07/09/2017 Thursday in Parliament


07/09/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 7 September, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.

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Coming up: The Brexit Secretary David Davis says a bill

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to transfer EU laws into UK legislation is vital.

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Let me be clear, this bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit.

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And, to provide stability. But Labour reckons it's a government

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power grab and will vote against it. That we are leaving is settled, how

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we leave is not. This bill invites us to surrender all power and

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influence over that question to the government and to ministers.

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Also on this programme - ministers pledge support for British

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territories hit by Hurricane Irma, and:

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A former Cabinet minister launches a stinging attack on disgraced PR

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Running a pernicious and poisonously racist smear campaign in South

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Africa. But first: Mps spent the afternoon

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on their first day of debate Which originally had the rather more

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catchy informal title It repeals the European Communities

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Act of 1972 which took us into the European Community and sets

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up the process to transfer current EU laws into UK law,

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so that the legal system doesn't MPs will conclude their debate

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and vote late on Monday night. The legislation - and more

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specifically the power it gives to ministers to make changes

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to legislation - is controversial. Opening the debate,

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the Brexit Secretary Put simply, this bill is an

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essential step, whilst it does not take us out of the EU, that is a

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matter for the Article 50 process, it does ensure that on the day that

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we leave, businesses know where they stand. Workers' rights are upheld

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and the consumers remain protected. This bill is vital -- is vital to

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ensure that as we leave, we do so an ordinarily -- orderly manner.

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He set out what the bill would do and defended the powers

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This bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit and to

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supply stability but I welcome and encourage contributions from those

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who approach the task in good faith and in the spirit of collaboration.

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We cannot await the completion of negotiations before it is legal

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certainty at the point of exit and to do so, or to delay or oppose the

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bill would be reckless in the extreme. Mr Speaker, I have, in the

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past, witnessed the Labour Party on European business take the most

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cynical approach to legislation that I have ever seen. They are now

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attempting to do the same today and, the British people are not going to

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forgive them if at the end of their process, they delay or destroy the

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process by which we leave the EU. Labour voted for the Article 50 act.

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That is because we accept the referendum result. As a result, the

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UK is leaving the EU. That we are leaving is settled. How we leave is

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not. The bill invites us to surrender all power and influence

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over that question to the government and to ministers. That would betray

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everything we were sent here to do. Unless the government make

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significant concessions before we vote on Monday, Labour will table,

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and has done, tabled a reasonable amendment to vote against the bill.

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Keen to portray this bill as a technical exercise converting EU law

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into our law without raising any serious constitutional issues about

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the role of Parliament. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Mind as I am at the moment to contemplate voting for a second

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reading, I am going to need some assurances before we get there. In

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particular, there is going to be sufficient movement to some of the

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unanswerable points that are being made about Parliamentary democracy

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and a smooth transition to whatever the alternative is. For the bill to

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be anything other than a wrecking piece of legislation, if it proceeds

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forward. It is interesting, if you look at the amendments put forward,

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is huge number of power for reasons different MPs from different parties

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have come up with this for rejecting the bill at this stage. It tells us

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a huge number of serious and sometimes fundamental flaws are in

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the bill which means it cannot be allowed to go forward at its present

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format. To fit in with the government timetable? Tough. What is

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in this bill is incompatible with the idea of Parliamentary

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sovereignty. It is not taking back control of parliament, or

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Parliamentary sovereignty, for this to exist, the bill threatens to

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destroy it once and for all. I believe it's necessary legislation.

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We start with the principle of how necessary it is. We have to get all

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of that European law and regulation transposed into UK law, get it

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applicable and actionable in UK law properly so that it is properly just

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as a ball at the end of the day which requires a huge amount of

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action. There are many pages of laws, I was looking at it the other

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day and I thought, if we vote on everything through that, you have to

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have something in the order of 20,000 different boats and there is

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no way on earth that could possibly happen. The fact is, we do not need

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to legislate in this fashion to carry out the technical task of

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leaving the EU and I remain utterly bemused as to why the legislation

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has been drafted in this form. Dominic Grieve, and we'll have more

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from that debate later in the programme. Earlier in the day the

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SNP's Constitutional affairs spokesman, Pete Wishart rebuked

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ministers over the amount of time they were proposing to give the

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Commons to debate the detail of the EU withdrawal bill at it's later

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stages. There are only eight days according to them for the committee

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of the whole house, eight days to negotiate the setting up of a new

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legal framework for the UK to disentangle themselves from an

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institution, they have been a member for a decade, for all of the

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treaties, put it in context. There were 41 days for the Masters Treaty,

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and 25 days for the Lisbon Treaty, 39 days to enter the European Union

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but it was just a Common Market. Eight days for leaving the EU. It's

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almost beyond a joke. It is eight days with eight hours protected

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every day. Really importantly, I think honourable members need to

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appreciate that this withdrawal bill is to provide a base for the UK's

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departure from the EU. There will be a large number of subsequent bills

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relating to new policies, new systems and new process-- processes,

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there will be many opportunities for all colleagues across the house to

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have their views taken into account and as we said time and again, it is

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clear that we want to be a consulting government and want to

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take into account the views right across the house. The Shadow Leader

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of the Commons raised another concern about the bill - the use of

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what are known as Henry the eighth Powers which allow ministers to make

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changes to legislation without the detailed scrutiny of Parliament. And

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with the withdrawal bill, section seven, eight and nine, it says the

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Minister of the Crown may by regulations as the Minister

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considers appropriate. Never before have ministers been given unfettered

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powers like this. Anyone, on all sides of the house, who believes in

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Parliamentary democracy, the sovereignty of Parliament and

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separation of powers should be against this bill. But Andrea

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Leadsom argued the use of such powers were nothing new. May I give

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an example to the house of the psychoactive substances bill of 2016

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where we can all understand, I think, that Henry VIII powers there

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are something we can quickly update, as any new legal high is created, we

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can update legislation to ensure it is then banned to keep people safe.

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That is the kind of use of Henry VIII powers, to finally define the

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terms that are necessary. Around half of all legislation in the last

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parliament contained Henry VIII powers. There is nothing new or

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unusual about the use of those powers. And very specifically, they

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are always subject to either the committee of the whole house or by

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committees as a part of this house. They are absolutely subject to

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scrutiny. Andrea Leadsom. One of the most powerful storms on record -

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Hurricane Irma - is continuing to devastate parts of the Caribbean.

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The islands of Barbuda and St Martin have suffered catastrophic damage

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and several people have been killed. Among the islands hit by sustained

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wind speeds of more than 180mph were British Overseas Territories and

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members of the Commonwealth - including Anguilla, Montserrat and

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the British Virgin Islands. In a statement in the Commons, the

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Government pledged urgent assistance. The Royal Naval ship, it

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is already in the Caribbean and should reach affected territories

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later today. This ship carries Royal Marines and army engineers, and her

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primary task is the protection of overseas territories. -- our

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overseas territories. She is loaded with a range of equipments, tents,

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stores, and hydraulic vehicles specifically designed to respond to

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disasters like this. It stands ready to charter flights to deliver

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additional supplies as appropriate. The Prime Minister, he said, had

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spoken to France's President Macron and they had agreed to cooperate

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closely over the relief effort. Our priority is to support the territory

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's government in meeting their immediate humanitarian and security

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needs, including shelter, water and accommodation. We have four UK aid

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humanitarian experts in the region who are helping coordinate the

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response. What effort is the government making to work with

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authorities in these areas on their reconstruction plans? I would also

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like to ask what reassurances he can give that the UK stands ready to

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provide not only the immediate humanitarian and security relief

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needed so urgently, but also the sustained commitment to

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reconstruction, which will be so important in the longer term. Sir

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Sir Alan said ?12 million was immediately available for disaster

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relief. We are pulling out all the stops to do our utmost to bring

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urgent assistance, once we, with the professionalism that defeat has,

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they do the assessment to make sure that we know who is in greatest

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need, and then we can use our adeptness and flexibility urgently

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to address those who need our help the most. The devastation in the

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Caribbean is grave and a tragedy, our thoughts go to all of those

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waiting to find out whether or not they are in the path of hurricane.

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In the Dominican Republic, Florida, Haiti, in the Virgin Islands,

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Barbuda, and I quote to the islands almost destroyed, the Prime Minister

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of Barbuda says his island is almost totally demolished and inhabitable.

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We encourage the prime ministers to send as much aid as possible. The

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French have put a lot more in than we have, into Anguilla. Will the

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Minister layout what resources we can provide from a military point of

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view to deal with the immediate humanitarian catastrophe and support

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Anguilla's government would support for hospitals, schools, airports,

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prisons, and all the devastated infrastructure they will need to get

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on their feet. Helping those in danger has to be the immediate

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priority that I do ask the Minister to engage in the wider issue of what

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the government is doing to get global climate change action on

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track. This is vital, urgent, and we are currently failing. There is

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preparing us for severe weather instance to ensure that flooding can

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be reduced, buildings are solid, and infrastructure can hold up. I know

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the kind of advanced work to which the honourable lady implicitly

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refers is deeply entrenched in many of the programmes across the world

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on which they spend their money. Sir Alan Duncan. You are watching

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Thursday in Parliament with me, Eliseu are they -- the commerce

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committees may not attract as much attention as the main chamber but

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they carry out vital work. There are lots of different committees but the

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most important are those that scrutinise bills and the select

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committees that look at policy and the work of government departments.

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The select committees haven't been re-established since June's election

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- leading some MPs to become restive. The Leader of the Commons

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had news... Select committees provide vital scrutiny in this

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place. I've been working hard to ensure we establish them as soon as

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possible and I am grateful for the cooperation of colleagues across the

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house who have worked quickly to bring the names of elected members

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forward. I am now delighted to draw the attention of colleagues to the

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motion in my name that will ensure the select committees can begin

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their important work next week. But the SNP's Pete Wishart could not

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understand the delay in setting up the

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select committees. He raised the delay in setting up the other main

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group of committees, those which scrutinise the detail of

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legislation. There is continuing disagreement over their make up

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because the government wants to have a majority on those committees, even

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though it does not have a majority in the Commons. This government

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cannot expect to have a majority. They do not command a majority, this

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is a house of minoritys and the Parliamentary arithmetic needs to be

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deflected into the Parliamentary standing committees of the house. My

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last question, does the Leader of the House understand and appreciate

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she's in the minority in this house and recognise that minority?

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Andrea Leadsom didn't address that point but rejected the suggestion

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the government had dragged its feet on setting up select committees.

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We have made every effort to establish the Select Committees

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They have been established faster than in the previous

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It is extremely churlish; what he actually demonstrates

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He does not even have the decency to recognise that the House

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is responding to a genuine request from Select Committee Chairs right

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across the House to get a move on and do it,

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He does not have the grace to say thank you or to

:15:56.:16:07.

The public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, has been furiously

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attacked in the Lords by a former Labour Cabinet Minister.

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The company was expelled from the industry trade body

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for a campaign stirring racial divisions in South Africa.

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Lord Hain, who grew up in the country, didn't mince his words.

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Does the government agree that after running a poisonous smear campaign

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in South Africa where the wealthy group two brothers, from the

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President allowed to capture the state and bankroll his family and

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friends through corruption and cronyism, all Bell Pottinger's work

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for British public bodies must be called in and reviewed? And since

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the respected former Finance Minister has stated that they had

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benefited from 6.8 billion rand of money laundering, can the government

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investigate whether any British banks were involved and what action

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can be taken at a European level and will the Minister agree to meet me

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about this? I am grateful to the those questions. On the point of

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money-laundering, I have read the reports that I referred to in my

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original reply and there is no implication in those reports that

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there has been any money-laundering or criminal activity. The company

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behaved unprofessionally and unethically. If there is any

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evidence of money-laundering, that should be investigated. Isn't that

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the wider consideration arising from these matters and it is this...

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While Bell Pottinger might have suffered reputational and

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financially, the fact that this is a British company, albeit operating in

:17:57.:18:02.

a foreign country, we will have the effect on the extent to which in the

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febrile atmosphere of South African politics, diplomatic representations

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may be disregarded? I have been in touch with the High Commissioner in

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Pretoria this morning and he has made it clear that this has had a

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very damaging impact on our country's reputation in South Africa

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which is why I have gone out of my way to make it clear the government

:18:29.:18:32.

was not involved, nor were the staff of the High Commission in South

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Africa in any way with this particular contract. When the

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Lobbying Bill was going through the House, we warned the government that

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if it did not require a lobby firm to be a member of the professional

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body, and abide by its code, then its statutory register would be

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meaningless. We see that Bell Pottinger, although thrown out

:18:56.:19:02.

because broke the code, is still a member and still remains on the

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statutory register, able to lobby ministers and permanent secretaries.

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You can only be removed the register if you stop acting as a lobbyist,

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that is what the law says. There was an attempt last year with a private

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members bill which started in house and progressed through the size to

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take this a step further and have a statutory code of conduct Anna Lo

:19:26.:19:28.

had passed through this House there was no Parliamentary time to take

:19:29.:19:31.

this forward and I understand discussions are taking place at an

:19:32.:19:34.

official level between those who would like to see the sort of reform

:19:35.:19:40.

the noble Baroness has outlined but at this stage the government has no

:19:41.:19:41.

plans to legislate. Now let's go back to the first day

:19:42.:19:43.

of debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill. The chair of the Home Affairs

:19:44.:19:48.

Committee, Labour's Yvette Cooper, joined the attack on the powers

:19:49.:19:51.

given to ministers in the Bill. Parliament also has a job

:19:52.:19:54.

to do to hold Ministers to account and the Bill,

:19:55.:19:56.

as drafted, stops us doing that. It stops us standing up

:19:57.:20:01.

for democracy in this House, and it stops us making sure,

:20:02.:20:04.

frankly, that the Government do not screw up Brexit

:20:05.:20:06.

in the process they put it Parliamentary scrutiny is not

:20:07.:20:09.

an affront to democracy; The true saboteurs of Brexit

:20:10.:20:15.

are those who would sanction the exclusion of Parliament

:20:16.:20:22.

from this process. The debate on this Bill

:20:23.:20:26.

has only just started. Well said. They said this would be a

:20:27.:20:31.

great opportunity... of all the rules and regulations,

:20:32.:20:44.

the miles of red tape and all the things that

:20:45.:20:48.

were strangling British business and the economy, but we are going

:20:49.:20:50.

to take those very same things and place them lock,

:20:51.:20:53.

stock and barrel into They told you that you would get

:20:54.:20:55.

an extra ?350 million They told you that you would take

:20:56.:20:59.

back control, but if this Bill is not amended,

:21:00.:21:04.

you can forget that, because the people will not be

:21:05.:21:05.

taking back control in this place, That may not just be

:21:06.:21:08.

a Conservative Government; it could`God forbid`be

:21:09.:21:12.

a Labour Government . With the Minister be precise and

:21:13.:21:18.

could he quantify how many Welsh jobs he is willing to sacrifice...

:21:19.:21:27.

The truth is that the Bill was always going to be a sow s ear,

:21:28.:21:34.

because the Government started the negotiations without clear

:21:35.:21:36.

objectives or outcomes in mind so the Bill had to cater for any

:21:37.:21:39.

eventuality or scenario, deal or no deal.

:21:40.:21:40.

What started with democracy must not end with a stitch-up by Ministers.

:21:41.:21:44.

The Liberal Democrats believe that the people,

:21:45.:21:46.

as well as politicians, must have a meaningful

:21:47.:21:48.

If they do not accept the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister

:21:49.:21:54.

and her Cabinet, they should have the option to remain a member

:21:55.:21:57.

The Government claim it will restore sovereignty to Parliament and secure

:21:58.:22:06.

certainty post-Brexit, but that is not the case.

:22:07.:22:11.

It transfers huge powers to Ministers, not to Members

:22:12.:22:14.

of the House, over issues vital to people s lives, such as maternity

:22:15.:22:21.

and paternity leave, holidays, environmental standards and a range

:22:22.:22:23.

I fear that the Bill could increase uncertainty,

:22:24.:22:27.

including the likelihood of legal challenge and judicial review,

:22:28.:22:29.

because the powers in it are so broadly drawn.

:22:30.:22:34.

But a Conservative didn't believe the legislation was as "dramatic"

:22:35.:22:36.

We have got to make sure that on the day of exit, the statute book in

:22:37.:22:50.

this country works and the only way that we can achieve that in the

:22:51.:22:54.

timescale with which we are constrained and which are set out in

:22:55.:22:59.

Article 50 is to have a flexible, pragmatic system such as the system

:23:00.:23:09.

that is laid out in the draft bill. You cannot -- parliament and want

:23:10.:23:12.

to... to jealously guard its

:23:13.:23:22.

rights and privileges created by our predecessors

:23:23.:23:23.

but still show pragmatism in the national interest

:23:24.:23:25.

when the times demand it, That is life; that is the job

:23:26.:23:27.

we are sent here to do. That is poetry and prose,

:23:28.:23:31.

romance and reality; that is what we are sent

:23:32.:23:33.

here to achieve. Robert Jenrick and MPs will conclude

:23:34.:23:38.

that debate and have their first votes on the bill late on Monday

:23:39.:23:40.

night. During that debate Labour's Rosie Duffy - the new MP for

:23:41.:23:43.

Canterbury - made her maiden speech. She condemned the abuse she received

:23:44.:23:47.

online. This ranges from badly researched articles published as

:23:48.:23:52.

fact to unpleasant personal messages late at night and vile insults from

:23:53.:23:57.

a small, persistent handful of activists from other parties posted

:23:58.:24:01.

online. I would like to acknowledge the efforts being made by the

:24:02.:24:04.

inspirational women in Parliament who are working hard to raise this

:24:05.:24:08.

issue and fight against it, even though that usually results in much

:24:09.:24:11.

more abuse being thrown their way. She said it was possible to engage

:24:12.:24:13.

in passionate debate without resorting to name calling, death

:24:14.:24:14.

threats and abusive language. Finally, an unfortunate thing

:24:15.:24:28.

happened to the veteran Labour MP Ann Clwyd on Wednesday on her way to

:24:29.:24:31.

the Commons. She'd wanted to take part in votes on three Government

:24:32.:24:33.

finance measures but was prevented from doing so. I was locked, not in

:24:34.:24:38.

the lavatory but in the left and were it not one of the researchers

:24:39.:24:42.

of the party opposite, I suspect I would still be there! I think it is

:24:43.:24:48.

very unsatisfactory but in our first week back after the recess that

:24:49.:24:51.

there are problems with the left. Can I ask the House to ensure that

:24:52.:24:57.

there are maintenance men around and surely the left should be serviced!

:24:58.:25:04.

I am sure that Mr Speaker will be as concerned as I am to hear about that

:25:05.:25:09.

and I will look into this situation and assure the honourable lady that

:25:10.:25:13.

I will take that up later on today. The situation is extremely irregular

:25:14.:25:17.

and the honourable lady has my support this. I hope she will not

:25:18.:25:21.

take that out of good humour if I say aye am surprised that the left

:25:22.:25:25.

there! Ann Clwyd, taking the joke in good humour! And that's it from me

:25:26.:25:29.

for now, but do join me on BBC Parliament on Friday night at 11pm

:25:30.:25:33.

for a round up of the week here at Westminster when we'll be chatting

:25:34.:25:35.

to MPs and Peers about just how the government is going to get its EU

:25:36.:25:38.

Withdrawal Bill through Parliament. But for now from me, goodbye.

:25:39.:25:44.