Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 9 January, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to the programme.
Questions continue about
the release of serial sexual
offender John Worboys.
Final decisions as to whether
somebody is a danger or not should
rest with those who may be held to
account, not with unaccountable
The Equality Commission comes under
fire in the BBC pay row.
The HRC failed to intervene on the
BBC and has been placated by our BBC
internally funded review that has
clearly not tackle the problem.
And what is the American
president intending to do
when he visits the UK?
Trumpalise the queen.
I have literally no idea what that
We hope to find out, but first...
Westminster awoke on Tuesday
still ruminating on how Theresa May
had reshuffled her Cabinet pack.
The changes may have
been rather limited,
but that didn't mean there weren't
several ministers getting to grips
with new departments and new briefs.
And there was no
gentle warm-up either.
Two new ministers were straight up
at the despatch box.
Less than 24 hours into the job,
the Justice Secretary,
David Gauke was answering questions
about the decision to
release the serial sexual
offender, John Worboys.
Worboys was convicted of 19 offences
and is suspected of attacking
more than 100 women.
But the decision by the Parole Board
to free him, nine years
after he was jailed,
has raised concern
among his victims.
David Gauke explained that
he'd decided to look
into the transparency surrounding
decisions of the parole board.
I should be absolutely clear that I
think the parole board should remain
an independent body, responsible for
making decisions about the ongoing
risk that individuals pose after
serving their tariffs. But I agree
with my predecessor 's assessment
that there is a strong case to
review the case for transparency in
the process, for parole decisions
and how victims are appropriately
engaged in that process, and
consider the case for changes in
policy, practice, or the parole
board -- parole board rules or other
guidance and procedures including
the victims code.
It is all too
clear that the victims of the vile
crimes committed by John Worboys
feel that the process has failed to
do so and such failings undermine
public trust in our wider justice
system. Many women, both the victims
and many others more widely, will be
very anxious indeed about Mr Worboys
being freed and the current legal
restrictions on the parole board
mean that we do not know why this
decision has been taken.
Some of the
victims still have heard nothing
from victims liaison officers and
still don't know what the parole
board terms are and whether this man
may end up living near them. Given
that he had their addresses, will he
urgently ensure that all of the
victims are contracted -- contacted
by liaison officers before this man
is released and given that some of
them also had no opportunity to put
statements to the parole board, is
he confident that due process has
been followed in this decision.
There will be cases where people do
not want to be informed, there will
be places -- cases where people want
to receive a great deal of detail.
We need to have a system that is
sensitive to what victims want.
Given that the tariff is a minimum,
why does the sum test applied by the
parole board appeared to be simply
whether the criminal still poses a
risk to others. What has happened to
the concept that the punishment
should fit the crime?
Is he going to
look explicitly not at the
transparency about how decisions
were being made by how victims are
being heard as part of that process,
and if he is not satisfied, as it
seems many of these victims were not
told how they could have their say
on this situation, Willie uses power
for a judicial review of this
In order that victims
voices are heard I think it is
important that we look at the whole
process to ensure that this is
working for victims in the way that
we want it to.
The public want to be
confident that the parole board is
making a balanced assessment of
risk. Will the Lord Chancellor
review how the parole board assesses
the risks presented by offenders and
consider the role of independent
psychologists on advising on
offender risk, especially when such
advice conflicts with that probation
It seems to me that
it would be better if final
decisions on whether somebody is a
danger or not should rest with those
who would be held to account, not
with unaccountable bureaucrats. It
is not a scientific decision, it is
a matter of opinion, and I would
trust my right honourable friend 's
opinion more than that of an
privatisation of probation in the
West Midlands there was one victims
officer for an area with 3 million
people in it. In this review, can I
ask the very welcome new Justice
Secretary to look at what was taken
away and potentially why, and e-mail
to evict him is not enough when a
relationship is what we used to
Worboys was a prolific sex
attacker for upto ten years and
there are likely to be hundreds of
victims and yet in court he showed
no remorse and dismissed his actions
as banter and two years ago he was
claiming he had done absolutely
nothing wrong, so it is impossible
for people, impossible for people to
understand how the board could
possibly have deemed this man to be
safe. Would my right honourable
friend agree with me that unless and
until the board publicly explains
the rationale behind the decision it
took, people cannot possibly have
confidence in our criminal justice
I completely understand the
point that my honourable friend is
making, as presently stands the
parole board is not able to provide
in public the reasons for their
decision. The chair of the parole
board has made it clear that he
wishes that they could.
The new Justice Secretary,
And another newly-appointed minister
was also called into action early.
The new Culture Secretary,
Matt Hancock, told the Commons
the BBC must act on the issue of pay
equality between male
and female staff.
His comments come in the wake
of the resignation of the BBC's
China Editor Carrie Gracie,
who accused the corporation
of "unlawful pay discrimination".
Responding to an urgent
question on the issue,
Matt Hancock told MPs that the BBC
had a duty to ensure the highest
standards of fairness were applied.
This is not just a matter of
levelling women's pay up, it is a
matter of pay equality. Working for
the BBC is public service and a
great privilege and yet some men at
the BBC are paid far more than other
equivalent public servants. The BBC
have begun to act and I welcome
that, but more action, much more
action is needed, especially when
BBC foreign editors can earn more
than Her Majesty 's ambassadors in
the same jurisdiction.
The BBC is
accountable to the public and we
know more about the pay gap there
than we do at other organisations.
If the secretary of state confident
that female staff at other
broadcasters and media companies are
paid as highly as their male
colleagues, and will be called men
to encourage them to be as
transparent as the BBC? What will he
do to ensure that this story is not
just used as a way to criticise our
national broadcaster, as other media
organisations might wish, but as a
way to highlight pay inequality
committee has decided this morning
to invite the director-general of
the BBC to account for the actions
of the BBC on gender pay since the
publication of salaries last summer.
It is important to see what progress
they have made a lot of progress
needs to be made. Does he agree with
me that this whole thing underlines
why we were right to insist on full
disclosure of top pay not just for
executives but for on-screen talent
I strongly agree with the
chair the select committee and I
welcome his scrutiny of this. I
would say this, the BBC resisted
these transparency measures and now
we are starting to see why.
need the equality and human rights
commission to act and to act
quickly. Why is it that despite
overwhelming evidence that has been
in the public domain for more than
six months has the EH RC failed to
intervene on the BBC and has been
placated by a BBC funded internal
review, which has clearly not
tackled the problem.
As a publicly
funded institution the BBC has to be
both transparent and accountable and
that the existence of this secret
gender pay gap within the
corporation shows that it has been
anything but. Perhaps that would
explain why the BBC management were
so vehemently opposed to having to
publish how much it pays its top
It is not good
enough for the BBC to say that their
performance in this area is better
than in many other sectors. Does he
share my view that it is because the
BBC is funded by public money that
we are entitled to expect them not
just to adhere to the requirements
of the law but to set a higher
standard which others can then
Carrie Gracie says in her
letter that she refers to the BBC
often settling cases out of court
and demanding nondisclosure
agreement, habit unworthy of an
organisation committed to truth.
This issue doesn't just apply to the
BBC but to other broadcasters and
other companies right across the
country. If there were serious
problem if we are trying to get
transparency over equal pay if so
many employers pursue nondisclosure
agreements when it comes to pay
We should use what ever
tools are at our disposal to ensure
we get the right level of
transparency and, of course, we want
to make sure that this works across
the board at the BBC and other
places and making sure that every
case is looked at rather than just
individual cases is important. There
may be individual circumstances
where an an DA is appropriate but
you have to be very careful in there
used to ensure that a systemic
problem is not hidden by their
Matt Hancock, the new
You're watching Tuesday
In Parliament, with me, Mandy Baker.
If you want to catch
up with all the news
from Westminster on the go,
don't forget our sister programme,
Today In Parliament,
is available as a download
via the BBC Radio 4 Website.
Now, if you're concerned that
I haven't yet said the word
Brexit in this programme,
fear not - here it comes.
The Government's been
accused of using Brexit
legislation as a power grab.
That charge from opposition parties
came as MPs held their first debate
on the Government's Trade Bill,
which will allow ministers
to install a new system for the day
after Brexit next year.
The International Trade Secretary
defended the powers in the Bill.
We want to protect the access to
global markets that are so vital to
thousands of British businesses. We
want to abide by our obligations to
those economies that have already
negotiated free trade agreements and
other trade agreements with the
European Union. This bill grants
pass the powers necessary to achieve
But Labour accused the minister
of taking power from Brussels
bureaucrats and giving
it to the Government
rather than Parliament.
No need for a debate, no need for a
vote, that is simply not good enough
in a modern democracy. Honourable
members hold this House's dignity
very cheap indeed if they vote
tonight to govern ourselves in a
Universal Credit is discouraging
private landlords from letting
their properties to benefit
to one Lib Dem MP.
And many landlords are reporting
that tenants on Universal Credit
are in rent arrears.
MPs were debating the issue
in Westminster Hall.
I checked the records again and
again and again and I said this was
going to be a car crash on this
article issue and it was ignored so
we move on to 2015, bit of context,
we had numerous examples as my
colleague has indicated and others
have experienced in this room over
the last two years without that
default, fewer and fewer private
landlords are actually letting the
people on Universal Credit and those
he worked were falling into arrears.
Just utter madness.
I had a landlord
come to my surgery with 20 tenants
on Universal Credit of whom 18 were
in arrears and nine had to be
evicted, that is at this very early
stage of the roll-out when the full
service hasn't yet come to my area.
Does he agree with me that those are
the sort of facts that don't fit
into the theory of Universal Credit?
In Northern Ireland we have
glaciated that but it has not led to
an increase in terms of rent
arrears, there are other problems
but rent arrears is not a big one
and we have negotiated twice per
month payments which also helps with
the landlords and tenants to know
that their rent is being paid to the
landlord and that he or she not
going into arrears.
At the time I am
reliably informed by a colleague in
Northern Ireland that the DWP and I
think it was then the secretary of
state didn't want to budge and was
insistent that this would collapse
the entire thing but as the
colleagues opposite have discovered
and my friends at the DUP, when they
did their heels in, they did their
heels in so I pay tribute on this
one because the DUP and I think the
SDLP said no, we are not nudging. It
must be a default payment and do you
know what, it worked, it's the same
The main Rob is the
way that the delays in the paying of
Universal Credit led to rent arrears
building up. This triggered a
downward spiral of events, with
landlords serving eviction notices
albeit reluctantly, which led to an
increase in homelessness, added
pressure on local authorities and
housing associations to House those
who were evicted and then
subsequently the reduction in
housing as private landlords decided
not to let the Universal Credit
While bad and greedy
landlords have given the sector a
bad press, it'd start of landlords
in the private sector are and often
they only have one property let out
as a contribution to their pension
or way to save for the future. Two
thirds of landlords are basic rate
tax payers and not on high incomes
but why they are sympathetic to
tenants, they know that they would
fall into debt of the rent is not
The need for a roof over your
head, home way you can bring up a
family is a basic human need. By
2021, it is estimated there will be
around 7 million people claiming
Universal Credit, over half of whom
will be in work. Where will they
live if wages don't cover their rent
and housing support does not make up
the shortfall? It is time the
government to heed the warnings from
landlords, the voluntary sector and
this side of the House and fixed
The safeguards we
have in place with the improvement
in Universal Credit and the personal
budgeting in place, these concerns
should be groundless, they should
pay more attention to the evidence
and the and helpful scaremongering
from the opposition benches, I can
only evidence the fact that in Prime
Minister's Questions, the Leader of
the Opposition claimed that
Gloucester city homes had evicted
one in eight, 12% of tenants due to
Universal Credit, that would have
been 650 tenants, in actual fact it
And that was Caroline Dinenage's
last appearance in that role -
she's been reshuffled
to the Department of
Health and Social Care.
Now, if you were watching this
programme on Monday you'll have seen
that some MPs were up in arms
with the then universities minister
Jo Johnson about the appointment
of the journalist Toby Young
to the board of a new higher
Well, now Mr Young's resigned.
The man may have gone
but the story rumbles on.
Toby Young was appointed
to the Office for Students board -
but he has been criticised
because of his past comments
about women, gay people
and the disabled in newspaper
articles and on Twitter.
The issue came up at
question time in the Lords.
I'm sure the minister would agree
with me that there is no place for
cronyism in public appointments.
Given that public appointments are
based on principles and given the
fact that somebody was appointed to
this position who had posted on
social media the most appalling
comments, do those principles need
to be strengthened?
Can I say at the
outset that this is very much a time
of reflection following the
resignation this morning.
And we want to learn from this and
it is regrettable that the offensive
tweets were not picked up on before
specification required candidates to
have good judgment, high levels of
integrity, inspire confidence with a
wide range of stakeholders and, my
lords, demonstrate high standards of
personal conduct. Is the noble
Viscount saying that these
objectionable tweets were not known
to his department and indeed the Mr
Jo Johnson bestial Mark isn't it the
case that Jo Johnson imposed this
wretched man on the board of the O P
S and can heat now tell me as Jo
Johnson has been removed that the
independence of the OAS, which the
government guaranteed during the
passage of a higher education
research bill fairly recently will
now be established?
First of all,
there is no imposition of candidate
into this particular position and
can I say that the current make-up
of the office for students is a
broad church, broad range of people,
which is what we set out to do in
the first place and can I say that
in terms of the noble Lord's
question, no, we did not know about
the obnoxious tweaks that came out
and this is the reason why I said at
the outset we need to do better with
50,000 tweets, some of which were
completely obnoxiously this is
something which we should have known
about and we need to learn the
lesson from this.
Since the Minister
has recognised there was a process
in these appointments, it follows
there must be a record of those who
were involved in the process. Can he
tell the House, other than the
minister directly responsible, which
other ministers were involved in the
process, either formally on the
record or informally?
process was gone through. The launch
was made in July and the closure
after the advertising is was made
closed in August and the Secretary
of State is responsible for the
appointment so the process went
through. Can I also say, which I
would like to say to the noble Lord
as well, that Mr Young was appointed
on merit in terms of what he had
actually done and this is very
separate from the obnoxious tweaks
that we know about.
Last week the Foreign Secretary,
Boris Johnson, defended
Toby Young's appointment.
Labour's Lord Campbell-Saviours
wasn't beating around the bush.
Was there a conversation that took
place between Boris Johnson and his
brother Jo Johnson?
can't answer that and I will be
drawn into that particular one. -- I
won't be drawn into that one.
Lord Younger giving short shrift.
A new book about Donald Trump
has caused shock waves
in the United States and beyond -
with explosive claims
about his mental health
and fitness for public office.
The US president has dismissed
the book as a work of fiction,
insisting that he is in fact
a "very stable genius".
The author, journalist
has defended his work,
predicting that it will bring down
the Trump presidency.
At question time, a Labour MP raised
revelations in the book
about Mr Trump's approach
to foreign affairs.
President Trump's biographer has
said that the President's only
interest in a state visit is the
opportunity to, and I quote,"
Trumpalise the Queen. " Trumpalise
the Queen. I have no idea what that
means but can I ask the Minister to
please save Her Majesty from that
unpleasant sounding audio and cancel
this wretched visit.
Well, I think
Her Majesty the Queen is well
capable of taking this American
president or any American president
in her stride, as she has done over
six remarkable decades. She has seen
them, and she has seen them go. If
she seeks advice on whether or not
to invite the president of the
United States to visit this country
and we are very close allies, might
high invite her to ask the person
next door to her who said last year
I think we have two welcome the
American president to Britain, we
have to work with him. Those were
the words of the Right honourable
Can he confirmed that United
States remains our closest ally and
the special relationship rest is on
more than just personalities, on
trade, close military alliances and
a share viewed of the world.
not have put it better myself and I
commend again to the House the wise
words of the Shadow Foreign
Secretary when she said that it was
the bright thing to invite the
president of the United States to
visit this country.
I never said
In response to the North
Korean leader, who is apparently
really smart and a stable genius
tweeted I have a nuclear button that
is bigger and more powerful than his
and my button works. What does
President Trump have to say for any
wedding or any visit to be
I think that, if I
understood the honourable
gentleman's question correctly, he
wishes to receive and the invitation
to the president of the United
States. I don't believe that is
sensible. The United States is our
closest, most important security and
economic partner and will continue
to be so.
After question time,
Emily Thornberry took
issue with Boris Johnson.
Rather than erupting, it is in order
to correct the record to say I never
thought it was a good idea to him by
the president of the United States
to the UK, in fact I thought the
invitation was issued with undue
haste at once it had been issued on
behalf of Her Majesty is very
difficult to withdraw it.
beetling into the box, if he wishes
to stand up at the box and offer a
product of his work, we are happy to
I'm not sure what is in
order, guide me on this point but I
must redirect the honourable lady
and the House to her words on the
14th of May 2017 on the Andrew Marr
programme when she said, "I think we
have two welcome the American
president to Britain, we have to
work with him, I rest my case.
think the honour is served. The
Shadow Foreign Secretary has offered
House her thoughts and the Foreign
Secretary with some alacrity has
Beatles back to the box in order to
respond and I think we should at
least for today leave it there.
And that's it.
I'm off to learn the names
of all the new junior ministers,
but do join me at the same time
tomorrow for another round up
of the day here at Westminster,
But for now from me,
Mandy Baker, goodbye.
Mandy Baker, goodbye.