Highlights of Wednesday 9 December in Parliament, presented by Keith Macdougall.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday In Parliament,
our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
Labour teases the Government's attempt
to win a better deal for Britain in Europe.
I have to tell him, many of his own backbenchers
are pretty unimpressed with how it is going so far.
Most opposition parties are trying to get momentum,
The Government faces fresh calls to release confidential files
about a trade union dispute more than 40 years ago.
This series of documents puts beyond any reasonable doubt
the fact that the Shrewsbury trial was politically driven
And an MP speaks about his own battle with depression.
I know how it feels to be unable to function normally,
to be unable to perform the most basic everyday tasks.
at the weekly Prime Minister's Question time.
Standing in for David Cameron was the Chancellor, George Osborne.
Deputising for the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was Angela Eagle.
The Prime Minister was out of the country, once again talking
to European political leaders, as part of his mission to try to win
improved terms for Britain's membership of the EU
ahead of the coming In/Out referendum.
And it was David Cameron's attempts at re-negotiations
that Angela Eagle focused on at PMQS.
Mr Speaker, I see that the Prime Minister cannot be with us
because he is visiting Poland and Romania
on the latest leg of his seemingly endless
Mr Speaker, he has been jetting all over the place.
No wonder we had to buy him his own aeroplane!
So can the Chancellor tell us, please, how was it all going?
Well, the good news is we have a party leader
The Prime Minister is in central and Eastern Europe
because we are fighting for a better deal for Britain.
Something that never would have happened
if there had been a Labour government.
Well, Mr Speaker, I have to tell him that many of his own backbenchers
are pretty unimpressed with how it is going so far.
Mr Speaker, the Chancellor is well-known
for cultivating his backbenchers.
And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So can I ask the question his own side wants answering.
Given that the Prime Minister has pre-resigned, does he really aspire
to be Britain's first post-EU Prime Minister?
Not sure I'd be quoting the views of backbenchers
if I was speaking for the Labour Party at the moment.
Most opposition parties are trying to get momentum.
We are fighting for a good deal for Britain in Europe.
I notice he didn't answer the question about his own
He might be worried about somebody a few places down on the bench,
Oh, she's looking cross! Looking very cross!
A reference to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Mr Speaker, if he won't listen to the comments of his own
backbenchers, perhaps he will listen to someone who has written in.
Meaning Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
And he wrotes, "Uncertainty about the future of the UK
in the European Union is a destabilising factor."
Since the Conservative party announced its policy
on the referendum, we have received the lion's share of investment
It is because we have built a strong economy,
that's because we stand up for Britain's interests abroad
and we have made this a competitive place to grow and build a business.
But, look, while we are quoting missives,
there is someone called Tony who has been writing today.
Happens to be the most successful Labour leader in history,
and he is describing the Labour Party
Can I suggest that she asks some serious questions about...
..the Health Service, the economy, social care.
We all know that the Chancellor is so preoccupied
with his on leadership ambitions that he forgot about the day job.
And that is why he ended up trying to slash working families'
Isn't it about time he focused on the national interest
We are fighting for a better deal for Britain in Europe.
And the truth is this, we have shown that we have an economic plan
Whether it is well-funded flood defences or putting money
into our National Health Service, or backing our teachers
in the schools, or introducing a national Living Wage,
we are delivering security for the working people of Britain.
The latest outspoken comments by Donald Trump,
the front-running Republican candidate in the US presidential
race, have caused plenty of anger, not to say disbelief.
Mr Trump declared there should be a block on Muslims
He also said police officers were scared
The remarks led to calls in some quarters for Mr Trump
Will the Chancellor take this opportunity to correct
the bizarre claim made yesterday by Donald Trump
about parts of London being no-go for the Metropolitan Police?
Will he point out to Mr Trump there are in fact excellent
relationships between the Muslim communities of London
I think the honourable gentleman speaks for everyone in this House.
The Metropolitan Police do a brilliant job and, of course,
they have fantastic relations with British Muslims
and British Muslims make a fantastic contribution into our country.
Frankly, Donald Trump's comments fly in the face
of the founding principles of the United States,
and is one of the reasons why those founding principles
have proved such an inspiration to so many people
over the last couple of hundred years.
I think the best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage
in robust democratic debate and make it very clear
It is my understanding that the Home Secretary
has banned 84 hate preachers from entering the UK.
in considering making Mr Donald Trump number 85?
I think the best way to confront the views of someone
like Donald Trump is to engage in a robust democratic argument
with him about why he is profoundly wrong about the contribution
of American Muslims and, indeed, British Muslims.
That is the best way to deal with Donald Trump and his views,
rather than trying to ban presidential candidates.
Labour's Andy Burnham has produced new documents,
which he says reveal political interference in the trial
of striking building workers in the 1970s.
24 men were prosecuted in 1973 for an array of offences
Six of the men were jailed, including the actor Ricky Tomlinson,
who attended the debate in Westminster Hall.
The Shrewsbury 24, as the group are now known,
are campaigning to clear their names and for all Government documents
who say the men are the victims of a miscarriage of justice.
Andy Burnham read out a note from the Home Secretary
at the time, Robert Carr, to the then-Prime Minister Edward Heath.
It reads, "Thank you for your minutes
of the 29th of January about picketing.
I have taken a close personal interest in this problem
I have myself discussed it with the chief officers
of those police forces which have had to deal
I believe the Chief Constables are now fully aware
of the importance we attach to this matter."
So, from this, there is no doubt at all that
the Home Secretary was heavily interfering in operational police
matters and, just over a week after his memo was sent
to the Prime Minister, the Shrewsbury picketers
were picked up by police and charged.
A full five months after the strike had ended.
This series of documents put beyond any reasonable doubt
the fact that the Shrewsbury trial was politically driven
The Home Secretary should have been concerned.
At that time, the nation was bedevilled by strikes.
We had not had the legislation that Lady Thatcher,
It seems to me that if the case is making
is that the Home Secretary should not have been involved,
that is a fundamental misreading of the situation
The Home Secretary was right to have been concerned
because the British people were concerned at the way in which
trade unionists were running rampant across the country.
Perhaps the honourable gentleman should have been here
at the start of the debate to hear the whole case,
It was a political campaign against the trade unions.
Mr Burnham said he had new information about a TV programme
about communist infiltration of unions,
to a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office official.
From the head of the Information Research Department,
a covert propaganda unit operating within the FCO.
It says, I quote, "Mr Woodrow Wyatt's television programme,
Red Under The Bed, was shown on national commercial television
on Tuesday 30th of November at 10:30pm.
We had a discreet but considerable hand in this programme."
The Government stand by their decision not to release
those documents on the basis of national security.
I know that is perhaps not the answer that the honourable
members on the other side wanted me to say,
but that is the position of Her Majesty's government.
I will be every thing I can to assist this case...
Sorry, to assist the campaign as much as possible.
If I was one of the members for the constituency
of the campaigners, I would be sitting there today,
as the right honourable ladies and gentlemen know,
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons
Reaction in both houses to the widespread flooding
Once again, an MP has used a debate in the Commons to talk personally
about his own battle with depression.
Labour's Kevan Jones and Conservative Charles Walker -
spoke openly about the different mental health battles
Their frank admissions were welcomed by health campaigners.
Now, an Opposition Day debate on mental health has prompted
I have my own personal experience of mental ill-health.
and I think there are a number of us, I have suffered from depression.
As a result of those depressive episodes,
I know how it feels to be able to unable to function normally,
to be unable to perform the most basic everyday tasks,
because the weight of the depression is so overwhelming.
I know how debilitating depression and other mental ill health can be.
It is quite difficult to explain it to people
who have not experienced it, just how debilitating it can be.
I really am heartened that, increasingly, mental health
is not only being recognised but acknowledged and spoken about.
Increasingly, people accept that this is an illness
that should be without stigma or taboo.
I think the more that mental health is discussed
as an issue, the clearer it becomes that this is something
that affects people in huge numbers from all walks of life,
The culture of our society often makes it very difficult for men
to admit that they are unable to deal with the stresses of life,
And the statistics relating to the worst manifestation
of that, suicide, are deeply worrying.
British men are three times as likely to die by suicide
Suicide remains the most common cause of death
And over a quarter of the 24-34 males who die take their own lives,
That is a huge, Madam Deputy Speaker, national scandal.
And success or failure in dealing with mental illness
in the world's fifth richest country,
is not just a judgment on the Government or the NHS,
but our society as a whole, and our basic humanity.
Millions of people in North-West England and the Scottish Borders
are not quickly going to forget Storm Desmond.
Thousands of houses were flooded and one person died
when a record-breaking amount of rain fell in the space
In Cumbria, some of the flooding was the worst in the county's
Particularly hard hit was the city of Carlisle,
where scenes of rescues of trapped householders were numerous.
The nearby main rail line was blocked, roads became
impassable, and in one case the rising waters caused a main road
In addition, thousands of homes in Cumbria and Lancashire were hit
The situation was raised at Prime Minister's Questions.
Our hearts go out to all those suffering the consequences
of the severe flooding in the north-west this week.
With thousands of families and businesses affected,
the priority has got to be for the Government to get immediate
Yet, one year on from the 2013/2014 floods, it emerged that only 15%
of those affected had received payments from the Government's
So does the Chancellor agree with me that this cannot possibly be be
So will the Chancellor today give the house a guarantee that people
will receive the help they need and quickly?
The update is that we have just one severe flood warning still in place
and power has been restored to 168,000 homes and the West Coast
main line is open, but we have got to be there for the long term
So first of all we continue to support the immediate rescue
efforts, of course, the military have deployed.
On recovery, the question she asks, I can today announced a ?50 million
fund for families and businesses affected in the area.
This will be administered by the local authorities to avoid
some of the administrative problems that she alludes to in her question.
And, when it comes to rebuilding the infrastructure of Cumbria
and Lancashire and other areas affected, we are assessing now
the damage to flood defences and the damage to the roads
One of the benefits of having a strong and resilient economy
I thank him for that answer. You wouldn't think from listening to him
that he has cut flood dispense spending by ?115 million this year.
-- flood defence. After visiting the floods in the Somerset levels in
2014, the Prime Minister said that money is no object in this relief
effort and whatever money is needed will be spent. I welcome the
announcement that the Chancellor has just made, but will he confirm that
the same will apply this time? Absolutely. Money will be made
available to those affected and the communities that have seen the
infrastructure damage. Up to ?5,000 will be made available to individual
families to repair their homes and protect them against future
flooding. Thank you. Carlisle and Cumbria have experienced a traumatic
few days. I thank him for considering the direct effect of the
floods on families. A charitable organisation has launched a flood
appeal. I wrote to the Prime Minister asking for support for the
appeal as it would help many affected people across the county.
With the Chancellor be able to offer such support from the government
towards this much-needed fund? First of all, I think everyone would pay
tribute to the people of Carlisle and the extraordinary resilience
they have shown in the acts of friendship neighbours had shown. The
Prime Minister this morning before he left for Central Europe asked me
to make sure that we would be able to help on the specific point that
my friend raises. And the one he raised with the Prime Minister. And
I can say that we will support the work that the Cumbrian foundation
does and we will match by up to ?1 million the money they are raising.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Lords were also reflecting
on the weekend's serious flooding in the North West.
My Lords, would not my friend agree that the priority must first be to
get relief to those who have been so unfortunately unhappily and
disastrously affected and to make sure that any additional rain that
is threatened doesn't exacerbate existing problem? He makes a good
point. And that is precisely what the initial response is designed to
do. To make people safe and get them to temporary accommodation. And
clear some of the devastation that has been caused. Is she aware there
is another emergency service that has not been recognised? That is
radio Cumbria. They went on for 24 others for two full days. Without
their assistance, the county would not have done as well. Will she join
me in paying tribute to them? And also, while it is too early to make
an analysis, will she perhaps tell the house today whether there is any
truth in the assertion that the ?4 million scheme for Kendall was
actually delayed by the Coalition Government and will she give the
house insurance that this government will not delay it any further? --
give the house assurance. I will join him. I am sure that Radio
Cumbria just like all the other members of the community pulled
together over the last few days to help in quite a devastated area. So
Radio Cumbria, I am sure like every other person that could play their
part, I am sure has added to mitigating some of the agony of the
people that live there. In terms of the Kendall scheme, we are looking
at a potential scheme to reduce the risk of flooding in Kendal. But
because it is at an early stage of planning, the proposed scheme is
scheduled for 2021. We are considering with other funding
partners how we can bring the scheme forward to improve protection for
440 properties at a cost predicted at ?3.95 million. Could the minister
tell us what cognizance has been taken by the government regarding
the insurance industry. And the matter of 100 year events. I
appreciate this is probably a matter for God. Every time we try to
predict, and even worse event has occurred. We are constantly
reviewing the flood defences and how we can respond.
Now, does the law need strengthening on the keeping of exotic animals?
The range of animals now kept as pets in the UK has increased
dramatically over the last ten years.
The advent of the internet has meant more people have been able
to acquire such creatures as meerkats, macaws,
A Conservative MP highlighted just some of the many species now
There are many examples, which colleagues will know about. Boa
constrictors, numerous amphibians. African pygmy hedgehogs and the list
goes on. The pet food manufacturers association estimate that the exotic
population has got to 42 million and that is staggering. The number of
reptiles and amphibians alone kept in this country is now anywhere
between two million and 7 million. There has been a huge increase in
numbers. There was a badly neglected African pygmy hedgehog which was
disposed in a cardboard box in London. It had to be rescued and
taken to an animal hospital. There were two bearded Dragons found in a
London cemetery. What has happened is these pets, which may be given
for Christmas, and children are excited becomes very difficult to
manage. None of these issues are original. The thing that has changed
is the power of the Internet. That has changed. We have all fought a
General Election campaign. As you go canvassing, I one door and I saw a
cat with spots on. I thought they are keeping leopards now. The
household over the years has kept various animals. We have drawn the
line at giraffes. Let's be frank. Those individuals who want a meerkat
should stick to collecting the stuffed toys. They should steer
clear of the real thing. What is it that drives trends in the pet
market? I would suggest one of the drivers is that they are seen as
cute and cuddly. Transferrin disease and pathogens and the risk that
these animals may be released into the wild. There is legislation that
deals with abandonment or non-native species. It is clear that there is a
thrive in the exotic pet trade. But it also means a rise in the risk of
abandonment. There is much greater prospects for working, with regard
to experts. With regard to exotics, we are looking at making it a
requirement to have a licence. And making sure care sheets are given to
owners before they are allowed to purchase pets. So through the
licensing process, you would have a compulsion for that information to
be given. We are also looking at whether to look at a more risk based
approach. Until then, from me,
Keith Macdougall, goodbye.