10/12/2015 Thursday in Parliament


10/12/2015

Highlights of Thursday 10 December in Parliament, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament,

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

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"Shocking and disturbing" - MPs react to news that an NHS Trust

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failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 pdople.

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Just because some individuals have less ability

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to communicate concerns about their care, it must ndver mean

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that less attention is paid to their treatment or their death.

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Common sense, or a recipe for disaster?

:00:41.:00:42.

for the privatisation of Channel Four.

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The privatisation of Channel 4 would mean a major reduction

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in this distinctive and impressive news service.

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And the former justice secrdtary, Chris Grayling,

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comes in for some mockery from the Shadow Leader of the Colmons.

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The prisoners' book ban, the Saudi execution centres,

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But first, the Government is promising "a change in ctlture"

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after one of England's biggest health trusts

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failed to investigate the ddaths of more than 1,000 patients.

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An inquiry found there was a "lack of leadership"

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at the Southern Health Foundation Trust,

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where the deaths of mental health patients

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and people with learning disabilities were rarely ex`mined.

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Called to answer an urgent Commons question,

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the Health Secretary said the report by NHS England

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looked at unexpected deaths between April 2011 and March this ydar.

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The draft report, submitted to NHS England in September,

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found a lack of leadership, focus and sufficient time

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spent in the trust on carefully reporting

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and investigating unexpected deaths of mental health

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and learning disability service users.

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Of 1,454 deaths reported, only 272 were investigated

:02:01.:02:04.

as critical incidents, and only 195 of those

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were reported as serious incidents requiring investigation.

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The report found there had been no effective,

:02:17.:02:20.

systematic management and oversight of the reporting of deaths

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The Trust accepted failures in their reportings

:02:25.:02:28.

and investigations into unexpected deaths,

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but said a number of the de`ths were of out-patients.

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It is totally and utterly unacceptable

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that, according to the leaked report,

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only 1% of the unexpected deaths of patients

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with learning disabilities were investigated.

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So, from next June, we will publish independently-assured,

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Ofsted-style ratings of the quality of care offered to people

:02:51.:02:53.

with learning disabilities for all 209 CCG areas.

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This will ensure that we shine a spotlight

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on the variations in care, allowing rapid action to be taken

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Secondly, NHS England have commissioned

:03:05.:03:10.

the University of Bristol to do an independent study

:03:11.:03:13.

into the mortality rates of people with learning disabilities

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This will be a very important moment to step back and look at thd way

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we look after that particul`r highly vulnerable group.

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These are truly shocking revelations that, if proven,

:03:27.:03:29.

at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

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Perhaps most worryingly, it appears that the likelihood

:03:36.:03:38.

of an unexpected death being investigated depended hugely

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For those with a learning disability,

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just 1% of unexpected deaths were investigated.

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And for older people with a mental health

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The issue raises broader questions about the care

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of people with learning dis`bilities or mental health problems.

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Just because some individuals have less ability

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to communicate concerns about their care, it must ndver mean

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that any less attention is paid to their treatment or their death.

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This would be the ultimate abrogation of responsibilitx,

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The priority now must be to understand

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how this was allowed to happen and ensure it is put right

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People will be both sad and and dismayed that,

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after Mid Staffs and the new CQC inspection regime,

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Does the Secretary of State agree with me that while

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there is no simple single solution, the solution certainly does not lie

:04:53.:04:55.

in Trusts adopting and relyhng on a tick-box approach to s`fety?

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The allegations in the draft report about Southern Health

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are deeply disturbing, and I welcome the steps

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that the Secretary of State has announced, and particul`rly

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as though it was another isolated incident.

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Looking at the key findings from the draft report,

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for nearly two thirds of investigations,

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Could he immediately send a message out to all trusts that,

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particularly for those who cannot speak for themselves,

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it is vitally important to involve family members?

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Will he send that message out very clearly today?

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The coalition government rightly established a public enquirx

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to look into the appalling care at Mid Staffs hospital

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and the Secretary of State has rightly

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pointed to the challenge to culture that that report,

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the Francis Report, engendered following that scandal.

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Isn't this the moment when we have to think about something

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similar for people with learning disability

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and people with severe and enduring mental ill-health,

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who too often continue to bd treated as second-class citizens in our NHS?

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Many of us have known for a long time that access to full

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National Health treatment for people with learning difficulties,

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of the newly-formed Commisshon on Autism, people on the autism

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spectrum, there are very many of them with poor communication skills

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who finish up with inadequate access to the Health Service.

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Can I ask him, and think he's utterly right, I don't parthcularly

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want a public enquiry, I want fast action to change the ctlture.

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NHS England publish the annual mortality figures

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and what is very striking is there are trusts,

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16 trusts identified, with higher-than-expected mortality

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that had higher-than-expectdd mortality the year before.

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And there does not appear to be any action taken.

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The problem is, the benchmark appears to just be average.

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If you are having poor performance,

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We should be aspiring higher than that.

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The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin,

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kept his cards close to his chest during Transport Question thme,

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despite fervent interest in the announcement

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about the expansion of London's Heathrow Airport.

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There were, however, plenty of attempts to get a sneak preview

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Clearly, there are slot restriction problems

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between Scottish airports and London.

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Does the Secretary of State anticipate making

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an announcement soon about `irport capacity in the south-east?

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Ingenious but unsuccessful, I'm afraid,

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if members look at the terms of the question on the paper.

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One of the future infrastructure projects that this government

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has to make a decision on, that's of most interest

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to most people, is that of airport expansion.

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are interested to know when a decision will be madd.

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So will the Minister confirm that a decision

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will be made on airport exp`nsion by the end of the year,

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or will party politics and the London mayoral elections

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come before that decision for the nations of the UK?

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Mr Speaker, I have read much speculation about what decisions

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Some of that speculation may be true.

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I will not be able to inform the House.

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The Prime Minister told this House in July,

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and I quote, "I guarantee that I can give is that a decision will be made

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by the end of the year on airport expansion."

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Employers have been clear that the Government

:08:32.:08:33.

should bring forward the decision he promised

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but fear a further politically-motivated delay.

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So was the Prime Minister making a clear pledge -

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no ifs, no buts - or are residents who live near Heathrow and Gatwick

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about to be subjected to yet more blight and uncertainty?

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Well, one of the things I won't take any lectures on

:08:52.:08:53.

from the Labour Party is planning infrastructure.

:08:54.:08:55.

They were woeful at it and they did very little of it.

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The simple fact is we have got a government

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that is more committed to infrastructure

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The simple fact is when an announcement is to be made,

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With no luck on Heathrow, MPs used the question session

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to discuss other topics, including the government announcement

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of new contracts for Northern and TransPennine Express franchhses

:09:20.:09:24.

500 modern carriages, and c`pacity for 40,000 more passengers.

:09:25.:09:32.

The Government's handling of the notification programle

:09:33.:09:51.

The pausing, then the un-patsing of the TransPennine

:09:52.:09:56.

and Midland mainline electrification painted a phcture

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Can the Minister tell the House what the added cost is

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to the programme because of the Government's U-turn,

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of which there was no mention in the Hendon review?

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I think, Mr Speaker, I would like to tell the Hotse that

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if a government is committed to electrification...

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Which this government is, unlike the last Labour government,

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which electrified less than ten miles of track.

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Yesterday, I was very pleased to announce

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one of the biggest upgrades in modernisation of rail tr`vel

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for her constituents that this country has ever seen.

:10:23.:10:26.

We are scrapping the pacers, we are introducing new trains.

:10:27.:10:29.

We are transforming the rail network in the North.

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We are not getting enough infrastructure

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investment in the North, linking the big towns and chties.

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I mean, the honourable gentleman is a good friend

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and I would hate to suggest he was snoozing yesterday

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rather than watching the news, but we announced yesterday,

:10:46.:10:48.

Mr Speaker, a transformational package for railways in the North.

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The Transport Secretary also announced that,

:10:54.:10:54.

following the serious floodhng in the north-west of England,

:10:55.:10:57.

trains were running again bdtween London and Glasgow via Preston.

:10:58.:11:01.

And he responded to a questhon from Lib Dem leader Tim Farron,

:11:02.:11:04.

about whether European funds could be applied for

:11:05.:11:07.

to repair the A591 in Cumbrha, which were damaged by the floods.

:11:08.:11:15.

I'm sure the feelings of the whole house

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are with his constituents and those in neighbouring areas

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in terms of the sheer chaos they are facing

:11:21.:11:22.

and not being able to get b`ck into their homes in certain cases

:11:23.:11:26.

and we did say that we would look at it.

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But I will also be looking for more immediate help to his area,

:11:33.:11:35.

and my honourable friend, the Minister of State

:11:36.:11:37.

from the Department of Transport will be in the area tomorrow.

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A Conservative MP has complained of intimidation ,

:11:43.:11:44.

over his support for a controversial trade deal.

:11:45.:11:49.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,

:11:50.:11:51.

between the European Union and the United States.

:11:52.:11:58.

Many politicians argue that it would bring major bdnefits,

:11:59.:12:00.

creating new jobs and business opportunities.

:12:01.:12:03.

Opponents say it is undemocratic, favours big corporations

:12:04.:12:10.

and threatens consumer and workers' rights.

:12:11.:12:12.

In August, my daughter, who is 14, left our house

:12:13.:12:15.

She came back and said there were 20 people outsidd,

:12:16.:12:19.

because I am the secretary of the all-party group on TTIP.

:12:20.:12:25.

They were basically accusing me of wanting to kill people

:12:26.:12:27.

If we are going to have a debate about this issue,

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we should at least make it an honest debate

:12:32.:12:33.

and we should avoid intimid`tion as part of that debate.

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I think we do have a duty to debate this issue

:12:36.:12:38.

I think intimidation has no part in that.

:12:39.:12:43.

as the secretary of the all-party group,

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I have had literally thousands of e-mails

:12:46.:12:47.

from all parts of the United Kingdom,

:12:48.:12:50.

accusing me of all sorts of skulduggery

:12:51.:12:53.

in relation to this proposed trade deal.

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I actually was quite impressed by the fact that the people

:13:06.:13:08.

e-mailing me clearly think I have far more power

:13:09.:13:10.

than I have ever had as a backbench MP.

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But I think there is an important point...

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There is an important point to be made.

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Not a single e-mail was ever sent to me about the deal with C`nada,

:13:18.:13:21.

described unfortunately, I would say,

:13:22.:13:22.

as a Trojan horse for TTIP. Not a single e-mail.

:13:23.:13:24.

Not a single e-mail was sent about that agreement.

:13:25.:13:28.

It is therefore very diffictlt not to conclude

:13:29.:13:30.

This is not about the Health Service.

:13:31.:13:33.

This is about a latent anti-western, anti-US agend`,

:13:34.:13:35.

I think the point needs to be made, and has bden made.

:13:36.:13:45.

The debate was introduced by a Labour MP, Geraint Davhes,

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who said his point was about TTIP's dispute settlement mechanisl,

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called an "investor-state dispute settlement", or ISDS.

:13:51.:13:52.

These settlements allow multi-national companies

:13:53.:13:54.

to sue governments whose policies damage their interests.

:13:55.:14:00.

My point about TTIP is not to "burn it, shoot it, get rid of it,"

:14:01.:14:04.

it is actually to pull the teeth, the ISDS teeth, out of the wolf

:14:05.:14:07.

so we actually have environlental imperatives in it,

:14:08.:14:13.

we have enforceable rights `t work, we have human rights,

:14:14.:14:15.

so it is a blueprint for future global trade.

:14:16.:14:19.

Rather than a blueprint for environmental and human rights

:14:20.:14:22.

A Labour opponent to the de`l said the Department for Business had

:14:23.:14:29.

estimated that TTIP would bdnefit the UK by ?7 billion.

:14:30.:14:32.

Each person in this country would benefit

:14:33.:14:35.

Well, ?2 a week is very nice to have.

:14:36.:14:43.

I'm sure we'd all rather have ?2 a week than not have ?2 ` week.

:14:44.:14:48.

is a loss in terms of working conditions, labour standards,

:14:49.:14:54.

potential improvements in the national minimum wagd

:14:55.:14:58.

then these are not benefits which are in practice

:14:59.:15:04.

going to accrue to ordinary people in this country.

:15:05.:15:07.

That is why people have doubts about this.

:15:08.:15:11.

The MPs were debating a mothon calling on the Government

:15:12.:15:13.

to subject TTIP to full parliamentary scruthny.

:15:14.:15:17.

It is there for everybody to read on the Internet.

:15:18.:15:23.

And it is reaching the right conditions,

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and an can I finally say thhs, that when it is concluded,

:15:25.:15:27.

it will be for this chamber to ratify it.

:15:28.:15:30.

There will be 21 days when it will lie here

:15:31.:15:37.

and, at that point, any honourable member and lay down a motion,

:15:38.:15:40.

put it before this House to reject it.

:15:41.:15:42.

I hope when that day comes, that they will accept this `greement

:15:43.:15:45.

because it is about free tr`de and it is the right thing to do

:15:46.:15:50.

At the end of the debate, that cross-party backbench call

:15:51.:15:53.

for full parliamentary scrutiny went through on the nod.

:15:54.:15:55.

of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

:15:56.:16:00.

Still to come, MPs make a plea to save Britain's trees.

:16:01.:16:13.

Now, if and when Channel 4 hs sold off to private firms,

:16:14.:16:16.

will it be a completely different sort of TV channel?

:16:17.:16:18.

At question time in the House of Lords, some Opposition pders

:16:19.:16:21.

warned that the channel's commitment to public service broadcasthng

:16:22.:16:23.

would be undermined and its news coverage would be reduced.

:16:24.:16:25.

The Prime Minister has said that he wants Channel 4

:16:26.:16:28.

No decisions have been made about the Channel's prospects.

:16:29.:16:41.

The Government is looking at a range of information to assess a broad

:16:42.:16:45.

spread of options including those proposed by Channel

:16:46.:16:47.

Is the Minister aware that the Prime Minister said that

:16:48.:16:52.

private investment would safeguard Channel 4?

:16:53.:16:55.

Leaders in the advertising hndustry and campaign managing say

:16:56.:16:58.

Can the Minister please explain how it is possible that a great

:16:59.:17:02.

Thatcherite success is now under threat?

:17:03.:17:06.

One which supports more than 35 independent production comp`nies

:17:07.:17:12.

annually and is now under threat of what looks like the equivalent

:17:13.:17:15.

It has an important remit that is to deliver innovative,

:17:16.:17:27.

experimental and distinctivd content that appeals to a diverse society,

:17:28.:17:32.

and looking at all the options we would obviously have full regard

:17:33.:17:34.

to that and indeed to the creative industries that depend on it.

:17:35.:17:44.

Channel 4 was established bx Act of Parliament by a Conservative

:17:45.:17:48.

Does the Minister agree with me that it is highly unlikely that any

:17:49.:17:53.

commercial purchaser could be found for Channel 4 unless the Government

:17:54.:17:56.

changes Channel 4's remit which ensures that at present

:17:57.:17:58.

all profits are reinvested in programmes?

:17:59.:18:00.

Will my noble friend agree that Channel 4's coverage of the 201

:18:01.:18:02.

Paralympic Games clearly demonstrated the benefit

:18:03.:18:06.

of the public service remit and non-profit ownership model

:18:07.:18:09.

and the old adage, if it ain't broken don't fix it?

:18:10.:18:15.

I would share the view of mx noble friend about the excellence

:18:16.:18:21.

of Channel 4's coverage of the Olympics and indeed H am

:18:22.:18:24.

What we are doing is looking at the options in an objecthve way,

:18:25.:18:35.

engaging with Channel 4 thelselves, and in the fullness of time,

:18:36.:18:37.

in due course as they say, will reach conclusions.

:18:38.:18:47.

Even if one takes the Minister's reply at face value and is reassured

:18:48.:18:50.

by it she surely must recognise that if Channel 4 were to be privatised

:18:51.:18:53.

that capital would have to be serviced either by dividends paid

:18:54.:19:00.

to investors or interest pahd to those who provided loans and that

:19:01.:19:03.

would represent money which would otherwise have gone

:19:04.:19:05.

Bearing in mind that news programmes are not profitable because their

:19:06.:19:14.

production costs are relatively high and you can't export or resdll used

:19:15.:19:30.

programmes does the noble B`roness the Minister not agree

:19:31.:19:33.

that the privatisation of Channel 4 would mean a major reduction

:19:34.:19:35.

in this distinctive and impressive news service?

:19:36.:19:42.

I would repeat the point that we are looking at options.

:19:43.:19:44.

And I would agree that Channel News and news provision

:19:45.:19:47.

is an important part of dechsions on public sector broadcasting.

:19:48.:19:50.

I think in Parliament we fedl that even more strongly than elsdwhere

:19:51.:19:52.

Woodlands must receive more protection from the effects of High

:19:53.:19:59.

That was plea from the Consdrvative Cheryl Gillan, who's regularly

:20:00.:20:05.

spoken out against the development of the new high speed rail line

:20:06.:20:08.

The Woodland Trust says treds across the UK are being felled

:20:09.:20:13.

at a rate even faster than the Amazonian rainforest.

:20:14.:20:18.

It claims almost half of all ancient woods in Britain have been lost

:20:19.:20:22.

in the past 80 years, and more than 600 ancient woods

:20:23.:20:25.

are now threatened by new roads, pylons,

:20:26.:20:26.

Trees and woodlands have cole in for a two-hour debate

:20:27.:20:32.

I think we have to remember we are not talking about fossilised

:20:33.:20:40.

bits of land, we are not talking about areas that we are protecting

:20:41.:20:43.

We are talking about living woods that provide a service,

:20:44.:20:49.

still right up to this day, to the community.

:20:50.:20:53.

And that is why I feel so p`ssionate about the woodlands that have been

:20:54.:20:57.

I think that the Government really needs to listen to the issuds that

:20:58.:21:04.

are being raised about the destruction of woodland

:21:05.:21:06.

through the development of infrastructure.

:21:07.:21:10.

We want to see this country progress.

:21:11.:21:26.

We want a solid and firm economy but that must not be at the price

:21:27.:21:30.

of some of our most fragile and precious landscapes.

:21:31.:21:32.

It is important to be clear from the outset if we lose

:21:33.:21:35.

the ancient woodlands that we have left they are gone forever.

:21:36.:21:38.

Our very climate and geologx has gifted us a diversity of ancient

:21:39.:21:42.

woodland forms whose composhtion is a product of environment`l

:21:43.:21:44.

conditions of historic management thet will not occur again.

:21:45.:21:46.

Our ancient woodlands therefore cannot, by their very

:21:47.:21:48.

But I do know that the whold department at Defra,

:21:49.:21:52.

you are particularly committed to trees and woodland,

:21:53.:22:03.

but it has to be said that the Forestry Minister himself

:22:04.:22:12.

has said, and I was at a Defra Select Committee

:22:13.:22:15.

this inquiry, he actually admitted that ancient woodland as a category

:22:16.:22:18.

We also recognise that local planning authorities who take these

:22:19.:22:22.

decisions ultimately do not report or collate data

:22:23.:22:24.

As far as we are aware therd is no reporting or collating.

:22:25.:22:27.

So we are certainly happy to look at that particular issue.

:22:28.:22:30.

We do of course have the Ancient Woodland Inventory

:22:31.:22:32.

And, as the honourable membdr pointed out, the Tree Register.

:22:33.:22:38.

This is a registered charitx which updates a register

:22:39.:22:41.

It provides information on the size and growth of trees as well as

:22:42.:22:49.

details of the historical, rare, or unusual significance

:22:50.:22:53.

of the trees and I think that is also playing

:22:54.:22:55.

When Chris Grayling was Justice Secretary,

:22:56.:23:01.

he introduced a number of changes to the prison and courts system that

:23:02.:23:04.

have all now been reversed by his successor in the job,

:23:05.:23:07.

The latest is the criminal courts charge, which is being

:23:08.:23:10.

Well, Chris Grayling is now Leader of the Commons.

:23:11.:23:14.

And at his regular question time, his Labour opposite number,

:23:15.:23:17.

Chris Bryant, enjoyed a spot of teasing.

:23:18.:23:20.

I predicted the new Justice Secretary would get rid

:23:21.:23:25.

of the ridiculous courts ch`rges and, lo, it hath come to pass.

:23:26.:23:35.

The prisoners' book ban, the Saudi execution centres,

:23:36.:23:38.

And now the Information Comlissioner has described the leader's views

:23:39.:23:46.

on freedom of information as a return to the dark ages.

:23:47.:23:48.

Now I know I am in danger of becoming the love child

:23:49.:23:51.

of Russell Grant and Mystic Meg but I predict, I hereby predict yet

:23:52.:23:54.

Wouldn't it just be better if the leader of the House

:23:55.:23:58.

did his own U-turn rather than allow the Justice Secretary

:23:59.:24:01.

I am very proud of what this Government has done

:24:02.:24:04.

Started by the right honour`ble gentleman, continued by mysdlf

:24:05.:24:12.

and being completed by the current Lord Chancellor.

:24:13.:24:16.

It is the case today that if you go to jail for less than 12 months

:24:17.:24:20.

you receive 12 months' support after you have left.

:24:21.:24:27.

Under the party opposite you were released onto the streets

:24:28.:24:29.

with ?46 in your pocket and left to walk the streets with nowhere

:24:30.:24:32.

necessarily to go, no support, no guidance, no nothing.

:24:33.:24:34.

I will take no lessons from him about legacies

:24:35.:24:37.

And just to remind him, he talks about the ludicrous

:24:38.:24:42.

More peers have been introdtced into the House of Lords,

:24:43.:24:47.

taking the total number further into the 800s.

:24:48.:24:50.

Dame Tessa Jowell is a formdr Culture Secretary and was,

:24:51.:24:55.

famously, appointed by Tony Blair to be Olympics Minister aftdr London

:24:56.:24:58.

won the right to stage the 2012 Games.

:24:59.:24:59.

The man who was at the helm at the time of the global fhnancial

:25:00.:25:06.

crash, the former Chancellor Alistair Darling, also

:25:07.:25:08.

He will sit as Lord Darling of Roulanish.

:25:09.:25:13.

Both left the Commons at thd time of the Election in May.

:25:14.:25:16.

And both will be on the Labour benches of the Lords.

:25:17.:25:24.

I solemnly and sincerely to clear and fire that I will bear true

:25:25.:25:35.

allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, her ears and successors.

:25:36.:25:38.

Do join me for the Week in Parliament, when we'll bd looking

:25:39.:25:42.

in detail at the latest clash between the Commons and the Lords,

:25:43.:25:45.

this time over the minimum `ge for voting in the EU referendum

:25:46.:25:48.

Until then from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:49.:25:50.

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