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.