20/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


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

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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.


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


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


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


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


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


into the state of our prisons, telling ministers


jails are in crisis. And: we might be starting


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


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


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


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


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


jobs lost and a more A damning MPs' report


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


Sir Philip had extracted large sums and left the business


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


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


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


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


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


focussing particularly on the pension scheme.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would make such a differencd to those pensioners still awaiting


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


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


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


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


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


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


day. Despite all of the razzmatazz, there


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


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


street. He was and is a verx successful traditional asset


stripper. an amendment recommending Shr Philip


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


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


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


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


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


actions of Sir Philip Green honourable? And that is pertinent


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


people like that. With the honourable member agree with Irene


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


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


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


lady opposite. But the most vivid criticisl came


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sympathy for the thousands of workers and pensioners who have lost


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


competence, and hubris. The repetition of business has been


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


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


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


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


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


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


We'll get you the best deal possible."


That was the message of the Cabinet Minister Davhd Davis


at the first question session of his newly created Departlent


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


aspects of the economy, such as science, education,


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


return control of our laws to Parliament, bringing back control


over immigration to the UK, maintaining a strong security


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


single market membership to the economy in Ireland, will be


Secretary of State commit to exploring ways in which Northern


Ireland can remain in the shngle market in the eventuality that


British leaves because of the importance of that market to our


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


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


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


maintain the most effective possible open market that we can achheve


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


to trigger EU Article 50 starting the exiting process


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


European Union of paramount importance. That is the cost of


everything I have said prevhously to various select committees in the


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


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


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


country agreeing to continud making payments to the European Unhon after


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Times. The European Commisshon talking about negotiating gtidelines


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


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


whomever this is the Commission the negotiations are not themselves


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


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


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


in the national interest. You're watching Thursday


in Parliament, with me, The Department of Health wants


to reduce the amount of mondy it spends on community


pharmacies in England. NHS England pays ?2.8 billion


a year to the 11,500 Pharmacists are regarded


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


drugs they provide other services - such as flu jabs and


emergency contraception. But they are also private


businesses which, according to a Health Minister,


David Mowat, could be The average pharmacy receivds nearly


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


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


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


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


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


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


NHS pharmaceutical services under the community pharmacy framdwork


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


decision to press ahead with the damaging cuts to our pharmacies


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


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


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


community pharmacies could close, and clearly, the thousands of


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


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


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


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


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


I don't know. I do not believe that


3,000 will close. The average margin,


operating margin, that the pharmacy makes on the ntmbers


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


and after rent. The cuts we are making,


the efficiencies that we ard asking for, is significantlx


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


evidence of the unprecedented financial pressure


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


community pharmacy services is the very last place you would


begin because they take surgeries, they take


pressure off hospitals, The Government should be investing


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


what Labour fails to, that any NHS money is taxpaxers


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


of private equity firms. Can I congratulate him for laking


clear that those who live in our lost


deprived communities will bd protected and have better


services as a result of this change and can


I Well, I won't say


much more, Mr Speaker But I thank the right


honourable gentleman for his comments and


he's right to remind the House that this sector


is quite concentrated


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


individual pharmacies that will be affected,


but something like 25% of pharmacies are owned


by The Government has rejected calls


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


prisons were in crisis, with violence endemic,


a shortage of staff The problem was raised by a former


inspector of prisons following the death of one hnmate


and the injuring of two othdrs earlier this week at Pentonville


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


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


in Pentonville drew yet mord attention to the fact


that our prisons are And I regard the call


for a public inquiry into their state by the very repttable


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


of purely in-house tinkering with the system by successive


ministers and officials. noble lord, the Minister,


to advise the Secretary to listen carefully to thosd most


affected by the current crisis. It is not thought


that a public inquiry would be the way forward


when we are about to publish a White Paper


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


Of course the Prison Governors' Association


They, like the Secretary of State, want to see


safe prisons as a foundation for prison reform.


And they have welcomed the fact that initial


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


million pilot scheme for new public sector


prisons operating in


The number of assaults on prison officers has


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


Assaults with weapons on officers and fellow


prisoners increased by


Self harming has increased in the last


Meanwhile the number of prison officers has


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


When will the Government recognise that


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


overall prison population, including those on remand,


Substantially increase the number of trained staff,


provide appropriate medical and other support, and move


from housing people in largd institutions which are diffhcult to


manage to smaller custodial facilities?


It is recognised that there has been an increase in


violence in prisons in the past ten years or more.


It should also be noted that in the period from 2005


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


So far as resources are concerned we have


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


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


funding is to include Pentonville prison.


As a former minister for prhsons I recognise the difficulty


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


expensive programme is already launched.


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


One would be that the Secretary of State and the


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


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


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


ammunition for dealing with the difficulty


of getting money out of


The Government has I believd acknowledged that one of thd


major contributory factors to the increase


in violence in prisons is


the use of psychoactive substances, especially Spicd.


And I think it has taken stdps to ensure possession and


supply has been restricted on prisons.


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


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


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


cannabis, and the increase in prescribed drugs in prison?


Otherwise you will have a scatter-gun approach


and a reactive approach to tackling this issue and


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


It is acknowledged that drugs, and in particular psychoacthve


substances, are a major problem and indeed a


source of violence within the prison community.


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


population admitted to using illegal drugs prior to their incarcdration.


The availability of drugs within prison remains


a major problem and one which we are addressing.


For example new penalties in respect of


the use of drones are being introduced.


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


ability of people to bring drugs into prison.


However we have to remember that individual prisons are


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


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


Staying in the Lords peers were also worried


They wanted action to tackld the rise in problem


gamblers and were particularly concerned about what are called


Fixed Odds Betting Terminals - known as FOBTs.


The slot machines - found in betting shops -


have been labelled the crack cocaine of gambling.


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


I recently put in a Freedom of information request to the


Metropolitan Police and that revealed that since 2010 thdre has


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


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


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


the link between this rapid rise in violent crime associated with


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


Well, of course, any rise in the crime


figures is concerning and mhnisters in the Gambling Commission will look


And of course preventing gambling being a


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


As far as the right reverend's specific


question about the link between fixed odds


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


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


But of course this is exactly the sort of evidence that


should be provided to the forthcoming triennial rdview.


One peer had a tongue in cheek question.


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


A question the Minister didn't answer.


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


The Shadow Leader asked abott that and threw in a reference


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


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


Even Margaret Thatcher had ` negotiating position.


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


They say we can't reveal our negotiating position.


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


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


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


policy and I don't know whether they're


sleeping well at night but


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


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


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


Today, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister


is off to Brussels on her fhrst trip


with EU leaders since she became


Prime Minister and she is advocating


something which I think she


Can I suggest that we get otr terms


Because we have got hard Brexit, we have got


I want to suggest crispy Brexit and maybe soggy


the member for Perth and North Perthshire


forgot to mention ready Brexit but


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


Really, Minister, isn't it time we stopped


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


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


including former Public Accounts Committee Chair Dame Margardt Hodge


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