Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 7 February.
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And welcome to Tuesday in Parliament, our look at the best
of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
The Government promises to repair England's broken housing market.
There are young people right now in every one of our constituencies,
staring into the windows of estate agents, dreaming of renting or
buying a decent home. The Lord Speaker says
the Commons Speaker didn't consult him before talking
about whether President Trump My view is that I will keep an open
mind and consider any request for Mr Trump to address parliament if and
when it is made. And do we need to increase
the nation's defences They squabble with each other, they
squawk at all hours of the day and night, creating a nasty racket.
The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has unveiled
the Government's new housing strategy for England.
He said house-building needed to rise to a quarter
of a million new homes a year, with local councils made to publish
projections for house building in their areas,
and developers forced to use-or-lose planning permission once granted.
There'll also be extra protection for tenants.
The Minister told MPs the housing market was broken.
He started his statement to MPs with a jibe at the Speaker's expense.
I had hoped, Mr Speaker, that this would dominate the headlines this
morning, but it seems that someone else has beaten me to it. Let me
just gently say to the Right Honourable gentleman, I did make my
statement to the house first. He said unaffordable housing
was one of the UK's biggest But its root cause is simple. For
far too long, we have not built enough houses. Relative to
population size, Britain has had western Europe was back lowest rate
of house building for three decades. He said the planning
system would become more And we will tackle unnecessary
delays cost by everything from planning conditions to great crested
newts. We will be giving developers a lot of help to get building and we
will give local authorities Beatles to hold developers to account if
they fail to do so. Local authorities also have a vital role
to play in getting homes built quickly. I am therefore looking
again at how they can use compulsory purchase powers.
He summed up the aims of the Government's
It will help the tenants up-to-date facing rising rents, and turkeys,
and in secure tenancies. It will help the home of the right homes
built in the right places and it will help our children and their
children Buzz McGeorge and by halting decades of decline and
fixing our broken housing market. It is able vision and I commend it to
the house. This is a Government that have pledged to build a million new
homes by 2020 and yet the total newly built last year is still less
than 140 3000. While the level of new affordable house building has
hit 24 year low. And we need all sectors, Private house-builders,
housing associations, and councils, to be firing on all cylinders to
build the homes we need. So why will you not drop the deep Tory hostility
to councils and let them build again to meet the needs of local people?
It is tragically clear, Mr Speaker, from the statement that seven years
of failure on housing is set now too stretched to ten. We were promised a
white paper. We are presented with a white flag. People want to hear the
truth. They want to hear Government and politicians more generally first
of all recognise the size of this problem, to recognise that there are
young people right now in every one of our constituencies staring into
the windows of estate agents, their faces glued to them, dreaming of
renting or buying a decent home, but knowing that it is out of reach
because prices have risen so high. I hope the Secretary of State will
forgive me but I think that he flatters himself that he thinks that
on a quiet news day, this would have deserved headlines. This is an
unambitious and disappointing paper. One thing I want to call out is that
the paper refers to a family in the market for an affordable home is
being on an average income of ?80,000 a year. I wonder I can
respectfully ask what planet he is letting on. Average incomes in my
constituency are ?26,000 a year. Doesn't that show that what we need
is a commitment to genuinely affordable homes. The building of a
million new councils will allow that. I am pleased that the
Government has finally recognised that the housing market is broken,
but I disagree with his perception that supply is the only answer to
this. In Manchester, we have built thousands of new homes. We have
upgraded all of the council hopes to decent standards. But by far and
away, the worst quality housing in Manchester is in the Private rented
sector. It is unfit for human habitation, infested, damp, and
dirty. And I am worried, is being paid for by the taxpayer through
housing benefit. So when will the Government intervene in this broken
market? My Conservative run Forest of Dean council is working hard to
get its local plan in place, give planning permission to get new homes
put in place, and it gets frustrated when developers do not build them
and then the same developer bits in a speculative application and argues
there is no land supply because they are not building their own houses.
What more can the Secretary of State do. To make sure that those
developers build the houses as his excellent housing minister said,
people can't live on planning permissions, they need houses. This
Speaker, that is a very important point and he's quite right that many
local authorities likely get the straight it when they take those
difficult decisions that they don't see the houses being built. Sajid
Javid. The Government has made clear
Parliament will get a say on the final draft Brexit agreement
before it's voted on by The announcement, by
the Brexit Minister David Jones, Opposition MPs and some backbench
Conservatives had wanted the Commons to have the power to send Ministers
back to the European negotiating table if the final terms
were not good enough. The change of approach emerged
as MPs continued the debate on the details of the EU
Notification of Withdrawal Bill - the legislation that authorises
Ministers to start the process But the central theme of the case I
will seek to make this afternoon is that a built in this house must be
before the deal is concluded. That is the dividing line that makes the
real difference here. I can confirm that the Government will bring
forward a motion on the final agreement to be approved by both
houses of parliament before it's concluded and we expect and intent
that this will happen before the European Parliament debates and
votes on the final agreement. Minister, I am very grateful for
that intervention. That is a huge and very important concession about
the process that we are to embark on. The argument I have made about a
vote over the last three months is that the vote must cover both the
article 50 deal and any future relationship, and I know that to my
colleagues that it is very important, and that that vote must
take place before the deal is concluded and I take that from what
has just been said. That he agree with me that it is not just the
issue of the vote, it is what happens if this house declines to
accept the deal that the Government has put forward? The Prime Minister
said on the 25th of January that if this parliament is not willing to
accept a deal that has been decided upon with the European Union, then
as I have said, we will have to fall back on other arrangements. That
does not guarantee this house as the final decision on our future
relationship with the EU. My Right Honourable friend the Minister has
made it perfectly clear that there will be a vote. I will in a moment.
But the bulk that there is to be, he has also made it clear is able to
between the option of accepting a particular set of arrangements that
have been negotiated by Her Majesty's it and not excepting those
arrangements, and thereby leaving the you without either in one case a
withdrawal agreement, or any other case, an arrangement for the future.
Everyone today said that they agree that the parliamentary vote should
be meaningful, but in fact, what the minister said does not provide that
assurance at all. What concerns me is what happens if, despite its best
effort, the Government fails to no fault of its own and we have no
deal, and how revolutionary is it to say, in the event of no deal, and in
the right and meaningful time as we go to that new relationship, please
could we have a say? Not on behalf Parliament, on behalf of all our
constituents. That is a little bit as though you can imagine two years
of travel, journeying down those roads of negotiation and we get to
the edge of the canyon and we have a point of decision. Are we going to
have that bridge across the chasm? Which might be the new treaty? It
might take is to that new future. Or are we going to potentially decide
to drive off into the unknown, into the abyss. And Parliament should
have the right to decide that point. This is the concession that I think
many honourable members are seeking. MPs voted in favour
of the Government's position The Commons Speaker caused
controversy at the start of the week when he declared that
President Trump should not be allowed to address MPs
in Westminster Hall - he went on to accuse him
of racism and sexism. The unexpected remarks
from the Speaker were commented on 24 hours later by a seasoned
Conservative. Point of order, Sir Edward Lee. As
we are a democratic assembly, I think that the only way we can work
is to respect the authority of the speaker. Otherwise, there will be
complete chaos. Now, it may be that I have my own personal view, but
personally, I think that if the Queen has issued an invitation to Mr
Trump on the advice of her ministers, I think he is the
president of the free world, and if we have entertained the president of
China then we can entertain him. But that is my view. But at the end of
the day, I think we have to respect that support the office of Speaker.
Not sure there is, but I will take it and I will come back to the
honourable gentleman. You may recall at business questions last week, I
raise the inability of ordinary members of this house to express an
opinion through a vote on what was an unprecedented quick invitation to
a head of state, and I believe that we all you a debt of gratitude for
deciding in this case that such an invitation should not be supported
by members of this house. We know the reasons why it was done. It was
done rapidly in order to avoid political embarrassment to the Prime
Minister. But this certainly shouldn't be extended, any
invitation to this house, to such a person as Donald Trump. First in
respect of the point of order just raised by the honourable gentleman,
can I thank you for what he has said and added merely that I responded to
a substantive point of order on this matter yesterday and I think it only
fair to say that there is no need for me to provide a running
commentary today. But there is a worrying breach of etiquette that
has broken out now over the last few months of members clapping in this
chamber. Is there anything in your power to do anything about that?
Well, members shouldn't do so, and the answer is that maybe I should be
even more robust. I usually am pretty robust. The point was made
yesterday about that, that it shouldn't happen. All I can say is
that one has to deal with every situation as it arises and sometimes
it is better just to let thing past had to make a song and dance about
it, but I respect the gentleman's Goodman to tradition.
Meanwhile, the Lord Speaker was making his views known
the rich speakers received an address by United States to address
parliament, they both have to agree to the invitation after
consultation. The whole purpose is to seek consensus injuring both
houses have the opportunity to consider the request. Yesterday in
the Commons Mr Burgos said he was opposed to the president bigging. I
should make it clear I was not consulted on that decision or its
timing. However the Speaker contacted me this morning and told
me that while human Keynes 's view on the issue he was genuinely sorry
for failing to consult with me. Obviously I accepted that apology.
My view is that I would keep an open mind and consider any request from
Mr Trump to address parliament if and when it is made. I do not intend
to argue the case for or against Mr Trump's visit. That is not my role
as Speaker. The risk procedure as it stands means that either Mr Speaker
or myself can effectively vetoed a proposal for visiting leader to
address parliament at least as far as Westminster Hall is concerned. I
think it is for Parliament to consider whether there is a better
way in which such decisions can be made.
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
The Government's defended its treatment of interpreters
who used to work with UK troops in Afghanistan.
A Conservative MP on the Defence Committee -
which has been looking at what support is given to local
people who've worked alongside the British -
Raffi Hottak, a former interpreter who was injured in Helmand
and now lives in the UK, described how - if workers moved
to different parts of Afghanistan - they would be seen as having backed
The perception all over the country for them is that they have
served the infidel forces, they are the eyes and ears
You move to a different location, they see you as a spy.
You flag up in this society where you don't belong to.
I dealt specifically with a case that was brought to my attention
by two colleagues of mine who are still serving and felt
rather constrained by this in terms of bringing it
But this particular individual had worked with us
When the Americans had left he had gone back to his province
in the east of the country, where he then received nightly
letters and then he had to leave his family.
He attempted to access one of the schemes that we had set up,
but he fell outside the rather tight and overtight boundaries
Hundreds of applications that have been granted to people under
the redundancy scheme to come here, but as I understand that there has
only been a single application, maybe that has gone up a bit,
of people who have applied to come to the UK and the intimidation
scheme and it's the intimidation scheme that we are most worried
about, because our main concern has to be that people who helped us
are now being left to dangle and twist in the wind.
In terms of the number of people who have applied
for intimidation scheme, it's about 400, of whom about 30
have been granted money to relocate in Afghanistan and of whom one
or two, depending on how you define one, who is a Foreign Office LEC,
who have been accepted for Visa applications to come back to the UK.
How many of those who applied to the intimidation scheme
How many asked to come to the UK and how many were turned down?
Probably the vast majority wanted to come to the UK.
I mean, it is probably unfair to say turned down.
What we do is look at what is required to manage
In some cases their concern is quite generic, it's
about instability in Afghanistan, it's about a desire
In some cases it's an absolutely specific threat which we will
address, and in some cases that is meant by changes
In some cases it is met by relocation to another
I'm not in any way saying that everybody that applies is saying
economically they would be better off here if somebody could do this.
But it is fully investigated by trained officers who actually see
And at the same time we have to be very conscious of, you know,
Given, in my opinion, our shabby treatment
of Afghan interpreters, do you think in future operations
it is going to severely impede our ability to recruit locals
I would probably have assumed that, but actually because we pay very
well, there is a good contract, there are new schemes going forward,
we have no shortage, interestingly enough,
but people who want to work with us and interpreters
For too long, the European Union has been 'marching
The phrase of the business leader and former Trade
Minister Digby Jones, now Lord Jones.
He told a committee of MPs weighing up Britain's trade options
after 2019 that when it came to trade, the EU had been
You have mentioned in the past, I think it was in your
book Fixing Britain, that our own government,
whether elected politicians or enforcers in the civil service,
must not suffocate our lifeline into the 21st-century.
The point that you have just made around the way that European Union
regulations are introduced in Britain as opposed
to other parts of the EU, is it not also possible that
many of the issues you faced were actually as a result of the EU
having that exclusive competence over trade which stops the agility
of British business and therefore if the British Government act
They appear to be marching valiantly towards 1970.
Whether you're the US, Nafta at the moment,
whether you are Britain in out of the EU, wherever you are you have
got to be globally competitive in a value-added economy
So in a way, if Britain's exit can put that wake-up call into Brussels
to bring about the reform that if only it had reformed,
Britain would probably have voted to stay in,
then that will be a good thing and I come back to the point,
this is about an unemployed kid in Athens having no chance
of a job because the whole ideology is not globalised.
And one thing Britain has always done in, out,
any political party in power, it doesn't matter, they have always
They have always had an open market and they have always wanted
And the one thing that being a member of the EU has not
allowed us to do is to the best deal for a kid in Manchester,
because we've had to do what Brussels has said.
A Labour MP says she's "ashamed to live in a country"
where unexpected deaths of mental health patients is on the rise.
Monday's night Panorama programme on BBC TV revealed how an increase
in deaths of such patients had coincided with cuts in numbers
At health questions in the Commons, the former Shadow Health Minister
Luciana Berger said no-one should lose their life in
Members across this House might have seen that Panorama programme
last night and frankly it was shocking and disgusting.
And I am ashamed to live in a country where in the past year
there has been over 1000 more unexpected deaths under the care
That is not a reflection of a country that cares equally
about mental health as it does about physical health,
and in spite of what the Secretary of State just told us,
the money he talks about is not getting to where it is intended.
What is he actually going to do to ensure that no person
in our country, not one single person should lose their life
because they have a mental health condition that is not
Let me start by saying I agree with her.
There is a huge amount we need to do to improve mental health
But let me also said to her that a huge amount has been
We are now, as she knows, seeing 1400 more people every day
We are committing huge amounts of extra money into mental health
provision and we are a think becoming a global leader
in mental health provision, certainly according to the person
who is in charge of the Royal College of Psychiatrists,
and I think we have to support the efforts that are happening
in the NHS, because I think we are one of the best in the world.
Now, once upon a time they were a harmless feature
But have they now become too much of a curse of modern-day living?
A recent study says Britain's seagull population has
But are they getting not just more plentiful but more aggressive?
Time for a parliamentary debate on what to do about seagulls.
A coastal MP explained why things were getting serious.
My local newspaper the Plymouth Herald ran
a story last summer titled, "Plymouth will belong
to seagulls this summer, but this is how you can avoid them."
You see photos in the press of a pensioner with
We read stories about a diving seagull killing a pet dog.
Things have become so bad and so widely publicised that our
former Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted a big conversation
When I am on the phone in my constituency talking to anyone else,
anywhere else in the country, they always referred to the lovely
sound of seagulls in the background, so for many, many people they come
to Cornwall because of the contribution that seagulls make,
but the truth is they are getting and it is getting
The problem of seagulls is not confined to town
They breed and nest on the flat roofs of houses.
They squabble with each other, they squawk incessantly at all hours
of the day and night, creating a nasty racket.
And this noise and filth, which can only be a health hazard,
constitutes quite a serious challenge for residents even
There could be a case for, as I like to put it,
mobile licensing awareness points around homes.
Simply desks with printers and bits of information to tell people
what their rights are to empower them to take back their communities
against the blight of seagulls which is so often
But do join me for our next daily round-up.
Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.