27/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


Highlights of Thursday 27 October in Parliament presented by Keith Macdougall.

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Hello and Welcome to Thursd`y in Parliament, our look at the best


of the day in the Commons and the Lords.


MPs approve a report which "formally admonishes" two former


News of the World executives for deceiving Parliament


Phone hacking at News of thd World was not restricted to one


journalist. It was widespre`d. There was a cultural problem and they knew


about it. They systematically lied about it over a number of enquiries.


An ex-Cabinet Minister says snags in cutting an international trade


deal suggests the UK should speed up its exit from the EU.


Does that not make a very strong case for getting out from that


shambles as fast as we can? And we've had International


Women's Day - is it time for


International Men's Day? Some women might be forgiven for


thinking that every day is `ctually international men's day.


A parliamentary inquiry concluded last month that the former dditor


of the News Of The World, Colin Myler, and the newspaper's


legal manager, Tom Crone, had misled a committee of MPs.


The two had given evidence about the phone-hacking scandal that


erupted in the summer of 2011 and that led


to police investigations, criminal prosecutions,


resignations and the closurd of the News of the World.


Phone-hacking was the practhce of intercepting by newspaper


reporters of phone calls and voicemails of celebritids


and others, including members of the Royal Family,


and the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.


Last month's findings, that Mr Myler and Mr Crone


were in contempt of Parliamdnt, led to a motion being put to MPs


for the two men to be formally "admonished" for their condtct.


Decisions which shape and affect our constituents lives are made by


businesses, organisations and ministers, whose work is ovdrseen by


select committees. And scrutiny can only happen effectively bec`use of


the powers and privileges afforded to members of Parliament. Whthout


them, the ability of MPs to serve their constituents properly is


undermined so the findings of the committee of privileges that


Parliament has in this inst`nce being knowingly misled are of


serious concern. We shouldn't underestimate admonishment because


this is the house saying thdse two men are liars. They are not


honourable people. They are people who have deliberately misled


Parliament and they are not reliable witnesses. I think anybody who


wanted to employ them would obviously want to bear that in mind.


But it is worth saying that if this had happened in the United States of


America, the leader of the house is right, this would have gone to court


by the phone being dealt with by Congress. But the penalties would


have been considerably highdr than a mere... Than some words on the


Journal of the House of Comlons He wanted the two men to be made to


appear at the doorway of thd chamber. It's called the bar of the


house. To be told off. The reason we're not doing that is bec`use we


are frightened that we can't do that. That we can't actuallx summon


them to the bar the speaker 's world has no effect, the Sergeant at Arms


has no power. We can't bring somebody. In the end, the end, the


problem and that we can't actually summon them to the barber h`s


because the speaker 's world has no effect, the Sergeant at Arms has no


power. We can't bring somebody. In the end, the problem and nutters, in


which case we cannot summon somebody to appear as a witness before a


select committee. And that leans we've become a paper tiger, a lion


with no teeth. I'm grateful. I think we should insist that we have


certain powers but my concern is that it's unduly theatrical and


would make the House of Comlons look foolish in the public arena, rather


than making us look wise and providential. Well, if I'm honest, I


had hoped that if somebody were brought to the bar of the house


they would want to show somd contrition. That happened in 19 7.


The killer piece of evidencd of information that the select


committee requested was a mdmo written by Tom Cronan attached to a


legal opinion by Michael Silverleaf which lays out a black-and-white


extremely clearly that phond hacking at News of the World was not


restricted to one journalist. It was widespread. There was a cultural


problem and they all knew about it. They systematically lied about it


over a number of enquiries with repeated opportunities to ghve


evidence. The leader is right to say that incidents of contempt of


Parliament, people being repuested to be brought to the house happen


rarely, and therefore we should reflect on this report and the


evidence the house has recehved because it is clear this is a


serious matter. There should be some sanction. I do have reservations. If


these two individuals who are accused had been prosecuted in the


court of law, and obviously they would have been entitled to a


defence and I can see myself being cross-examined by a defence counsel


as to whether or not it was right that I questioned in the wax that I


did those people appearing `nd that clearly would have profound


imprecations on the powers of select committees. These are very deep and


difficult waters. While we were finalising our report, time and


again we asked for advice as to what sanctions might be. Too oftdn, I'm


afraid, we found in reality behind the rhetoric that the Parli`mentary


Emperor apparently had no clothes and this situation needs urgently


addressing. And at the end of the debatd Commons


agreed to a motion formally A Labour MP has criticised


the availability of mental health Opening a debate on the subject


Helen Hayes said in terms of resources for young people,


provision for mental health conditions was lagging well behind


that made for physical condhtions. According to the Mental Health


Foundation, one in ten young people are affected


by mental health issues. Many more young people do not have a


diagnosable condition but experience a period of mental ill health or


emotional distress during their adolescence. The government own


measures of children's well,being found that almost one in fotr


children showed some evidence of mental health. After these problems


are established by the age of 1 and three quarters by the age of 24


Shockingly, suicide is the lost common cause of death for boys aged


between five and 19 and the second most common for girls of th`t age,


after traffic of kittens. Ilagine a certified people of a paper with a


bacterial infection struggldd to get access to treatment or almost a


quarter of referrals from c`taracts were turned away. Or those with a


broken leg were forced to w`it four days only to be spent to hospital


and of miles away, it would be a national scandal. The state of our


mental health services, particularly those for young people, is `


national scandal. It isn't being recognised as such sufficiently We


hear a lot about body image and young People's attitude tow`rds it.


When a perceived imperfection is ridiculed, it's amplified and


retweeted. The likes and none like some comments, they can become


cruel. Very cruel. Particul`rly if you are a teenager, you are


uncertain, you are vulnerable. It can severely damage the self-esteem


and mental health of a young person. The difficulties over


the securing of a trade deal between the European Union


and Canada shows the import`nce of the UK getting itself out


of the EU "as fast as we can". That was the message of a former


Conservative Cabinet Ministdr, as peers debated what are known


as "the Ceta talks", that is the Comprehensive


Economic Trade Agreement A deal was blocked by one rdgion


of Belgium - The exchanges came as news dmerged


that Nissan IS to go ahead with the making of two new lodels


in Sunderland - so securing 7,000 jobs - and that the UK


economy grew by 0.5% Today, we learned that the dconomy


has grown by .5% and not resulted in a recession. We also learn that


Nissan are now going to build their cars in the north-east. Shall we not


take a positive view looking forward? And isn't the lesson of the


falling... The disintegration of the Canada deal that if you havd to


negotiate and involve 28 different countries and 28 interests, is


extremely difficult and the future will be able to for ourselvds. Well,


I would like to thank the noble -- my noble friend for those vdry


helpful remarks. A Lib Dem turned to the likdlihood


of the UK leaving the EU on terms Does the government still bdlieve


that it's bespoke deal can be delivered in two years? And what


bilateral talks are they having with other EU member states to prevent


the UK deal being a mixed ddal, which will need ratification in over


30 assemblies and parliaments? I want to say that the UK is tnique


and the deal we negotiate whll be bespoke. The relationship that


Canada and the UK have with the EU are very different. We are `n EU


member state. Whereas Canad` is not. The UK is an important markdt for


the European Union, therefore an ongoing trading relationship is in


the EU's interests. With my noble friend not agree that what we've


seen in the negotiations between the European Union and the Canadian


government is an example of totally dysfunctional, incompetent,


blundering government in Brtssels? And there is no democratic way in


which that can be altered. Doesn't that make a very strong casd for


getting out from that shambles as fast as we can? Does the government


recognise the difficulties of the path on which they've embarked will


have some state entities in the UK, but as the Scottish Parliamdnt, and


your substate entities in every other state in Europe. Can the noble


lady the minister therefore assure us that in this complex, huge,


interlocked series of negothations, there are no issues which rdquire 11


qualified majority voting. Hn other words, it is every single aspect of


this negotiation free from the prospect of a unanimous dechsion


being scuppered by a substate institution here or in Europe? I


would like to say to the noble Lord that we want the best deal for the


home of the United Kingdom. And therefore,... The UK is a unique


case. What we went to negothate is something bespoke but that hs not to


say that we are not looking at every single region of the United Kingdom


to see what is best for that region. You're watching our round-up of the


day in the Commons and the Lords. Who do you think you're


kidding, Prime Minister? A member of the Shadow Cabinet


puts a Dad's Army slant The chief executive


of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has told MPs that the tax credits


system will not be farmed ott Jon Thompson was speaking


to the Treasury Committee about how the US company Concentrix r`n


an HMRC contract to root out fraudulent and incorrect


tax credit payments. Mistakes and poor customer service


left thousands of MPs insist that HMRC played a part


in "this sorry episode". The tax office is in the process


of reviewing decisions What is your best estimate


of the number of errors You mean the number that


are being overturned On the high-risk renewals for this


year, it is just over 90%


in favour of the customer. And it is hardly surprising that


people are very upset. I gather that you would know that


I have given evidence to both the Work Pensions Committde


and the Public Accounts In fact, we came from


the Public Accounts So, first of all,


I would like to apologise Because clearly this is a f`ilure


of basic customer service. A Labour committee member s`id


families with disabled children had suffered, and raised a case


in her constituency. A child had a congenital he`rt


problem and had had seven Their credits were


suspended for 12 months. Now, given that the rates for


tax credits are different where children have disabilhties,


there can't really be any excuse whatsoever, can there,


for Concentrix not seeing that these Well, I think with the records


that they would have had, it might have revealed that


through the rates... You see what the award


is every week. Or are you saying that they


might not have known? They might not have been


able to see that easily, but certainly they should not have


been without money for the length HMRC had offered Concentrix


financial incentives In the light of this experidnce


do you think that there might possibly be something


unethical about having a payment-by-results contract


for removing people's tax credits? I do think that one of the five


lessons that needs to be le`rned from this is whether


an incentives-based contract was the right way


of going about this. Would you do it again with `nother


aspect of HMRC activity? Mr Hammond said -


was sort of inferring - We have no intention


of letting another contract. Good.


I am glad to hear that. HMRC has now taken over the handling


of tax credit cases and is trying to end its contract


with Concentrix early. I have not yet heard an asstrance


as to how, when those cases that Concentrix would have been


dealing with with HMRC, will the quality of


judgment be any better? It does not sound to me


like you accept there I thought I was conceding some


of the ground. If we give 1 million places


to Concentrix and they follow through 200,000 of them,


it is for them to make the decisions about, what other evidence


do they have between That is exactly why


the Government went to the larket Now, you could say, was the million


right in the first place? That is definitely something


we could have a look at, because we ourselves do


generate other cases Look, this is not a binary thing


in which the tax credits system in this particular circumst`nce


is entirely about Concentrix There are other issues about the tax


credits system which are... which are sub-optimal,


and there are issues... There are other points about where


we have to accept responsibhlity I'm not saying this is 100%


a Concentrix issue. Well, sub-optimal does not really


fully cover it, does it? I could use some other more


colourful language if you lhke, It is deeply flawed, in my opinion,


and the Government's long-tdrm solution, of course,


is to stop tax credits altogether. We will not be going back


to the market for this kind of work. We will not be going back


to the market to seek a third party developer in any way


with the tax credits system. The chief executive of HMRC


Jon Thompson there. The Attorney General has indicated


the law could be changed to give greater protection


to alleged rape victims. The Welsh footballer was fotnd


not guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman at a retrial,


after a five-year battle At the retrial, evidence


of the woman's sexual history was allowed to be used in evidence,


and that has led to concerns that people will be put off reporting


rapes in the future. It was an issue raised at Commons


question time by a Labour MP. The Attorney General will bd aware


of the grave recent concern about the admissibility


of a complainant's previous Does the Attorney General agree


with me that single high-profile cases can give rise to wider


perceptions about the law, partly because of the level


of coverage that they receive? And will he undertake to tackle


those wider perceptions? There is concern here,


and we need to accept that this concern is sensible,


and to deal with it. I think what we need to look


at is a number of things. We need to understand


more about the decision in We need to understand


whether a change in the law is appropriate, and if not,


whether it is sensible to look at the guidance that is givdn


to judges about when this evidence is admissible,


and then the guidance that judges give to juries about how th`t


evidence should be used. I'm grateful to hear


that the Attorney General h`s committed to looking at the guidance


it has given to judges, and, of course,


what judges say to juries. In addition to that, will hd also


look at the guidance that is given by the Crown Prosecution Service


to the lawyers that appear before the courts who will be dealhng


with these applications But certainly it is worth looking


at all of the guidance, This is, I think, a provision which,


as far as I am aware, is not routinely used,


but we must be confident that the message sent


to those who may be willing, or are currently worried about


reporting these sorts of offences, is not that they are not


encouraged to do so. Quite the reverse, they are,


and we need to make sure A constituent of mine


is a victim of rape. A complete lack of communic`tion


and action from the police has left her unable to move on `nd


recover from the horrific ordeal. After a year and a half,


the case, which the superintendent deemed "a professional


embarrassment", has finally been However, this might not be


the end of her torment. Will the Minister agree that


communication with victims hs vital in effectively prosecuting


offenders? I do agree with the honourable lady,


and what she describes clearly does not sound acceptable or in-line


with the standards The Conservative candidate


for London Mayor, Zac Goldslith has resigned from the Commons,


in protest at the Government's decision to go ahead


with the controversial third runway His departure means there'll now be


a by-election in the West London constituency of Richmond Park,


where Zac Goldsmith has He's promising to stand now


as an independent candidate. The writ for the by-election


was formally moved at I beg to move that Mr Speakdr


to issue his warrant to the clerk of the Crown to make out a new writ


for the electing of a member to serve in this present


Parliament for the borough constituency of Richmond Park,


in the room of Frank Zacharias Robin Goldslith


who since his election to the said borough constituency has bedn


appointed to the office of steward and bailiff of Her Majesty's


three Chiltern hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham


in the county of Buckingham. Now, it may not be a date you have


in your diary just yet, but the 19th of November


is International Men's Day. There's been an Internation`l


Women's Day for over 100 ye`rs. It celebrates the social, economic,


cultural and political achievements of women,


and calls for greater equalhty. When an MP asked about Government


plans to mark the men's event, Some women might be forgiven


for thinking that every day This year it is in fact


on the 19th of November. The theme is making a difference


for men and boys, and this xear there will be a focus on thd very


important issue of male suicide As with International Women's Day,


it will be up to backbenchers to bid I would encourage them to do so


and I, of course, welcome any initiatives


that support gender equalitx So the answer, Mr Speaker,


is that she has no plans. Perhaps the department ought to take


International Men's Day as seriously The Prime Minister has said,


I recognise the important issues that this event seeks to highlight,


including men's health, male suicide rates and the


underperformance of boys in schools. These are serious issues th`t must


be addressed in a considered way. Why is International Men's Day not


as important to this ministdr Well, Mr Speaker, I do think,


if I could gently say that my honourable


friend has been a bit The role of the Government


Equalities Office is to tackle inequality wherever we find it,


and as parents of sons up and down this country, including mysdlf,


we will all be concerned and conscious about the isstes


he has mentioned, and indeed that The entertainment world has lost


many famous names in 2016. At the weekend came news


of the death of Jimmy Perry Jimmy Perry was one half


of the famous script-writing duo, Perry and Croft, who wrote ` string


of successful BBC television comedy series, with Dad's Army probably


being the one that was most loved. Labour's Valerie Vaz recruited some


of Jimmy Perry's most famous catchphrases when she paid tribute


to him and mocked the Government. It struck me that you could hear


those catchphrases ringing `round Number 10, so we hear the cry of,


"Don't panic! Don't panic!" Or as the Prime Minister sl`ps


down her recalcitrant and w`yward colleagues, you can hear her


muttering, "Stupid boys!" And when you ask their position


on Brexit, the infamous, I think that while I am happy


to join her in paying tribute to the late Jimmy Perry,


and I thought it was a wonddrful gesture, when outside


Buckingham Palace earlier this week, the military band in the ch`nging


of the guard ceremony played the theme tune to Dad's Armx


as a tribute to Mr Perry. But I do think when I look


across at the opposition, in particular when I look


at their faces during Prime Minister's Questions,


the phrase that comes into ly mind We can also thank the Leader


of the House for announcing Could I also pay


tribute to Jimmy Perry? And I would hate to say that


"We're all doomed," Mr Speaker, but perhaps we are under


this particular Government. But do join me for The Week


In Parliament, when we not only look back over the last few days


in the Commons and the Lords, but also discuss whether


the Heathrow expansion annotncement should have led to Boris Johnson's


resignation from the Cabinet. And we try to assess if oncd


being in a TV soap opera helps or hinders someone entering


Parliament as a new MP. Until then, from me,


Keith Macdougall, goodbye.


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