Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 23 November, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello, and welcome to our round up
of the day at Westminster.
Coming up in the next half hour.
The government sets out the changes
it's making to Universal Credit,
but Labour urges ministers
to go further.
This is a comprehensive package
which response to concerns raised
inside and outside the house.
measures are not enough. They must
be brought forward amended and added
The Chancellor's accused
of missing an opportunity
to tackle air pollution.
And the Shadow Chancellor says
Wednesday's budget shows
the government's a shambles.
But, first, the Work
and Pensions Secretary,
David Gauke has set out the details
of the changes the government's
making to its controversial welfare
payment, Universal Credit.
After weeks of pressure from MPs
across the house the Chancellor
announced in his autumn budget that
he'd be tweaking the system.
Universal Credit combines six
working age benefits into one
and is meant to make the system
simpler, whilst helping claimants
move more easily into work.
But critics said a six week wait
for payments is leading
to debt and rent arrears.
We are now offering a balanced
package of improvements which puts
more money into claimants hands
earlier ensuring support for those
who need it most.
So, housing benefit claimants
would be able to have the benefit
paid direct to the landlord
and larger advances could be claimed
and repaid more slowly.
This is a comprehensive package
which response to concerns raised
inside and outside the house. We
have a clear objective, to ensure
that has many people as possible get
the opportunity to work and to
maximise their potential to better
their circumstances. We will
continue to roll-out Universal
Credit in a steady and considered
manner and in doing so deliver a
welfare reform that will positively
We welcome any
steps to improve the programme, not
least these small reduction in
so-called Long hello or those on
lowest incomes waiting only five
weeks for sport to arrive compared
with the six under current design.
Before I addressed the detail of
today's announcement, let's step
back and look at the big action. The
government introduced Universal
Credit with three promises. To
reduce child poverty by 350,000, to
simplify the Social Security system,
and to ensure work always pays. As
the mounting evidence has shown, Mr
Speaker, Universal Credit isn't
living up to these ambitions.
She argued many of the waiting times
for payments were still too long.
These measures are not enough. They
must be brought forward, amended and
added to. We stand ready to work
with the government to make the
necessary changes. Failing that,
they should stand aside and let a
Labour government get on with the
Where to start? Let's start
first or forward this point about
people having to wait five weeks.
People do not have to wait five
weeks. They can get a payment within
five days. And this dismissal of an
interest-free advance as being
immaterial, I'm afraid it is just
I thank the
Secretary of State to listening to
colleagues across the house and this
very welcome packet of changes to
Universal Credit, and scrapping the
seven working days and the packaging
has introduced to improve the loans
that are available, the advances up
front and the changes to housing
May I congratulate him also
in applying the financial armlock
that he loaned to the Treasury to
his boss to such good.
Credit is supposed to be improving.
Will he respond to my concerns and
those of the Child Poverty Action
Group and others who claim the
government is knowingly putting 200
thousand children into poverty as a
result of the two child cap, and
having a disproportionate impact on
religious minorities as a result of
that cap and it is stigmatising
women putting them in danger?
course, we have transitional
protection. She represented Scottish
constituency and of the Scottish
government wants to provide support
for third, fourth and fifth
children, they can provide exactly
MPs have demanded answers
about a potentially massive data
breach by the taxi-hailing
The company concealed a hack
that affected 57 million
customers and drivers.
The incident happened in 2016,
but was not revealed and the firm
paid hackers $100,000,
around £75,000, to delete the data.
The minister told MPs the first he'd
known of the hack was on Tuesday
when he'd found out from the media.
The breach appear dated back over a
year and appears to have involved
Uber paying criminals money to try
to prevent further data loss. We are
told some UK citizens data is
affected. We are verifying the
extent and the amount of
information, and when we have made
the assessment we will publish the
details of the impact on the UK
citizens, and we plan to do this in
a matter of days.
He said the hack didn't seem
to have come from the UK.
At this stage, our initial
assessment is that for Uber
customers, the stolen information is
not the sort of information that
would allow direct financial crime
but we are working urgently to
verify this further and we rule
nothing out. Our advice to Uber
drivers and customers is to be
vigilant, to monitor accounts,
especially for fishing activities,
and, if you think you are a victim,
contact the actual fraud
The MP who'd put down the question
reckoned action should
be taken against Uber.
Uber apparently paid criminal
hackers $100,000 to delete the data
and keep it quiet. What assurances
do we have that the data of Uber
customers and drivers isn't in the
hands of hackers or criminals today?
UK authorities have acted swiftly
since the security breach came to
light. Will the government therefore
push for the toughest penalties to
punish Uber for this outrageous
dereliction of their ethical and
legal obligations to the public?
Isn't it time the government stopped
cosying up to this grubby and
unethical company and started
standing up for the public interest?
Replying the minister said
going through parliament would allow
for higher fines, and mean
that the authorities would have
to be told about data breaches
within 72 hours.
Delaying notification is not
acceptable, unless there is a very
good reason for it. As I said, it is
an aggravating factor in how the
information Commissioner looks into
this sort of case.
for London announced they would not
be renewing Buber's license and 22nd
of September, Uber e-mailed its
customers to ask them to protest
against this decision the very same
day. Does the Minister agree that if
any e-mail was sent them, it should
e-mail them now and begin that
communication with an apology?
People across the UK will be shocked
Uber failed to give this information
to anyone. Given the current
climate, covering up this breach and
paying hackers could actually
stimulate the growth of cyber crime.
Drew Hendry wanted to know
what would be done to hold Uber
to account, the minister
Matt Hancock said he
ruled nothing out.
You're watching Thursday in
Parliament, with me Alicia McCarthy.
Don't forget you can find
more editions of this
programme on the BBC iPlayer.
A leading clinical professor
specialising in air pollution has
condemned the Chancellor for not
targeting "white van
man" in the Budget.
Medical experts say air pollution
can be a contributory factor
in cases of heart attacks,
lung cancer, asthma,
pneumonia and stroke.
There's also concern that pollution
may affect the developing organs
of babies in the womb and contribute
towards conditions such
as diabetes and dementia.
Four committees joined forces
to take evidence on the issue.
Professor Stephen Holgate laid out
the scale of the problem.
We are affecting people will who are
at the extremes of life, we are
affecting people who are
disadvantaged with diseases that put
them at increased risk, and we are
affecting people who live in
disadvantaged communities to a
greater extent. So, there is an
equality issue in all of this and it
is preventable because we now have
such strong evidence that we
demonstrate not in this country is
yet but in other countries that if
you start reducing pollution, he
will improve the health of the
It was interesting the
figure you gave about the danger
inside a car. It seemed quite
counterintuitive that you breathe
then around ten times more.
If you are sitting in a
car than if you are cycling behind
or walking on the street. Explain
how that works.
This is research
shown in other parts of the world
now. What happens in all modern
cars, we have these ventilators
which draw in air and as your
vehicle stops right in front of an
exhaust pipe, you just venting the
fumes, the fresh, most toxic
pollutants coming right out of the
tower back straight into your car
into your child sitting in the
back-seat. It is the same with buses
and taxis, not ten times but two or
three times higher than walking on
So, the parent who
drives their child to school
thinking they are protecting them
with this nice, clean, enclosed
environment is actually poisoning
their child ten times worse than
they would if they walked or cycled
them to school?
One MP asked about
The Chancellor explicitly heralded
the fact that he's not going to
target white van man, white van
woman as if it was a good thing
It is a lost
opportunity, I'm afraid. Mr White
Van, I'm afraid. If you look at our
Graaf, it is the one area that is
increasing as people become... This
is a big issue.
Environmental lawyers, Client Earth,
took the government to Court
of over pollution levels.
If Brexit happens, how are we going
to enforce all this stuff?
hit on a very important point and
one that keeps me awake at night. At
the moment the understanding is that
the current standards under the air
quality directive and the
regulations will transfer across
through the withdrawal bill. But it
is a big but, we are very concerned
that the enforceability of standards
will decline post Brexit. There are
a few aspects to that. Number one is
we are unsure of the role of the
European commission in the future.
Alongside this case, they've also
been a very important factor in
Later MPs heard from the Mayor
of London, who called
for a new Clean Air Act.
It's about nitrogen oxide. Half of
the noxious air comes from
transport. The other half comes from
construction, it comes from the
river, it comes from builders.
in terms of if there was new
legislation of the type described,
what are you asking for it to do?
hope it would give mayors and
regions the powers and will
resources powers to tackle the other
half, in relation to emissions
standards, in relation to who is in
charge of it and how we can move
forward with the clean air that we
MPs spent most of the afternoon
on their second day
of debate on the budget.
It's the first opportunity
for the Shadow Chancellor
to have his say in the chamber.
John McDonnell reckoned
the Government was a shambles.
What this budget showed was just how
out of touch and cut off from the
real world and the economy and the
real lives of people the Chancellor
and this government really is. No
government in modern times has ever
presented a set of growth forecasts
where growth and every year is less
than 2%. Productivity growth is
forecast to have ground to a halt
this year and Bailey increase next
He said Labour would borrow
to invest and grow the economy.
I accept his point that he wants to
borrow to invest, borrow more to
invest. The problem is we are
already paying interest more than we
spend on defence and police just in
paying the interest so what I want
from him as I understand where he is
coming from but whatever spend it on
the interest will still accrue so
how will he deal with that?
under his government has gone up and
it is bit to pay for a failure. To
pay for a failure rather than to pay
for investment, because if you
borrow to invest you grow the
economy and on that basis you put
more people to work with more
skills, higher wages, they pay more
taxes and it pays for itself. That
is the lesson they still haven't
He attacked the budget's most eye
the end of stamp duty
for the majority of first time
buyers, he quoted the Office
for Budget Responsibility.
The main gainers from the policy are
people who already own property. The
problem is simple. Maybe perhaps it
needs explaining. You can't solve a
problem of housing supplied by
driving up housing demand.
He argued not enough money had been
given to England's NHS,
and attacked ministers
approach to Brexit.
This was he said a government no
longer fit for office.
Replying for the government was
the housing minister, Sajid Javid.
He defended the government's
record on home building.
Last year, 217,000 net additions to
the housing stock was the highest
such figure in almost a decade but
we are under no illusions that there
is much more to be done. Labour's
answer to the housing crisis and in
fact everything is simply to throw
more of someone else's money at the
problem and hope that it goes away.
The last time they tried it, we
ended up with a house-building at
its lowest level since the 1920s and
an economy that was on its knees.
He said the country Labour described
was not one he recognised.
We have one of the world's biggest
and most successful economies and we
speak the language of global
business and of the World Wide Web
that we invented. We are home to
more Nobel prizewinners bar one. Our
legal system is the most respected
in the world and we are unrivalled
in art and culture in the creative
industries. The NHS is the envy of
countless nations. We have given the
world everything from steam engines
that Shakespeare and even cricket.
We may not be the biggest, we may
not be that, but Britain is without
doubt the best country in the world
to work, to play and learn and live.
A country what an incredible history
and an amazing history still yet to
The SNP called for a new approach.
If the Chancellor was conveyed yet,
if you consulted on measures and
approach this year like stamp duty
and small tanks duty and then
contacts with the tension to review
the whole system we would see much
better policy decisions being made.
We need more coherence from
government and less drama from
chancellors. They should not be
trying to pull rabbits out of hats.
They should be trying to create a
system that works rather than a
system that will give them a big
The former Defence Secretary
made his first commons appearance
since his resignation
and focussed on trade.
Outside the single market, we are
going to live or die by what we can
sell to the world in goods and
services. We now need to hard-wire
exporting into every British
business, exporting should be a
condition of all our major
government support schemes, our
grants and loans.
Sir Michael Fallon.
The former head of the Nuclear
John Clarke, has taken "full
responsibility" for the handling
of a botched contract
to clean up 12 former
nuclear sites in the UK.
After a complex two-year bidding
process, the contract
for the "Magnox" sites was won
by Cavendish Fluor Partnership.
The task turned out to be
much bigger and more
expensive than anticipated.
We are here today to look at the
report on the botched Magnox
contract which had a value of £6.2
billion, one of the largest ever
contracts let by government and the
report shows a catalogue of failures
which played the contract from the
When you bid for a vessel
process, how far was known what the
state of the various sites were?
When you first started
investigating, did you are NDA know
what the state of these sites were?
The bid documentation was what we
had to rely on. At the time of the
bidding, that was the only
information we had available to us.
We had no other knowledge that he
could bring to bear.
you know now, wasn't it more or less
set up to feel? Not deliberately but
wasn't it almost impossible for you
at any body else to have actually
really succeeded in little process?
Had the bed documentation been an
accurate reflection of what was on
the sites then the style of contract
that was put in place would have
The companies that lost out to CFP
successfully sued the NDA over
the bidding process last year.
The High Court agreed
that the process had been flawed.
The mistakes cost the government
more than £122 million
in compensation and legal costs.
The NDA also terminated
the contract with CFP,
saying that a "material change"
to the required work rendered
the contract "illegal."
Hull is the relationship and do you
think they now have sufficient staff
with sufficient skills in place to
be able to manage this contract, the
whole decommissioning contract going
I think it is a very
professional relationship and we
have been through a pretty torrid
time together, on either side of the
contractual boundary. It is a solid
professional relationship. The new
team under the new chief executive
are looking to recruit and looking
to recruit the right areas.
Next, the committee heard
from the former boss at the NDA.
Who do you think was responsible for
the failure of this contract?
the chief executive of the NDA for
the duration of this contract and I
accept full responsibility for the
actions during that period. We set
out with the intent to do the best
job we could and we did work hard,
but it is clear that didn't go
according to plan.
It is a shared
responsibility and although John is
the accounting officer, the
principal accounting officer, I have
I have two
except it was our responsibility to
understand the state of the sites
and we believe their level of
understanding was somewhat better
than it was.
I accept your candour
on this but isn't it extraordinary
when you had lots of technical
people working for you that you
didn't at least have an idea, given
the scale of what was discovered
during the consolidation process,
that he didn't have some idea of the
difference between your
understanding at the time and what
actually proved to be the case?
factors. First of all we have a
small organisation with over 200
people, not an army. We are
deliberately set up to be a small
organisation and we rely on auditing
performance of contractors.
He said the NDA had been aware
of significant differences,
but not HOW big they were.
Finally, what next for Zimbabwe,
following the resignation
of its 93-year-old President Robert
He had been in power since 1980.
The Zimbabwean army stepped in last
week, saying people were angered
by the way the country was being run
and the possibility that Mr Mugabe's
wife Grace was being lined
up as his successor.
After the news that he had finally
quit, Zimbabweans took
to the streets to celebrate.
In the Lords, Peers wondered
what would happen now
and what the UK could do to support
My Lords, the resignation of Robert
Mugabe provides Zimbabwe with an
opportunity to form a new path, free
from oppression and misrule. The
only wafers and bubbly to achieve a
legitimate government is through
free and fair elections. As the
oldest friend we will do all we can
to support a legitimate government
to rebuild the country, working with
international and regional partners,
addressing economic, human rights
and constitutional issues including
free and fair elections.
in thanking my noble friend for the
answer, can now recognise that we
should not intrude on an independent
country but given that we have tens
of thousands of Zimbabweans resident
in the UK, would it not be possible
to bring together the expertise to
help Zimbabwe, particularly given
the IMF has identified the problems,
the dramatic problem is that the
country faces. Examples of which
include the issuance of $100
trillion notes, which were in
doesn't wish all intents to
interfere in the affairs of Zimbabwe
but there are approximately 113,000
Zimbabweans living in the UK. The
Foreign and Commonwealth Office has
a regular programme of positive
engagement with the Zimbabwean
diaspora and we will meet with
representatives diaspora tomorrow to
discuss issues including the need
for deep and lasting economic
monitoring will be key to the
holding of free and fair elections
in Zimbabwe. What support can the
government gives to the churches and
other civil society organisations in
the work they do on the grounds of
successfully in Africa because that
belongs to Africa, is rooted in
Africa and can be owned by the whole
community in Africa.
We are putting
together the potential package of
measures to support a credible
election process and encourage
economic recovery to be delivered
alongside international partners. I
emphasise in exchange for a
meaningful political and economic
And that's it from me for now,
but do join me on BBC Parliament
on Friday night at 11pm
for the highlights of
a busy Westminster week.
But for now, from me, goodbye.