02/03/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of Wednesday 2 March in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.


David Cameron faces questions about Europe while the Labour leader


accuses him of not delivering on education.


One third of families promised 30-hours free childcare now won't


receive it. This is a broken promise.


While David Cameron mocks Labour for taking economic advice


from the former Greek Finance Minister.


That is Labour's policy in two words.


We're used to arguments about rich versus poor,


A committee of MPs looks at the idea of intergenerational fairness.


There's outrage in the Commons as an MP discovers that British


Imagine it, you open your distinguished service order or CBE


it says made in France. Every day at Westminster brings


a new salvo in the debate On Wednesday morning,


the Government published an analysis of the UK's options if it left


the EU, suggesting they would all be worse for the economy


than staying in. But Iain Duncan Smith -


one of five Cabinet ministers campaigning in favour


of a vote to leave the EU - said the Government was "in denial"


about the risk of remaining a member, adding that, "this dodgy


dossier won't fool anyone." It was the SNP's Westminster


leader who raised Europe Millions of UK citizens live


elsewhere in the European Union. European decisions have helped the


environment. Relations between 28EU member states happens often


imperfectly but through dialogue and agreement which surely is a huge


improvement on confrontation and wars of the past. Will the Prime


Minister concentrate on the positive arguments for EU membership and


reject the approach of Project Fear? My arguments about being stronger in


the reformed European Union, safer in the reformed European Union, and


better off in the reformed European Union are all positive arguments. I


would add the point he makes, that of course things like pollution


crosses borders and so it makes sense to work together. I think the


fundamental point he makes is one worth thinking about. He and I are


both post-war children. But we should never forget, when we sit


around that table, just 70 years ago, these countries were murdering


each other on the continent of Europe. For five or six years,


national insurance numbers issued to EU migrants have been hundreds of


thousands higher than the official immigration figures. This emplies


the official immigration figures may a dramatic underestimate. We can


only know the truth of the matter if they release the data on active EU


national insurance numbers, they have refused to do. Will the Prime


Minister instruct HMRC to release the statistics immediately so we can


understand the truth of EU immigration? You can get a national


insurance number for a short-term visit. People who are already here


but without a national insurance number can apply for them. These


numbers are complex. The HMRC has given greater information I will


continue to make sure that continues to be the case.


Away from Europe, the Labour leader focussed on childcare


for three and four-year-olds in England.


The national audit report confirms one third of families promised


30-hours free childcare now won't receive it. This is a broken


promise. The report also warns that many childcare providers are not


offering the new entitlement due to insufficient funding. There are


41,000 three-year-olds missing out on free early education as a result


of this. Will the Prime Minister intervene and ensure those children


get the start in life that they deserve? We want all of these


children to have the start in life they deserve. I'm glad he mentioned


the National Audit Office report. Let me read him some of the things


it says. "The department has successfully implebened the


entitlement to free childcare with three or four-year-olds with almost


takeup." We should be congratulating the Secretary of State.


David Cameron turned on Jeremy Corbyn's economic strategy.


I can announce to the House, his adviser, he was the Greek Finance


Minister who left his economy in ruins. That is Labour's policy in


two words. Acropolis now. Jeremy Corbyn moved onto the number


of teachers in England's schools, accusing David Cameron of being


in denial over teacher shortages. When 70% of Head teachers warned


they are now having to use agency staff to staff their classrooms,


isn't it time the Government intervened and looked at the real


cost of this, which is damage to children's education, but also 1.3


billion spent last year on agency teachers? If you want to look at


enkourageing people to go into teaching you have to know you have a


good school system with more academies, free schools and higher


qualifications making sure we have rigour and discipline in our


classroom. All of which improved. That is only possible if you have a


strong and growing economy to fund the schools that our children need.


David Cameron. The Government has defended a review


of the state pension age which will look at whether or not


it will need to rise A former head of the CBI,


John Cridland, will lead the first Experts have suggested people


joining the workforce now may have to wait until their mid-70s before


they can retire. Labour have said such a review


could throw the plans of millions But the Work and Pensions Secretary


told MPs there'd be no immediate change and ministers had to respond


to rising life expectancy. Future generations would rightly


expect that we should reflect those changes in the nature of how we set


the pension. and they wouldn't thank us,


I think - and we very rarely hear anybody talk about future


generations - but they would not thank us if we didn't take the right


decisions at the right time and have the courage to ensure


pensions are sustainable, to avoid them having to pick


up an increasing bill which would make their lives


even more difficult. Finally, Mr Speaker,


can the Minister tell us what he thinks the upper limit


is for the state pension age? Is it 80, as his former colleague,


the Pensions Minister, warned today? Isn't it the truth, Mr Speaker,


that the new pension promise is not the 75p they're always banging


about, it's the 75 years you'll have to work and wait under this


Tory Government before Mr Duncan Smith reminded Labour it


had agreed to regular reviews and described that response


as "utter idiocy." Can I just say to the House that


I think, sadly, he gives a bad That was so pathetic as a response


to a u-cue that was asked from an opposition that has no


policy, jumps around opposing everything, racking up


spending commitments. No wonder they haven't a hope


in hell of being in Government. Healthy life expectancy is not


rising at the same speed In fact, the gap between


the two is widening. Given the Government's reductions


in support for sick and disabled people of working-age,


indeed changes we're due to discuss later today, can we have any


confidence that further increases pension age will not simply condemn


thousands of older people with serious health conditions


to an impoverished old age on state benefits prior to their


official retirement? Inevitably, there are bound to be


loud complaints from those who are so unlucky that they're born


at a stage when they're just affected by the change,


but a Government has a duty to proceed in the interests


of the country and in the interests of future generations of working


taxpayers who will not be able to afford to sustain our system


unless we respond to reality. I'm not going to get angry,


but I am going to gently point out to the Secretary of State


that he Is quite wrong to say that there is a


consensus about this. Indeed, he has broken the consensus


he put in place with the excellent former Pensions Minister,


Steve Webb, because that agreement was that the independent reviews


that would happen every five years would look at life expectancy


and fairness of those paying in. But he's now introducing


affordability into that, which was not part of that,


as well as bringing it forward. Will the Secretary of State rule out


the prospect of the retirement age being increased to 84


as a result of this review, as was predicted by the previous


Pensions Minister, Steve Webb? Mr Speaker, is there any limit


that this Government is prepared to set on the upper limit


of the state retire am age? It is that somehow that her party


opposes an independent and regular I hear the frontbench shouting


"rigged." The only thing rigged


here is the way that he got onto the frontbench to be


the Opposition spokesman. Meanwhile, a committee of MPs has


been looking at where the balance lies between making life better


for young people and improving it The Work and Pensions Committee


is looking at the issue Its first witnesses were two


ex-ministers with an interest David Willetts is a former


Universities Minister, who's recently written a book


on intergenerational issues, and Steve Webb is a former


Pensions Minister. In terms of the two crucial assets


people build up during their working lives, both owning a home


and having a funded pension, much harder for the younger


generation to get started When we look at someone who's 60ish


and looks relatively comfortable, I think the wrong conclusion


would be, therefore, because 20-year-olds are struggling


to get on the housing ladder, and here's a comfortable


60-year-old, therefore we must break the triple-lock on the pension


or scrap the winter fuel Not recognising that the 60-year-old


was probably 20, when we had 30, when we we had mass unemployment


in the 80s. You know, if she's a woman,


she may well have started work when there wasn't even legislation


to stop discrimination against women So the challenge I think


for the inquiry, is to see people over the course of their whole lives


and I think then you get a rich Nowadays, those challenges that,


I hope across parties we believe in, owning your own home,


settling down, building up a funded pension,


those things which were pretty much automatic are now massive policy


issues and challenges. I think, in the long run,


a society where people are getting into their 30s or older and don't


have a place of their own and haven't got a funded pension,


is one where the younger generation Feel that then they're getting


a raw deal. So, just generally, your views


on Government policies, have they helped or hindered this


problem? We've had a decline


in the number of mature students So in places where different


generations mix, if you look at the UK kind of social attitudes


evidence, we are more We're more likely to work


alongside people our own age, study alongside them, have houses


and accommodation alongside them. That does make it easier for these


kind of pictures of a different age group to build up, including I think


often very unfair caricatures Could I just add one point to that,


if I may. Normally, the National Pensioners


Convention gave people like me a hard time,


but their strategy on this issue is really quite surprising because,


rather than just bang on for pensioners, they have


specifically allied themselves So that rather than have


this kind of battle, they've sort of said, actually,


our generation do care So do you think that


intergenerational distribution of wealth of income is a more


pressing issue than disparities I think that the danger of -


I mean, at the risk... Someone said the other day,


they were quoted as saying. At 64, I was a benefits scrounger,


at 65 I was a national treasure. Suddenly, you know,


all the pensioners we see Actually, we are hugely


diverse within generations. There's been virtually no increase


in employment for young There's barely been an increase


for middle aged people. The surge in employment has been


amongst the over 60s. There are lots of pensioners


who are also working. That's where the labour market


flexibilities have really Indeed, one quarter of all free


pensioner bus pass journeys in London are older people


travelling to work. Despite, you know, very vast


and sort of deep intellectual argument about the intergenerational


challenges, the bottom line is that the political imperative


around propensity to vote amongst older people trumps any analysis


that either of you have. I mean, we can discuss this as long


as we like but you know, as well as I do,


that's the imperative. The worst advice young people ever


got was Russell Brand telling them That was such bad advice when,


in reality, you're right, I do think older people worry now


about their children and grandchildren and we partly got


into this mess because we just We just didn't think when pensions


were being regulated more and more heavily,


does this mean that there won't be any funded company pensions


for the next generation? So I think that when be you get


people into this cast of mind, You're watching Wednesday


in Parliament, here on BBC Parliament, with me,


Alicia McCarthy. How should Europe respond


to the migrant crisis? Thousands of migrants have amassed


in Greece after neighbouring On Monday, hundreds tried to break


through, but were blocked by Macedonian police


who fired tear gas at them. The European Commission has


announced a multi-million-pound emergency aid programme to help


Greece and other countries overwhelmed by an


influx of migrants. In the Commons, an SNP MP


asked an urgent question. The International Development


Secretary said there would be But as the Secretary of State agree


that rubber bullets and tear gas does not amount to an appropriate


response and Greece cannot manage the situation alone? This country


has a proud and honourable tradition that is being honoured now. The EU


response has been chaotic and the honourable gentleman is right.


Rubber bullets and tear gas against children is not the answer. When my


Mac and my right honourable friend seek to convene a European meeting


to garner a holistic response. That would be a summit to come up with a


more appropriate response. What is the Government doing to work with


fellow members of the European family of nations to be more


effective against the people traffickers? Provide a safe routes


for refugees and above all how can we turn our backs on the people of


Greece who risked being overwhelmed because of the absence of a


strategic approach and humanitarian approach to this issue by all of the


EU nations, including the UK? I think I would strongly disagree with


her last statement because the reality is we are the largest


contributor to the humanitarian response in Europe. We are working


across the EU to ensure this humanitarian crisis is averted and


the most vulnerable people are protected and given shelter. We are


monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to meet other priority


On the backbenches there were calls for the Government to take more


of the migrants, including unaccompanied children.


I remain convinced we have a greater leadership role to play in ensuring


Greece is supported and not left to be abandoned by the rest of Europe,


which is what is happening now. In the mix of all, sorry mess there are


unaccompanied, let's call them what they really are, orphaned children


who are still there and in need of our care and I believe the UK and


other countries have moral obligation to house them. Blankets


are not enough. Last year there were 19,000 unaccompanied children


registered and applied for asylum in Europe. Does that not demonstrate


the modesty of the col botanist country to take 3000? Surely this


the time when the Government should say yes to that very modest call for


say yes to that very modest call for political leadership?


The Government's policy is to take migrants from camps in countries


neighbouring Syria and not those who have fled to Europe.


A number of Conservatives congratulated the Government


The refugees we see from the Middle East are the victims of terrorists


and traffickers and simply, to take refugees who have already made the


safety of Europe into the UK is playing into the hands of those


traffickers that are appallingly exploiting people.


Down the corridor in the Lords, it was the turn of peers to debate


the forthcoming referendum on our EU membership.


In a wide ranging discussion, one former EU commissioner strongly


supported the deal David Cameron had done.


Once the die is cast, there will be no turning back.


We cannot leave the European Union and for economic and trade purposes


be treated as if we are still in it, that is the unescapable fact


The case for getting out seems to me to rest on a strangely


old-fashioned, almost Victorian, view of sovereignty -


of Bagehot and Dicey, when all power rested


I suspect that there is now more power resting on the global stage


today that affects the lives of ordinary citizens than is vested


in the institutions of nation states like ourselves.


Nothing is-not our local councils, not our own families or football


clubs, not even your Lordships' House.


Does that mean we should opt out of them too?


The EU does need reform, which is why we need to be right


there on the pitch as a key player, not sitting in the stands,


moaning as a spectator and suffering in cold isolation.


The problem is that we are not and cannot be on the sidelines.


Whether we like it or not, we are and will remain on the pitch.


We therefore have a vested interest in helping to deliver


Those of us who wish to leave the EU are asked to say


what our alternative is to our membership,


The alternative to being a member of the European Union is not


being a member of the European Union.


It may come as a great shock to the little Europeans


in our midst, but most of the world, including significantly


the fastest-growing countries in the world, are not


I have come to the conclusion that in its present form the EU is a


flawed project which is making its inhabitants worse off than they


should be and because it is failing, contrary to what has been said by


The Health and Safety Executive has censured the Ministry of Defence


over the deaths of three soldiers in 2013 on an SAS training exercise.


The Executive said that but for Crown Immunity,


125 service personnel died on training exercises between 2000


and 2015 and the Commons Defence sub committee is conducting an inquiry:


During this enquiry we have heard some conflicting views. Improved


design and delivery of training and better regulation of who is


responsible has been expressed but we have also been told there is a


higher rate of injury and fatalities while practising for war than in


combat and we were told a blase attitude to attrition rates,


particularly in training. How do these statements fit together? I


would question some of those statements. I think, I can


understand if you are trying to make a judgment about this why you might


compare this on operations to those in training, but I would say that is


not a helpful comparison. Clearly, though there will be undiagnosed


heart conditions, things that arrives, you want to mitigate all


deaths in training. I think one of the key point I would make is unless


you have training that is rigorous enough and exposes people to the


kind of thing they will experience in combat, you are failing in your


duty of care to them. Nobody on the committee and not myself, we


shouldn't waste time in stating the obvious. No one has a problem of


arduous training. Everybody understands that in order to perform


on operations you must have your training at the set levels. The


problem I have got is some of that governors about that training,


something has gone wrong and that is what we're trying to get to bottom


of. We have had a number of concerns expressed to us about the ability of


the MOD to police itself when it comes to Armed Forces in training.


When I have looked at particular cases where there have been deaths


and training it has been because policy has not been bowled, ought


the wrong people have been carrying out particular training, a catalogue


of feelings, and we need to look at why that happened, why it does not


happen in other places and we must address that. I am confident that


although there are still enquiry is going on into some incidents that


have taken place, where we have identified why a particular thing


wasn't followed or buy a particular individual wasn't conducting that


aspect of training, those measures have been identified.


Finally, Back to prime minister's questions,


where a Labour Mp was outraged by the discovery of where British


People in the Midlands are furious to learn that the Government have


awarded a contract to make British medals to some French company.


Imagine opening your Distinguished Service Order


or your CBE to find "Fabrique en France" on it.


I have visited Midlands' medal manufacturers in Birmingham's


jewellery quarter, and they are the best in the world.


The Prime Minister should go back to Downing Street,


call in the Cabinet Office Minister and get this scandal sorted out.


The only point I would make is that I am sure that all those


in the Royal Mint in Wales would want to contest that claim


and argue that they make the final medals in the United Kingdom.


I am sure the competition between them and Birmingham is intense.


I will certainly take away what the


I was not aware of the issue, but where we can make


something in Britain, we should make it in Britain.


is it for now but join me at the same time tomorrow, including a


debate on gangs and youth violence. Until then, goodbye.


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