13/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


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.


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