10/02/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of Wednesday 10 February in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.


The main stories from Westmhnster: At Prime Minister's Questions,


Labour demands more action on housing.


Six out of ten renters have issues such as damp,


You can only restore existing houses.


You can only support people into those houses


The opposition accuses the Government of a sleight of hand


when it comes to police funding in England and Wales.


And there's an outbreak of honesty from a Conservative MP.


On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I seek your guidance


on a matter which is at best of marginal interest


Find out what that is all about a little later


But first, to Prime Minister's Questions, where Jeremy Corbyn


The Labour leader accused David Cameron of presiding over


He began, as usual, by asking the Prime Minister a question


MPs cheered and laughed because the Labour Chief Whhp,


Rosie Winterton, was sitting on the front bench just a fdw places


The Rosie who has written to me is in her 20s and she says...


"I work incredibly hard at ly job, yet I'm still having to livd at home


The lack of housing options, Mr Speaker, forcing her to consider


She asks the Prime Minister what action he is going to take


to help young people and falilies suffering from unrealistic house


prices and uncapped rents to get somewhere safe and secure to live.


Well, first of all, let me say to the right honourable gentleman


when you get a letter from the Chief Whip,


But what I would say to Roshe, the Rosie who wrote,


is we want to do everything we can to help young people get


That is why we have got these Help to Save ISAs and I hopd


We are cutting Rosie's taxes so that this year,


she will be able to earn ?10,00 before she starts paying anx taxes.


If Rosie is a tenant in a Housing Association hole,


she will be able to buy that home because we are introducing


And, of course, with Help to Buy, she will have the opportunity


to register for Help to Buy, which gives people the opportunity


to have a smaller deposit on owning their own home.


If Rosie is not earning that much money but wants to be a homd owner,


shared ownership can make a real difference.


In some parts of the countrx, you will only need a deposit


of ?1000, ?2000 to begin thd process of becoming a homeowner.


But I recognise in this Parliament, building more houses,


following those schemes, we have got to deliver for Rosie.


Mr Corbyn then turned to those renting a place to live.


How many of the 11 million renters are living in homes that ard not,


that do not meet the decent homes standard and therefore


One third of those in the private rented sector do not meet


Shelter found that six out of ten renters have issues such as damp,


Millions are struggling to get the home they deserve.


More families slipping into temporary accommodation.


Families forced into low st`ndard, overpriced private rented sdctor.


Young people unable to move out of the family home


When is the Prime Minister going to realise there is a housing


His government needs to address it now so that we do not continue


with this dreadful situation in this country.


Let me just take one of the figures that he mentions about homelessness.


Homelessness is less than h`lf the peak today than it was tnder


You can only restore existing houses, you can only build


new houses, you can only support people into those houses if you have


Now, we inherited mass unemployment, an economy that has completdly


collapsed, a banking crisis, and now we have got zero inflation,


which is growing, unemploymdnt at 5%, an economy growing and people


able for the first time to look to their future and see thex can buy


The SNP's Angus Robertson ttrned to the talks between Holyrood


and Westminster over a financial deal to underpin new


Talks over what's called "the fiscal framework" have been


going on for several months, and are yet to be resolved.


The Smith Commission on further powers for Scotland said anx deal


should not impact adversely on Scotland or the rest of the UK.


Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister made a vow and his party signed


an agreement that there would be no detriment to Scotland


Why is the UK Treasury proposing plans that may be detriment`l


towards Scotland, to the tune of ?3 billion?


First of all, we accept the Smith principles of no detriment


First of all, no detriment to Scotland, quite rightly,


at the time when this transfer is made.


In terms of Scotland having these new tax-raising powers.


And then no detriment to Scottish taxpayers,


but also, to the rest of the United Kingdom taxpaxers


who we have to bear in mind as we take into account


this very important negotiation.


I want the Scottish National Party here and in Holyrood to havd


What are you going to do with benefits?


I want to get rid of, frankly, this grievance agenda and ldt


you get on with the governing agenda, and then we can see


Meanwhile, a Conservative MP turned to comments apparently made


by the Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry, during a lively


meeting of the Parliamentarx Labour Party.


Reporters outside the room were told she'd said the UK's nuclear weapons


system, Trident, could soon be as obsolete as the Spitfire fighter


The Spitfire was a crucial dlement in our winning the Battle


And keeping our country free from tyranny.


However, there are some, there are some who fear


that our independent nuclear deterrent could be as obsoldte


Now, could my right honourable friend the Prime Minister assure


the House and the country that this is not the case?


In reply, David Cameron quoted Labour MP for Bridgend,


Another week, another completely ludicrous Labour


I think the last word should go to the honourable member


Who, as she came out of the meeting, tweeted this: Oh, dear.


Need to go to rest in a darkened room.


I expect she will find the rest of her party with her!


Well, down the corridor in the Lords, Labour's Defence


spokesman urged the Prime Mhnister to "pull his finger out" and get


on with it when it came to renewing Trident.


The last Government gave the go-ahead for initial work


to start on replacing the UK's ageing Vanguard submarines,


which are due to end their working lives in the late 2020s.


But this parliament is due to vote on replacing the Trident


A Labour peer and former First Sea Lord began the qudstioning


by urging the Government not to exploit Labour's


The noble minister, I know, understands how crucially ilportant


the replacement of these submarines and the maintenance of the deterrent


to the security of our nation are, and yet the decision,


which has to be made in the other place, is being delayed and delayed.


It could have been made at `ny time since last November.


I know it's fun to watch Labour wriggling in anguish and having


cartoons such as in The Timds, with pictures of Spitfires


Actually, this is too important to score party political pohnts


My Lords, I have no wish to score party political points on a matter


The noble lord may remember that Parliament voted in 2007 to support


the programme to replace the Vanguard class submarinds,


that authorised the investmdnt in the programme, including


the design work, and that is the stage we are at at the loment.


If we had not commenced the work when we did, it would not h`ve been


possible to design and construct the successor submarines before


We are moving ahead with all speed on this.


And I can say to him that the Parliamentary vote,


which we are committed to, is only right and proper


because it is right to give the democratically elected chamber


of Parliament the opportunity to endorse the principle


Under this government, we have seen a reduction in the size


We have no aircraft carriers any longer.


At a time when the Russians are increasing submarine patrols


by 50%, we have no maritime control aircraft.


On top of this, the governmdnt wants to extend the life


I would be less than honest to stand here and say,


if I did not admit that my party have some problems


Noble Lords might have been reading about it in the newspapers.


But there is one policy that does unite the two frontbenches `t least


So can I ask the noble Earl the Minister if he will put a simple


question to his friend the Prime Minister?


Dave, pull your finger out, and damn well get on with committing


ourselves to replacing the Trident programme.


Because it is the first dutx of any government to protect our country.


My Lords, I think the noble lord is being less than generous


to the government which, for the first time in a long time,


has increased the defence budget with an extensive


And he added the message was well taken and the Government


was proceeding apace with the successor programmd.


You're watching Wednesday in Parliament, here on BBC


Parliament, with me, Alicia McCarthy.


Labour has accused the Government of a "sleight of hand"


in its funding of the policd in England and Wales.


The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in November


that there would be no cuts to police grants this year.


Figures show the funds from central government will fall,


but budgets will be maintained, with money raised through council


The minister insisted policd forces would face no real-terms


We need to make sure that our constituents are m`de aware


of how generous the settlement is up to 2020.


Still, at times, when we are continuing to pay


for the maladministration of the finance of this country


by the previous administrathon and by the previous ministers now


Let's just get something straight here.


When I came into the job as Shadow Home Secretary,


he and his other colleagues in the government were proposing


And it was pressure from thdse benches, led by my honourable


friend, a full Opposition D`y Debate, that forced them


So let's just get our facts straight here!


He is standing there seeming to suggest there will be no cuts.


Can he guarantee there will be no real-term cuts to any policd force


There is, if they go to the precept limits they have


As he knows, I have always opposed cuts to the police budget every


single year and the Minister has always had a good argument by saying


that crime is going down and so that justifies the government's position.


In my local paper, the Bradford Telegraph and @rgus,


last week, it pointed out crime had gone up by 15% across the Bradford


district over the course of the last year.


So if falling crime was a justification for a f`lling


police grant, now we have got significant rising crime


in the Bradford district, including in my constituencx.


By the same logic, does that mean we will get a substantial increase


Well, Mr Speaker, my honour`ble friend is nothing but deterlined


Types of crime have increasdd and we are having reported crime,


especially on sexual assaults and domestic violence,


I am very pleased people have the confidence to come forward,


which they would not have done in the past.


To add insult to injury, not only are the Tories continuing


to cut police funding, but they are expecting the public


The Tory sums rely upon loc`l people being charged an extra


Our citizens therefore and the communities that we serve


are being asked to pay more for less.


He is absolutely right to bd pointing out this sleight of hand


Because the real unfairness to areas like West Midlands and


We have a relatively low council tax base.


So the precept brings in relatively small amounts of funding.


Nothing like the amounts of funding that are being ctt


But added to that, they are the areas that tend


So need is not matched by the resources.


It is a double whammy for the urban areas and it really penalisds places


In a forward-looking county like Hertfordshire which has


the pressures of supporting London and Luton, major roads to police,


it has been possible through modern methods to use more


police on the front line, more modern methods,


and they are actually cutting the precept in Hertfordshird


for the police and finding the funding settlement


And at the end of the debatd, the police grant for the next


Back now to Prime Minister's Questions, where there was one


moment when the entire chamber fell silent.


A Conservative MP raised the plight of Yazidi women,


being captured and forced into sexual slavery by the so called


Robert Jenrick gave just one example.


They killed most of the famhly, tortured and


raped, made her day slave. She is the same as thousands of Yazidi


women, except they are held in captivity, but now there managed to


escape. She's in the public gallery today. Will the Prime Minister


celebrate the essential qualities which helped to escape


Daish. She and a community of suffered at the hands of thhs brutal


group in Iraq. It is a violdnt ideology. We are playing a leading


role in the global coalition. In terms of Iraq where Sony Yazidis


have suffered, Daish has lost 4 % of the territory a control. We are


making progress, but this whll take a long time. Building up Ir`qi


security forces, working with Syrian opposition forces. Building the


capacity of governments in both countries to drive this evil


organisation out of the Middle East. However long it takes, we mtst stick


at it. The refurbishment of the Palace


of Westminster provides the perfect opportunity to introduce a system


of electronic voting in the Commons, She's a member of the Digit`l


Democracy Commission, which is recommending a tri`l scheme


of "smart-card" voting by MPs to replace the traditional system


of walking through two With the Speaker, John Bercow,


looking on, Ms Hillier set out the case - quoting a consultation


carried out in 1998. Just over half of MPs, 53% prefer


the current system. 17% found it was acceptable, although there were


suggestions that voting could be quicker through smart cards, bingo


readers, or handsets. Why the commission did not push harder for


remote voting was a strong concern for members of the opportunhty to


speak to ministers and have contact with other members. The lobby is


dubbed the lobby for a reason. I thank the honourable lady for giving


way, interested to hear the points she is making. Also in importance


for people to physically be present. Near the chamber or in parlhament to


vote. The key part of this, having electronic methods of recording we


would find out how people's MPs voted, not having a situation like


yesterday when he gets to r`ised a point of order, how Cabinet


ministers were voting, she could give no answer. There are problems


with the current system. been talking to the clerks of the


House, how they record, and for those not initiated, they crossed


off the list with a marker pen. That piece of paper is taken by


Parliamentary staff, and not reconcile. Texas 15 minutes to walk


through the lobby. Takes a considerable length of time before


the vote published digitallx. My office worked out in the last


Parliament we spent 245 hours queueing up in order to cast 11 3


votes. Would she agree having electronic way of voting me`ns we


could record extension is. Sometimes they matter, not meaning MPs were


not here, but between the two choices, neither were good. She


raises important issues, whx we should be debating and disctssing.


In the last session of Parlhament they were 540 divisions in the


Commons, even if three minutes were saved on each one, then moddrn


improvement, it would have saved 27 hours for each MP.


The Deputy Leader of the Colmons said voting by means of electronic


cards might raise security and identity issues,


and she had clear reservations about the the idea suggesting it


I really do believe that thd valued tradition of linking debates to


votes. That matters. I recognise the swipe card idea but still do that.


The physical presence of MPs is one of those things that really matters.


MPs have been asked to approve new rules on the notification


of Parliament if a member is arrested.


By ancient tradition, the arrest of an MP for any reason


is noted in the business documents sent out to MPs every sitting day.


This dates back to the time when such arrests were a tactic used


After a number of recent cases it's been argued that this is unfair


and the Commons Procedure Committee asked for a change in the rtles


so that arrests are only reported where they could be interprdted


Let me be absolutely clear, the procedure committee is not `sking


for members of Parliament to receive special treatment in the eyds of the


law. Such a request, if madd, would be alien to the values of otr


committee, and alien to thehr wishes of our constituents. All of us on


the committee believe the l`w should be applied equally, to all citizens


of the United Kingdom. This presently is not the case in this


House. In this House, in matters of policing and Public order, the point


of public notification occurs not at the point of charge, as is the case


with constituents, but at the point of arrest. If people wish to change


the law, in relation to what happens when people are arrested, change the


law. Plenty of time on the Parliamentary agenda for people to


change the law. Plenty of opportunities for the gunmen to


change the law. This is not the way to change it for members of


Parliament. Therefore we should oppose this proposal. What we are


doing is bringing members of parliament in line with the law


that covers our constituents. The question is the notification of the


arrest of members of Parlialent As many as are of the opinion, say


"aye". To the contrary, "no".. I think the ayes habit. -- have it.


Now, it's not unusual for MPs and peers to disagree


but there's currently something of a set-to between the two Houses


on an issue of tradition, with the Commons taking the side


A Conservative MP sought the help of the Speaker.


I seek your guidance on a m`tter that is of marginal interest to the


outside world, but with risk jobs, and the traditions of the standards


of the House. The change of use from paper recording of Acts of


Parliament. It's the House of Lords which has


proposed ditching the traditional velum, made from calfskin,


for recording acts of Parli`ment. The material is famously durable,


with the Domesday Book and Magna Carta surviving


because they'd been made up - at least partly -


of long-lasting vellum. But the Chairman of Committdes


in the Lords has argued it's expensive, and switching to special


archival paper would save ?80,0 0 James Gray wondered if therd


was anything he could do if I were to call a debate tnder the


orders of the business commhttee with a substantive notion which


would require this retrograde decision to be reversed, cotld you


advise me what effect that would have and our decision in thhs place,


and when the other place wotld have to listen to that decision?


The Commons Speaker admitted he had thought the Commons


I had expected a vote would take place in this House. The matter does


fall within the influence of the other place. For that reason, on


account of their desire to proceed, there is no entitlement for this


House to supersede the other place's will. Secondly, the honourable


gentleman quite correctly jtdges it would be open to him and other


members to seek a backbench business committee debate on this matter I


wish the honourable gentlem`n or success, presumably in a cross-party


effort to secure such a deb`te. John Bercow advised Mr Gray to go


ahead and marshall his forcds. Finally, there was a warm wdlcome


in the Commons at the start of the day for the new


Serjeant at Arms. Kamal El-Hajji was selected


by a panel of MPs headed I hope the House will join le in


welcoming to the Sergeant's chair, the new Sergeant.


The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for keeping


order within the Commons ch`mber, committee rooms and public `reas.


They are the only officials in Parliament allowed to carry


weapons, including a gilt, fine-blade sword.


The Serjeant at Arms, or their deputy, is also prdsent


during every Commons sitting and have occasionally been required


to escort unruly MPs from the chamber.


And that gentle ripple of applause brings us to the end of this edition


But do join me at the same time tomorrow for another round tp


of the best of the day here at Westminster.


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