Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Thursday 22 February, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to the programme.
The government loses a third court
case over air pollution.
This is a national health emergency.
Many people dying by
More grilling for Carillion,
this time it's those responsible
for pensions and auditing.
Nobody understands, both staggering
out onto the streets. What he comes
out as a surprise. They're all paid
to go after this.
And one MP tells
of her cancer tragedy.
Maybe they can join together across
the house and make this vision a
reality. And by 2050, no one need
die of breast cancer.
But first, ministers have been
accused of overseeing
a public health emergency
after the High Court
ruled its current plan to tackle air
pollution was unlawful.
On Wednesday campaigners won a third
victory over the Government.
The judge in the case said
the current approach in 45 local
authority areas wasn't sufficient.
He said steps must be taken
to comply with the law
as soon as possible.
The environment minister was asked
an urgent question on the matter.
While I welcome that the government
can be held, and in Parliament, the
judgement may be too focused on
compliance when what we need is a
much more detailed, wide-ranging,
and practical air-quality plan.
Clean air should be a right, not a
privilege. And we need to hear much
more from government now, and to
speed up the whole operation of
cleaning our air.
We are investing
billions of pounds, the uptake of
vehicles and specifically in regards
to the quality plan, we set aside
Some on the Labour benches
demanded urgent action.
this is a national health emergency,
millions of people could probably
die by recent estimates, by 2040,
this is not good enough. She must
Here we find ourselves once
again, sending them to the dispatch
box, to we know that air pollution
is responsible for many deaths, each
year with cardiovascular diseases
within Richard deaths.
Premature. Air pollution in the UK,
resulting in over 20 million and
economic costs of a year. The UK
exceeding legal limits of tuition,
the ambient air quality directive.
It poses a serious question, is
whether this conservative government
can be trusted with our environment
and dealing with illegal air
pollution after the UK he leaves the
EU, if that is what we are
Frankly, we are a
direct result of what has happened
with the EU spelled an additional
testing regime. The actions of
certain irresponsible car back to
-- irresponsible car manufacturers,
they're also breaching the
air-quality limits. And let us not
forget, as I tried to take, I am fed
up with the opposition simply not
accepting their part of the
responsibility. Lastly, become it to
incentivize business, between 2000
2010, 15% of the vehicle sold. I am
not saying that the previous
ministers do not do things in good
faith, but as you found out, labour
and ignored advice at diesel fumes
Clean-air is an
advantage, we do not want to fall
behind, let's make sure that England
is in the forefront, socially just,
and globally competitive on this
If they lose their role in
monitoring and forcing decent air
pollution standards, back in
November, the Secretary told the
committee that he would consult a
new body. Very early in the new
year. When we see that consultation,
will nobody be in place before
Brexit date? And will it have higher
environmental standards? Or full
regulatory alignment with the EU,
which is what the Prime Minister has
promised her colleagues?
Levi put in
place, the targets for 2020, for key
pollutants. Parliament, this
government is already enacted
legislation, and I am pleased that
the endorsement approach. I'm saying
to the consultation will be
forthcoming soon. I am conscious
that people are, in the meantime, we
are not relying on the EU to help
with our air quality.
A few weeks ago it was
the executives of the collapsed
construction firm Carillion
who faced a joint committee of MPs
to explain themselves.
On Thursday it was the turn of the
pensions regulator and the auditors.
CARILLION PIX Carillion provided
services for schools,
hospitals and prisons.
It went into liquidation
at the beginning of the year,
leaving suppliers unpaid.
And a hole in the company's
pension scheme amounts
to nearly a billion pounds.
More than a thousand
people lost their jobs.
And there was widespread disruption
among sub-contractors and suppliers.
The Committee began by asking
the pensions regulator
what lessons had been learnt.
I am looking backwards with the
benefit of hindsight, to see what
happened what lessons we can learn
from it. We'll have to do it on the
situation as well. The fact is why
I'm saying to you, we clearly have
to be clearer, quicker, and tougher.
The regulators insisted
that their work with Carillion had
resulted in a 16 year recovery plan
being put together,
and more money being put
into the pension fund.
Negotiating a recovery plan that
balances the interests of the
members and also the ability of the
organisation to address its other
obligations, and to deal with its
priorities is a key part of this.
And it does result and difficult
If you cannot
answer the questions, how many are
in this position? How many other
schemes were coming before you, we
need all this extra years, for
paying dividends? How many in a
I cannot answer that
question. This is complicated,
numbers over a period of times that
change constantly. I'll be happy to
send the committee of note, but how
many schemes are present in that
Every week, you should
meet your and say, here is what is
still being paid huge dividends,
what action have you taken?
identified there but are very
I do not doubt that
the staff is committed. We expect
you to be freshly informed.
only apologise if you feel that I
have not gotten the information
available. But a lot of it is
complex. And I cannot hold it all in
The committee later heard
from the big firms who'd audited
There are a lot of people watching
this. It will be baffled to, two
major auditors, and the situation
arise as it is. And the company
we are not the financial
accountants, that is not my role as
an auditor. We are not financial
accountants, we're not pulling the
He explained their job was to look
across the business.
Reports he would look at would be as
broad as a driver, writing in
Alberta. It is
a guitar with a house the people. We
would look at a very broad range of
issues that Carillion based, and I
appreciate the conversations around
the complex, they're very important,
but that is just one aspect.
would not look at those, nobody
understands why this company went it
did. Was a surprise, there were all
paid to look after this! And none of
you... What single act did you do
that you think helps or might have
saved the company?
If I'm ideal to
come back to this...
action? Did you take? You think I'm
proud of that?
More of that had been
followed I am not proud of what the
company has ended up.
I am very
sorry for what has happened to the
families of those employees who have
lost their jobs. Of course, and you
can probably tell from my accent, I
see it on the news everyday, and I
know some of those employees. I am
not in this state of management, and
depended decisions on behalf of the
I think it is quite simple,
and to me it comes down to this. I
would not hire you, because when I
read it, I would not know what is
actually in my fridge or not. And
that is the point of auditing, isn't
it? To tell us what is here and what
72.9%, if I want to do an
audit of my fridge, I'm going to
tell you my receipts in the
supermarket. And that is not, yet to
open and see what is in the fridge.
But Peter Meehan insisted
that was what they had done.
You're watching Thursday
in Parliament with me, Mandy Baker.
As 11 senior cabinet
ministers were arriving
at the Prime Minister's country
to thrash out the Government's
approach to the UK's future
relationship with the EU,
the Brexit minister was in the less
of Committee Room eight
for a grilling by the European
The Government has already promised
to pay a divorce bill of up
to 39 billion pounds.
On Wednesday, ministers published
proposals concerning a transition
period after the UK leaves the EU,
but they failed to say exactly how
long that period would be.
If the transition lasts beyond 2020,
this could require payments to be
made beyond then. Therefore, from
January 2021, they would then be
paid into the EU's new long-term a
budget. The net result of this is
that the additional costs could run
into billions of pounds and the
estimate is between four billion and
Clearly, we are in a
negotiation. You set out in the UK
Government views in a period around
it to back years is the right period
to make sure the right arrangements
could be put into place. As you
know, commission currently is a
period of 21 months leading up to
There was no sense on
either side of any unlimited
duration for this implementation
period. Indeed, the EU's on
documents, I think in the Council
conclusions of the European town so
and the negotiating directors very
clear that these be specific, time
what we understood, but it does
begin to luck, according to some of
the noises off, that there is a
suggestion that this could be as
long as a piece of string and that
we go on. You say, strictly...
You're shaking your head. I'm glad
to see you are seeking your head,
but what I'm concerned about is that
we get mixed messages.
I don't think
the public think there's much
momentum. There seems to be an awful
lot of dragging feet and
implementation periods being
discussed in great detail before he
actually got anything to implement
and I share my colleague's question
about why we are not actually
getting out there and think what we
want in which we are going to do and
let the EU make a decision whether
or not they want to work with us.
think we are getting out there. We
had a number of speeches in recent
weeks and there will be more to
come. I recognise, obviously, we
want to get on with the prophesies.
-- with the process.
Concerns have been raised
by some Brexiteers
that the government's document
on the transition period cast doubt
on whether the UK would be able
to trade independently of the EU
during that time.
What we want to ensure is as per the
Texas today is that Teddy Mike
during the text yesterday... Brought
into force during the end of the
documentation period. With the
maximum benefit in the meantime, but
we have the maximum benefit from
having in independent trade policy.
The Committee also took issue
with the idea that the UK
would have to stick to EU laws
during the transition period
without having a say on them,
especially if new laws
were brought in.
The Minister claimed
that the UK would've already
considered most new laws.
The ambassador said Britain
wouldn't lose its voice.
We will continue to express our
views. Impact upon colleagues
thinking without being a formal
member of the EU. They bought want
to hear our views as we are big and
important. They and important
security player. -- big and
important security player. Our views
don't matter any more and that her
voice fall silent is what we don't
The UK's ambassador
to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow.
One of the 11 members
of the cabinet's Brexit
sub-committee is Liam Fox.
But his departure for
Chequers was delayed
by International Trade Questions
which took place first
thing in the Commons.
He told MPs the government intended
to keep the benefits of EU free
trade deals after Brexit.
But Labour wanted more details.
The Secretary of State has told us
he plans to replicate all of the
provisions of the trade agreement
the UK has as a member of the EU
with Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
These provisions include free
movement of people in the cases of
Norway and Switzerland, and a
customs union with Turkey. Can he
confirm, is it the Government's
policy to replicate all of these
In a deep transition
arrangements we had, we made it
clear that the key element
discontinuity. Until we create
bespoke arrangements with these
countries, then we will continue the
provisions that existed today.
Norwegians have a saying that,
nothing is in as much of a hurry as
a dead fish on the back of a lorry.
Like Norway,... Take a minute. Like
Norway, Scotland exports most of the
fish it catches to the European
Union. And that is why Norway has
chosen to be a member of the single
market. In particular, to avoid
nontariff barriers to beat fish can
cross borders quickly. What
assessment has he made of the impact
of leaving the single market on the
Scottish fishing industry?
thing to point out is of course, the
majority of Scotland's exports go to
the rest of the UK. Not to the EU.
Before the honourable Lady talks
about the value of a single market,
it is just worth pointing out that
despite our membership of the single
market, we have had a growing trade
deficit with the European Union. We
headed growing traits of a
submersible. We want to establish
conditions for all of the experts
from all parts of the United Kingdom
can access the rest of the world.
90% of global growth in the next few
years will be outside of Europe.
The Foreign Office minister has
called on the Assad regime in Syria
to end what he called the "hell
on earth" of Eastern Goota in Syria.
In recent days, renewed government
airstrikes have killed
and injured hundreds of people
in the rebel enclave.
The Syrian military says
it is trying to liberate
the area from terrorists,
but it has also been accused
of targeting civilians.
Lord Ahmad said the Government
was appalled at the siege
People are dying from starvation or
lack of medical treatment. The
United Kingdom government has
continued to press the regime and
its enablers to all international
forums to and this unbreakable
situation and we call on Russia to
agree a UN security council
resolution for humanitarian access
We are witnessing a
crisis unfold in front of us with
more than 300 people already killed
in the last few hours. A much larger
numbers of innocent civilians who
have been injured and the mentor.
Hospitals taken deliberately bide
targets. If the cease-fire is agreed
and implemented, what plans does the
Government have to help with the
evacuation of those who have been
injured in the provision of
humanitarian aid? If this cease fire
is not agreed or implemented, what
plans does the Government have to
put further pressure on the Assad
regime to stop this terrible
suffering that has been going on?
Lord Ahmad said UN agencies
were ready to evacuate people
if a ceasefire were to be agreed,
but if it were not.
Let me assure all noble lords we
will continue to press and not just
the Syrian regime, abolishes. Russia
has a role in this. Their backers of
the Assad regime. We will continue
to press Russia for an early
There is no doubt that
some of the opposition are not
Democratic opposition parties.
They're far from it. Some of them
worse than Daesh. They are really
bad, some of them. Does that
Minister not agree you have to be
very careful in making judgements?
There are no good guys and us. There
are victims, but there are no good
guys. Both sides are horrible and we
need to be very careful about making
judgements. We've got to try and get
a balanced answer to help the
A former Liberal Democrat leader
said Syrian civilians
were being subjected to war crimes.
Isn't it right now to remember that
based on the Nuremberg principle
that those who preside over the
commission of war crimes or are
complicit in their being used are as
guilty as those who actually commit
I think the noble lord is
right to raise the issue. History
resets us many lessons. Anyone who
has responsibility in bringing about
the end or cessation of the violence
in Syria or the Civil War should
make every effort to do so. I
totally agree. There are good guys,
it is the civilians of Syria and we
must bring peace for their sake.
Last year, a new legal requirement
was agreed to make companies
with more than 250 employees
publish data showing any
gender pay gap they have.
Employers were given 12 months
to get their ducks in a row,
but with only a matter of weeks
to go, it seems many firms
are dragging their heels.
The Minister for Women
and Equalities updated the Commons
on the progress that had been made.
So far, more than seven and half
thousand employers have registered
their intention... Others have
published their data. There are
still over a month until the public
and private sector deadlines and we
expect reporting activity to
increase significantly in the run-up
to the states.
I'll leave some have
-- only some companies have
published the data. How are we going
to make sure the Government...
been introduced by conservative
government. We will be contacting
private sector companies and public
sector organisations to make sure
they do report. This is an important
first step. Only a thousand so far,
more to go to be deadly. I would
urge the honourable gentleman not to
make the perfect again amending of
the good. -- not to make the perfect
the enemy of the good.
been some in breast to give
journalism that some businesses have
filed incorrect data. If this is
done deliberately, what will my
right honourable friend you? -- what
will my right honourable friend do?
Her right honourable friend said
she would be talking to the Equality
and Human Rights Commission,
which has the power to enforce rules
around the reporting.
But other MPs were concerned
One challenge that we face is
employers and sometimes deliberately
conflating fair pay with equal pay
to avoid scrutiny of their conduct.
A prime offender is the BBC. 70 MPs
over to the Secretary of State for
culture to ask him to use his power
to ensure in equal opportunity for
both men and women at the
corporation to be heard on this
subject. Given he has refused, we'll
see exercise her freedom of speech
and have a word?
When the Minister
has a word with the BBC, will it be
her contention that it is the men
that are overpaid or though women
that are underpaid?
to the BBC and the gender pay gap, I
have also been looking at the
diversity and backgrounds the senior
management at the Corporation and
fortunately, they won't tell you and
unfortunately, they won't play ball
ingredient first -- the information.
Will the Secretary of State have a
It looks like I'm going to
have a few things to take forward
with them. I look forward to coming
back and setting out to what those
conversations have revealed.
Amber Rudd in her role as Minister
for Women and Equalities.
And finally, there were moving
scenes in the Commons as MPs
discussed cancer strategy.
As in all walks of life,
many politicians have
been affected by cancer.
And one of them was
Labour's Karen Lee.
By Lindsay was diagnosed with triple
negative breast Cancer in April 20
ten. She died 13 months later. She
was very bright. She had a degree in
politics. She worked with
underprivileged children. She had a
husband and three small children.
They were two, four and seven. She
was treated at Nottingham City
Hospital. Should chemotherapy,
radiotherapy and a vasectomy. Her
treatment was amazing. They couldn't
have been better. -- and a
mastectomy. The unqualified team
that came in to support me and mock
her husband were amazing. I can
never thank him enough. My daughter
used to say to me because I used to
say to her, I had so much of my
life, more than you. I wish it could
be me. She used to say, mum, I wish
it could be no one. I think his
parliamentarians we have the power
to influence this and change it and
maybe we can join together across
this House and make breast cancer...
By 2050, nobody need a diet breast
-- Anita Addae of
And as the next speaker rose, MPs
rushed over to comfort Karen Lee,
sitting on the second row
of the Labour benches
on the right of the picture.
Something the health minister noted.
There's always one person that
leaves not a dry eye in the House
and that today was the honourable
leader from Lincoln. I knows she's
not in her place now and I don't
blame her, but I think the whole
House wanted to run over and give
her a hug and maybe -- many of the
Labour member State. Listen for
doing that. It's house in its own
individual way to give her
And that touching note brings us
to the ned of the programme.
So from me, Mandy Baker, goodbye.