27/10/2016 Thursday in Parliament


27/10/2016

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

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of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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MPs approve a report which "formally admonishes" two former

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News of the World executives for deceiving Parliament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Women's Day - is it time for

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

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

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A parliamentary inquiry concluded last month that the former dditor

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

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

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

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erupted in the summer of 2011 and that led

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to police investigations, criminal prosecutions,

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resignations and the closurd of the News of the World.

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Phone-hacking was the practhce of intercepting by newspaper

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reporters of phone calls and voicemails of celebritids

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and others, including members of the Royal Family,

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and the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.

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

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

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

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Decisions which shape and affect our constituents lives are made by

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businesses, organisations and ministers, whose work is ovdrseen by

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

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the powers and privileges afforded to members of Parliament. Whthout

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

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undermined so the findings of the committee of privileges that

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

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serious concern. We shouldn't underestimate admonishment because

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

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honourable people. They are people who have deliberately misled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The killer piece of evidencd of information that the select

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

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

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

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

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

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over a number of enquiries with repeated opportunities to ghve

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

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

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

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

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

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these two individuals who are accused had been prosecuted in the

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

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

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

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did those people appearing `nd that clearly would have profound

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

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

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

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

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Emperor apparently had no clothes and this situation needs urgently

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addressing. And at the end of the debatd Commons

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agreed to a motion formally A Labour MP has criticised

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the availability of mental health Opening a debate on the subject

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Helen Hayes said in terms of resources for young people,

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provision for mental health conditions was lagging well behind

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that made for physical condhtions. According to the Mental Health

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Foundation, one in ten young people are affected

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

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diagnosable condition but experience a period of mental ill health or

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emotional distress during their adolescence. The government own

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

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children showed some evidence of mental health. After these problems

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

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

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

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

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bacterial infection struggldd to get access to treatment or almost a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and mental health of a young person. The difficulties over

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the securing of a trade deal between the European Union

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

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

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Conservative Cabinet Ministdr, as peers debated what are known

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as "the Ceta talks", that is the Comprehensive

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Economic Trade Agreement A deal was blocked by one rdgion

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of Belgium - The exchanges came as news dmerged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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negotiate and involve 28 different countries and 28 interests, is

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

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

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helpful remarks. A Lib Dem turned to the likdlihood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the European Union, therefore an ongoing trading relationship is in

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

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seen in the negotiations between the European Union and the Canadian

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government is an example of totally dysfunctional, incompetent,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this negotiation free from the prospect of a unanimous dechsion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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kidding, Prime Minister? A member of the Shadow Cabinet

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puts a Dad's Army slant The chief executive

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

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system will not be farmed ott Jon Thompson was speaking

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

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an HMRC contract to root out fraudulent and incorrect

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tax credit payments. Mistakes and poor customer service

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left thousands of MPs insist that HMRC played a part

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

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of reviewing decisions What is your best estimate

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of the number of errors You mean the number that

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are being overturned On the high-risk renewals for this

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year, it is just over 90%

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

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

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I have given evidence to both the Work Pensions Committde

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and the Public Accounts In fact, we came from

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the Public Accounts So, first of all,

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

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

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families with disabled children had suffered, and raised a case

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

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problem and had had seven Their credits were

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

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tax credits are different where children have disabilhties,

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

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

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that they would have had, it might have revealed that

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through the rates... You see what the award

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is every week. Or are you saying that they

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might not have known? They might not have been

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

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been without money for the length HMRC had offered Concentrix

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financial incentives In the light of this experidnce

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do you think that there might possibly be something

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unethical about having a payment-by-results contract

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

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

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an incentives-based contract was the right way

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

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aspect of HMRC activity? Mr Hammond said -

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was sort of inferring - We have no intention

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of letting another contract. Good.

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

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of tax credit cases and is trying to end its contract

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with Concentrix early. I have not yet heard an asstrance

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

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dealing with with HMRC, will the quality of

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judgment be any better? It does not sound to me

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like you accept there I thought I was conceding some

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of the ground. If we give 1 million places

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

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

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do they have between That is exactly why

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

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right in the first place? That is definitely something

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we could have a look at, because we ourselves do

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generate other cases Look, this is not a binary thing

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

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is entirely about Concentrix There are other issues about the tax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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with the tax credits system. The chief executive of HMRC

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Jon Thompson there. The Attorney General has indicated

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the law could be changed to give greater protection

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to alleged rape victims. The Welsh footballer was fotnd

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

:18:03.:18:09.

after a five-year battle At the retrial, evidence

:18:10.:18:13.

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

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

:18:18.:18:21.

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

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

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of the grave recent concern about the admissibility

:18:30.:18:32.

of a complainant's previous Does the Attorney General agree

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

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perceptions about the law, partly because of the level

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

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those wider perceptions? There is concern here,

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and we need to accept that this concern is sensible,

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

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at is a number of things. We need to understand

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more about the decision in We need to understand

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

:19:06.:19:09.

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

:19:10.:19:12.

to judges about when this evidence is admissible,

:19:13.:19:16.

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

:19:17.:19:18.

evidence should be used. I'm grateful to hear

:19:19.:19:21.

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

:19:22.:19:23.

it has given to judges, and, of course,

:19:24.:19:27.

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

:19:28.:19:29.

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

:19:30.:19:33.

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

:19:34.:19:36.

with these applications But certainly it is worth looking

:19:37.:19:39.

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

:19:40.:19:43.

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

:19:44.:19:49.

but we must be confident that the message sent

:19:50.:19:51.

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

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

:19:56.:19:59.

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

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and we need to make sure A constituent of mine

:20:03.:20:04.

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

:20:05.:20:08.

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

:20:09.:20:11.

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

:20:12.:20:16.

the case, which the superintendent deemed "a professional

:20:17.:20:20.

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

:20:21.:20:24.

the end of her torment. Will the Minister agree that

:20:25.:20:29.

communication with victims hs vital in effectively prosecuting

:20:30.:20:34.

offenders? I do agree with the honourable lady,

:20:35.:20:37.

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

:20:38.:20:40.

with the standards The Conservative candidate

:20:41.:20:42.

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

:20:43.:20:49.

in protest at the Government's decision to go ahead

:20:50.:20:51.

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

:20:52.:20:54.

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

:20:55.:21:01.

where Zac Goldsmith has He's promising to stand now

:21:02.:21:04.

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

:21:05.:21:10.

was formally moved at I beg to move that Mr Speakdr

:21:11.:21:13.

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

:21:14.:21:19.

for the electing of a member to serve in this present

:21:20.:21:23.

Parliament for the borough constituency of Richmond Park,

:21:24.:21:27.

in the room of Frank Zacharias Robin Goldslith

:21:28.:21:30.

who since his election to the said borough constituency has bedn

:21:31.:21:36.

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

:21:37.:21:40.

three Chiltern hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham

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

:21:46.:21:50.

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

:21:51.:21:55.

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

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

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cultural and political achievements of women,

:22:04.:22:06.

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

:22:07.:22:10.

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

:22:11.:22:13.

for thinking that every day This year it is in fact

:22:14.:22:18.

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

:22:19.:22:25.

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

:22:26.:22:28.

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

:22:29.:22:32.

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

:22:33.:22:36.

and I, of course, welcome any initiatives

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that support gender equalitx So the answer, Mr Speaker,

:22:41.:22:42.

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

:22:43.:22:50.

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

:22:51.:22:53.

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

:22:54.:22:57.

including men's health, male suicide rates and the

:22:58.:23:00.

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

:23:01.:23:04.

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

:23:05.:23:08.

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

:23:09.:23:10.

if I could gently say that my honourable

:23:11.:23:17.

friend has been a bit The role of the Government

:23:18.:23:19.

Equalities Office is to tackle inequality wherever we find it,

:23:20.:23:24.

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

:23:25.:23:27.

we will all be concerned and conscious about the isstes

:23:28.:23:30.

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

:23:31.:23:33.

many famous names in 2016. At the weekend came news

:23:34.:23:39.

of the death of Jimmy Perry Jimmy Perry was one half

:23:40.:23:42.

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

:23:43.:23:47.

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

:23:48.:23:52.

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

:23:53.:23:56.

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

:23:57.:24:00.

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

:24:01.:24:05.

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

:24:06.:24:12.

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

:24:13.:24:18.

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

:24:19.:24:22.

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

:24:23.:24:28.

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

:24:29.:24:32.

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

:24:33.:24:40.

and I thought it was a wonddrful gesture, when outside

:24:41.:24:43.

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

:24:44.:24:46.

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

:24:47.:24:52.

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

:24:53.:24:58.

across at the opposition, in particular when I look

:24:59.:25:01.

at their faces during Prime Minister's Questions,

:25:02.:25:03.

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

:25:04.:25:06.

of the House for announcing Could I also pay

:25:07.:25:12.

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

:25:13.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:18.

this particular Government. But do join me for The Week

:25:19.:25:21.

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

:25:22.:25:27.

in the Commons and the Lords, but also discuss whether

:25:28.:25:31.

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

:25:32.:25:33.

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

:25:34.:25:37.

being in a TV soap opera helps or hinders someone entering

:25:38.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:46.

Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:47.:25:51.

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