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.