Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 26 January, presented by Kristiina Cooper.
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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
The Brexit Bill has been published, but some MPs say the Government
hasn't allowed enough time to debate it.
I am astonished at the amount of time that the Leader of the House
A new direction for US foreign policy?
The Foreign Secretary chooses his words carefully.
I don't think we've seen any policy changes, official policy changes
And Gordon Brown warns that there's not enough money to educate
The children of the world will be without the qualifications they
need, and that is indeed a crisis that's got to be dealt with.
The day kicked off with questions to David Davis, the Secretary
The Prime Minister has announced that there
will be a White Paper, setting out the Government's Brexit strategy.
Many MPs wanted to know when the document would appear.
Can I thank the Secretary of State very much for the part he played,
That has been welcomed across the House, and is good news.
Can he now tell us, does he know when it might be published,
and how much time this place will have to debate it?
Of course, this is a decision solely for the Prime Minister,
to publish the White Paper, but it's nice to be able to agree
In terms of timing, we are going to be...
Sorry, my voice and the microphone together.
In terms of timing, the Prime Minister said
It will be as expeditiously as we can.
It takes time, she knows, she's been in Government,
these things have a procedure, it takes time to do,
but we won't waste time in producing it for the House.
I hope the Secretary of State gets his voice back,
he'll be needing it over the next couple of weeks.
Does he think that we should be able to see the White Paper before
Well, with respect to the honourable gentleman,
There'll be lots of legislation, I assume - I'm looking
to see if he nods - I assume he's referring
The Article 50 legislation is about carrying out
the will of the British people, the decision
There will be much more legislation after that
which will relate to policy, the maintenance of European law -
that's the Great Repeal Bill, but also the new legislation
So it's certainly going to be before all that, and I'll be
I'm concerned by some of the responses from the Secretary
of State, who seemed to be bursting with entusiasm
about this White Paper, now it seems we may not get it
Given the level of interest in the legislation and the amendments
that are going to be tabled, we need this White Paper before
How do you deal with an opposition that won't take yes for an answer?
I've said we'll deal with it and I will produce it
as expeditiously as possible, as quickly as possible.
He can work as fast as he can, I suppose, but we do need it
When we get it, will it be a cut and paste of
Or instead, will we have assessments of the financial impact on this
Let me start, as I said at the beginning,
the Prime Minister's speech - one of the clearest expositions
of national policy I've heard in many, many years -
answered all of the questions that the opposition and
Brexit Committee raised, other than those that would actively
Labour will be putting down amendments to the Brexit Bill.
Now that we have a commitment to a White Paper, the role
of Parliament in the Article 50 process needs to be determined.
That's why Labour will seek to table an amendment to the proposed
Article 50 bill to require the Secretary of State to lay periodic
reports at intervals of no less than two months on progress
of the negotiations under Article 50.
Will the Secretary of State commit now to the principle
Well, from behind me, I hear, "Like he's not going to do that".
Since the start of this, since September, nearly five months,
I've done five statements in front of this House, ten debates,
appeared in front of a number of select committees and that
I suspect two months will be a rather unambitious aim.
A little later, a Bill paving the way for the UK's exit
from the European Union was presented to Parliament.
It's called the European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill.
European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill.
And the Commons leader, David Lidington announced
the timetable for debating the Bill in the Commons.
Tuesday the 31st of January, second reading of the
European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill, day one.
Wednesday the first of February, conclusion of second reading
of the European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill.
Monday the 6th of February, consideration in committee
of the European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill, day one.
Tuesday the 7th of February, continuation of consideration
in committee of the European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill.
Wednesday the 8th of February, conclusion of consideration
in committee for the European Union - Notification of Withdrawal Bill,
followed by remaining stages of the European Union -
So that's five days for debating the Brexit Bill.
As you can hear from the jeers, some MPs did not think the Government
First there was to be no vote, now there's a vote.
Then there was to be no bill, now there's a bill.
Then there was to be no White Paper, now there's to be a White Paper.
We should have chanced our arm and said we should definitely be
The second reading will be next Tuesday, but we of course know
there will be the committee of the whole House the following
week with everything rushed through and concluded
As the Leader of the House, as the guardian of this House's
procedure and its business, will he now guarantee today
and right now there will be a White Paper published in time
for the committee of the whole House, so this House can consider
that White Paper and a bill of such importance and magnitude.
I was astonished at the amount of time that the Leader of the House
has given this Parliament to debate it.
And he's being very coy about whether the White Paper
will be published before the committee stage of the Bill.
Can he give us more time and tell us if he's going to publish
I think, if you consider that this is a two-clause bill,
that the second clause is dealing only with the extent of the Bill
to the United Kingdom, there is plenty of time,
including two full days at second reading, for all opinions
Just three days to debate the detail of the most important issue facing
this country in a generation, the repercussions of which will face
generations to come, is totally unacceptable.
And I would hope that every opposition party in this House
and every member who cares about parliamentary democracy
will vote against this contempt of Parliament when it comes
Well, I simply say to the honourable gentleman that his party supported
the Referendum Bill, and putting the question
to the people, and his party supported the timetable
of triggering Article 50 by the end of March.
And the Bill is designed to secure that those objectives are met.
The UK is in a position to show "international leadership" to end
the fighting in Yemen and prevent a famine -
that's the view of the SNP's Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh,
who called for an urgent statement about the conflict
between the forces loyal to the Yemen's President Hadi
The Foreign Office Minister set out the UK's position.
The UK supports the Saudi Arabian-led coalition
military intervention, which came at the request
of the legitimate President Hadi, and we are clear through that
coalition and the Government of Yemen military gains must be
used to drive forward the political process.
I last spoke to President Hadi on the 15th of January to discuss
the importance of taking measures to prevent economic collapse.
We continue to strongly support the tireless efforts
of the UN special envoy, in trying to achieve
We're providing over ?1 million to the UN special envoy's office
to bolster the UN's capacity to facilitate the peace process,
and the UN special envoy is due to brief the UN Security Council
today in New York on the latest developments on the UN's plans.
When the UN Security Council meets this afternoon,
it will do so against a backdrop of heavy fighting in the Red Sea,
and an increasingly dire humanitarian situation
There are already 7 million people starving in Yemen.
If these ports are destroyed or besieged, then delivery of vital
aid which is required to avert famine in Yemen will become
The only way to prevent this unfolding humanitarian disaster
deteriorating even further is to agree an immediate ceasefire.
Today's meeting of the UN Security Council provides a key
The SNP believes that the UK is in a unique position to show
positive international readership in order to bring about
I understand her desire to want to call for a ceasefire,
a cessation of hostilities immediately.
We will see what comes out of the meeting today and comes out
But I'm absolutely in agreement with her, this is actually
Calling for it needs to work in conjunction
with the art of the possible, otherwise it simply is just words.
In order for us to be able to ensure it will hold,
we need to be able to say what happens if one of the sides,
either of the sides, actually breaches the
He talks about the need for a political solution,
when is he going to present our resolution to the United Nations?
When we going to get proper investigations
into alleged violations of international humanitarian law?
Why we continuing to sell Saudi Arabia the arms
And, ultimately, when we going to bring the suffering of the people
of Yemen to an end and then get the humanitarian aid
Every debate, every month, now every year, we ask
the same basic questions, and every time the Minister -
whose name now is, I'm afraid, synonymous with the Yemen conflict -
stands there and gives us the same non-answers.
The Minister said that arms were subject to strict controls, and aid
was getting to people caught up in this awful conflict.
You're watching Thursday in Parliament
Now, as the Prime Minister was preparing to meet Donald Trump,
the Foreign Secretary was facing a group of peers.
Theresa May wants to enhance the UK's special
And President Trump has said he wants a quick
Boris Johnson, however, had to admit to significant policy
differences between Downing Street and the White House.
We've had statements from the new president to ABC
which showed pretty fundamental disregard for a whole number
of the United States international obligations,
most specifically under the torture Convention.
We have to be very careful with this.
I certainly don't think we seen any policy changes,
official policy changes, or policy pronouncements and,
on the matter of torture, which you rightly draw attention to,
I think the Prime Minister made the position of the government
very clear yesterday in the House of Commons and that is unchanged.
Mrs May says the UK does not sanction torture. What about
refugees from certain countries? Do you think it's acceptable under
international obligations shared by the UK and the US,
to have a ban on refugees I don't want to disappoint
the committee by, you know, retreating too much into this
formula but we haven't yet seen Rather than get into some sort
of hypothetical dispute, let's see And what about the nuclear deal
with Iran, resident Trump says it's I assume that is not the view
of the government since the government is a party
to the deal and doesn't presumably go around making the
worst deals ever made. I think we've already
made our views very clear to the Trump Administration
that we think trying to improve relations
with Iran through this deal, you know, it's a pretty cautious
thing, is, on the whole, a good thing and we regard that
as one of the achievements And then to what may
prove one of the most President Trump has been very clear
already that he wants to eradicate Islamic militancy from the face
of the Earth and he's also been clear that he's prepared
to have a new approach to prioritise the defeat of Isis, possibly
in collaboration with Russia. Would you support a change in US -
UK direction to support those goals, possibly even joining forces,
figuratively and militarily, We are already with
the United States engaged very The committee will know that
more than 1000 sorties have been flown, I think,
almost 1200, we are there. Are you prepared to see
an alliance of forces, To switch sides, to come
in on the side of Assad and the Russians, would be seen,
I think, as a great betrayal of the people of Syria
who have opposed Assad. It would be seen as a betrayal
of the moderate armed opposition that we have supported
and it would be... It would have grave
repercussions in the area. We might find ourselves
in days and weeks to come where the United States
is on a different side That would put us on a direct
collision, or not on a collision but on two different sides
of this argument. With the closest allies
that we are trying to forge relationship that it has been
over the last decades, If there is a possibility
of an arrangement with the Russians that simultaneously allows Assad
to move towards the exit and diminishes Iranian influence
in the region by getting rid of Assad and allows us to join
with the Russians in... attacking Daesh and wiping them off
the face of the earth, or whatever the president has said,
then that might be a way forward. But there were, he said,
no good options. But even if we did achieve the end,
this is the real hit, nor is it clear that even if we did
achieve the end of the Assad regime, that Syria would
be in a better place. The Brexit secretary David Davis
also faced questions on President Trump's remarks
over the use of torture. The Prime Minister will today meet
an American president who champions torture and who is proud
to discriminate against Muslims. Would the Secretary of State,
therefore, agree with me that it is even more important
that his government send a strong moral message,
goods and chattels are bargaining Will he confirm the residency
rights of EU nationals? The Honourable Lady knows my stance
on torture down the years, And the British government's stance
on torture is very plain. We don't condone it,
we don't agree with it under any The Labour former
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has returned to Parliament,
for a few hours, at least, to talk to a committee of MPs
about the challenges he faces in his new job as the UN
special envoy for education. He talked about what he'd seen
first hand when he visited You go to a place like South Sudan,
where I was a few months ago, I don't know if the committee
has been there recently. You have been there some years ago,
I know that, and you meet mothers who have come across the border
from Saddam into South Sudan, The one thing they want
for their children is education. We forget that shelter is sometimes
secretary to the importance that their child has the best
chance in life. I was in a village just outside
Djuba and there was this project, the Bangladesh group who do
these small huts, as schools, so there were places in the school
for only about 20 kids. I remember being in that heart
and there was a small portable and looking in on that portal
were about a hundred kids who were unable to get the education
they wanted and there was another who told me she had to choose
between her twins, at eight years A Labour MP quoted
the Chief Executive of the global As part of this enquiry
in November Alice Albright, I would have liked her to be
the Democratic candidate but the chair won't allow me to go
there, I don't think, told this committee
that there is a funding crisis And it has gone into humanitarian
shelter and survival, as infrastructure, agriculture got
money, as health has got more money, Unless we now realise that by 2030
there will be 800 million children, half the children of the world,
800 million children, who will not finish education
with any qualification of any value whatsoever, and in 2030 on current
trends, 200 million will still be out of school and never
finish their primary education, 400 million will only get primary
level qualifications, and, as I said, half the children
of the world will be without And that is, indeed,
a crisis that has to be dealt with. So it's a crisis in terms of we've
got a duty to step in when we know that countries will not
meet their targets and we know that we've got a duty we've agreed
to meet that every child be in education, so we need
to do something about I say that 15% of aid, at least,
should go to education. He moved on to talk
about an initiative In a unique project which is called
the double shift school system, we are using the same school
in the morning for Lebanese children and in the afternoon
for Syrian refugees. They've managed to get almost
a quarter of a million children Would you agree that it is vital
that we commit money to humanitarian aid and the vital issue of health,
given the fact that we are at 0.7% and there is no room for increase,
where would you see additional funds I do regret the fact that DFed has
reduced the share for education in saved budget from something
like 12 to 15%, I think, I do understand that some
of that is for humanitarian aid but I think that there is money
to be found for education in other parts of the budget
without affecting health, for example, which I know you
and I think is important, as well. Making a brief appearance
back in Parliament. Now, the Supreme Court ruled
against the government on Tuesday, saying that Parliament
should authorise the That followed a lengthy
and complex court case. Some Peers want to know
how much it all cost. My Lords, the figures for the total
costs associated with the case I had hoped that the welcome
announcement yesterday of a White Paper might have tempted
the noble Lord into answering my question in another
welcome U-turn today. But can I put a serious
issue to him. The Prime Minister has been clear
that she would invoke Article 50 Given that is her deadline
of her choosing, does he accept that it would be more open
and democratic if the past two months were used for Parliamentary
debate rather than the rushed process we have now
during a delay to be considered Well, I dispute, I'm sorry
the premise on which that question is founded,
I'm sorry to say. The government believed,
as did a number of others, including the Leader
of the Opposition straight after the referendum,
that the triggering of Article 50 was a matter for the Royal
prerogative, that was disputed, as I said yesterday,
people have a right to be able That battle was taken for court
and a judgment has been passed. My Lords, I would also dispute
that the last few months have not I have very much enjoyed coming
to this house and answering questions and giving statements
and doing other things and I'm sure Does my right honourable friend not
think it extraordinary to have had that question when the Leader
of the Opposition wanted to move Article 50 the week
after the referendum result? My Lords, it was the day
after the referendum result he said this
and that is absolutely the case. We were not alone, therefore,
in assuming that we would be able to use the Royal prerogative
on the triggering of Article 50. My Lords, the courts have required
the government to come to Parliament to trigger the negotiating process,
the government have said that Parliament will have a vote
at the end of it but what plans does the government have two involve
Parliament and consult parliament during the course
of the negotiations, or is it the case that
for the entire negotiating process, Parliament will actually have no
significant role in influencing I'm very sorry to say,
the noble Lord, I don't know whether I have been somewhere else
or he has been somewhere else but I've been answering questions
here, giving statements and taking part in debates and this
will continue, my Lords, We are absolutely committed
to ensuring that this house and the other place will have ample
opportunity to scrutinise Furthermore, as I have set out
on a number of occasions, there will also be the great repeal
bill and the legislation that will flow from that
which will give your Lordships, I can assure you, a great amount
of legislative fodder But do join me on Friday night at 11
for a round-up of a fast-moving week But, until then, from me,
Kristiina Cooper, goodbye.