28/10/2015 Wednesday in Parliament


28/10/2015

Georgina Pattinson presents highlights of Wednesday 28 October in Parliament.


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Welcome to the bank. The menus from Westminster, the Labour leader calls

:00:15.:00:24.

on the pro Minister to spell out his plans for changes to tax credits.

:00:25.:00:27.

People are very worried about what is going to happen to them next

:00:28.:00:32.

April. And the Lords asked questions about the government review into the

:00:33.:00:40.

Lords. This is a gross overreaction. At PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly

:00:41.:00:44.

asked David Cameron whether anyone would be worse off next April

:00:45.:00:48.

because of cuts to tax credits. The Labour leader used all of his six

:00:49.:00:51.

questions at the weekly contest to ask about the row over the reform

:00:52.:00:55.

which was stalled this week by the House of Lords. Following the events

:00:56.:01:00.

in the other place on Monday evening and the belated acceptance from the

:01:01.:01:05.

Prime Minister of the result there, can we guarantee to the wider

:01:06.:01:09.

country and the House that nobody will be worse off next year as a

:01:10.:01:12.

result of cuts to working tax credits? What I can guarantee is

:01:13.:01:19.

that we will remain committed to the vision of a high pay, low tax, low

:01:20.:01:25.

welfare economy. It sets the pattern for the rest of the leaders

:01:26.:01:30.

exchanges. Will he confirm that tax credit cuts will not make anyone

:01:31.:01:39.

worse off in April next year. What we want is for people to be better

:01:40.:01:44.

off because we are cutting their taxes and increasing their pay. But

:01:45.:01:47.

he is going to have to be patient because although these changes

:01:48.:01:53.

passed the House of Commons five times, with ever enlarging

:01:54.:01:57.

majorities, we will set out our new proposals in the Autumn Statement

:01:58.:02:02.

and he will be able to study them. This is the time when we ask

:02:03.:02:05.

questions of the Prime Minister on the half of the people of this

:02:06.:02:27.

country. Thank you. Mr Speaker, if I may continue... People are very

:02:28.:02:35.

worried about what is going to happen to them next April. So what

:02:36.:02:40.

exactly does the Prime Minister mean? He is considering it, there is

:02:41.:02:45.

an Autumn Statement coming up, but we thought he was committed to not

:02:46.:02:50.

cutting tax credits. In our election manifesto, we set out that we were

:02:51.:02:54.

going to find ?12 billion of in welfare. We are talking about tax

:02:55.:02:59.

credits for people in work. The Prime Minister knows that. He

:03:00.:03:02.

understands that. He has lost the support of many people in this

:03:03.:03:06.

country that are actually quite sympathetic to his political

:03:07.:03:11.

project. Some of the newspapers that support come out against him. He did

:03:12.:03:16.

commit to ?12 billion of cuts but repeatedly refuses to say whether

:03:17.:03:19.

tax credits will be part of this. He said that they were not. Can he give

:03:20.:03:23.

us the answer we are trying to get today? And so the question! The

:03:24.:03:30.

answer will be set out in the Autumn Statement when we set out our

:03:31.:03:33.

proposals but I have to say to him, it has come to quite a strange set

:03:34.:03:39.

of events when you have the House of Commons voting for something five

:03:40.:03:46.

times, when there is absolutely no rebellion among conservative members

:03:47.:03:47.

of Parliament or indeed among Conservative peers and the Labour

:03:48.:03:54.

Party is left defending and depending on unelected peers in the

:03:55.:03:59.

House of Lords. In British politics, we have a new alliance, the

:04:00.:04:03.

unelected and the unelectable. Once the Labour leader had asked his six

:04:04.:04:07.

questions, the session moved onto other subjects. Last week, I asked

:04:08.:04:11.

the Prime Minister about the tragic circumstances of Michael

:04:12.:04:14.

Sutherland, a disabled man who took us on life after an assessment by

:04:15.:04:18.

the Department of Work and Pensions. We know that 60 investigations have

:04:19.:04:24.

taken place into suicides following the cancellation of benefits but the

:04:25.:04:28.

findings have not been published. The Prime Minister said to me last

:04:29.:04:32.

week that he would look very carefully at the specific question

:04:33.:04:35.

about the publication. We'll be Prime Minister confirm when those

:04:36.:04:40.

findings will be published? -- will the Prime Minister confirmed. There

:04:41.:04:43.

are good reasons why we cannot publish the specific report because

:04:44.:04:47.

it has personal and medical data in it which would not be appropriate

:04:48.:04:52.

for publication. If I have got that wrong, I will write that to him but

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I have a clear memory of looking into it and that being the case. We

:04:57.:05:01.

know that the Prime Minister's broken promises over tax credits but

:05:02.:05:09.

will the final nail in the coffin of compassionate conservatism be cast,

:05:10.:05:22.

if he takes food out of the mouths of poor children at school. Will he

:05:23.:05:28.

agree to not do this, so that he does not go down in history as a

:05:29.:05:33.

dinner snatcher. It was a government I lead that introduced this policy.

:05:34.:05:37.

13 years of a Labour government and did they ever do that? Did you

:05:38.:05:44.

remember the infant free school meals bill from the Labour Party? I

:05:45.:05:50.

am proud of what we have done and we will be keeping it. Yesterday I

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visited the refugee camps in Lesbos and I met families that were

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inspirational and desperate. Alongside British charity workers, I

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am frankly ashamed that we will not offer a home to a single one of

:06:03.:06:06.

those refugee families. Can I ask the Prime Minister, will he agree

:06:07.:06:13.

with Save the Children's plea that we should take 3000 vulnerable,

:06:14.:06:17.

unaccompanied children in Europe, some as young as six. David Cameron

:06:18.:06:24.

told MPs that the UK was taking 20,000 refugees from the Middle

:06:25.:06:29.

East. Specifically on this question, I have looked at it carefully and

:06:30.:06:33.

there are other NGOs and experts who points to the very real danger of

:06:34.:06:38.

separating children from the rather families and that is white, to date,

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we have not taken that decision. It has been revealed that job advisers

:06:44.:06:48.

are, for the first time, to be posted at food banks. The banks

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provide free food to people in need who are given vouchers by Jobcentre

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staff. Social workers or doctors. The use of the banks has risen

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sharply in recent years. The trust all trust, a main provider of food

:07:02.:07:07.

banks said that the number using the banks last year was over 1 million.

:07:08.:07:12.

The subject was raised at a committee session for the Work and

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Pensions Secretary. The trust all trust says that the number of people

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using Scottish food banks has increased by 398%. Do you think

:07:20.:07:28.

there is any correlation between the reforms that have been implemented?

:07:29.:07:32.

I am unhappy to answer this right now because there are points I want

:07:33.:07:36.

to make. Is the chairman OK with that? All right. We have always

:07:37.:07:42.

taken the view that, and I support the banks and what they do, I think

:07:43.:07:47.

it is excellent, but what we have always said is that wherever there

:07:48.:07:51.

are cases, they are notified as issues where people might perceive a

:07:52.:07:54.

problem in the parliament, and we problem in the parliament, and we

:07:55.:08:00.

will pick those up. At the moment, something the committee will not be

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aware of but which I am trialling, I was visited by a particular food

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bank before the summer break to talk about some of the issues about

:08:10.:08:15.

delivering food and some of the problems with individuals that turn

:08:16.:08:18.

up and say they are having a problem with payments. I am trying at the

:08:19.:08:27.

moment a job adviser situating themselves in the food bank during

:08:28.:08:30.

the time that it is open and we are getting strong feedback about that,

:08:31.:08:34.

where they will be able to check if someone is coming in and need the

:08:35.:08:40.

payment, they can immediately check. And if this works and other food

:08:41.:08:44.

banks are able to encompass this, we would like to roll out across the

:08:45.:08:52.

UK. The banking question is the welcome Centre in Manchester, and

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they are basically the too surprised -- provide support to people who

:08:57.:09:02.

come in. What is happening now is that people are not coming in with

:09:03.:09:05.

questions about benefits, but they are coming in and being interested

:09:06.:09:10.

in where they could find work, where there are vacancies. So we have

:09:11.:09:15.

teamed up with various clubs and they are spending more time pointing

:09:16.:09:18.

people to vacancies than they are fixing them with some food. We are

:09:19.:09:24.

publishing results later but no-one is yet aware of it. When you roll

:09:25.:09:27.

this out, you might find are differences. Yes. Either way, I hope

:09:28.:09:34.

if it works, then we will certainly want to roll it out to all the food

:09:35.:09:41.

banks. Onto the work capability assessments or WCA which are some

:09:42.:09:48.

benefits claimants face. There was criticism of the work capability

:09:49.:09:51.

process in the report of the death of Michael Sullivan. That was not an

:09:52.:09:56.

isolated case. It was 2300 people who have died, having been found fit

:09:57.:10:01.

for work after an assessment. Does that tell you that we need to be

:10:02.:10:07.

looking again at the accuracy of the work capability assessments? By and

:10:08.:10:12.

large, we see that those people in a similar condition but not involved

:10:13.:10:17.

with WCA, the mortality rates are very similar to those who go through

:10:18.:10:21.

WCA. The point I'm making is that this is not an easy area and it will

:10:22.:10:27.

never be. Are we able to get a sense of those figures and how they might

:10:28.:10:33.

differ compared to tests in previous years? In what sense? In terms of

:10:34.:10:38.

the understanding of the number of people dying after having been found

:10:39.:10:42.

fit for work. We have never collated the figures specifically. It is

:10:43.:10:47.

always impossible to do that because we would have to make all sorts of

:10:48.:10:52.

judgments. We have introduced a series of changes that improve our

:10:53.:10:56.

ability to assess the mental capacity and incapacity early on and

:10:57.:10:59.

that is currently under review so that was not originally there. So

:11:00.:11:05.

that will go no further? It will. This is a constant process of

:11:06.:11:07.

reappraisal. You're watching Wednesday

:11:08.:11:09.

in Parliament with me, Now, the reverberations

:11:10.:11:10.

of the government defeat in the Lord's on Monday over plans to

:11:11.:11:16.

cut tax credits are still echoing. Labour used an urgent question to

:11:17.:11:20.

find out more about the proposed review of the House

:11:21.:11:25.

of Lords, which will be headed by The relationship between the Commons

:11:26.:11:28.

and the Lords is extremely important and when conventions that govern

:11:29.:11:34.

that relationship are put in doubt, it is right that we review that.

:11:35.:11:39.

It's clear that the government intends to give the House of Lords

:11:40.:11:42.

a kicking but it should remember, I think, as it fashions this pretend

:11:43.:11:45.

constitutional crisis, that the vast majority of people in this country

:11:46.:11:49.

applauded the Lords on Monday because this was not in the

:11:50.:11:53.

government's manifesto. Does the leaders see no irony

:11:54.:12:01.

at all in getting a member of the House of Lords to review

:12:02.:12:04.

the financial privilege of the House of Commons and, for that matter,

:12:05.:12:07.

a hereditary peer at that? And is this

:12:08.:12:10.

the right person to be doing it? After all, in 1999,

:12:11.:12:12.

Lord Strathclyde himself said of the convention that the Lords did not

:12:13.:12:15.

strike down statutory instruments. That same day, he and the Lords

:12:16.:12:19.

voted down two Labour government So now, he thinks it's

:12:20.:12:24.

an utter disgrace to do so. Is there one rule for Tory

:12:25.:12:29.

regulations and another one Is he now a convert or, frankly,

:12:30.:12:34.

just a hypocrite? The Shadow Leader should

:12:35.:12:38.

withdraw that term. I withdraw that term unreservedly,

:12:39.:12:45.

Mr Speaker. I'm sure the British public are just

:12:46.:12:47.

amazed and bewildered at this handbags at dawn spat between

:12:48.:12:52.

the Tories and the unelected Lords in this great battle of the nobles.

:12:53.:13:11.

Is the case that the weight but UK is if you don't like what one part

:13:12.:13:17.

of the legislative dance, you just simply emasculate it? Is this the

:13:18.:13:23.

democracy we are looking at? The emergence of the donors is a

:13:24.:13:32.

ridiculous idea. Time really has come for proper reform of the House

:13:33.:13:37.

of Lords. When we talk about proper reform, that means the reformed

:13:38.:13:44.

chamber that is fully elected. Talking to colleagues around this

:13:45.:13:49.

building, the issue of the House of Lords reform has returned to centre

:13:50.:13:53.

stage. But we have faced big challenges in this country. We have

:13:54.:13:57.

really important legislation to get through and I want to deal first

:13:58.:14:01.

with challenges and health, education, the economy and the

:14:02.:14:07.

environment. But these issues will be discussed more widely in this

:14:08.:14:08.

House. And so, down the corridor to

:14:09.:14:09.

the House of Lords, where peers had Less than six months into a new

:14:10.:14:24.

Parliament, the government is trying to change the rules to ensure it

:14:25.:14:30.

won't lose a vote again. Some in government have very short memories.

:14:31.:14:34.

But if you look back at the number and content of the defeats, it's

:14:35.:14:40.

clear how very little justification there is for this move. This is a

:14:41.:14:51.

gross overreaction. The events of Monday are what justifies the

:14:52.:14:55.

review. It is a prevalent view and is about how elected governments can

:14:56.:15:02.

secure their business when an established convention has been put

:15:03.:15:07.

in doubt. During the five years of the Cameron premiership, there have

:15:08.:15:11.

been 20 government defeats on average per year. In the five years

:15:12.:15:21.

from 2002 until 2007, onto the Blair-Brown governments, there were

:15:22.:15:26.

an average of 59 defeats a year. The prime ministers of the time did not

:15:27.:15:31.

work themselves up into a lather about government defeats. So if the

:15:32.:15:36.

Prime Minister is anxious to find evidence of government being

:15:37.:15:40.

defeated on a regular basis, I am at the end of the phone to give him

:15:41.:15:41.

that information. Lady Stowell said the government was

:15:42.:15:43.

not talking about defeats in general Now, the chairman of the

:15:44.:15:46.

Football Association has said he isn't surprised by comments from

:15:47.:15:50.

the suspended head of football's world governing body, Fifa,

:15:51.:15:52.

that a deal was made in advance to Sepp Blatter, who is under

:15:53.:15:55.

investigation for a payment he made to the Uefa President,

:15:56.:16:01.

Michel Platini, told the Russian news agency that Fifa's executive

:16:02.:16:04.

made the decision in 2010. Greg Dyke told the culture committee

:16:05.:16:10.

the claim would be looked into. I would like to read again. But it

:16:11.:16:36.

did look like it was all fixed anyway.

:16:37.:16:39.

Greg Dyke told the MPs that Fifa had been a corrupted organisation

:16:40.:16:42.

for 40 years and he said the FA had now suspended its backing for

:16:43.:16:45.

the Uefa President as its candidate to be the next head of Fifa.

:16:46.:16:48.

We have been impressed by Michel Platini in his time

:16:49.:16:51.

We were of the view that he had done a good job.

:16:52.:16:55.

We also have a good working relationship with Uefa

:16:56.:16:57.

and we thought supporting the Uefa candidate would lead to a better

:16:58.:17:01.

We have said, on many occasions, that the reform

:17:02.:17:07.

of Fifa is more important to us than who is the new President.

:17:08.:17:11.

You will be supporting the reform candidate,

:17:12.:17:13.

Well, the board of the FA will discuss who we should support.

:17:14.:17:20.

We don't have to make a decision at this stage.

:17:21.:17:24.

We didn't nominate anybody and we will make a decision closer

:17:25.:17:27.

to the vote when, in some ways, we see who is left standing, really.

:17:28.:17:41.

To ask them for your money back would be unreasonable.

:17:42.:17:45.

I mean, my view of Fifa is it's a corrupted organisation and has

:17:46.:17:49.

Therefore, not a lot of it surprises us, I don't think.

:17:50.:17:54.

It's been suggested that the FA maybe start

:17:55.:17:57.

a new process informing a new governing body, whether it's for the

:17:58.:18:01.

Can you just clarify, for this committee, what discussions

:18:02.:18:07.

have you had, maybe in private or public, about setting up the new

:18:08.:18:12.

We haven't had any discussions, to my knowledge.

:18:13.:18:20.

We obviously have chatted to one or two people.

:18:21.:18:23.

It's like an everyday story of football folk.

:18:24.:18:36.

Every week, something new comes out that you've never heard

:18:37.:18:40.

I mean, who would have thought that the Germans would suddenly

:18:41.:18:44.

find themselves in the problem that they found themselves in?

:18:45.:18:47.

So these conversations, have you had conversations with

:18:48.:18:50.

Well, I think you've had chats without saying,

:18:51.:18:58.

And if you wanted my honest opinion, my honest opinion will be yeah,

:18:59.:19:04.

if you could form something totally new and start again,

:19:05.:19:08.

that would be a good idea, but that's not where we are.

:19:09.:19:13.

Now, do we still need bobbies on the beat?

:19:14.:19:15.

Labour's Leader in the Lords, Lady Smith, asked the government whether

:19:16.:19:18.

cuts to police numbers would have an impact on national security.

:19:19.:19:21.

It comes after warnings from police chiefs that forces might

:19:22.:19:23.

Crime today is very different to crime 40 or 50 years ago.

:19:24.:19:37.

We have serious threats from terrorism and also, as we have

:19:38.:19:40.

Now, I am sure he appreciates that security in counterterrorism is

:19:41.:19:44.

I think the noble lady is right when she talks about crime changing.

:19:45.:19:56.

Crime is changing therefore policing must change in response to it.

:19:57.:20:00.

I rise more in sadness than in anger.

:20:01.:20:03.

I have asked the noble lord, the Minister, on a number

:20:04.:20:06.

of occasions in this House, what is the national strategy for policing?

:20:07.:20:11.

And the Minister, courteous as he is, has always

:20:12.:20:13.

Unfortunately, this week, we now know that crime,

:20:14.:20:21.

as we all suspected, has not reduced, it's just moved.

:20:22.:20:24.

So what is now the strategy for policing?

:20:25.:20:30.

What is now the strategy for the policing that supports

:20:31.:20:32.

If you are faced with a 40% cut but you've still got

:20:33.:20:37.

the same amount of crime to deal with, what is the strategy?

:20:38.:20:41.

In terms of what we believe, we share the view of Her Majesty's

:20:42.:20:44.

Inspectorate of Constabulary who actually found that there were

:20:45.:20:46.

significant further savings still to be made through reorganising the way

:20:47.:20:51.

in which services are actually delivered

:20:52.:20:53.

by getting more cooperation between the blue line services

:20:54.:20:56.

There are ways of actually protecting the front

:20:57.:21:00.

line whilst making significant savings in the administration.

:21:01.:21:05.

My Lords, last night on BBC Newsnight, the

:21:06.:21:07.

head of the National Police Chiefs Council predicted that, because

:21:08.:21:12.

of the cuts that the government were about to make, it would be

:21:13.:21:16.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said that

:21:17.:21:22.

he was anticipating losing 8000 police officer posts in London,

:21:23.:21:24.

Can the Minister please explain, how can the police maintain

:21:25.:21:29.

relationships with communities from whom counterintelligence comes

:21:30.:21:30.

It seems to me that what Sarah Thornton was saying was that

:21:31.:21:35.

the nature of policing is changing and that you could no longer

:21:36.:21:38.

perhaps guarantee in the same way as in the past the level

:21:39.:21:41.

I do think that there is a big philosophical question facing

:21:42.:21:46.

It is the question of, do you want to be able to see, in low-crime

:21:47.:21:52.

areas, the ability to see a police officer walking down the end

:21:53.:21:55.

of the street and to be able to get that comfort, or do you want to see

:21:56.:21:59.

8%, year on year, and 30%, down to its lowest level since 1981.

:22:00.:22:06.

We believe that the target of policing is to cut crime

:22:07.:22:09.

Steelworkers have been lobbying MPs following the announcement

:22:10.:22:14.

of thousands of job cuts in recent weeks by Tata Steel and SSI.

:22:15.:22:19.

Meanwhile, the Business Secretary has been lobbying EU officials

:22:20.:22:23.

for Europe-wide action to tackle the crisis in the steel industry.

:22:24.:22:30.

At PMQs, David Cameron said that steel and

:22:31.:22:32.

other energy-intensive industries would get refunds for energy policy

:22:33.:22:34.

costs once the European Union had made a decision on state aid.

:22:35.:22:40.

Alongside the tragedy of each individual job loss

:22:41.:22:42.

and the ramifications for the supply chains and the local economies,

:22:43.:22:46.

there is now a real worry that UK steel-making capacity is being

:22:47.:22:50.

sacrificed on the altar of laissez faire economics

:22:51.:22:54.

by a government which simply will not act to preserve

:22:55.:22:57.

We cannot influence the price of steel, we cannot fix foreign

:22:58.:23:03.

The rules governing state aid to the steel sector are very strict

:23:04.:23:12.

and the UK steel industry signed up to those rules, those state aid

:23:13.:23:15.

That is, the rules help secure a level playing field

:23:16.:23:19.

Within these strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker,

:23:20.:23:21.

we have done and we are doing all we can to help the steel industry

:23:22.:23:25.

The government believes it can introduce compensation.

:23:26.:23:29.

The Prime Minister said that at the dispatch box today.

:23:30.:23:32.

If we believe it's within state rules, let's just get on and do it,

:23:33.:23:36.

We will worry about that consequence afterwards.

:23:37.:23:41.

Stephen Crabb replied that ministers were pushing for a quick decision.

:23:42.:23:46.

And finally, Labour MPs have called for a statue

:23:47.:23:49.

of the former party leader and Prime Minister Harold Wilson to be erected

:23:50.:23:53.

Next year marks the centenary of his birth.

:23:54.:23:59.

In a short debate, MPs said too often, his many achievements had

:24:00.:24:02.

Building new towns like Milton Keynes, building more housing

:24:03.:24:07.

than I think anyone has ever built in this country before.

:24:08.:24:11.

That's something that I think we should remember Harold for but if

:24:12.:24:14.

you want to actually look at some of the other things he did that people

:24:15.:24:19.

should remember - the transformation of the way this culture of this

:24:20.:24:23.

country changed in terms of our attitude to homosexuality and

:24:24.:24:28.

changing the laws on homosexuality, changing our attitude to divorce

:24:29.:24:31.

and the rights of women in property out of respect for Mary, his widow.

:24:32.:24:38.

He called for a proper monument in Parliament.

:24:39.:24:45.

I think it's quite wrong that in the members' lobby,

:24:46.:24:48.

there is just a small head and shoulders of Harold Wilson.

:24:49.:24:50.

It is about time we honoured him with a full statue.

:24:51.:24:53.

His government has brought in great social changes, of course,

:24:54.:24:56.

The Open University truly changed society.

:24:57.:24:58.

So shouldn't Harold Wilson be a figure that we really do honour

:24:59.:25:01.

and also, perhaps, his renegotiating approach to the

:25:02.:25:03.

European Union might be familiar to a modern-day Prime Minister, too?

:25:04.:25:06.

Now is the time for major revaluation of not so much Harold's

:25:07.:25:09.

reputation, his own personal achievements are fairly well known,

:25:10.:25:13.

It really was a very fine administration and I think that what

:25:14.:25:18.

my honourable friend is leading up to is the need for a revaluation,

:25:19.:25:21.

The Minister could not promise a statue that paid tribute to

:25:22.:25:29.

Harold Wilson as Labour leader won four of the five general

:25:30.:25:36.

All current parliamentarians will appreciate what a genuine,

:25:37.:25:39.

truly magnificent achievement that was for any party leader.

:25:40.:25:41.

He was a social reformer, which has already been referred to,

:25:42.:25:44.

And he think we will largely be remembered for abolishing capital

:25:45.:25:49.

That's it from Wednesday in Parliament.

:25:50.:25:53.

I'll be here tomorrow so, until then, from me,

:25:54.:25:57.

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