13/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


13/10/2016

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.

:00:17.:00:19.

The Foreign Secretary paints a positive picture

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MPs ask for more to be done to cut the number of stillbirths.

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And there's strong condemnation of the UK's sales of arms

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Saudi Arabia is one of the lost barbaric countries in the world

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with beheadings, amputations and the enslavement of women.

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But first, the Foreign Secrdtary Boris Johnson has told MPs

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that those who "prophesied doom over Brexit will be proved wrong.

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He predicted that the UK wotld get a trade deal "of greater value"

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with the European Union than it currently has as part

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Appearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee, he said the UK

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would have a new identity as a "global Britain."

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It is vital to understand what Brexit is and what it hs not.

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Yes, it means restoring our democracy and control

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of our laws and our borders and a fair bit

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of cash, but Brexit is emphatically not

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any kind of mandate for this country to turn in on htself,

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to detach itself from the international community.

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Foreign Secretary, in welcoming you to your post,

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To many of us, the referendum gave a very

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clear message and that is, we're leaving.

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The Government's position is very clear on this.

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We are going to take back control on immigration,

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we're going to introduce a fair immigration policy

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that will no longer discriminates against

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outside the EU and we are going to obtain the best possible

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deal with regards accessing EU markets.

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Some would perhaps unfairly perhaps call them the Remoaners

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who believe that we are heading to hell in a handbasket

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and what would you say to those who are genuinely concerned about

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developments and the uncert`inty that this has created?

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I think that those who prophesied doom before the

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referendum have been proved wrong and I think they will continue

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I think obviously it will t`ke time before the full benefits

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we haven't even begun the process of leaving,

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so, you know, the whole thing is really vdry

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I do think that businesses investing in the UK

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can have the maximum possible certainty and assurance

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that our partners, our friends across the Channel

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have a huge interest in doing the best possible deal in

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goods and services for the sake of their companies and our fridnds

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in the political world across the Channel have a symmetrical

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interest in doing a deal that will be for the benefit

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of their constituents and the people who elect thdm,

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and that's a deal that's gohng to promote the growth and prosperity of

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both the UK and EU and I'm sure that's what we will produce.

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Maybe some Sturm und Drang along the way,

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One of the great attractions obviously

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to our partners overseas is access and membership

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Do you still believe we should retain membership

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Well, let's be clear that we are going to get

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The term, I think as the Prhme Minister herself said,

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the term "single market" is increasingly useless.

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We are going to get a deal that will be of

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huge value and possibly of greater value.

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I make these wearisome points but we are the

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single biggest consumers of French champagne,

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We drink both more than anybody else.

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We import more German cars than any other country.

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And we are going to continue to do that.

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As you'll be aware, you'll forgive me for mentioning,

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the French drink more whiskdy in a month than they do cognac

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in a year, and I suspect th`t's not going to stop either.

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The question I asked, do you think that we should retain

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membership of the single market or is it your

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negotiating objective to retain membership of the single market

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That's a simple question, without getting into how much

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we are buying and selling and all the rest of it.

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We are going to get the best possible deal...

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I think as I said, the most useful thing

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I can say to you is that thd phrase "single market" probably is one

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that not many people really understand and I think that...

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There are many countries, as Mr Barrow pointed out,

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that sell very effectively into the single market

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and that is certainly what we will do.

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So we'll be outside the single market?

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We're going to get the best possible deal for trade

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So you don't know if we're going to be in the single m`rket

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or not is what I take away from this and what I t`ke away

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from the Secretary of State for leaving the European Unhon

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is that nobody appears to have a Scooby, if you like,

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I'll tell you what, I'll do it one last time.

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Is it even your objective to retain membership of the single market

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You seem to think the singld market is like...

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You know, the Groucho Club or something.

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We will continue to have access to trade in

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goods and services to the ET, and I think we will do a de`l

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that will be to the benefit of. . both sides.

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Another MP turned to the opportunities for the Commonwealth.

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So I assume that you agree with me the Commonwealth flag should fly

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from British embassies and high commissions around the world

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Sorry, OK, you're testing my sigillography here.

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Or vexillology I think is the word I want.

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I don't think I'm going to make any particular commhtments

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You're happy for it to fly from embassies and high comlissions?

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As soon as somebody can identify it to me.

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I'm unaware of the exact configuration

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Well, just in case your vexhllology is a little rusty, this is the flag

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But Mr Johnson wouldn't makd any promises on where it would be flown.

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Every year in the UK around 3500 are stillborn.

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Another 2000 babies die before they're four weeks old.

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A Commons debate, held to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Wedk,

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was an opportunity for MPs to talk about their own experiences,

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and to keep up the pressure on ministers to cut

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The debate was called by two Conservatives,

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Will Quince and Antoinette Sandbach, who have talked before

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But for a Labour member, this was the first time

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about the death of her daughter Veronica.

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When I was 16 years old, I became unexpectedly pregn`nt.

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At first, I was terrified and even debated having her adopted.

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But during my pregnancy, something changed.

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I was excited, I was going to be the best mum ever.

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Me and my partner at the tile named our baby girl Veronic`.

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I went full term and was ten days overdue, so they had to indtce me.

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I was sick, tired and in a huge amount of pain.

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Veronica's heartbeat was chdcked regularly and everything was fine.

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Then, once I was dilated, they checked for a heartbeat again

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This went on for about 20 mhnutes, checking with different machines

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because they weren't sure whether or not

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Eventually, the doctor was called and I was rushed to the emergency

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room where I had to push and forceps were used to get her out.

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The umbilical cord had been wrapped around her throat

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She lived for five days, but we had to agree to the life

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I got to hold her then for the first time until her

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My Baby Loss Awareness Week is every year from the 22nd to

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She was never able to cry, to smile, but I loved her

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She is always in my thoughts all these years afterwards,

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even if I don't talk about her all the time.

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I don't not talk about her because I'm embarrassed, I'l not.

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It's because it hurts so much to do so.

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The pain does get easier to deal with overtime,

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I really welcome this debatd today and genuinely pay tribute

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to the members for bringing it forward and I hope one day nobody

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else has to endure this pain and I want my experience to be heard

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by young women in my constituency and across the country who have

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or may go through this in the future, just

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Mr Deputy Speaker, I hope that the whole house will rdad

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the honourable lady's speech and will feel that she

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has done something incredibly brave today.

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And to my honourable friends who have proposals to make,

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nothing but the greatest respect is due and to my honourable

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friend who first talked about this with such couragd

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and straightforwardness, all our thoughts are with hdr

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and all the other parents who have suffered these terrible losses.

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The Health Minister, Philip Dunne, said the Government was fully

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committed to reducing the ntmber of babies who die during prdgnancy

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or soon after birth, and to supporting bereaved families.

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

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Senior tax officials and a leading executive

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of the American firm, Concentrix, have apologised

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after tax credits were incorrectly withdrawn

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They gave evidence to the Work and Pensions committee

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after it was announced the Concentrix contract

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The firm was hired to cut fraud and overpayment.

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The MPs first heard from people who'd lost tax credit payments.

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What's the impact of this on your life?

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It has been horrendous, I work part-time

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My wage pays for my rent and utilities.

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I rely on my tax credits evdry week to feed my children,

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My daughter was about go to university, I did not have money

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to fill up her food cupboard when she went to university,

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she had to take second-hand stuff from home rather

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than new stuff as most studdnts do when they go to university.

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I take a payday loan out whhch HMRC is refusing to give me my ltmp sum.

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So I cannot pay off debts that I have accrued stew

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So I cannot pay off debts that I have accrued due

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I cried all day after that phone call and it has been very elotional.

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My kids, my one-year-old and four-year-old have seen me cry.

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She described trying to wring Concentrix. -- trying to ring

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Concentrix. I recalled that I'd try to ring them

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and got the engaged tone ovdr 7 I checked my phone bill,

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for my mobile phone, and I have recorded that I had been

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on the phone to HMRC and Concentrix over this six week period 18 hours

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and 57 minutes. We would like to say at the start

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that we apologise to Mark, Marie, Sarah, Peter

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and the others who were imp`cted. What part of your procedures is it

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that allows you to identify deceased people as receiving tax credits

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or a former tenant or partndr, what part of the process has gone

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wrong that allows you to re`dily identify these people

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as being cohabitees? I think the minister previotsly

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spoke of the fact that this The burden of proof

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is on the claimants, which hs a big part of the issue in this cxcle

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in this HRR programme. The burden of truth was

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on the claimant and if they do not provide the evidence,

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we market it as not provided. provide the evidence,

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we mark it as not provided. As part of that, it

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goes through a cycle There's been a lot of

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discussion around Concentrix stopping the payment,

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but the payment is stopped... On our recommendation,

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but only following a process. The head of HMRC explained the

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decision not to renew the contract. Let me reiterate my apologids

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to those people and everyond else, what seems to me to have happened

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is that there was a collapsd So, what you have not heard

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is anything about the stand`rds So, I think it was Sarah who said

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that you receive a letter, xou try and get through on the phond,

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and make multiple calls. We announced nonrenewal

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on the 13th of September because we are in a period

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where we've had a month of not being able to answer the phone

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and there is a deep concern here because this is very

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much a customer business and it was my opinion that we had

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to focus very much on sorting out the customer situation

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and we stopped giving Mr Cassidy was technically right

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that you took away their tax credits but only because he told U2, was the

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case? -- told you to. People in Concentrix would press

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the right buttons in the system to say that they had taken

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the decision and the only sdnse in which it was HMRC taking away

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the money would be because ht But there was a change,

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Concentrix were judge and jury

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in that situation? Peers have called on the UK

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government to review arms sales to Saudi Arabia -

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in the wake of a recent air strike in Yemen.

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Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against rebels in Yemen known

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as Houthis, who forced the president An air strike last week killed more

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than 140 people who were attending The United States has launched

:16:40.:16:46.

an "immediate review" Bomb fragments found that the scene

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of the funeral carnage were those from an MK82 American guided bomb.

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Saudi Arabia is one of the lost barbaric countries in the world with

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beheadings, amputations and the enslavement of women. At thd same

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time it is exporting its medieval version of Islam to neighbotring

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countries like Syria and thd Yemen. Can the Minister give me a good

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reason why the West princip`lly the United States and ourselves supply

:17:34.:17:41.

some ?7 billion worth of arls to Saudi Arabia every year? And, can I

:17:42.:17:49.

just add, that boosting our trade by exporting the means of mass killings

:17:50.:17:55.

is not a good reason. Given that the United Kingdom has licensed ?3.

:17:56.:17:59.

billion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since the conflict in Yemen

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began, while the Baroness and Minister explain why we are not also

:18:05.:18:09.

having a comprehensive revidw? We do look at these matters every single

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time, thoroughly. So, we do have a Consolidated criteria where we

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operate every single applic`tion. That applies to all export

:18:19.:18:24.

applications, not only thosd that would be, at first sight, obvious to

:18:25.:18:32.

be involved in in any conflhct. My Lords, what I can add is th`t my

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honourable friend, the Minister for the Middle East, has travelled

:18:41.:18:45.

overnight to Saudi Arabia, to have meetings with Yemeni and Satdi

:18:46.:18:49.

leaders, including the Yemeni president, as the US and UK, along

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with others, expressed concdrns over the continuing conflict. My lords,

:18:57.:19:00.

discussions will focus on the air strike on the funeral hall hn Sanaa

:19:01.:19:08.

on Saturday, and attempts to revive the political process.

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Staying in the Lords, the government has insisted

:19:11.:19:13.

new grammar schools will be engines of academic and social

:19:14.:19:15.

The claim came in a debate where the plans to allow gr`mmar

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schools in England to expand came under fierce attack.

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Opening the debate, Labour's Lady Andrews said

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the attainment gap was widest in areas with selection.

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She set out what she called the myths about the virtues

:19:26.:19:28.

One peer turned to unintenddd consequences of the change Whilst

:19:29.:19:31.

another drew on her own expdrience But the plan did have supporters.

:19:32.:19:34.

We are told that parents want grammar schools, that they close the

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attainment gap of rich and poor children, and they accelerate

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mobility, and they galvanisd all schools to do better. These claims

:19:48.:19:53.

are widely challenged, not by the usual suspects, but by our tnique

:19:54.:19:57.

correlation which has brought together previous secretarids of

:19:58.:20:01.

State for education, who sed record seriously undermined and opposition

:20:02.:20:09.

politicians, Academy trusts, networks, think tanks and the Chief

:20:10.:20:13.

inspector of schools himself. What we are presented with in thhs

:20:14.:20:18.

consultation paper is a divdrsion away from raising standards and

:20:19.:20:25.

once again, in structures. One peer turned to the unintended

:20:26.:20:30.

consequences of the change. What happened, I admire and salute this,

:20:31.:20:34.

migrant and first-generation kids from Asia, we know already that

:20:35.:20:41.

Bangladeshi girls are best performing, from Asia and E`stern

:20:42.:20:45.

Europe, they will sweep into those schools, and God bless them, but the

:20:46.:20:50.

problem of disgruntled and disconnected white working class,

:20:51.:20:53.

who believed they would get better schools, will not get in. Another

:20:54.:21:03.

Drew on her own experience. I was the lucky one. I passed. I was

:21:04.:21:08.

offered a place, a very good face, considered to be the best. Ly best

:21:09.:21:16.

friend was not unlucky, bec`use she failed. She actually passed. But

:21:17.:21:20.

when you took the 11 plus then, your parents had to sign a form that said

:21:21.:21:31.

you stayed at school until 06. Her parents did not understand. They did

:21:32.:21:35.

not want to sign that form. And when they were eventually persuaded by my

:21:36.:21:42.

headteacher to do so, she wdnt without parental support, whthout a

:21:43.:21:46.

proper uniform, and four ye`rs later, when she was 15, thex paid a

:21:47.:21:52.

fine to the local Magistratds' Court and got her a job in the local

:21:53.:21:57.

grocery shop. But the plan had supporters. There is a diversity of

:21:58.:22:02.

education in this country and it will continue. Nobody is gohng to

:22:03.:22:05.

have a grammar school forced upon them against their will but my

:22:06.:22:10.

lords, we believe in choice. We all should believe in choice. Nor should

:22:11.:22:16.

any of us seem to deprive others of what we ourselves have benefited

:22:17.:22:20.

from. My lords, I've always been completely mystified by the amount

:22:21.:22:25.

of the rational, and ill informed animosity towards the princhple of

:22:26.:22:32.

selection in secondary educ`tion. It's a complete educational

:22:33.:22:34.

nonsense. A few may go at the right speed for them but the high,flyers

:22:35.:22:38.

will be held back, the lower fliers flounder and the teachers thme will

:22:39.:22:43.

be badly spent. Can our nathon's educational policy really bd,

:22:44.:22:51.

because some will not succedd, number strike? How depressing. A

:22:52.:22:54.

number of studies have found selective schools beneficial for the

:22:55.:23:02.

families who attend them, closing the attainment gap to almost zero.

:23:03.:23:07.

While it is hard to determine the gap on those who do not attdnd

:23:08.:23:12.

selective schools, Sutton trust and no adverse affect on GCSEs, while

:23:13.:23:20.

others found small adverse dffects. Selective schools could contribute

:23:21.:23:25.

to this in a number of ways, sharing expertise and resources, assisting

:23:26.:23:30.

with teaching and curriculul support, and providing support with

:23:31.:23:34.

University applications. The government's proposals hntend to

:23:35.:23:38.

make grammar schools engines of academic achievement for all pupils,

:23:39.:23:41.

whether in selective or nonselective schools.

:23:42.:23:43.

Finally the government's refused to get involved

:23:44.:23:48.

in the day's chewiest issue - the row over Tesco and its

:23:49.:23:51.

Along with PG Tips and Pot Noodles it's one of the dozens of household

:23:52.:23:55.

brands being taken off the supermarket's online site

:23:56.:23:57.

The company - one of Tesco's biggest suppliers -

:23:58.:24:01.

wants to put up prices in the UK to compensate for the sharp decrease

:24:02.:24:04.

The whole sticky mess spilled over into business

:24:05.:24:07.

Where the new Shadow leader of the house was making her debut.

:24:08.:24:14.

First week back and there is a crisis.

:24:15.:24:17.

This morning I received a tdxt, an upgrade from an e-mail,

:24:18.:24:21.

from Jeremy who says "We want our marmite back".

:24:22.:24:24.

So, can the leader do all he can to make sure

:24:25.:24:27.

Cut back on the salt and if you want to protest,

:24:28.:24:36.

do not sit on the floor and shave your beard.

:24:37.:24:40.

I'm sure that members on all sides of the house will have symp`thy

:24:41.:24:45.

I think the best advice I c`n give to her about her e-mail

:24:46.:24:52.

correspondent is to advise Jeremy that during the current comlercial

:24:53.:24:56.

dispute between the wholesaler and retailer, there are a ntmber

:24:57.:24:59.

of name brand yeast extracts that are available.

:25:00.:25:02.

And I am confident in an arda like Islington, there is a wealth

:25:03.:25:07.

of alternatives of both traditional and organic varieties

:25:08.:25:10.

that will be available to the discerning customer.

:25:11.:25:25.

David Lidington - on the spreading row over M`rmite!!

:25:26.:25:28.

And that's it for now, but do join me at the same time

:25:29.:25:34.

on Friday, for a round up of the week here at Westminster

:25:35.:25:37.

Including a round up of the latest on Brexit.

:25:38.:25:39.

But for now from me, goodbye.

:25:40.:25:41.

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