17/03/2016 Thursday in Parliament


17/03/2016

Highlights of Thursday 17 March in Parliament, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament, our look at the best

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of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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Labour keeps up its attack on the Chancellor's Budget.

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He kicked the poor and made them cry.

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Georgie delivered a tax giveaway.

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A review finds no evidence that establishment figures were involved

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in the historical abuse of children in care in North Wales.

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The victims were torn to shreds in a merciless way and several

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of them took their lives as a direct consequence of the abuse

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being continued by our court system, and it is still continuing today.

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Arguments over the European Union intensify in the Lords.

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If the single market is such an economic miracle,

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why does he think that the European Union is widely

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recognised as being something close to an economic disaster zone?

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As the debate on the Budget resumed in the Commons,

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Labour claimed the reductions announced for disability benefits

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represented a "new low" for the Government.

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The Chancellor George Osborne is facing calls from opposition

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parties, and some Tory backbenchers, to reverse a planned ?1.3 billion

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cut to payments that help people with day-to-day living such

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The Shadow Chancellor made an appeal to MPs.

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Can I just say this across the house?

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This is a very important issue, we will not make party

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I say this sincerely, as someone who has campaigned

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on disability issues in this house for

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I urge you, and all members now, to press the Chancellor

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It is cruel, and it is unfortunately, I believe,

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dangerous for the well-being of disabled people.

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Does he not agree with me that if the

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Chancellor does not listen to us on this side about these Draconian

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cuts to people who are receiving such

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benefits, perhaps he will listen to Graham Ellis, the chair

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of the Conservative disability group, who

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is now, as a result of these pernicious cuts, cutting all links

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In the six years that he's been in charge

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of the nation's finances, the Chancellor has missed every

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He said he would balance the books by 2015,

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but a deficit this year is set to be over ?72 billion.

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That Britain would pay its way around the world before it has

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overseen the biggest current-account deficit since modern records began.

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You know, I want to help the Labour Party in every way that

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And I want them to be credible in the next selection.

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But the Shadow Chancellor took to the airwaves this morning

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and talked about borrowing more money.

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Can he give an absolute commitment that if

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he was to become Chancellor, he would not borrow more money

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The present Chancellor has just borrowed...

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?200 billion extra than what he promised.

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Let us make it absolutely clear that like any company...

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Like any company, UK PLC under us - we will invest.

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We will invest in the plant and machinery to create the growth

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which can afford our public services.

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The Shadow Chancellor proved today that

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he is incapable of answering any of the questions put to him

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But he is able to tell us a few things.

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He's told us he wants to transform capitalism.

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He's told us that his heroes are Lenin and Trotsky.

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He's told us that he wants to borrow more.

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In fact, had we carried on with the Labour Party's plans

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when they were in government, from 2010,

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we would have borrowed ?930 billion more in the course of the last six

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The Education Secretary brought the focus of the debate round to

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schools. For those who are

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saying that we aren't addressing the critical issues,

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they could not be further Our white paper published today

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is a vision for raising standards in teaching,

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and raise them higher than any

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government has before. Teachers will be better

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qualified and accredited, they will have access to the best

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opportunities and command more respect than any generation

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of teachers before them. Taking their rightful place among

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the great professions. Let me thank the Secretary of State

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very much for giving way. Didn't we go through years and years

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under Labour where our standards We did our children

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absolutely no favours, While most of us would agree

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that the extension of the school day is most welcome,

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there will be children And therefore finding

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it most difficult to benefit from any of the reforms

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that any of us may talk about. While one welcomes

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the Chancellor's sugar tax, which will give more children

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the abilities to start their school with food in their bellies,

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might she break convention and lead a cross-party group to her colleague

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sitting next to her so that we can lobby for some of that sugar tax

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to feed the poorest children I thank the honourable

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gentleman very much indeed, my right honourable friend

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or I would be very happy to meet One of the announcements that has

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not got the attention from yesterday, but I will come

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onto it, is the funding, additional funding, significant

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additional funding for breakfast We have, as a government,

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also committed to continuing the pupil premium,

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another way in which schools are able to use that money

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to support those children In answer to my honourable

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friend for Sheffield Healy showed that 100%

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of the Treasury senior civil servants are based in Whitehall,

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with 60% of the civil servants being men, apparently the Chancellor

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really does think that the man He has a lot of men in Whitehall

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making the decisions in this budget. Is that why they have

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failed to come up with Let me say to the

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honourable lady I had the pleasure of working

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in the Treasury with my honourable friend the Chancellor

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in the last parliament. You could not find somebody more

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supportive of promoting women Let's deal with the issue

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of the tampon tax. We hope very much that

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we are going to make progress with the EU

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in relation to the VAT rate. I think when we try to give people

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educations, we also do it in a way that is easier to digest

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and remember when people leave. I tend to think if I cannot explain

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it to my seven-year-old son, I think that is the way I will pitch

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it to my friends across the house Because, it is no more

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complicated than this: Georgie Porgie spun a lie, he kicked

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the poor and made them cry. And when the rich came out to play,

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Georgie delivered a tax giveaway. It's really no more

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complicated than that. Taking money from the poorest,

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giving it to the richest. I must also stress, moving on,

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my support for the sugar tax It is also bold, I believe,

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a move that sends a message that will educate and encourage,

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with consumers and parents, and children, and

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the drinks industry. Given the two tiers,

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it will also encourage the drinks industry to cut down

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on the amount of sugar in drinks, My own grandmother died

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when my father was very She had a complete and

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utter addiction to soft Now, although that was a different

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era, and we cannot be 100% it was the cause

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of her diabetes, it is My family grew up in

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a household that was very I often think if we had

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that tax then, what Child sexual abuse was endemic

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at residential homes in North Wales That was the conclusion

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of a shocking report, published in 2000,

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by Sir Ronald Waterhouse. That report didn't discover

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whether prominent individuals, But in 2012, when allegations

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about public figures were coming to light, the Government ordered

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a review into the adequacy It was led by Lady Justice Macur,

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who has now published her findings. She endorsed the first inquiry

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and said she had found no evidence of involvement by

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Establishment figures. Let's be clear, we are talking

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about dark and shameful events that These were children

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in the care of the state because they were vulnerable

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and the state let them down. That is why our first thought

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will always be with the victims, supporting them and bringing

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the perpetrators to justice. Waterhouse's final report,

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Lost In Care, published in 2000, concluded that widespread sexual

:09:35.:09:36.

abuse of boys occurred in children's residential establishments

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in Clwyd in 1974 and 1990, and that there was a paedophile ring

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operating in the North Wales and Chester areas, but no reference

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was made to any abuse being carried out by nationally

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prominent individuals. Stephen Crabb said Lady Justice

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Macur examined a huge Lady Justice Macur's

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main finding is that, and I quote, "I have found no reason

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to undermine the conclusions of Waterhouse in respect of

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the nature and the scale of abuse." Lady Justice Macur looked closely

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at the issue of nationally prominent figures and concluded

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that there was, again I quote, "No evidence of the involvement

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of nationally prominent individuals in the abuse of children

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in care in North Wales Some named in the report

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have been removed. Lady Justice Macur urged caution

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in relation to releasing names of individuals accused of abuse

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or speculated to be involved in abuse who have not been subject

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to a police investigation, have not been convicted

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of a criminal offence and/or whose name is not in the public domain

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in the context of child abuse, whether establishment

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figures or not. She argued that to do so would be,

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and I quote, "Unfair in two respects The extent of the abuse

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revealed by the Waterhouse It found evidence of widespread

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and persistent physical and sexual abuse, including multiple rapes

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carried out against young This abuse was allowed to take

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place over many years, sometimes decades, in the very homes

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where vulnerable children should The scale of the abuse is shocking

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but what is also shocking is that many of the enquiries into this

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abuse have encountered a reluctance to cooperate with them and a refusal

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to publish their conclusions. In short, cover-ups

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and missed opportunities. She welcomed the publication

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of the Macur review. There may be cases where reductions

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are needed, not least to ensure that no ongoing police investigation

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is compromised, but these reductions must be as few as possible and they

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must be justified to survivors. One MP was concerned

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about the removal of names I feel that this will be a matter

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that will cause the most concern I fully understand the reasons my

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right honourable friend has given, which were made by Lady Justice

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Macur, but can he confirm, can he confirm that

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Justice Lowell Goddard will have the right to pursue

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in her own inquiry the names of those whose names have been

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redacted, the identities of those whose names have been redacted

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in the report that he has given? A full un-redacted copy has gone

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to the Goddard inquiry. He asks whether Goddard will be able

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to pursue those names Just bear in mind that one

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of the specific recommendations of this Macur review today is that

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actually it's the police and the judicial process

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that is best placed to go after, in his words, names of people

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who might be... where there are specific

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allegations, and public or private enquiries aren't the best forum

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for doing that. Page 300 of the Waterhouse report

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lists the names of 13 young men who couldn't give evidence

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to the new report because they Most of them took their lives

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following the case where they went before those who were accused,

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who were all used to giving evidence in court, some of them

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because of their police background. The victims were torn to shreds

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in a merciless way and several of them took their lives as a direct

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consequence of the abuse being continued by our court system,

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and it's still continuing today. The Welsh Secretary said heinous,

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horrific acts of abuse took place, and he recognised that the report

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would not bring closure to everyone. With 97 days to go in the EU

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referendum campaign, Euro-sceptic peers have been

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stepping up their arguments over why a British exit, or

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Brexit, makes sense. The veteran Ukip peer Lord Pearson

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raised in the Lords a recent document from the Civitas

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think-tank entitled "How The Trade Benefits Of EU

:14:15.:14:19.

Membership Have Been Mis-sold". He said he was disappointed

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at the way the Government had Which shows that four

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smaller non-EU countries, Chile, Korea, Singapore

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and Switzerland, have been able to make vastly more free trade deals

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than has the EU with its pretended My Lords, can the Government tell us

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why, as the world's fifth-largest economy, we couldn't do as well

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or better if we left the EU? And second, does the Government

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accept that the single market would want to continue

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its free trade with us He must recognise the fact that

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while half the goods we exported went to the EU, when you look at it

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from the EU's point of view, 7% of EU goods came to the UK,

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so I hardly think that's a strong negotiating stance to get all 27

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countries to agree unanimously Would my noble friend

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the Minister please...? My noble friend the Minister

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referred to reform of And indeed the European Union has

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proved itself to be unreformable. If the single market was such

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an economic miracle, why does he think that

:15:46.:15:48.

the European Union is widely recognised as being something close

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to an economic disaster zone Why does he think that in the latest

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opinion poll in France, published in Le Monde a few days

:15:57.:16:03.

ago, 53% of the French people said they would like a referendum

:16:04.:16:09.

so they could leave My Lords, when he says

:16:10.:16:12.

that the EU isn't reformed, he ignores the fact we are out

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of the parts of Europe which don't work for us, so we won't have

:16:24.:16:26.

to join the euro, that is agreed, we won't have to be part

:16:27.:16:30.

of Eurozone bailouts, that is agreed, we won't be

:16:31.:16:33.

part of a European army, that is agreed, and importantly we

:16:34.:16:36.

won't be part of an EU superstate. So we have the best of both worlds

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and the one thing we do have is a market of 500 million people

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on our doorstep without any trade We were told earlier

:16:48.:16:50.

that it was a remarkable, ground-breaking document but,

:16:51.:16:57.

my Lords, even the author of the Civitas paper says,

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and I quote, "Nonmember countries pay nothing for exporting

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to the single market other than the tariffs and trade costs

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of individual exporters." Would the Minister not agree,

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that is the very reason that the UK needs to be in the single market,

:17:15.:17:18.

precisely so that our individual exporters are not subject

:17:19.:17:22.

to the tariffs that members of third The noble Lord spoke of lower prices

:17:23.:17:27.

in the single market but since this organisation is a protectionist

:17:28.:17:36.

organisation, isn't it clearly the case that consumers

:17:37.:17:38.

within the EU are paying higher prices than they would

:17:39.:17:40.

otherwise be paying? Can I just give the example

:17:41.:17:44.

of flights, which have come down A former Cabinet Minister asked

:17:45.:17:47.

about a recent pro-EU letter My Lords, as we are on the subject,

:17:48.:17:51.

could my noble friend clear up Were those letters which were

:17:52.:17:58.

published over the names of distinguished former military

:17:59.:18:06.

personnel and leading industrialists drafted by people who were being

:18:07.:18:17.

paid by Her Majesty's government who subsequently importuned those

:18:18.:18:20.

gentlemen for their signatures, My Lords, my briefing

:18:21.:18:22.

didn't cover that, But what I can do is commend

:18:23.:18:27.

to the House the speech in the debate on the 2nd of March

:18:28.:18:40.

from the noble Lord Stirrup, who gave a very clear speech on why

:18:41.:18:44.

it was preferable to remain You're watching our round-up

:18:45.:18:49.

of the day in the Commons Still to come: have coffee cups

:18:50.:18:56.

become an environmental hazard? MPs have called for a proper

:18:57.:19:05.

investigation into the potential health threats from contaminated air

:19:06.:19:08.

on passenger planes. Concerns have been raised

:19:09.:19:12.

in particular about so-called aerotoxic syndrome, the name given

:19:13.:19:15.

to illnesses caused by exposure A debate in Westminster Hall was led

:19:16.:19:17.

by Labour's Jonathan Reynolds, The key factor here is the use

:19:18.:19:24.

of bleed air to provide a pressurised air supply

:19:25.:19:31.

in the cabin during flights. It is compressed air from the jet

:19:32.:19:34.

engines and is used by the vast majority of passenger

:19:35.:19:37.

aircraft in operation today. The problem arises when faults

:19:38.:19:40.

with engine seals cause seepage into the cockpit and cabin,

:19:41.:19:43.

which in turn can lead to contaminated fumes containing

:19:44.:19:47.

toxins being digested by people Aerotoxic syndrome is something

:19:48.:19:49.

which affects the peripheral central Symptoms include migraines, fatigue,

:19:50.:19:55.

difficulty thinking, numbness, aches and pains, breathing

:19:56.:20:01.

problems and digestive problems. Furthermore, there has been

:20:02.:20:06.

a significant rise in the number of cases, which simply

:20:07.:20:08.

cannot be ignored. I think it is very significant

:20:09.:20:12.

that the Unite trade union have been able to tell me they are

:20:13.:20:15.

currently acting on behalf There is evidence here pointing

:20:16.:20:17.

to this being an illness cabin crew may be exposed to, not

:20:18.:20:23.

to mention passengers also, and I think that must

:20:24.:20:26.

be treated seriously. It seems to me, in the research

:20:27.:20:28.

I have done on this issue, it is highly likely that aerotoxic

:20:29.:20:32.

syndrome is a real result, a health outcome of prolonged

:20:33.:20:38.

exposure to toxic air and therefore this issue deserves the attention

:20:39.:20:45.

of Parliament and deserves the attention of the

:20:46.:20:50.

Department for Transport. Does the honourable member agree

:20:51.:20:56.

with me that some of the symptoms could be confused with other

:20:57.:20:58.

illnesses and therefore Worryingly, for short exposures

:20:59.:21:00.

effects are usually reversible, but for cabin crew who may be

:21:01.:21:07.

exposed on a more regular basis, permanent neurological

:21:08.:21:11.

damage could occur and, Yes, I think that is indeed

:21:12.:21:13.

a distinct possibility. The industry, including regulators,

:21:14.:21:25.

are relying on a system of denial rather than fitting detection

:21:26.:21:28.

systems required to collect the evidence on the true number

:21:29.:21:33.

and concentration of fume events. I don't believe the industry,

:21:34.:21:37.

or the Government for that matter, would deny the existence of fume

:21:38.:21:41.

events, and again the Minister can correct me if I'm wrong

:21:42.:21:44.

but I believe they would also accept fume events are detrimental

:21:45.:21:47.

to health and, while possibly disagreeing on the extent

:21:48.:21:51.

of the impact, I would like to ask the Minister to support calls

:21:52.:21:54.

for an independent inquiry. This issue is taken seriously

:21:55.:21:58.

by all parties involved but also it is a complex issue with little

:21:59.:22:03.

evidence to show that change is needed, but it will take time

:22:04.:22:05.

to find new and innovative solutions We certainly need to coordinate

:22:06.:22:09.

international research and I will certainly raise this

:22:10.:22:14.

with the CAA at my next I'll also discuss it with Balpa

:22:15.:22:17.

when I meet with them. Although I have to say this has not

:22:18.:22:20.

necessarily been very high on their agenda at some

:22:21.:22:23.

of the meetings I have heard, but maybe debates like this

:22:24.:22:26.

will further raise awareness amongst Last year's introduction of a 5p

:22:27.:22:28.

charge on shopping bags in England and Wales, in the interests

:22:29.:22:37.

of tidying up the environment, has been a success, in the view

:22:38.:22:42.

of the Environment Minister, Fewer bags are

:22:43.:22:45.

cluttering the streets. Because they're a combination

:22:46.:22:47.

of plastic and paper, they can't be recycled,

:22:48.:22:52.

and too many are being discarded. A Labour MP believes

:22:53.:22:57.

it's time for action. Could the Government have a look

:22:58.:23:02.

at the problem with the wretched number of plastic lined paper

:23:03.:23:05.

takeaway coffee cups? The overwhelming majority

:23:06.:23:07.

of which never get recycled because of the difficulties

:23:08.:23:10.

of ripping out the plastic lining It is a huge problem

:23:11.:23:14.

and there are tens of millions of these things being produced

:23:15.:23:23.

and thrown away and, as the honourable member pointed

:23:24.:23:26.

out, many of these things cannot be recycled either by the way

:23:27.:23:29.

they are disposed of or because of Having tackled plastic bags,

:23:30.:23:33.

which I hope everybody in the House would agree the plastic bag

:23:34.:23:37.

tax has been a success, coffee cups seems to be a very good

:23:38.:23:39.

thing to look at next. Another Labour MP thought credit

:23:40.:23:42.

for recycling lay with Europe. Would he not accept that if it

:23:43.:23:47.

hadn't been for the European Union we would be nowhere in terms

:23:48.:23:51.

of dealing with the waste, we would still be throwing

:23:52.:23:55.

all our waste in holes in the ground in this country if it hadn't

:23:56.:24:02.

been for the stimulation The honourable member tempts me

:24:03.:24:05.

into a much bigger political conversation, but it is true that EU

:24:06.:24:10.

has played a constructive role in this, has shown real leadership

:24:11.:24:15.

on recycling and there are certainly things we can learn from other

:24:16.:24:18.

European countries, particularly Denmark on the success

:24:19.:24:20.

they have had on landfill. I was litter picking over

:24:21.:24:23.

the Clean For The Queen weekend, outside a local primary school,

:24:24.:24:30.

and I was dismayed to find that most What could the Government do

:24:31.:24:33.

to encourage the next generation to recycle more and not miss

:24:34.:24:39.

the opportunity to forge If half her colleagues

:24:40.:24:42.

are as virtuous as the right honourable lady, she's set a very

:24:43.:24:48.

high and exacting standard. Mr Speaker, if I could join

:24:49.:24:50.

with you in paying tribute to the virtue of the

:24:51.:24:55.

right honourable lady. The answer is, of course,

:24:56.:24:59.

that we need to work on educating people, and this is a German model,

:25:00.:25:02.

right the way from school upwards on the importance of protecting

:25:03.:25:06.

resources and recycling, but I believe we could also do more

:25:07.:25:08.

to harmonise the system so it's more straightforward wherever you live

:25:09.:25:12.

in the country to know exactly what needs to be recycled

:25:13.:25:16.

and where to put your recycling. Do join me for the Week

:25:17.:25:21.

In Parliament, when we not only look back over the last few days

:25:22.:25:25.

at Westminster but also try to assess whether we're entering

:25:26.:25:28.

a new era of personality politics. Until then, from me,

:25:29.:25:33.

Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:34.:25:38.

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