20/12/2016 Tuesday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 20 December, presented by Kristiina Cooper.

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Hello and welcome to Tuesday in Parliament.


Senior MPs quiz Theresa May over whether Parliament will get


It is my intention that Parliament had every opportunity to consider


these matters and we must ensure we deliver on the vote of the British


people which was a vote to leave the European Union. Again was that a yes


or no? I gave the answer I gave. Rupert Murdoch's bid for full


control of the broadcaster Sky - the former Labour leader wants it


to be stopped. This bid shows that the Murdochs


have learned nothing and think they can get away with anything. If it


was wrong for them to own 100% of sky in 2012 it is wrong today.


I reached my breaking point and grabbed her mobile and threw it


across the aisle. But first, the lorry attack


in Berlin was on the minds of Mps as they met for the last sitting day


before the Commons 12 people were killed and 48 injured


when a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market


in the German capital. The German police are calling it


"a probable terrorist attack". In the Commons - before the day's


business got underway - the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt


was the first to speak As we wish each other


a Merry Christmas, the whole House will this


morning remember the people of Berlin as they face up


to yesterday's horrific Germany and its capital, Berlin,


have been beacons of freedom All our thoughts and prayers


are with them today. I would just like to take a moment


to reflect on the appalling news that came in from Berlin


and Ankara yesterday. And we have seen very vivid images


in our newspapers and television and I think they have shocked us


all and I just wanted to express our condolences and I'm


sure the condolences of all of us It was Theresa May's


first appearance in front of the Liaison Committee -


which is made up of the chairmen No surprises that the main subject


up for discussion was Brexit. Among other things, they wanted


to know if MPs would be given a vote on the final deal


with the European Union. Is it your intention to ensure that


Parliament has a vote on the final The parliament is going to have


every opportunity to vote through the Great Repeal Bill


on the various aspects of the relationship that we will be


having with the European Union. The question is when the final deal


is negotiated with the 27, is it your intention to ensure that


Parliament has a chance to vote It is my intention to ensure that


Parliament has ample opportunity to comment on and discuss


the aspects of the arrangements I'm not sure I understand why


it is so difficult to answer a question as to whether Parliament


will have a vote or not, given that we know the European Parliament


will have a vote on the deal, why can't you say that the British


Parliament will also have a vote? What I am saying is that there


will be an opportunity for Parliament of course to consider


and as more details do become available, how this


is going to operate. There is a question


about the timetable in relation to the agreement of the deal


and the necessity, how that timetable will operate in relation


to the European Parliament as well. What I am also clear


about is ensuring that when we come to the point we are actually


delivering on the vote of the British people,


that we will be leaving The Prime Minister was unchallenged


over whether she would use Brexit to reduce immigration.


If you are to stand any chance of meeting your net migration


target, you would have to get EU net migration down to what, 50,000?


We will be putting into place the immigration arrangements


for people coming from within the European Union that we believe


are in the interests of the United Kingdom.


So does that mean that if you conclude that it is not in


the interests of the United Kingdom to get net migration


from the EU down to 50,000, you will ditch the net migration


target, or would you give the net migration target priority over


what is in Britain's best interests in the negotiations?


This government will retain its intention


We set out very clearly for some time now that we believe


it is sustainable levels and sustainable levels


And we do that for very good reasons, because of the impact


that we believe immigration does have, that research has shown it


does have on people, particularly those at the lower end


I understand the reasons behind it, I understand the reason.


The question is what is your objective going forward?


You have a net migration target to get below the tens of thousands.


I'm asking you whether you are planning to meet that net migration


target through the Brexit negotiations and if so,


what are you aiming for on net EU migration?


If you've got to get it down from 189,000


to at least below 100,000, who do you want not to come?


and I have been clear about the Brexit negotiations.


The vote on the 23rd of June from people was that they wanted us


to have control of immigration, to put in place controls


on immigration for people coming from the European union.


We also want to ensure we get the best possible deal


for trading with and operating within the European Union.


One MP was not sure she had given a clear answer on giving Parliament


vote. Is it your intention that Parliament


should vote on a final deal once it's been negotiated,


this was a question And what I have said


is it is my intention that Parliament should have every


opportunity to consider What I'm also clear


about is to ensure that we actually deliver on the vote of the British


people which was about to leave OK, I'll leave you


to decide that one. And questions on another pressing


issue, social care. There is now around 1 million people


who should be entitled to social care who are not receiving it,


putting great pressure The reason, real-term spending


on social care fell by 9% To use the form of words


with which you might be familiar, do you agree that for social care,


crisis means crisis? As I have said, previously,


I accept that there are That is why the government has made


available the opportunity for local authorities,


as was set out in the local government finance settlement last


week, the opportunity for extra money to be available to be


spent on social care. But there is also a question


not just about those short-term pressures,


but in the medium term, ensuring that we are seeing delivery


and best practice being introduced in terms of delivery of social


care across the country. You talk about fewer people


being able to access social care. Actually there are many local


authorities around the country where we are now seeing more people


accessing social care. Clive Betts told her


he would be very interested Four years ago Rupert Murdoch failed


in his ambition to take full control He abandoned his plan


because of the public outcry over phone-hacking at one


of his newspapers, But now Mr Murdoch is having another


go at taking 100% ownership of Sky, There has been no formal


notification of the takeover bid. When that happens,


the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will have ten days to decide


whether to refer the proposal to Karen Bradley told MPs that


because of her "quasi-judicial" role she would not be able


to comment further. But Ed Miliband -


who's been very critical of Rupert Murdoch before -


told the Commons it We're going into recess


until January ninth. And the bid may be notified


to government at any time. And it is very important,


Mr Speaker, that the House understands the reality that in even


launching this bid for 100% of Sky, the Murdochs are seeking to turn


the judgment of this House, the regulator and indeed


the country, on its head. In 2011 this House unanimously urged


the withdrawal of the bid In 2012 Ofcom published a damning


assessment of James Murdoch's behaviour in the running of News


International. Mr Speaker, that report only stopped


short of declaring Sky as unfit and improper to hold a licence


on the basis that the Murdochs were And James Murdoch was no longer


playing an executive role at Sky. Today, James Murdoch is back


as chairman of Sky and chief This bid shows the Murdochs have


learnt nothing and think they can If it was wrong for the Murdochs


to own 100% of Sky in 2011 I do not for one second


underestimate the huge public and parliamentary interest


in this proposed merger. As well as the importance of this


issue to the parties concerned. But the important thing


is that I must ensure, given my quasi-judicial role,


that I protect the integrity of the process and ensure that


as and when, if the formal notification is given,


that that is properly considered. I will be making no further


comments on the merit While there may well be a case


for asking the regulator to look at this bid,


will she also recognise that this represents a ?12 billion investment


into a British company and is a vote of confidence that Britain


will remain a centre of international broadcasting


after Britain leaves I know Christmas is a time for TV


repeats, but this one was not hit the first time around and it is no


more popular now. Mr Speaker, last week


the Minister of State told the House categorically


that the Prime Minister had not discussed this bid in her recent


New York meeting with Rupert Will the Secretary of State


repeat that assurance? How does she know, can she tell


us what was discussed? Because after all, Leveson


recommended that those Yesterday, Mr Speaker,


Rupert Murdoch wrote I have made it a principal


or my life never to ask for anything We will just pause to take that


in a moment, Mr Speaker. You will recall John Major's


testimony to the Leveson Inquiry in which he recalled Rupert Murdoch


asking him to change his And warning that, if we couldn't


change our European policies, his papers could not and would not


support the Conservative government. Does the Secretary of State


believe Rupert Murdoch, or the former Conservative Prime


Minister? He has asked specifically


about the meeting that the Prime She had a prearranged meeting


with Wall Street Journal editors. Mr Murdoch dropped into that meeting


and I can assure him that the proposed takeover


was not discussed. I'm not entirely sure that a company


controlled by Rupert Murdoch trying to buy another company largely


controlled by Rupert Murdoch is of the great public interest


that the Secretary of State seems This really is all about the party


opposite not liking Rupert Murdoch. If this was Richard Branson


in the same situation, they wouldn't be saying


a word about it. A substantial number


of my constituents have contacted me over the last week


regarding this bid. And they are all of the same


opinion, but Mr Murdoch has too much Many would like to see his bid


being referred to Ofcom Karen Bradley apologised,


saying she could not make comment on the process or the merits


of the bid. You're watching Tuesday


in Parliament, with me, The Foreign Affairs Committee


is investigating the UK's With events in Ukraine and Syria -


as well as Russia's engagement in cyber-warfare -


there's much to discuss. But at the start of the session,


the Europe Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, gave his reaction


to the murder of Russia's With fully condemn this, it is a


heinous attack and you can be assured the Foreign Office in the


proper way has been in contact with our Turkish and Russian counterparts


to express our condolences. The committee moved


on to Russia's interference There's a strong suggestion being


investigated by the CIA that the US election was interfered with by


Russia. And for example today the bar a memorandum of agreement signed


by the President Putin party with an Austrian party. There is an


undermining here of the values of liberal open-minded Western models


whether in the US or the European Union. And Russia is pursuing


asymmetric warfare to undermine solidarity of Nato and the European


Union. I think there is no doubt that using modern technology, they


are interfering in many parts of the world. We saw that in Montenegro as


well weather was a serious interference. Undeniably I think


Russian inspired in the democratic process in Montenegro. Quite what


the effect was, what exactly they did in the United States, it is


unclear. But I think there is no doubt and we have got to accept that


as a fact, that cyber warfare is now a part of modern life and the


Russians are using it as best they can in the political dimension. Not


just in the commercial one but there is political interference. We had


our difficulties with Alexander Litvinenko, there have been


impediments and also issues which we feel strongly about such as Ukraine


and subsequently Aleppo. We need to balance the respect they deserve


with firm talk about the things on which we thoroughly, of which we


thoroughly disapprove. So I hope that the balance of language and


action is finding its feet perhaps more than it has done in the past


and our attitude and it is in the paper I gave the committee, is one


of very firm views were we think they are behaving improperly such as


challenging other countries with their territorial integrity and


showing them the proper respect which are great nation is due. That


is the balance that perhaps we could strike better but that is the


balance we have got to strike. Labour's Ann Clwyd described


a meeting between the committee and the Russian ambassador to London


when the bombardment He was asked about the bombing of


hospitals and his answer to that was that there are no hospitals in


Aleppo. So we asked him, what are they then? You said they were


jihadists training camps. Now, how do you develop a dialogue when


people are dealing with so-called fair facts as opposed to our facts?


Yes, I like to think we and our politics live in a rational world


and we value the truth and one of the things that we set store by is


knowing when someone is not telling the truth. In this conflict, there


are clear and obvious occasions when people are not telling the truth and


saying black is white when it isn't. I think with the issue of Aleppo,


there are many such examples and they are very distressing. That is


where we have two show the courage and leadership to have clear views


and point out truth from fiction, and stand our ground. That, I hope,


is what the UK is doing. And we are having to do so, let's be absolutely


frank, with Russia in a number of areas. Aleppo and the Ukraine are


two examples. We will not be pushed around and told what we believe to


be the truth is not. We will advertise the truth and make it


clear. That is what we will do and that is one of our main weapons of


diplomacy. The Europe Minister,


Sir Alan Duncan. The government has admitted


that there are serious problems in the way the leasehold system


works in England and Wales. Conservative and Labour MPs


told the Commons some of their constituents had seen


ground rent charges rocket - in some cases to levels where their


houses became unsellable. What we are discussing today is


nothing short of a national scandal. It is the PPI of the house-building


industry. Every now and then, a sharp practice comes to light which


is totally unconscionable and which every reasonable person looking at


it would say, we cannot allow this to continue. Parliament must act.


This is one such occasion. The practice that has developed is to


sell new homes on a long-term lease with a misleading low grounds learnt


rent and buyout price. This practice has become, in my constituency over


the last few years and contrary to what is asserted by some developers,


it is not a tradition in my constituency. It now seems to be


part of the business model for a great many developers. It's a very


clever way of selling more units, dropping the asking price a little


to reflect the fact it is a leasehold but failed to make it


clear that in the long run, the homeowner will pay far, far more


than they would have done if the property had been freehold. My


calculation as if a ?250,000 house with a ground rent the doubles


over... Over 60 years, the successive leaseholders will have


paid.... That's in the first 60 years of release. Sadly, there are


too many bullies, cowboys and crooks and for the government to feel


comfortable with the legislation as it stands is unacceptable. We need


not only better regulation, we need not only better protection and


advice, we need legislation. There are millions of citizens out there


looking to their politicians, of whichever party, to remedy their


distress. With my right honourable friend agree that many people


entering these are the souls are entirely unaware that the landlords


have the power to make huge increases in ground rents and that


if this practice is deemed acceptable, at the very least,


tenants going into these agreements should have very clear information


about what the landlords can do, what their rights are and how they


can challenge them? When one has worked hard to save up to buy a


home, budgeted to be able to pay the costs needed to service any loan and


the other costs one reasonably accepts -- expects, when should then


expect security. For hard-working people, those who are doing the


right thing by investing their hard earned cash into buying a home, are


being ripped off, left right and centre. The government must act


urgently to stop this gross explication of hard-working


homeowners who are finding they cannot sell their homes. It seems to


me and to the Secretary of State to be one of those cases where there is


a gulf between the letter of the law and our sense of what is right. Some


of the cases we've seen in the media is heard about in today's debate


have highlighted some truly appalling behaviour. The secretary


of State and I have been looking closely at the issues raised in


recent weeks and I can tell the house that we are both absolutely


determined to stamp out unfair, unjust and unacceptable abuse of the


leasehold system. To the House of Lords now


where the day started The Leader of Lords, Lord Fowler,


announced a new inquiry into ways of reducing the size of the upper


chamber. On December five, the house debated


a motion on the size of the house. The motion sought agreement that the


house believes that its size should be reduced and methods should be


explored by which this could be achieved. 61 members spoke during


the debate and the motion was carried unanimously. If each of many


of the speeches that day was that we should not delay in such an


examination. Accordingly, and setting up a 6-member Lord's


speakers committee drawn entirely from the backbenches to examine the


possible methods by which the house could be reduced in size. I'm


pleased to announce that Lord Burns has agreed to chair the committee.


Other members of the committee will be Lord Spieth, Baroness Browning,


Baroness Crawley, Baroness Taylor of Bolton and Lord Wakeham. The


committee would get to work as soon as the house resumes after the


Christmas recess. I would just add that this is not an easy task but


hopefully, if this issue can be settled, the public will be better


able to recognise the true value of this size.


One of the roles that the Lords takes very seriously is debating


They're the means by which the Government can amend the law


Peers have been discussing a measure to increase the number of penalty


points imposed when a driver is caught using a mobile phone.


One peer said using a mobile phone was a "breach of good manners"


If the house will just indulge me, I will give my own experience with my


god daughter aged 21, who I took with her parents to the theatre in


Paris actually. Just about that time, it was a well-known singer in


France he was giving us an evening, and just as the star came on and the


lights went down, I'd goddaughter saw fit to send a text to somebody


which created a light on the machine. I quickly reminded her, you


may upset a few people here with a light, please put it off. She


ignored me and went on doing it. Despite his requests, she continued


using the phone. I reached my breaking point so I grabbed my bow


bile and I threw it into the audience, across the aisle. I saw it


bouncing off the head of maybe a Frenchman but it could have been


anyone, back into the aisle. She was totally astonished by my behaviour


and her aunt, who was also with us, said well done, well done. I've been


longing to do that for a long time. I can tell the noble Lords that my


god daughter the other day who is now 25, she was 21 at the time,


said, because I remarked she'd had a mobile with her, I said is that the


same one I threw into the audience? She said, yes it is, actually. That


was a salutary lesson. I've never forgotten it.


Lord Falkland on throwing mobile phones and the need


Well that's it from Tuesday in Parliament.


The Lords is sitting for one more day but the Commons has broken up


Although there won't be a daily round-up until the New Year it's


only good manners to point out that Alicia McCarthy will be


here on Wednesday night with a review of the last few months


But from me, Kristiina Cooper, it's goodbye - for now -