Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 11 July with Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there, and welcome to the programme.
The Health Minister confirms there's to be an inquiry
Nearly 2,500 people are thought to have died after being given
products that were infected with hepatitis C or HIV.
A Government-commissioned report on employment says
all work in the UK should be "fair and decent".
And David Davis says there's unity at the top when it comes to Brexit.
You will find in terms of public statements, it is very hard to put a
cigarette paper between the Chancellor and myself.
But first - Theresa May has ordered a UK wide enquiry into the use
of contaminated blood products in the NHS, stemming from the 1970s.
2,400 people have died as a result of the scandal.
Many of them were haemophiliacs who died from hepatitis C
It has been called the worst treatment disaster in
Many of those affected and their families say they were not
told of the risks involved and believe there was a cover-up.
In an emergency debate, the Labour MP Diana Johnson,
who has campaigned for an enquiry, said the victims needed answers.
They deserve to be told what went wrong, why it went wrong, and who is
responsible for what happened. The story of the injustice they have
suffered also needs to be set out and told to the wider public. Their
voices need to be heard. Apologies, compensation and other forms of
support are essential, but if their right to answers is not also
satisfied, I feel that they will be denied true and meaningful justice.
She said successive governments of all colours had sidestepped
She turned to the questions that needed to be answered,
such as why the Government had not acted sooner.
Because the UK was not self-sufficient in blood supplies,
profit-making American companies played a considerable role in
supplying factor concentrates to haemophilia patients. This plot was
sourced from much riskier patients, including prison inmates, who were
much more likely to have infections and had a financial incentive to be
less than honest about the risks of infection. The dangers of American
products were being discussed in public, not from the 1990s, nor the
1980s, but from 1970. A Conservative turned his fire
on one of the five charities set up In my experience, I have to say to
the minister, the McFarland trust has done anything but help my
constituent. They have behaved in an utterly despicable way. They refused
to take meetings with my constituent or with me. I have requested
meetings for the past six years. And they always come back with a reason
why they can't have a meeting. They have bullied my constituent. The
trustees of the McFarland have bullied her. And they have fed her
scraps. Labour called for a
Hillsborough-style enquiry The previous two enquiries have not
been sufficient in seeking justice and this is the reason why a
Hillsborough style enquiry must be actioned and secondly the evidence
presented so far is clear that if we are to have the truth and
reconciliation of the murky covering up of this scandal, then the
strongest of daylight must be shone on every aspect of this scandal,
leaving no stone unturned. I am pleased to be able to confirm to the
house that the Government intends to call an enquiry into the events that
led to so many people being infected with HIV and - or hepatitis C
through NHS supplied blood and blood products. We have heard already
today that there have been calls for an enquiry based on the model that
was used to investigate the Hillsborough tragedy, a so-called
Hillsborough style panel. This will allow for a sensitive investigation
of the issues, allowing those affected and their families close
personal engagement with an independent and trusted panel. There
have also been suggestions that only a formal statutory enquiry, led by a
senior judge, under the enquiries act 2005, will provide the answer is
that those affected want. The Government can see that there are
merits in both approaches. And to ensure that whatever is established
is in the interest of those affected, we will engage with the
affected groups and interested parties, including the all-party
parliamentary group, before taking a final decision on the type of
enquiry. Will he confirm that in terms of drawing up the scope of the
enquiry, you will be careful not to do anything that would endanger any
future trials and also will he also further emphasise that anyone with
information must make sure it is made available to the police? My
honourable friend will recollect from the recent Hillsborough enquiry
that it gave rise to certain information which was made available
to the police, which led to certain charges being made. We would
envisage that any enquiry that is established would have the ability
to do the same thing if that is appropriate.
An MP who was a former surgeon turned to one of the former reports.
She wondered why there had not already been a public enquiry.
I remember a criticism in response to Penrose in 2015, saying they were
surprised that clinicians showed so much trust in the quality of blurbs.
But a clinician was using hundreds of drugs and implants and machines
and blood products must be able to trust them. We have no mechanism
personally to check them. That is the role of Government and all the
agencies of Government. That is why we have licensing and inspections
and why when there is suspicion of harm action must be taken.
Theresa May has said flexible working practices
should not be an excuse to exploit employees.
But she also called flexibility "the British way" -
The Prime Minister was responding to a report on modern working practices
The author, Matthew Taylor, recommended sick and holiday pay
for workers in the gig economy and a new employment status
When the report was debated in the Commons, opposition MPs
Labour said that after seven years in power, the Conservatives had done
They have inflicted hardship on public sector workers with a pay
which has been confirmed yesterday by the Department for Education for
yet another year. They promised workers on board, but rolled back
scared when powerful interests said they were not particularly keen on
the idea, and they have introduced employment tribunal fees, which has
made it much harder for workers to enforce their rights. So today, with
the publication of the Taylor review, although there was a real
opportunity to overhaul the existing employment system in a way that
would protect workers in a rapidly changing world of work, but in the
words of the general secretary of Unite, the biggest union in the UK,
instead of the serious programme the country urgently needs to ensure
that once again work pays in this country we got a depressing sense
that insecurity is the inevitable new normal.
The Minister said the Government would be considering
He does criticise Government's record and so I would like to remind
her that it is this Government that has introduced the National Living
Wage, that it is this Government that has presided over the minimum
wage being at its highest rate in real terms since it was introduced,
and the facts remain that the wage increase we have seen in the last
year have been at their highest amongst the lowest paid thanks to
the National Living Wage. Today's response in the Taylor review for
the Government tells us everything we need to know about their frailty
and their approach to work's rights. A weak set of proposals that
probably will not be admitted that the set of talking bout that leads
the power with the businesses. It was interesting that the Prime
Minister did not mention the role of the trade unions in securing fair
rights at work. If the news reports are right, Matthew Taylor goes for
flexibility rather than always implementing the National Minimum
Wage. Can we have an undertaking from the Government that they will
always abide by the National Minimum Wage, even if there is a loss of
flexibility? I congratulate the honourable gentleman for all the
work he did sharing the work and pensions Select Committee in the
last parliament. And I can assure him that minimum wage rates are
absolutely sacrosanct. There will be no trade-off with regard to ensuring
that everybody is paid at least the minimum wage.
One MP - a former actor - is a fan of flexible working.
I have spent 45 years in the deep economy and what I liked about the
Digital economy is that it was very flexible and in order to big build a
career, I found myself delivering bacon across north London from
Smithfield market. I became a removal man and many things. But
does my Right Honourable friend agree with me that it is very
welcome that this report supports a flexible labour market and is not in
favour of restricting that flexibility were individuals wanted?
Someone who has done a few gigs in his time. Can I urge the Minister to
reject this think tank the jargon of the phrase depended contact? Work is
work. Workers are workers. Depending contractors of the world unite, you
have nothing to lose but your chains is not going to change anything.
The Speaker explained to new MPs that when Mr Brennan mentioned gigs,
he was talking about his involvement in Parliament's rock band.
You're watching Tuesday in Parliament,
The Foreign Secretary has told MPs the European Union can "go whistle"
for any "extortionate" final payment from the UK on Brexit.
And Boris Johnson said that the Government had "no plan"
for what to do in the event of no deal being agreed.
The Prime Minister has said that "no deal is better than a bad deal".
However, Number Ten has played down suggestions that Theresa May
could walk away from the Brexit talks over the EU's demand
for a settlement worth tens of billions of pounds.
The subject was raised with the Foreign Secretary
Since we joined the Common Market on the 1st of February 1973
until the date we leave, we will have given the EU and
its predecessors, in today's money, in real terms,
Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the EU that
if they want a penny piece more, they can go whistle?
I'm sure that my honourable friend's words will have broken
like a thunder clap over Brussels and they will pay attention
to what he has said, and he makes a very valid point,
and I think that the sums that I have seen that they propose
to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate and I think
"Go whistle" is an entirely appropriate expression.
In March, the Foreign Secretary said that
leaving the EU with no deal would be perfectly OK.
However, last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer
said that that would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain.
Since the two positions are clearly completely contradictory,
who should the British public believe?
I think what the British public can take from both the Chancellor
and myself and indeed from the vast majority of Labour members opposite,
as I understand their position, that we all want to get on and do
the deal and do the best deal possible and to leave the EU.
With the Chancellor and the First Secretary of State,
they were going to need at least a transitional period of three years
during which we will remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ.
Neither the Chancellor nor the First Secretary of State
Other European leaders were making it clear that they would not
accept a deal on any terms and does he share my view that what is sauce
for the goose is sauce for the gander?
He makes a very good point about the negotiating stance of
our friends and partners across the Channel.
They do sound at the moment as though they're pretty hard over,
But I have no doubt that in the fullness of time, a subtle
mist will descend and a willingness to compromise, because after all,
a great Brexit deal, a great free trade deal, a deep and special
partnership is in the interest of both sides of the Channel.
Can he explain what that no deal option
would mean for the people and businesses of Great Britain?
As I have said before, I think that the chances
of such an outcome are vanishing and unlikely since it is
manifestly in the interest of both sides of the Channel to get a great
free trade deal and a new deep and special partnership between us
and the European Union, and that is what we
I thank the Foreign Secretary for that answer,
but unfortunately it leaves us none the wiser.
After all, it is the Prime Minister, at least the Prime Minister for now,
who decided to put the deal of the no deal option
couldn't stop using the phrase during the election campaign.
Given that a plan for no deal would be
worse than a dereliction of duty, can the Foreign Secretary spell out
publicly what no deal would mean and can he reassure
us that if he is not prepared to tell us publicly,
at the very least he has a detailed private plan to manage that risk?
There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get
Just for the sake of example and illustration, I would remind
the honourable lady that there was a time, and I am
old enough to remember it, when Britain was not in what we now
Given that the Prime Minister has appealed to these
benches to help out today, where does the Foreign
Secretary think there are areas for compromise?
As I have said before, I think the striking thing
about this debate is how much unanimity there really is between
the two sides of the chamber on these fundamental questions
and I have been very struck by the Right Honourable
gentleman that was the leader of the Labour Party who seems to me
very much on all fours with the objectives of the Brexit...
He very much agrees with the position that we are
taking and I hope to see him in the lobbies with us.
Well, later, the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, laughed off those
comments by Boris Johnson about the "extortionate"
As we saw, Mr Johnson said the EU could "go whistle"
Appearing before a Lords committee, David Davis was asked
The Foreign Secretary this morning says that, um,
the money that it looks like the EU is asking for is "extortionate"
and it is quite appropriate to say that "go whistle"
The truth is, we all read this, the Europeans read this...
He is not the only one, other members of Government say
things which absolutely blow the strategy off-course.
You'll have to get the Foreign Secretary here to explain his views,
if you really want to, I'm not going to comment
But in terms of the tone, you'll find two levels
of knowledge when you go to our continental partners.
You'll see local knowledge in Brussels, in which, frankly,
They read all the British newspapers, you're quite right,
and they take them, if anything, to seriously, is what I say to them.
It was the reason of humorous exchange between Jean-Claude Juncker
But more importantly, in the context of the 27,
actually very little of what happens here percolates across.
I remember talking to the Austrian Foreign Secretary,
who is turning into a very good friend of mine,
This was about two months ago, and we were talking about the issue
of the citizens' rights, and I explained what we wanted
to do, and he said, "Well, you'd better come to Austria
and say that, because nobody in Austria knows this."
Lady Armstrong turned to what she saw as another area
The discussion that we have heard within government around
a transitional agreement, or implementation period,
whatever you like to call it, has varied enormously.
Between the Chancellor talking about no cliff edge,
and therefore really raising the question of single
market and Customs union membership continuing,
whereas others say something very different.
I mean, leave aside the briefings which I can't speak for,
but you'll find in terms of public statements, it's very hard
to put a cigarette paper between the Chancellor and myself
on the transitional or implementation agreement.
Because we have discussed it at length, virtually
You will similarly find, on another controversial area,
in terms of issues of migration policy, we have both said,
time and again, bringing back control of migration policy
in the UK is not the same as slamming the door.
The session ended with a question from another Labour peer.
May I ask the Minister, how many women are on the negotiating team?
The photo in the Times was a disgrace.
Being taken to task by Lords committee.
Many pundits have suggested that there was an obvious and
gaping hole in the general election campaign last month.
There was little discussion about the economy and the state
Well, a Conservative MP thought it was a subject worthy of debate
and led a discussion in the alternative chamber
He attacked Labour's public spending plans.
If they had carried on spending at the rate they were when they left
office, there would be an extra ?1 trillion added to the public debt
And we saw their manifesto at the last general election
was just spend, spend, spend other people's money with
And that way, I suggest, Ms Ryan, is not the route
And the fact that so few of them are here to defend their plans,
I suspect, tells us everything we need to know.
He turned to the spending demands facing ministers.
There are many pressures on public spending.
There is public sector pay, funding for our National Health Service,
funding for social care, colleagues want more money put
into schools, there are many, many pressures on public spending,
and part of the challenge of being in government is that
you cannot say yes to everybody, you have to make choices
Would he also agree with me that our public services are under
real pressure at the moment, and I think we have to recognise
that, and I speak as someone who works in those public services,
and I see that in my working life there.
According to the latest forecast, the target, a structural deficit
of less than 2% of national income in 2020-21 will be comfortably met
by sticking with the current tax and spending plans.
So there is about ?25 million worth of leeway to invest a little bit
more in those very important public services, whilst at the same time
paying down the deficit in a responsible manner.
When the Chancellor looks at the public finance
position in his Budget, he needs to look at the grade
forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility,
so he needs to look at what tax revenues he is likely to have,
he then needs to look at the pressures on our public
servants, on our public services, he needs to look across the piece,
look at all of the pressures he faces, then he needs to come
to a balanced budget judgment, weighing up all of those things,
and then we need to back him in those decisions.
What we cannot do is each week, have a particular story
that's running around, we then decide that happens to be
the flavour of the month, then when we get to the Budget,
we discover we have run out of money.
Ms Ryan, I feel somewhat like Custer at the Battle
of Little Bighorn at the moment, as the Comanches come running
towards me, and I want to apologise to Tories present for pouring water
on some of the more political points that the honourable member
Over the past seven years, the Government, I believe,
has been very good at one thing, that is patting themselves
on the back and congratulating themselves on what a great job
Even though some many families are more pessimistic
than ever about the future, the Government still trades
on a myth they are overseeing a strong and robust economy.
When they were elected in 2010, they were given a mandate alongside
the Liberal Democrats to bring about real change.
Intentionally, I believe, Ms Ryan, allowing people to believe
that the deficit and the national debt were one and the same thing.
They told the British people in 2010 they would pay off the debt
and bring the Budget into surplus by 2015.
I'm really frustrated at this debate, because I cannot believe
that people are able to spill this nonsense.
The Chancellor, when he stood up in the Spring Budget,
mentioned that inflation was going to be 2.4% in 2017.
Actually, inflation, in May, over the last 12 months,
The OBR's forecast for earnings growth over 2017 was 2.6%.
If inflation continues to grow at 2.9% and wages
continue to grow at 2.6%, then we very quickly
Particularly for those households that are struggling with increasing
The Bank of England are concerned at the increases in household debt.
Household debt is at its highest level since 2008.
Now, this is a real problem for families, especially
when they are going to see their real wages eroded.
And I don't think there is a case in modern political history
of a British Government so regularly failing to meet
There are many ways the Government can balance the books,
and there were very many difficult decisions that had to be taken over
the past seven years, no-one doubts that one.
That being said, the Government chose the path of austerity
of long-term prosperity for everyone in the country.
But surely, Ms Ryan, the cruellest cut of all
is when a politician struts the stage, telling the audience that
which they most dearly wish to hear but knowing in his heart he has
Knowing in his heart that what he is suggesting will lead
Finally, there were more than 80 new MPs elected in June.
Each of them have to make a first, or maiden, speech.
Making hers, the new MP for Oxford East reflected
on the housing crisis in the South of England.
Renters of homes have fewer rights than if they were renting
The rules for housing benefit have been changed so people whose
families have lived in Oxford for generations are being forced out
of the city for the crime of merely owning an average,
And to pay for the right to buy and Housing Association properties,
up to a third of Oxford's remaining council stock could vanish.
As far as I'm concerned, people doing their best to bring
up their children on low incomes in Oxford are today's
Often running between more than one job to make ends meet.
I must say, it comes as a slap in the face to them when they hear
politicians refusing to admit there is such a thing as in-work
poverty, and I was disturbed to hear that in this House
Britain, and especially Oxford, urgently needs more
The new MP for Oxford East bringing us to the end of this
edition of the programe, but do join me at the same time
tomorrow for a Prime Minister's Questions with a difference,
as Damian Green and Emily Thornberry fill in for Theresa May
But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.