Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday, 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.
Is sending in the bulldozers a good idea?
Jeremy Corbyn criticises David Cameron's plans to demolish
We'll be Prime Minister guarantee that all existing tenants of the
council estates earmarked for redevelopment will be be housed in
new council housing in their current communities? The House of Lords
discusses the House of lords. Should their powers be curbed? Use your
Use your vote prudently, yes, use it sparingly, yes.
And if God Save the Queen has to go, what should become
I want to say which area it was says the most reasonable choice was
Could housing be one of the main political issues during the time
At the weekend David Cameron unveiled his ?140 million plan
to tackle poverty by bulldozing so-called 'sink' estates to make way
The Prime Minister pledged to demolish 'brutal high-rise'
towers and bleak housing in an effort to tackle drug abuse
So was this an attempt by the Conservative leader to march
across Labour's traditional territory?
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged David Cameron
This week the Prime Minister rather belatedly acknowledged
there is a housing crisis in Britain.
He announced a ?140 million fund to transform 100 housing estates
around the country, which amounts to ?1.4 million per housing estate
It is not even going to pay for the bulldozers, is it?
What we have done is double the housing budget. We're going to be
investing ?8 billion in housing. That comes after having built
700,000 homes since becoming Prime Minister. We have over a quarter of
a million more affordable homes. Every estate he announces you wishes
to build those will include tenants and people who have bought their
homes under Right to Buy. Will those people, the leaseholders, will be be
guaranteed homes on those be built estates that he has proposing to
build? Of course I accept this is not as carefully thought through as
his reshuffle. I gather is still going on. It has not actually
finished yet. What we want to do is to go to human tears where there are
a sink estates and housing estates that have helped people back and
agree with those local councils, those local people and make sure
tenants get good homes, make sure home owners get rehoused in new
houses. That is what we want. I noticed the Prime Minister did not
give any guaranteed to leaseholders on states. So there is another
larger groups on those as states that have two I have a question to
ask him. Daryl says, will be Prime Minister guarantee that all existing
tenants of the housing estates earmarked for a reader redevelopment
will be rehoused in council housing in their current amenities with the
same conditions that we have now? Isn't it interesting, Mr Speaker,
who here is the small see conservative who is saying to people
stay in your sink estates, have nothing better than what Labour
agave after the war. We are saying if you are a tenant, have the Right
to Buy. If you are in a sink estate, we will help you out. That is the
fact of politics today. A party on the side of the House that once to
give people life chances and a Labour opposition that wants them to
stay stuck in poverty. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister doesn't seem to
understand. He doesn't understand the very serious concerns that
council tenants have when they feel they are going to be forced away
from the community where they live, where their children go to school
and their community is so strong. But there is another area where the
Prime Minister might be able to help us today. His party's manifesto
said, everyone who works hard should be able to own a home of their own.
So we'll families earning his so-called national living wage be
able to afford one of his discount starter homes? I very much hope they
will. As well as starter homes, we are having shared ownership homes.
We are saying to the 1.3 million tenants of Housing associations, we
are on your side. You can buy your own home, why does he still oppose
that? Well, Mr Speaker, I hope this what hope goes a long way. Research
by shelter found that families on his so-called living wage will be
unable to afford the average Tartar home in 98% of local authority
areas. He didn't answer the question about the 1.3 million housing
association tenants. I want what is best for everybody. He owns his
home, I own my home, why weren't we let those 1.3 million own their
homes? Why not? The Prime Minister gave no assurances to tenants, no
assurances to leaseholders, no assurances to low-paid people who
want to get somewhere decent to live. He quoted the words of Linda,
a council tenant for the last 25 years. The council bill being put
through Parliament, we will have two signed a new agreement, if we say we
will have to pay the bedroom tax and debt. If we downsize, we lose our
secure home. It is a real problem that Linda and others are facing. If
she was in the advice you grow, what advice would you give her? It has
not paid by pensioners, but that's another point I would make to Linda
and all those who are in council housing or other two Council
Association homes. We are giving you the chance to buy your own home. It
is interesting what this exchange has shown. We now have a Labour
Party with a housing policy that does not support home ownership.
They have a defence policy that does not believe in defence. We have a
Labour Party that does not believe in work and a Labour leader who does
not believe in Britain. David Cameron.
The SNP Westminster's leader Angus Robertson opted
He supported the idea of a post-study work visa that
would allow university students from overseas to stay
He said the Commission led by the economist Lord Smith had
recommended the creation of schemes to allow overseas graduates
to remain in Scotland and work for a period of time once
Why did the UK Government this week ruled out a return of a post study
work Visa without discussions and before parliamentary reports? There
is no limit on the number of people who can stay after they have
graduated, as long as they have a graduate level job. That is a clear
message. The return of post study abusers is supported by all of
Scotland's publicly funded colleges, College Scotland, universities
Scotland, the representative body for higher institutions. All
parties, including the Scottish Conservative Party. Why does the
Prime Minister think they are all wrong and he is right? I think the
disadvantage of inventing a new post-work-study route, we are
effectively saying to people coming to our universities, it is OK to
stay with a less than graduate job. There are lots of people in our own
country desperate for a those jobs. We do not need the world's brightest
and best to come here and study and then to do a menial and Labour job.
That is not what our immigration system is for. What we want is a
system that we can advertise to the world, com study and work here. Onto
gambling and the potential dangers of fixed odds betting terminals.
Some of the Government's backbenchers would agree with me,
despite my background would be menial, in calling to a reduction to
fixed betting terminals. They seem reluctant to review this ?1.6
million industry and refuses to bring it under scrutiny. Can the
Prime Minister ensure that the Government will undertake a review
of this dangerous and addictive problem? We keep this important
situation under review. A former oil trader raised
the falling global price of oil: 30 billion I'll is good for... It is
bad in other respects. If it goes on like this, we risk seeing regimes
under pressure, enormous financial transfers out of our markets to pay
for other country's deficit, a possible collapse in share prices
and dividends for pensions and a liquidity problem in our banking
sector. May I invite the Prime Minister initiate a review across
Whitehall to assess the effects of low oil prices on our economy and
beyond? It has a effect on our our constituents who are able to fill up
their cars were less than ?1 per litre. That is a very big increase
in people's disposable income. A low oil price is good for the British
economy as an economy that is a production economy. There are other
consequences and union to many of them. We need to look carefully at
how we can help our industry. Now, cast your mind back to the end
of October and there was something of a constitutional
crisis at Westminster. The House of Lords had blocked
the Government's planned cuts to tax credits and this despite the Lords
supposedly having little or no say Conservative Ministers
were not best pleased. A review was ordered into the powers
of the Lords. It concluded that peers should
lose their veto over what's known Peers would instead be allowed
to send these laws back to the Commons, forcing MPs to vote
again, but would only be able The person in charge of the review
led a debate on his proposals. My Lords, by having the ability to
do what the House of lords traditionally does so well, ask the
House of commons to think again, we are doing what we have always done.
To limit it to a ping without a pong, we are giving the House of
lords writes that they do not have at the moment. In other words we
have a conversation between the two houses that they have the final say.
Speaking as someone who has served the Government for 30 years, it is
no bad thing that the House of lords does have the opportunity to revise
legislation, to seek no matter how inconveniently or uncomfortably to
the Government of the day, go back and think about this again.
Particularly in relation to tax credits. I sometimes reflect that
members of the Government party in the other house might be grateful of
being speared several months of being quite rightly have ranked by
their constituents, who would have lost sums of money. The House
sometimes sells itself sought. -- sells itself short. In that context
of the constitutional democracy, to deal with legislation on issues as
sensitive as the level income of people who are hard-pressed because
of the economic crisis,... Why is this change being proposed?
Part of a wider concern by the government, no government likes it
when they are defeated but join the club. I know what it is like to be
defeated. In the five and three quarters years of this government,
it suffered 123 defeats and any five and three quarters years between
2002 and 2008, which I am particularly familiar with, the
government suffered 325 defeats. I urge the size not to abandon its
right to say no. Use it prudently, yes, sparingly, yes, but retain this
we must. The application of the proposals in the report is that we
have gone beyond the point where the present self-regulatory framework
can be allowed to continue and something that is more laid down in
statute might be required in place of the current convention.
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons
An MP bids to replace God Save the Queen with an anthem
The British economy risks once again becoming dependent on consumption
by households and not led by export performance.
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons
The British economy risks once again becoming dependent on consumption
by households and not led by export performance.
That was the claim of the Scottish Nationalists
during a Commons debate they'd called, focusing on the UK's current
Opening the debate, the SNP's finance spokesman noted that in 2012
the Chancellor George Osborne had declared he wanted to double
Mr Speaker, total export sales in 2013 were ?521 billion,
which was a reasonable start, but that fell to ?513
The numbers are moving in the wrong direction,
yet the Chancellor and this Government still expect us
to believe that exports could, in effect, double over this
The OBR s most recent forecast suggests that they will miss that
target by about ?350 billion, so the target set
I have to say that I really struggle to take lessons on the economy
It is a party that built its whole idea of independence,
which mercifully the good people of Scotland rejected,
on the idea that oil was going to be the lubricant,
the foundation of their independent economy.
Oil is now $35 a barrel and it is accepted that if the SNP
had been successful, the cost would have been somewhere
in the region of ?5,000 for every single household.
Scotland would have been in the most atrocious economic place if it had
The Chancellor s latest wheeze is to open the door to Chinese cash.
China has no track record of building nuclear power plants,
yet the Chancellor has offered massive subsidies over the next 20
years in the hope of encouraging Chinese state companies to invest
So much for encouraging British manufacturing!
I believe that the Chancellor s cunning plan has little to do
with energy security and everything to do with getting China to cover
Britain s disastrous current account deficit.
With Chinese money coming in, foreign currency will stay
The head of the Tax Office, Dame Lin Homer, has announced
that she will be leaving her post in April.
Until then, though, it's business as usual,
so MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have been
questioning her with their usual robustness.
She was challenged over whether enough is being done
A Conservative, Stephen Phillips, suggested that wealthy people
in particular had been "getting away" with tax evasion.
A claim that led to tetchy exchanges with Lin Homer.
You are prosecuting 35 a year at the moment.
By 2020 you are going to be prosecuting 100.
That means that each and every year at the moment there are about,
let's say, no, in fact, 65 is an underestimate because even
in 2020 you will not be prosecuting everyone.
But there are a lot of wealthy individuals who are evading
their taxes and who are not prosecuted.
You can agree with that and it will reflect credit on you.
I said a few minutes ago, you probably didn't hear
so I will say again, that across the whole spectrum
we do not prosecute everybody in every category.
So there will always be individuals who we don't prosecute.
Wealthy, less wealthy, not so wealthy.
It has never been our intention to prosecute everybody.
You assess the risk in terms of evasion yourself at 40%
in relation to individuals evading personal taxation.
A message which goes out loud and clear, doesn't it?
It is "evade your taxes and you are not going
No, I don't think it is, Mr Phillips, and I am not
But I think the message is that we will use a range
of approaches to dissuade people from evading their taxes.
And the assertion that we have ignored rich people...
Well, the problem with that is that on your own figures,
you have asked the Treasury for more money so that you can prosecute more
wealthy tax evaders and another 65 a year by 2020.
I want more money to do volume crime, which is what led
I don't understand why you are so defensive.
I don't want the message to get out there that there are certain people
that we will not go after and I think...
I reject words being placed in my mouth, I'm afraid.
I honestly don't quite understand why you are being so defensive
about this because it does seem to me that if you have gone
from looking at the numbers of prosecutions of wealthy
individuals, 35 was mentioned, and you have got some additional
funding to increase prosecutions to 100 a year.
I sort of feel, that says to me that maybe there are some people,
maybe not all of the 65 added on, some people who might,
through other things, because maybe that became part
of the way that HMRC worked, maybe some of those 65,
and obviously not the same individuals, who are going to be
prosecuted in the future and maybe in the past they came
in for a conversation and something would be sorted out.
And, yes, they might have to sort out their affairs and pay
a backdated cheque or something like this.
But ultimately, there will not be a prosecution.
Because it seems to me, we have seen too many of those
conversations happening rather than prosecutions and quite rightly,
public concern at that has led to more funding coming in,
which maybe more of those cases or types of those cases should end
with prosecutions, so, honestly, I don't think this is a trap.
It is just saying, don't be defensive.
Public pressure and unhappiness in this particular area
is going to lead to more prosecutions and that will mean that
maybe some individuals in the way they carried out their affairs
in the past will not be acceptable in the future
Please don't be defensive about that.
I am not, and can I just say, that is our approach
across the piece and has been since 2010 so we have gradually been
expanding prosecutions, not maybe as fast as we could have done.
But we do believe that we need to signal clearly that for anyone
who evades tax, there is a risk of prosecution.
Now, have we had enough of God Save The Queen?
The UK national anthem always gets an airing when the England football
team or England rugby team is about to play
But shouldn't England be represented by something more English?
Land of Hope and Glory is one of the songs now being put forward
as an alternative to God Save the Queen.
Introducing his own Bill in Parliament, a Labour MP believed
an English national anthem was an idea whose time
It has often seemed incongruous to me that when England play
against other home nations on the football or rugby field,
while the Welsh and Scots sing an anthem that reflects the identity
of their nations, England sings about Britain.
That reflects a sense that we see Britain and England as synonymous,
and this not only denies us English an opportunity to celebrate
the nation that is being represented, but it is a cause
of resentment among other countries within the British Isles,
who feel that England has requisitioned the British song.
I spoke to radio stations in all corners of England this
morning, such was the interest in the debate about what our
There were voxpops on the streets of towns far and wide,
and each area reflected the specific differences
I will not say which area thought that the most appropriate choice
for an English national anthem would be Heaven Knows I m Miserable Now
` that will remain a secret between me and the listeners
But that reflects the fact that each local area has its own sense
He said there had been suggestions for an English anthem
The three options were God Save the Queen, Jerusalem and Land
of Hope and Glory, and Jerusalem was the clear winner,
Land of Hope and Glory received 32% and God Save the Queen just 12%.
Just as Jerusalem was the favoured choice of those who voted
in the Commonwealth Games poll, so it seems to be an early favourite
among members of the public who have engaged with me.
The campaign group England in my Heart is specifically
campaigning for Jerusalem to be played before England rugby matches.
One MP believed a separate English anthem was wrong.
What greater pleasure can there be for a true-born English man
or true-born English woman than to listen to our own national
anthem ` a national anthem for our whole country,
for our whole United Kingdom, of which England is but a part,
but an important part, and to listen to those words that
link us to our Sovereign, who is part of that chain that takes
Despite that opposition, Toby Perkins was allowed to bring
How far it progresses remains to be seen.
Do join me for our next daily round-up.
Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.