17/12/2015 Thursday in Parliament


17/12/2015

Kristiina Cooper presents highlights of Thursday 17 December in Parliament.


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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.

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A new constitutional skirmish as proposals to restrict the powers

:00:14.:00:19.

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

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one at Victor. councils a revolutionary deal

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

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

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

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Parliament. And time to appreciate the virtues

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of English sparkling wine. Will my right honourable friend and

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

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

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seller! But first, the review of the House

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

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new measures considered by the Lords and the Commons that

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

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also known as statutory instruments. These are powers provided

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for in primary legislation that can be activated by the Government

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at a later date. The Government opted to use

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

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credit cuts in October. The Lords has the right

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

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

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the Government asked a Conservative Lord Strathclyde

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to investigate the powers He recommended removing

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the Lords ability to The news was delivered

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

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

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

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by convention, we have exercised that power only in exceptional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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raised constitutional questions about the primacy of the elected

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

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examine whether there was a better way to hand secondary legislation

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

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say, just as it does on primary legislation.

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Lady Smith called statutory instruments the Government's secret

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

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have been entirely appropriate to become sent by primary legislation.

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

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

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

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

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supported, asking the Government to reconsider and bring forward

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

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

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moving forward even more substantial changes and suggested.

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She said it wasn't really about tax credits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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deal with secondary legislation. Because the procedures that we have

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

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

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

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

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procedure recommended by Lord Strathclyde is very similar to that

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

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

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

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

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positive consideration of the procedure which Lord Strathclyde has

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recommended. The Micra she constantly refers to the event in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Words of warning for the Government there from Lord McNally.

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

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where Opposition MPs suggested that the Government

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was manufacturing a constitutional crisis.

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

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

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

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Lords to reject a statutory instruments. He also recommended the

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Government, with the involvement of the Procedure Committee, should

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review circumstances in which Statutory Instrument powers should

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be subject to Commons over the procedures, especially on financial

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matters. And that the Government ensures the appropriate use of

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primary and secondary legislation. The Government will need to consider

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Lord Strathclyde's review and his recommendations carefully and we

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

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

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

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

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people who are raising constitutional questions whether

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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never allow itself to be embarrassed by them ever again.

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Chris Grayling didn't think that was fair.

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

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

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

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

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fire fighting again instead of having a clear strategy about the

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what the Government was to do on democracy and constitutional change

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

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

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

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

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our constitutional arrangements. I deeply regret that this has been

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now, the Government has promised English councils a "revolutionary

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deal" as part of the annual local government settlement.

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But extra money will be made available to pay for improved

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Labour has warned councils will have to make more cuts.

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

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to sign up to a four-year funding package

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

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which desires one, which can illustrate efficiency savings. For

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

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give certainty and confidence. This settlement that maintains the

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financial resources available to councils in 2020 at around the same

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level as they are today. While giving incentives for local

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

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

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and lament that is what campaigners for devolution thought that they

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

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

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

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

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that the additional spending pressures amount of his ?6.3 billion

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

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

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

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

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

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left to bigger the bill for new Government policies without any

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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four-year funding settlement previously denied to them and giving

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

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to. I congratulate my right honourable friend on having

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delivered what is frankly the most imaginative local government

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

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

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

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

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

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obviously a nonsense. A shortfall in Central Government funding full

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Ochil services risks hitting the most vulnerable first, and devolving

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responsibility is to local councils without associated funding simply

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puts councils in charge of implementing his Government was Matt

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

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

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local government were higher than required in this government.

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You're watching Thursday in Parliament with me,

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

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It follows a report by the Children's Society

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which concluded that people in this age group are particularly

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vulnerable as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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enough to know better highlights the difficult vulnerability of that

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

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of consent. Patricia Gibson said the report made

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for harrowing reading. The law recognises that those in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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prostitution and pornography offences? They simply and

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appallingly do not receive the same kind of protections as younger

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

:16:43.:16:48.

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

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reported of children and young people being passed around for sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:17:22.:17:25.

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

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

:17:29.:17:33.

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

:17:34.:17:36.

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

:17:37.:17:42.

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

:17:43.:17:44.

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

:17:45.:17:48.

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

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impaired through an imbalance of power between a child and a

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

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

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

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

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

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protection of a child abduction warning notice? We must also

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

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

:18:26.:18:31.

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

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

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

:18:41.:18:44.

The Home Secretary launched the report tackling child sexual

:18:45.:18:47.

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

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

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

:18:55.:19:01.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:19:26.:19:28.

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

:19:29.:19:34.

Governments Governments

:19:35.:19:36.

So it must be time for some panto-related jokes

:19:37.:19:38.

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

:19:39.:19:43.

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

:19:44.:19:53.

appearing locally. Apparently auditions were last month, so

:19:54.:19:57.

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

:19:58.:20:03.

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

:20:04.:20:07.

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

:20:08.:20:10.

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

:20:11.:20:14.

be appearing in this production on select nights.

:20:15.:20:16.

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

:20:17.:20:18.

by the way, was wearing a fabulous Christmas jumper.

:20:19.:20:20.

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

:20:21.:20:35.

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

:20:36.:20:41.

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

:20:42.:20:48.

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

:20:49.:20:52.

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

:20:53.:20:58.

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

:20:59.:21:01.

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

:21:02.:21:15.

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

:21:16.:21:19.

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

:21:20.:21:24.

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

:21:25.:21:28.

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

:21:29.:21:31.

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

:21:32.:21:36.

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

:21:37.:21:40.

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

:21:41.:21:43.

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

:21:44.:21:48.

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

:21:49.:21:53.

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

:21:54.:21:57.

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

:21:58.:22:02.

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

:22:03.:22:05.

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

:22:06.:22:10.

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

:22:11.:22:20.

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

:22:21.:22:26.

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

:22:27.:22:29.

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

:22:30.:22:36.

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

:22:37.:22:39.

of festive cheer, try some English English wine is a

:22:40.:22:42.

flourishing industry. The French Champagne producer

:22:43.:22:46.

Tattinger has recently announced that it's going to produce

:22:47.:22:48.

English fizz in Kent. English but DeWine is a growing

:22:49.:22:58.

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

:22:59.:23:08.

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

:23:09.:23:16.

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

:23:17.:23:20.

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

:23:21.:23:22.

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

:23:23.:23:31.

co-ordinated strategy to promote these excellent wines which beat

:23:32.:23:35.

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

:23:36.:23:38.

honourable friend ensure that English sparkling wine is served at

:23:39.:23:45.

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

:23:46.:23:58.

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

:23:59.:24:01.

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

:24:02.:24:06.

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

:24:07.:24:10.

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

:24:11.:24:13.

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

:24:14.:24:20.

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

:24:21.:24:28.

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

:24:29.:24:42.

her Christmas lunch! How are her discussions with the Chancellor

:24:43.:24:45.

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

:24:46.:24:48.

The Environment Secretary pointed out that excise duty is one

:24:49.:24:50.

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

:24:51.:24:54.

she did her bit for the wine industry!

:24:55.:24:55.

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

:24:56.:25:04.

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

:25:05.:25:13.

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

:25:14.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:31.

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

:25:32.:25:37.

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

:25:38.:25:41.

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

:25:42.:25:47.

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

:25:48.:25:48.

Cheers to that! will go from strength to strength.

:25:49.:25:51.

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

:25:52.:25:54.

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

:25:55.:25:58.

Until then, from me, Kristiina Cooper, goodbye!

:25:59.:26:03.

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