26/01/2017 Thursday in Parliament


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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.


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