23/03/2017 Thursday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 23 March, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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Hello, and welcome to Thursday in Parliament, as MPs and peers


declare their defiance after Wednesday's terror attack.


Let this be the message from this House, and this nation today,


The Archbishop of Canterbury praises those who stepped in to help.


There is a victory for what is right and good, over what is evil,


Members of the Scottish Parliament also joined together to send


And as Westminster returns to work, MPs debate how


One study found that children in low income households hear up


to 30 million fewer words by the age of three.


But first, Parliament gathered fewer than 24 hours after the terror


attack that left a police officer and two pedestrians dead,


and ended with the attacker being shot and killed


At around 2:40pm on Wednesday the man drove a car at high speed


across Westminster Bridge before trying to enter Parliament.


He was shot dead by a protection officer, after he stabbed


More than 40 people from 12 different countries


Anti-terror police arrested eight people in overnight raids,


but believe the attacker was acting alone.


MPs and staff had been locked down inside Parliament's


boundaries for several hours, eventually being released


When they reassembled on Thursday morning,


they began with their day with a minute's silence, to remember


Colleagues, in respectful memory of those who lost their lives


in yesterday's attack, and of all of the casualties of that


attack, we shall now observer a minute's silence.


A little later, the Commons Speaker John Bercow offered condolences


He said, in time Parliament would look to see a security lessons


needed to be learned, but he added...


Let the security personnel who protect us, police,


security officers, and door keepers, be in no doubt whatsoever


as to our profound appreciation of the way in which they discharged


That means that this morning, the House has been able


Mr Speaker, yesterday an act of terrorism tried


As generations have done before us, and as future generations


A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities


and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free.


And he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent


Mr Speaker, this was an attack on free people everywhere.


And on behalf of the British people, I would like to thank our friends


and allies around the world, who have made it clear that they


She said the victims had included three police officers and people


from countries around the world, including France, Germany


She paid tribute to PC Keith Palmer, who died protecting Parliament.


PC Palmer has devoted his life to the service of his country.


He had been a member of the Parliamentary and diplomatic


And a soldier in the Royal Artillery before that.


He was every inch a hero, and his actions will never be forgotten.


She turned to the British-born attacker, later named


Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5,


in relation to concerns about violent extremism.


He was not part of the current intelligence picture.


There was no prior intelligence of his intent, or of the plot.


Theresa May said the threat from Islamist terrorism was real,


but the public should not be cowed by that threat.


And she paid tribute to Bournemouth East MP


Tobias Ellwood, who tried to say PC Keith Palmer.


Mr Speaker, yesterday we saw the worst of humanity,


We will remember the extraordinary efforts to save the life of PC


Keith Palmer, including those by my right honourable friend,


And we will remember the exceptional bravery of our police,


And she said the greatest response lay not in the words of politicians,


but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.


The offices full, the coffee shops and cafes bustling.


As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes


to travel to London and to see for themselves the


It is in these actions, millions of acts of normality,


that we find the best response to terrorism.


A response that denies our enemies their victory,


A response driven by that same spirit that drove a husband


and father to put himself between us and our attacker, and to pay


A response that says to the men and women


who propagate this hate and evil, you will not defeat us.


Mr Speaker, let this be the message from this House,


and this nation today, our values will prevail.


And I commend this statement to the House.


I express my condolences to the family and friends


of Police Officer Keith Palmer, who gave his life yesterday


in defence of the public, and of our democracy.


The police and security staff lost a colleague yesterday, and continued


to fulfil their duties, despite their shock and their grief


for their fallen colleague, which many expressed to me late last


We see the police and security every day, they're our colleagues,


they're fellow workers they're friends, they're neighbours,


and as the Prime Minister said, when dangerous and violent incidents


take place, we all instinctively run away from them for our own safety.


The police and emergency services run towards them.


We are grateful for the public service yesterday, today,


and every day that they pull on their uniforms to protect us all.


No terrorist outrage is representative of any faith,


or of any faith community, and we recommit ourselves


to strengthening the bonds of tolerance and understanding.


And finally, is it not best to follow the advice of Brendan Cox,


the husband of our murdered MP colleague Jo Cox, who has said,


"In the days to come, I hope we will remember the love


and bravery of the victims, not just the hatred


Those who attack us hate our freedom, our peaceful democracy,


our love of country, our tolerance, our


As we work to unravel how this unspeakable attack happened,


will he agree with me that we must not, either in our laws or by our


actions, curtail these values - indeed we should have more of them.


It has failed because we are here, and we are going to go


It's failed because despite the trauma they witnessed


outside their windows, our staff are here,


and they are getting on with their work.


It failed because, as the Prime Minister so rightly said,


we are not going to allow this to be used as a pretext for division,


This was a horrific crime, but as an act


We have learned in Northern Ireland that the way to overcome terrorism


is by working together, politically and in every other way,


to ensure that our democratic values, the rule of law,


human rights are all upheld in every way they can.


We must rededicate ourselves to that in the future.


This attacker and people like him are not of my religion.


And we should condemn all of them who pretend to be


of particular religion, because they're not of religion.


If they were of religion, they wouldn't be carrying


We have to stay united and show them they can't win on these grounds,


A Conservative MP remembered his friend, PC Palmer.


I would like to turn for just a moment to PC Keith Palmer,


who I first met 25 years ago as Gunner Keith Palmer,


at Headquarters Battery 100 Regiment, Royal Artillery.


He was a strong, professional public servant.


And it was a delight to meet him here again, only a few months


Would my right honourable friend the Prime Minister,


in recognition of the work that he did, and the other police


officers and public servants here in the House do,


consider recognising his gallantry and sacrifice formally,


Theresa May said it was something that would be


While the Prime Minister was still speaking in the Commons,


the House of Lords held a minute's silence before the leader


of the Lords, Lady Evans, led the tributes to those who died


Her voice cracking with emotion, she said the horror of the attack


would be felt not just in this country but across the globe.


Yesterday was a shocking day, for everyone who works


But what shone through has been the support and care that members


And I would like to thank all noble Lords for their patience


My Lords, all of us join together to extend our heartfelt sympathy


to those who have tragically lost their lives, those


who have been injured, and to their families.


The thoughts of the whole country will be with them.


Last night, as we returned home, we were very grateful,


not just because of the shocking tragic events of the day, but simply


because we could return home, and others would never do so.


As the noble Lady said, those injured and killed


on Westminster Bridge were both visitors and locals


They were just going about their every day business


For many, those survivors, life will never be the same.


Our thoughts from these benches and prayers are also


with the families of those who lost their lives yesterday.


And our profound sympathies are also with those innocent victims,


members of the public, who were on Westminster Bridge,


and who were also subject to this senseless attack.


My Lords, I would, of course like to pay tribute to PC


Keith Palmer, who lost his life yesterday, an extremely brave man.


And to all the police and security staff, who do so much every day,


to protect all who come to Parliament, to


We stand together against those who want to diminish our


We are an open, tolerant country, and we will never let those


We on these benches join with everyone else in this House


in expressing our deepest sympathy to the family of PC Keith Palmer,


so tragically taken from us as he sought to deter the attacker.


We remember too, the friends and families, the families


and friends of the members of the public who were killed,


Including the students from France, whose visit to our city


The Archbishop of Canterbury highlighted how the attacker had


received treatment from the very people he had been seeking to kill.


Where we do what is right, where we behave properly,


where that generosity and extraordinary sense of duty that


leads people to treat a terrorist is shown,


where that bravery of someone like PC Keith Palmer is demonstrated,


that there is a victory for what is right and good, over


That is shown not just in our expression of values,


but in our practises which define those values.


And that is the mood we must show in the future.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby.


You're watching Thursday in Parliament


At the start of the day and after the one-minute silence,


MPs returned to work and questions and on international trade.


The Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox, was asked about


the World Trade Organisation's trade facilitation agreement.


This was agreed in Bali and came into force last month.


It is intended to cut red tape and speed up imports and


This is a very significant event. Once fully implemented the agreement


could add ?70 billion to the global economy and of this we expect the


benefit to the UK of up to ?1 billion. We don't want to fall back


on WTO rules but if we did what would happen to airlines, digital


data flows and trading services if we had to do that? There is a


difference between some of the agreements mentioned which are


bilateral agreements and WTO tariffs which largely apply to goods. What


we hope that we'll get a full and comprehensive agreement with our


European Union partners across all of these sectors he mentions so that


we will see no interruption to business as we have it today. For


well over a century the UK has never had security of supply and has


relied on imports. What, then, will WTO tariffs of up to 40% do for


hard-working families already squeezed by Tory government


policies? The honourable gentleman, perhaps unintentionally, raises an


important point which is that where we have genuinely free trade, that


benefits consumers, and where we can have, in open global trading


environment it is likely to make the incomes of those particularly on low


incomes go further and we should welcome an open trading environment


which I hope the party opposite does. Now that the Secretary of


State has revealed to the Sun newspaper 's plans for a trade bill


in the Queen's speech will he do Parliament called issy are


publishing a trade white paper that sets out clearly what markets he


wishes to liberalise, what measures he will take in future trade


agreements to protect and enhance International Labour Organisation


principles, sustainable development, human rights, environmental


protection, intellectual property rights, food standards and future


options on state owned enterprises and ability to nationalise


particular enterprises. If he develops a full and consultative


international trade policy, and dialogue that are backed by a clear


and strategic plan. Should the government intend to introduce


legislation on this issue in the Queen's speech then clearly, we


would want to have a consultative process so that stakeholders would


be able to make their views known. It is important that we do that in a


very collegiate way. A former Education Secretary has


told MPs that some British parents are more interested in taking


their children to Disneyland Nicky Morgan was speaking


in a debate on social mobility opened by


Labour's Lucy Powell. In today's


context, social mobility is about everyone being able


to make economic progress. Unconfined by the disadvantages


they begin with. With Brexit, automation,


digitalisation, and huge changes to work,


this is going to get harder She said the gap between rich


and poor children By the age of five,


children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already


far behind their peers. With the developmental gap as much


as 15 months between those from advantaged


and disadvantaged backgrounds. One study found that


children in low-income households hear up to 30 million


fewer words by the age of three. Than those in their


better-off peers. A former Education Secretary


pointed to the different It always struck me


when I was Secretary of State. That, around the world,


there are young people and their families


fighting for education this country, parents who are


fighting to take their kids to That just tells me that, actually,


parents aren't giving education the importance in


everybody's lives that it should be. And she was critical


of the government's plan to allow for the expansion


of grammar schools. We don't live in a world


where we only need the top 20% or 30%


to be highly skilled. We need everyone to have access


to a knowledge- rich, And a renewed battle


over selection does distract from what is


needed in our education system to deal with


demands of the 21st-century labour market to give everyone a chance


to close social divisions, and to build a consistently


A former Deputy Prime Minister also condemned


He quoted an article in the Times Education


In no other sector would this be acceptable.


If the Minister for health proposed to increase state


funding for homoeopathy on the basis that it did wonders for his uncle's


irritable bowel, back in the 1970s, and must therefore be right


for everyone today, there would be an uproar.


This is a precise metaphor for the expansion


of grammar schools. It is educational homoeopathy.


The minister said the government wanted to harness all expertise.


Whether it is universities, independent schools, whether it is


faith schools, whether it is outstanding comprehensive schools,


or whether it is selective schools, to make sure that we have


more good school places. That is what we are seeking to do.


And there are still problems we have to address.


According to the Sutton Trust, just 53% of high ability children


eligible for the Pupil Premium take triple science GCSEs.


Versus 69% of non-free school meal children.


And 20% of high ability free school meal children


are at schools where triple science isn't even offered.


Those are the issues that we are trying to


address, and we are leaving no stone unturned.


Now, let's return to the terror attacks


The Scottish Parliament had been halfway through a debate


on a motion that, if approved, would have given First Minister


Nicola Sturgeon the authority to begin negotiations


As the scale of the attack at Westminster became clear,


MSPs decided to suspend their debates.


In a show of solidarity, MSPs also held a minutes silence at 9:33am,


And they used their weekly round of First Minister's Questions


to join in tributes to those killed and injured,


We know that, at times like these, it can be all too easy to look


It is important, therefore, that we are very clear about this.


Acts of terrorism are not the responsibility of any one faith


The only people to blame for acts of terrorism are the individuals


Let me end by echoing and endorsing the words of the Prime Minister.


Terrorists seek to undermine our values and destroy our way of life.


Yesterday, a coward killed three innocent people and injured many


more, in an attempt to attack the symbol


His attack on our values failed, as he died while the paramedics


demonstrated what a civil society is by trying to save him.


And his attack on our freedom will fail again today as we show


as we show our resolve by returning to work and getting


We know from the Prime Minister's statement just one hour ago


that those injured yesterday were British, French, Romanian,


South Korean, Greek, German, Polish and Irish.


London is an open and multicultural city, home to people of all faiths


and from many different and diverse nations.


A city that last year elected Europe's first Muslim mayor.


So no matter the religion, nationality or identity


of the attacker or those arrested earlier this morning,


this cannot and must not turn into a war on any one community.


The lasting injury that some people wish to inflict upon us


all is to destroy the empathy and solidarity which our society


depends upon, so we must all be united in expressing and building


that empathy and solidarity, in particular, challenging those


who would seek to blame, stigmatise and alienate people


For four years I would walk over Kennington Road


I would look up to Big Ben and then down the Thames.


Dodging past the tourists taking pictures of this iconic scene,


I would descend the steps and into the Palace of Westminster.


Nodding at the police officer, who would nod in return.


I don't think I would be able to walk that route again


without thinking of the people run over, the woman in the river,


The three people who died, perhaps some while tourists


The officer who stood to defend democracy,


But I do want to be free to walk that route again.


Getting the balance right between security and freedom


Does the First Minister agree with me that we must act,


based on security, expertise, evidence and intelligence,


Nicola Sturgeon said she agreed very strongly


And that's it from me, but do join me on Friday night at 11pm for


a round-up of an extraordinary week here at Westminster.


For now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.


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