20/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


20/10/2016

Highlights of Thursday 20 October in Parliament presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.

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Coming up: MPs say Sir Philhp Green should be stripped of his knighthood

:00:20.:00:22.

Peers demand a public inquiry into the state of our prisons,

:00:23.:00:31.

He took the rings from the fingers of BHS, he beat it black and blue,

:00:32.:00:38.

he starved it offered in water, he put it on life-support and then he

:00:39.:00:40.

wanted credit for keeping it alive. Peers demand a public inquiry

:00:41.:00:42.

into the state of our prisons, telling ministers

:00:43.:00:44.

jails are in crisis. And: we might be starting

:00:45.:00:46.

the process of leaving the DU, We have hard Brexit, we havd sourced

:00:47.:01:01.

-- we have soft Brexit. I would like to suggest crispy Brexit and maybe

:01:02.:01:06.

cant believe it is not Brexht. But first, there was unanimous

:01:07.:01:08.

support in the Commons for ` motion recommending the former owndr of BHS

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be stripped of his knighthood. The firm collapsed with 11,000

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jobs lost and a more A damning MPs' report

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on the High Street chain's failure, published in July, concluded

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Sir Philip had extracted large sums and left the business

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on "life support". At my age, you would have thought I

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may have been able to touch the hem of the garment of Napoleon, but

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obviously I never knew Napoleon but in my mindmy, this was the character

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most like the Napoleon I re`d in the history books while I was at school.

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He turned to the state of the company when Sir Phlip bought it,

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focussing particularly on the pension scheme.

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When Sir Philip Green acquired PHS, it was a relatively prosperous

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business and it had a pension scheme in surplus. Given his depiction of

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Mr Green has a Napoleonic fhgure, does he not share my concern that

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when he came to the committde in June and asserted that he would fix

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the problem, but several months later that does not appear to have

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taken place and he appears to be in the media saying that he is going to

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do so in the next couple of days and best does seem to be very irregular

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given the authority that he does seem to have. We were certahnly left

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that it was going to be sorted shortly. There was no concrdte

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proposal on the table at thd present time to actually bring justhce to

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those pensioners. He says hd is sorry but it comes across as

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crocodile tears because he will not put his money where his mouth is and

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he ought to make recompense. He seems that somehow unwilling to

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surrender a modest part of his made fortune. But it modest part which

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would make such a differencd to those pensioners still awaiting

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their fate. This Napoleon thing as he said, I have always thought that

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Sir Philip Green was more of a Maxwell. He had the money, xou had

:03:08.:03:13.

the yacht, he had the workers, and he robbed them of their pensions. It

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is almost a parallel. Sir Philip Green has threatened to sue me over

:03:23.:03:28.

my comments on that. I am still awaiting the writ to arrive. I long

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to be in court to have a trhal by jury, but that will be for `nother

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day. Despite all of the razzmatazz, there

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is nothing the committee cotld find or evidence that was presented to

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the committee that showed that Sir Philip Green was king of thd high

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street. He was and is a verx successful traditional asset

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stripper. an amendment recommending Shr Philip

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be stripped of his knighthood. You can amass a great fortune, but

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in such turbulent market tiles you can lose it in a day. And all you

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are left with is your order. And so the underpinnings of the amdndment

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today are to gauge in the specifics of the enquiry that we had hn

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Parliament on BHS not where the action is legal, but where the

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actions of Sir Philip Green honourable? And that is pertinent

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because he received his honour. For services to retail. I was contacted

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by e-mail by my constituent Irene who sheared the following. H had two

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friends who worked in BHS in Glasgow and they are devastated at what has

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happened to them and their pensions. They worked there for years. Don't

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have much chance of getting another job or being able to build tp

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another pension. This has h`ppened to my friends and their colleagues

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all because he risked his worker's pensions while he made a huge

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profits. I feel like we most certainly should not be honouring

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people like that. With the honourable member agree with Irene

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and mess up that this man Dhddley does not deserve his honour, after

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thousands of hard-working pdople across the UK have been Juphter I

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am very grateful for that and I absolutely agree with the honourable

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lady opposite. But the most vivid criticisl came

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from the co-chair of the inpuiry. Sir Philip Green cannot be described

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as a short-term corporate r`ider, but great the company he did, and

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his ability to do so men th`t he was anything natural position to be able

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to obtain the debt to acquire Acadia and through the same modus operandi

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he acquired BHS, bot Acadia and then paid his family the biggest

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corporate dividend in British history. He took the rings from the

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fingers of BHS comic he beat it black and blue comedy startdd of

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food and water, he put it on life-support and then he wanted

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credit for keeping it alive. Madam Deputy Speaker, BHS is one of the

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biggest corporate scandals of modern times. I think the whole hotse has

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sympathy for the thousands of workers and pensioners who have lost

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their jobs and seen their bdnefits reduced as a result of greed, and

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competence, and hubris. The repetition of business has been

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tarnished as a result of thhs greed. The bus majority of businesses are

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not run and managed like thhs. It would be wrong to tar all of

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business with the same brush, but it is vital that this mess is sorted.

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Well, in the end MPs approvdd - without a vote - the motion to strip

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The final say is not down to MPs but the Honours Forfeiture

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committee, convened by the prime minister and chaired by the head

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We'll get you the best deal possible."

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That was the message of the Cabinet Minister Davhd Davis

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at the first question session of his newly created Departlent

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MPs were looking for assurances that Brexit wouldn't harm differdnt

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aspects of the economy, such as science, education,

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I have been clear that the Government's overarching ails are to

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return control of our laws to Parliament, bringing back control

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over immigration to the UK, maintaining a strong security

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cooperation that we have with the EU and establishing the freest possible

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market in goods and services with the EU and the rest of the world.

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According to even at all tiles, the governor and it is their billions on

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to be the City of London in the single market. Can the Minister

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confirm what steps he is taking to confirm that the people of Scotland

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get a similar deal? A very large sum of the natural services jobs are

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outside London. Many of those are concentrated in Scotland. It has

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been a fundamental part of Scotland's advantage down the years

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to have strong financial services and we will do every bit as much to

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detect Scotland as we will protect London. Given the importancd of the

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single market membership to the economy in Ireland, will be

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Secretary of State commit to exploring ways in which Northern

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Ireland can remain in the shngle market in the eventuality that

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British leaves because of the importance of that market to our

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business? What I will commit to and have already committed to is

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extensive work to ensure th`t we keep an open border between the

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north in the South, that we maintain the Common travel area, and that we

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maintain the most effective possible open market that we can achheve

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Then a question on the challenge to the Prime Minister's intdntion

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to trigger EU Article 50 starting the exiting process

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As my right honourable friend will know, there has been a very

:08:40.:08:49.

important court case heard hn the High Court in the last week. What

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plans has my right honourable friend drawn up, including legislation in

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the event that he loses that case, and that therefore it will be this

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way is including the house of lords that will trigger Article 50 and not

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the Government using the roxal prerogative? Let me say gently to my

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honourable friend. Ministers do not comment on court cases in progress.

:09:20.:09:23.

Eight days ago, at that dispatch box, the Government give a clear

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commitment that, and I quotd, there should be a transparent deb`te on

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the Government's plans for leaving the EU. Yesterday, Mr Speakdr, I

:09:30.:09:35.

wrote to the Secretary of State to ask a very simple question. When

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will the plans be made available? That is an important question

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because we need time to deb`te and scrutinise the plans before Article

:09:44.:09:48.

50 is invoked. I could not have been clearer that I consider in gauge and

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part of the process of exithng the youth of Parliament -- exithng the

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European Union of paramount importance. That is the cost of

:10:00.:10:03.

everything I have said prevhously to various select committees in the

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house. The British people h`ve had enough of being misled over these

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issues. So will the Secretary of State tell this house and the

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country whether his plan, as it is evolving, it seems, will involve the

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country agreeing to continud making payments to the European Unhon after

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we have left the European Union The honourable lady had a reallx great

:10:30.:10:32.

deal of trouble keeping a straight face asking that question, `nd it is

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because she knows that it is not one I am going to answer. Mr Spdaker, I

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look forward to being able to asking a question with a straight face

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Anticipation of a straight `nswer. Goody perhaps try to tell this house

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and the country whether his plan, how much he estimate will nded to be

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spent on settling legacy colmitments prior to the completion of Brexit?

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The source I'm going to court is rather more authority and to ban

:11:07.:11:11.

Times. The European Commisshon talking about negotiating gtidelines

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and talking about how it handles negotiation and what it puts in the

:11:15.:11:18.

public domain before it does says the following. The negotiathons and

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whomever this is the Commission the negotiations are not themselves

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public. This is entirely normal for trade negotiations, not just those

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involving the European Union. What the opposition are trying to do on

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Mr Speaker, is to put us in a disadvantaged position. That is not

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in the national interest. You're watching Thursday

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in Parliament, with me, The Department of Health wants

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to reduce the amount of mondy it spends on community

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pharmacies in England. NHS England pays ?2.8 billion

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a year to the 11,500 Pharmacists are regarded

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as a crucial part of the NHS. As well as dispensing prescription

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drugs they provide other services - such as flu jabs and

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emergency contraception. But they are also private

:12:09.:12:10.

businesses which, according to a Health Minister,

:12:11.:12:12.

David Mowat, could be The average pharmacy receivds nearly

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?1 million per year for the NHS goods and services it provides,

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allowing ?220,000 of this is direct income. This includes a fixdd

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payment of ?25,000 per year, paid from most pharmacies regardless of

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size and regardless of qualhty. He called on pharmacies to plax their

:12:47.:12:51.

part in finding ?22 billion worth of savings for the NHS. I am today

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announcing a two year funding settlement. In summary, to provide

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NHS pharmaceutical services under the community pharmacy framdwork

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will receive 2.687 billion pounds in funding and ?2.592 billion hn

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funding in 2018. This represents a 4% reduction in 2016 and 2007 and a

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further 3.4% in 2017 and 2008. Mr Speaker, every penny saved by this

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reset will be reinvested and the allocated back into our NHS to

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ensure the very best patient care. Community pharmacies play a crucial

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role in our health and soci`l care system. Importantly, 80% of patient

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contact in the NHS is in colmunity pharmacies, so the Government's

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decision to press ahead with the damaging cuts to our pharmacies

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which represent a 12% cut for the rest of this year on current levels

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and a 7% cut year after will cause widespread concern and dism`y.

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Earlier this year, the minister s predecessor said that up to 300

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community pharmacies could close, and clearly, the thousands of

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remaining pharmacies could be forced to scale back their services. If the

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minister does not agree with his predecessor, can he now tell the

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house how many community ph`rmacies he expects to close as a result of

:14:21.:14:22.

the Government's cuts? The honourable lady is asking me

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how many are closing. The answer to that question is,

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I don't know. I do not believe that

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3,000 will close. The average margin,

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operating margin, that the pharmacy makes on the ntmbers

:14:37.:14:39.

that I quoted earlier os 15$. That is after salaries

:14:40.:14:44.

and after rent. The cuts we are making,

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the efficiencies that we ard asking for, is significantlx

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lower than that. Aren't these cuts just the latest

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evidence of the unprecedented financial pressure

:14:57.:14:58.

that the National Health Service is Isn't it the case that cutthng

:14:59.:15:00.

community pharmacy services is the very last place you would

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begin because they take surgeries, they take

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pressure off hospitals, The Government should be investing

:15:07.:15:10.

more in them not cutting. I thank the minister for re`lising

:15:11.:15:18.

what Labour fails to, that any NHS money is taxpaxers

:15:19.:15:22.

money and the priority should always be patient care not the profits

:15:23.:15:25.

of private equity firms. Can I congratulate him for laking

:15:26.:15:27.

clear that those who live in our lost

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deprived communities will bd protected and have better

:15:31.:15:33.

services as a result of this change and can

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I Well, I won't say

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much more, Mr Speaker But I thank the right

:15:38.:15:40.

honourable gentleman for his comments and

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he's right to remind the House that this sector

:15:44.:15:45.

is quite concentrated

:15:46.:15:59.

towards public companies. That isn't to say there aren't some

:16:00.:16:00.

individual pharmacies that will be affected,

:16:01.:16:03.

but something like 25% of pharmacies are owned

:16:04.:16:05.

by The Government has rejected calls

:16:06.:16:06.

for a public inquiry into the state In the Lords, peers said

:16:07.:16:11.

prisons were in crisis, with violence endemic,

:16:12.:16:15.

a shortage of staff The problem was raised by a former

:16:16.:16:16.

inspector of prisons following the death of one hnmate

:16:17.:16:20.

and the injuring of two othdrs earlier this week at Pentonville

:16:21.:16:23.

prison in North London. The jail which opened in 1842 holds

:16:24.:16:25.

more than 1,200 adults. Tuesday's horrendous murder

:16:26.:16:31.

in Pentonville drew yet mord attention to the fact

:16:32.:16:34.

that our prisons are And I regard the call

:16:35.:16:37.

for a public inquiry into their state by the very repttable

:16:38.:16:48.

Prison Governors' Association as a vote of no-confidence in the years

:16:49.:16:53.

of purely in-house tinkering with the system by successive

:16:54.:16:57.

ministers and officials. noble lord, the Minister,

:16:58.:17:01.

to advise the Secretary to listen carefully to thosd most

:17:02.:17:06.

affected by the current crisis. It is not thought

:17:07.:17:12.

that a public inquiry would be the way forward

:17:13.:17:15.

when we are about to publish a White Paper

:17:16.:17:21.

prison safety and reform in which we will address these issues.

:17:22.:17:25.

Of course the Prison Governors' Association

:17:26.:17:26.

They, like the Secretary of State, want to see

:17:27.:17:32.

safe prisons as a foundation for prison reform.

:17:33.:17:34.

And they have welcomed the fact that initial

:17:35.:17:38.

funding has been made avail`ble recently the announcement of the ?40

:17:39.:17:41.

million pilot scheme for new public sector

:17:42.:17:43.

prisons operating in

:17:44.:17:44.

The number of assaults on prison officers has

:17:45.:17:52.

risen from 3,000 a year to 4,50 , with serious assaults doublhng.

:17:53.:17:55.

Assaults with weapons on officers and fellow

:17:56.:17:58.

prisoners increased by

:17:59.:18:00.

Self harming has increased in the last

:18:01.:18:06.

Meanwhile the number of prison officers has

:18:07.:18:18.

fallen from 18,500 to just over 15,000 in the last four years.

:18:19.:18:22.

When will the Government recognise that

:18:23.:18:27.

we have a crisis in our prisons and it is necessary to reduce the

:18:28.:18:30.

overall prison population, including those on remand,

:18:31.:18:32.

Substantially increase the number of trained staff,

:18:33.:18:39.

provide appropriate medical and other support, and move

:18:40.:18:42.

from housing people in largd institutions which are diffhcult to

:18:43.:18:44.

manage to smaller custodial facilities?

:18:45.:18:49.

It is recognised that there has been an increase in

:18:50.:18:53.

violence in prisons in the past ten years or more.

:18:54.:18:57.

It should also be noted that in the period from 2005

:18:58.:19:02.

to 2015 the number of offenders in prison for violent conduct has

:19:03.:19:05.

So far as resources are concerned we have

:19:06.:19:15.

already announced as of 30th June this year the allocation of an

:19:16.:19:21.

additional ?10 million of ndw funding for prison safety and that

:19:22.:19:23.

funding is to include Pentonville prison.

:19:24.:19:28.

As a former minister for prhsons I recognise the difficulty

:19:29.:19:33.

the Government is in when something like this is proposed as a new and

:19:34.:19:49.

expensive programme is already launched.

:19:50.:19:51.

But would my noble friend bdar in mind that it would offer two

:19:52.:19:54.

One would be that the Secretary of State and the

:19:55.:19:57.

Minister would actually perhaps learn a good deal that they don t

:19:58.:20:00.

know now which would be verx valuable to them in managing their

:20:01.:20:03.

The second is that the result is likely to give them extr`

:20:04.:20:07.

ammunition for dealing with the difficulty

:20:08.:20:08.

of getting money out of

:20:09.:20:09.

The Government has I believd acknowledged that one of thd

:20:10.:20:16.

major contributory factors to the increase

:20:17.:20:20.

in violence in prisons is

:20:21.:20:22.

the use of psychoactive substances, especially Spicd.

:20:23.:20:24.

And I think it has taken stdps to ensure possession and

:20:25.:20:27.

supply has been restricted on prisons.

:20:28.:20:28.

But will the Minister agree with me now that it's really

:20:29.:20:31.

important to have a coordin`ted response to tackling demand on all

:20:32.:20:42.

drug misuse, not only psychoactive substances, but heroin, crack,

:20:43.:20:44.

cannabis, and the increase in prescribed drugs in prison?

:20:45.:20:46.

Otherwise you will have a scatter-gun approach

:20:47.:20:48.

and a reactive approach to tackling this issue and

:20:49.:20:50.

it would be a really import`nt thing to have in the White Paper.

:20:51.:20:53.

It is acknowledged that drugs, and in particular psychoacthve

:20:54.:20:55.

substances, are a major problem and indeed a

:20:56.:20:57.

source of violence within the prison community.

:20:58.:20:59.

Ministry of Justice in 2013 noted that over 80% of the prison

:21:00.:21:10.

population admitted to using illegal drugs prior to their incarcdration.

:21:11.:21:13.

The availability of drugs within prison remains

:21:14.:21:15.

a major problem and one which we are addressing.

:21:16.:21:18.

For example new penalties in respect of

:21:19.:21:20.

the use of drones are being introduced.

:21:21.:21:27.

Further reforms are being t`ken to try and reduce the

:21:28.:21:30.

ability of people to bring drugs into prison.

:21:31.:21:34.

However we have to remember that individual prisons are

:21:35.:21:36.

communities where there is ` massive movement of people in and ott,

:21:37.:21:40.

whether they be new prisoners or visitors, and control of illegal

:21:41.:21:42.

Staying in the Lords peers were also worried

:21:43.:21:47.

They wanted action to tackld the rise in problem

:21:48.:21:54.

gamblers and were particularly concerned about what are called

:21:55.:21:56.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals - known as FOBTs.

:21:57.:22:00.

The slot machines - found in betting shops -

:22:01.:22:02.

have been labelled the crack cocaine of gambling.

:22:03.:22:04.

A Bishop wanted to know what action the government was taking.

:22:05.:22:07.

I recently put in a Freedom of information request to the

:22:08.:22:10.

Metropolitan Police and that revealed that since 2010 thdre has

:22:11.:22:15.

been a 68% rise in violent crime associated with betting shops across

:22:16.:22:18.

In the light of that will the noble lord, the Minister,

:22:19.:22:27.

tell the House what assessmdnt Her Majesty's Government has made of

:22:28.:22:30.

the link between this rapid rise in violent crime associated with

:22:31.:22:34.

betting shops and the incre`se in the number of fixed odds betting

:22:35.:22:38.

Well, of course, any rise in the crime

:22:39.:22:47.

figures is concerning and mhnisters in the Gambling Commission will look

:22:48.:22:50.

And of course preventing gambling being a

:22:51.:22:57.

source of crime is one of the three licensing objectives that all

:22:58.:23:00.

As far as the right reverend's specific

:23:01.:23:09.

question about the link between fixed odds

:23:10.:23:11.

rise in crime, I would hesitate at the moment to draw a causal link

:23:12.:23:16.

between that in the absence of evidence on the specific means of

:23:17.:23:19.

But of course this is exactly the sort of evidence that

:23:20.:23:24.

should be provided to the forthcoming triennial rdview.

:23:25.:23:30.

One peer had a tongue in cheek question.

:23:31.:23:33.

for someone who gambles a country for a political party and loses

:23:34.:23:42.

A question the Minister didn't answer.

:23:43.:23:47.

Finally for now to Business Questions, where MPs wanted to talk

:23:48.:23:49.

The Shadow Leader asked abott that and threw in a reference

:23:50.:23:55.

to the recent announcement that '60s singer Bob Dylan has yet to say

:23:56.:23:58.

if he'll travel to Stockholl at the end of the year to collect

:23:59.:24:02.

Even Margaret Thatcher had ` negotiating position.

:24:03.:24:09.

It was, no, no, no, or, I want a rebate.

:24:10.:24:12.

They say we can't reveal our negotiating position.

:24:13.:24:15.

The only answer to the Government is that a hard Brexit is going to fall.

:24:16.:24:21.

Mr Speaker, if there is one thing that is blowing in the wind this

:24:22.:24:25.

morning it is the coherence of the Labour Party's ideas about

:24:26.:24:28.

policy and I don't know whether they're

:24:29.:24:32.

sleeping well at night but

:24:33.:24:35.

it's very clear to me that there's no place they're going to.

:24:36.:24:38.

The SNP's own Mr Tambourine Man Pete Wishart, a former membdr

:24:39.:24:48.

of the band Runrig, had linguistic questions of his own.

:24:49.:24:50.

Today, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister

:24:51.:24:52.

is off to Brussels on her fhrst trip

:24:53.:24:54.

with EU leaders since she became

:24:55.:24:55.

Prime Minister and she is advocating

:24:56.:24:57.

something which I think she

:24:58.:24:58.

Can I suggest that we get otr terms

:24:59.:25:01.

Because we have got hard Brexit, we have got

:25:02.:25:04.

I want to suggest crispy Brexit and maybe soggy

:25:05.:25:07.

the member for Perth and North Perthshire

:25:08.:25:18.

forgot to mention ready Brexit but

:25:19.:25:19.

Mr Speaker, I can remember the days when they used to

:25:20.:25:23.

Really, Minister, isn't it time we stopped

:25:24.:25:31.

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

:25:32.:25:39.

for a full round up of the week here in Westminster,

:25:40.:25:42.

including former Public Accounts Committee Chair Dame Margardt Hodge

:25:43.:25:45.

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