Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 14 December, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to the programme.
Coming up in the next half hour:
The morning after the night before.
That was a humiliating and entirely
avoidable defeat for the government.
Also on the programme,
damning criticism of government
reforms which have left probation
officers monitoring 200 offenders
each, some only by phone.
And it's six months since
the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.
Can the noble Lord Taulbee has what
specific action the government are
taking to get these families into
accommodation in the new year?
It was on the seventh amendment
during the seventh day
at round about seven pm
that the Government suffered
a defeat on the Brexit Bill.
On Thursday morning,
along with their Coco Pops,
MPs were still digesting
what had happened.
And coincidentally it was
the Brexit Department who were down
to answer questions in the Commons.
The session began
with a bit of banter.
I can understand why the minister a
isn't quite right side this morning.
It is the extension I am afraid of
the single European cold which is
having a transition period of its
But then it was down to business.
Last night this has voted that
Parliament should have a meaningful
vote at the end of the process. That
was a humiliating and entirely
avoidable at the feet for the
government. This has not having
spoken, have assurance that the
government will not seek to
undermine or overturn last nights
results at the report stage.
first make an observation on last
night's outcome. The effect of it is
to make the powers available under
section nine, deferred until after
as we see it... We get oil assents
to the withdrawal agreement and a
limitation bill which means that it
will be a compressed timetable.
Those who want to see a smooth and
orderly exit from the European
Union, hopefully want to see a
working statute book. We will have
to think about how we respond to it.
But as always we take the House of
Commons views seriously.
that was not the basis upon which
the debate was conducted yesterday.
We will have to come back to that.
The next accident waiting to happen
is government amendment 381, which
seeks to put a fixed exit date on
the face of the bill. Rather than
repeated last nights debacle, will
be government now commits to
dropping that ill-conceived gimmick?
Unlike the right honourable
gentleman I do not of you both as
accidents. Their decisions taken by
the house and not decision, the
respected as will the next one.
Nobody on these benches who voted
against the government took any
pleasure not, nobody drank
champagne. We drink champagne, not
on these benches. These are serious
matters. It was avoidable if the
offer that have been made by my
right honourable and learned friend
from back in field had been taken
Essential to our ambition for a
excellent deal is preparation for no
deal. Isn't it?
perspective, I will say one thing
about no deal. No deal has become
massively less probable after the
decisions of last Friday. That is a
good thing because the best to deal
is a terrace of free and a nontariff
barrier free arrangement with the
European Union. However he is quite
right, we do continue to prepare for
all contingencies and will continue
to do so until we are certain that
we have a good free-trade deal with
the European Union.
Union is estimate is of a wider
seller of over 42,000 bottles, and
artwork worth more than £13 million.
Some might say metaphorically looted
from the capitals of Europe. After
we leave the party will be minister
promised to take back control of our
fair share of this are to an out
wind and not lead to Mr York to
First advisory referenda was
conducted in ignorance of the wine
cellars and almost every thing else
was a choice between operation fear
and operation lies. As an
appropriate that we listen to all
those independent bodies who have
looked at the press fax and decided
it that's Brexit, no Brexit would be
better than any Brexit. Isn't it
time to think about a second
The answer I give to him
is the same one that I did then. He
referendum debate that we had to
knock him out of the blue Comet came
after 30 years of debating in this
country. The government at the time
went to every country. We should
suck the decision of the British
Recent polls and I'll show
there is a clear majority in favour
of a referendum on the deal, and it
is it any wonder this government has
lost control? Yesterday Parliament
took back control, and now the book
want to take back control from the
Tory party any DUP. Can the Minister
please acclaimed my constituents how
a referendum on the deal, the
first-ever random on the facts,
would be anti-democratic?
tempted to point out the polling
results the Liberal Democrats
party... No opinion poll comes
anywhere near the votes of 17 and a
half million people which we will
respect. Following events in the
timber last night, somehow met
members of your main campaign took
to Twitter saying this is another
step towards a Barry of preventing
Brexit. With the Secretary of State
please confirm and reassure the 17.4
million people who voted to leave
that this government is absolutely
committed to delivering a positive
Brexit for this country?
are by saying I do not agree with
the people who tweeted that that was
the purpose of many of the people
who voted last night. I think they
did so in good faith. However, he is
right. The aim of this government is
to take a set of the European Union,
dissected by the European people and
that is what we will do.
Several MPs were concerned
about the rights of EU
nationals living in the UK.
Unfortunately the 3 million EU 27
citizens living here do not feel
that certainty because nothing is
agreed until editing is agreed. The
government not commit now to putting
an amendment on the face of any of
the forthcoming EU bills to give
The Secretary of
State claims that the phase
agreement gives security to EU
nationals, but this is constantly
undermined by the reference to a no
deal Brexit which would let up. Does
he not accept that there is a need
to give the legal standing to EU
citizens rights and now? Not put
them through another year of anxiety
is not the first thing I will say to
the honourable Lady is that the
government has made clear from the
beginning that it values the million
citizens who are here, the Prime
Minister has been to them all.
rather the ones we have records for.
As it is our clear intention, and it
will be legally binding within the
with drawl bill that they will have
the right to have laid out.
Staying with Brexit for a moment,
you may remember the seemingly
endless debate over the impact
assessments - these were studies
of 58 sectors of the economy and how
Brexit would affect them.
Except that they turned out not
to be impact assessments,
but sectoral analyses.
It's all coming back isn't it?
Well, one MP decided
to have a look at them.
I recently booked an appointment in
the reading room and I thought it
would be like an N/A circle of hell
that I'll be trapped in there for
days to read the sectoral analysis.
Others of the honourable Lady
opposite. In fact there are only
nine pages on health and social care
and the entire documents relevant to
my/ committee took less than one
hour to read.
Several MPs had complained
that the documents released
were incomplete and also that,
having promised to hand them over,
the Brexit Secretary then
said impact assessments
actually didn't exist.
They complained to the Speaker
that this amounted to
a contempt of Parliament.
John Bercow delivered his verdict.
Ministers could with advantage have
been a considerably clearer in their
statements. Particularly in the
challenging lines of questioning in
select committees, which are based
upon a genuine misconception.
The Speaker said he'd "carefully"
considered the accounts given
by ministers but he didn't
consider their conduct amounted
to a contempt of Parliament.
It's exactly six months
since the horrific fire
at the Grenfell Tower
block in London.
A memorial service has
been held in honour
of the seventy-one people who died.
Members of the royal family,
Theresa May, survivors and families
of the victims attended
the multi-faith service
at St Paul's Cathedral.
In the Lords, the Government
was asked about new housing
for those left homeless
and traumatised by the fire.
Six months is a very long time to be
living in hotel accommodation, and
in no way to spend Christmas of
honourable, unsettled and
traumatised. Can the noble Lords
tell the House what specific action
the government are taking to get
these families into accommodation in
the new year?
To bring me has up to
date, 151 homes were lost in the
fire. Some of those homes were
overcrowded, others have
multi-generational households who
now wish to divide. 210 households
that formerly lived in rental tower
need to be rehoused. Hundred and 44
households have accepted an offer of
either temporary or permanent
accommodation. 99 have moved income
of 54 are temporary and 45 are into
permanent housing. I are into
permanent housing. 111 RN emergency
accommodations boast up 66 have yet
to accept an option of temporary or
permanent. We ask what action is
being taken. The Royal Borough of
Kingston and Chelsea plan by
Christmas to have acquired the good
homes. They are acquiring to homes a
day. I quite agree that Christmas is
no time to spend in emergency,
nation, the government is acutely
aware of that. In the four hotels or
most of the families are, specific
arrangements are made for the
families have space of their own to
meet each other and entertain their
wider families that they want to. A
lot of services are being put on by
voluntary groups and faith groups of
because his period to help them
support those families. We very much
hope that by June of next year
everyone will have moved into
permanent accommodation. But
families need to move in their own
time. Some are in emergency
accommodation, not wanting to move
into temporary accommodation because
they might have to move twice. And
the world Borough of Kensington and
Chelsea is doing intensive work at
getting along side the families
finding out what accommodation they
need and where they need it and
sticking to match that with the 300
houses that they are acquiring.
Could I remind the Minister that the
government statement on the gun fell
a fire of the 19th of October it was
said they were expecting to be 300
suitable local, permanent properties
by Christmas. And yet only 45
households have actually moved in.
Could I ask the Minister whether he
has confidence in the local council
to deliver, or whether it may be
time for the government to intervene
The government has no
plans to the commissions into the
world Borough of Camden and Chelsea,
they have a new leader. They have
any chief executive. The government
is establishing a task force to make
sure the world Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea live up to the
expectation that everyone has of
what they plan to do. Some of those
in temporary accommodation want that
temporary accommodation to become a
permanent home. The world Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea is
approaching the relevant landlords
to see if I can take place. Some of
those an emergency accommodation
have already accepted permanent
accommodation, but it takes time to
complete and fit out to the house,
to put into the goods for the
families to move in. I'm conscious
that there is an and patients on
behalf of your lordships to make
progress. I am confident that the
Royal Borough of Kensington and
Chelsea are planning to spend nearly
a quarter of £1 billion acquiring
property and Hanau got the message
the formal lack of emotional
intelligence is behind us and
they're getting on with the job.
any of those who are claiming now
social housing, work any of those
tenants of Grenfell Tower who had
moved out and unlawfully left there
accommodation to more than one
family? I don't think we need have
too much sympathy for people who
behaved like that.
Lord Young said the assistance
from the council was for those
who were living at Grenfell
at the time of the fire.
He has lived through tragic
circumstances where people have lost
their life and he will know better
than anyone in this House the trauma
of those people have been through
and we ought to allow them the time
and space to allow -- to find
suitable accommodation to move into.
You're watching Thursday
in Parliament, with me, Mandy Baker.
Don't forget you can find all our
programmes on the BBC iPlayer.
Urgent action is needed to help
hundreds of thousands of children
facing "Dickensian" living
That plea came as peers
debated a report from
the Children's Commissioner
for England which said
millions of children
were leading vulnerable lives.
The Labour peer who opened
the debate described
the findings as "horrific".
A little girl of eight called Hannah
lives with her mother
and younger sister.
Their father, who has an alcohol
problem, has left the family,
but when he was drunk
he sometimes returned.
When he did, Hannah knew
that her responsibility
was to take her younger sister
upstairs to the bedroom
and hide under the bed.
However, that does nothing
to protect them from hearing
the beating their mother is getting
from their father downstairs.
When it's over, the little
girls see their mother's
face pouring blood.
This is not drama but
real life for Hannah.
The police are called
and eventually the mother
and children were told
that they had to move,
so they went to a homeless refuge.
That was not the end
of their nightmare.
In many respects,
it was just the start.
Councils, she said, were facing
a £2 billion shortfall in funding
for children's services by 2020.
This, my lords, is a Dickensian
situation in 2017 with which we must
come to terms and to which we must
respond in a more considered
and profound way than
we have done up to now.
It needs a high-level
response, the highest,
from the Prime Minister.
Only by Mrs May expressing her
determination that this scandal,
for that is what it is,
will now be solved that government
departments will work together,
pooling ideas and resources.
Is there any chance that
progress will be made?
There are around 700,000 hidden
young carers in the UK,
all of whom are children under
the age of 18.
One in 12 of these children
are caring for someone at home
for more than 15 hours a week,
delivering significant caring tasks
such as administering
bathing, domestic care
and emotional support.
Around one in plenty of these young
people miss school because of
their caring responsibilities.
However, these children are hidden
from view, caring in silence,
under the radar of social workers
and teachers, carrying a huge
burden of responsibility,
often without support.
At the beginning of her report,
the commissioner quotes AA Milne.
I feel it is only right to start
in a similar manner.
"Promise me you'll always remember,
you're braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think."
We must try to get vulnerable
children, in particular,
to think like this.
When something goes wrong
for a child, there should always be
someone there to help.
It is our duty to make sure that
children and families
have that support.
He said action was being taken
across government to reform care
and mental health services
and protect victims of abuse.
Where local authorities are not
delivering children's social care
services to the standard we expect,
we have shown that we
will take tough action.
We are appointing expert advisers
and challenging progress
to drive rapid improvement.
Where it is found that a local
authority does not have the capacity
to bring about the changes needed,
we will not hesitate
to remove service control.
Lady Dean had a warning
for the minister.
The Children's Commissioner's report
is going to become an annual one,
so we will be able to watch
and comment rather forensically
on just how well, or not,
we as a nation are doing,
through our Government,
for the children of England
who desperately need help
in so many areas.
Now, the Committee on Standards
in Public Life revealed this week
that a third of parliamentary
candidates at the election in June
had experienced inappropriate
or intimidating behaviour.
Candidates of all parties
were affected - though Conservatives
were twice as likely to be abused
as Labour ones.
And the aggressive behaviour
once a candidate's elected -
as the Conservative Sarah Wollaston
has found to her cost.
On one of the busiest
Saturdays in the run-up
to Christmas in Totnes,
local activists, including, sadly,
the local Labour Party,
decided to parade with a real coffin
and leave a large and carefully
constructed model of a coffin
at my constituency office.
Does the Leader of the House feel,
particularly in the light
of the report on intimidation
in public life that was published
yesterday, that the line
of decency was overstepped?
There are real dangers
in using the imagery of death
and directing it against individuals
to whip up hatred.
Most importantly of all,
this kind of thing deters really
good candidates from applying
for positions in public life.
I was disgusted, as I am sure
all right honourable members were,
to hear about my honourable
friend's awful experience.
I texted her at the time to say
that I hoped she was OK.
It must have been
It was truly horrible and we should
all condemn this kind of behaviour
and call it out wherever we see it.
Lord Bew's report on the abuse
and intimidation of candidates
highlights that this is not a simple
matter of holding
politicians to account.
It goes far beyond that and it
will be a deterrent to diversity
and the high calibre of candidates
we want to see
We all combine in condemning that
action against my honourable friend.
The Chief Inspector
of the Probation Service,
Dame Glenys Stacey, has delivered
a scathing verdict on the use
of private firms to manage offenders
who are considered
low to medium risk.
She said "deep-rooted
problems" meant that
Community Rehabilitation Companies -
or CRCs - were not transforming
rehabilitation in the way
ministers had hoped.
Several peers were especially
alarmed at the use of
supervision by telephone.
This well-researched report,
which I commend to the House
as of interest to us all,
presents a thoroughly dispiriting
account of just how great has
been the deterioration
and the effectiveness
of the Probation Service
in the past three years.
It is now clear that the so-called
innovative programme has resulted
in a disjointed and incoherent
the hard work of the staff.
I hope the Minister will agree
that the victims of crime,
the courts of this country and local
communities deserve better,
and I hope urgent action will now be
taken to recover what has been lost
in these recent changes.
My Lords, we recognise the concerns
identified by the inspectorate
and are working hard
to address these problems.
Many of the performance issues
with CRCs stem from the financial
challenges that providers
are facing, which has meant
that we have addressed
those contractual terms.
However, I observe that nearly
two-thirds of CRCs have reduced
the number of people reoffending.
One of the important issues
that the Chief Inspector raises
in her report is the fact that
low-risk people, who are
supposed to be supervised
by the Probation Service,
can become high-risk.
She gave the example
of someone convicted
of driving while disqualified,
who was receiving
telephone supervision -
one call every six weeks -
and who eventually assaulted
a previous partner.
Does the noble and learned Lord
accept that a phone call every six
weeks is no way to supervise people
who are supposed to be
under the supervision
of the Probation Service?
My Lords, supervision of offenders
needs to be proportionate
to the risk they present.
In some cases, remote contact may be
appropriate for lower-risk offenders
who are complying with their orders.
However, we recognise that best
practice is for probation officers
to work with offenders face to face.
Listening to the Minister,
he has been meticulous in not
thanking or supporting the inspector
for her report.
I invite him to do so.
During my 12 years in government
I came across Dame Glenys Stacey,
and she is one of the finest public
servants I had contact
with during my time as a Minister.
She deserves incredible
support and the thanks
of the House for the report,
and I should like to hear
it from the Minister.
My Lords, I am perfectly happy
to endorse the observations
made by the noble Lord.
Had I been asked about that point
earlier, I would have
responded in the same way.
Is the Minister really
saying that the Government
are satisfied with a telephone form
of probation, because I do not
believe anybody in this House is?
My Lords, we are not
satisfied with the telephone
form of probation but,
as I said, contact with offenders
has to be proportionate
to the risk they present.
My Lords, I assure the Minister that
when these proposals were put
through by the Coalition Government
they were ideologically driven,
and some of the flaws that have
emerged reveal the kind
of compromises that were created
in the Probation Service.
Before these reforms,
the Probation Service had
an excellent report.
We now have this disastrous report.
If the Minister is approaching this
ideologically, I put it to him
that there is now a strong case
for handing probation over wholly
to the National Probation Service.
My Lords, I am not approaching this
matter as an ideologue.
I am approaching it as a Minister
for the implementation
of the existing system of probation,
in which we continue to have faith.
Just before I go, misleading
the House of Commons is considered
a very serious offence
by the Parliamentary authorities,
so one MP was anxious to set
the record straight.
Point of order, Mr Speaker.
I fear that I inadvertently misled
the House during business questions,
when I suggested that honourable
and right honourable members
could enjoy the pantomime
of Dick Whittington at the Millfield
theatre this Christmas.
In fact, that was the last
pantomime that I saw there.
If honourable members wish to attend
the Millfield theatre this year,
it will be to enjoy Jack
and the Beanstalk.
Oh, no, it won't.
And that's it, but do
join me at the same time
tomorrow for our round-up
of the week at Westminster.
But for now, from me,
Mandy Baker, goodbye.