17/12/2015 Thursday in Parliament


Kristiina Cooper presents highlights of Thursday 17 December in Parliament.

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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.


A new constitutional skirmish as proposals to restrict the powers


In the battle of blue versus another, there was only going to be


one at Victor. councils a revolutionary deal


as part of the latest local For the first time ever, I offer a


guaranteed a Budget to every council which desires one and which can


demonstrate efficiency savings for next year and for every year of this


Parliament. And time to appreciate the virtues


of English sparkling wine. Will my right honourable friend and


ensure that English sparkling wine is served at Government events? So


that Carver, champagne and the inferior brands are confined to the


seller! But first, the review of the House


of Lords and a brief reminder There's primary legislation,


new measures considered by the Lords and the Commons that


become Acts of Parliament. And there's secondary legislation,


also known as statutory instruments. These are powers provided


for in primary legislation that can be activated by the Government


at a later date. The Government opted to use


a Statutory Instrument, or SI, in the Lords to introduce tax


credit cuts in October. The Lords has the right


to block an SI outright. But on tax credits, they actually


voted for a delay to allow impact Infuriated by the move,


the Government asked a Conservative Lord Strathclyde


to investigate the powers He recommended removing


the Lords ability to The news was delivered


to peers by Lady Stowell, She said that when the Lords refuses


to consent to secondary legislation, That means, unlike in primary


legislation, we are able to exercise a veto. A very significant one. So


by convention, we have exercised that power only in exceptional


circumstances, doing so on only five occasions since World War II. So


withholding agreement to a SI is rare enough. To take that step on a


Budget measure, as we did in October, was unprecedented. To do


that on a Motion that where different sides of the House still


disagree as to its effect took us to Dutch rubber into uncharted


territory. These events put a long established, Incheon in doubt and


raised constitutional questions about the primacy of the elected


House which needed to be examined. My honourable friend was asked to


examine whether there was a better way to hand secondary legislation


and in order that the elected House of Commons could have the decisive


say, just as it does on primary legislation.


Lady Smith called statutory instruments the Government's secret


The changes originally proposed were a major policy shift and it would


have been entirely appropriate to become sent by primary legislation.


But the Government chose to use and SI. I want to consider Lord


Strathclyde's report in more detail. But the process the noble lord


recommends is a very significant change. Contrary to some reports, we


overwhelmingly declined to block the measure through a fatal Motion, but


supported, asking the Government to reconsider and bring forward


changes. That is the right and legitimate role of the second


chamber. And indeed my lord, it allow the Chancellor to reconsider


moving forward even more substantial changes and suggested.


She said it wasn't really about tax credits.


This all paints a very unattractive picture of a Prime Minister and the


Government won't tolerate challenge. The evidence -based for the changes


proposed today are weak. I think we differ Dutchmen I differ from the


noble Baroness in that we are currently in a disagreement as to


what happened in October. That is the problem. Because what has


happened, we are now confused as a House. We don't quite know how to


deal with secondary legislation. Because the procedures that we have


before us have become confusing. For many years now there has been


dissatisfaction in all parts of the House with the binary choice that is


open to your lordship's House of options for either accepting or


rejecting SI. Would you also agree that it is relevant that the


procedure recommended by Lord Strathclyde is very similar to that


which was recommended by all-party Royal commission under the noble


load, Lord Wakeham, and by the leader's group in 2011. And also by


the Hansard Society and others. It would therefore be unfortunate if


the circumstances in which this arose was to close people's minds to


positive consideration of the procedure which Lord Strathclyde has


recommended. The Micra she constantly refers to the event in


October. They were bizarre. The Government proposes a reduction in


the income of people in the lowest paid families, the House of Lords


says we think you should think again about this. The governments,


amazingly, says we are thinking again and we've decided that we


agree with the House of lords. And yet, the Government persists in what


can only be seen as a malevolent way, to set up a committee like this


in order to cut the wings of the House of Lords. Governments to get


irritated by this House. I think I expressed and British myself


occasionally. The weather noble lady is misleading herself, is that the


convention laid down by the cunning the committee has not broken down.


Because in the current convention, and it was a red line for me, it's


very clearly states the House of Lords must retain the right to say


no. And the reason was the reason pub are my friend, that without that


right to say no, you sparingly, use carefully, use rarely, but without


retaining that's right, we become a debating society.


Words of warning for the Government there from Lord McNally.


Shortly afterwards, the statement was debated in the House of Commons


where Opposition MPs suggested that the Government


was manufacturing a constitutional crisis.


It is a compromise option that will provide a House of Lords to think


again and would give the final say to the House of Commons. This will


be achieved by allowing the Commons to override a vote by the House of


Lords to reject a statutory instruments. He also recommended the


Government, with the involvement of the Procedure Committee, should


review circumstances in which Statutory Instrument powers should


be subject to Commons over the procedures, especially on financial


matters. And that the Government ensures the appropriate use of


primary and secondary legislation. The Government will need to consider


Lord Strathclyde's review and his recommendations carefully and we


will respond fully when we have done so. This has all the hallmarks of


Government by a fit of pique. The leader says at this review was set


up, I quote, after constitutional questions were raised about the


primacy of this elected House of Commons. What utter trash! The only


people who are raising constitutional questions whether


Prime Minister and the Chancellor and the lead in the soul. They were


stamping their little fee because they hadn't got their way. There


were protests, and, yes, there were. But there will protest against the


Lords. They were against the Government's miserly attempt to cut


tax credits. Rarely has there been a review of such pointlessness with a


prearranged out, as this endeavour of absolute uselessness is. The


battle of blue versus Ermine, there was only going to be one of Victor,


and not the one elected down the corridor there. However this come


about? It was all was an unlikely concept that this Government were


never allow itself to be embarrassed by them ever again.


Chris Grayling didn't think that was fair.


Lord Strathclyde is the last person to be given a script and told to


write a review and then publish it. He has done lots of work, talked to


a lot of thought carefully. It is a pleasure to be here for this bill.


What we are seeing, Madam Deputy Speaker, is crisis management again,


fire fighting again instead of having a clear strategy about the


what the Government was to do on democracy and constitutional change


in the middle of great change with Evo, with Scottish devolution, with


the mess around English devolution. It is important we should at least


try to see ourselves as others do. And democracies, especially nascent


ones, do look somewhat aghast at some of the more archaic features of


our constitutional arrangements. I deeply regret that this has been


brought forward. The leader speaks as this that Micro as if this is


something for the Government alone. It is not, Madam Deputy Speaker.


This concerns parliament as a whole wave changes to be required, it must


be owned by Parliament as a whole. As a new member of this House, I


have to say I find other plays a completely ridiculous anachronism. I


think the people of Somerset are very confused as to why it should


have any power at all in this place. And I, for one, would rather see it


a much more wide ranging review of what is going on with it.


Now, the Government has promised English councils a "revolutionary


deal" as part of the annual local government settlement.


But extra money will be made available to pay for improved


Labour has warned councils will have to make more cuts.


But the Minister in charge told MPs that local authorities will be able


to sign up to a four-year funding package


For the first time ever, I offer a guaranteed Budget to every council


which desires one, which can illustrate efficiency savings. For


next year and for every of this Parliament. A four-year Budget to


give certainty and confidence. This settlement that maintains the


financial resources available to councils in 2020 at around the same


level as they are today. While giving incentives for local


Government make significant savings. It settle the direct up to three and


a half billion pounds to care for our elderly citizens. They is Doric


and lament that is what campaigners for devolution thought that they


would never live to see, local councils answerable to local people


rather than Central Government. CAGNE sadly, the central message is


the same as ever. Cuts, cuts and more cuts. He admits to cash the


crease of ?200 million between now and 2019-2020. As he forgets to say


that the additional spending pressures amount of his ?6.3 billion


according to the LGA. And this will be inflicted on our communities by


the settlement. And does he agree with his conservative colleague,


chair of the LGA, who said, and I quote directly. It is wrong that


services to our local communities rely on will face deeper cuts than


the rest of the public sector yet again. And for local taxpayers to be


left to bigger the bill for new Government policies without any


additional funding. He goes on, even if councils stopped filling


potholes, maintaining parks, closing children's centres, leisure centres


and turned off every street light, they would still not have saved


enough money to plug the financial black hole which they will face by


2020. That is the Conservative leader of the LGA, Mr Speaker. So


far from this being a tactical settlement, there could be nothing


more strategic than a settlement for the first time ever giving the local


council leaders have long called for, which is the certainty of a


four-year funding settlement previously denied to them and giving


them the chance to manage their affairs in exactly the way they want


to. I congratulate my right honourable friend on having


delivered what is frankly the most imaginative local government


settlement that I have heard in my time in the House, including those


that I had to deliver myself. The paradox of this statement is


exemplified by my own council which has had a reduction of its grant by


50%, and yet a massive increase in responsibilities, so pretending that


adult social care can be picked up by a 2% increase in council tax is


obviously a nonsense. A shortfall in Central Government funding full


Ochil services risks hitting the most vulnerable first, and devolving


responsibility is to local councils without associated funding simply


puts councils in charge of implementing his Government was Matt


Cutts. When I was in the department at the beginning of the previous


government of which is party was a member, the savings required of


local government were higher than required in this government.


You're watching Thursday in Parliament with me,


MPs have been debating the sexual exploitation of 16 and 17-year-olds.


It follows a report by the Children's Society


which concluded that people in this age group are particularly


vulnerable as they transition from childhood to adulthood.


It is time of life that requires nuance, a nuance that does not come


easily in-laws that must deal imprecision. We have an age of


consent to sexual activity set at 16, and we are not suggesting this


is changed, but we do start the debate this evening, this afternoon,


in the light of the Children's Society report that shows that we


still do not get the balance right in the case of sexual expectation of


16 and 17-year-oldss. The report published by the group titled old


enough to know better highlights the difficult vulnerability of that


group, and the regarding the fact that they are children, and the age


of consent. Patricia Gibson said the report made


for harrowing reading. The law recognises that those in


this age range can legally consent to sexual relationships, but under


the children act of 1989, they are so considered children, and as such,


professionals, indeed wider society, has a legal duty to safeguard these


young people from exploitation. We'll 16 and 17-year-oldss continue


to be protected from sexual abuse within the family or from those in a


position of trust, and from sexual expectation offences such as child


prostitution and pornography offences? They simply and


appallingly do not receive the same kind of protections as younger


children. The last Parliament saw the high-profile child exploitation


cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Telford, among others. It was


reported of children and young people being passed around for sex


by groups of men, their plight made worse by the attitude of those


working in the agencies charged with protecting them who regarded them as


making a lifestyle choice to exchange sex the gifts. No scope


should be left in a 16-year-old to be considered not vulnerable despite


being a child, when we know there are significant problems with


professionals on the justice system treating this age group as adults or


as resilient, or asking for it, particularly if the victim is seen


to be involved in Krummenacher to. The message will go out to


perpetrators loud and clear that if you sexually exploit, abuse or rape


a 16 or 17-year-old, you will automatically receive a harsher


sentence. The law does not recognise that in many cases where children


aged 16 and 17 become victims of sexual offences, they are coerced


into submission by perpetrators who supply them with drugs or alcohol,


or who the young people are scared of. The capacity to consent is


impaired through an imbalance of power between a child and a


perpetrator, and by the young person's use and /or dependency on


drugs or alcohol prior to the defence. There is clear evidence as


you know that children in care are more vulnerable to grooming and


sexual expectation. Will you look again to see if this highly


vulnerable group of 16 and 17-year-olds could have the


protection of a child abduction warning notice? We must also


remember that there are other vulnerable 16 and 17-year-oldss who


are not look -- looked after by local authorities. They could be


disabled or young carers. We do need to work across Government, and that


is why we have established across government response, and I want to


ensure all members that this is a top priority for this Government.


The Home Secretary launched the report tackling child sexual


expectation in March this year, and this sets out a national response to


the failures we have seen in rather as represented are damnable lady,


Manchester, Oxford and elsewhere, where children let down by the very


people who were responsible for protecting them. We will continue to


overall the police -- overhaul the police and social services.


Significant work has and is taking place in cross government, but given


the time available, I will not go through the points raised today. But


I will say my door is always open, and all honourable members are very


welcome to come to see me at we can discuss their concerns and the work


that is being done, and I will be happy to share in detail the work


Governments Governments


So it must be time for some panto-related jokes


This year they were cheerfully supplied by Labour MP Chris Bryant.


the panto season is now upon us. Oh, yes it is! And Cinderella is


appearing locally. Apparently auditions were last month, so


unfortunately, they will have to do without my Prince Charming. However,


I feel that the Epsom Playhouse in the right honourable member's


constituency has beauty and the beast at the moment. There is a


rumour going around at the leader and the deputy leader are going to


be appearing in this production on select nights.


He was talking about Chris Grayling and Therese Coffey, who,


by the way, was wearing a fabulous Christmas jumper.


I'm pretty certain that the Debaty leader will be playing Mrs Potts,


because she will be Mrs coffee pots. That is the worst labour joke today


at! Well, it may not be, actually. And as for the Leader of the House,


Mr Speaker, he is no beast, obviously, but I hear there was a


mystery bidder earlier on this week at the sale of Mrs Thatcher's


frocks, and there is a rumour that he is going to be seen waltzing


across the stage in that black printed chiffon number as Belle. And


a review of the year from Chris Grayling. The Conservatives won the


election, and Labour lost. And I think Liberal Democrats have done an


invisibility cloak since then. There has been a slight change in numbers


on the benches over there. And then of course we all came back to


Westminster, and you will remember those happy early-morning sprints as


the Labour left of the Scottish National Party rushed for the best


seats. But they don't need to do that any more, because the Labour


left has moved from those seats to the front bench and the leadership


of the Labour Party. What we will see in the New Year is whether the


shadow leader, and there is a proud tradition of these things, decides


to do anything about that. And it was back to panto with the


SNP's Pete Wishart. I'm surprised to see so many of my colleagues here


tonight, because it was our Christmas party last night, and


there were fine renditions of 500 Miles and Loch Lomond. We also have


Beauty and the Beast at Perth concert Hall. Looking at the Labour


benches, I thought Sleeping Beauty might be more appropriate. And I


always like a good pantomime horse! Now, forget about Champagne


and Cava and Prosecco. If you're looking for a bit


of festive cheer, try some English English wine is a


flourishing industry. The French Champagne producer


Tattinger has recently announced that it's going to produce


English fizz in Kent. English but DeWine is a growing


industry worth almost ?100 million, and I know that two sparkling wines


recently beat champagne in a wine critics' tasting competition. We are


promoting the industry. I thank my right honourable friend for her


answer. In my West Sussex constituency, there has been a


remarkable increase in wine production. Is it not time that a


co-ordinated strategy to promote these excellent wines which beat


others from around the world in wine tastings, and will my right


honourable friend ensure that English sparkling wine is served at


Government events, and Seco, Carver, champagne and other inferior brands


are consigned to the cellars? I will be holding a roundtable in the New


Year with the sparkling wine industry to talk about how we can


encourage the industry to grow. I recently held an event in Shanghai,


and I'm in courage in all of my colleagues across Government to use


English sparkling wine as they drink of choice. Can I thank the Secretary


of State for her support of the English wine industry, and her


recent visit, and I hope that she has a tipple of Breaky Bottom with


her Christmas lunch! How are her discussions with the Chancellor


going to get a better deal on tax English wine producers?


The Environment Secretary pointed out that excise duty is one


And she reassured MPs that during a trip to a Sussex vineyard,


she did her bit for the wine industry!


I did have a very enjoyable morning in Sussex. We started the tour at


9am, and it was one of the best days in the job! Will my right honourable


friend join me in welcoming that injure's new venture to produce


sparkling wine in my constituency? -- Tattinger's. It is not a surprise


that even the French want to get in on the action of English sparkling


wine, and using Defra's data, we have identified an additional 75,000


acres across the country which are suitable for growing sparkling wine.


That is the equivalent of the Champagne region, so I'm sure it


Cheers to that! will go from strength to strength.


And on that note, I'd like to wish you a very happy and peaceful


We'll be back in the New Year, on the 5th of January 2016.


Until then, from me, Kristiina Cooper, goodbye!


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