07/07/2016 Thursday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament from Thursday 7 July, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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Hello there, and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.


Should the foreign office have had a plan


in the event of the UK voting to leave the EU?


A committee of MPs certainly thinks so.


Don't you think at an offichal level you should have been carrying out


some kind of preparation? In the Lords, there's a call


for a second referendum It does sometimes taken in ly better


way, Mr Speaker, shocked my family and reduce me to tears, the


vitriolic and criminal levels of personal abuse and I and colleagues


across this house have faced. Philip Hammond, for a lack


of contingency planning to deal with a Leave vote


in the EU referendum. The UK voted by 52%


to 48% to leave the EU, a result that had not been predicted


by many politicians, In the fortnight since,


financial markets have tumbled and the pound has reached a new low


against other currencies. Appearing before the committee


which scrutinises his department, the foreign secretary was asked


if his office had been This committee, in its report on the


implications of the referendum, in April, were pointing out th`t there


would be immediate challengds for the office. And yet, the office


appears to have sat there whth the political instruction to do nothing.


Mr German throughout the referendum campaign, I drew attention, as did


others in the campaign to lhkely consequences of a leave votd, and


the reaction that I heard w`s that this was scaremongering. Don't you


think at an official level xou should have been carrying ott some


kind of preparation within the department? The civil service,


including the dramatic servhce, works to the government of the DUP.


Gentleman I can assure you ht was not an oversight -- 's Mr Gdrman I


can assure you was not an oversight. We discussed whether there should be


contingency planning, and concluded it was not appropriate to continue


planning continues these other than planning focused on the verx


immediate pressures that might come on the gradual markets.


The committee moved on to whether the department


It is the view of this commhttee there is going to need to bd a step


change in the office of the budget, doubling or tripling it to deal with


the challenge of dealing with the EU and the advancement of all the


opportunities that will fit the United Kingdom outside the Duropean


Union. What are you doing about bidding for extra resources for the


office, and what is your sense of the scale at which the office would


need to be stepped up to actually really take advantage of thd


situation that the office is now presented with?


But the minister didn't think there was a prospect of mord money.


I think our economy will face a difficult period, at least hn the


during which government revdnues are likely to fall, and we will face


significant constraints. I do not think it is remotely realistic to


talk about... To talk about budget doubling. The budget of the Foreign


Office is a minute proportion of overall government expendittre. It


is your view that the Foreign Office should continue to suffer that level


of austerity, despite the f`ct that our diplomatic position and role in


the world has completely ch`nged, and the scale of the challenge


facing the United Kingdom democratically has just gond off the


cell? We may indeed need to bid for additional resources, to de`l with


the specific pressures around us. What I'm saying to the commhttee


that I don't think, if the dconomic and fiscal circumstances th`t the


country is like to face, ovdr the coming few years, that talk of


doubling or trebling departlental budgets is remotely realisthc.


So when did Philip Hammond think the UK would begin


the official withdrawal process known as article 50?


My judgment is that it would not be in the best interest of the UK to


trigger article 50 immediatdly, article 50 set the clock ticking.


And I don't think that at the moment, for various reasons, not


least of which, we don't have a new Prime Minister in post, for the


moment, we are not in a poshtion to begin that negotiation immediately,


and therefore it would be unwise to start the process ticking bx


triggering article 50 full stop although the Brussels institutions


may not like that coming in conversations, bilateral


conversations, I detect a considerable understanding of our


position amongst our EU partners. What about the rights of EU


citizens living in the UK? I would like to see us being able to


reach an early solution that gives reassurance to those people, but I


would not recommend a unilateral commitment by the British Government


before we received any assurance about a reciprocal approach to the


position of UK nationals in other European Union countries. It sounds


awful lot like people were right to live and work, people who h`ve made


their families and lives thdre, they are part of your negotiating


process. I voted remain. I voted remain too. I wanted to continue


that. Are you saying that your saying your rights are part of the


negotiating process? So long as the part of the EU those rights are


guaranteed as of right by the terms of an ownership of the U. As we


cease to be a member, the rhghts of our citizens, and the citizdns of


other countries to live, to work, to establish, to invest in bushnesses,


to own property, we'll all have to be agreed. I believe they should be


agreed on a fully reciprocal basis, and I hope they will be, and I


expect they will be. MPs have been sharing some `ppalling


examples of abuse they and their constituents have


encountered from people on social media sites such


as Facebook and Twitter. The Commons was debating how to deal


with the bullies who use the anonymity available onlhne


to hurl abuse and make thre`ts. One MP described how she'd been


reduced to tears I came here with the full knowledge


and expectation that my words and actions would be held up to public


scrutiny, and that is right. But it has sometimes taken my breath away,


though, Madam Deputy Speaker. What has sometimes taken my breath


away, shocked my family, and reduced me to tears,


is the vitriolic, hateful, and sometimes criminal levels


of personal abuse that I and colleagues across the House


have faced. But the greatest tragedy of this new


technology fall has been thd advancement in online bullyhng


abuse, and threats, and I know this horrific experience is not just


confined to those buzz across this chamber, so I want to save directly


to those watching from outshde Parliament who have been victims of


online abuse, from all of us here today, that we stand right beside


you, because we know how it feels. We understand the pain you've been


through, and you can guarantee that we will do our best to addrdss this


list you. For the past 14 months I've been called and receivd


messages calling for immedi`te shot as a traitor, strangers havd


attacked my father. This debate today is about enabling Parliament


to send a clear message to the industry, to social media and do


online worlds to say enough is enough. I think we need to be clear


to online providers, in our country, that if they fail to take sdnsible


measures to reduce online abuse that we ever Parliament shotld be


considering putting in placd a levy to cover the costs of polichng that


are being incurred purely as a result of online abuse and crimes.


This is something done in other areas and I think here about the


payments made by football tdams to have policing football stadhum full


stop this is nothing new idda, but certainly an idea that my


concentrates the mind when ht comes to online abuse in future. Lany


members have a spirit of thhs online, nothing that is affdcted me


terribly, but on one occasion which I simply posted online some comments


about some boy racers causing anti-social behaviour, withhn about


one hour I was being abused from all round the globe by boy racers who


had obviously noticed I defhcit in my sex life and were offering a wide


range... Of suggestions to hmprove this, some of this would actually


end in certain death. I had to take the post down not because I was


personally offended all concerned, but because I could simply not


monitor it that the level of foul language of abuse left on mx


Facebook page was for everyone to see.


I vividly recall my daughter's transition to secondary school when


her head teacher got parents together to talk about the perils of


Facebook will do at that tile social media was growing in popularity but


was still is small, not the multitude of platforms that there


are today. And the phrase that you use which will always stick with me,


is that to be quite frank, children are losing the ability to elpathise,


because, in her view, there were making their unpleasant comlents


online, and unlike in the playground, when you do it on your


smartphone, use and you don't see the reaction on somebody's phase, so


you will not learn about thd hurt, you simply bang out a message which


can have a terrible impact, but that ability to understand, comprehends


the hurt you have caused, is disappearing. My issues with


particular reference to Twitter and Facebook are the apparent l`ck of a


coherent policy on what acttally constitutes online abuse. I would


like to give a few examples. Twitter policy states: and I quote: we do


not tolerate behaviour crossing the line into abuse, including behaviour


that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence and other user's


voice. So, with this in mind, when I received a threat on Twitter during


the referendum debate, saying, and I quote: we'll see what you s`y when


an immigrant rates you or one of your kids. I reported it to Twitter


using their online pro form`. Surely this racist, violent and targeted


abuse crossed that line into behaviour that harasses and


intimidates, which pretty policy claims to be against. But no, the


response I received from twhtter was: it's not currently violently --


violating the twitter rules. The Minister said social media


platforms had to work In terms of the online world will


suddenly have these companids which in many respects are bigger and more


influential than many nation states. I mean, Facebook has a population of


1.2 billion. That has a poptlation of 300 million. And yes, thdy are to


a certain extent left to thdir own devices, to create their own rules,


their own society and regul`tion. You're watching Thursday in


Parliament with me, Alicia LcCarthy Let's go back to the impact


of the UK's vote to leave the EU. In the Lords, peers were worried


about what it might Specifically they wanted to know


about the impact on millions of pounds of research funding under


a scheme called Horizon 2020 and the possible consequencds


for a project known as Eraslus, which enables the exchange of EU


students between nations. The referendum result has no


immediate effect on the right of researchers to apply and participate


in Horizon 2020 nor on thosd currently participating


in or about to embark The future of UK access


to European research and innovation funding


and to the Erasmus programme will be


part of wider discussions whth Is she aware that in spite


of similar reassurances givdn by ministers of state for univdrsities


and science in the other pl`ce that there is already anecdotal dvidence


of researchers being asked to stand down from European programmds


particularly when they are lead It was particularly


difficult for those Is the Minister aware of thdse


difficulties that are likely to arise and how the Swiss


example means that associatd status, unless we keep freedom of movement,


would be of no value? The Vice Chancellor


of Ruskin tells me as I understand it that they are doing


important research with a University in Portugal


on earthquake studies. Perhaps an analogy that


is This funding, this


research could be in jeopardy and so I would ask the


Minister to give us some assurance of the attention of the soft power


and soft diplomacy that needs to be sustained into the future


and how such research importance to vulnerable


communities, is going to be sustained into


the Of course the Government and I


entirely understand the concerns We have a world class higher


education sector and we want to support it and make sure that


going forward it is able to still be taking its position as the best


in the world and that is whx with the sector throughout the


coming months and years in order to make sure we provide the support


that their voice is heard and that we can try and do all we can to make


sure that we maintain the Lady Evans Staying in the Lords


a Labour peer called for a second Lady King, formerly the Labour MP,


Oona King, said she didn't want that vote now, but once the UK h`d


negotiated the terms of It is fair to say that most people


did not realise that the EU referendum and a Brexit votd


would trigger the chain of dvents We have got our economy in crisis,


major companies lining up at this moment right here right


now to leave Britain. We have got jobs moving out


right here right now. People does not realise those


consequences and I think thd main thing is they did not know


because the architects of their campaign themselves did not


know what the final deal In the interests of democracy


the British people must be given the chance to vote on a deal


to leave the EU once we finally know what that ddal


is and what that deal costs. In terms of our economy,


our costs, our pensions, our future, our influence,


our geographical borders and last but not least our precious hdentity


as a tolerant open facing n`tion. The only way that we can


have a second bite at this cherry is to have a political partx


with its main manifesto comlitment not to break with the EU and test


that at a general election. I am something of an expert


on losing elections. And I know the feeling having fought


eight general elections, won four, lost four,


the feelings you go When you lose your opponent lied,


your opponent made promises he could not


possibly keep. Probably you opponent had more money


than you and the place were on the side of your opponent.


I have to say it was a triulph for British democracy.


I simply say to the House, particularly I say to this House,


this is essentially an advisory House.


The public is not an advisory public.


And for this House, particularly as I said to my friends at the other


end, amongst whom there is no appetite for a referendum


whatsoever, but I do say to my friends in this House,


it is not our job to thwart the will of the British people.


I can't believe that people want another one.


The British people were not deceived.


We should not just scorn the decision.


We should not deride the re`sons they did it for.


We should accept what they said and get on with being


At the end of the formal negotiations there will


But that will surely requird further authorisation


whether popular, parliament`ry, or more probably both.


But today is not the day for that debate.


Let us have negotiations, a full negotiation package, and put


My concern then is if the ptblic said they did not agree


with that there would be an attempt to rerun and rerun and rerun.


There is this issue we have to be worried about.


As politicians we must re-engage with the public.


They have shown that they h`ve got distrust in the political elite


We can increase that distrust if we say to people keep on voting


I know what is not what the noble lady wants.


Back in the Commons, the new Shadow Environment Secretary


Rachael Maskell raised the importance of EU migrant


How will the Secretary of State ensure our crops


are harvested in this uncertain period through securing


I thank the honourable lady for her question and I welcome her


She was a fantastic advocatd for her constituents during the very


I look forward to working with her very much.


In terms of the issue of agricultural workers,


my constituency is a great producer of salad vegetables, onions.


I understand the importance of those workers to our


It will be one of the key things we are working on at Defra,


and putting the case across Government to make


sure we continue to have that supply of workers.


Mr Speaker, it is evident in the responses from the Government


that her department has not made contingency plans for a Leave vote.


Failing in its duty in government to not only fully protect one


of our major industries but also those who work on it.


In the light of this can shd now say what actions she has taken


to confirm that all EU citizens working in farming can remahn


in the EU as yesterday's vote called for and that she has


already made representation to the Home Office on this?


It is absolutely clear that whilst we remain members of the EU


Those workers will continue to work in those areas.


But the reality is that I cannot make decisions


Scotland's food and drink industry exports ?725 million worth


Given the disastrous Brexit vote what impact does the Ministdr


believe any restrictions on seasonal workforce will have on the hndustry


I thank the honourable gentleman for his question.


That is why we are turbo-ch`rging the work of the Great British Food


Unit to make sure that we open up new markets and get more


of our products out into thd world as well as the European Union.


And I am very clear that agriculture and food has got major export


potential and that is why I am having a meeting today


with the Business Secretary to talk about our trade negotiations


and making sure that food is a very key part of those.


I congratulate my honourabld friend for the energy and enthusiasm


and intelligence he brought to the Leave campaign.


Having met farmers in my constituency in Kettering bdfore


the vote it was clear that the senior leadership


of the National Farmers' Unhon had signed up to Project Fear


and was trying to scare farmers and rural dwellers


Now that the result has been decided, and overwhelmingly


in Kettering they have voted to leave, can we make sure that


everyone involved in rural communities and farming talks up


the rural communities and f`rming because we have got a very


I thank the honourable gentleman for his kind comments


although I think it is important now that the debate has concluded


and the decision of the country is made that we move on and focus


on next steps and focus on the future.


This week I have been at the livestock event alre`dy


I have had meetings with many farmers and what I have found


you get past initial shock of this decision for some and they hndeed


in the detail of what might be possible in the future actu`lly


people become more excited about the potential for us


The final two in the Conservative leadership contest have been


revealed The Home Secretary Theresa May will face the Energy Minister,


Andrea Leadsom in the run-off - after the justice secretary


Michael Gove was eliminated from the contest.


On Wednesday Westminster had heard the unguarded opinions of two senior


Conservatives who were chatting in a Sky News TV studio.


Talking to Sir Malcolm Rifkhnd, veteran Tory MP, Ken Clarke


described the Home Secretarx, Theresa May, as a bloody difficult


woman, suggested Andrea Leadsom didn't really want to leave the EU,


His comments were picked up by the Shadow leader of the Commons,


who paid tribute to Ken Clarke the MP for Rushcliffe


The House is grateful as evdr to the member for Rushcliffd


who is a rarity on the Government backbenches as a man


who is occasionally caught in possession of an intelligent


thought and who speaks real English, at least the kind of language


But this week we were very grateful to him for giving us the vital


intelligence that the three remaining candidates


for the leadership of the Tory party, that one of them was bloody


difficult, and one does not expect to deliver on the extremely stupid


things she has been saying, and one would declare war


Mr Flynn suggested that as the new leader was going


to become Prime Minister there should be a vote open


to those who weren't members of the Conservative party.


It would be wonderful if we could have the chance


of having a write in candid`te who would certainly be someone


like the member for Rushcliffe, who happily at his time of life has


passed beyond the stages of ambition and vanity that afflict


Could I perhaps suggest to him if the member for Rushcliffd is


reluctant because he is of ` certain age of returning to the dispatch


box, may I remind him what I have discovered,


that the dispatch box is a vital support and a wonderful


But the leader of the Commons thought he detected


I suspect that the Home Secretary will not be impressed at behng


Can I also say I understand his enthusiasm for taking part hn this


election campaign for being able to express a view on who our next


If I was on their benches I would want to take part


in our leadership contest as well because try as they may,


however hard they struggle, they just don't seem to be `ble


And that's it for now, but do join me again on Friday night


at 11 for a full round up of another busy week here at Westminstdr.


Including the continuing fall-out from the EU referendum and reaction


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