30/11/2017 Thursday in Parliament


30/11/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 30 November presented by Mandy Baker.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to

Thursday In Parliament.

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Coming up: There's

universal condemnation

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of the President Trump tweets.

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President Donald Trump

was wrong to retweet videos

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posted by far-right

group Britain First.

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Some called for the President's

state visit to be cancelled.

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No matter what diplomatic route

we find it to do it,

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we cannot simply roll out a red

carpet and give a platform

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for the President of

the United States to also sow

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discord in our communities.

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And a little bit of history is made.

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This debate is being interpreted

into sign language, which I believe

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is a Parliamentary first.

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So we may be making history in this

debate, which is great.

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But first, the row over

Donald Trump's retweeting of

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anti-Muslim videos has raised

passions across Parliament.

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The Home Secretary was called

to the Commons to answer an urgent

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question about the matter.

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Condemnation of the President came

from all sides of the House.

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This is the President

of the United States

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sharing with millions,

inflammatory and devisive content,

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deliberately posted to sow

hatred and division by,

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as the Home Secretary says,

a convicted criminal

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who is facing further charges,

who represents a vile,

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fascist organisation,

seeking to spread hatred

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and violence in person and online.

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By sharing it, he is either

a racist, incompetent or unthinking

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or all three.

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President Donald Trump was wrong

to retweet videos posted by

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far-right group Britain First.

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When we look at the wider picture,

the relationship between the UK

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and America, I know how valuable

the friendship is

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between our two nations.

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And as Home Secretary,

I can tell the House

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that the importance

of the relationship

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between our countries,

the unparalleled sharing

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of intelligence between our

countries, is vital.

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It has undoubtedly

saved British lives.

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That is the bigger picture

here, and I would urge

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people to remmember that.

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Whilst, on this side

of the House, we appreciate

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the importance of realpolitik,

we would also call on the Government

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to make clear that,

in no way and at no time,

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does it give any support whatsoever

to the distasteful views of the

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45th President on race

and migration and Muslim

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communities internationally.

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Because to do anything

else would be an affront

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to voters in this country,

whichever side they support.

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And one of the advantages of having

such a special relationship

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with the United States is,

when a friend tells you you've

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done something wrong,

you tend to listen.

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And wouldn't the world be a better

place if the Prime Minister

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could persuade the President

of the United States

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to delete his Twitter account?

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Several MPs felt strongly

the President's state visit

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should not go ahead.

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Isn't one of the key

dangers in a state visit is

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that we have absolutely no idea

what the President will say or tweet

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next and before he visits?

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So what does he have to say or tweet

before the idea of a state visit

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is ditched once and for all?

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Mr Speaker, an invitation

for the visit has been

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extended and accepted,

but the dates and precise

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arrangements have yet to be agreed.

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No matter what diplomatic

route we find to do it,

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we cannot simply roll out a red

carpet and give a platform

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for the President of

the United States to also sow

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discord in our communities.

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We know that he and they will keep

doing this and keep spreading

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extremism, and we also know,

from the plaque behind us

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and from our own history,

where the spread of extremism leads

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unless enough of us

are prepared to stand up

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now and say no.

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Putting aside the question

of a state visit, should he even be

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allowed to enter our country,

because unprecedented actions

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require unprecedented responses.

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I would just point out

to the honourable lady,

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the Prime Minister has robustly

replied to the President

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and made her views absolutely clear.

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In terms of what the honourable lady

is also proposing, I would say,

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we do not routinely comment

on individual exclusion cases.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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Is the Home Secretary satisfied that

President Trump's behaviour,

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which is not an isolated incident,

does not undermine the important

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security and cooperation

relationship we have United States?

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And can I just say,

just because somebody

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stops using Twitter,

does not mean they

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cease to be a twit.

does not mean they

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My honourable friend put his finger

on the matter, if I may say,

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in the first half of this comments,

which is how important that

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close relationship is.

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And however strongly

honourable members may feel

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about the President himself,

we must protect that

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particular relationship.

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Around a month ago, the most popular

man in the world was a last-day

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employee of Twitter who unplugged

the account of the President

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of the United States.

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Was he not right?

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And if Twitter is genuine

in its commitment to fight hate

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crime online, it should have no

hesitant in taking down the Twitter

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account of the First Citizen

of the US, as it would with any

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other citizen in the world

which peddles such hate crime?

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The Prime Minister,

when she was Home Secretary,

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said homophobes and racists

and those who stir up hatred

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in this country will not be allowed

in this country, and if they come

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to this country,

they will be arrested.

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That's what should happen in this

case, and the Home Secretary

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knows it, just say it!

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Mr Speaker, I would say

to the honourable gentleman,

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there is no pretence here.

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We're absolutely clear

in the actions we will take against

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people who propagate hate.

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And he should not underestimate

the Prime Minister's views on this

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and the Prime Minister's absolute

clarity on criticising the President

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and showing that to the public

in her comment to him.

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The Home Secretary.

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Now, MPs have accused the Government

of sending mixed messages

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on the environment after Ministers

scrapped a planned rise

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in fuel duty last week.

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Appearing before a committee

of MPs who have been

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investigating air quality,

Ministers defended the announcement

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in the Budget that a tax rise

wouldn't go ahead.

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Are we sending a mixed message?

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No, I don't think we are.

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Because we've allocated since 2010

£3.5 billion on air quality

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and cleaner transport initiatives.

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As against 46 billion

on a fuel duty freeze?

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Well, if that's the Labour policy

to increase fuel duty,

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we're very keen that it

would represent a greater

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value for taxpayers...

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I'm not making the point

for a political point, I'm asking

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you about the Government's policies

in relation to mixed messages?

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I don't think it is a mixed message.

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We have allocated a significant

amount of money to promote air

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quality and the move

to electric vehicles,

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but we're doing this at the same

time as recognising the challenges

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that households and businesses

are with inflation,

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and are working therefore to keep

the two things together.

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The Minister was also challenged

over whether the Treasury had

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analysed how well pollution-reducing

measures were working.

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You're the Treasury Minister

and you don't know if there

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is a cost-benefit analysis

within the Government on seeking

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measures to tackle air

pollution on public health?

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You're suggesting we would only

want to take action on the basis

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of cost-benefit,

that's not the case.

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We recognise the public health

challenge, that's why

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we're working on it.

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The department is revising

its figures, we are seeing

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a downward projection

in the medical statistics

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of an avoidable deaths, but

nevertheless, we are very keen

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to work on air quality, as we know

poor airquality effects...

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The question was to the Treasury

Minister, thank you.

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Later, the Communities Minister

was as what his department does

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with councils that break

air quality rules?

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Where we have concerns

about a particular council,

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we ask the LGA to quite often

look into those concerns

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and assist our department in terms

of making sure that some

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of the functions of local Government

are being carried through properly.

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You have a file, Minister?

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Because you want to file your teeth

so that you can bite a bit more.

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I'm sorry, we are not

getting any clear answer

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here about what you're

doing about it?

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Well...

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Mr Chairman, I share this issue

in several directions.

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With my pals.

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I'll bring in Dr Coffey in a moment.

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But I would say, Mr Parish,

that we have a clear line

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of communication in terms

of improving local

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authorities through the LGA.

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That is not just as a general

programme, that's also where we've

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got specific issues.

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The committee then

turned its attention

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to the emissions rigging scandal.

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Just going back to Germany,

I understand their car industry has

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contributed about 250 million euros

to help with the clean air

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agenda within Germany.

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It just seems that in America,

there's a huge legal payment,

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the German car industry has come up

with 250 million euros to help,

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and we're not in the fortunate

position of having either

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of those two things?

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Believe me, I have been having these

thoughts myself on many occasions.

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The situation in the UK

is that we have a very different

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kind of car industry,

and very different levels

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of exposure to diesel.

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In Germany, they have a relatively

compact car industry,

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very large, but very compact

and focused on diesel.

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And that has created a congruity

of incentives with them.

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Why is it that Germany, when they've

got their massive car industry,

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held to account by their massive car

industry, can still get money out

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of them and we just sit

there wringing our hands saying,

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we don't know what sort of laws

we've got that we can make it stick?

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Why can't you find something

to make it stick?

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What a splendid intervention

from the chair in the corner,

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thank you very much.

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You're asking exactly the same

question, of course...

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I know, but you haven't

answered it, have you?

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You're just not doing

anything about it.

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Au contraire, I've answered it

precisely and to the question asked.

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The situation is very much

not wringing our hands,

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we are doing what we can

within the proper obedience

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to the rule of law and a degree

of deference to the German

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prosecuting authorities.

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Jesse Norman.

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You're watching Thursday

in Parliament with me, Mandy Baker.

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At the last election,

the Conservatives promised to get

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one million more disabled people

into work over the next ten years.

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Now they've unveiled

a plan to do it.

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But Opposition MPs said Ministers

had abandoned more ambition targets,

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and disabled people were bearing

the brunt of Government cuts.

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Our labour market is

in its strongest position for years,

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with the employment rate in the UK

at a near historic high of 75%,

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and around 600,000 more disabled

people in work than four years ago.

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Despite this, only around half

of disabled people are in work,

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but many disabled people and people

with health conditions

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can and want to work.

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This means too many people

are missing the opportunity

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to develop their talents and connect

with the world of work,

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and the range of positive impacts

that come with doing so.

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Including good health and social

outcomes, which is why

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it's important that we act now.

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He said advances in technology

offered new opportunities.

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The change needed is not one that

Government can deliver on its own.

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Across the country,

there are striking examples

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of what can be achieved

when employers, charities

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and health care professionals

work together locally.

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But Government can help create

the conditions for success.

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But Labour said the Government had

watered down its ambitions.

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We should not be surprised

by this disappointment,

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as throughout the Government's seven

wasted years of a sturdy,

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time and time again,

it is disabled people who have borne

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the brunt of their cuts.

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The Work and Health Programme is no

different in this regard,

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with only 130 million a year set

aside for its funding.

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A fraction of the billions

spent on its predecessor,

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the Work Programme.

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The announcement today offers very

little in the way of commitment.

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It is sadly an attempt to kick

the issue back into the long grass,

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with vague statements on pilots,

a commitment from Government

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to carry on doing what

it's currently doing.

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And some minuscule sums

of investment in training.

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This does not go nearly far enough,

Madame Deputy Speaker.

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The SNP are extremely disappointed

in the statement and the command

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paper produced today.

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We believe that the UK Government

as a priority needs to reverse

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the cuts it has made to these

benefits and need to scrap

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the freeze on benefits as well,

because they are harming people.

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Mencap have released

a statement that says,

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we're alarmed that the needs

of hundreds of thousands of people

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with mild or -moderate learning

disabilities has been overlooked.

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It is the case that the Government

seems to have abandoned its pledge

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to have the disability employment

gap, and this gap is even worse

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for those people who've got

learning disabilities.

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Some MPs thought the Government

should get to the grips with

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the work capability assessments.

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Are we in danger of setting a very

dangerous precedent,

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where constituents are in possession

of a sick note from a health

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professional, whether that be

a consultant, doctor or perhaps

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a psychiatrist, and that is then

overridden by the work assessors

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who therefore declare

that the person is fit for work?

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I had a constituent visit me

just two weeks ago,

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she is clearly disabled,

it is clear for all to see.

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She was asked how she does her

shopping, and she said she doesn't

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online every couple of weeks.

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Was told she was therefore fit

to work in an office

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for 37 hours a week.

0:14:450:14:46

I think one point I would make

in terms of assessments

0:14:460:14:49

and whether we're looking at ESA

or PIP, that the percentage of those

0:14:490:14:52

of those assessments

which are overturned

0:14:520:14:54

is running at about 4%.

0:14:540:14:57

I would rather it was lower,

but let's put it in context that

0:14:570:15:01

only 4% of assessments

are overturned.

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Wendy Morton.

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Today's command paper,

Madam Deputy Speaker,

0:15:070:15:08

is a huge step forward

and should be welcomed.

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When it comes to attitudes, though,

does my right honourable friend

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agree that we need to tackle

a culture, in some quarters,

0:15:130:15:16

which fails to really harness

the potential of disabled people

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in the workplace?

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David Gauke agreed, saying

there should be a culture shift.

0:15:190:15:21

Now, the Transport Secretary has

faced further questions over claims

0:15:210:15:24

that the Treasury will miss out

on billions of pounds

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following a change to the franchise

for the East Coast Mainline.

0:15:270:15:32

In a statement on Wednesday,

Chris Grayling told MPs that,

0:15:320:15:35

from 2020, a new East Coast

partnership would be responsible

0:15:350:15:37

for both trains and tracks

on the route from London

0:15:370:15:44

to the north-east of

England and Scotland.

0:15:440:15:46

The existing operator,

Virgin Trains East Coast,

0:15:460:15:47

is a partnership between Stagecoach

and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin.

0:15:470:15:51

It had agreed to pay the Government

just over £3 billion to run

0:15:510:15:54

the service until 2023.

0:15:540:15:58

We learned yesterday

that the East Coast rail franchise

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will be terminated in 2020,

three years early, potentially

0:16:000:16:04

forfeiting billions of pounds

in premiums due to the Treasury,

0:16:040:16:09

yet the Secretary of State told

the House that Stagecoach will meet

0:16:090:16:19

in full the commitments it made

to the Government as

0:16:190:16:21

part of this contract.

0:16:210:16:22

So, can he confirm that the full

£3.3 billion due from

0:16:220:16:25

Stagecoach-Virgin will be paid

to the Treasury in accordance with

0:16:250:16:27

the terms of the original contract?

0:16:270:16:35

Mr Speaker, every time a franchisee

takes up a new contract it makes

0:16:350:16:38

a parent company commitment

to the Government.

0:16:380:16:40

That commitment will

be kept in full.

0:16:400:16:43

Andy McDonald.

0:16:430:16:44

So, can we get to the heart of this?

0:16:440:16:47

Will the premiums due

under that contract...

0:16:470:16:52

Under that contract covering

the years 2022-2023 of some

0:16:520:16:54

£2 billion be paid?

0:16:540:16:59

Will they be paid, yes or no?

0:16:590:17:03

Well, Mr Speaker, self-evidently,

given my announcement yesterday

0:17:030:17:06

that we would have the East Coast

partnership in place

0:17:060:17:08

in 2020, there will be

new arrangements in place in 2020.

0:17:080:17:11

But what I have said to him,

Mr Speaker, what I have said to him

0:17:110:17:15

is that every franchisee makes

a parent company commitment before

0:17:150:17:18

taking out the contract

and we will hold that that

0:17:180:17:20

commitment be met in full.

0:17:200:17:23

Since 2010, rail fares have risen

by 27%, twice the rate of wages,

0:17:230:17:27

with the steepest fare hikes in five

years due in January,

0:17:270:17:32

while passenger numbers

are now in decline.

0:17:320:17:35

With more and more of my

constituents being priced out

0:17:350:17:37

of rail travel altogether,

when will this Government accept

0:17:370:17:40

that the whole system of rail

franchising and private profiteering

0:17:400:17:43

from our railways is

utterly, utterly broken.

0:17:430:17:49

Well, I'm afraid members opposite

really shouldn't try and draw

0:17:490:17:51

conclusions from one quarter's

statistics to try and underpin

0:17:510:17:54

their own ideological agenda.

0:17:540:17:57

The simple fact is that we are

seeing far more passengers

0:17:570:18:00

using our network than ever before.

0:18:000:18:04

I believe that the privatised

railways have been a success

0:18:040:18:06

and the alternative that he proposes

ensures that passengers are always

0:18:060:18:09

at the back of the queue in every

decision undertaken by any ghastly

0:18:090:18:12

future Labour government.

0:18:120:18:16

A Liberal Democrat MP raised

an entirely different form

0:18:160:18:18

of transport and an entirely

different problem.

0:18:180:18:21

In July, a three-year-old boy

experienced a life-threatening

0:18:210:18:24

allergic reaction on a plane

when fellow passengers

0:18:240:18:27

started eating nuts

that they had been served.

0:18:270:18:30

Thankfully, he survived,

but I know from personal experience

0:18:300:18:32

how terrifying it is to go

into anaphylactic shock and the last

0:18:320:18:36

place you would want that to happen

is 30,000 feet in the air

0:18:360:18:40

when you are hours from

formal medical attention.

0:18:400:18:43

Will the Secretary of State agree

to meet with me and a group

0:18:430:18:46

of campaigners to explore solutions

that would enable the 2%

0:18:460:18:48

of the population who have a nut

allergy to fly with confidence?

0:18:480:18:53

Mr Speaker, I absolutely understand

why this is such a serious issue

0:18:530:18:56

and I would be delighted to extend

an invitation to her to come

0:18:560:18:59

into the Department to meet

ministers and officials to talk

0:18:590:19:02

about what is clearly

a very important matter.

0:19:020:19:04

The Transport Secretary.

0:19:040:19:06

There was a Parliamentary

first in Westminster Hall

0:19:060:19:08

on Thursday afternoon.

0:19:080:19:10

The chair of the All-party Group

on Deafness and Hearing Loss

0:19:100:19:13

reckoned a bit of history

was being made.

0:19:130:19:16

Our debate is being interpreted

into sign language, which I believe

0:19:160:19:19

is a Parliamentary first,

so we may be making history in this

0:19:190:19:23

debate, which is great for all of us

who are here to participate

0:19:230:19:27

in this event.

0:19:270:19:30

Jim Fitzpatrick said he wanted

to focus on three issues -

0:19:300:19:40

the implementation of

the National Plan on Hearing Loss,

0:19:440:19:46

access to work, and the legal

recognition of British sign

0:19:460:19:48

language.

0:19:480:19:49

Legal recognition, he said,

would have benefits for deaf

0:19:490:19:51

people and wider society.

0:19:510:19:52

Deaf children are 42% less

likely to achieve five

0:19:520:19:55

or more GCSEs at grade C

or above than their hearing peers.

0:19:550:19:58

There is no reason that a deaf

child should do any worse

0:19:580:20:00

than a hearing child.

0:20:000:20:02

In health, 70% of deaf people

who haven't been to a GP

0:20:020:20:06

recently wanted to go,

but didn't, mainly because there

0:20:060:20:09

was no interpreter.

0:20:090:20:11

A Lib Dem said he had

been deaf for 50 years.

0:20:110:20:13

He believes 70% of profoundly deaf

people were unemployed.

0:20:130:20:19

That is ridiculous.

0:20:190:20:20

That is just ridiculous.

0:20:200:20:22

How can you possibly

take out whatever it is,

0:20:220:20:25

100,000 people if not more,

of adult working age

0:20:250:20:27

and have the barriers as such

that 70% is unemployed.

0:20:270:20:29

It's a bloomin' outrage.

0:20:290:20:33

A Conservative told how her

mother had gone deaf

0:20:330:20:35

overnight following a virus.

0:20:350:20:38

She hadn't been ill, she's never had

any hearing problems,

0:20:380:20:41

but she went from being a hearing

person one day to the next

0:20:410:20:44

day having nothing.

0:20:440:20:48

My father took my mum

to the hospital and, at that time,

0:20:480:20:51

we had a really good ear,

nose and throat

0:20:510:20:53

hospital in Maidstone.

0:20:530:20:56

It was about a week later,

so about a week after

0:20:560:20:58

she had lost her hearing,

that she was taken there.

0:20:580:21:02

It was confirmed that

she had no hearing.

0:21:020:21:05

They put her on steroids,

they told her it was due to a virus

0:21:050:21:08

and that the hairs in her ears had

died and that it was probably very

0:21:080:21:12

unlikely she would ever

get her hearing back.

0:21:120:21:15

This was absolutely devastating

for my mother and for all of us -

0:21:150:21:18

my sister, myself and my dad.

0:21:190:21:23

It changed her life

and our life fundamentally.

0:21:230:21:28

We couldn't communicate with her.

0:21:280:21:30

Everything had to be written down.

0:21:300:21:32

My mum couldn't sign,

my mum couldn't lip-read,

0:21:320:21:35

so she was flung into isolation

and into, to be honest with you,

0:21:350:21:40

a state of depression.

0:21:410:21:43

It was a really, really tough time

with two teenage girls at that

0:21:430:21:47

particular time who were very much

into their singing,

0:21:470:21:50

and all of a sudden my mum had

to admit that she would never be

0:21:500:21:54

able to hear her

daughters sing again.

0:21:540:21:57

Deafness is the

invisible disability.

0:21:570:22:01

My mum didn't look like

she had a disability.

0:22:010:22:04

Her voice sounded like it always

did, as she had been a hearing

0:22:040:22:07

person for 40 years,

but I saw and experienced first-hand

0:22:070:22:09

the major barriers that people

who are deaf have to experience.

0:22:090:22:17

While a Labour MP told MPs

she was the eldest child

0:22:170:22:20

of two deaf parents.

0:22:200:22:22

I have to tell you that

I was tempted to sign my whole

0:22:220:22:26

speech and I was going to do that

and have the interpreters voice-over

0:22:260:22:31

my comments for my colleagues,

to give everybody a feel for how

0:22:310:22:34

it is not to be able

to communicate directly,

0:22:340:22:38

not for a minute, not

for a sentence, but for five

0:22:380:22:45

minutes or however long it

takes me to finish this.

0:22:450:22:49

Not to be able to communicate

directly to the person

0:22:490:22:51

you are talking to is really,

really strange and difficult

0:22:510:22:55

and deaf people feel that,

experience that every single minute

0:22:550:22:59

of their lives.

0:22:590:23:01

The Public Health Minister turned

to calls for British sign language

0:23:010:23:04

to be legally recognised.

0:23:040:23:07

It is not entirely clear to me

which department would lead on legal

0:23:070:23:10

recognition of British sign

language, which is kind

0:23:100:23:12

of the problem that so many people

have referred to today.

0:23:120:23:16

Personally, I am sympathetic

to the calls for strengthening

0:23:160:23:18

the role of British sign language

and we certainly want to see as many

0:23:180:23:24

people trained and providing

support as possible.

0:23:240:23:26

The message that I can only bring

today is that, at this time,

0:23:260:23:29

Her Majesty's government is not yet,

anyway, convinced that the way to

0:23:290:23:32

achieve this is through legislation.

0:23:320:23:35

Now, we have protections

of the legal rights of people

0:23:350:23:37

who are deaf in the Equality Act,

of course, and in the duties

0:23:370:23:40

of the NHS and the mandate that I'm

responsible for giving to NHS

0:23:400:23:43

England and, of course,

publicly-funded social care

0:23:430:23:45

organisations to conform

to what we call the Accessible

0:23:450:23:47

Information Standard.

0:23:470:23:50

I'm very happy to take

this point away.

0:23:500:23:52

It's come across really clearly

from so many members

0:23:520:23:54

during the debate today

and all I would say

0:23:540:23:58

is that the Private Members Ballot

is a wonderful thing.

0:23:580:24:02

The Public Health Minister

with a hint that keeping up

0:24:020:24:04

the pressure for the legal

recognition of British sign

0:24:040:24:06

language might bear fruit.

0:24:060:24:09

Finally, it wasn't just

MPs who were up in arms

0:24:090:24:12

about Donald Trump and his tweets.

0:24:120:24:13

In the Lords, peers

were equally exercised.

0:24:130:24:18

I assume that President Trump only

tweets messages he has thought

0:24:180:24:22

carefully about and agrees

with because, if so,

0:24:220:24:26

he has endorsed a Nazi group

with a vicious record of attacks,

0:24:260:24:31

racism, Islamophobia

and anti-Semitism.

0:24:310:24:36

Surely there can be no question

of a state visit until at least

0:24:360:24:39

he has expressed some

remorse about this.

0:24:390:24:43

I would gently suggest

to the president of our greatest

0:24:430:24:48

ally, that if he would make

the White House

0:24:480:24:52

a tweet-and-Twitter-free zone,

he would make an immeasurable

0:24:520:24:56

contribution to the

peace of the world.

0:24:560:24:59

Hear hear.

0:24:590:25:02

Well, I do actually recall the words

of the former Prime Minister

0:25:020:25:05

about too many tweets and I shan't

repeat what he said, but, yes,

0:25:050:25:08

we must all be careful

about what we tweet and the effect

0:25:080:25:11

that it can have on

the wider community.

0:25:110:25:16

So, yes, we should tweet

with care, my Lords.

0:25:160:25:21

And Lady Williams brings us

to the end of the programme.

0:25:210:25:24

I'll be back at the same time

tomorrow with The Week

0:25:240:25:26

In Parliament, when I'll be talking

to an MP who hopes to

0:25:260:25:30

break the boundaries -

of constituencies, that is.

0:25:300:25:32

Until then, from me,

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:320:25:38

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