08/09/2016 Thursday in Parliament


08/09/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 8 September, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Thursd`y in Parliament, our look at the best

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of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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The best way to improve social mobility?

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Opinions are sharply divided on grammar schools.

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Would the Secretary of Statd like to visit Northern Ireland, where

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grammar schools still exist and are hugely popular. Where there is good

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education. People moved to Kent because of its grammar schools. This

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possible and entrenched this inequality and disadvantage. --

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entrench inequality. Peers voice their concerns

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about what Brexit means for the border between

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the Irish Republic and Northern Isn't it unthinkable in and either

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of jihadism that the only l`nd border between the UK and ET would

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be completely open? An MP says we're all at risk

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from the crafty scammer. All of us are overconfident about

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our ability to spot a scam. That makes us, ironically, all the more

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vulnerable. But first, Justine Greening has said

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the Government is not plannhng a return to an education system

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of "winners and losers". The new Education Secretary faced

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questions in the Commons following the news that

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Prime Minister Theresa May favours the reintroduction of gramm`r

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schools in certain areas. Many hundreds of grammars

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were closed down across in Dngland in the 1970s and replaced

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by comprehensive schools as the controversial

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"11-plus" examination, which determined a pupil's

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academic ability, was seen In the Commons, Justine Gredning,

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herself educated at a comprdhensive in South Yorkshire, told MPs

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she was open-minded about sdlection. She said the world of education

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had seen many changes We now have a whole variety

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of educational offers avail`ble There will be no return

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to the simplistic binary choice of the past, where schools separate

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children into winners and losers, This Government wants

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to focus on the future. To build on our success since 2 10

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and to create a truly But we want a system that c`n cater

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for the talent and the abilhties So, to achieve that,

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we need a truly diverse range More good schools were needdd

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in more areas of the countrx. I expect any new proposals to focus

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on what we can do to help everyone to go as far as their own individual

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talents and capacity for hard Education policy, to that end,

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will be set in due course. Despite that waffle,

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the cat is finally out of the bag. The Government has revealed

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their plans for new grammar schools in England but not

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in this House, Mr Speaker. We did not even hear the word

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"grammar" there, but it was through leaks

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to the press and at a private So much for the one nation

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government that we were prolised. She said pushing ahead with grammar

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schools showed a misunderst`nding The Prime Minister has said this

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policy is justified because we Quite how making things worse

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by bringing back grammar schools Perhaps the Secretary of St`te can

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tell us why she is ensuring that all children don't

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get a decent education. This policy will not help social

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mobility, Mr Speaker, but will entrench

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inequality and disadvantage. It will be the lucky few

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who can afford the tuition that will get ahead,

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and the disadvantaged A policy for the few

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at the expense of the many. It was really interesting lhstening

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to a her. Her words were really, in m`ny

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respects, the ones that I hdard People having a dogmatic debate

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about the education system whilst I studied in my local comprdhensive,

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entirely untouched What we want to do and what we think

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this Parliament and country should do is to be prepared to look

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at the practical ways we can improve And to be prepared to leave no stone

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unturned to do that. And, frankly, to complain about one

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aspect of our school system and then say that we should not even

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have a debate about that eldment The World Economic Forum has

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recently reminded us that we are well down the t`bles

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in terms of literacy and nuleracy. In fact, some 20% of 16

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to 18-year-olds struggle with literacy and the figurd

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is even worse for numeracy. 25%, according to the World Economic

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Forum. So, does the Secretary of State

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agree with me that it is absolutely necessary for any discussion

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about grammar schools not to distract us from that fundamental

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task that we have of improvhng social mobility and making sure

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that we make the best use of all the talent across thd whole

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country and not just Apart from the best possibld

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teaching, the most important thing we can do for our young people

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is to encourage them as thex make Given that we still as a nation

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are dealing with the legacy of a divided education systdm,

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why on earth does she think that subjecting more 11-year-old

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children to that experience, with their tearful parents,

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having opened the envelope, telling them that they have failed,

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is going to encourage and stpport them in their self-esteem

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and continuing career The Secretary of State is qtite

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right not to rule out a discussion on grammar schools as part

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of a wide type of schools And I declare an interest

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as a product of a wonderful But would the Secretary of State

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like to visit Northern Irel`nd, where grammar schools still exist,

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where they are hugely popul`r, where there is good education right

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across the spectrum, no matter what the ability

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of the young person is? And indeed that Northern Irdland's

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results continue to improve and be better than the rest

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of United Kingdom. I welcome the Secretary

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of State's comments this All children have the right

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to fulfil their full potenthal. Will the Secretary of State assure

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the House that she all methods of selection and this

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not about bringing back the 11-plus? Well, we will set out

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policies much more broadly, but I can assure you,

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Mr Speaker, that there will be This is about having

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a 21st-century approach. She represents

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a London constituency. She will know that London schools

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have improved dramatically over Does she agree with me that

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that is happening because of focus on high standards for all children

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in all schools, not by going down I urge her today not to go back

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not to turn the clock back to grammar schools but to focus

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on high standards in all schools, in all parts of the country,

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for all children. I am sure that many across Torbay,

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where three grammar schools work perfectly well with comprehdnsive

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schools, a studio school and a very successful technical collegd

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will have been listening to some of the comments today, parthcularly

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from the Shadow Education Sdcretary, Would she agree with me

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that it is really nothing r`dical to say that we will give other areas

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the chance to choose to have the education systel Torbay

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already benefit from? My right honourable friend will know

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that people moved to Kent Does she agree that it is not right

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for an excellent academic education to only be available to those

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who can move to the catchment areas We do need to improve

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diversity and choice. As the Prime Minister said,

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the reality is that too often in Britain,

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we do have selection, but it is Which is totally unacceptable

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in a modern Britain. The arguments are

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likely to continue. The new Secretary of State

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for International Trade, Li`m Fox, has made his first appearance

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at the Commons despatch box. Mr Fox's team were challengdd over

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their stance on Britain rem`ining The International Trade Secretary

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was also pressed over his department's capacity to negotiate

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trade deals with countries My department already has a strong

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and capable trade policy te`m, In the next two years,

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we will be developing that team to build the world-class negotiating

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strengths needed to deliver the best And in terms of negotiators,

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we have already had strong expressions of

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interest from individuals, Can the Secretary of State confirm

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whether he is likely to hird any consultants to manage

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these trade negotiations? Because, as I understand it,

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according to a headhunter I was speaking to a couple of weeks

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ago, the head of a trade Not for my purposes!

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Not for mine. According to a headhunter

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I was talking to a couple of weeks ago, the head of a trade negotiating

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team, if hired as a consult`nt, Well, Mr Speaker, it is nicd to see

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the Lib Dems are looking forward to repeating the election stccess

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in the next election. I always think it is nice

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for politicians I can say to the honourable

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gentleman that we are not intending to create a standing army

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of bureaucrats that would bd We are looking to see how most

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effectively we can create the skills and the calibre

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of negotiators we will requhre. Under the current EU treaty,

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the UK does not currently possess competence, that is the right

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to negotiate separate trade deals. And will he confirm the UK

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will assume competence not when Article 50 is triggered,

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but only when the UK actually While we're not able to negotiate

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in terms of concluding a de`l while we are members

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of the European Union, there is nothing to stop us having

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discussions and scoping And I can announce to the House that

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last week, we have now concluded a deal to set up a trade working

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group with India to look at how we will remove barriers to trade

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before we negotiate free-tr`de agreements on our exit

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from the European Union. Questioning then turned

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to the single market. Can I ask the minister to ask

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the Secretary of State if hd stands by his statement from July

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when he said, if the price of the relationship with thd single

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market is the free movement of people, it is a price

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I am not willing to pay. Does he still want to leave

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the European single Mr Speaker, I refer her

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to the answer I gave to her But I am going to be quite

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clear about something. There is going to be no running

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commentary at this stage And, Mr Speaker, she will know how

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important that is from the negotiations that we did last

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year between the UK Governmdnt and the Scottish Government

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on the fiscal framework, which the Scottish Government

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understood perfectly well, the importance of not providing

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a running commentary. No running commentary, Mr Speaker,

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is politician speak for not So, how is the minister getting

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on delivering the promise m`de by the Secretary of State

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for exiting the EU? I quote, the Government will trigger

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a large round of global trade deals with our most favoured tradd

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partners by tomorrow. Mr Speaker, I think it is a little

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bit rich for the benches opposite I noted with interest

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the Leader of the Opposition He described something

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called the free-trade But, Mr Speaker, let

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us be absolutely clear that the Prime Minister said that

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under her leadership, Britain will seek to become

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the global leader in free trade The Japanese government havd thrown

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a huge cold bucket of water over Brexit with the announcement that UK

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investment from Japan Is access to the single market key

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to calming Japanese nerves? Mr Speaker, I had a very

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constructive meeting with the Japanese ambassador

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earlier this week, and I thhnk it might be worth reiterating

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to the honourable gentleman There is no indication so f`r I have

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received from Japanese industries that they are contemplating any exit

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from the UK economy because they like it

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here and they have benefited That will continue because

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the economic fundamentals of this Peers have been assured

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that Britain's departure from the European Union will not

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affect the Government's comlitment to the Good Friday Agreement,

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sometimes called the Belfast Agreement, on the devolution

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of power in Northern Ireland. Brexit means, for the first time,

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the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland will be on either shde

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of a European land border. The Republic joined the European

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community at the same Fears were expressed

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during the referendum campahgn that Brexit would mean the border having

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to have much tighter The future of the Belfast

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Agreement is not and never The UK's exit from the EU does not

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change the commitment of thd UK Government and the people

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of Northern Ireland to the Belfast Agreement

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and its successors and to The Government will make a success

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of the UK's exit from the ET and continue to build a brighter,

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more secure future Several Government ministers have

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repeatedly stated that our land frontier with the European Tnion

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will not be a hard border. What discussions have the Government

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had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland hn terms

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of the exact nature of this, It is clearly a priority and I can

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assure him that discussions But let me be clear again

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that there is and always has been a strong will to preserve the common

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travel area and ensure That is what the Government

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is working towards. This is the first time in hhstory

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that the Northern Ireland and the Republic will be

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on the opposite sides Although the common travel `rea

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has been in existence since the early 1920s,

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there were tough security controls and border checks

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during the Troubles. And isn't it unthinkable in an era

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of mass refugee migration and jihadi terrorism that the only land border

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between the UK and the EU Well, it is a point well made

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by the noble Lord, who has luch But again, I reassure him

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that this is at the top On the one hand, we don't

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want to have a soft border. We do want to have a soft border,

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not a hard border, but at the same time, all the parties are vdry aware

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of the security issues Will the Minister confirm

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that the Belfast Agreement hs not just an internal agreement

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between the parties in Northern Ireland,

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but is an international tre`ty between two sovereign states

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of the United Kingdom Would he tell us, as such, hs it

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lodged with the European Unhon and, if so, what of locations

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will the withdrawal of one of the parties

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from the European Union havd for the status of that

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international treaty? It is true, what the noble

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lord says, which is it It is a power-sharing

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for Northern Ireland and it is quite But there is no reason to stggest

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the outcome of the referendtm means The UK Government, Irish Government

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and Northern Ireland political parties are fully committed

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to upholding the agreement Is my noble friend aware

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that the Republic of Ireland has shown some interest recentlx

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in associate membership And would Her Majesty's Govdrnment

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consider that thought as possibly being useful in resolving some

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of the border problems which have And if that is the thought,

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would the Government considdr pressing the Commonwealth

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authorities to develop the relationship with the Rdpublic

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of Ireland which is already That is a helpful comment

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from my noble friend and I know that the new Secretary of State

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for Northern Ireland, if I might put it this way,

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has hit the ground running. And he has been meeting a v`riety

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of parties in ensuring And I will certainly pass

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that message on. Since there are now more

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people from Poland living in Northern Ireland than people

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from the Republic of Ireland, will both those who have Irhsh

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passports and Polish passports be guaranteed their future in

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Northern Ireland following Brexit? Well, I can only repeat

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what I said previously, which is that the Belfast Agreement

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remains intact and we do not You're watching our round-up of the

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day in the Commons and the Lords. MPs and peers may be vacating

:18:25.:18:31.

the Houses of Parliament while the builders go

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in to renovate the palace. Now, scammers don't

:18:36.:18:39.

just steal money. They can rob people

:18:40.:18:46.

of their self-confidence They were debating the harm done

:18:47.:18:48.

by fraudsters, typically to elderly Many scams nowadays take pl`ce

:18:49.:18:53.

online with scammers sending emails claiming to be from banks

:18:54.:18:59.

asking for security codes. But traditional scams

:19:00.:19:04.

are still flourishing. One pensioner was even perstaded

:19:05.:19:06.

to sign over his home to fr`udsters. As a former consumer rights

:19:07.:19:12.

and personal finance journalist I have seen first-hand the real harm

:19:13.:19:14.

that these fraudsters can do. They not only leave people poorer,

:19:15.:19:19.

Madam Deputy Speaker, but can also cause a huge r`nge

:19:20.:19:23.

of health and confidence problems For example, in 2003 whilst

:19:24.:19:28.

working for the BBC, I covered a story of a Southampton

:19:29.:19:34.

pensioner who fell victim to scam artists pretending to represent

:19:35.:19:39.

something called the They convinced him to wire ?1,6 0

:19:40.:19:41.

administration fee to Canad` to unlock the money,

:19:42.:19:49.

which, of course, Instead, there were only escalating

:19:50.:19:53.

demands for more cash. Indeed, in the end, this individual

:19:54.:19:58.

paid out more than ?9,000 The typical victim of a scal is 74

:19:59.:20:03.

years old and living alone. National Trading Standards scams

:20:04.:20:20.

team has found an astonishing 106,000 potential victims of fraud

:20:21.:20:24.

on captured criminal target lists and in the language of thesd

:20:25.:20:30.

individuals, they call He told MPs about a case

:20:31.:20:32.

featuring fake tradesmen. A 78-year-old pensioner

:20:33.:20:45.

from Lincolnshire, who lived alone and was isolated from familx,

:20:46.:20:47.

the pensioner was conned out of his house by a conman

:20:48.:20:49.

who convinced him major rep`ir work After being cold called and visited,

:20:50.:20:52.

he agreed to will part of his property in return

:20:53.:20:57.

for the work being carried out. The MP who co-sponsored

:20:58.:21:01.

the debate said everyone What makes us all vulnerabld

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to scams is shown by research All of us are over-confident

:21:05.:21:09.

about our ability to spot a scam and that makes us,

:21:10.:21:15.

ironically, all the more vulnerable. The gap between confidence

:21:16.:21:21.

and ability is dangerous. So what can we do about this

:21:22.:21:26.

problem? I absolutely agree with

:21:27.:21:29.

the suggestion put forward by Trading Standards that fhnancial

:21:30.:21:32.

institutions should recognise that consumers,

:21:33.:21:35.

clients with dimentia are, by definition, more at risk

:21:36.:21:40.

of being scammed and measurds need to be taken to protect this group

:21:41.:21:44.

as a duty of care. In order to tackle the issud of scam

:21:45.:21:49.

and the Government seriouslx needs to review police funding,

:21:50.:21:52.

police resources are alreadx suffering as a result of police

:21:53.:21:54.

budgets decreasing year on xear Should it be allowed to continue,

:21:55.:22:00.

we will see more scams being carried Co-operation between trading

:22:01.:22:05.

standards and the police is vital but can only happen if best services

:22:06.:22:10.

are given the funding for rdsrouces We have a moral responsibilhty

:22:11.:22:14.

to protect the elderly We have to ensure that the resources

:22:15.:22:21.

to do this are made available to the professionals

:22:22.:22:27.

who have the skills to best I can assure honourable members

:22:28.:22:29.

that the Government regards tackling scamming as a priority

:22:30.:22:35.

and we will continue to work with national and local partners

:22:36.:22:39.

to address the issues raised today and to do everything we can

:22:40.:22:43.

to prevent the horrendous consequences of the scams

:22:44.:22:46.

we have heard about today. A motion calling on the Govdrnment

:22:47.:22:51.

to produce further measures 'An impending crisis

:22:52.:22:54.

that cannot be ignored.' That's the verdict of a new report

:22:55.:23:01.

on the structural condition The report says the Palace

:23:02.:23:04.

of Westminster faces the 'substantial and growing risk'

:23:05.:23:08.

of a catastrophic event, such as a major fire

:23:09.:23:11.

or a series of failures It recommends both MPs and peers

:23:12.:23:15.

moving out of the Palace for six years to allow urgent rdpair

:23:16.:23:20.

and renovation work to take place. Naturally enough, the work won't be

:23:21.:23:26.

cheap, as the SNP spokesman noted Mr Speaker, this morning

:23:27.:23:29.

it was announced that billions of pounds will be spent

:23:30.:23:34.

on refurbishing this House. I'm sure the Leader of the House

:23:35.:23:38.

meant to announce when we'rd going to have the full statdment

:23:39.:23:41.

on this and when we're going to have a proper

:23:42.:23:43.

debate in Government time about these proposals,

:23:44.:23:45.

particularly when they learn that this could cost up ?4.3 billion

:23:46.:23:47.

of public money and I'm surd all our constituents

:23:48.:23:52.

would want to know exactly hf that's The Leader of the Commons s`id

:23:53.:23:55.

the report had been drawn up The government has not had `ny input

:23:56.:24:01.

into that nor any prior cophes of the report sent to us

:24:02.:24:11.

so that we could suddenly m`ke comments before the committde

:24:12.:24:17.

made its announcement today. Parliament will indeed

:24:18.:24:23.

have an opportunity to debate this Decisions will be a matter for this

:24:24.:24:27.

House and for the House of Lords Finally - and not a lot

:24:28.:24:33.

of people know this - the Speaker, John Bercow,

:24:34.:24:41.

is a very adept impressionist. Question time in the chamber

:24:42.:24:44.

gave him the chance to do one of his favourite impersonathons

:24:45.:24:46.

that of the veteran Labour politician,

:24:47.:24:48.

the late Tony Benn. When it comes to our commitlent to

:24:49.:25:03.

delivering an Brexit there hs no doubt we will be delivering

:25:04.:25:06.

hesitating to ensure it happens and as soon as we can achieve it on

:25:07.:25:10.

behalf of country making all the necessary preparations. You all

:25:11.:25:17.

remember Tony Benn, it's not about personality, it's about the issues.

:25:18.:25:19.

But do join me for the Week in Parliament, when we not only look

:25:20.:25:25.

back at the last four days in the Commons and the Lords,

:25:26.:25:28.

but also discuss whether thd work of a politician should be job-shared

:25:29.:25:31.

following the decision of the Greens to have two

:25:32.:25:33.

people leading their party on a job-share basis.

:25:34.:25:35.

Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:36.:25:46.

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