07/09/2017 Thursday in Parliament


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

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Hello and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.


Coming up: The Brexit Secretary David Davis says a bill


to transfer EU laws into UK legislation is vital.


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


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


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


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


influence over that question to the government and to ministers.


Also on this programme - ministers pledge support for British


territories hit by Hurricane Irma, and:


A former Cabinet minister launches a stinging attack on disgraced PR


Running a pernicious and poisonously racist smear campaign in South


Africa. But first: Mps spent the afternoon


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


catchy informal title It repeals the European Communities


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


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


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


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


specifically the power it gives to ministers to make changes


to legislation - is controversial. Opening the debate,


the Brexit Secretary Put simply, this bill is an


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


supply stability but I welcome and encourage contributions from those


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


We cannot await the completion of negotiations before it is legal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


into our law without raising any serious constitutional issues about


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


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


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


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


unanswerable points that are being made about Parliamentary democracy


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


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


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


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


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


a huge number of serious and sometimes fundamental flaws are in


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


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


in this bill is incompatible with the idea of Parliamentary


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


SNP's Constitutional affairs spokesman, Pete Wishart rebuked


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


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


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


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


legal framework for the UK to disentangle themselves from an


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


changes to legislation without the detailed scrutiny of Parliament. And


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


Minister of the Crown may by regulations as the Minister


considers appropriate. Never before have ministers been given unfettered


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


Parliamentary democracy, the sovereignty of Parliament and


separation of powers should be against this bill. But Andrea


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


parliament contained Henry VIII powers. There is nothing new or


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


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


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


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


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


The islands of Barbuda and St Martin have suffered catastrophic damage


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


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


members of the Commonwealth - including Anguilla, Montserrat and


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


Government pledged urgent assistance. The Royal Naval ship, it


is already in the Caribbean and should reach affected territories


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


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


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


stores, and hydraulic vehicles specifically designed to respond to


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


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


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


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


's government in meeting their immediate humanitarian and security


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


humanitarian experts in the region who are helping coordinate the


response. What effort is the government making to work with


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


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


provide not only the immediate humanitarian and security relief


needed so urgently, but also the sustained commitment to


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


Sir Alan said ?12 million was immediately available for disaster


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


view to deal with the immediate humanitarian catastrophe and support


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


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


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


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


the government is doing to get global climate change action on


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


preparing us for severe weather instance to ensure that flooding can


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


the kind of advanced work to which the honourable lady implicitly


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


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


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


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


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


most important are those that scrutinise bills and the select


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


understand the delay in setting up the


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


group of committees, those which scrutinise the detail of


legislation. There is continuing disagreement over their make up


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


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


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


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


deflected into the Parliamentary standing committees of the house. My


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


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


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


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


We have made every effort to establish the Select Committees


They have been established faster than in the previous


It is extremely churlish; what he actually demonstrates


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


is responding to a genuine request from Select Committee Chairs right


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


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


The public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, has been furiously


attacked in the Lords by a former Labour Cabinet Minister.


The company was expelled from the industry trade body


for a campaign stirring racial divisions in South Africa.


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


Does the government agree that after running a poisonous smear campaign


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


President allowed to capture the state and bankroll his family and


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


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


the respected former Finance Minister has stated that they had


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


investigate whether any British banks were involved and what action


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


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


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


original reply and there is no implication in those reports that


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


behaved unprofessionally and unethically. If there is any


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


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


While Bell Pottinger might have suffered reputational and


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


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


febrile atmosphere of South African politics, diplomatic representations


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


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


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


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


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


Africa in any way with this particular contract. When the


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


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


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


meaningless. We see that Bell Pottinger, although thrown out


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


statutory register, able to lobby ministers and permanent secretaries.


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


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


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


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


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


this forward and I understand discussions are taking place at an


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


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


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


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


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


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


to do to hold Ministers to account and the Bill,


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


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


frankly, that the Government do not screw up Brexit


in the process they put it Parliamentary scrutiny is not


an affront to democracy; The true saboteurs of Brexit


are those who would sanction the exclusion of Parliament


from this process. The debate on this Bill


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


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


the miles of red tape and all the things that


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


to take those very same things and place them lock,


stock and barrel into They told you that you would get


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


back control, but if this Bill is not amended,


you can forget that, because the people will not be


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


a Conservative Government; it could`God forbid`be


a Labour Government . With the Minister be precise and


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


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


because the Government started the negotiations without clear


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


eventuality or scenario, deal or no deal.


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


The Liberal Democrats believe that the people,


as well as politicians, must have a meaningful


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


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


The Government claim it will restore sovereignty to Parliament and secure


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


It transfers huge powers to Ministers, not to Members


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


and paternity leave, holidays, environmental standards and a range


I fear that the Bill could increase uncertainty,


including the likelihood of legal challenge and judicial review,


because the powers in it are so broadly drawn.


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


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


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


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


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


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


to... to jealously guard its


rights and privileges created by our predecessors


but still show pragmatism in the national interest


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


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


romance and reality; that is what we are sent


here to achieve. Robert Jenrick and MPs will conclude


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


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


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


online. This ranges from badly researched articles published as


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


a small, persistent handful of activists from other parties posted


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


inspirational women in Parliament who are working hard to raise this


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


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


in passionate debate without resorting to name calling, death


threats and abusive language. Finally, an unfortunate thing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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