Highlights of Thursday 14 April in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
Coming up on this programme: MPs are told they'll have to wait
a little longer for publication of the Chilcot report.
Peers hold their first debate on the Ways and Means that
And there's a call for a ban on the tiny plastic beads
They're flush to the sewage system and into the sea.
But first, the Iraq Inquiry report is still not expected to be
published before summer, even though national
security vetting will be completed by next month,
John Penrose said the Chilcot report into the Iraq War should be handed
to the Government for security checks next week.
There has been much criticism of the time it's taking to write
Sir John Chilcot has himself has indicated that he expects
publication in June or July this year.
But in a Commons debate MPs lined up to demand an end to the delays.
Because we were misled on the matter, Parliament voted
So there were very good reasons for setting up the inquiry
The war led to the deaths of 4,800 allied soldiers,
The lowest estimate of Iraqi civilian casualties was 134,000,
but plausible estimates put the number up to four times higher.
The war immediately created 3.4 million refugees,
It cost the British taxpayer ?9.6 billion,
and it cost the American taxpayer $1,100 billion.
It was he said the greatest foreign policy failure of this generation.
The public ought to expect the report to be published
That should be the reasonable conclusion, but that
There are now reports that the publication of the report
will be postponed until after the EU referendum at the end of June.
The report is already in electronic format. It has already been
repeatedly checked for accuracy. It will be checked against security
services. It will be read more than some newspapers will be read. We are
on the 21st-century, not de-wrap of hot lead typesetting -- the era.
Someone said this morning I might have said that more quickly by
saying you can simply press send. Never in our wildest nightmares did
anyone believe that the loved ones of those who had fallen would have
to suffer a period of seven years of not knowing whether their loved
ones were sent to a battle that was based on the vanity
of politicians and not on the real The right hon gentleman
is absolutely right. There is no excuse for
delaying this any further - The conclusion of the Chilcot
inquiry should be a chance for the Government to draw a line
under the Iraq adventure-perhaps It is an opportunity to understand
where it went wrong, why we fell down this particular
rabbit hole and why the UK's strategy in the Middle East
was so feckless that the Blair-Brown Government felt that they had no
choice but to follow the United States down
that rabbit hole. Chilcot has become
something of a "corpse in a cupboard" as the hon member
for Penrith and The Border We must face up to Chilcot and learn
the lessons that it may offer. We need to get on with understanding
what the UK wants and what our Otherwise, we will be condemned
to continue living with that corpse in the cupboard and, worse still,
an ineffective foreign policy. We expect the inquiry's report to be
ready for national security checking in the week beginning 18 April -
that is, some time next week. Once Sir John indicates
that that is the case, As the Prime Minister
promised, it will take no Once that is done, the inquiry team
will prepare the report I should make it clear that at that
stage, even when the national security checking process
is complete, the report will still be in Sir John Chilcot's
hands and will not be released to the Government until
everything is ready. A new high-speed rail line
was proposed by Labour back in 2010. The billto construct
the first phase, from London to the West Midlands,
has been slowly making its way It's finally made its way
to the Lords where peers have held their first debate -
and where a Government minister set out the now
familiar case for HS2. Patchwork and sticking plasters will
work for a period but are not the answer. This will not help us create
the capacity country's connections. It will not
maximise opportunities for our northern cities and Scottish cities
to grow and prosper. To allow our economy to grow and to compete on an
international level, we need a step change in capacity. That is why this
Government is committed to delivering HS2. There was concern
from the bishops' bench. It cannot be down to those living near on the
line, they face testing years ahead. The Government has an important
responsibility to continue to listen to their concerns, to seek to work
with them and those worthy of their trust. It is also a great
responsibility to see the benefits of this project extent as widely as
possible, alleviating the pain compassionately unfairly and sharing
the game imaginatively -- gain, to drive Government policy and the
final shape of this legislature. High-speed rail is established
internationally in Japan, Korea, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the
Netherlands, Belgium and many other countries. The first major project
has now started in the United States between Los Angeles and San
Francisco, roughly the distance between London and Glasgow. I am not
aware of a single country that has introduced high-speed rail between
his major cities and now thinks this was a mistake. Of course there are
major challenges ahead, not least keeping HS2 to time and budget, but
we are right to be taking HS2 forward. It will change the country
for the better and it can't come soon enough.
But the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott said the North
of England wasn't going to get anything until 2020.
We are told to hang on, but you're there, so it's coming to you in the
North. High-speed one was exactly the same. They even Ways and Means
betrays to go to the North. They convinced the North to shout for it
and it collapsed. We never had the Northern trains that were absolute
built, we had to sell into Canada. Financial problems at the heart of
it. If you look at the skilled increase from ?30 billion to ?50
billion, this is in a few years and will continue for 20 years in this
period of this territory, I do wonder whether the second part of
this investment might be poured into saying we can't completely beyond
Birmingham. Stand by for the mess. As we consider the case for HS2, we
should look at it in terms of the economy of the country and the
challenges we face will stop we must about modern engineering and
infrastructure are crucial, as is money spent on research in
technology. Even in these stringent times, investment in new
infrastructure such as HS2 and money spent on research into new
technology is money very well spent. The noble Lord and Minister said he
was proud that HS2 has not demolished a single grade one listed
building. Well, ancient woodlands are on the grade one listed
buildings of the environment, ancient woodlands are the richest
terrestrial and -- habitat for wildlife. Those undisturbed
communities of microorganisms that have been maturing away for between
410,000 years, the lost fragments of the wildlife that once covered the
entire country after the last ice age.
You're watching Thursday in Parliament, with me,
The European Arrest Warrant was introduced across the EU in 2004
to replace separate extradition arrangements
It was designed to speed up the time it takes to transport suspects
to states where they're wanted for crimes.
But some MPs have warned that, if the UK leaves the EU,
criminals may come to regard the UK as a safe haven.
But others questioned whether the warrant was as effective
The European Arrest Warrant makes it easier to extradite foreign suspects
to where they are wanted for crimes and to bring suspects back
to the UK to face justice for crimes committed here.
It is the quickest and most economical way to do these things,
and other member states would not be bound to co-operate with us
The first piece of European legislation that I sat on
in a delegated legislation committee was a regulation that
enabled us to track paedophiles more easily across
Why anybody would wish to end that kind of co-operation
between European countries is beyond me.
Does the Attorney General agree that the Brexit campaign
is soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime?
I have great respect for those who argue for a British exit
from the European Union, but I am afraid that I believe
For the reasons the honourable gentleman has given,
there is considerable advantage to Britain and to British citizens
in being part of the European Arrest Warrant.
Just to be clear, does the Attorney General think that
if we were no longer part of the European Arrest Warrant,
criminals from the continent would see Britain as a safe haven
because of the extradition arrangements and the concern
that they would not be taken back quickly?
There is no doubt that the quickest and easiest way of deporting
criminals who face prosecutions in other European nations
is, as I said, to use the European Arrest Warrant.
Of course, those who argue for exit from the European Union would have
to explain what alternative measures they would put in place
I am in no doubt that, as I say, the quickest and easiest
way to do that is through the European Arrest Warrant,
and any delay in that process will have very serious consequences.
Does my right honourable and learned friend's position take account
of the European Court of Justice ruling on 5th April,
which effectively drives a coach and horses through the whole
of the arrest warrant procedure because it makes it clear
that the European Court of Justice is in charge of whether or not
a European Arrest Warrant can be applied for?
I do not think that it is quite as bad
In fact, what the European Court of Justice said in that case
is broadly consistent with what
He will know, of course, that in respect of the countries
mentioned in that judgment, we already succeed in
One of them is Romania, and my honourable friend might
like to know that 268 people have been extradited
One Conservative had come across some remarks about the arrest
warrant made by David Cameron to his local paper.
In the Witney Gazette, the Prime Minister was quoted
as saying about the European Arrest Warrant:
"Some other countries in Europe do not have
People can languish in jail for weeks without even being charged.
I am not sure that the British people realise what is
Are we really happy that with one telephone call from the Greek,
Spanish or German authorities alleging that we did something wrong
on holiday, we can be swept off to a continental prison?
Rights and safeguards that we have enjoyed for centuries
Does the Attorney General agree with the Prime Minister?
I do not know when my right honourable friend
As my honourable friend may recall, the Prime Minister and other members
of the Government successfully negotiated changes to
the European Arrest Warrant precisely to deal with
the problems that my honourable friend has just outlined.
Now, UK citizens cannot be extradited unless the case is trial
ready, and not unless the conduct in question would be a crime here
and not unless it is proportionate to do so.
The BBC is "hideously white" - the phrase used more than ten years
ago by the organisation's boss at the time, Greg Dyke.
The Labour MP David Lammy thought not.
He was opening a debate on diversity in the BBC.
What will it take to see a black, Asian or minority ethnic
What have we got to do to see a black commissioner
in an important area - current affairs,
We've just heard it again, that at the end of this month
the BBC will publish an equality and diversity report.
Yet another one is coming very shortly, and it is all
Another strategy to get our teeth sunk into,
If the BBC is genuinely a universal broadcaster,
This can no longer be about skills training.
This is about the institution and the change that is now required.
In September 2015, the controller of Radio 5 Live gave a 16-minute
presentation about his ambitions for the station.
In it he made no reference to the BME audience
The video that went with the presentation showed no BME
staff or any other BME people on screen.
The embarrassment continues anecdotally, with many public
figures commenting on the lack of diversity at the BBC.
My constituency is one of the most diverse in Scotland,
My children are proud to have both Scottish and Indian heritage.
Our society is made up of people with different backgrounds,
different lives and different perspectives, and our public
broadcasting system should, surely, reflect and portray us all
We need producers, writers, technicians and artists
from all sorts of different backgrounds, with different genders,
races, sexual orientations, disabilities and religions.
But we need this as a matter of course and not as an add-on.
The use of tiny plastic beads in everyday products should be banned.
That was the call in the House of Lords where peers wanted action
They wanted a ban on things called microbeads, used in everyday
toiletries such as face washes and shower gels.
Water treatment systems cannot filter them so they eventually
flow into the oceans where they damage marine life.
He will know that there are an estimated five trillion
pieces of plastic afloat in the world's oceans.
They are frequently toxic and are being eaten by aquatic life
at all stages in the food chain, from plankton right
Inevitably, they are therefore finding their way into
Obviously, we need to take action on this on a number of fronts.
One thing the Government could do now is to ban the millions
of plastic microbeads found in everyday cosmetics that
are flushed through the sewerage system and into the sea.
Countries such as the USA and Canada are already doing this.
Can the minister confirm that the Government are prepared
to take this crucial first step to clean up the world's oceans?
My Lords, I am aware of the volume of pollution
The US ban will be phased in gradually, with the final bans
We are currently working with industry on a voluntary
phase-out, which we believe will have the same effect.
Indeed, this approach is yielding results and it is predicted
that the majority of microbead use in UK cosmetics will cease
I emphasise that should this approach not work, we support other
countries in calling on the European Commission
to develop proposals to ban the use of microbeads in cosmetics
Steaming across the Southern Ocean some 50 years ago as a young
officer, it was pristine, but in the mid-1990s,
while I was there with a battle group, the amount of plastic
Going around Cape Horn a year ago, I was appalled to find
As a nation, we are responsible for more areas of ocean than almost
any other country in the world, because of our dependencies.
I understand that we have done quite a lot to look after them.
What is being done to make sure that that pollution is not there?
I add as a proviso that to enforce things, you need ships,
I must observe that the noble Lord is most tenacious in his support
The United Kingdom works closely with the Governments
of the British Overseas Territories to ensure effective marine
management, and the record on marine conservation zones
Beach-littering monitoring and data-collection programmes
are being carried out around South Georgia
This was expanded last year to cover the British Antarctic Territory
but clearly, there are other overseas territories.
The MOD's vehicles have a long history of prohibiting the disposal
My Lords, further to the noble Baroness's Question in respect
of microbeads in cosmetics, why does my noble friend have
I do not think that my noble friend quite understood what I was saying.
We are working with industry on a voluntary basis
to phase out microbeads, and that is working.
All I said was that because pollution is a transboundary matter,
it is not just for the UK but for the whole
We will deal with it with whichever organisations and
As a trustee of WRAP and a borderline obsessive
when it comes to litter-picking, especially of plastic off beaches,
can my noble friend tell us how British products compare with those
My Lords, I think I am permitted to say that Unilever,
Boots and Colgate-Palmolive have already phased out microbeads.
The L'Oreal group will phase them out by 2017.
There is a website which shows which products have microbeads.
I very much encourage people to go for the microbead-free products.
The Government is locked in a continuing dispute with junior
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said he'll impose the new terms
At women and equality questions, MPs wanted to know if the Government
had taken into account the impact the changes
By next year the majority of doctors working in our NHS will be women,
yet the Government have freely admitted in their own equality
impact assessment of the new junior doctor contract that aspects of it
will disproportionately hit female doctors, so how can the women
and equalities department possibly condone this shocking
I thank the honourable lady for bringing this important matter
I know that she will want to read the full equality impact
assessment over the weekend, and she will find if she does
so that it makes it clear that this contract is good for women,
that it is a fairer contract and that it does not
directly or indirectly discriminate against women.
That is why I am very keen to see it implemented as fast as possible.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for ruling my question in order.
What estimate has been made of the expected drop in the number
of women doctors five years after the contract has
been imposed, and how will the skills gap be filled?
We anticipate that this contract is better for women in a series
of different ways and we expect women to be able to engage more
easily with the workforce than they have under
We believe that it is better for working mothers and better
for women who are taking time out for maternity leave.
For those reasons, we hope that it will reinforce the continued
progression of women in the medical workforce,
of which we are very proud in the Department of Health.
Can the minister confirm that the new contract will mean
that those who work the most intense and unsocial hours will
It will also ensure that women will not be subjected
to the enormously onerous hours enforced under the current contract,
which make the balance between work and family life
It surprised me to hear both the minister today
and the Prime Minister, during Prime Minister's Questions
yesterday, claiming that the contract is good for women,
when the equality impact assessment provided by the Minister's
own officials specifically says that it will have a disproportionate
impact on women - an equality impact assessment that the minister
will not be at all surprised to hear that I have read in detail.
How can it be right to introduce a contract, announce its imposition
in Parliament in February and then only sneak out the equality impact
assessment six weeks later during recess?
Will he and his colleagues get back to the negotiating table
and negotiate a contract that is good for patients and good
Through the entirety of the process, the Secretary
of State has been mindful of his duties under the act,
He is very keen to ensure that this contract is good for women,
which is why at every single stage, both in negotiations with the BMA
and in internal discussions, he has been mindful of his duties
while trying to ensure that the contract is an improvement
To be frank, we cannot return to negotiations with a party that
does not wish to talk, and I urge the honourable lady
to get her colleagues to condemn the completely unnecessary
action taken by the BMA, which put patients in danger.
That is it for now but join me on Friday night at 11pm for the week in
Parliament when I will look back at the last few days in Westminster,
and chatting to the only MP still in the Commons who was first elected in
1966. Until then, from me,
Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.