14/07/2016 Thursday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 14 July, presented by Keith Macdougall.

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Hello and welcome to Thursd`y in Parliament.


As Theresa May unveils her new Cabinet, there's surprise


at Boris Johnson's appointmdnt as Foreign Secretary.


We thought that the new Prile Minister didn't have


The Commons is told that threats of violence and abuse directed


at MPs are now completely out of hand.


And the Government defends its continued backing


of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley in Somerset.


This government doesn't takd the view that we will


What we have to do is to plan for the future.


But first, MPs gathered in the Commons at 9.30 on Thursday


morning, as Theresa May was still busy choosing members


Some of the big announcements had already been made,


including the appointment of Philip Hammond as Chancellor


replacing George Osborne, and Boris Johnson as Foreign


In other posts, Liz Truss was promoted to Justice Secretary


and Justine Greening moved from international


The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLaughlin, was movdd to be


But in the Commons Chamber, it was the appointment


of Boris Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge and former


London mayor, that was attracting most attention.


Labour's Shadow leader of the Commons questioned the decision.


The MP for Uxbridge might h`ve made a perfectly adequate


minister for the import of second-hand water cannon,


Especially for his services to Europhobia.


The member has been sacked twice from previous jobs for not


He's insulted the president of the United States.


He's attacked people from all parts of the world, from Liverpool,


Does these qualities mean that he's going to be supreme in the `rea


where the qualities of diplomacy and truthfulness are in dem`nd?


We are seeing a government being created not for the bdst


interests of the country, but in order to deal


with the perpetual internal war in the Conservative


For leader of the Commons didn't think Labour had


anything to crow about, given its current disagreemdnts


and the resignations of dozdns of shadow ministers.


Mr Speaker, if the Labour P`rty front bench was a football team


it would have Paul Flynn in goal, Paul Flynn in defence,


Paul Flynn in attack, lots of people on the left wing


nobody willing to play on the right, and endless on goals.


nobody willing to play on the right, and endless own goals.


What we have on those benchds, Mr Speaker, is a party that is not


fit to be in opposition, let alone to be fit to be


an alternative government for this country.


We have heard over the months from people who now hold senior


positions on those benches views which in my view undermine our


Armed Forces, undermine our defences and are wholly unaligned


with the national interests of this country.


Mr Speaker, this week of all weeks, for a Labour politician


to talk about internal war in a political party.


They have been trying again and again and again to get


He's on the ballot paper, he will probably win again,


They are a complete disgracd to this country politically.


I will take no lessons from them about internal wars


We thought that the new Prime Minister didn't


So she has gone and proven that one totally wrong by appointing


the right honourable member for Uxbridge as the


You could almost have heard the guffaws of laughter


from parliaments and ambass`dors last night, as the news got


round that Boris was in charge of the UK's foreign policy


and indeed MI6 he is also in charge of, too.


When he was Mayor of London, Boris Johnson famously got stuck


on a zipwire when it stopped working at an Olympic event.


A Lib Dem asked an inventive question.


Has the leader had a request from Viz to provide governmdnt time


for a debate on the fantasthc contribution the UK leisure industry


Such a debate would allow government ministers to set out how UK


manufacturers will fulfil ddmand for major new infrastructurd,


a transcontinental network of suppliers to enable our


a transcontinental network of zipwires to enable our


new Foreign Secretary to tr`vel cheaply and with low environmental


impact and in the style he hs accustomed to around the world?


Well, it is an interesting hdea Mr Speaker, but I think we will be


investigating an infrastructure which is more used to cars,


The SNP's foreign affairs spokesman referred to the appointment


of Liam Fox and David Davis to new international and trade roles.


We congratulate through him the Prime Minister on her choices


and the quality of her sackhngs and dismissals from governmdnt over


I think we can agree that on a cross-party basis.


But the new secretaries of state, the right honourable members


for Haltemprice and Howden and North Somerset,


serious politicians, but their boss seems to be the court


So shall these serious politicians have their own departments of state,


or will they be answering to the new Foreign Secretarx?


Well, Mr Speaker, I can simply say to the honourable gentleman that


of course, all of these new secretaries of state will be


accountable to this House in the normal way.


Where they are heads of dep`rtment, and clearly in the case of,


for example, the department which will take us out


of the European Union, that has been clearly, exprdssly


designed by the new Prime Mhnister to be a separate department.


And of course, that Secretary of State will be accountabld in this


MPs have been revisiting what one called the ugly,


brutal day in March 2003 when they agonised over


On the second day of the Colmons debate on the Chilcot Report,


published last week, many MPs stuck by their dechsion.


Opening the debate was the chairman of the Defence Committee,


When I look back at those circumstances, I say to mysdlf


that the reason I supported and spoke in favour of military


action, the primary reason, was that I believed what I was told


by the then Labour government about the possession,


or the believed possession of anthrax and other weapons


of mass destruction, by Saddam Hussein.


But here is where I have to make the major admission -


But here is where I have to make a major admission -


at the back of my mind, and at the back I believe of many


other honourable members' mhnds was a second belief.


It was the belief that if Saddam Hussein was removdd,


we might see the emergence of some form of democracy in Iraq.


And in that belief, I was profoundly mistaken.


John Baron, who voted against military action in Hraq


said Parliament should have done more to question the evidence.


It is a failure almost at every level.


If the legislative is not examining the evidence,


it is not questioning the executive at times like this, then


And there was a failure of those in the know, and I would suggest


and I would suggest at all levels, but particularly in


to challenge what was being presented to the public.


I was here in 2003 and I was one of those who rebelled


against the leader of my party and voted against action


The gentleman was disingenuous I think to the House


because it was one of the bhggest rebellions there had been


against a government from the government side.


And I remember the debate, and how difficult it was to make


When you're being led by thd leader of your party, whose


judgment you respect, it's a tough call to actually say,


I'm going to disagree and I'm going to vote against action


Pete Wishart, who opposed the conflict, said he felt


It was a horrible, brutal, tgly day, a day that should I think bd


indelibly imprinted on this House's collective consciousness.


I had a look at the proceedhngs of that day again just


to refresh my memory about the atmosphere


I know it sounds a bit masochistic to look at Youtube recordings


of Tony Blair and others making their speeches,


but I thought it was really important just to get a sense


of what that day was like, given that it was such a long timd ago.


We had to listen to Tony Bl`ir lay out that exaggerated,


fabricated case, to listen `gain to those flights of fancy.


We now know, because of the Chilcot Report,


that most of it was mainly nonsense, most of it was invention.


Ann Clwyd was a high-profild supporter of the war.


Repression, abuse, ethnic cleansing and extrajudicial killings


Saddam, without doubt, was a serious threat to domdstic,


I had hoped the internation`l community could remove


But sanctions failed, international indictments never took placd.


UN Security Council resoluthons were ignored time


Jonny Mercer, a former army captain, said the Chilcot Report showed


that the military had not spoken truth to power.


It is inconceivable to me to allow a political administration hn this


country to hamper preparations for war because it did not


politically want to be seen to be doing so.


It is inconceivable to me to allow soldiers out of patrol bases


into contact with the enemy without body armour,


not as a tactical decision or a result of enemy action


against a supply route, but simply because of bad planning.


It is inconceivable to me to continually allow patrolling


in Snatch Land Rovers when they were known to provide no


protection whatsoever to our men and women against a well-known


But yet these things happened, and they directly


That's what really stuck in the craw for him, he said,


and the military lessons had to be learned.


You're watching Thursday in Parliament with me, Alicia LcCarthy.


Female MPs are being subjected to escalating levels of misogynistic


abuse and threats of violence, according to Labour's Paula


She raised her concerns with the Commons Speaker, John Bdrcow.


It is apparent that this abtse has become completely out of hand now.


Many, many members are fearful for their and their staff's safety,


to the point where a number of members have discussed whth me


that they are worried about their own personal he`lth


This cannot be allowed to continue, Mr Speaker.


I wonder if you could advisd this House what action the House


can take to make it clear that this behaviour will not be


tolerated from any party, and that all perpetrators whll be


The leader of the Commons s`id action was being taken.


Can I say first of all, I absolutely agree with the honourable l`dy?


And can I inform the House that a lot of work is taking place


on measures to improve the security of right honourable


There is a detailed project group looking at what lessons can be


learned from the tragic events of a few weeks ago.


And the commission next week will consider proposals


for an improvement to the approach we take.


The Speaker said regular conversations were being held,


If any individual member has particular personal concerns


as of now, the best course of action is to approach


the Parliamentary security director for his best advice.


Meanwhile, in the Lords, thd former Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd has


called on the Government to stamp out "bureaucratic and buckp`ssing


behaviour" by the police in dealing with race hate crime.


The independent crossbencher and former Labour MP said


Her comments came after a rdported increase in race hate attacks


following the recent EU referendum result.


This year is the 50th annivdrsary of the Race Relations Act


and the Government is still talking about action plans to tackld


what the act failed to do then and what we are still failing


Can the Minister say if the Government has proposed


an action plan that will curtail the widespread use of the internet


And might I pass to the Minhster evidence I have here of a h`te-race


statement on the internet coming from a named person in a naled


When my informant passed all the information


to the Lancashire Constabul`ry, they said they couldn't deal with it


until it had been reported to the Metropolitan Police.


Presumably the Met would thdn pass it back to Lancashire.


Will the Government stamp ott this bureaucratic and buckpassing


behaviour of the police when the crisis calls


The important thing, which I acknowledge,


I know as someone who's been subjected to this crime both


on the internet and elsewhere, that it is important we comlunicate.


There is the need to have the confidence of commtnities


reporting hate crime for thdm to be able to know that they can report it


and, as the noble lady has highlighted, the importance


and most important area of follow-up and action.


Staying in the Lords, the founder of the Big Issud


magazine called on the Government to changes approach


magazine called on the Government to change its approach


He questioned whether Social Security spending helped get people


out of poverty or was a devhce for helping people to becomd


The first thing that we must do is we must recognise the problem.


If I have the chance, and I'm sure it would be a wonderful chance,


if I had the chance to go to Theresa May tomorrow


and help her with her work that is coming up,


I would say to her, "What are you going to do


about the fact that we spend billions and billions and bhllions


and have spent billions and billions and billions and yet we keep people


The World Bank published sole years ago a fascinating study covdring


a number of countries in thhs world that demonstrated


what I guess we already know, is that poor people very well


and very often understand their own predicament and often have very good


ideas about how to get out of it and what needs to be done.


And that these ideas are often very different from what the authorities


Other people make decisions about them.


One peer spoke about the visit she had made to a part


of Bristol when she was Gordon Brown's digital champion


When I arrived, they had just stopped the local


It was the poorest ward in Bristol and I was going to see the ledia


centre and I have to say that even I, an internet


entrepreneur thought, "Really?


"A media centre? Is that what they need in Norwest?


Every problem is not solved by using the internet


but I could see from that experience that it gave the local people


the tools to empower them to build the things that they wanted.


Local websites selling vegetables in the gardens


It was a powerful and relathvely low-cost way of addressing


the massively complex challdnges that that community faced.


The Work and Pensions Minister, Lord Freud,


to empower people through the new Universal Credit benefit system


There are none of the cliff edges of the old systdm


and as earnings increase, Universal Credit payments


Work and earnings are more clearly incentivised and basically people


That is the definition of empowerment.


MPs on the Home Affairs Comlittee have been holding a final


session in their enquiry into anti-Semitism, hearing first


He told them that overall lhfe was good for Jews in the UK.


If I could just scribble something quickly for you.


If I were to ask you what is it that is here?


What do you see on this sheet of paper?


And I think you'd be thinking, well, isn't this a crazy question?


Obviously there is a large dot here on the piece of paper.


Well, actually, there is a luch better answer and a much better


answer is this is a white sheet of paper and on the white b`ckground


The white area represents the situation of Jews in thd UK


today, it is great to be Jewish in Britain.


This is a truly wonderful country but in that context we've


It used to be smaller, it has now got bigger and it


could get bigger and bigger unless we deal with it effectively.


He accused the Labour leadership of not dealing with it effectively.


Are you telling me it is only the Labour Party


It is in the Labour Party that senior members of the party,


during the past number of months, have publicly stated


that there is a serious problem with anti-Semitism in their party.


It is in the Labour Party that there have been more


It is in the Labour Party that a special enquiry was setup order


If you would like to cite for me any contemporary instances


By the way, there probably is anti-Semitism in other p`rties


but if you would like to cite for me other instances which need to be


So you're telling this commhttee you don't think Mr Corbyn h`s


acquitted himself on this issue?


More must be done? Oh, yes.


Interestingly, when I met with Miss Chakrabarti,


I asked her a question and H said to her, what would you


like the headline story of your report to be?


And she hesitated for a momdnt and reply to me was,


That actually isn't what has been reported.


It is more the opening sentdnce of her report relating


to what is not happening in the Labour Party rather


And I think her comment about "We need to do


better" is a good comment because the Labour Party has


an outstanding tradition of dealing with the ills in our societx,


taking the lead in combatting racism.


Many Jewish people have been proud members, and rightly so,


of the Labour Party and we want continuity of those values.


Shami Chakrabarti was the chairwoman of Labour's


The committee also heard from a Labour MP who chairs


the all-party Parliamentary group against anti-Semitism and who was


What you have given us, we will publish the list of abuse


that you have suffered over a very short period of time.


I'm not going to read them `ll out but one of them says, "John Mann,


why don't you admit you're a Zionist whore, then?"


That's probably the mildest of the others.


I don't think it's necessarx for me to read them all out


but we will publish this. This is appalling abuse.


That has been going on for the last year.


I've not got either desire or time to keep them all.


This is a tiny snapshot of the volume, the volume


What is particularly worrying to me, and I would suggest ought to be


to your good selves, I get criticised on lots of things.


Like you, I often speak my lind and people want to disagree vehdmently.


But only when I do anything on anti-Semitism do I get accused


of having a puppeteer, do I get accused repeatedly


and asked, "How much money are you being paid for this?"


Do I be accused of being part of a conspiracy.


Those are unique, unique to when I have raised


Anything else that I might say that people might


want to vehemently disagree with, it is maybe robust.


So my exchanges with the SNP in the referendum, I think ht's fair


to say, were robust and perhaps occasionally the responses


But nobody suggested I was being paid to do it,


that someone was my puppet laster, that I was part of a conspiracy


And that, I think, demonstr`tes there is a particular invidhousness


John Mann said a lot of that abuse was from people who claim to be


or who currently were members of the Labour Party.


The energy minister and forler Tory leadership candidate,


Andrea Leadsom, has insisted a new nuclear power plant


at Hinckley in Somerset will go ahead and will be


Andrea Leadsom was speaking before she was promoted to


Environment Secretary in Theresa May's reshuffle.


The new power station was initially supposed to cost ?6 billion


but was more recently estimated at 18 billion.


As part of the 35-year deal signed with France's


EDF to build the plant, the Government agreed to pax


?92.50 for each megawatt hour of electricity.


Wholesale energy prices havd fallen since, meaning the Government must


The deal was raised by a Labour backbencher.


The Government has guarantedd an electricity price about three


times the wholesale price of electricity to EDF


to build a nuclear white elephant at Hinkley Point C.


Can the Minister explain how on earth that will benefit


consumers, whether business or household, in reducing


I'm sure the honourable gentleman knows that, at the moment,


we get about 16% of our electricity every day from nuclear


and he will also know that those plants are all due to be retired


Therefore, new nuclear forms a core part of how


we replace our electricity supplies going forward.


This Government doesn't takd the view that we will


What we have to do is to pl`n for the future. Why?


Because electricity security is not negotiable.


One year ago, Dec's estimatd for the total lifetime cost


of the nuclear power station at Hinkley C was ?14 billion.


Recently, that estimate was revised to ?37 billion.


Following the referendum vote, the Government's expert advhsor has


said that Hinkley C is extrdmely unlikely to go ahead,


so does this mean the minister now doesn't have to worry


about justifying the extra 23 billion cost to the Treasury


Or does she just feel that she doesn't need to explain


the additional burden upon taxpayers?


I think the honourable gentleman possibly is misunderstanding.


The cost of the project hasn't changed, the difference is,


because of wholesale prices, and because there is a fixed price


agreed for consumers, therefore, as forecast,


and as current wholesale prhces change, so will the difference


between the fixed price and the wholesale price.


So to be clear, the cost of the project has not changed.


It remains a good deal for consumers.


The honourable gentleman is chuntering at me


Let's be clear, we cannot just wait and see.


You have to make investment decisions and stick by them.


You cannot simply magic electricity out of thin air.


You need to invest, make decisions and be committed to them.


What assessment has my honotrable friend made on the progress


with Hinkley Point, following on from the result


Good progress continues to be made on Hinkley Point C.


Having visited the site mysdlf, a few months ago now,


it was very apparent that a huge amount of work is already going on.


As my honourable friend will have seen, EDF have reaffirmed their full


commitment to the project following the result of the referendul


And that's it for now but do join me at 11pm on Friday night


for a round-up of another extraordinary week at Westmhnster,


including the highlights from David Cameron's last


Until then, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.


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