09/03/2017 Thursday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 9 March, presented by Keith Macdougall.

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Hello and Welcome to Thursday in Parliament, our look at the best


of the day in the Commons and the Lords.


Labour call on Tory MPs to rebel against the Chancellor's


decision to increase National Insurance Contributions


And no-one will ever believe a Tory election promise ever again.


Opposition peers have advice for a Work and Pensions Minister


to make the introduction of Universal Credit fairer.


It will transform their opportunity to get the


money that that will help them back into the labour market as we all


want, and not instead have a lifetime of debt


And SNP MPs appeal for people to come to Scotland.


Scotland's population has been getting a raw deal.


Scotland needs to get out from under that and create a


welcoming, entrepreneurial environment.


But first, a key issue on the second day


has been Philip Hammond's controversial changes


to National Insurance for those who're self-employed.


The change, announced on Wednesday, would mean 1.5 million


self-employed people paying ?240 more on average every year


The Chancellor has faced claims that increase amounts to a breaking


of a Conservative election manifesto promise.


And, yes, it is a manifesto betrayal.


There was a promise in the manifesto and it read like this, it said this,


this means that we can commit to no increases in VAT,


income tax or national insurance, taxes on working people.


This would harm our economy, reduce living standards and cost jobs.


Not me, not Labour MPs, Tory manifesto.


We're levelling the playing field between employees


and the self-employed and 60% of the


self employed, that is the lowest earners,


We are continuing to reduce corporation tax on all profitable


companies, large and small, so that hardworking entrepreneurs


keep most of the fruits of their labours,


and we are taking a number of steps to make business rates fairer.


headlines have not gone the way the Chancellor would have planned. White


Van man gets battered by budget, that is just to name a view. It is a


good example of when you do things in a hurry, you get things wrong.


The Chancellor got things wrong yesterday and aesthetics anything


away from the last 24 hours is that he made the wrong choice at the


wrong time in the wrong way. -- takes anything away. We will be


opposing the increase in national insurance for the self-employed.


City of London and how the labour markets operate there.


I was thinking about my friend in Skye or some of my friends


in the Highlands and knowing their reliance


and the type who are self-employed there


They cannot choose to work for other corporations that might not exist.


They are what might be called necessity entrepreneurs.


They do not work in one sector either, they


have to job around and they have long travelling


I do think we need to look at this very,


very carefully because there was a a solemn promise


in the manifesto not to increase national insurance.


The reality is that I worry that the accusation could be made


that it is a bit like signing a contract but


failing to look at the fine print, the small print, that exists.


I do think we need to raise the issue of


the lack of parity between the way employed and self-employed


There are advantages and disadvantages to


right to make sure we have the right equitable treatment for both.


I happen to say for myself, I do not want to see


us penalising the entrepreneurial people in our society.


At the same time, I want to make sure we have a system that is


fair and we need to be extremly mindful that we do not just satisfy


the letter of our manifesto commitments but also the spirit.


The tax lock was torn up by the Chancellor and he can dance


on the head of a pin, he can claim that their lock did not


apply to class four national insurance contributions


But, Madam Deputy Speaker, that was not


No-one will ever believe a Tory election promise


People will think they cannot trust the Government on


anything in terms of their future economic security.


I think the honourable lady is making a typical lucid


points in her speech but is it not incumbent on her, given that


there is consensus that we need to fund social care better, that extra


2 billion that the Chancellor announced, that it is incumbent on


her party to identify where that money would come from and if she


does not want it to be raised by national insurance contributions,


That leads me very nicely to my next point, which is that the


Chancellor would claim that the Government has no choice


but to raise national insurance contributions, but he somehow has


managed to find ?70 billion in tax cuts for the rich


and corporations, including ?1 billion for the Government's pet


I have always believed in low taxes as a


When a Government inherits a deficit of


?100 billion, the greatest priority must be to return to sound finances


I believe that it is right that those


benefit from public services make an appropriate contribution


That is what this budget's changes to national insurance will do.


The latest day of debate on the Chancellor's budget.


It's been a record breaking week in the House of Lords: on Tuesday


evening the largest number of peers ever to take part in a division


in the Upper House took part in a vote on the so-called Brexit Bill.


It resulted in a defeat for the Government.


Peers voted for Parliament having a meaningful vote on the final EU


Exit deal and for that measure to be clearly written into the Bill.


It was a proposal led by the crossbench peer Lord Pannick


and it was the government's second defeat on the Brexit Bill.


In the Commons, the Leader of the House set out


Monday 13th of March - consideration of Lord's amendments


withdrawal Bill, followed by a continuation of the Budget debate.


Tuesday 14th March, if necessary, consideration of Lord's amendments.


Mr Speaker, I note on the business paper there are three days set aside


for consideration of Lord's amendments if necessary, as this


Government attempts to ping that pong that is coming from those


heroes who are continuing to stand up to the Government.


I note that this only goes on until Wednesday.


What happens if we still have these paddles out


Is the Government going to enforce the Parliament act?


How does this impact on the Article 50


process and will he clarify what is going to go on?


But can we encourage the people's aristocrats to battle


It's perfectly routine for the Government to


announce provisional buisness in case there is a need


The House of Lords has a perfectly proper role as a revising


chamber, but it also knows that it is an unelected


house and I hope the


House of Lords will want to give very careful consideration to


whatever views this House takes on its amendments next week and to


accept that ultimately the view not just of the elected


House, but the view of the British people


expressed in a referendum, should prevail.


Mr Speaker, I note that the EU Bill will be


coming back to the Commons on Monday and once this Bill goes through it


will truly be the end of the Thatcher legacy


because the former Prime Minister signed up to, in 1981


EU enlargement Accession with Greece, 1983 Declaration


1986 EU enlargement accession of Spain and Portugal,


1987 Single European Act to create the single internal market


say, no, she could renegotiate the EU budget in 1984, say no to the


1985 Schengen agreement, say no to the 1999 social charter,


So we have Margaret Thatcher who was a Remainer and a


reformer, but you cannot say the same for this Government.


Well, earlier, the potential confrontation between MPs


and the Lords over alterations to the Brexit Bill surfaced


during question time to David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting


Labour wanted to know why the government was determined


The Prime Minister has said the approval of


parliament would be required for the final terms of our


The Prime Minister has also promised this will occur


before the withdrawal agreement is sent to the European


The House of Lords has now voted by a


large majority to amend the Article 50 Bill to reflect these


If the Prime Minister intends to keep her


commitments, why would the Government support this amendment


when it returns to this house on Monday?


Clearly, the Government wants to trigger Article 50 next


It will then have to set out its proposal in


For months it has hidden behind the bland phrases of frictionless


This is the last opportunity before triggering to spell out what this


I would have thought the honourable gentleman is a very


I would have thought he would have known what


frictionless meant, it means trade with the minimum of possible


barriers, the minimum possible impediment.


That is what we will seek to achieve.


From recent discussions with senior members of


the German parliament, it is very clear we are not going to get


barrier free access to the single market if we no longer operate free


Do Ministers yet recognise that reality?


That is not the response I'm getting from the


Ministers I've spoken to around Europe.


What they have come back with is that they want to see a


The only way to a constructive outcome is a free


Is not the case that at the end of the day when the


United Kingdom leaves the European union, we will be


Does he not agree with my favourite politician at the


moment Wolfgang Schaeuble, The Finance Minister of Germany, who


says that if we, the German and all the European union were to cause any


damage to the United Kingdom it would be increased tenfold for the


I'm sure the financial minister in question will


be uncontrollably excited to discover that the honourable


My honourable friend, Mr Speaker, makes


an extremely good point and that is that this market,


the UK market, will be the biggest export market


for the continuing European Union after we leave.


That is recognised not just by Herr Schaeuble but by the Belgian


chamber of commerce, with whom I spoke earlier this week.


The Prime Minister has said Britain will not


remain a full member of the custom union


but the Chancellor said it is


clear we cannot stay in the custom union.


It is clear that if we are to seek free


world, we will not be able to remain in the customs union as it currently


Having said that, what we do seek, that will be able to construct


customs arrangements that are as frictionless


as possible for the benefit of both the EU and the UK.


You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons and the Lords.


Peers have been told by a Welfare Minister that


Universal Credit has been "deliberately" rolled out "slowly"


to make sure there's time to eliminate problems.


Universal Credit, or UC, will wrap together in a single


monthly payment the different benefits people have


In the Lords, Lord Henley responded to criticism about the way


First, a Labour peer spoke about one of the problems


In 2013 the Government introduced a rule that when you first claim


benefit you're not entitled to any money for the first seven days.


The problem is when universal credit came in because it is paid monthly


in arrears it means you get no money at all for six weeks.


And although that doesn't sound very long, the


typical family in social housing has only got ?200 in savings and some


Social landlords are now saying tenants are getting


big arrears, they're seeing people turning


to payday lenders, and even


to loan sharks, even the noble lord, Lord Freud, recently told the work


and pensions select committee that the seven-day waiting


There are safeguards in place and we introduced the universal


Claimants can apply for an advance immediately if they are in need and


can received up to 50% of their ward soon afterwards.


I go back to the original point, the important point


is to make sure we are mirroring the world of work, where 75% of


My Lords, in the last three months I've visited a large number of food


banks across the dioceses of Oxford, exceedingly affluent communities,


building on my experience of food banks in the dioceses of


And all I've had underlined to me is the most common


reason people interact with food banks is delay in accessing welfare


It is clear from the Government's own figures that too


few people are aware of or receiving the emergency payments intended for


It's not just the architecture of universal credit that is creating


problems, but the administration of universal credit, as the select


committee in the other place determined.


I understand that when asked about the sometimes fractious


relationship between the DWP and Treasury


noble lord's predecessor said there were times


when one's views of the


Can I ask, does the current Minister have any such inhibitions?


LAUGHTER My Lords, we have all on occasion


had moments where we have doubts about what goes on in the Treasury.


Most of us, I'm sure all of us in this


house, want universal credit to work.


Lady Hollis said three things needed to happen.


The first is to get rid of the seven-day waiting period.


The second is to pay people for likely as well


of a monthly in advance if they so wish.


And thirdly is to pay housing benefit if tenants so wish direct to


All of those three things together would transform the


ability of people who are not particularly sophisticated about the


It would transform their opportunity to get the money that would help


them back into the labour market as we all want


and not instead have a


I am very grateful that the noble Baroness offers support for


universal credit and, like her, we wish to see


That is why, as my noble friend, Lord Freud, always made


clear we want to see a very slow roll out of universal credit.


And the noble Baroness will be aware just how slow that roll out has been


Deliberately so, before the noble Baroness giggles too much.


Deliberately so, so that we can learn as this goes along.


The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said NHS hospitals in England must


get back to meeting the target for seeing patients swiftly


85% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged


within four hours in January, compared to a target of 95%.


This week the Chancellor announced an extra 2billion pounds for social


This week the Chancellor announced an extra ?2 billion for social


care and 100 million pounds to place more GPs in A E departments.


The head of the NHS in England said the money would be used


to "kick-start a turnaround", so that the NHS went into next


In order to do that, we've got to help at


and E departments and we've got to help at the back end, in terms of


delayed discharges for frail, older patients.


And this money's for the front end, is it?


The Chancellor's announced that it is both.


Obviously the ?100 million capital is to help


ensure that A departments can make the space available to put in place


GP streaming on the model that has been successfully adopted in places


like Luton and Dunstable Hospital, one of our top performing A


departments in the country, and have those in place by next Christmas.


And then on the back end, obviously, the extra one billion pounds for


adult social care, as the Chancellor said yesterday, will be very


I was really asking about the, I was asking about the capital


funding particularly because the social care


bit, we won't want to get into that whole debate today.


We'll see what the announcement says.


On this A end of it, how many hospitals are going to get


money to put in effectively a walk-in triage approach at their


We want all hospitals to have comprehensive front door streaming


And have you costed what that would cost?


This is going to be probably 50 to 100


hospitals that need a bit of remedial work or extra capacity


So this money will be for 50 to 100 of the hospitals that need it.


So how much in total will it cost to deliver what you've


outlined, and what percentage of that has been contributed in the


We are setting a requirement that all hospitals have


GP streaming in place by this coming Christmas,


incremental capital required to do that is consistent with the funding


we've got from the Chancellor yesterday.


Simon Stevens was speaking to the Commons Public


Accounts Committee - which is investigating


access to GPs - an inquiry which raises a number of issues.


We've got about 300 million consultations


a year in GP's surgeries and we've got a differentiated group


of reasons why patients are consulting with their GP.


And it's tended to be seen as a one-size


approach when looked at nationally, whereas we've got to differentiate


the person with multiple chronic conditions who might require more


First is the same-day appointments needed. The reason it is so


important that the GP system is functioning well is not just for the


long-term condition management but also because of the availability of


same-day urgent care because if you think about 23 million any


attendances versus 85 million same-day GAAP appointments is


obvious that if you under source primary care and spills into other


parts of the NHS. The fast fantastic efficiency that primary care


represents 90% of patient contact


it's worth reminding us of that a year's worth of GP care costs


Simon Stevens, with an interesting fact there


Now, Scotland is a different place from England.


Nothing like a statement of the obvious.


But how different is the profile of the population between Scotland


SNP MPs have used a debate in Westminster Hall to highlight how


Scotland has an older population than the rest of the UK and is keen


to attract young people from Europe and elsewhere to live and work north


And they're asking for the Scottish Parliament to have


We'll always be fighting a losing battle, if we cannot grow our


And this report calls for the Government to consider, give


us a chance, give us a break, consider devolving some immigration


powers to Scotland, to let us grow our population.


If the minister doesn't and the UK Government


doesn't it is holding Scotland's hand behind


its back, cause we know that


population gap between us and the rest of the United Kingdom will have


massive implications for our economy and our ability to provide proper


The UK Government's immigration policy in no way recognises


Scotland's needs or serves our economic and societal interests.


They continue to exist resist pragmatic change which would not


only support the impact of Scotland's ageing demographic but


also help Scotland attract international students.


What would really benefit Scotland is the full


So we can ensure Scotland's prosperous future.


If the UK Government is unable to tailor its immigration needs to


Scotland then Scotland's independence will be the only


So Scotland's whole population, as my honourable friend alluded to,


has almost one fifth over retirement age


and we need the supply of young, energetic workers from the EU that


is now under threat from a Brexit which might


only mean Brexit to the


Prime Minister but means potentially a major economic threat to Scotland.


From the clearances, through Margaret Thatcher to Brexit,


Scotland's population has been getting a raw deal.


Scotland needs to get out from under that and


create a welcoming, entrepreneurial environment


to grow our economy and


We need, as my honourable friend said, and open


door for immigrants, and immigration policies


unlike the policies touted in this place by this Government.


We can't be left subject to this frankly


xenophobic regime if we are to build the population and the economy that


There's one thing that striving this Government in terms of immigration,


and that is to get the numbers down, to get the numbers down below an


Something they have failed to do, miserably, and still they are


We've got to accept the reality - the different nations,


different regions, different countries and cities of the United


Kingdom have different immigration needs.


The needs of northern Scotland are different than the


People will migrate to Scotland if the


conditions are right and there are a good job opportunities.


significant policy levers to shape and secure its economy.


It has the power to make Scotland the most


competitive part of the UK, to encourage and support more people


to move to Scotland from other parts of the UK or the EU or indeed


They have levers over economic development and support for


enterprise, education and workforce training,


health and social care, digital connectivity and transport.


In addition, the Scottish Parliament has recently taken on new


tax-raising powers which have the potential to be used to make


Scotland more competitive and a more attractive place to live, or


Do join me for the Week in Parliament , when we not only


look back at the last few days in the Commons and the Lords


but also assess how the current clash between the two Houses over


Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.


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