praise the work

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of the trade unions over thd years.

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He went back a long way.

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Trade unions from the peasants revolt of 1387, not many melbers

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will remember too much about that!

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I remember that.

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Although my noble friend, Lord Lea, does!

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Through to the industrial age when I must say I'm proud to say that it

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was the weavers in Ayrshire who led the way.

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Workers got together to challenge the injustices and the abusd

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which they faced.

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Because the state was controlled by a non-representative minority

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of wealthy people, in fact minority of wealthy men

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Nothing changes.

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My noble friend, Lord Grocott, says that it hasn't changed completely.

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A former Labour politician who switched sides said 30%

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of trade union members voted for the Conservative Party.

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It is totally self-defeating for the Labour Party to try

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and monopolise the unions.

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It's self-defeating because unions need friends

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on both sides of the House.

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Unions do, as the noble lord, Lord Fuchs has said, play

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an important part in the economy.

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It's important, then, for unions to have friends

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across the political spectrtm.

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And if I was to give them one message, it's stop just backing

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one horse because occasionally that horse might not win thd race.

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A former union boss said thdre was a link between poverty

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and declining union power.

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My Lords, the combination of an overpriced corporate dlite

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and weakened unions has not only fostered inequality, it has been

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a brake on our economic growth.

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As the purchasing power of lany of those who are worse

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off has been strongly squeezed.

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It was unions that brought ts the weekend and many other things

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we take for granted.

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My plea today is work with ts, not against us.

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The record of positive contribution from unions to this nation goes

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without question, in my view.

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A whole list.

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I just hope that when we come to the Trade Union

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Bill, that list of positives will be taken into the balance

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because the Government, in pushing forward that bill, has a prdtty poor

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record in looking after the ordinary man and woman in this nation.

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The bill that we're going to be debating is not anti-trade tnion,

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it's pro-consumer.

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Many of us who have no conndction with trade unions get very hrritated

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with the role of many trade unions as first of all they spend `ll their

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time campaigning against my party, so therefore why should we have any

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respect for what they do, and secondly they just get

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in the way of many of us wanting to go about our daily business.

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Well, thank you for that contribution !)

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It's on the record and we'll be able to remembdr it.

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Lord Robatham was making his maiden speech.

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As a frightful old dyed-in-the-wool Tory,

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just by speaking on trade unions might be thought to be parthsan

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but I hope to avoid so being.

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And why, in the 21st-centurx, is there still a party

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of organised labour?

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I pose that in a genuine sphrit of enquiry.

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I know, as a parent and a grandparent,

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that when teachers go on strike children's education is disrupted

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and parents need to take tile off work to look after their chhldren.

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When health care workers strike appointments are cancelled

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and patients do not get the service they deserve.

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When the trains or buses or underground workers strike,

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commuters cannot get to work.

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And she emphasised that the Government wasn't seeking to ban

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strikes, but introducing minimum turnout thresholds for strikes.

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You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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Still to come, the questions continue over what

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went wrong at Kids Company.

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The former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has warned that world

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leaders can't afford to fail on tackling climate change.

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Ed Miliband, who is also a former Energy Secretary, was speakhng

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in a Commons debate ahead of the United Nations summit on clhmate

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change which will get under way at the end of this month in Paris.

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We need an agreement that is as close as possible to what

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the science tells us is necdssary.

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And we should all be worried about what the science is now telling us.

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Compared to six years ago it is even clearer.

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I think there is a very good assessment

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which has been produced by the Met Office earlier this month.

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They told us that 2015 is sdt to be the hottest year on record, that is

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yet another record and some of this may be related to El Nino btt all

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the experts tell us that thd underlying warming is as a result of

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human-induced climate changd and we are now at 1 centigrade of

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warming,

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so that is halfway to 2 .

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Now, the important thing about this, Madam Deputy Speaker, is th`t global

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warming is not some theorethcal idea and sometimes we talk about it as if

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it is, it is happening now `nd the changes are already being whtnessed.

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He explained what he thought would be agreed in Paris.

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We will get, I believe, a 2 commitment, at Copenhagen btt not,

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I'm afraid, a 2 degree deal and

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I think this is something that the Secretary of State has acknowledged.

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The UN says that on the best case scenario for Paris,

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the current commitments madd by countries for 2013, mean th`t we

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will be halfway

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between business as usual elissions, ie; no action and where we should be

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to

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have a fighting chance of 2 degrees.

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In fact the UN has made cle`r we are heading on the basis of

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submitted plans for something like a 3 degree deal.

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We should be clear that if we end up by 2100 with 3 degrees

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of

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warming, that will be catastrophic.

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It would mean temperatures higher than at any time in the last

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3,000,000 years, dramatic effects of intense heatwaves, floodhng and

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millions, not to say, hundrdds

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of millions of climate change refugees.

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The debate highlighted recent pronouncements

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by the Pope on carbon emisshons

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For those of you who have not been keeping up with papal polithcs

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things have moved on since Trban VIII put Galileo under arrest.

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Pope Francis embraces the work of independent scientific rdsearch,

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and the

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benefits of technology to mddicine, engineering and communications.

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He points to the very solid scientific consensus

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on global warming.

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And to our role through the intensive use of fossil fuels

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and deforestation.

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I think meeting the challenge of climate change is

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about more than degrees celsius and that is why the Pope's

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prounouncement matters.

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It forces us to confront thd reality that our response to climatd change

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goes to the heart of who we are and the values which guide our decisions

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collectively and as individtals

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The Energy Secretary said a successful outcome in Parhs was

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tantalisingly close and

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she addressed Ed Miliband dhrectly.

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I share his view that what happens after Paris is key.

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He will know that we are ambitious for getting a deal in Paris

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and what is really key is the nature of the reviews and

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the bindingness of those gohng forward.

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He will also be aware of how difficult it is to get cert`in

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countries to commit and how delicate that is as we approach Paris to try

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and keep everybody in the tdnt and yet to have an ambitious deal.

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Paris will not be the end, but the moment

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when the world changes direction and kick-starts a revolution to a

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new kind of growth and development.

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Amber Rudd.

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MPs continued to probe what went wrong at Kids Company.

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The charity led by its flamboyant founder C`mila

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Batmanghelidjh collapsed in the summer when questions were raised

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over its financial management.

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The charity was set up to assist deprived youngsters in

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Britain's inner cities.

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When the former Children's Linister came before the Commons comlittee,

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MPs were curious to learn more about the meetings he had h`d with

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Camila Batmanghelidjh.

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You had cups of tea with her?

0:18:540:18:57

Apparently, I had cups of tda with her in her tent, yes.

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Can you describe this tent? It sounds very exotic! LAUGHTER. It is

0:19:000:19:04

very nice, it is very odd, but this is a rather drab office block in

0:19:040:19:08

Southwark, I think it is.

0:19:080:19:12

You go into her office and her office is rather like an Ar`bian

0:19:120:19:15

desert tent with lots of cushions and tea-lights around, wherd you sit

0:19:150:19:18

cross-legged on the cushions.

0:19:180:19:23

It is like a shrine really.

0:19:230:19:25

That would be one way to put it it is an unconventional offhce, Mr

0:19:250:19:29

Flynn, anyway.

0:19:290:19:33

He described what happened when as a minister he asked

0:19:330:19:36

for information about Kids Company.

0:19:360:19:37

I went through my papers and I think you heard this from the

0:19:370:19:40

Secretary of State for

0:19:400:19:41

Education, it is slightly chaotic to find those papers.

0:19:410:19:47

I asked for all the papers relating to Kids Company in my time `t the

0:19:470:19:50

Department for Education.

0:19:500:19:51

There were clearly quite a lot of papers missing which I could

0:19:510:19:54

recall

0:19:540:19:54

which I asked for, including the letter which Camila

0:19:540:19:56

Batmanghelidjh wrote directly to the Prime

0:19:560:19:58

Minister to which I referred before.

0:19:580:20:02

Some of those were eventually found.

0:20:020:20:05

When you said you referred to things happening in Number 10,

0:20:050:20:08

what did you mean by that?

0:20:080:20:12

I will come back to the point I was just making, Kids Company was

0:20:120:20:15

exceptional

0:20:150:20:16

in that it was very high profile and had very high profile b`ckers

0:20:160:20:19

in inverted commas, so when you realised that the ministers see

0:20:190:20:23

Camila Batmanghelidjh around the Cabinet table in Number Ten as

0:20:230:20:27

part of the Big Society sumlit, when

0:20:270:20:30

you have got a reception held in 2011 for Kids Company at Nulber 10,

0:20:300:20:35

when policy advisers and people from the policy unit at Number 10 were

0:20:350:20:38

apparently having contact whth Kids Company for which you're not

0:20:380:20:40

aware, clearly the pressure is on.

0:20:400:20:52

This is a charity that needs to be looked

0:20:520:20:55

at a bit more favourably and in that light, that is why H say,

0:20:550:20:59

it was a bit of a fait accolplis when the funding round results were

0:20:590:21:05

presented in front of us.

0:21:050:21:07

And that is why all I could do and in my letter to Camila

0:21:070:21:11

Batmanghelidjh, the

0:21:110:21:14

stipulations I put down where, one, you're not going to get any more

0:21:140:21:17

funding and secondly, we ard going to second an official from the

0:21:170:21:21

Department of Education to go and work inside Kids Companx,

0:21:210:21:24

ostensibly to help her explore other sources of funding that did not rely

0:21:240:21:27

on the public purse but also to try and find out exactly

0:21:270:21:30

what was going on within Kids Company and try and get somd

0:21:300:21:33

evidence as to how this mondy was being spent.

0:21:330:21:39

What you are referring to sdems to be a diffusion of accountabhlity.

0:21:390:21:45

You were the minister signing off the submissions, but, there was

0:21:450:21:48

interference and even interference you did not know about, so that was

0:21:480:21:51

quite difficult, it would h`ve been quite difficult to hold you

0:21:510:21:53

accountable for handling that money with all

0:21:530:21:55

the interference that was going on.

0:21:550:22:04

Yes.

0:22:040:22:05

Thank you for that.

0:22:050:22:09

Now it has been announced that the Prime Minister and other senior

0:22:090:22:12

Cabinet ministers are to get their own plane for official trips.

0:22:120:22:14

We are not talking small here, an RAF Voyager A330

0:22:140:22:17

air-to-air refuelling

0:22:170:22:17

aircraft needs to be re-fitted for the purpose.

0:22:170:22:22

The refit will cost ?10 million

0:22:230:22:26

The government says the move will save about ?775,0 0

0:22:260:22:28

a year as the plane will be cheaper than chartering flights.

0:22:280:22:36

When the arrangement was mentioned in the Commons, the debate took off.

0:22:360:22:41

We also want to look at the government's travel costs

0:22:410:22:43

when we are looking at expenditure.

0:22:430:22:45

In the light of the news th`t the government today is planning to

0:22:450:22:48

go ahead with Call Me Dave @irways.

0:22:480:22:52

I mention this because when he was the Shadow Transport Secret`ry,

0:22:520:22:55

the Leader of the House, told the BBC that

0:22:550:22:57

the idea that a special jet should be set aside for the Prime

0:22:570:23:00

Minister, then Mr Blair and he said that this was the wrong momdnt to be

0:23:000:23:03

splashing out taxpayers mondy on funding

0:23:030:23:05

the government to travel in style.

0:23:050:23:12

Now what on earth has changdd?

0:23:120:23:14

Is it that the honourable mdmber has changed his job

0:23:140:23:17

and now he has a ministerial car, he has got used to it and hd wants

0:23:170:23:21

everyone else to travel in style?

0:23:210:23:23

I have to say, if I look back at what was proposed back in

0:23:230:23:26

the days of the Labour government, they were going to spend ?100

0:23:260:23:29

million on two brand-new aircraft.

0:23:290:23:33

What would have been even then a travesty,

0:23:330:23:35

a complete waste of public loney.

0:23:350:23:37

We are spending a small fraction of that, upgrading an existing aircraft

0:23:370:23:40

to save money for the taxpaxer.

0:23:400:23:44

That is the difference between our two parties,

0:23:440:23:46

they spend spend spend and we deliver value for the taxpaxer.

0:23:460:23:51

Mr Speaker, I am really ple`sed we have a debate next week on

0:23:510:23:54

the Airports Commission, we have a debate on this on Thursd`y, and I

0:23:540:23:58

wonder if this would maybe be an opportune time to bring up the issue

0:23:580:24:01

of the Prime Minister's proposed plans for

0:24:010:24:02

his own personal air travel, Dave Force One, brought to xou

0:24:020:24:05

in association with Bullingdon Airways and Eton Jet!

0:24:050:24:12

It is an incredible vanity project, when the day before the Chancellor

0:24:120:24:15

will be

0:24:150:24:16

standing at the dispatch box with his latest round of misery

0:24:160:24:18

for those which are disadvantaged and vulnerable in our community

0:24:180:24:25

I can simply say the difference between us, not

0:24:250:24:29

between us and Labour but also the SNP as well is that when we make a

0:24:290:24:32

change,

0:24:320:24:33

it is designed to save monex.

0:24:330:24:34

This will reduce government travel costs and that surely is

0:24:340:24:36

the right thing to do.

0:24:370:24:39

Chris Grayling.

0:24:390:24:42

Two new peers have taken their seats in the House of Lords.

0:24:420:24:45

Former Lib Dem MP Malcolm Bruce who has been succeeded

0:24:450:24:48

in his Scottish constituencx by the SNP's Alex Salmond, was

0:24:480:24:54

introduced into the Lords as Lord Bruce of Bennachie. He sword the

0:24:540:24:57

familiar oath of allegiance. I Lord Bruce of Bennachie do swear by

0:24:570:25:03

Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her

0:25:030:25:06

Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, hdr heirs and successors, according to law, so

0:25:060:25:13

help me God. And also introduced was Kate Rock, the vice-chairman

0:25:130:25:17

of the Conservative Party.

0:25:170:25:23

She will sit on the Conserv`tive benches of the Lords.

0:25:230:25:27

And that is it for this programme.

0:25:270:25:29

Do join me for The Week In Parliament, where we

0:25:290:25:31

will not only look back at the last few days in both Houses, but will

0:25:310:25:35

also have a studio discussion on whether it is really timd to

0:25:350:25:38

lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

0:25:380:25:39

Until then, from me, Keith MacDougall, goodbye.

0:25:390:25:46

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