Highlights of Thursday 3 March in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
Coming up a Labour MP says the UK is ignoring the murders
of teenage gang members.
The Government is accused of wanting to eviscerate the BBC.
And in the Lords and there is a cooling tips to save the planet.
I now use laddered tights, clean ones to filter through piths
and pips when making marmalade.
But first it is time for a cross-party commission
into stopping young people being drawn into gangs.
They warned gangs are widening their net into provincial towns.
That the level of violence is getting worse and gang members
are getting younger.
MPs spoke about some of the grim cases in their constituencies
and called for a new understanding of a problem that involved many
complex social issues.
Deprivation, domestic abuse and fear.
Just two weeks ago, I was notified by police of gun shots being fired
on a Friday in a location in the north of my constituency.
On the Saturday after there was a multiple stabbing of a young
man in the south of my constituency and then just outside my
constituency on the Sunday after that Saturday,
there was a drive-by shooting.
I will give way shortly.
On Monday this week at 530 PM in the afternoon a teenager
was stabbed in the north of my borough in Oval after a fight
in a chicken shop and so it goes on.
He examined some of the reasons for youth violence.
Some of the violence is carried out by young people from dysfunctional,
often chaotic families with a history of domestic violence.
Very often, a lot of young people who get wrapped up in this,
come from quite stable families, sometimes there is an issue
because you may have two parents who are struggling to make ends
meet, holding down two jobs to pay the bills and there is a link
to that because often, I was hearing from some young people
this morning, there is a desire to help, provide for your family
and your mum.
And you end up getting wrapped up in this kind of activity as a way
of making money to help pay the bills.
I don't care if the usual suspects are saying,
you are excusing, we are not providing excuses today.
But unless we look at why this is happening and the extra nation
then we will not stop it.
It is not fear the real reason why people join groups.
If you are a young person living on an estate in an area
where these groups operate, and you are not a member of that
group then you will be very fearful that this group were set
upon you and do you great damage.
In my view, in my limited understanding of this problem,
it seems to me that fear is the spur for young people
to join such groups.
I think Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman has made
an important intervention.
I agree with him and think this is a major factor.
David Lammy said worries about gangs were not new.
What is new?
I think the level of violence is new.
I think the age profile is worrying.
And the geographic spread feels out of control.
And he said gang violence was spreading out of the big cities.
Last year we had Basildon, Grimsby, Harrow, High Wycombe,
Southampton, Swindon and what is going on here.
Something that was urban, that was in a city has now become
Murders that were traditionally black have become white.
Actually, it is the whole reflection of our young people that
are being caught up in the violence, the picture is not unique
to particular communities.
It is spreading so there is a geographical spread.
I come back to is it worth an eight page strategy of very anodyne,
we will continue to prioritise the reduction of gang related
violence including knife crime.
Two days before Christmas a young man I know who did working spread
to my office was surrounded by a group of 20 young people
and stabbed in the chest.
The knife entered the fat each issue of his heart,
he was extremely lucky to survive.
You can live in these communities and be unaware.
As a middle-aged woman, I can walk the streets and live
As a middle-aged woman, I can walk the streets and live
in a different world.
And the world that our young people living, in the cities
are increasingly towns to is different and their experience
of it is different.
Replying to the debate to the Home Office, Karen Bradley
reassured MPs that tackling youth violence was a priority.
She admitted that by the time young people came into conflict
with public authorities, usually at hospital,
it was too late.
Now Labour say that those at the top of government wants
to eviscerate the BBC.
The accusation came during culture questions.
The corporation's future is up for discussion after the Government
published a paper in July.
In the Commons, the Shadow Culture Secretary said the renewal
was being used to diminish the broadcaster and boost
Mr Speaker 80% of the 192,000 responses that were in
the consultation say the BBC serves
is audience well or very well,
the majority believe its content is high quality and distinctive
from other broadcasters.
The Secretary of State reports to be a supporter of the BBC so why
is he using the renewal to restrict what the BBC can do rather
it to compete in a rapidly changing increasingly global
I was not surprised to find the responses show that the vast
majority of people value the BBC, as I have said, I value it.
The right Honourable lady will have two away the publication
of the white paper but it is not a question of trying to cut back
on its output, nevertheless there is a case I believe
which is borne out by responses and other surveys we have conducted
that the BBC needs to be more distinctive and that is something
that the director-general himself has said when he set
out his own plans for a chance renewal.
The Secretary of State speech yesterday was more
about bashing the BBC rather than anything else
and that is what the chair of the BBC trust said.
Bashing the BBC is the one thing the secretary of state
and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor agree on these
on these days.
To eviscerate the BBC, to do its competitors FA that rather
than delivering what the licence fee paying public want to see.
They just don't seem to accept that the British people like the BBC
and wanted to continue what it's doing so when will the secretary
of state except that charter renewal should be about making
the BBC fit for the future, rather than trying to diminish
it for the commercial convenience of competitors?
I think the honourable lady must have looked at a different speech
to the one I delivered.
It certainly wasn't about bashing the BBC and indeed as soon as I have
finished making the speech I had a good meeting with the chairman
of a BBC trust who didn't mention anything about bashing
and indeed welcomed what I had said.
As for the charter renewal, it is precisely about making the BBC
fit for the future and I do intend to try to bring forward
the publication as soon as possible.
As the honourable lady knows, there are a number of very important
contributions including 192,000 consultations which we want to take
fully into account.
I have had representations from hundreds of constituents
in Cambridge concerned about the future of the BBC.
Overwhelmingly supportive and positive I must say.
Now we have the results and over three fifths are in favour
of the current funding system, can we have an assurance
that there will be no further top slicing of the licence fee?
Well I do hope to be able to update the House on our progress
with the renewal of the charter in due course.
But we are taking all the responsibilities we have
received very seriously, we are fully taking them
into account, but I would like to point out that we have
already agreed with the BBC that one of the top slices,
that is the additional amount taking for broadband will come
to end in 2020.
I know my right honourable friend will have noted the forthcoming BBC
Shakespeare season held in collaboration with many other
bodies including the Royal Shakespeare Company,
designed to bring Shakespeare to life new generation using not
just TV but radio and online services as well.
Does he agree with me that this is exactly the sort of thing the BBC
ought to be doing and something that only the BBC can do?
I do agree with my right honourable friend strongly.
Another conservative turn to the findings of the recent report
into the abuse by the former BBC DJ and television presenter Jimmy
This four-year ?6 million enquiry confirmed that Jimmy Savile molested
72 victims, raped a youngster as young as eight and attacks
occurred in the corridors and dressing rooms of every BBC
premises over a period of 47 years and yet no senior manager past
or present has accepted individual responsibility.
Does the secretary of state believe this is an adequate response
for the leading public service broadcaster?
Well I would say to my right honourable friend that I hope
he will read in full the statement by the director-general which makes
clear that the BBC does take this matter very seriously,
that it offers a full apology and that it fully accept
the recommendations of Dame Janet Smith.
The important thing is measures are put in place to ensure this
never happens again.
A lot has been done by the BBC but I welcome the fact the BBC have
accepted the recommendations of a further review to be carried
out to make sure that everything possible is being done to stop this
kind of abuse ever happening again.
Staying with culture questions there was also a call for
the Government to do cyber bullying.
One in 5, 10-12-year-olds with a social media account has
been bullied online.
According to a BBC Newsround survey.
The survey found most 10-12 -year-olds have at least one
social media accounts.
Despite the fact that many networks say you must be 13 to join.
The survey asked over a thousand 10-18 year olds in the UK
about their experiences on social media.
Will the Minister agree with me in roundly welcoming
the consultation starting today which has commenced in taking action
on Internet trolls to create fake social media profiles to bully,
and menace others online,
in particular taking real action on children affected
by this online bullying?
I entirely share my honourable friend's concern on this matter,
it is a very distressing matter when this happens.
I discovered that somebody had set up a profile of me
without my knowledge a few weeks ago which I swiftly had removed.
It is clear that we do need to tighten the law in this area
were people are using these profiles to cause distress and in some cases
breaching the law and therefore I absolutely welcomed
the new guidelines should the CPS are coming out with.
You are watching Thursday in Parliament, here on BBC
Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.
What can be done to promote public awareness of Parliament?
In the Commons, MPs had plenty of ideas, including getting more
children to visit.
There was also a suggestion that more use should be made
of modern technology.
Does the Deputy Leader of the House agree with me that use
of the internet and in particular developments such
as Parliamentlive.tv has the potential to hugely increase
the engagement of the public in the proceedings of this place?
The internet is a marvellous form of communication,
whether it is social media, whether it is Parliamentlive.tv.
Of course, people can also watch us on BBC Parliament channel,
if they so desire and I'm sure my mother is watching right now.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
It will be of great concern to everybody in the House that more
and more people think Westminster politics is remote,
corrupt, boring - inexplicably - and unclear.
A third of eligible voters in Britain chose not to go down
the road and cast a ballot in last year's general election.
What does she believe are the main problems with Parliament that
are putting people off and what is the Government
doing about it?
Voter engagement, in terms of general election turnout,
collapsed in the 2001 election after four years of the Blair
But I am pleased to say that voter turnout has increased.
She talks about this institution potentially being corrupt.
I do not believe that is the case.
I believe we have high levels of integrity but where MPs have been
found to break the law, they have been sent to jail
and that is where they belonged.
Down the corridor in the Lords, there was concern that some Muslims
might be missing out on further education because their opposition
to interest-bearing loans prevented them from taking student loans.
Peers were told the Government had consulted an a Sharia-conmpliant
finance scheme for the students and hoped to introduce a product
based on Takaful - a form of Islamic insurance.
I ask the Minister the question because the head teacher
of the Preston Muslim Girls School asked me the question
and I could not answer it.
I'm not sure the head teacher and his students will find
much present comfort in the Minister's reply.
Every year that passes without a solution, thousands
of Muslim students are disadvantaged.
The Government, as the Minister said, identified the solution two
years ago and still can't say when it is going to be delivered.
Will the Minister agree to meet with me so we can discuss how
to have a Sharia-compliant system in place without further delay?
As I said, the Government did a consultation in 2014
and we are continuing to work closely with experts in Islamic
finance to develop the product.
But at the moment, the Secretary of State does not have power to just
introduce this product, we do need primary legislation
which is why we are hoping and looking for a suitable
opportunity to bring it forward.
Given that the student maintenance grants are now going to be ended,
this is going to be far more urgent because it means there is a whole
swathe of students now that will not have grants available to them,
so it really isn't any good saying they have been doing this for two
and a half years now, it has to be in place by the time
the grants are withdrawn.
Can we have that commitment from the Government?
As I said, we will be looking for a suitable vehicle
with which to attempt to introduce the system.
There is strong interest in it and the consultation responses -
94% believed there would be demand for such a system and 81% thought
that the proposed scheme which is being developed
was acceptable, so we want of course to assure access to all students
to our education which is why we would be the first Government
to introduce such a scheme but we need primary legislation
to do so.
Can the Minister tell me, will this product be available
to persons of all religions or none?
Yes, this will be a product that is open to everybody.
It is 45 years ago today, the first British nuclear submarine
reached the North Pole...
It only did that courtesy of the engineers and the skill
of those engineers and in the interest of helping out any
of the Muslims who wish to join the Navy as engineers,
will get their courses paid for.
I thank the noble Lord for his comments and
add my congratulations for this important occasion.
As I said, what we do want to do is try and ensure that access
to university, all young people who wish to and have the ability
to go to university have so and that is why
we are looking forward.
We would be the first Government to introduce such a product.
Labour has urged the Government to do more to promote the circular
economy, cutting waste by repairing and recycling products rather
than throwing them away.
The opposition called on ministers to encourage consumers to reject
the throwaway society and cut landfill mountains.
Peers said radical new thinking was needed to prevent
the unsustainable use of resources such as precious metals which ended
up in rubbish tips when products broke down or were no longer wanted.
Current consumption is linear - companies use raw materials to make
products, they are sold to consumers, who then discard them
when they are no longer valuable or useful.
The circular economy replaces that model with a virtuous circle
which replaces the concept of waste with the concept of disassembly
and re-use so that materials are used again and again.
The global population is set to increase from 7 billion
to 9 billion by 2050, many of whom will be joining
the new middle classes with new levels of consumption.
In the next 20 years, we will need 40% more energy
and water and three times more material resources.
Ways of doing things which may come naturally to us need to be shared
with the new generation, who find it easier to chuck
than to reuse.
When I was a girl growing up, before tights were invented,
we were taught to darn our own stockings -
that is his circular economy.
I now use laddered tights - clean ones - to filter
through the pith and pips when making marmalade and of course
then to recycle the residue into my compost bin.
Again, my own personal, household circular economy.
There are standards for how you deal with food waste but we have yet
to get to the situation where the food industry itself
is changing the way in which it operates.
The food chain needs to be circular and not linear.
It is estimated, there are probably 125 million old mobile phones
languishing in the top drawers of British households at the moment,
many of which contain metals that are becoming increasingly scarce
in the natural world.
We still generate roughly 200 million tonnes of waste
annually across the UK. We must reduce this.
We must do more to ensure that waste that cannot be prevented
is reused and the noble lady, Lady Jones of Whitchurch,
highlighted challenges there are in increasing
levels of recycling.
Currently we recycle 44.9% of waste from households and we are indeed
committed to meeting the EU target of 50% by 2020.
But we need to go further of course and Government continue to work
with local authorities and businesses to promote best practice.
You might feel as though you have already heard plenty about June's
referendum on our EU membership, but in the Commons
at Business Questions, several MPs thought there was a need
for plenty more debate, with one suggesting the subject
should come up for discussion very, very regularly.
Every week, we should have, surely, a major debate,
and could we start with one on the dreadful impact that
leaving the EU would have on our universities,
for most of us in university towns, our biggest employers,
vital to our future, not one vice Chancellor has come out
in favour of Brexit.
Could we have an early debate, a regular debate?
I am sure that we will have plenty of opportunities to debate
European Union matters.
We have just had a series of statements and debates
on these issues.
I'm sure the future of universities will be a matter of debate
and discussion in those at which the means of funding,
either direct or indirect via Brussels, will be a regular
subject for a debate.
Can we have a debate about positive campaigning and can
we encourage everyone, when we are debating our place
in Europe, that this is done as positively as possible?
One of the major issues to be debated during the EU referendum
campaign will be the size of the UK's net contribution.
Could the Leader find time for a debate so that those in favour
of leaving the EU can outline the infrastructure projects
and improvements to public services we could spend that money on?
And it would also give an opportunity for those to try
and defend why the money should go to Europe rather than be spent
in their own constituency.
Some French Minister has apparently been saying today that if we had
the nerve to come out of the EU, all the 4,000 people in Calais
would be put in rubber boats and come across to Britain
because the French don't want anything to do with it.
If I was a Frenchman, I would be hugely embarrassed
by my Government.
A country that is two and a half size of this country,
and roughly the same population cannot disperse 4,000 people
and look after them. They should be ashamed.
Could we have a statement from the Foreign Secretary next week
letting this House know whether it is the Government's
position that if we came out of the EU, we would have more
immigration to this country, rather than less?
Chris Grayling, who favours leaving the EU, said he was certain
that the Foreign Secretary would be back in front
of the Commons very shortly.
The fallout from the EU referendum was also on the mind
of the Shadow Leader of the Commons Chris Bryant.
He pressed Chris Grayling to give the date of the Queen's Speech -
the day when the Government sets out the bills it wants to put into law
over the next year.
Mr Bryant wondered if the Government was putting this off
because of the referendum.
He suggested that perhaps MPs would run out of things to do
in this session if it did not end soon.
Downing Street has also said there is going to be a re-shuffle
after the referendum and that the Leader of the House
tops the list of those who will be sacked.
I for one am beginning to feel very sorry for him so I have been
searching the job pages for him.
Sadly, the only thing that seemed even vaguely suitable
was working as an unpaid, voluntary intern for
the honourable member for Bath.
But unfortunately, he says in the job description,
that he wants someone who is a good team player so that rules
the Leader out.
And all the other jobs say they want someone with a good sense of humour.
LAUGHTER Need I say more?
Don't worry though, I'm sure the Prime Minister will give
the Leader of the House a glowing reference.
The last Parliament was the 'zombie Parliament', as we know.
For months on end, the House had no proper business.
Now, we have the return of the living dead.
They walk amongst us, they look like ministers,
they are paid like ministers but they are doomed.
They hate the Prime Minister, they think he is damaging
the economy and putting our security at risk.
Frankly, the only thing that is keeping them
in the Government is the ?23,570.89 extra salary they will get by
So how does the Government intend to fill the business
between now and then?
We will announce the date of the Queen's Speech when we have
decided the date of the Queen's Speech and as always,
the honourable gentleman makes the mistake of believing that
what he reads the papers is what is actually going to happen.
I haven't seen the papers.
We will take a decision on the Queen's Speech
and we will announce it to this House as always.
And of course, we have to be mindful of the needs to ensure
the progress of business.
I think it somewhat ironic, actually, he can't really
have it both ways.
On the one hand, he is saying, where are the recess dates
and on the other hand, he is saying it is a zombie
Parliament, with no serious business.
Actually, he is completely wrong.
I have just set out plans for a second reading of the Policing
and Crime Bill next week, a really important measure that
will, I think, restore a sensible balance to many aspects
of our policing and justice system.
I announced the Investigatory Powers Bill, a crucial bill to enable us
to defend our country.
If he thinks that is a feature of a zombie Parliament,
then frankly, he doesn't know what the word zombie means.
Chris Grayling on how you define a zombie.
And that is it for now but do join me on Friday night at 11pm
for a full round-up of the week here at Westminster,
including a round-up of this week's arguments on Europe
and an explanation of why the Government has paused plans
to devolve more powers to Wales.
But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.