24/01/2017 Tuesday in Parliament


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24/01/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 24 January, presented by Kristiina Cooper.


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Hello and welcome to choose day in Parliament. The main news in

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Westminster, the judges have spoken. It's up to Parliament to make a

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decision on triggering Brexit. I can announce today that we will shortly

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introduce legislation allowing the Government to move ahead with

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invoking Article 50, which starts the formal process of withdrawing

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from the European Union. Some MPs want to be clear about what they are

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voting for. I would like a white Paper which we can debate. It will

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bring us together, I would say to my right honourable friend. What does

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my right honourable friend have to lose with a debate on it? Also on

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the programme, the Government is refusing to talk about a failed

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Trident missile test, but there are other sources. I could phone up Mr

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Putin can I did a favour for him once rescuing his submariners when

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they were drowning and I'm sure he would tell me. I surely would know

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the date... But first, the Supreme Court has ruled that Parliament

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would need formal approval before leaving the European Union.

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Explaining the decision of a 96 page judgment, the president of the

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Supreme Court said withdrawal from the EU would effect a fundamental

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change and altar legal rights. He said that such changes to the UK's

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constitutional arrangements should be clearly authorised by Parliament.

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Having lost the court case, the Government was quick off the mark

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with its next move. Brexit secretary David Davis said a bill would be

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introduced within days. This Government is determined to deliver

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on a decision taken by the people of the United Kingdom in the referendum

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granted by this house to leave the European Union. So we will move

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swiftly to do just that. I can announce today that we will

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introduce legislation allowing the Government to move ahead with

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invoking Article 50, which starts the formal process of withdrawing

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from the European Union. He said the bill would be straightforward. It's

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not about whether or not the UK should leave the European Union,

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that decision has already been made by the people of the United Kingdom.

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We will work with colleagues in both houses to ensure this bill is passed

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in good time for us to invoke Article 50 by the end of March this

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year. This is a good day for Parliamentary sovereignty. The

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Supreme Court has ruled that we shall have a say in this house on

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the Article 50 issue. Given the issues involved, that is quite right

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and the Prime Minister was wrong to have attempted to sideline

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Parliament in this process. This bill is only to be introduced

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because the Prime Minister has been ordered to do so. He said it was a

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question of substance, not process. Last week the Prime Minister

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committed herself to swapping the known benefits of single market

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membership of the customs union for the hoped-for benefits of a

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agreement. With a fallback position of breaking our economic model. --

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of the free trade agreement. That is high risk. There are big gaps in

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consistency is an unanswered questions in the Prime Minister's

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approach. Mr Speaker, if the Prime Minister fails in her endeavour, the

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cost will be borne by families, working people and communities

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throughout the UK. The stakes are high and the role of this house in

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holding the Prime Minister and the Government to account throughout the

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process is crucial. The Supreme Court ruled that the administrations

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in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales do not need to be consulted

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before Brexit is triggered, but the SNP is still welcomed the main

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judgments. There was a time when the Secretary of State himself was a

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great champion of parliamentary sovereignty, in the distant past...

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I'm sure that deep down inside he will be welcoming this judgment as

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well. And I'm wondering why they fear parliamentary scrutiny? Is it

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because they will be found out? Is it because we will find out the

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emperor has no clothes? Because we talk of democracy but let me remind

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the Secretary of State of this. When it comes to Scotland, the

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Conservatives got their worst ever result at the general election since

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1865. You have one MP! Will the Secretary of State now agreed to

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accept the unanimous recommendation of the Brexit Select Committee and

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in the process, agree with himself before he got this job? And now

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publish a White Paper on the Government's objectives, so that

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these can be considered alongside the legislation that he has just

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announced. Because if the Government does not do so, then I have to say

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to him it will be showing a lack of respect for this House of Commons. I

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don't often disagree with myself but let me say this to the honourable

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, The Right Honourable gentleman. The speech given last week by the

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Prime Minister was the clearest exposition of a negotiating strategy

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I have seen in modern times. It laid out very clearly what we judge the

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national interest to be, how we intend to protect it, what we want

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to do, what we hope does not happen, how we're going to go about avoiding

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that too. So I don't see that this Government has avoided answering any

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question, either from his committee or indeed the front bench. Does the

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Minister accept it my view that the public want us to get on with this

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and actually carry out what they voted for? Does he also accept too

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that the public will not look kindly on amendments brought in by parties

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who want another referendum to delay unnecessarily, but do want perhaps a

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member and is that clarify and make us all more aware of the

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Government's intentions? If someone votes against sending the Article 50

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ladder, aren't they voting against restoring the very parliamentary --

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Parliamentary sovereignty that they called in aid? Doesn't the British

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public want the pattern and answering to Brussels? I would like

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a White Paper which we can debate. It will bring us together, I say to

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my right honourable friend, what does my right honourable friend have

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to lose with a debate? Let me say this, do the honourable lady. She

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holds passionately a very well formed a view on the matter, that

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firstly in terms of bringing people together, a large part of the Prime

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Minister's speech was aimed at creating the sense of this country

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which everybody can get behind. David Davis. And later in the

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programme, we will hear what the House of Lords had to say about the

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Brexit judgment. Now, MPs have been told that the Government's refusal

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to confirm reports of a failed Trident missile test may be due to

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pressure by the United States. Defence Secretary sur Michael Fallon

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refuses to discuss any details of a test reportedly carried out in June.

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He told MPs that the Government had absolute confidence in the UK's

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nuclear weapons system. Appearing before the defence committee, an

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expert suggested there had been a problem with the missile's guidance

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system. American sources only now reporting in the American press on

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CNN that the missile, quote "Had to be diverted into the ocean to

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self-destruct", which suggests that it may have been heading for land if

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it had to be diverted into the ocean, if that statement is

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technically correct. So it does suggest, if that is true, that there

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was a fairly major telemetry failure that the missile may have not just

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been uncertain in its flight but may have genuinely been going on the

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wrong track. Professor Clarke said the missiles were made by the US

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firm Lockheed Martin. There have been 161 successful tests since

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1989. There were five failures before 1989, when the missile was in

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a bigger testing phase. So in total, there have been six failed tests,

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five of them before 1989 and one of them since then, which is the 162nd

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test failure. Lockheed Martin are certainly, I think, embarrassed

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about this. There has been a certain amount of journalistically reported

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pressure from the United States on the UK Government not to say too

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much about this because clearly it must worry the Americans as well.

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One failure out of 162 is very small but the fact that it has never

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failed before may raise questions about the adequacy of the checking

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of the manufacturer. Also appearing before the committee was a former

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head of the Royal Navy, who has also been a security minister. He said

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missile tests were not carried out in secret. First of all we have to

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inform all of the aviators, civil airline people. Also we have an

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agreement when we do these firings, that we warn Russia so that we don't

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-- they don't think we're starting world War three. They are very aware

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this is what is to happen. We don't even know what date the tests took

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place on but I have heard a suggestion that it was on the 20th

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of June. Are you in a position to know... I absolutely don't know. But

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I see no reason, I personally can see no reason whatsoever... I could

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probably phone up Mr Putin, I did a favour for him once rescuing his sub

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Mariners when they were drowning and ask him what it is about sure he

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would tell me. He certainly would be able to know the date. Would you

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have thought it at all likely that if a missile firing had gone wrong,

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as this one apparently did, that such a matter could be kept secret,

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given number of observers who would have seen what happened? I think

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anyone who thought that could be done was being very stupid and

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foolhardy. It's all very well being upfront and transparent about these

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things but we have agreed that there is a sort of relative scale of

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transparency, certain things that you cannot be transparent about...

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Absolutely. All the trials we did with the type 45s, you don't tell

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anyone about that, of course you don't. But this is quite a comedian

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no, this is a big bonanza occasion, we do this once every four years, it

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was inevitably going to come out. If anyone thought it wasn't going to

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come out, they were in cloud cuckoo land. And back to Professor Clarke.

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Do you think that anything we have discussed in our two sessions today

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has in any way undermined the secrecy or security Britain's

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nuclear deterrent? Can you think of any good reason why a similar

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discussion couldn't have been held before yesterday? Absolutely not,

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chairman. There is an old rule in politics that it is not the failure

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that does the damage, it is the cover-up or the perception of a

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cover-up. In this case I agree with Admiral West, this whole issue is

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not in anyway undermining the deterrent. It may be doing damage to

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the Government because it has not been handled particularly well. Now,

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violence in prisons is an old problem but it has escalated in

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recent months. The prison service is on a major recruitment drive,

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including a new graduate scheme. Some jails are experimenting with

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novel ways to tackle the violence, such as paying some inmates to

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monitor the behaviour of others. Violence in prisons has been a

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problem for decades. Was it really wise to cut the number of prison

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officers by a quarter in the last six years, given these problems? I

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would be delighted to have a conversation with my honourable

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friend about his experience looking at these issues, because he is aptly

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be right. They have been a problem for a number of years and it will

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take time to build up the front line and recruit those 2500 additional

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officers. But we have faced recently is new challenges, with psychoactive

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substances, with drones, with mobile phones. We are taking action to deal

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with those but it is vitally important we have staff on the front

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who can rear -- reform offenders and also keep

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our prisons save. The level is unprecedented in the years I've been

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in this house. Following on from the honourable gentleman from

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Gainsborough, would she confirmed that the figures to September meant

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a loss of 417 prison officers, and when she says she has to recruit

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2500, does she not mean that in the next 12 months she has to recruit

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4000 to make those 2510 she do that? The honourable gentleman is

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absolutely right, we do need to recruit 4000 officers over the next

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year. I announced initially that we were recruiting officers for ten of

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the most challenging prisons and we have already made job offers to

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almost all of those 400, so we are making good progress. We've recently

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launched a graduate scheme, Unlock. Within 24 hours of announcing that

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scheme, we had expressions of interest from over 1000 candidates.

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It is challenging to recruit those numbers of officers but we are

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absolutely determined to do it because it is what we need to do, to

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be able to determine -- turn our prisons round and make them places

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of safety and reform. Some prisons including Her Majesty 's prison in

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Birmingham, they are using prisoners who are paid to monitor other

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inmates. The stakeholders we have spoken to suggest that somewhere in

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care and compliance, themselves meeting out violence and troublesome

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inmates, what assessment has she made of their use?

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The honourable lady refers to those violence reduction programmes and I

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have seen them in place in a number of prisons where they can be very

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effective. Because, often it is peer to peer support that can help turn

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prisoners around. However, they need to be carefully managed and

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monitored and my expectation is that that is the role of the prison

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governor to make sure those systems are in place. You are watching

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Tuesday in Parliament. Coming up, what may happen if Parliament blocks

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Brexit. They'll be no option for those of us who voted to Leave other

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than to take to the streets probably breaking things. The home affairs

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committee is continuing its investigation into one of the big

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factors in the Brexit vote, migration. One Labour committee

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member said there was no point in setting net migration targets which

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could not be met. Take -- I think there is broad consensus, however

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you voted last year, that there is a desire in all parts of the UK for

:15:54.:15:57.

more control over immigration system. But does not to undermine

:15:58.:16:04.

the sense of control to persist with a target you continually fail to

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meet? Lord Greene, you are asked about that in the past tense. You

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supported it when it was introduced. How can you carry on supporting a

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target, which, even if you take EU citizens out of the equation, the

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Government is not going to meet? Has not met. Yes, we certainly have

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supported it and we continue to for these reasons. One is that it is a

:16:36.:16:41.

very effective means of focusing public opinion on an issue we think

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needs attention. Secondly, it introduces an element, if you like,

:16:49.:16:53.

of democratic accountability. This is now firmly in the public mind.

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I'm not sure it can be helpful for a Government to abandon it. With the

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greatest respect, Lord Greene, what it is is an effective means of

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undermining the confidence of people in the system. It is ludicrous to

:17:09.:17:15.

suggest that somehow it has helped achieve the targets, because the

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target has never been met thus far. Well, it it certainly underline the

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failure to reach the target, that is clear. What organisation sets itself

:17:29.:17:34.

up to fail year after year, surely that is stupid? Yes, if that's was

:17:35.:17:42.

the case, which I'm not sure it is. So they haven't failed? I'm saying

:17:43.:17:48.

in the future that may not be the case, for a number of reasons. One

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is the proposal we make to reduce net migration by 100,000 a year for

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a start. Please explain why the Government maintains this ludicrous

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target. I'm not the position to do that, because we've criticised the

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target ever since was introduced. We acknowledge the fact that, you know,

:18:12.:18:21.

it helps public accountability and the Government understand the

:18:22.:18:28.

objective. However, it's created a whole set of quite perverse

:18:29.:18:33.

incentives. A Conservative said Poland had one of the best education

:18:34.:18:37.

systems in the EU and received EU funds. We have the observed

:18:38.:18:43.

situation in which we are paying money to the Polish people to

:18:44.:18:47.

educate to a high level their students in order for a lot of them,

:18:48.:18:53.

the high skilled ones, to then leave Poland in a brain drain and come to

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the UK, where, by and large, they are employed below their skill

:18:58.:19:03.

level. That may be good for us, although having somebody picking

:19:04.:19:06.

turnips in Norfolk with a Ph.D. Is a huge waste of human skills, but it

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is a net detriment, surely, to Poland? So free movements from

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Labour -- of labour from Poland, surely this is completely

:19:25.:19:29.

unsustainable for that country? I think what you've described is

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pretty accurate. It was entirely this European fixation with free

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movement of goods, capital and labour that they were not prepared

:19:43.:19:47.

to shift. I'm particularly not prepared to shift they were certain

:19:48.:19:49.

the British were going to stay anywhere. They were wrong. The child

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poverty unit was set up some 20 years ago by the previous Labour

:19:56.:20:00.

Government. It was run across three Government departments, work and

:20:01.:20:03.

pensions, education and the Treasury. Now it is part of the

:20:04.:20:06.

Department for Work and Pensions, prompting claims the political focus

:20:07.:20:10.

on reducing child poverty has diminished. The abolition of the

:20:11.:20:15.

cross departmentally unit is widely seen as downgrading and weakening.

:20:16.:20:20.

The Government machinery dedicated to the eradication of child poverty.

:20:21.:20:26.

The Minister explain how the abolition of a cross departmentally

:20:27.:20:30.

unit, co-sponsored by the Department for Education is consistent with the

:20:31.:20:33.

Government's own analysis of the root causes of poverty as parlour

:20:34.:20:39.

lying in children's education and achievement? Surely it is -- a's own

:20:40.:20:45.

approach to reject what it calls a narrow, income -based approach

:20:46.:20:48.

strengthens rather than weakens a case for a cross departmental unit.

:20:49.:20:55.

The purpose of the child poverty unit was to measure those income

:20:56.:20:58.

related target set up by the previous Government. Those targets

:20:59.:21:01.

are a waste of time and we got rid of them. We have now set up

:21:02.:21:07.

something better, and that is the social mobility commission, based on

:21:08.:21:10.

the Department for Education and as I said in my original and so, the

:21:11.:21:13.

appropriate measure for these things should be parental responsibility

:21:14.:21:21.

and children's educational attainment and those of the two we

:21:22.:21:25.

will look out. The last Labour Government lift the 1 million

:21:26.:21:28.

children out of poverty and that record is unarguable. The resolution

:21:29.:21:32.

foundation has estimated that in 2060 alone, 1 million children extra

:21:33.:21:39.

will be forced into poverty, mostly from working households. How on

:21:40.:21:44.

earth can any Government be proud of such a record? Particularly one that

:21:45.:21:47.

says it is in favour of those who were just about managing? On the

:21:48.:21:53.

measures the previous Labour Government sets forth, we found that

:21:54.:21:57.

in a recession, the number of children in poverty went down and

:21:58.:22:01.

when incomes are rising, it went up. It wasn't measuring the correct

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thing. We end where we started, with the Supreme Court's ruling that

:22:07.:22:09.

Parliament must give formal approval before the UK Government can start

:22:10.:22:12.

the Brexit process. The Government will soon be producing a Bill which

:22:13.:22:18.

must be approved by the Commons on the laws. This was a completely

:22:19.:22:23.

unnecessary legal procedure. If the Government are brought forward a

:22:24.:22:25.

bill which the court has forced upon them shortly after the referendum,

:22:26.:22:31.

it would now be safely enacted, and much time and effort and cost would

:22:32.:22:37.

have been saved. It is of course a sign of the robustness of our

:22:38.:22:40.

constitutional arrangement, that a private citizen can require the

:22:41.:22:45.

Government against its will to play by the rules. But it's greatly to

:22:46.:22:50.

the Government's discredit that this was ever necessary. He explains what

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action the Lib Dems would be taking. We will therefore be seeking to

:22:56.:23:00.

amend the bill to provide for a referendum to be held and we know

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the terms which the Government has been able to negotiate. The

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Government may have a mandate to stop Brexit negotiations, it

:23:09.:23:12.

certainly does not have a mandate to impose harsh Brexit terms on the

:23:13.:23:18.

country. In referring to the Government's commitment to work with

:23:19.:23:22.

the devolved administrations, there's an opportunity arising from

:23:23.:23:25.

the white paper published here in London yesterday morning by the

:23:26.:23:31.

Welsh First Minister, with support from Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems,

:23:32.:23:36.

based on the possibility of a single market. This may well be the

:23:37.:23:40.

difficulties being faced in both Scotland and Northern Ireland and

:23:41.:23:44.

will he give a firm assurance that the details of these proposals will

:23:45.:23:51.

be carefully considered. It gives me an opportunity to say yes, if he

:23:52.:23:56.

would like to meet, he can, I can also take this opportunity to say

:23:57.:24:01.

the proposals issued by the Scottish Government also been giving careful

:24:02.:24:06.

consideration and we will continue to cooperate and consult with those

:24:07.:24:12.

representatives of the Northern Irish Assembly and devolved

:24:13.:24:14.

administrations in Scotland and Wales. Does my noble friend except

:24:15.:24:20.

that if the Parliament accepted the advice of the labour Lord, Lord

:24:21.:24:23.

Harris and trees of the referendum as adviser and decided this country

:24:24.:24:24.

should not leave the EU, And that advice from the Archbishop

:24:25.:25:35.

of Canterbury on how to achieve a peaceful Brexit brings us to the end

:25:36.:25:43.

of Tuesday in Parliament. Join us again for another round-up of the

:25:44.:25:48.

news in Westminster. Until then, from me, Christina Cooper, goodbye.

:25:49.:25:50.