20/01/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


20/01/2016

Highlights of Wednesday 20 January in Parliament, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Wednesday In Parliament,

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

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The party leaders clash over the move to turn

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Why are they abolishing those maintenance grants?

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If you want to be on the side of more university students,

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if you want to want to help people make the most of their lives,

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the system we've got is one that's working.

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Outrage in the Commons about the red paint applied to front doors that

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housed asylum seekers in Middlesbrough.

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If there is an acceptance that these doors were

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painted in a certain colour, that is appalling.

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And the outgoing Chief Inspector of Prisons says the independence

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When Mr Grayling was Secretary of State, we had some

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pretty robust discussions about the content of what I was saying.

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But first, the replacement of grants with loans for less well-off

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students in England has dominated the weekly round of

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The Chancellor announced the change last summer,

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saying the ending of maintenance grants represented a good deal

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for the taxpayer, as well as being fairer to students.

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The grants were costing the Government ?1.6 billion a year,

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but Labour has criticised the move and say Ministers have brought it

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The party leader Jeremy Corbyn told David Cameron the policy hadn't

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featured in the Conservative election manifesto.

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This proposal will affect 500,000 students -

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I have a question from a student by the name

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of Liam, who says, I am training to be a mathematics teacher,

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and will now come out at the end of my course

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to debts in excess of ?50,000, which is roughly twice as much

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What I would say to Liam is that he is now in a country

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with a university system with more people going to university than ever

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before, and more people from low-income backgrounds

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going to university than ever before.

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In addition, what I'd say to Liam, and I wish him well,

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is that he will not pay back a penny of his loan

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I'm pleased to say, Mr Speaker, that Liam is actually trying to be

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a maths teacher, which might be able to help the Prime Minister,

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because he did say he was earning ?25,000, which is more than ?21,000,

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In 2010, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister's Government

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trebled tuition fees to ?9,000, defending it by saying they would be

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increasing maintenance grants for students

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They're now scrapping those very same grants -

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they used to boast about them being increased.

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Why are they abolishing those maintenance grants?

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The sense in doing this is we want to uncap university

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places, so as many young people in our children...

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In our country, who want to go to university, can go to university,

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And before too much shouting from the party opposite,

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when they were in Government, it was Labour

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that introduced the fees and loans system.

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If you want to be on the side of aspiration, if you want to be

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on the side of more university students, if you want to help people

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make the most of their lives, the system we've got is one that's

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Mr Speaker, that is from the very same Prime Minister who is taking

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away the grants that are designed to help the poorest

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within our society, and give them access to higher education.

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Then on to plans to axe bursaries for student nurses.

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The Prime Minister and I would probably agree that we need to be

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spending more and directing more resources in dealing with

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the mental health crisis in this country.

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And I've got a question, from somebody

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who wants to help us get through this crisis,

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by becoming a mental health nurse, and it's a woman

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called Vicky from York, and she's got a very real problem.

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I would not have been able to, or chosen to study to be

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a mental-health nurse, without a bursary,

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I've got debts from a previous degree.

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I would not take on further debts, which

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would be impossible for me to pay back, and be fair on my daughter.

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She is somebody who we need in our NHS.

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We are losing her skill, her dedication, her aspiration

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Two out of three Vickys that turn up wanting to be nurses are sent away

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So we're bringing people in from Bulgaria or Romania,

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or the other side of the world, to do nursing jobs -

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we should be training British people who want to do it.

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The Prime Minister will be aware that nine out of ten hospitals

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Isn't what he is proposing for the nurse bursary scheme

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going to exacerbate the crisis, make it worse

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for everybody and make our NHS less effective, not more effective?

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I'll give him a very direct answer, which is we are going to see 10,000

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extra nurse degree places, because of this policy.

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Because we are effectively uncapping the numbers

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that can go into nursing, and I have to say, Mr Speaker,

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a retreat of the Labour Party into the past.

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We've seen it with wanting to bring back secondary picketing.

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Wanting to bring back flying pickets.

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We have seen it with the idea of stopping

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businesses paying dividends, and with the absurd idea that

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nuclear submarines should go to sea

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Anyone watching this Labour Party - and it is not now just

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the leader, the whole Labour Party - they are a risk to our national

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security, a risk to our economic security, a risk to our health

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service and to the security of every family in our country.

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A Tory backbencher used music titles to

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Does my right honourable friend agree with me that our nuclear

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deterrent only works against our nation's enemies

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if our nuclear submarines are actually equipped

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And that those, such as the Leader of the

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Opposition, who do not believe this, have a defence policy inspired

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And shows that while the members opposite may Twist And Shout,

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their current leader certainly needs Help.

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Well, I congratulate my honourable friend on his ingenious question.

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There is a comic element to sending submarines to sea

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but, in fact, it is absolutely serious, because the deterrent has

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been, on a cross-party basis, an absolutely key part

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of our defence, and making sure we've got the...

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We've got the ultimate insurance policy, which we support on this

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side, and we should vote on in this House, and all I can say when it

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I suspect that the Leader of the Opposition

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David Cameron using a Beatles approach to attack Labour.

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Well, the third-biggest party in the Commons is,

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of course, the Scottish National Party.

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Its leader at Westminster often takes up an international

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matter with David Cameron, and did so again this time,

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Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen,

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including a large number by the Saudi Air Force.

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They have done that using British-built planes,

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with pilots who are trained by British instructors,

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who are dropping British-made bombs and are coordinated by the Saudis

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in the presence of British military advisers.

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Isn't it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain

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is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands

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of civilian lives, and he has not sought

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I think the right honourable gentleman started in a serious place

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It is in our interest that we back the legitimate government of Yemen,

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We have some of the most stringent arms measures

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of any country anywhere in the world, but just to be

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absolutely clear about our role, we are not a member

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British military personnel are not directly involved

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in the Saudi-led coalition's operations.

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The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over

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Labour believes it that it will lose as much as ?6 million in its income

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each year as a result of alterations the bill makes.

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Under the bill, each trade union member would have to agree

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in writing every five years to opt in to paying what's called

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the "political levy", as opposed to opting out.

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The new rules would apply to all 4 million political levy-payers

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in the unions that are affiliated to the party.

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In the Lords, the leader of the Labour peers said the whole

:09:31.:09:33.

issue of the future funding of parties should be handed over

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Our genuinely-held concern is that this aspect of the bill

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will have a significant impact on the resources of one major

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political party - my party, the Labour Party -

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and in doing so, it will both disrupt the political balance

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in the UK and have a damaging effect on the electoral

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But whatever our views are, I hope we would be able to find agreement

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that it would be totally wrong for any Government,

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any Goverment of any colour, to use its power to attack the funding

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of any political party, other political parties,

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My Lords, we now have, in this measure presented

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as a technical change to make union members'

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donations to political parties more transparent,

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an extraordinary attempt to fully stymie

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I believe that it is wrong to single out one political party,

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if we are looking at the funding of parties in this country,

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and, frankly, to suggest that this bill is not

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singling out a political party is disingenuous.

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Here today, we have a proposition that this...

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These clauses have no impact, they are related to the trade unions

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and nothing to do with political parties, and yet we know

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the practical effect on one political party

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We have to reconcile and resolve those issues

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and have them debated in a committee, where they can be

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To attack the funding, I think, is misguided,

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The people will say, well, let's have a look at the Tory party.

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And we will get into a war of mutual destruction,

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and in so doing, I do not think this will help to enhance the reputation

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of Parliament or of the political parties.

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And those who support this bill will actually say,

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that certain supervisions are actually designed to enhance

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and freedom of choice of trade union members, etc.

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I understand that that is a possible argument,

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but, Lords, matters will not start here.

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We are in a different place and the way that these matters

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It is impossible that wider questions about the big donor

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culture, and the role of business, will go away.

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My Lords, this bill is a package of

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measures, and it is disappointing

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that the party opposite have chosen

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We would merely be adding confusion if

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Our reforms in this bill look at how trade union members choose

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to contribute to trade union and political funds.

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We are not looking at how trade unions fund political parties.

:12:32.:12:35.

Opt-ins and opt-outs for trade union political funds have always been

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a matter for trade union legislation.

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Party funding and its regulation have always been a matter

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Party funding is rightly outside the scope

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of this bill and I call on the House to reject this motion.

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At the end of the debate, Labour peers won the day.

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My Lords, they have voted:

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Contents - 327. Not contents - 234.

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You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons

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An MP tells the Commons he's a popper-user.

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The front doors of houses used by asylum seekers in Middlesbrough

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are to be repainted, after claims they were targeted

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because nearly all of the doors were red.

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Asylum seekers in the town told The Times newspaper that

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eggs and stones had been thrown at their houses because the doors

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The newspaper visited 168 houses in Middlesbrough owned by Jomast,

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a subcontractor for the global security firm G4S.

:13:44.:13:54.

In the Commons, a Minister was summoned to explain

:13:55.:13:58.

Anything which identifies asylum seeker accommodation for those

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who may wish to harm those accommodated in the properties

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I have spoken to the Chief Executive of G4S this morning,

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and he has assured me that neither they, nor Jomast,

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their subcontractor in Middlesbrough, have a policy

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which states that asylum seeker property should be identified

:14:17.:14:18.

Although, Jomast does accept that the company uses

:14:19.:14:24.

red paint across its portfolio of properties.

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The local MP questioned how long the sub-contractor was going to take

:14:30.:14:33.

At the moment, Jomast is saying that they are acknowledging it now,

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and will do it over a three to six months.

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I just suggest to the Minister that that is simply not acceptable.

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This must be done as a matter of supreme urgency.

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I had more in mind of a timescale of three to six weeks,

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And if the Minister concludes that this is discriminatory action,

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a discriminatory action on their behalf,

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In short, if you could outline what penalties he has available

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to him to make sure that this contractor G4S,

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who, quite frankly, have suffered a great deal of reputational damage

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over recent times, and Jomast, are held to account?

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If what is required in the short term is to repaint 150 front doors

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then frankly this should not be taking three months,

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the painters should be out now and it should be done

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I hope the minister can assure the house that will be shown.

:15:27.:15:35.

It's extraordinary with all these inspections that have occurred it

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took a journalist as distinguished as Andrew Norfolk to expose

:15:38.:15:39.

Though I accept what the minister says, he has acted with speed to put

:15:40.:15:47.

measures in place, the fact remains the home affairs committee has

:15:48.:15:52.

written to ministers in the past worrying and concerned

:15:53.:15:56.

What ministers have done is given contracts to big companies like G4S

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and Serco who are removed from the real providers.

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And G4S, as this house knows, are serial offenders in respect

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And with the greatest will the world and his commitment to make sure

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something is done, I don't believe an audit will be sufficient.

:16:26.:16:30.

If there is an acceptance the doors were painted

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in a certain colour, that is appalling and it should have

:16:33.:16:35.

My understanding is that concerns of painting doors read was raised

:16:36.:16:44.

in 2012 by the Lib Dem colleague and Middlesbrough councillor.

:16:45.:16:51.

She has pursued the issue doggedly ever since and it is largely due

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to her influence the matter has come to light today.

:16:56.:16:59.

She was told by G4S that they had received no complaints

:17:00.:17:02.

That could manifestly not be the case.

:17:03.:17:09.

Now, the Government has faced calls from MPs to order a fresh

:17:10.:17:12.

investigation into the case of Poppi Worthington.

:17:13.:17:14.

A family court judge ruled that 13-month-old Poppi had been sexually

:17:15.:17:18.

assaulted by her father, Paul Worthington, at the family home

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in Barrow, in Cumbria, shortly before her sudden

:17:21.:17:22.

and still unexplained death back in 2012.

:17:23.:17:29.

Paul Worthington denies any wrong-doing.

:17:30.:17:31.

The area's MP tabled an urgent question about the case.

:17:32.:17:40.

Justice Jackson was clear in the judgment yesterday that

:17:41.:17:46.

Paul Worthington raped the child and she died soon afterwards.

:17:47.:17:54.

Yet it was a full eight months later that the parents were first

:17:55.:17:57.

questioned by the police despite a pathologist saying,

:17:58.:17:59.

raising at the time the death was caused

:18:00.:18:01.

By this time, crucial evidence had been lost by the police such

:18:02.:18:09.

as her nappy she was wearing and her bedding.

:18:10.:18:15.

He said social services allowed the siblings to return to the family

:18:16.:18:19.

home. Although the failures happened

:18:20.:18:26.

after the child's death and not before, the combined failure

:18:27.:18:28.

of several agencies is every bit as serious as if it contributed

:18:29.:18:35.

to the death of Victoria Climbe Will the government make clear

:18:36.:18:38.

that they value Poppi Worthington's life by ordering a similarly

:18:39.:18:45.

thorough independent investigation He knows there was an investigation

:18:46.:18:47.

by Ofsted in 2015 into Cumbria social services and it was found

:18:48.:18:56.

to be inadequate and the Department is currently in the process

:18:57.:18:59.

of intervention into Cumbria social services to ensure child social

:19:00.:19:02.

services are properly working in Cumbria and all children

:19:03.:19:04.

in Cumbria have the support We need to learn lessons from this

:19:05.:19:10.

case but we need to wait for the second inquest,

:19:11.:19:21.

the attorney general has granted that and until the inquest has

:19:22.:19:29.

completed, we will not tap the full facts and he knows for the case

:19:30.:19:32.

to be reopened new evidence will need to come to light which may

:19:33.:19:35.

or may not be the case depending I urge her to keep pursuing the case

:19:36.:19:38.

and not to be deterred And also particularly to clarify

:19:39.:19:43.

what is the situation about the police investigation now

:19:44.:19:49.

because we don't need to wait for the inquest for the police

:19:50.:19:52.

investigation to be continuing. The IPCC are verifying

:19:53.:20:02.

whether the police previously did

:20:03.:20:05.

the right job or not, investigation now into this case

:20:06.:20:07.

and could that be done The right honourable lady has

:20:08.:20:10.

campaigned on these matters for years and I assure her I will

:20:11.:20:15.

personally take this case and make sure we get to the bottom of it

:20:16.:20:19.

and we learn the lessons Robust, hard-hitting and forthright,

:20:20.:20:22.

the adjectives used to describe Nick Hardwick who is stepping down

:20:23.:20:30.

as HM Inspector of prisons. Since he took over the job,

:20:31.:20:34.

six years ago, he has published a series of damning reports charting

:20:35.:20:37.

a growing crisis inside jails. He has been critical

:20:38.:20:40.

of the arrangement where the Inspectorate receives funds

:20:41.:20:42.

from the Ministry of Justice. It has or has been my view

:20:43.:20:50.

since I started that it is not appropriate for us to be sponsored

:20:51.:20:59.

by the Ministry of Justice. It was considered and

:21:00.:21:04.

that was not successful. As long as we continue to be

:21:05.:21:09.

sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, we do need a clear

:21:10.:21:12.

protocol that sets out how that relationship works and it respects

:21:13.:21:18.

where we should be independent and it is important there

:21:19.:21:23.

is a proper distinction that... If it is necessary to make life

:21:24.:21:30.

uncomfortable for the Department, the Inspectorate feels

:21:31.:21:37.

it is able to do that. You set out that ideally

:21:38.:21:40.

the Ministry of Justice would not be the sponsor but in those

:21:41.:21:48.

circumstances what measures do

:21:49.:21:51.

you say could be put in place independence or are you

:21:52.:21:53.

saying it can't be done? You can improve the situation

:21:54.:22:01.

from how it is now. My experience has been that it has

:22:02.:22:06.

worked in a very British constitutional way, nothing has been

:22:07.:22:08.

written down clearly but by and large it has worked,

:22:09.:22:11.

there has been proper... People understand it and personnel

:22:12.:22:18.

move and they forget what the relationship should be

:22:19.:22:21.

and it is we educate chin. It would be possible

:22:22.:22:26.

to have a protocol that sets some Can you assist the committee

:22:27.:22:29.

with one or two points you think should be the pillars

:22:30.:22:36.

of the protocol? Well, it should be clear

:22:37.:22:41.

for instance and written out that the basic principles

:22:42.:22:44.

are the reports and findings and the criteria we use

:22:45.:22:47.

for the inspections are down to the Chief Inspector to decide

:22:48.:22:54.

and not the ministry so you might

:22:55.:22:58.

want to consult the Secretary proper notice of what he says

:22:59.:23:00.

but they should be for Presumably it would reject

:23:01.:23:14.

the suggestion ministers have exercised any influence over

:23:15.:23:17.

the content of your policy. I reject they have been

:23:18.:23:19.

successful in doing that. Isn't that the most important

:23:20.:23:22.

influence, indicator It is the most important

:23:23.:23:23.

indicator, I certainly had with when Mr Grayling

:23:24.:23:33.

was Secretary Of State robust discussions about the content

:23:34.:23:36.

of what I was saying. So, I think it would be helpful

:23:37.:23:39.

to make sure those things The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt

:23:40.:23:43.

has said in the Commons he's a user of the recreational drug known

:23:44.:23:53.

as poppers and said a ban on its supply would be

:23:54.:23:56.

"fantastically stupid". Mr Blunt, a former Prisons Minister,

:23:57.:23:59.

said users of the drug Supply of the drug could be outlawed

:24:00.:24:02.

under the Pyschoactive Substances The government wants to crack down

:24:03.:24:08.

on the sale and use of so-called legal highs, substances chemically

:24:09.:24:14.

designed to mimic drugs that There is sometimes when something

:24:15.:24:17.

is proposed which becomes personal to you and you realise

:24:18.:24:25.

the government is doing something fantastically stupid and I think

:24:26.:24:28.

in those circumstances one has I would be directly affected

:24:29.:24:31.

by this legislation. And I am astonished to find

:24:32.:24:43.

it is proposing to be banned. And frankly so are

:24:44.:24:50.

many other gay men. And if I follow my own mindset

:24:51.:24:57.

reaction to this, it is simply serving to bring the whole

:24:58.:25:02.

law into disrepute. Including poppers in the ban may

:25:03.:25:06.

undermine the bill and make it far more difficult to get

:25:07.:25:09.

across the vital message that psychoactive substances can be

:25:10.:25:12.

and often are very dangerous. There is a risk the bill

:25:13.:25:19.

would become synonymous with a ban on poppers a substance thought to be

:25:20.:25:22.

relatively harmless. And that as a result the public

:25:23.:25:26.

will come to believe all the substances banned

:25:27.:25:29.

by the bill are relatively harmless. Later, MPs voted not to exempt

:25:30.:25:34.

poppers from a ban on psychoactive Do join me for our

:25:35.:25:37.

next daily round-up. Until then, from me,

:25:38.:25:45.

Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:46.:25:50.

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