18/11/2015 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of Wednesday 18 November in Parliament presented by Keith Macdougall.

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament and our look


at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.


As the Commons weighs up options in the light of the terror threat


from Isis, David Cameron makes clear he's not going to be influenced


My job, frankly, as Prime Minister, is not to read


a Survation opinion poll, but it's to do the right thing to


The Labour leader fears cuts in police numbers will make


Does the Prime Minister agree with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan


Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, who said, and I quote, "I genuinely


worry about the safety of London if the cuts go through on this scale?"


And time for justice or time to forget?


Almost 44 years after Bloody Sunday, there's anger over the arrest


Does he agree with me that if we are to draw a line under past


events for the sake of peace, it should be drawn on both sides?


It was the first Prime Minister's Questions


since the terror attacks in Paris and subsequent security operations.


The brutal killings by Islamist terrorists on Friday night that left


more than 120 dead made for a more serious backdrop than normal


in the exchanges between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.


On Tuesday, several Labour MPs appeared to be openly at odds with


their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over his initial criticism of a


shoot-to-kill strategy by police and the acceptance that terrorism can be


blamed on Western intervention in Iraq and Syria. The Commons


I want to start, Mr Speaker, by expressing the horror of all those


on this side of the House at the events in Paris on Friday evening.


And our continued solidarity with the victims


of all people affected by conflict and terrorism, whether they be


in Paris, Beirut, Ankara, Damascus or anywhere else in the world.


Nothing can justify the targeting of innocent civilians by anyone.


First of all, can I thank the Leader of the Opposition


for his remarks and say what a pleasure it was to be with him last


night at the England France football match when I thought there was


I'm sure they can sing La Marseillaise louder in the Stade de


but I think we did a pretty good job yesterday and I


The most important thing is for people to carry on with their lives.


It's very important that Eurostar continues to function,


that flights continue to go, that people continue to travel, to


enjoy London, to enjoy Paris and to continue going about our business.


As we do so, yes, we need enhanced security, and that is happening with


the way the police are acting here in the UK and elsewhere, but one


of the ways to defeat terrorism is to show them we will not be cowed.


The Labour leader said a key way to defeat Isil would be to


Can I press the Prime Minister to ensure that


our allies in the region, indeed all countries in the region,


are doing all they can to clamp down on individuals and institutions in


their countries who are providing Isil with vital infrastructure.


Will he, through the European Union, and other forums if necessary,


consider sanctions against those banks


and companies and, if necessary, countries who turn a blind eye to


financial dealings with Isil which assist them in their work?


What happened was that because we didn't have a government in Iraq


that effectively represented all of its people, and because in Syria you


have a leader who's butchering his own people, Isil was able to get


hold of oil, get hold of weapons, get hold of territory,


get hold of banks, and it's that that they've been


able to use those in order to fund their hatred and their violence.


Can the Prime Minister clarify something about the source


of the necessary extra funding to be set out for the security services,


Will it come at the expense of other areas, either within the


Home Office budget or within other areas of public spending, or from


Does he want me to go on longer so the Chancellor can explain


We will set out in full our decisions next week,


but we've already said we'll be funding an increase to security


We'll be safeguarding the counterterrorism budget.


And we will be seeing an increase in terms of aviation security.


All of this is part of an overall spending settlement.


Policing plays a vital role in community cohesion, gathering


intelligence on those who may be about to be a risk to all of us.


But this is surely undermined if we cut the number


Does the Prime Minister agree with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan


Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, who said, and I quote, "I genuinely


worry about the safety of London if the cuts go through on this scale?"


I've said we are protecting the counterterrorism budget,


we've seen a 3,800 increase in neighbourhood police officers


At the same time as a 31% cut in crime.


His Shadow Home Secretary has said that a 10% efficiency target


Is the Leader of the Opposition saying he doesn't agree with


There does seem to be a little bit of disagreement on


I have a question from a taxpayer, actually.


And his name is John and he says, at a time...


And he says, Mr Speaker, at a time when we are experiencing the


greatest threats from terrorism ever faced, our police officer numbers


Will he be able to tell us whether or not this community


policing and other police budgets are protected or not


Let me tell him again, neighbourhood policing numbers have


In the capital city, we've seen a 500% increase


We've also, because we've cut bureaucracy,


put the equivalent of an extra 2,000 police on the streets.


But I'll tell the Leader of the Opposition something.


As well as wanting resources, the police want the appropriate powers.


Hasn't it come to something when the leader of


Her Majesty's Opposition thinks that the police, when confronted by a


Kalashnikov-waving terrorist, isn't sure what the reaction should be?


The French armed police, who stormed the Bataclan and killed those vile,


And so are the British armed police, who protect our public spaces


Will the Prime Minister send a note of unequivocal support today


to those officers on patrol and ensure that in the review next


week they have the resources they need to keep us safe?


I hope there can be consensus across the House, and I mean right


If we are confronted with a situation like this, the British


If you have a terrorist who is threatening to kill people, you can,


The Westminster leader of the SNP, Angus Robertson, raised the subject


of the recent Vienna peace talks held in an attempt to end the brutal


During the talks, the participating countries signed a communique


committing to make progress with the involvement of the United Nations.


Will the Prime Minister confirm that he


will support a UN Security Council resolution on this before seeking to


What matters most of all is that any action we would take would both be


legal and would help protect our country and our people right here.


The first survey of UK public opinion on Syrian intervention


since the Paris attacks by Survation has shown the following.


52% believe that the UK should engage with all


countries towards an appropriate response militarily or otherwise


backed by United Nations resolution, and only 15% believe the UK should


Will the Prime Minister give a commitment to secure a


UN Security Council resolution which the UK agreed to and Russia


agreed to a route through the United Nations as well?


I couldn't be clearer with the right honourable gentleman.


Of course, it is always preferable, in whatever action you're taking,


whether we are lifting people out of the Mediterranean, whether we


are flying Baltic air patrolling missions over countries that feel a


Russian threat, or if we're taking action in the Middle East against


Isil, it's always preferable to have a UN Security Council resolution.


But if they are vetoed or threatened with a veto over and over again,


my job, frankly, as Prime Minister, is not to read a Survation opinion


poll, it's to do the right thing to keep our country safe.


David Cameron getting strong vocal support there.


Domestic issues were also raised during PMQs.


A Labour MP raised problems in the National Health Service


and the Government's new contract of employment for doctors,


part of the Health Secretary's drive to create a seven-days-a-week NHS.


My constituent was a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently


He told me that with the proposed junior doctors


contracts, morale in the NHS is lower now than at any point


Does the Prime Minister agree with me that low morale amongst


our junior doctors and nurses is a threat to patient safety?


What I say to the honourable lady's constituency,


and indeed to all junior doctors, is please look very carefully


at what the Government is offering before you decide to go on strike.


Because what is on offer is not an increase


in hours, indeed for many doctors it will mean less long hours.


It's not a cut in the pay bill for junior doctors.


It's actually an 11% basic pay increase.


It will mean a better rostering of doctors, including at weekends,


I'd say to her constituent, as I'd say to others, go on the Department


of Health website, look at the pay calculator and see how you will be


affected because we've given a guarantee that anyone working legal


hours will not be worse off under this contract. This is


good for the NHS, good for doctors, good for patients, and even at this


late hour, I hope the BMA will call off their damaging strike.


Now, another day, another debate on lowering the voting age.


This time peers have discussed that a referendum on Britain's EU


membership should extend the voting franchise to cover


But 16 and 17-year-olds did take part in last year's Scottish


On Tuesday, the Commons decided against lowering


So would peers lower it for the EU referendum?


One of the key lessons of the Scottish referendum was


indeed that the 16 and 17-year-old age group registered, well over


100,000, and voted in larger numbers than those aged 18 to 24.


If we change the voting age based on maturity, I suspect all behavioural


experts would give the vote to girls aged ten and boys aged 25.


So trying to make a judgment on who is mature enough to vote is


much more subjective than picking an arbitrary age.


But there's a huge advantage here, and the advantage is that we know


exactly where these young people are.


They are in schools and most schools have their own data


controls and the Government could easily request that electoral


registration officials should be given access to this information.


Does the noble lady believe that 16-year-olds should be allowed


I'm not getting into this debate now, OK?


I think the whole situation of what 16 to 18-year-olds are allowed to do


The fact you can have sex but can't watch sex is completely ridiculous.


So, you know, obviously we need a broader debate on these issues.


I don't think this is the place to have that.


I ought to explain to the House that I'm a convert to the idea of 16 and


At least many of them, not as many as I would wish, but many


of them will have benefited from citizenship, education in school


which is more than can be said for the vast majority of the population.


We should not underestimate the gravity of voting.


One can say, well, it's all great fun, we can join in,


It's a momentous moment that every individual undertakes.


And, of course, a 16-year-old, given the chance to vote, will and


But we have to ask ourselves whether in our desire to enthuse 16


and 17-year-olds we may be in danger of placing too great


There are only four countries in the world


Austria, Nicaragua, Brazil, where it's voluntary


for 16-year-olds, it's compulsory for older voters, and Cuba.


Now, I don't think that Castro, although with


the current leadership of the Labour Party I can see the attraction,


Just tell me how you're going to explain it when you're up there with


I'm not sure they are going to be taken with the arguments you've just


given us at length over the last ten minutes.


Because they've voted and they've voted willingly and


in numbers and I think they're going to take a dim view.


So just try the argument you're going to use on the 16-year-olds.


Not the ones we've heard because I don't think they will cut a lot


I've often had some difficulty in Scotland getting people to


And it's not just limited to 16-year-olds.


And, at the end of that debate, peers voted to lower


You're watching our round-up of the day and the Commons and the Lords.


Another call for the Chancellor to abandon


Now, it was one of the most controversial days in


the history of Northern Ireland on what became known as Bloody Sunday.


14 civilians died when the army opened fire on a civil


The fatal shootings were the subject of a 12 year long public


David Cameron made a public apology to the families


Two years later, the Police Service of Northern Ireland started


an investigation and last week a former member of the Parachute


Regiment was arrested by police, he was later released on bail.


The arrest led to an urgent question being asked in the Commons by an MP


whose consistency is a former home of the Parachute Regiment.


The Saville report costs ?195 million


But our servicemen based in Aldershot and some of whom remain


my constituents had to make snap decisions, the consequences of


which have hung over them for the whole of their adult lives.


What happened that day was a tragedy,


particularly for the families of those who lost their lives.


However, they are not the only bereaved.


What about the families of the 1441 British soldiers who


died in Northern Ireland in the service of their country?


I submit that it is immoral for the state to seek nearly half a century


after the event, to put these men on trial whilst others who deploy their


bombs and bullets in the shadows are now in Government or have received


royal pardons an act of Government not of the courts.


I urge my honourable friend to exercise the Royal prerogative


I can't comment on these individual cases.


These are obviously a matter for an ongoing police enquiry.


It is a long way from following a line of enquiry to


I know what it is like to make those decisions under pressure.


We shouldn't forget that the British Army is not


It is the difference between us and the terrorists.


It is what makes us a professional army around the world


admired by many and sets us apart from some of those more tinpot Armed


I think his response is exactly what we expect from our service people


and we do expect more from them and that is why it is right and


proper that, if the rule was being followed, that the people concerned


get the chance to clear their name if that is possible.


We have to remember, at the end of the day,


there were 13 people left dead on the streets of Derry 43 years


If people did not act properly, then it is right and proper that


I entirely understand why any decisions about prosecutions must be


independent and why he cannot comment on this particular case


but, without prejudging in anyway, any particular case, does he


understand that we also have a need to uphold justice and that it


will be offending the natural sense of justice of many in this country


that the behaviour of how the army behaved on a certain day 40 years


ago is being reopened while so many on the IRA side who killed


Does he agree with me that if we are to draw a line under past


events for the sake of peace, they should be drawn on both sides?


Five years ago at the Dispatch Box, the Prime Minister stood to his


feet to try and bring closure to the ?200 million Saville report across


the House and in many sections of society people expressed the view


I made the prediction from this place, at that time, that that would


not be the end of the matter and unfortunately so it has proved.


But there is a real anger there amongst veterans.


Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the current inequality


that allows for those in the armed services to be pursued with greater


vigour and effort than the terrorists themselves ends and that


we move towards some level playing field in the future? We also believe


in accountability and sensitivity for all victims.


Irrespective of where they came from.


But could I ask the Minister to ensure and to redouble efforts that


the whole issue to do with the legacy of the past is fully


pursued and that we obtain a final resolution that sticks on board


national security considerations, so that truth


Margaret Ritchie. Taxpayers are still spending too much


on advice from external accountants and lawyers, that's the verdict


of Mark Russell, the chief executive of the shareholder executive


He was speaking to the Public Accounts Committee,


which is investigating the sale of the Government's stake


Over ?500,000 was paid to the commercial law firm Freshfields


What we could ask, and I don't want to get to hung up


on this ?500,000, is why you went to a magic-circle firm.


Freshfields, super job, no doubt and Rolls-Royce,


?1000 an hour for a partner, did you put it out to tender?


The original tender for the Eurostar transaction was put out under the


Department for Transport a while before this transfer took place.


We tended it in exactly the same way as a financial adviser


Freshfields came up with the best bid.


I think, as Government, we do a reasonably good job trying


to negotiate fees with financial and legal advisers.


I have no doubts that the job Freshfields did was first rate.


I have no doubt either. I've worked with them as well.


One of the things I think we should recognise is


the transaction itself was probably one of the cleanest I've ever seen.


Are you paying too much for external advice, because you don't have the


comfort of the relevant expertise within the profession at the moment?


I think there's a general answer, yes, we are still paying,


as a Government, too much for advisers but I don't think...


Do I think it's better than it was? Yes, I do.


And do I think one of the key jobs that people like us


As most of us, of course, have been on the other side of the fence.


The shareholder executive employs people on secondment from law


Meg Hillier wondered how it worked.


If you are a corporate finance person in the private sector and you


are being on secondment on Bis civil servants' rates, I'm sure Bis civil


servants are paid jolly well but probably not as well-paid as people


in corporate finance and the private sector. Are you


saying they take a pay cut or does their firm pay the difference?


The latter. Sorry? The latter. The latter, OK.


And then they go back to their firm and then


they bid to run business advice for the shareholder executive?


Could you just explain for taxpayers' benefits, for our


benefit, how you ensure the right safeguards to make sure they're not


using their internal knowledge to go through a revolving door and go out


again to make money for their firm on the basis... Typically, clearly


they will go back to their firms and organisations with knowledge


of Government and I wouldn't necessarily see that as a bad thing.


No. Typically when those firms


you won't generally find secondees being on those pitch teams.


Labour has called on the Chancellor to abandon his plans to cut working


tax credits and instead to boost investment in the UK economy.


In a short debate, ahead of next week's spending


review, the Government rejected the demand, insisting


George Osborne has said he wants to cut Whitehall budgets


by up to 40% to achieve a budget surplus by the year 2020.


The Chancellor intends to make swingeing, potentially devastating


cuts to Government departments on welfare spending.


Let me make it clear, austerity is a political choice,


The record of this Government shows that the political choices


the Chancellor is making are having a devastating impact on people


In many cases, his cuts are falling on the heads


Does he seriously preach about making the right choices


when his party was responsible for the highest level


Is that the choice that he is recommending here?


More borrowing, more burden on British men and women, just to


Let me say that, next week, what many in our economy,


who work in our economy, want to hear from our Chancellor.


Firstly and most importantly, he must reverse in full and fairly,


This should be his absolute priority.


Reality for my constituents is the ?1300


If it goes ahead in April next year, it will mean ?58 million taken out


of our local economy for the poorest people


in my constituency, three quarters of whom are actually at work.


And will she commit to review that's today?


Thanks to the hard work of the British people,


We have more growth, more jobs, higher wages.


We know there is still much more to do but, Mr Speaker,


there is no economic security, there is a national security and there is


no opportunity when you lose control of your public finances.


To cut 40 billion more than is necessary to run a balanced current


budget, almost all of it paid for by punishing the poorest and


stripping the capital budget of ?5 billion is our policy we reject, it


is one we have seen already fail and it is most certainly not one


Do join me for our next daily round-up.


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