09/01/2018 Tuesday in Parliament


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09/01/2018

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 9 January, presented by Mandy Baker.


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Hello and welcome to the programme.

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Coming up:

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Questions continue about

the release of serial sexual

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offender John Worboys.

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Final decisions as to whether

somebody is a danger or not should

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rest with those who may be held to

account, not with unaccountable

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bureaucrats.

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The Equality Commission comes under

fire in the BBC pay row.

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The HRC failed to intervene on the

BBC and has been placated by our BBC

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internally funded review that has

clearly not tackle the problem.

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And what is the American

president intending to do

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when he visits the UK?

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Trumpalise the queen.

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I have literally no idea what that

means.

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We hope to find out, but first...

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Westminster awoke on Tuesday

still ruminating on how Theresa May

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had reshuffled her Cabinet pack.

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The changes may have

been rather limited,

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but that didn't mean there weren't

several ministers getting to grips

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with new departments and new briefs.

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And there was no

gentle warm-up either.

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Two new ministers were straight up

at the despatch box.

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Less than 24 hours into the job,

the Justice Secretary,

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David Gauke was answering questions

about the decision to

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release the serial sexual

offender, John Worboys.

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Worboys was convicted of 19 offences

and is suspected of attacking

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more than 100 women.

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But the decision by the Parole Board

to free him, nine years

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after he was jailed,

has raised concern

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among his victims.

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David Gauke explained that

he'd decided to look

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into the transparency surrounding

decisions of the parole board.

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I should be absolutely clear that I

think the parole board should remain

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an independent body, responsible for

making decisions about the ongoing

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risk that individuals pose after

serving their tariffs. But I agree

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with my predecessor 's assessment

that there is a strong case to

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review the case for transparency in

the process, for parole decisions

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and how victims are appropriately

engaged in that process, and

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consider the case for changes in

policy, practice, or the parole

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board -- parole board rules or other

guidance and procedures including

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the victims code.

It is all too

clear that the victims of the vile

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crimes committed by John Worboys

feel that the process has failed to

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do so and such failings undermine

public trust in our wider justice

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system. Many women, both the victims

and many others more widely, will be

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very anxious indeed about Mr Worboys

being freed and the current legal

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restrictions on the parole board

mean that we do not know why this

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decision has been taken.

Some of the

victims still have heard nothing

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from victims liaison officers and

still don't know what the parole

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board terms are and whether this man

may end up living near them. Given

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that he had their addresses, will he

urgently ensure that all of the

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victims are contracted -- contacted

by liaison officers before this man

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is released and given that some of

them also had no opportunity to put

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statements to the parole board, is

he confident that due process has

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been followed in this decision.

There will be cases where people do

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not want to be informed, there will

be places -- cases where people want

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to receive a great deal of detail.

We need to have a system that is

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sensitive to what victims want.

Given that the tariff is a minimum,

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why does the sum test applied by the

parole board appeared to be simply

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whether the criminal still poses a

risk to others. What has happened to

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the concept that the punishment

should fit the crime?

Is he going to

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look explicitly not at the

transparency about how decisions

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were being made by how victims are

being heard as part of that process,

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and if he is not satisfied, as it

seems many of these victims were not

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told how they could have their say

on this situation, Willie uses power

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for a judicial review of this

decision.

In order that victims

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voices are heard I think it is

important that we look at the whole

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process to ensure that this is

working for victims in the way that

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we want it to.

The public want to be

confident that the parole board is

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making a balanced assessment of

risk. Will the Lord Chancellor

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review how the parole board assesses

the risks presented by offenders and

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consider the role of independent

psychologists on advising on

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offender risk, especially when such

advice conflicts with that probation

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professionals.

It seems to me that

it would be better if final

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decisions on whether somebody is a

danger or not should rest with those

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who would be held to account, not

with unaccountable bureaucrats. It

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is not a scientific decision, it is

a matter of opinion, and I would

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trust my right honourable friend 's

opinion more than that of an

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unaccountable bureaucracy.

Since the

privatisation of probation in the

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West Midlands there was one victims

officer for an area with 3 million

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people in it. In this review, can I

ask the very welcome new Justice

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Secretary to look at what was taken

away and potentially why, and e-mail

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to evict him is not enough when a

relationship is what we used to

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have.

Worboys was a prolific sex

attacker for upto ten years and

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there are likely to be hundreds of

victims and yet in court he showed

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no remorse and dismissed his actions

as banter and two years ago he was

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claiming he had done absolutely

nothing wrong, so it is impossible

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for people, impossible for people to

understand how the board could

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possibly have deemed this man to be

safe. Would my right honourable

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friend agree with me that unless and

until the board publicly explains

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the rationale behind the decision it

took, people cannot possibly have

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confidence in our criminal justice

system.

I completely understand the

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point that my honourable friend is

making, as presently stands the

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parole board is not able to provide

in public the reasons for their

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decision. The chair of the parole

board has made it clear that he

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wishes that they could.

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The new Justice Secretary,

David Gauke.

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And another newly-appointed minister

was also called into action early.

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The new Culture Secretary,

Matt Hancock, told the Commons

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the BBC must act on the issue of pay

equality between male

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and female staff.

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His comments come in the wake

of the resignation of the BBC's

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China Editor Carrie Gracie,

who accused the corporation

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of "unlawful pay discrimination".

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Responding to an urgent

question on the issue,

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Matt Hancock told MPs that the BBC

had a duty to ensure the highest

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standards of fairness were applied.

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This is not just a matter of

levelling women's pay up, it is a

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matter of pay equality. Working for

the BBC is public service and a

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great privilege and yet some men at

the BBC are paid far more than other

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equivalent public servants. The BBC

have begun to act and I welcome

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that, but more action, much more

action is needed, especially when

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BBC foreign editors can earn more

than Her Majesty 's ambassadors in

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the same jurisdiction.

The BBC is

accountable to the public and we

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know more about the pay gap there

than we do at other organisations.

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If the secretary of state confident

that female staff at other

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broadcasters and media companies are

paid as highly as their male

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colleagues, and will be called men

to encourage them to be as

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transparent as the BBC? What will he

do to ensure that this story is not

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just used as a way to criticise our

national broadcaster, as other media

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organisations might wish, but as a

way to highlight pay inequality

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across-the-board?

The select

committee has decided this morning

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to invite the director-general of

the BBC to account for the actions

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of the BBC on gender pay since the

publication of salaries last summer.

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It is important to see what progress

they have made a lot of progress

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needs to be made. Does he agree with

me that this whole thing underlines

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why we were right to insist on full

disclosure of top pay not just for

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executives but for on-screen talent

as well.

I strongly agree with the

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chair the select committee and I

welcome his scrutiny of this. I

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would say this, the BBC resisted

these transparency measures and now

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we are starting to see why.

The laws

need the equality and human rights

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commission to act and to act

quickly. Why is it that despite

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overwhelming evidence that has been

in the public domain for more than

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six months has the EH RC failed to

intervene on the BBC and has been

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placated by a BBC funded internal

review, which has clearly not

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tackled the problem.

As a publicly

funded institution the BBC has to be

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both transparent and accountable and

that the existence of this secret

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gender pay gap within the

corporation shows that it has been

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anything but. Perhaps that would

explain why the BBC management were

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so vehemently opposed to having to

publish how much it pays its top

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earning presenters.

It is not good

enough for the BBC to say that their

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performance in this area is better

than in many other sectors. Does he

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share my view that it is because the

BBC is funded by public money that

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we are entitled to expect them not

just to adhere to the requirements

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of the law but to set a higher

standard which others can then

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follow?

Carrie Gracie says in her

letter that she refers to the BBC

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often settling cases out of court

and demanding nondisclosure

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agreement, habit unworthy of an

organisation committed to truth.

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This issue doesn't just apply to the

BBC but to other broadcasters and

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other companies right across the

country. If there were serious

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problem if we are trying to get

transparency over equal pay if so

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many employers pursue nondisclosure

agreements when it comes to pay

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claims?

We should use what ever

tools are at our disposal to ensure

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we get the right level of

transparency and, of course, we want

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to make sure that this works across

the board at the BBC and other

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places and making sure that every

case is looked at rather than just

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individual cases is important. There

may be individual circumstances

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where an an DA is appropriate but

you have to be very careful in there

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used to ensure that a systemic

problem is not hidden by their

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overuse.

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Matt Hancock, the new

Culture Secretary.

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You're watching Tuesday

In Parliament, with me, Mandy Baker.

0:11:210:11:24

If you want to catch

up with all the news

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from Westminster on the go,

don't forget our sister programme,

0:11:260:11:28

Today In Parliament,

is available as a download

0:11:280:11:30

via the BBC Radio 4 Website.

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Now, if you're concerned that

I haven't yet said the word

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Brexit in this programme,

fear not - here it comes.

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The Government's been

accused of using Brexit

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legislation as a power grab.

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That charge from opposition parties

came as MPs held their first debate

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on the Government's Trade Bill,

which will allow ministers

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to install a new system for the day

after Brexit next year.

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The International Trade Secretary

defended the powers in the Bill.

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We want to protect the access to

global markets that are so vital to

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thousands of British businesses. We

want to abide by our obligations to

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those economies that have already

negotiated free trade agreements and

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other trade agreements with the

European Union. This bill grants

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pass the powers necessary to achieve

these aims.

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But Labour accused the minister

of taking power from Brussels

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bureaucrats and giving

it to the Government

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rather than Parliament.

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No need for a debate, no need for a

vote, that is simply not good enough

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in a modern democracy. Honourable

members hold this House's dignity

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very cheap indeed if they vote

tonight to govern ourselves in a

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dictatorship.

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Barry Gardiner.

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Universal Credit is discouraging

private landlords from letting

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their properties to benefit

claimants, according

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to one Lib Dem MP.

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And many landlords are reporting

that tenants on Universal Credit

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are in rent arrears.

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MPs were debating the issue

in Westminster Hall.

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I checked the records again and

again and again and I said this was

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going to be a car crash on this

article issue and it was ignored so

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we move on to 2015, bit of context,

we had numerous examples as my

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colleague has indicated and others

have experienced in this room over

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the last two years without that

default, fewer and fewer private

0:13:230:13:29

landlords are actually letting the

people on Universal Credit and those

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he worked were falling into arrears.

Just utter madness.

I had a landlord

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come to my surgery with 20 tenants

on Universal Credit of whom 18 were

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in arrears and nine had to be

evicted, that is at this very early

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stage of the roll-out when the full

service hasn't yet come to my area.

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Does he agree with me that those are

the sort of facts that don't fit

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into the theory of Universal Credit?

In Northern Ireland we have

0:14:010:14:07

glaciated that but it has not led to

an increase in terms of rent

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arrears, there are other problems

but rent arrears is not a big one

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and we have negotiated twice per

month payments which also helps with

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the landlords and tenants to know

that their rent is being paid to the

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landlord and that he or she not

going into arrears.

At the time I am

0:14:230:14:28

reliably informed by a colleague in

Northern Ireland that the DWP and I

0:14:280:14:32

think it was then the secretary of

state didn't want to budge and was

0:14:320:14:38

insistent that this would collapse

the entire thing but as the

0:14:380:14:43

colleagues opposite have discovered

and my friends at the DUP, when they

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did their heels in, they did their

heels in so I pay tribute on this

0:14:470:14:51

one because the DUP and I think the

SDLP said no, we are not nudging. It

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must be a default payment and do you

know what, it worked, it's the same

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computer system.

The main Rob is the

way that the delays in the paying of

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Universal Credit led to rent arrears

building up. This triggered a

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downward spiral of events, with

landlords serving eviction notices

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albeit reluctantly, which led to an

increase in homelessness, added

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pressure on local authorities and

housing associations to House those

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who were evicted and then

subsequently the reduction in

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housing as private landlords decided

not to let the Universal Credit

0:15:340:15:37

claimants.

While bad and greedy

landlords have given the sector a

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bad press, it'd start of landlords

in the private sector are and often

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they only have one property let out

as a contribution to their pension

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or way to save for the future. Two

thirds of landlords are basic rate

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tax payers and not on high incomes

but why they are sympathetic to

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tenants, they know that they would

fall into debt of the rent is not

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paid.

The need for a roof over your

head, home way you can bring up a

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family is a basic human need. By

2021, it is estimated there will be

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around 7 million people claiming

Universal Credit, over half of whom

0:16:130:16:16

will be in work. Where will they

live if wages don't cover their rent

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and housing support does not make up

the shortfall? It is time the

0:16:200:16:23

government to heed the warnings from

landlords, the voluntary sector and

0:16:230:16:26

this side of the House and fixed

Universal Credit.

The safeguards we

0:16:260:16:30

have in place with the improvement

in Universal Credit and the personal

0:16:300:16:37

budgeting in place, these concerns

should be groundless, they should

0:16:370:16:42

pay more attention to the evidence

and the and helpful scaremongering

0:16:420:16:47

from the opposition benches, I can

only evidence the fact that in Prime

0:16:470:16:56

Minister's Questions, the Leader of

the Opposition claimed that

0:16:560:16:59

Gloucester city homes had evicted

one in eight, 12% of tenants due to

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Universal Credit, that would have

been 650 tenants, in actual fact it

0:17:030:17:07

was eight.

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And that was Caroline Dinenage's

last appearance in that role -

0:17:090:17:11

she's been reshuffled

to the Department of

0:17:110:17:13

Health and Social Care.

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Now, if you were watching this

programme on Monday you'll have seen

0:17:140:17:17

that some MPs were up in arms

with the then universities minister

0:17:170:17:20

Jo Johnson about the appointment

of the journalist Toby Young

0:17:200:17:22

to the board of a new higher

education watchdog.

0:17:220:17:24

Well, now Mr Young's resigned.

0:17:250:17:28

The man may have gone

but the story rumbles on.

0:17:280:17:31

Toby Young was appointed

to the Office for Students board -

0:17:310:17:34

but he has been criticised

because of his past comments

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about women, gay people

and the disabled in newspaper

0:17:370:17:40

articles and on Twitter.

0:17:400:17:43

The issue came up at

question time in the Lords.

0:17:430:17:49

I'm sure the minister would agree

with me that there is no place for

0:17:490:17:53

cronyism in public appointments.

Given that public appointments are

0:17:530:18:00

based on principles and given the

fact that somebody was appointed to

0:18:000:18:04

this position who had posted on

social media the most appalling

0:18:040:18:08

comments, do those principles need

to be strengthened?

Can I say at the

0:18:080:18:15

outset that this is very much a time

of reflection following the

0:18:150:18:18

resignation this morning.

LAUGHTER

And we want to learn from this and

0:18:180:18:24

it is regrettable that the offensive

tweets were not picked up on before

0:18:240:18:27

the appointment.

The job

specification required candidates to

0:18:270:18:32

have good judgment, high levels of

integrity, inspire confidence with a

0:18:320:18:37

wide range of stakeholders and, my

lords, demonstrate high standards of

0:18:370:18:43

personal conduct. Is the noble

Viscount saying that these

0:18:430:18:50

objectionable tweets were not known

to his department and indeed the Mr

0:18:500:18:56

Jo Johnson bestial Mark isn't it the

case that Jo Johnson imposed this

0:18:560:19:02

wretched man on the board of the O P

S and can heat now tell me as Jo

0:19:020:19:09

Johnson has been removed that the

independence of the OAS, which the

0:19:090:19:15

government guaranteed during the

passage of a higher education

0:19:150:19:19

research bill fairly recently will

now be established?

First of all,

0:19:190:19:23

there is no imposition of candidate

into this particular position and

0:19:230:19:28

can I say that the current make-up

of the office for students is a

0:19:280:19:33

broad church, broad range of people,

which is what we set out to do in

0:19:330:19:37

the first place and can I say that

in terms of the noble Lord's

0:19:370:19:41

question, no, we did not know about

the obnoxious tweaks that came out

0:19:410:19:46

and this is the reason why I said at

the outset we need to do better with

0:19:460:19:51

50,000 tweets, some of which were

completely obnoxiously this is

0:19:510:19:53

something which we should have known

about and we need to learn the

0:19:530:19:58

lesson from this.

Since the Minister

has recognised there was a process

0:19:580:20:03

in these appointments, it follows

there must be a record of those who

0:20:030:20:09

were involved in the process. Can he

tell the House, other than the

0:20:090:20:16

minister directly responsible, which

other ministers were involved in the

0:20:160:20:20

process, either formally on the

record or informally?

The due

0:20:200:20:26

process was gone through. The launch

was made in July and the closure

0:20:260:20:31

after the advertising is was made

closed in August and the Secretary

0:20:310:20:37

of State is responsible for the

appointment so the process went

0:20:370:20:39

through. Can I also say, which I

would like to say to the noble Lord

0:20:390:20:43

as well, that Mr Young was appointed

on merit in terms of what he had

0:20:430:20:48

actually done and this is very

separate from the obnoxious tweaks

0:20:480:20:52

that we know about.

0:20:520:20:54

Last week the Foreign Secretary,

Boris Johnson, defended

0:20:540:20:55

Toby Young's appointment.

0:20:550:20:56

Labour's Lord Campbell-Saviours

wasn't beating around the bush.

0:20:560:21:02

Was there a conversation that took

place between Boris Johnson and his

0:21:020:21:07

brother Jo Johnson?

I certainly

can't answer that and I will be

0:21:070:21:14

drawn into that particular one. -- I

won't be drawn into that one.

0:21:140:21:19

Lord Younger giving short shrift.

0:21:190:21:20

A new book about Donald Trump

has caused shock waves

0:21:200:21:22

in the United States and beyond -

with explosive claims

0:21:220:21:25

about his mental health

and fitness for public office.

0:21:250:21:27

The US president has dismissed

the book as a work of fiction,

0:21:270:21:30

insisting that he is in fact

a "very stable genius".

0:21:300:21:33

The author, journalist

Michael Wolff,

0:21:330:21:34

has defended his work,

predicting that it will bring down

0:21:340:21:37

the Trump presidency.

0:21:370:21:38

At question time, a Labour MP raised

revelations in the book

0:21:380:21:41

about Mr Trump's approach

to foreign affairs.

0:21:410:21:47

President Trump's biographer has

said that the President's only

0:21:470:21:53

interest in a state visit is the

opportunity to, and I quote,"

0:21:530:21:57

Trumpalise the Queen. " Trumpalise

the Queen. I have no idea what that

0:21:570:22:04

means but can I ask the Minister to

please save Her Majesty from that

0:22:040:22:10

unpleasant sounding audio and cancel

this wretched visit.

Well, I think

0:22:100:22:19

Her Majesty the Queen is well

capable of taking this American

0:22:190:22:23

president or any American president

in her stride, as she has done over

0:22:230:22:27

six remarkable decades. She has seen

them, and she has seen them go. If

0:22:270:22:36

she seeks advice on whether or not

to invite the president of the

0:22:360:22:43

United States to visit this country

and we are very close allies, might

0:22:430:22:48

high invite her to ask the person

next door to her who said last year

0:22:480:22:53

I think we have two welcome the

American president to Britain, we

0:22:530:22:58

have to work with him. Those were

the words of the Right honourable

0:22:580:23:01

lady.

Can he confirmed that United

States remains our closest ally and

0:23:010:23:06

the special relationship rest is on

more than just personalities, on

0:23:060:23:12

trade, close military alliances and

a share viewed of the world.

I could

0:23:120:23:15

not have put it better myself and I

commend again to the House the wise

0:23:150:23:24

words of the Shadow Foreign

Secretary when she said that it was

0:23:240:23:27

the bright thing to invite the

president of the United States to

0:23:270:23:30

visit this country.

I never said

that!

In response to the North

0:23:300:23:39

Korean leader, who is apparently

really smart and a stable genius

0:23:390:23:44

tweeted I have a nuclear button that

is bigger and more powerful than his

0:23:440:23:48

and my button works. What does

President Trump have to say for any

0:23:480:23:52

wedding or any visit to be

withdrawn?

I think that, if I

0:23:520:24:03

understood the honourable

gentleman's question correctly, he

0:24:030:24:05

wishes to receive and the invitation

to the president of the United

0:24:050:24:09

States. I don't believe that is

sensible. The United States is our

0:24:090:24:13

closest, most important security and

economic partner and will continue

0:24:130:24:17

to be so.

0:24:170:24:18

After question time,

Emily Thornberry took

0:24:180:24:19

issue with Boris Johnson.

0:24:190:24:22

Rather than erupting, it is in order

to correct the record to say I never

0:24:220:24:27

thought it was a good idea to him by

the president of the United States

0:24:270:24:31

to the UK, in fact I thought the

invitation was issued with undue

0:24:310:24:34

haste at once it had been issued on

behalf of Her Majesty is very

0:24:340:24:38

difficult to withdraw it.

He is

beetling into the box, if he wishes

0:24:380:24:46

to stand up at the box and offer a

product of his work, we are happy to

0:24:460:24:51

hear them.

I'm not sure what is in

order, guide me on this point but I

0:24:510:24:56

must redirect the honourable lady

and the House to her words on the

0:24:560:25:02

14th of May 2017 on the Andrew Marr

programme when she said, "I think we

0:25:020:25:08

have two welcome the American

president to Britain, we have to

0:25:080:25:11

work with him, I rest my case.

I

think the honour is served. The

0:25:110:25:21

Shadow Foreign Secretary has offered

House her thoughts and the Foreign

0:25:210:25:24

Secretary with some alacrity has

Beatles back to the box in order to

0:25:240:25:28

respond and I think we should at

least for today leave it there.

0:25:280:25:32

And that's it.

0:25:320:25:33

I'm off to learn the names

of all the new junior ministers,

0:25:330:25:36

but do join me at the same time

tomorrow for another round up

0:25:360:25:39

of the day here at Westminster,

But for now from me,

0:25:390:25:42

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:420:25:43

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:430:25:47