26/10/2017 Thursday in Parliament


26/10/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 26 October, presented by Mandy Baker.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to our look back

at Thursday in Parliament.

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Coming up:

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Labour calls on the Brexit Secretary

to promise Parliament a vote

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on the final EU deal.

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And passions run high.

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Stop fighting and be honest with the

British people!

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And the Commons hears

of the horrors of modern slavery.

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It is a blight on the conscience of

this nation and whilst we have done

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a lot there is much more to do.

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The row about whether Parliament

will get to vote on a deal to leave

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the EU before the UK's departure has

entered a second day.

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You may remember that on Wednesday

the Brexit Secretary suggested

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MPs may not get a vote

until after the UK has left.

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But later there was a clarification

saying ministers "expected

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and intended" that there would be

a vote before.

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Labour put down an urgent question

asking David Davis to explain

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what exactly the position was.

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His opposite number,

Sir Keir Starmer, gave his

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version of events.

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What a mess. One thing one day

another thing the next. Yesterday

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the secretary of state was asked

could the vote in our parliament be

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after March 2019? The answer, yes,

it could be. Later the Prime

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Minister had a go at collecting him,

then his own spokesperson had to

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clarify his remarks. Today he said

the vote will be before the deal is

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concluded. That is not good enough

and it would be wholly unacceptable

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time was fun for the European

Parliament to vote on the deal but

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time was not found for this house.

Does the state might expect us to

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sit here watching the European

Parliament proceedings whilst we are

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told we do not have time? We need a

cast iron guarantees that will not

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happen. The Secretary of State has

repeatedly asked them to accept his

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word. Given the events of the last

24 hours and will he now accept the

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amendments that are down to the

withdrawal bill that the article 15

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meaningful vote should be put into

law sought we all know where we

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stand?

The issue I raised yesterday

because I always planned to be as

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forthright and open as I can with

the select committee is to go

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through what happened in the past in

treaty negotiation with the EU.

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There is an expectation by the

commission, there is an incentive on

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the part of the various countries to

get this done as quickly as possible

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and there is expectation and

intention by ourselves. None of the

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undertakings given at this dispatch

box have been undermined. The issue

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is one of practicality in what the

control. What we control we will run

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in order to give Parliament a proper

and meaningful vote.

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One amendment to the EU

Withdrawal Bill being

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proposed is from the former

Attorney General Dominic Grieve

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to ensure the final deal is approved

by Parliamentary statute.

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There is a way for the Government to

put this beyond doubt that is to the

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amendment seven to the withdrawal

bill. Reports have reached members

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on the side of the Secretary of

State does not think those

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Conservative members who signed the

amendment are serious about

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supporting it. Can I tell him we are

deadly serious and it would be

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better for the Government to adopt a

concession strategy on having a

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withdrawal agreement secured icecaps

-- statutes sooner rather than

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later.

I will not pre-empt the discussion

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in the build up those reports are

not true.

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Does the state might not agree after

the shambles of the past 24 hours

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when he had to be rebutted by his

own spokesperson, the only way to

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guarantee Parliament a meaningful

say and meaningful input into these

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most vital of the negotiations, is

to amend the EU withdrawal bill

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accordingly?

I do not agree with him on that. His

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description of the event is also

wrong. There is one thing to give a

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binding undertaking, the other thing

is to say these are the problems and

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difficulties we face to get there,

which is what I did yesterday. I

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treated the committee was absolute

respect and outlining what had

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happened previously, not what we

inspect or in time, but what had

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happened previously and risk we have

to take on board. We intend to meet

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all our undertakings and I do not

take it very well he suggested we do

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not.

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One Conservative MP believed a vote

on Brexit had already taken place.

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It was a meaningful vote in June

2016 and the 78% turnout, 61% of

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voters in Kettering voted to leave.

In Kettering people are honest and

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straightforward and plain speaking.

Can the Secretary of State reassure

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them we are leaving the EU in March

2019?

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The answer to my honourable friend

is yes and my task is to respect

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that vote because it is the biggest

mandate given to more than

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Government and deliver the best deal

possible, which means a deal, not no

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deal,.

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David Davis.

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Now, many of the morning papers

carried a story suggesting the NHS

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in Essex may discharge people

from hospital into

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rooms rented locally.

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The service would be

based on Airbnb -

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the popular website which helps

people rent out their spare rooms

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on a temporary basis.

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In the Lords, peers were keen to get

to the bottom of the story.

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Is it true the Government have given

the go-ahead that vulnerable

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patients who are not fit to be

discharged to

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their home will actually be

discharged to third parties?

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Vulnerable patients will

be allocated to homes

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where the hosts have no medical

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expertise and for which they will

get paid £1000 a month.

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Will the Government not listen...?

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This is my final question.

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Will the Government not listen

to the medical opinion

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and drop this preposterous scheme?

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That is, I should stress,

a local pilot that is

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being explored.

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I don't think it is even underway.

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It has been proposed by a local

doctor, an emergency registrar,

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and for it to go ahead it is clearly

the case any such pilot

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would have to abide by the very

strict rules that exist in terms of

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safety, safeguarding,

quality and so on for any care

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setting.

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The head of Age UK said that any new

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innovation - and we want

to encourage innovation -

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needs to pass the

mum or grandma test.

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And I think that is a very

reasonable test to apply to

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something like this.

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The case raised by my noble

friend relating to Essex

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really goes to the heart of the

issue of the problem of discharging

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patients from NHS

hospitals and the lack

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of support either in

the

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community from social care

or in the reduction in places

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and nursing homes that has taken

place in the

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last four years.

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My Lords, are the noble lords

as surprised as I am that, despite

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this, up and down the country,

the NHS, in sustainability and

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transformation programmes, are

actually putting forward proposals

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to cut out community hospitals

and community hospital beds?

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My Lords, will ministers

issue an instruction

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to the NHS that this simply will not

actually be allowed to happen?

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On the issue on social care,

we have discussed the issue

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of nursing home beds.

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We also know there has been

an increase in the amount of

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domiciliary care being provided

so that reflects the changing needs

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of people who have care needs.

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There was also publication yesterday

showing social care spending has

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risen by 500 million in 2016-17,

which I'm sure is something that

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is warmly welcomed across the house.

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In terms of community beds,

the noble lords should know

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that in addition to

the usual four tests

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for reconfigurations,

last

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year Simon Stephens,

the head of NHS England said

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there was now a fifth test,

the bed test, there must be

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absolutely very strong

and robust evidence

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any proposed reduction

in

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'beds is because of the reduction in

demand and not the other way round.

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The exchanges came during a

discussion about the possible when

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the crisis in the NHS.

One was concerned about flu. The

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only way to increase staffing levels

in anticipation of the flu epidemic

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is the flu agency staff which will

cost a huge of money. Surely a

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better thing to do would be to

ensure all health staff are

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vaccinated so they are at least

healthy when the epidemic hits us,

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if it does?

My noble friend talks with great

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authority on this issue and he is

quite right, the NHS is offering all

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front line health staff free

vaccinations and the NHS England has

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confirmed it will be paying for care

workers in social care settings to

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also get free vaccinations. For the

first time we are now inoculating

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between two and eight-year-old in

school who are sometimes known as

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super spreader is to ensure that

such an epidemic happens we will be

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as we're prepared -- well-prepared

as ever.

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Lord O'Shaughnessy.

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You're watching

Thursday in Parliament

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with me, Mandy Baker.

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Don't forget you can follow BBC

Parliament on Twitter and catch

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previous editions of this

programme on the bbc iPlayer.

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At questions to the Environment

Secretary there was good news

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for campaigners

against the ivory trade.

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We are consulting on proposals to

introduce a total ban on UK ivory

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sales that we hope will contribute

to eliminating elephant poaching. We

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will consult on certain narrowly

defined and carefully targeted

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exceptions.

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I, along with students and residents

across my constituency,

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welcome the Government s commitment

to a near total ban

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on ivory sales in the UK.

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How will the Government work

with our friends abroad,

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especially in south-east Asia,

to ensure that together

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we bring an end to poaching

by illegal armed gangs?

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I thank my honourable friend,

as I know that she has been

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campaigning with young people

across Wealden to ensure

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that there is heightened awareness

of the direct link between the ivory

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trade and illegal poaching.

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We are hosting the illegal wildlife

trade conference next year,

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and we will ensure that we work

with countries, particularly in east

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and south-east Asia,

to close down this evil trade.

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It was also Mr Gove's first chance

to talk about the proposals

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he announced last month to increase

the maximum penalty for animal

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cruelty from six months

in prison to five years.

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The news was welcomed

on the SNP benches.

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I welcome this proposal,

having secured a debate on this

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issue in Westminster Hall

in the last Parliament.

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This issue is extremely important,

particularly in relation to dog

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fighting, which is an appalling act

of animal cruelty.

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During last year s debate,

it was said that the policing

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of such crimes and the funding

for that need to be increased.

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What is the Minister planning

to do in that regard?

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The honourable lady

makes a very good point.

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Of course, sentencing

decisions and, indeed,

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policing matters are devolved,

but one thing we do

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at DEFRA is to work closely

with the Home Office to ensure that

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examples of animal cruelty that need

to focus the minds of police forces

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on more effective investigation

are at the heart of

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our shared conversations.

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our shared conversations.

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The Environment Secretary.

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MPs have called on ministers to do

more to ensure people

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traffickers face prosecution.

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The demand came during a debate

on tackling modern slavery.

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Before becoming an MP,

Jess Phillips ran a service

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which provided safe houses

for victims of modern slavery.

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The vast majority of women now

living in the safe accommodation

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through the national

referral mechanism are there

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because they have been

trafficked into this country

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for sexual slavery.

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It is not sex work -

these people were slaves.

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I worked with women

who were forced to have sex

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with over 50 men in a day.

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The idea, in a modern system of sex

work, that we have an honest John

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who is saying, do you mind if I ask

you where you come from?

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Are you here out of choice?

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is a total fallacy and something

successive Governments have

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failed to tackle.

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We really, really need

to be tackling it now,

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because the number of women

from different countries

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and originally from the UK

who are prostituted,

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exploited and trafficked

around the country

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who are from the UK originally

is absolutely phenomenal.

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Hundreds and hundreds

and hundreds have gone

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through the service I used

to work for.

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Another MP gave some distressing

details of how a victim

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in her constituency had been

treated.

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She was brought to London

and taken to a woman's house,

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where she was told she would be

staying and looking

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after the woman s children.

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She asked the woman when she would

be going back to school.

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It was the first time

the woman slapped her.

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She also asked about her mother,

but she was told to speak

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only when she was spoken

to and that she was not allowed

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to make any friends.

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Her daily routine involved

getting up at 5am,

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getting the children ready

for school, taking them to school

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and collecting them,

and doing the shopping,

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cleaning and cooking.

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If she went out on an errand,

the woman who was holding her

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would spit on the floor

and tell her that she had to be back

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before the spit had dried

or she would be beaten.

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She ran everywhere as she was

frightened of being late.

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She was beaten on a daily basis,

she had her head flushed down

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the toilet, and she was often privy

to what we believe were drug deals.

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Labour's Vernon Coaker

initiated the debate.

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He used to be a Home

Office minister.

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I had much of the responsibility

for dealing with modern

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slavery for four years

between 2006 and 2017.

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When I challenge the Government,

it is a challenge to all of us.

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It is a challenge to what I did.

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It is a challenge to every one

of us, to every local authority

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and to every police force.

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We have to challenge

ourselves to do better.

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It is not acceptable that modern

slavery still exists.

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It is a blight on the

conscience of this nation.

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Although we have done a lot,

there is so much more to do.

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Those who are enslaved

deserve our support and our help.

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A Conservative former

victims' minister spoke

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of the scourge of modern slavery.

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It creates victims who are often

some of the most vulnerable members

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of society, separated

from their families

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and friends, with no access

to financial help or support.

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As I speak today, I am reminded

of a young man I met

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about three years ago,

when I was the Victims Minister.

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He dispelled many of the myths

surrounding human trafficking -

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he was a man, he was British,

and he was trafficked

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for forced labour.

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He bravely shared with me his story

of absolute misery and how

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he was dehumanised and degraded.

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The meeting drove home

to me just how important

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it is for the Government,

local authorities and all our

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partners to work more

effectively together.

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The minister set out

measures to support victims.

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In many cases, the existing 14-day

move-on support period does not give

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enough time for support to be

provided properly, so we will extend

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the period to 45 days,

thereby guaranteeing that confirmed

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victims will receive a minimum of 90

days of Government-funded support.

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Further, we will extend by a week

the period of support for those

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who are not confirmed as victims,

making it nine days.

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For all confirmed victims

who have left the NRM,

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we will run weekly drop-in centres

in partnership with the Salvation

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Army, so that victims can continue

to receive ongoing

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support and advice.

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Sarah Newton.

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The programme of restoration planned

for Parliament may be delayed

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for another year to 18 months.

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It was in 2016 that a report

was published setting

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out the options for the renewal

of the building's

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crumbling infrastructure.

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They included MPs and peers

decamping while the multi-billion

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-pound restoration was carried out.

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But now there are proposals to set

up a new body to, in effect,

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review the possibilities.

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In the Commons MPs wanted to know

how long it would all take.

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The Leader of the House is now

appointing yet another Committee,

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delaying the repairs yet again,

despite warnings that delays

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increase the risk of serious

events such as fires.

0:17:100:17:12

Has the Commission made any estimate

of how much longer the deployment

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of a new body to consider costings

will delay the timeline of work?

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Both houses were due to debate

setting up the new bodies before the

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end of the year.

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The expectation is that once

the shadow sponsor board

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and the delivery authority have been

established, it might take them

0:17:360:17:39

something of the order of 12

to 18 months to consider

0:17:390:17:41

the options for decanting.

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That would therefore

add to the timescales.

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I welcome the fact that we are

going to have the debate

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by the end of this year.

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We really need that,

because meanwhile the fabric

0:17:480:17:50

of the building continues

to deteriorate and the very high

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maintenance costs that we incur

as a result also continue apace.

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Does my right honourable friend

agree that the public might be

0:17:580:18:01

somewhat puzzled at the thought

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of a further 12 to 18 month delay

while options that have already been

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assessed are discussed yet again?

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When works are urgent

for structural and safety reasons,

0:18:120:18:14

surely we should choose the option

that maximises the ability to carry

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out those works efficiently

while minimising the cost

0:18:170:18:19

to the public purse

without any further delay.

0:18:190:18:24

Tom Brake said since

the original report,

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the picture had changed slightly --

but he hoped MPs would take up

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the chance to tour Parliament's

basements to see how much work

0:18:290:18:32

needed to be done.

0:18:320:18:33

A Conservative wondered

if there might be a financial

0:18:330:18:35

motive for the delay.

0:18:350:18:37

I might be wrong, but I get

the impression that the Treasury

0:18:370:18:40

would much rather spend money over

a long period than over

0:18:400:18:43

a shorter period.

0:18:430:18:44

Does the right honourable

gentleman know whether the Treasury

0:18:440:18:46

would prefer to spend £5 billion

or £6 billion over five or six years

0:18:460:18:50

or much more over 20 to 30 years?

0:18:500:18:54

As the spokesman of the House

0:18:540:18:56

of Commons Commission,

I am somewhat loth to express

0:18:560:19:00

a Treasury view, the Treasury

is better equipped to do that

0:19:000:19:03

than I am.

0:19:030:19:08

However, for the risk profile

associated with doing

0:19:080:19:10

these works over, say,

a 30-year period as opposed

0:19:100:19:12

to a much shorter period of time,

the risk of some catastrophic

0:19:120:19:16

failure is clearly much higher

if the ?works take place over 30

0:19:160:19:21

years while we are in situ debating

in either Chamber and, indeed,

0:19:210:19:23

our staff are here working.

0:19:240:19:34

Does he agree consideration should

be given to turning this place into

0:19:380:19:42

a museum?

When this matter has been

looked at in the past by a

0:19:420:19:50

commission and the laws are

equivalent, there was no desire to

0:19:500:19:54

turn this place into a museum that a

desire to ensure this building could

0:19:540:20:00

continue to operate, both for staff

and members and visitors, and could

0:20:000:20:06

remain a significant world heritage

building.

0:20:060:20:17

Well, the subject came up again

later when an MP reminded the Leader

0:20:230:20:26

of the Commons what one

of her predecessors had said.

0:20:260:20:36

There was a Joint Committee s

report published

0:20:360:20:37

on 8th September 2016,

with the guarantee of a vote

0:20:370:20:40

by Christmas last year.

0:20:400:20:41

Now the Leader of the House

is saying that we will have a debate

0:20:410:20:44

by the end of this year,

but we will not make a decision

0:20:440:20:47

then, we are going to delay it

for another 18 months.

0:20:470:20:50

Honestly, this is

downright irresponsible.

0:20:500:20:51

Just let the House make a decision,

if you understand the concept.

0:20:510:20:54

We have to ensure value

for taxpayers money.

0:20:540:20:56

The Joint Committee made

a recommendation without being

0:20:560:20:58

in a position to pin down the entire

costs of its proposed option.

0:20:580:21:01

It is essential that that work

is done, and it will be done

0:21:010:21:04

as quickly as possible.

0:21:040:21:05

Could she write to me

to let me know how many

0:21:050:21:08

consultants there have been?

0:21:080:21:09

What are the costs of the people

who have been employed

0:21:090:21:11

while the Government have delayed

making a decision?

0:21:110:21:13

If we follow one of the options

set out in her letter

0:21:130:21:16

with regard to State Opening,

will she really be asking

0:21:160:21:19

our Gracious Sovereign

to attend a building site?

0:21:190:21:21

Will hard hats be

available for all of us?

0:21:210:21:23

Golden ones!

0:21:230:21:23

This is not a blank cheque.

0:21:230:21:25

We must get the best possible value

for taxpayers money in restoring

0:21:250:21:27

this Parliament for future

generations, and Members

0:21:270:21:29

right across this House

should support that.

0:21:290:21:31

Andrea Leadsom.

0:21:310:21:32

Earlier this month, the Commons

authorities approved plans

0:21:320:21:35

for a replacement Commons chamber

at Westminster, to be

0:21:350:21:37

used if there was a fire

or terrorist attack.

0:21:370:21:39

MPs could also move there

when restoration work finally began.

0:21:390:21:43

One MP wondered if it might also

present a good opportunity

0:21:430:21:45

to introduce electronic voting.

0:21:460:21:50

Before we spend astronomical sums

on refurbishing this place,

0:21:500:21:53

the Commission should at the very

least build in the capacity

0:21:530:21:55

for electronic voting in the future,

should the House at some point

0:21:550:21:59

decide to move itself into the 20th

century before the rest

0:21:590:22:02

of the world enters the 22nd?

0:22:020:22:06

Tom Brake is a member

of the committee that deals

0:22:060:22:08

with housekeeping matters.

0:22:080:22:09

There may well be an opportunity

provided shortly by a contingency

0:22:090:22:12

chamber, in which case it would have

course be open to the House

0:22:120:22:15

to decide to implement an electronic

voting system if it considered that

0:22:150:22:20

to be appropriate.

0:22:200:22:26

Mr Patrick Grady.

0:22:260:22:28

We do read reports about

a contingency chamber.

0:22:280:22:30

Have any assessments been made

of the differing costs of installing

0:22:300:22:35

voting lobbies, which I assume

would have to include

0:22:350:22:37

little toilets at the end,

in which Members could hide

0:22:370:22:40

if they accidentally

made their way into the wrong

0:22:400:22:46

lobby, versus simply installing

an electronic voting system?

0:22:460:22:47

Would the latter not be a more

sensible use of public funds?

0:22:470:22:51

I suspect that we have not yet

reached the stage of deciding

0:22:510:22:53

whether the provision of toilets

will be needed for a contingency

0:22:530:22:57

chamber, or, indeed,

establishing whether any financial

0:22:570:22:58

assessment has been made

of the installation

0:22:580:23:01

of electronic voting.

0:23:010:23:03

According to figures produced

in past debates, however,

0:23:030:23:09

it appears that the cost might be

up to £500,000.

0:23:090:23:16

Hannah Barbell.

0:23:160:23:18

In the Scottish Parliament,

where there is a seat for every

0:23:180:23:20

Member and voting takes two seconds

rather than 20 minutes,

0:23:200:23:24

electronic voting is very effective.

0:23:240:23:34

Is he aware that in this Chamber

0:23:340:23:36

there were more than 500 votes

between 2012 and 2014,

0:23:360:23:38

which took up more than seven days?

0:23:380:23:40

Given what is coming down

the line with Brexit,

0:23:400:23:42

does he not think that this

is a perfect time to install

0:23:420:23:45

electronic voting in

the House of Commons?

0:23:450:23:47

I am aware that electronic

voting takes place in

0:23:470:23:49

the Scottish Parliament,

and my personal view

0:23:490:23:51

is that it is a more effective way

of dealing with votes.

0:23:510:23:56

Members who have not been

here as long as I have may ?not

0:23:560:23:59

remember that back in 1997

there was an attempt

0:23:590:24:01

to reform a number of ways

in which the House operated.

0:24:010:24:04

I supported it, but it was

blocked by the House.

0:24:040:24:10

But is it not the case

that there are advantages

0:24:100:24:15

in going into the lobby?

0:24:150:24:18

One can meet colleague

and do things?

0:24:180:24:24

If we listen to

the SNP all together,

0:24:240:24:26

why do we not go the whole hog?

0:24:260:24:28

Why do we not just sit at home,

watch proceedings on the Parliament

0:24:280:24:31

channel, and vote on our iPhones?

0:24:310:24:35

As a Minister in the previous

coalition Government

0:24:350:24:42

and now as a Back Bencher,

the right honourable

0:24:420:24:45

gentleman will appreciate that one

of the advantages for Back Benchers

0:24:450:24:47

of voting in person is that

Ministers have no escape

0:24:470:24:50

from Back Benchers who want

to collar them to raise local

0:24:500:24:52

and national issues.

0:24:520:24:58

I am sure Ministers love meeting

the honourable gentleman

0:24:580:25:00

in the Division Lobby,

and that they have good

0:25:000:25:02

conversations although they are

probably usually one-way.

0:25:020:25:04

I have nothing to add

to what Mr Speaker has said.

0:25:040:25:07

Yes!

0:25:070:25:08

The Speaker John Bercow.

0:25:080:25:09

And finally, there's quite a strict

code as to what honourable members

0:25:090:25:12

can and can't say in the Commons.

0:25:120:25:13

One Labour MP let his passion

get the better of him

0:25:130:25:16

during the question

about the vote on Brexit.

0:25:160:25:18

The nest of vipers behind him and in

the Cabinet make him a fudger.

0:25:180:25:21

Stop fudging and be honest

with the British people!

0:25:210:25:24

Was a "nest of vipers"

unparliamentary language?

0:25:240:25:26

The Speaker thought not,

but that didn't stop MPs hissing

0:25:260:25:29

in the manner of reptiles.

0:25:290:25:31

Which apparently isn't

unparliamentary at all.

0:25:310:25:35

That's it for now, but do

join me on Friday night

0:25:350:25:39

at 11pm, for our round up

of the week at Westminster.

0:25:390:25:41

But for now from me,

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:410:25:50

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