Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday 27 February, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there, and welcome
to Tuesday in Parliament.
Coming up on this programme:
MPs and experts talk
trade after Brexit.
With the former head
of the World Trade Organization
predicting new deals
won't compensate for the loss
of business with the the EU.
The 1% you can gain their will be
comparable to the five, six or 7%
you would lose on the other side.
A committee of MPs asks
if there's enough information
for smokers about e-cigarette.
And the governments urge to act
to help end a hunger strike
of the Yarl's Wood Detention Centre.
One woman describes it as being
kidnapped. Not knowing when it is
going to end or what is going to
happen to her.
In a speech on Tuesday
morning, the international
Trade Secretary Liam Fox said
britain must be free
to make its own trade
deals outside Europe,
if it's to seize new opportunities
to sell to developing countries.
Labour wants the UK to form
a new customs union,
but Doctor Fox insisted that
would be a complete sell-out
of Britain's national interest.
His speech came as a former
at the Department for
International Trade had described
described Brexit as,
"giving up a 3-course meal in return
for a packet of crisps,"
A comment raised by a Labour MP
at Treasury Questions.
Does he agree with the permanent
secretary that giving up the single
market and the customs Union is like
giving up a 3-course meal for a
packet of crisps in the future? If
he does not agree, then can he
identify specific evidence his book
whoa department has seen the future
trade agreements will outweigh the
damage of leaving the single market
customs union for businesses and
jobs across the country, but
reticulated the Northeast.
Mr Speaker, it is the Government's
intention to maintain the highest
possible access for British
businesses to European Union
markets. And the honourable Lady is
right that we should approach this
on an evidence base is. We should
look for the evidence of value of
our trade flows with Europe, what
that generates in the UK in terms of
jobs, and we should look objectively
at the opportunities that lie with
third country trade deals and the
likely profile of new jobs and new
trade and new opportunities that can
be created come and we shall waive
But another quote appeared to have
the Chancellor a little stumped.
Labor's Stella Creasy
raised comments from
the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
He's used a BBC interview to dismiss
concerns that a hard
Irish border would emerge
after leaving the EU customs union,
suggesting the lack of border checks
between Camden and Westminster
did not stop motorists paying
the congestion charge.
Could the Chancellor set out the
benefits or otherwise of the
arrangements the Government appears
to have for a customs union between
the Camden, is lifting and
I'm sure, Mr Speaker, when I call a
home and reflect on the deep meaning
of that question will become clear
to me. But what I will say in
response to the honourable Lady is
that if we look at the way goods and
services flow freely between
different parts of our own economy,
and indeed it's a different parts of
the United Kingdom, we see at once
the huge benefit that it brings
having frictionless borders as we
move our goods and services.
Well, by coincidence, the former
general of the World Trade
Organization was giving evidence
to MPs on the Brexit committee,
and he was asked about the border
between Northern Ireland
and the Republic.
Currently on this border, if we
resorted to WTO rules, how would the
WTO regard the border between
Northern Ireland and the Irish
Republic? And what would they expect
to happen at that border between
Northern Ireland and the Irish
Republic? Irish Republic, being a
member of the UN Northern Ireland of
course being outside the US the
Whatever option you take,
either a bilateral agreement or the
WTO option, UK exiting EU meaning
Northern Ireland exiting EU, this
will necessitate a border.
He suggested one possible model
like that of Macau and China.
In order to be a WTO member, you
don't need to be sovereign. You need
to have another member's customs,
which is something which Macau, Hong
Kong has, whereas in the case of mad
cow they are clearly belonging to
China. But they are members of the
WTO in their own right, because they
have an autonomous trade. And the
Macau option would be that you
should think it out, giving to
Northern Ireland. The same tray
capacity as China has given to
Macau, which doesn't mean that Macau
doesn't belong to China. And then
you have the single system. Apply
the same trade relations as Ireland.
Otherwise you have to have a vote.
Again, where is this border? Is it
north of us, is the East, West? That
is politically and extremely complex
question. But in my view, and I am
putting this very simply as an
expert, if it is not East and West
it has to be North and South.
So, what was his view
of our future trade prospects?
I'm not seeing the UK will not have
trade opportunities, which it may
not have today as part of the EU.
But I would very much doubt as an
expert, and again I am not entering
any politics, that the 1% you can
gain their will be comparable to the
five, six or 7% you will use on the
Pascal let me.
Now, the former chief executive
of the collapsed construction firm
Carillion has said he's perplexed
by the Government's decision not
to give the company financial help
when it reached a crisis point.
Carillion, one of the government's
went into liquidation last month
with debts totaling £1.5 billion.
The company had employed 43,000
people and had contracts to run
services in hospitals,
schools and prisons
throughout the UK.
As part of the investigation
into the firm's downfall on January
14, some of its former bosses have
been facing the questions
of a joint committee of MPs.
Did government or did anyone
individual and government give you
assurance that there would be a
potential cash support from
government to get you over what you
considered at that point to be a
hot, to get you through to the end
of the financial year?
insurance, we did not get, the
permit certainly did not see... We
would support you. What they did say
is please put forward a proposal and
we are prepared to consider and
contemplate that proposal. The key
point here is there was a number of
different ways that cash could have
come into Carillion. We could have
reached a settlement with government
on specific contract issues or
government that have given us a
short-term loan, which to be clear
what happened repaid out of the
financing of the structuring of the
result of the restructuring plan
that we were working for.
what was your view on the
Government's response following
Right up until
the very end, we were optimistic
that they would be able to play a
positive role. And we were deeply
disappointed. And to an extent
surprised when that didn't happen.
The funding we were asking for those
two weeks in January, essentially 10
million to be matched, 2 million
from the banks and then some
guarantee bending for a supply of
change financing against which we
would, they would be tested for the
broader restructuring plan. And I do
find it somewhat perplexing when one
looks at the funds that government
is now having to spend on the
liquidation on Carillion, on the
guarantee arrangements that have
needed to be put in place to support
the supply chain. You know, I still
truly believe that the least cost
outcome for the taxpayer would have
been to support Carillion, as it
sought to restructure the business.
Did you ever have a conversation
with your colleagues, saying Ashley
the Government is ever going to let
us go to the war because we are too
big to fail and we got such major
contracts? For example a test to?
Because you expressed some surprise
that I feel as if you actually
really believed that the Government
was gone to Bellew out of what was a
poor situation. Would that be fair?
No, it would be fair. Let me be
quick, we were not looking for a
bailout. That is not how I would've
you government support. This was a
short-term loan to help us
facilitate a broader restructuring.
Company successfully delivered. Many
hundreds of contracts. To the
satisfaction of government and all
stakeholders. The reason the company
got into difficulties during 2017
was because it had too much debt and
its balance sheet wasn't able to
withstand the shock from
particularly for contracts that went
badly wrong in the middle of 2017.
Did you not have a naive belief
frankly and government being the
solution, taxpayers money coming
into frankly bailout Carillion? That
was eventually what you are hanging
it all on at the end, wasn't it?
we said, we don't accept or
recognize the bailout. We believed
we were trying...
But a loan to a
company in difficulty. Alan would
have only been a long if you had
been recovered enough to pay it
back. It would be a very big risk.
In middle of January it was £10
million for one week to take us to
the next stage.
So fine a point from
The real answer that
you consider yourself to be to fail?
That the Government would have
to bail you out because you are too
big to fail?
That was not the view
of the board, that was not what we
believed. We really didn't.
think we may beg to differ on that.
But can I thank you for your time?
Black Hill year there, bringing the
session to a conclusion.
You're watching Tuesday
in Parliament here with
me, Alicia McCarthy.
Now the appointment
of the controversial columnist
Toby Young to the Board of England's
new university regulator
caused a storm last month.
After disparaging comments he'd made
about women and disabled
people came to light.
He then resigned.
Now a report by the Commissioner
for Public Appointments has found
serious shortcomings and political
interference in the
Weeks ago the Government told his
House be process was a fair and open
competition, and in accordance with
the code of practice. But the
commissioner has found that this is
not the case. One candidate was
rejected on the basis of their past
public statements. Incredibly, this
was not Toby Young.
It was a student Representative,
rejected due to the desire by
Ministers and special advisers not
to appoint someone with close links
to the student union.
The report also notes that, can the
Minister tell us why being elected
by students makes someone unsuitable
to represent them? And how could the
then Minister tell us that it was
not reasonable to that social media,
when they did so for the student
it was not as extensive as it
It was the previous higher
Education Minister Joe Johnson
who oversaw the appointments.
He came in for some stinging
criticism from MPs.
This report is absolutely damning.
Particularly in relation to the
former Universities Minister and his
role in this appointment. And there
are very serious questions that he
should be answering to this House
about claims that he made that it
was not appropriate to do due
diligence and Canada its? A
statement he made from despatch box
was postop yet his department and
him himself ordering the very same
due diligence against a Cabinet he
did not want to appoint. By Modi
come to this House and apologise. --
when will he come to this House?
same due diligence was carried out
by the same advices on all
candidates and as I've said in
response to an earlier question, did
due diligence could've been or
Toby Young believed in
eugenics. He made terrible remarks
about disabled people. He made awful
remarks about women. This is a man
that his predecessor thought was
fine to be on the board of office
for students. I say to him, what
confidence now should working-class
young people across this country,
underrepresented groups and ethnic
minorities have in the office for
students if we have a government
where the Minister who did this
cannot come to the despatch box,
apologise or step down.
think it was a sound judgement call
to allow number ten and medical
advisers to essentially blacklist
anybody and then appoint somebody
who is age, by not following any
proper process. Was that a good
judgement call by his predisaster?
Every decision any Minister makes
involves a judgement. It's not a
scientific process. In terms of
making sure the process works
better, the department which has
ultimate responsibility to make sure
we have a much more robust and
stringent process next time.
The Government's come under fire
over a port showing the number
of people in England and Wales
being detained under
the mental health act has been
rising year on year.
Labor's Luciana Berger used
an urgent question to raise
the finding of the watchdog,
the Care Quality Commission.
This scathing report finds that too
many patients who are subject to the
Mental Health Act continued to
experience care that does not fully
protect their rights or ensure their
well-being. Despite repeated
government promises, we have seen
yet another year of inaction. Can
the Minister and her response except
that and 2018 here in England that
what is outlined in today's report
is completely on acceptable and
could she tell us exactly what she
is going to do this week to ensure
that no patient in our country and a
mental health unit is deprived
unnecessarily of their human rights.
The Health Minister welcomed
the CQC's report and said
the Prime Minister had already
ordered a review of the use
of the mental health
actby professor Wesley.
I do agree with her and indeed with
AC QC report that the review of the
Mental Health Act in itself is not
the entire answer. That's why we
have this annual inspection from the
sea QC and we will act on it.
Central to the work that Simon
Wesley is leading is identifying
exactly those things which are known
legislative that we can take action
and to make the system work better
and again we are involved in many
cross government initiatives to do
Meanwhile in the Lords,
peers demanded to know
what the Government was doing
about eight hunger strike
at the arts would detention center.
The Independent online says more
than 100 women at the immigration
removal center have gone on hunger
strike over inhumane
conditions at the facility.
They're said to be concerned
about health provision
and uncertainty over how long
they are to be held.
A liberal Democrat said
there were around 400 people
held at Yarl's Wood,
the majority of them women.
One Algerian woman came to this
country at the age of 11, has been
here for 24 years and it wasn't
until she applied for a passport and
found she was undocumented that she
was been detained and so far she has
been there for three months. What
the Minister not agree that one of
the main reasons for the hunger
strikes is that people are being
detained unfairly, unreasonably and
indefinitely? One woman has
described it as like being
kidnapped. Not knowing what it's
going to and are what's going to
happen to her.
He said one person had been detained
for four and a half years.
With the Minister not agree that it
is time to introduce a 28 day limit
on immigration detention?
reasons for refusing food and fluid
are not for just one reason, there
may be for a multitude of reasons.
They may be an protest against their
detention that they may also be for
other reasons such as dietary and
religious reasons. It's true. It is
not a simple issue. In terms of
indefinite attention, the noble lord
did point out that detention for the
particular case that he outlined was
not indefinite but in fact the lady
had been detained for three months.
Every four months a detainee is
reassessed for immigration bail and
is actually quite fair to say that
most people in detention, 92%, to
not stay and attention for more than
What the Government not
reconsider looking at the mechanisms
used in the Scandinavian countries
where workers done within the
community to encourage and
successfully to get people to leave
when they have no right to be there
and apply a more humane and frankly
more effective policy such as the
ones we see in those countries.
don't have concerns that the
Government's policy is not working.
The reason that someone may remain
in detention for longer than they
might have done... Is because they
made themselves... The reasons for
detention are many and complex but
the purpose for detention is for
Do you agree that we
need up bit of balance on this
subject? In particular does she
agree that the credibility of the
immigration system depends on being
able to remove people who no longer
have a right to be in this country?
Clearly there will be difficult
cases and clearly they must be dealt
with in the best possible way but
fundamentally, we have to be able to
remove or the entire credibility of
the system is removed.
lord is absolutely right. That is
the purpose of detention for
necessary removal and I do also take
his point that while we do need to
deal with people sensitively who
perhaps are traumatised or have
mental health problems or other
reasons for rich they may be
vulnerable, the ultimate aim at the
detention centre is for removal.
According to the Office
for National Statistics,
7.6 million people smoke in the UK
am and that number is falling.
2016 saw the highest
proportion of smokers who quit
since their records began.
Nearly 3 million people
now use e-cigarette.
But researchers and producers said
that number was battling.
The producers wanted to stress
the benefit compared with smoking.
The research is very similar to that
that the Public Health England have
reviewed and that you find far fewer
toxicants and emissions from that is
cigarettes, the toxicological impact
of those omissions is much lower
than with cigarette smoking.
results showed that the reductions
and exposure so exposure to harmful
chemicals comes close to that seen
in those who stop smoking altogether
for the duration of the study so
But there were claims
from researchers of a dearth
of information about he cannot burn
products which contained tobacco
but have fewer risks
than traditional cigarettes
because the tobacco doesn't combust.
Interns of heeding not burn, 350
degrees down to 30 degrees, we know
in birth circumstances there is no
combustion but you will still be
releasing some potentially harmful
chemicals albeit in smaller amounts.
Actually does comparative studies
have been done or they have been
dubbed the methodology is so
desperate that it's very difficult
to compare one study with another.
What about the chemicals
Compared to conventional cigarettes
the levels are much lower. We
haven't done an exact comparison but
they are much, much lower. It's that
those that's important. We don't
know at this stage, maybe others do,
I'm not sure there is a cut off we
can say this level will translate
into development of cancer. We don't
know over the longer term what kind
of levels of repeated exposure are
going to have an impact on health
Both researchers and producers agree
more long-term studies were needed
into exactly the potential risks
were, but all of them stress
the risks compared with traditional
cigarettes were much lower.
Finally, Tuesday cut off
to a slightly spiky start
with the Minister getting
into trouble with the
Speaker John Bercow.
The Treasury Minister Liz Truss
with the Chancellor Philip Hammond
sitting alongside her on the front
bench was answering a question
about funding for local councils.
And took the opportunity to give
examples of where she thought
they'd wasted money.
But as she expanded on her thing,
the Speaker John Bercow barely
reckoned she had strayed too far
from her job, talking
about government responsibilities.
So, for example, momentum
supported... Which cost the taxpayer
£40,000 per day. Reading...
your seat Minister. You answer for
government policy. You don't waste
the time of the House by launching
into rants about policies of other
parties. I've made the point. If the
Chancellor is confused about it, he
really is underinformed.
The Speaker John Bercow
delivering his on Arctic blast
at Treasury questions.
And that's it from us for now.
Do join me at the same time tomorrow
for another round up
of the day here at Westminster,
including the highlights
from my Ministers questions.
But for now, from me
Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.