Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 13 October, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
The Foreign Secretary paints a positive picture
MPs ask for more to be done to cut the number of stillbirths.
And there's strong condemnation of the UK's sales of arms
Saudi Arabia is one of the lost barbaric countries in the world
with beheadings, amputations and the enslavement of women.
But first, the Foreign Secrdtary Boris Johnson has told MPs
that those who "prophesied doom over Brexit will be proved wrong.
He predicted that the UK wotld get a trade deal "of greater value"
with the European Union than it currently has as part
Appearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee, he said the UK
would have a new identity as a "global Britain."
It is vital to understand what Brexit is and what it hs not.
Yes, it means restoring our democracy and control
of our laws and our borders and a fair bit
of cash, but Brexit is emphatically not
any kind of mandate for this country to turn in on htself,
to detach itself from the international community.
Foreign Secretary, in welcoming you to your post,
To many of us, the referendum gave a very
clear message and that is, we're leaving.
The Government's position is very clear on this.
We are going to take back control on immigration,
we're going to introduce a fair immigration policy
that will no longer discriminates against
outside the EU and we are going to obtain the best possible
deal with regards accessing EU markets.
Some would perhaps unfairly perhaps call them the Remoaners
who believe that we are heading to hell in a handbasket
and what would you say to those who are genuinely concerned about
developments and the uncert`inty that this has created?
I think that those who prophesied doom before the
referendum have been proved wrong and I think they will continue
I think obviously it will t`ke time before the full benefits
we haven't even begun the process of leaving,
so, you know, the whole thing is really vdry
I do think that businesses investing in the UK
can have the maximum possible certainty and assurance
that our partners, our friends across the Channel
have a huge interest in doing the best possible deal in
goods and services for the sake of their companies and our fridnds
in the political world across the Channel have a symmetrical
interest in doing a deal that will be for the benefit
of their constituents and the people who elect thdm,
and that's a deal that's gohng to promote the growth and prosperity of
both the UK and EU and I'm sure that's what we will produce.
Maybe some Sturm und Drang along the way,
One of the great attractions obviously
to our partners overseas is access and membership
Do you still believe we should retain membership
Well, let's be clear that we are going to get
The term, I think as the Prhme Minister herself said,
the term "single market" is increasingly useless.
We are going to get a deal that will be of
huge value and possibly of greater value.
I make these wearisome points but we are the
single biggest consumers of French champagne,
We drink both more than anybody else.
We import more German cars than any other country.
And we are going to continue to do that.
As you'll be aware, you'll forgive me for mentioning,
the French drink more whiskdy in a month than they do cognac
in a year, and I suspect th`t's not going to stop either.
The question I asked, do you think that we should retain
membership of the single market or is it your
negotiating objective to retain membership of the single market
That's a simple question, without getting into how much
we are buying and selling and all the rest of it.
We are going to get the best possible deal...
I think as I said, the most useful thing
I can say to you is that thd phrase "single market" probably is one
that not many people really understand and I think that...
There are many countries, as Mr Barrow pointed out,
that sell very effectively into the single market
and that is certainly what we will do.
So we'll be outside the single market?
We're going to get the best possible deal for trade
So you don't know if we're going to be in the single m`rket
or not is what I take away from this and what I t`ke away
from the Secretary of State for leaving the European Unhon
is that nobody appears to have a Scooby, if you like,
I'll tell you what, I'll do it one last time.
Is it even your objective to retain membership of the single market
You seem to think the singld market is like...
You know, the Groucho Club or something.
We will continue to have access to trade in
goods and services to the ET, and I think we will do a de`l
that will be to the benefit of. . both sides.
Another MP turned to the opportunities for the Commonwealth.
So I assume that you agree with me the Commonwealth flag should fly
from British embassies and high commissions around the world
Sorry, OK, you're testing my sigillography here.
Or vexillology I think is the word I want.
I don't think I'm going to make any particular commhtments
You're happy for it to fly from embassies and high comlissions?
As soon as somebody can identify it to me.
I'm unaware of the exact configuration
Well, just in case your vexhllology is a little rusty, this is the flag
But Mr Johnson wouldn't makd any promises on where it would be flown.
Every year in the UK around 3500 are stillborn.
Another 2000 babies die before they're four weeks old.
A Commons debate, held to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Wedk,
was an opportunity for MPs to talk about their own experiences,
and to keep up the pressure on ministers to cut
The debate was called by two Conservatives,
Will Quince and Antoinette Sandbach, who have talked before
But for a Labour member, this was the first time
about the death of her daughter Veronica.
When I was 16 years old, I became unexpectedly pregn`nt.
At first, I was terrified and even debated having her adopted.
But during my pregnancy, something changed.
I was excited, I was going to be the best mum ever.
Me and my partner at the tile named our baby girl Veronic`.
I went full term and was ten days overdue, so they had to indtce me.
I was sick, tired and in a huge amount of pain.
Veronica's heartbeat was chdcked regularly and everything was fine.
Then, once I was dilated, they checked for a heartbeat again
This went on for about 20 mhnutes, checking with different machines
because they weren't sure whether or not
Eventually, the doctor was called and I was rushed to the emergency
room where I had to push and forceps were used to get her out.
The umbilical cord had been wrapped around her throat
She lived for five days, but we had to agree to the life
I got to hold her then for the first time until her
My Baby Loss Awareness Week is every year from the 22nd to
She was never able to cry, to smile, but I loved her
She is always in my thoughts all these years afterwards,
even if I don't talk about her all the time.
I don't not talk about her because I'm embarrassed, I'l not.
It's because it hurts so much to do so.
The pain does get easier to deal with overtime,
I really welcome this debatd today and genuinely pay tribute
to the members for bringing it forward and I hope one day nobody
else has to endure this pain and I want my experience to be heard
by young women in my constituency and across the country who have
or may go through this in the future, just
Mr Deputy Speaker, I hope that the whole house will rdad
the honourable lady's speech and will feel that she
has done something incredibly brave today.
And to my honourable friends who have proposals to make,
nothing but the greatest respect is due and to my honourable
friend who first talked about this with such couragd
and straightforwardness, all our thoughts are with hdr
and all the other parents who have suffered these terrible losses.
The Health Minister, Philip Dunne, said the Government was fully
committed to reducing the ntmber of babies who die during prdgnancy
or soon after birth, and to supporting bereaved families.
You're watching Thursday in Parliament with me, Alicia LcCarthy.
Senior tax officials and a leading executive
of the American firm, Concentrix, have apologised
after tax credits were incorrectly withdrawn
They gave evidence to the Work and Pensions committee
after it was announced the Concentrix contract
The firm was hired to cut fraud and overpayment.
The MPs first heard from people who'd lost tax credit payments.
What's the impact of this on your life?
It has been horrendous, I work part-time
My wage pays for my rent and utilities.
I rely on my tax credits evdry week to feed my children,
My daughter was about go to university, I did not have money
to fill up her food cupboard when she went to university,
she had to take second-hand stuff from home rather
than new stuff as most studdnts do when they go to university.
I take a payday loan out whhch HMRC is refusing to give me my ltmp sum.
So I cannot pay off debts that I have accrued stew
So I cannot pay off debts that I have accrued due
I cried all day after that phone call and it has been very elotional.
My kids, my one-year-old and four-year-old have seen me cry.
She described trying to wring Concentrix. -- trying to ring
Concentrix. I recalled that I'd try to ring them
and got the engaged tone ovdr 7 I checked my phone bill,
for my mobile phone, and I have recorded that I had been
on the phone to HMRC and Concentrix over this six week period 18 hours
and 57 minutes. We would like to say at the start
that we apologise to Mark, Marie, Sarah, Peter
and the others who were imp`cted. What part of your procedures is it
that allows you to identify deceased people as receiving tax credits
or a former tenant or partndr, what part of the process has gone
wrong that allows you to re`dily identify these people
as being cohabitees? I think the minister previotsly
spoke of the fact that this The burden of proof
is on the claimants, which hs a big part of the issue in this cxcle
in this HRR programme. The burden of truth was
on the claimant and if they do not provide the evidence,
we market it as not provided. provide the evidence,
we mark it as not provided. As part of that, it
goes through a cycle There's been a lot of
discussion around Concentrix stopping the payment,
but the payment is stopped... On our recommendation,
but only following a process. The head of HMRC explained the
decision not to renew the contract. Let me reiterate my apologids
to those people and everyond else, what seems to me to have happened
is that there was a collapsd So, what you have not heard
is anything about the stand`rds So, I think it was Sarah who said
that you receive a letter, xou try and get through on the phond,
and make multiple calls. We announced nonrenewal
on the 13th of September because we are in a period
where we've had a month of not being able to answer the phone
and there is a deep concern here because this is very
much a customer business and it was my opinion that we had
to focus very much on sorting out the customer situation
and we stopped giving Mr Cassidy was technically right
that you took away their tax credits but only because he told U2, was the
case? -- told you to. People in Concentrix would press
the right buttons in the system to say that they had taken
the decision and the only sdnse in which it was HMRC taking away
the money would be because ht But there was a change,
Concentrix were judge and jury
in that situation? Peers have called on the UK
government to review arms sales to Saudi Arabia -
in the wake of a recent air strike in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against rebels in Yemen known
as Houthis, who forced the president An air strike last week killed more
than 140 people who were attending The United States has launched
an "immediate review" Bomb fragments found that the scene
of the funeral carnage were those from an MK82 American guided bomb.
Saudi Arabia is one of the lost barbaric countries in the world with
beheadings, amputations and the enslavement of women. At thd same
time it is exporting its medieval version of Islam to neighbotring
countries like Syria and thd Yemen. Can the Minister give me a good
reason why the West princip`lly the United States and ourselves supply
some ?7 billion worth of arls to Saudi Arabia every year? And, can I
just add, that boosting our trade by exporting the means of mass killings
is not a good reason. Given that the United Kingdom has licensed ?3.
billion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since the conflict in Yemen
began, while the Baroness and Minister explain why we are not also
having a comprehensive revidw? We do look at these matters every single
time, thoroughly. So, we do have a Consolidated criteria where we
operate every single applic`tion. That applies to all export
applications, not only thosd that would be, at first sight, obvious to
be involved in in any conflhct. My Lords, what I can add is th`t my
honourable friend, the Minister for the Middle East, has travelled
overnight to Saudi Arabia, to have meetings with Yemeni and Satdi
leaders, including the Yemeni president, as the US and UK, along
with others, expressed concdrns over the continuing conflict. My lords,
discussions will focus on the air strike on the funeral hall hn Sanaa
on Saturday, and attempts to revive the political process.
Staying in the Lords, the government has insisted
new grammar schools will be engines of academic and social
The claim came in a debate where the plans to allow gr`mmar
schools in England to expand came under fierce attack.
Opening the debate, Labour's Lady Andrews said
the attainment gap was widest in areas with selection.
She set out what she called the myths about the virtues
One peer turned to unintenddd consequences of the change Whilst
another drew on her own expdrience But the plan did have supporters.
We are told that parents want grammar schools, that they close the
attainment gap of rich and poor children, and they accelerate
mobility, and they galvanisd all schools to do better. These claims
are widely challenged, not by the usual suspects, but by our tnique
correlation which has brought together previous secretarids of
State for education, who sed record seriously undermined and opposition
politicians, Academy trusts, networks, think tanks and the Chief
inspector of schools himself. What we are presented with in thhs
consultation paper is a divdrsion away from raising standards and
once again, in structures. One peer turned to the unintended
consequences of the change. What happened, I admire and salute this,
migrant and first-generation kids from Asia, we know already that
Bangladeshi girls are best performing, from Asia and E`stern
Europe, they will sweep into those schools, and God bless them, but the
problem of disgruntled and disconnected white working class,
who believed they would get better schools, will not get in. Another
Drew on her own experience. I was the lucky one. I passed. I was
offered a place, a very good face, considered to be the best. Ly best
friend was not unlucky, bec`use she failed. She actually passed. But
when you took the 11 plus then, your parents had to sign a form that said
you stayed at school until 06. Her parents did not understand. They did
not want to sign that form. And when they were eventually persuaded by my
headteacher to do so, she wdnt without parental support, whthout a
proper uniform, and four ye`rs later, when she was 15, thex paid a
fine to the local Magistratds' Court and got her a job in the local
grocery shop. But the plan had supporters. There is a diversity of
education in this country and it will continue. Nobody is gohng to
have a grammar school forced upon them against their will but my
lords, we believe in choice. We all should believe in choice. Nor should
any of us seem to deprive others of what we ourselves have benefited
from. My lords, I've always been completely mystified by the amount
of the rational, and ill informed animosity towards the princhple of
selection in secondary educ`tion. It's a complete educational
nonsense. A few may go at the right speed for them but the high,flyers
will be held back, the lower fliers flounder and the teachers thme will
be badly spent. Can our nathon's educational policy really bd,
because some will not succedd, number strike? How depressing. A
number of studies have found selective schools beneficial for the
families who attend them, closing the attainment gap to almost zero.
While it is hard to determine the gap on those who do not attdnd
selective schools, Sutton trust and no adverse affect on GCSEs, while
others found small adverse dffects. Selective schools could contribute
to this in a number of ways, sharing expertise and resources, assisting
with teaching and curriculul support, and providing support with
University applications. The government's proposals hntend to
make grammar schools engines of academic achievement for all pupils,
whether in selective or nonselective schools.
Finally the government's refused to get involved
in the day's chewiest issue - the row over Tesco and its
Along with PG Tips and Pot Noodles it's one of the dozens of household
brands being taken off the supermarket's online site
The company - one of Tesco's biggest suppliers -
wants to put up prices in the UK to compensate for the sharp decrease
The whole sticky mess spilled over into business
Where the new Shadow leader of the house was making her debut.
First week back and there is a crisis.
This morning I received a tdxt, an upgrade from an e-mail,
from Jeremy who says "We want our marmite back".
So, can the leader do all he can to make sure
Cut back on the salt and if you want to protest,
do not sit on the floor and shave your beard.
I'm sure that members on all sides of the house will have symp`thy
I think the best advice I c`n give to her about her e-mail
correspondent is to advise Jeremy that during the current comlercial
dispute between the wholesaler and retailer, there are a ntmber
of name brand yeast extracts that are available.
And I am confident in an arda like Islington, there is a wealth
of alternatives of both traditional and organic varieties
that will be available to the discerning customer.
David Lidington - on the spreading row over M`rmite!!
And that's it for now, but do join me at the same time
on Friday, for a round up of the week here at Westminster
Including a round up of the latest on Brexit.
But for now from me, goodbye.