28/10/2015 Wednesday in Parliament


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


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


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


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


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


asked David Cameron whether anyone would be worse off next April


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


passed the House of Commons five times, with ever enlarging


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


country that are actually quite sympathetic to his political


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


times, when there is absolutely no rebellion among conservative members


of Parliament or indeed among Conservative peers and the Labour


Party is left defending and depending on unelected peers in the


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


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


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


the Prime Minister about the tragic circumstances of Michael


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


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


taken place into suicides following the cancellation of benefits but the


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


week that he would look very carefully at the specific question


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


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


are good reasons why we cannot publish the specific report because


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


inspirational and desperate. Alongside British charity workers, I


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


delivering food and some of the problems with individuals that turn


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


moment a job adviser situating themselves in the food bank during


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


benefits claimants face. There was criticism of the work capability


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ability to assess the mental capacity and incapacity early on and


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


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


reappraisal. You're watching Wednesday


in Parliament with me, Now, the reverberations


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


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


find out more about the proposed review of the House


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


and the Lords is extremely important and when conventions that govern


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


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


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


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


applauded the Lords on Monday because this was not in the


government's manifesto. Does the leaders see no irony


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


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


a hereditary peer at that? And is this


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


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


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


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


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


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


just a hypocrite? The Shadow Leader should


withdraw that term. I withdraw that term unreservedly,


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


amazed and bewildered at this handbags at dawn spat between


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


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


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


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


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


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


chamber that is fully elected. Talking to colleagues around this


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


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


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


with challenges and health, education, the economy and the


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


House. And so, down the corridor to


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


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


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


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


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


gross overreaction. The events of Monday are what justifies the


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


secure their business when an established convention has been put


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


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


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


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


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


Prime Minister is anxious to find evidence of government being


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


that information. Lady Stowell said the government was


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


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


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


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


investigation for a payment he made to the Uefa President,


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


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


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


did look like it was all fixed anyway.


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


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


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


We have been impressed by Michel Platini in his time


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


We also have a good working relationship with Uefa


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


We have said, on many occasions, that the reform


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


You will be supporting the reform candidate,


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


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


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


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


To ask them for your money back would be unreasonable.


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


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


It's been suggested that the FA maybe start


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


Can you just clarify, for this committee, what discussions


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


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


We obviously have chatted to one or two people.


It's like an everyday story of football folk.


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


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


find themselves in the problem that they found themselves in?


So these conversations, have you had conversations with


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


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


if you could form something totally new and start again,


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


Now, do we still need bobbies on the beat?


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


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


It comes after warnings from police chiefs that forces might


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


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


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


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


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


I rise more in sadness than in anger.


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


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


And the Minister, courteous as he is, has always


Unfortunately, this week, we now know that crime,


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


So what is now the strategy for policing?


What is now the strategy for the policing that supports


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


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


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


Inspectorate of Constabulary who actually found that there were


significant further savings still to be made through reorganising the way


in which services are actually delivered


by getting more cooperation between the blue line services


There are ways of actually protecting the front


line whilst making significant savings in the administration.


My Lords, last night on BBC Newsnight, the


head of the National Police Chiefs Council predicted that, because


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


The Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said that


he was anticipating losing 8000 police officer posts in London,


Can the Minister please explain, how can the police maintain


relationships with communities from whom counterintelligence comes


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


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


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


I do think that there is a big philosophical question facing


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


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


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


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


We believe that the target of policing is to cut crime


Steelworkers have been lobbying MPs following the announcement


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


Meanwhile, the Business Secretary has been lobbying EU officials


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


At PMQs, David Cameron said that steel and


other energy-intensive industries would get refunds for energy policy


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


Alongside the tragedy of each individual job loss


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


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


sacrificed on the altar of laissez faire economics


by a government which simply will not act to preserve


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


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


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


That is, the rules help secure a level playing field


Within these strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker,


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


The government believes it can introduce compensation.


The Prime Minister said that at the dispatch box today.


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


We will worry about that consequence afterwards.


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


And finally, Labour MPs have called for a statue


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


Next year marks the centenary of his birth.


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


Building new towns like Milton Keynes, building more housing


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


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


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


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


country changed in terms of our attitude to homosexuality and


changing the laws on homosexuality, changing our attitude to divorce


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


He called for a proper monument in Parliament.


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


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


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


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


The Open University truly changed society.


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


and also, perhaps, his renegotiating approach to the


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


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


reputation, his own personal achievements are fairly well known,


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


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


The Minister could not promise a statue that paid tribute to


Harold Wilson as Labour leader won four of the five general


All current parliamentarians will appreciate what a genuine,


truly magnificent achievement that was for any party leader.


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


And he think we will largely be remembered for abolishing capital


That's it from Wednesday in Parliament.


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


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