Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 26 October, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to our look back
at Thursday in Parliament.
Labour calls on the Brexit Secretary
to promise Parliament a vote
on the final EU deal.
And passions run high.
Stop fighting and be honest with the
And the Commons hears
of the horrors of modern slavery.
It is a blight on the conscience of
this nation and whilst we have done
a lot there is much more to do.
The row about whether Parliament
will get to vote on a deal to leave
the EU before the UK's departure has
entered a second day.
You may remember that on Wednesday
the Brexit Secretary suggested
MPs may not get a vote
until after the UK has left.
But later there was a clarification
saying ministers "expected
and intended" that there would be
a vote before.
Labour put down an urgent question
asking David Davis to explain
what exactly the position was.
His opposite number,
Sir Keir Starmer, gave his
version of events.
What a mess. One thing one day
another thing the next. Yesterday
the secretary of state was asked
could the vote in our parliament be
after March 2019? The answer, yes,
it could be. Later the Prime
Minister had a go at collecting him,
then his own spokesperson had to
clarify his remarks. Today he said
the vote will be before the deal is
concluded. That is not good enough
and it would be wholly unacceptable
time was fun for the European
Parliament to vote on the deal but
time was not found for this house.
Does the state might expect us to
sit here watching the European
Parliament proceedings whilst we are
told we do not have time? We need a
cast iron guarantees that will not
happen. The Secretary of State has
repeatedly asked them to accept his
word. Given the events of the last
24 hours and will he now accept the
amendments that are down to the
withdrawal bill that the article 15
meaningful vote should be put into
law sought we all know where we
The issue I raised yesterday
because I always planned to be as
forthright and open as I can with
the select committee is to go
through what happened in the past in
treaty negotiation with the EU.
There is an expectation by the
commission, there is an incentive on
the part of the various countries to
get this done as quickly as possible
and there is expectation and
intention by ourselves. None of the
undertakings given at this dispatch
box have been undermined. The issue
is one of practicality in what the
control. What we control we will run
in order to give Parliament a proper
and meaningful vote.
One amendment to the EU
Withdrawal Bill being
proposed is from the former
Attorney General Dominic Grieve
to ensure the final deal is approved
by Parliamentary statute.
There is a way for the Government to
put this beyond doubt that is to the
amendment seven to the withdrawal
bill. Reports have reached members
on the side of the Secretary of
State does not think those
Conservative members who signed the
amendment are serious about
supporting it. Can I tell him we are
deadly serious and it would be
better for the Government to adopt a
concession strategy on having a
withdrawal agreement secured icecaps
-- statutes sooner rather than
I will not pre-empt the discussion
in the build up those reports are
Does the state might not agree after
the shambles of the past 24 hours
when he had to be rebutted by his
own spokesperson, the only way to
guarantee Parliament a meaningful
say and meaningful input into these
most vital of the negotiations, is
to amend the EU withdrawal bill
I do not agree with him on that. His
description of the event is also
wrong. There is one thing to give a
binding undertaking, the other thing
is to say these are the problems and
difficulties we face to get there,
which is what I did yesterday. I
treated the committee was absolute
respect and outlining what had
happened previously, not what we
inspect or in time, but what had
happened previously and risk we have
to take on board. We intend to meet
all our undertakings and I do not
take it very well he suggested we do
One Conservative MP believed a vote
on Brexit had already taken place.
It was a meaningful vote in June
2016 and the 78% turnout, 61% of
voters in Kettering voted to leave.
In Kettering people are honest and
straightforward and plain speaking.
Can the Secretary of State reassure
them we are leaving the EU in March
The answer to my honourable friend
is yes and my task is to respect
that vote because it is the biggest
mandate given to more than
Government and deliver the best deal
possible, which means a deal, not no
Now, many of the morning papers
carried a story suggesting the NHS
in Essex may discharge people
from hospital into
rooms rented locally.
The service would be
based on Airbnb -
the popular website which helps
people rent out their spare rooms
on a temporary basis.
In the Lords, peers were keen to get
to the bottom of the story.
Is it true the Government have given
the go-ahead that vulnerable
patients who are not fit to be
their home will actually be
discharged to third parties?
Vulnerable patients will
be allocated to homes
where the hosts have no medical
expertise and for which they will
get paid £1000 a month.
Will the Government not listen...?
This is my final question.
Will the Government not listen
to the medical opinion
and drop this preposterous scheme?
That is, I should stress,
a local pilot that is
I don't think it is even underway.
It has been proposed by a local
doctor, an emergency registrar,
and for it to go ahead it is clearly
the case any such pilot
would have to abide by the very
strict rules that exist in terms of
quality and so on for any care
The head of Age UK said that any new
innovation - and we want
to encourage innovation -
needs to pass the
mum or grandma test.
And I think that is a very
reasonable test to apply to
something like this.
The case raised by my noble
friend relating to Essex
really goes to the heart of the
issue of the problem of discharging
patients from NHS
hospitals and the lack
of support either in
community from social care
or in the reduction in places
and nursing homes that has taken
place in the
last four years.
My Lords, are the noble lords
as surprised as I am that, despite
this, up and down the country,
the NHS, in sustainability and
transformation programmes, are
actually putting forward proposals
to cut out community hospitals
and community hospital beds?
My Lords, will ministers
issue an instruction
to the NHS that this simply will not
actually be allowed to happen?
On the issue on social care,
we have discussed the issue
of nursing home beds.
We also know there has been
an increase in the amount of
domiciliary care being provided
so that reflects the changing needs
of people who have care needs.
There was also publication yesterday
showing social care spending has
risen by 500 million in 2016-17,
which I'm sure is something that
is warmly welcomed across the house.
In terms of community beds,
the noble lords should know
that in addition to
the usual four tests
year Simon Stephens,
the head of NHS England said
there was now a fifth test,
the bed test, there must be
absolutely very strong
and robust evidence
any proposed reduction
'beds is because of the reduction in
demand and not the other way round.
The exchanges came during a
discussion about the possible when
the crisis in the NHS.
One was concerned about flu. The
only way to increase staffing levels
in anticipation of the flu epidemic
is the flu agency staff which will
cost a huge of money. Surely a
better thing to do would be to
ensure all health staff are
vaccinated so they are at least
healthy when the epidemic hits us,
if it does?
My noble friend talks with great
authority on this issue and he is
quite right, the NHS is offering all
front line health staff free
vaccinations and the NHS England has
confirmed it will be paying for care
workers in social care settings to
also get free vaccinations. For the
first time we are now inoculating
between two and eight-year-old in
school who are sometimes known as
super spreader is to ensure that
such an epidemic happens we will be
as we're prepared -- well-prepared
Thursday in Parliament
with me, Mandy Baker.
Don't forget you can follow BBC
Parliament on Twitter and catch
previous editions of this
programme on the bbc iPlayer.
At questions to the Environment
Secretary there was good news
against the ivory trade.
We are consulting on proposals to
introduce a total ban on UK ivory
sales that we hope will contribute
to eliminating elephant poaching. We
will consult on certain narrowly
defined and carefully targeted
I, along with students and residents
across my constituency,
welcome the Government s commitment
to a near total ban
on ivory sales in the UK.
How will the Government work
with our friends abroad,
especially in south-east Asia,
to ensure that together
we bring an end to poaching
by illegal armed gangs?
I thank my honourable friend,
as I know that she has been
campaigning with young people
across Wealden to ensure
that there is heightened awareness
of the direct link between the ivory
trade and illegal poaching.
We are hosting the illegal wildlife
trade conference next year,
and we will ensure that we work
with countries, particularly in east
and south-east Asia,
to close down this evil trade.
It was also Mr Gove's first chance
to talk about the proposals
he announced last month to increase
the maximum penalty for animal
cruelty from six months
in prison to five years.
The news was welcomed
on the SNP benches.
I welcome this proposal,
having secured a debate on this
issue in Westminster Hall
in the last Parliament.
This issue is extremely important,
particularly in relation to dog
fighting, which is an appalling act
of animal cruelty.
During last year s debate,
it was said that the policing
of such crimes and the funding
for that need to be increased.
What is the Minister planning
to do in that regard?
The honourable lady
makes a very good point.
Of course, sentencing
decisions and, indeed,
policing matters are devolved,
but one thing we do
at DEFRA is to work closely
with the Home Office to ensure that
examples of animal cruelty that need
to focus the minds of police forces
on more effective investigation
are at the heart of
our shared conversations.
our shared conversations.
The Environment Secretary.
MPs have called on ministers to do
more to ensure people
traffickers face prosecution.
The demand came during a debate
on tackling modern slavery.
Before becoming an MP,
Jess Phillips ran a service
which provided safe houses
for victims of modern slavery.
The vast majority of women now
living in the safe accommodation
through the national
referral mechanism are there
because they have been
trafficked into this country
for sexual slavery.
It is not sex work -
these people were slaves.
I worked with women
who were forced to have sex
with over 50 men in a day.
The idea, in a modern system of sex
work, that we have an honest John
who is saying, do you mind if I ask
you where you come from?
Are you here out of choice?
is a total fallacy and something
successive Governments have
failed to tackle.
We really, really need
to be tackling it now,
because the number of women
from different countries
and originally from the UK
who are prostituted,
exploited and trafficked
around the country
who are from the UK originally
is absolutely phenomenal.
Hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds have gone
through the service I used
to work for.
Another MP gave some distressing
details of how a victim
in her constituency had been
She was brought to London
and taken to a woman's house,
where she was told she would be
staying and looking
after the woman s children.
She asked the woman when she would
be going back to school.
It was the first time
the woman slapped her.
She also asked about her mother,
but she was told to speak
only when she was spoken
to and that she was not allowed
to make any friends.
Her daily routine involved
getting up at 5am,
getting the children ready
for school, taking them to school
and collecting them,
and doing the shopping,
cleaning and cooking.
If she went out on an errand,
the woman who was holding her
would spit on the floor
and tell her that she had to be back
before the spit had dried
or she would be beaten.
She ran everywhere as she was
frightened of being late.
She was beaten on a daily basis,
she had her head flushed down
the toilet, and she was often privy
to what we believe were drug deals.
Labour's Vernon Coaker
initiated the debate.
He used to be a Home
I had much of the responsibility
for dealing with modern
slavery for four years
between 2006 and 2017.
When I challenge the Government,
it is a challenge to all of us.
It is a challenge to what I did.
It is a challenge to every one
of us, to every local authority
and to every police force.
We have to challenge
ourselves to do better.
It is not acceptable that modern
slavery still exists.
It is a blight on the
conscience of this nation.
Although we have done a lot,
there is so much more to do.
Those who are enslaved
deserve our support and our help.
A Conservative former
victims' minister spoke
of the scourge of modern slavery.
It creates victims who are often
some of the most vulnerable members
of society, separated
from their families
and friends, with no access
to financial help or support.
As I speak today, I am reminded
of a young man I met
about three years ago,
when I was the Victims Minister.
He dispelled many of the myths
surrounding human trafficking -
he was a man, he was British,
and he was trafficked
for forced labour.
He bravely shared with me his story
of absolute misery and how
he was dehumanised and degraded.
The meeting drove home
to me just how important
it is for the Government,
local authorities and all our
partners to work more
The minister set out
measures to support victims.
In many cases, the existing 14-day
move-on support period does not give
enough time for support to be
provided properly, so we will extend
the period to 45 days,
thereby guaranteeing that confirmed
victims will receive a minimum of 90
days of Government-funded support.
Further, we will extend by a week
the period of support for those
who are not confirmed as victims,
making it nine days.
For all confirmed victims
who have left the NRM,
we will run weekly drop-in centres
in partnership with the Salvation
Army, so that victims can continue
to receive ongoing
support and advice.
The programme of restoration planned
for Parliament may be delayed
for another year to 18 months.
It was in 2016 that a report
was published setting
out the options for the renewal
of the building's
They included MPs and peers
decamping while the multi-billion
-pound restoration was carried out.
But now there are proposals to set
up a new body to, in effect,
review the possibilities.
In the Commons MPs wanted to know
how long it would all take.
The Leader of the House is now
appointing yet another Committee,
delaying the repairs yet again,
despite warnings that delays
increase the risk of serious
events such as fires.
Has the Commission made any estimate
of how much longer the deployment
of a new body to consider costings
will delay the timeline of work?
Both houses were due to debate
setting up the new bodies before the
end of the year.
The expectation is that once
the shadow sponsor board
and the delivery authority have been
established, it might take them
something of the order of 12
to 18 months to consider
the options for decanting.
That would therefore
add to the timescales.
I welcome the fact that we are
going to have the debate
by the end of this year.
We really need that,
because meanwhile the fabric
of the building continues
to deteriorate and the very high
maintenance costs that we incur
as a result also continue apace.
Does my right honourable friend
agree that the public might be
somewhat puzzled at the thought
of a further 12 to 18 month delay
while options that have already been
assessed are discussed yet again?
When works are urgent
for structural and safety reasons,
surely we should choose the option
that maximises the ability to carry
out those works efficiently
while minimising the cost
to the public purse
without any further delay.
Tom Brake said since
the original report,
the picture had changed slightly --
but he hoped MPs would take up
the chance to tour Parliament's
basements to see how much work
needed to be done.
A Conservative wondered
if there might be a financial
motive for the delay.
I might be wrong, but I get
the impression that the Treasury
would much rather spend money over
a long period than over
a shorter period.
Does the right honourable
gentleman know whether the Treasury
would prefer to spend £5 billion
or £6 billion over five or six years
or much more over 20 to 30 years?
As the spokesman of the House
of Commons Commission,
I am somewhat loth to express
a Treasury view, the Treasury
is better equipped to do that
than I am.
However, for the risk profile
associated with doing
these works over, say,
a 30-year period as opposed
to a much shorter period of time,
the risk of some catastrophic
failure is clearly much higher
if the ?works take place over 30
years while we are in situ debating
in either Chamber and, indeed,
our staff are here working.
Does he agree consideration should
be given to turning this place into
When this matter has been
looked at in the past by a
commission and the laws are
equivalent, there was no desire to
turn this place into a museum that a
desire to ensure this building could
continue to operate, both for staff
and members and visitors, and could
remain a significant world heritage
Well, the subject came up again
later when an MP reminded the Leader
of the Commons what one
of her predecessors had said.
There was a Joint Committee s
on 8th September 2016,
with the guarantee of a vote
by Christmas last year.
Now the Leader of the House
is saying that we will have a debate
by the end of this year,
but we will not make a decision
then, we are going to delay it
for another 18 months.
Honestly, this is
Just let the House make a decision,
if you understand the concept.
We have to ensure value
for taxpayers money.
The Joint Committee made
a recommendation without being
in a position to pin down the entire
costs of its proposed option.
It is essential that that work
is done, and it will be done
as quickly as possible.
Could she write to me
to let me know how many
consultants there have been?
What are the costs of the people
who have been employed
while the Government have delayed
making a decision?
If we follow one of the options
set out in her letter
with regard to State Opening,
will she really be asking
our Gracious Sovereign
to attend a building site?
Will hard hats be
available for all of us?
This is not a blank cheque.
We must get the best possible value
for taxpayers money in restoring
this Parliament for future
generations, and Members
right across this House
should support that.
Earlier this month, the Commons
authorities approved plans
for a replacement Commons chamber
at Westminster, to be
used if there was a fire
or terrorist attack.
MPs could also move there
when restoration work finally began.
One MP wondered if it might also
present a good opportunity
to introduce electronic voting.
Before we spend astronomical sums
on refurbishing this place,
the Commission should at the very
least build in the capacity
for electronic voting in the future,
should the House at some point
decide to move itself into the 20th
century before the rest
of the world enters the 22nd?
Tom Brake is a member
of the committee that deals
with housekeeping matters.
There may well be an opportunity
provided shortly by a contingency
chamber, in which case it would have
course be open to the House
to decide to implement an electronic
voting system if it considered that
to be appropriate.
Mr Patrick Grady.
We do read reports about
a contingency chamber.
Have any assessments been made
of the differing costs of installing
voting lobbies, which I assume
would have to include
little toilets at the end,
in which Members could hide
if they accidentally
made their way into the wrong
lobby, versus simply installing
an electronic voting system?
Would the latter not be a more
sensible use of public funds?
I suspect that we have not yet
reached the stage of deciding
whether the provision of toilets
will be needed for a contingency
chamber, or, indeed,
establishing whether any financial
assessment has been made
of the installation
of electronic voting.
According to figures produced
in past debates, however,
it appears that the cost might be
up to £500,000.
In the Scottish Parliament,
where there is a seat for every
Member and voting takes two seconds
rather than 20 minutes,
electronic voting is very effective.
Is he aware that in this Chamber
there were more than 500 votes
between 2012 and 2014,
which took up more than seven days?
Given what is coming down
the line with Brexit,
does he not think that this
is a perfect time to install
electronic voting in
the House of Commons?
I am aware that electronic
voting takes place in
the Scottish Parliament,
and my personal view
is that it is a more effective way
of dealing with votes.
Members who have not been
here as long as I have may ?not
remember that back in 1997
there was an attempt
to reform a number of ways
in which the House operated.
I supported it, but it was
blocked by the House.
But is it not the case
that there are advantages
in going into the lobby?
One can meet colleague
and do things?
If we listen to
the SNP all together,
why do we not go the whole hog?
Why do we not just sit at home,
watch proceedings on the Parliament
channel, and vote on our iPhones?
As a Minister in the previous
and now as a Back Bencher,
the right honourable
gentleman will appreciate that one
of the advantages for Back Benchers
of voting in person is that
Ministers have no escape
from Back Benchers who want
to collar them to raise local
and national issues.
I am sure Ministers love meeting
the honourable gentleman
in the Division Lobby,
and that they have good
conversations although they are
probably usually one-way.
I have nothing to add
to what Mr Speaker has said.
The Speaker John Bercow.
And finally, there's quite a strict
code as to what honourable members
can and can't say in the Commons.
One Labour MP let his passion
get the better of him
during the question
about the vote on Brexit.
The nest of vipers behind him and in
the Cabinet make him a fudger.
Stop fudging and be honest
with the British people!
Was a "nest of vipers"
The Speaker thought not,
but that didn't stop MPs hissing
in the manner of reptiles.
Which apparently isn't
unparliamentary at all.
That's it for now, but do
join me on Friday night
at 11pm, for our round up
of the week at Westminster.
But for now from me,
Mandy Baker, goodbye.