Highlights of Wednesday 20 April in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.
Coming up - the Prime Minister defends plans to force all schools
The Home Secretary is accused of scrabbling around to find
money to patch up holes in the Border Force budget.
And a group campaigning for the UK to leave the EU
is accused of using misleading literature.
Do you think it might be a good idea to think twice about putting out
But first to Prime Minister's Questions where David Cameron
defended his plans to force all schools in England
to become academies free from local authority control.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, attacked the idea,
describing it as a "top-down reorganisation" that even senior
Could the Prime Minister explain why he is
intent on forcing good and outstanding schools to become
academies against the wishes of teachers, parents, school governors
The short answer is, because we want schools to be
run by head teachers and teachers, and not by bureaucrats.
But we also support it because of the clear
If you look at converter academies, 88% of them
And you look at schools started by academies, they see a 10%
improvement on average, over the first two years.
The results are better, education is improving.
Every teacher, every parent, every pupil
wants the best they can get for their schools and they want
What many are concerned about is this top-down reorganisation.
If he won't listen to the former chair of the Education
Select Committee, will he listen to his friend the member for
Colchester, who said this, if a school is well governed,
well-run and performing well, it should be left alone
Can the Prime Minister explain why good school leaders should focus
their time and resources not on educating children, but on arbitrary
Let me make two points on the specific issue he raises.
I would say to outstanding or to good schools,
they have nothing to fear from becoming academies but a huge
The truth is, even about outstanding or good schools,
we want them to be even better and the truth is,
academies and greater independence, letting headteachers
run their schools, has been hugely effective.
And this is something started by the Labour government,
given rocket boosters under this government.
We have seen massive improvements in our schools because
of academies and we say let's get on with it,
finish the job and give all our children a great opportunity.
Mr Speaker, we appear to be heading into some kind of fantasyland, here.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies states that school spending is
expected to fall by at least 7% in real terms in the next four years.
So why on earth is the Prime Minister
proposing to spend ?1.3 billion on a top-down reorganisation that
wasn't in his manifesto, teachers don't want it,
parents don't want it, governors don't want it,
headteachers don't want it, even his own MPs
Can't he just think again and support schools and education,
Let me answer his question very directly about spending.
Because we have protected spending per pupil all the way
through the last Parliament and all the way through this Parliament and
we are spending ?7 billion on more school places to make up for the
woeful lack of action under the last Labour government.
I think it is the Labour Party that this week entered
fantasyland where they are now
have selected somebody who sits on platforms
with extremist in London, and they have now decided...
When I read they were going to ban McDonald
it was the first sensible decision they've made!
But it turns out it wasn't the job destroyer they wanted
to keep away from their conference, it was one of Britain's's
Well, David Cameron made reference there to appearing
on platforms with extremists, a jab at Labour's candidate
for Mayor of London - Sadiq Khan - who Mr Cameron accused of appearing
in public alongside an Islamic extremist.
It was an accusation picked up by a Conservative MP.
Does my right honourable friend agree that is the duty of all
members of this House to condemn without caveat, all extremism and
never, never to share a platform with any extremist?
I think my honourable friend is absolutely right.
If we are going to condemn and not just violent
extremism but also the extremism that seeks to justify filers and
it is very important that we do not back these people
and we do not appear on platforms with them.
And I have to say, I am concerned about Labour's candidate for Mayor
of London who has appeared again and again...
Well the leader of the Labour Party is saying it's
Solomon Ghani, the honourable member for Tooting has
appeared on a platform with him nine times.
This man supports IS. He even shared a platform...
Well, Mr Speaker, I think they are shouting
down this point because they don't want to hear the truth.
Anyone can make a mistake about who they appear
We're not always responsible for what our political opponents say.
But if you do it time after time after time, it is right
Mr Cameron faced a wall of noise as he made those accusations.
No Labour MPs stood up to counter them but speaking a short time later
outside the chamber Sadiq Khan said the Tories were "running a nasty,
dog-whistling campaign that is designed to divide London's
He added that he had fought extremism all his life
and would "keep focusing on keeping Londoners safe".
Regular viewers will remember last week the Chair of the Home Affairs
Committee Keith Vaz lost his patience with a senior Home Office
official and dismissed him from his committee hearing.
The subject which so provoked Mr Vaz was whether or not
the UK Border Force had been told what its budget was for
The force is part of the Home Office, responsible
for front-line border control operations at air, sea and rail
It's responsible for checking the immigration status of people
arriving in the UK, searching bags, vehicles and cargo for illegal goods
or immigrants and patrolling the UK coastline, alerting the security
Labour demanded the Home Secretary come to the Commons to tell MPs
Theresa May insisted Border Force spending was being "protected"
compared to the previous financial year,
despite Labour claims of a "revenue cut".
Border Force spending to all intents and purposes is
protected compared to 2015-16 with increased capital investment to
improve the technology at the border, to improve security and
Over the next four years, we will invest ?130 million in
state-of-the-art technology at the border.
Since I became Home Secretary six years ago, we have
pursued an ambitious programme of reform
at the border, to keep this country safe.
She has been furiously backpedalling for the last two
weeks, patching holes in the Border Force budget.
But Mr Speaker, let's be clear about what has just been announced.
She has just announced to this House a cut, a revenue cut to
She has announced a budget of ?558 million.
In 2012-13, the budget was ?617 million.
So the budget is down by over ?50 million on her watch.
That is this Home Secretary's record on border funding.
The question, he said, was whether that was anywhere near enough.
A whistle-blower working at the port of Immingham,
the country's largest freight port,
has been in touch with me to reveal
that the staff of ferry companies who
are carrying out her border exit checks, some
That the passports of lorry drivers are not checked on arrival
by anyone and worst of all, school leavers
are now being recruited to
check passports, replacing experienced board officers.
This is the reality of what is happening at
Britain's borders today under this Home Secretary.
It is the direct consequence of the cuts that she has
already made it to the UK border in her time in office.
And unbelievably, Mr Speaker, she wanted
to make even further cuts to the UK border before we
on the side of the House stopped her.
The Home Secretary has spent the last two weeks running scared,
scrabbling for loose change behind the back of the Home of the sofa.
But worse, she has weakened our borders,
damaged our security and is only now pledging to stop the cuts.
Well, I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that in so much
of what he has said, he simply doesn't know what he's
It was under Labour that we saw the creation of the
dysfunctional UK Borders Agency that we had to abolish and change
It was under the last Labour government
that the border, at the border, there was no operating mandate and
it was under the last Labour government that as people came
through the primary checkpoints, they won't all getting the 100%
We have enhanced security, and will continue to do so.
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament, with me,
The increasingly bitter EU referendum battle has
produced lively scenes at a Commons committee session.
The director of the Vote Leave campaign group, Dominic Cummings,
called the EU institutions in Brussels undemocratic
He faced claims that Vote Leave had used misleading literature,
when he was questioned about leaflets distributed
You are saying, in hospitals, in your literature,
aren't you, that we can give a lot more money to hospitals?
You are distributing leaflets to that effect?
No. We're not.
We are not distributing any literature
So I have a piece of literature here with your logo.
Is this a pirated piece of literature?
It is badged up as your literature, it looks like...
It says "Help protect your local hospital."
And it has got here, at the bottom, Vote Leave.
I'm asking a straightforward, simple question,
we are getting down to very simple questions.
Is this leaflet one from your organisation?
Do you mean that design of leaflet, or do you mean
I'm asking you if this leaflet is one of your organisation's
Yes, it is. Good, we have arrived at a...
Do you think that it is reasonable that somebody might misconstrue
this leaflet at first glance as a leaflet produced by the NHS?
Since it has an NHS logo in the top right-hand corner?
No. It says "Vote Leave,take control" with our logo.
What do you mean, what do I make of it?
Do you think it looks like the logo of the NHS?
It looks roughly like it from here, yes.
Well, it looks roughly like it from any distance.
Here is an NHS document, encouraging you to eat better food.
And you will see that the logo is strikingly similar.
It takes an expert eye to tell that the one is not the other.
One of them is italicised slightly, one of them is not.
Do you, now that you have had a chance to consider whether you did
in fact produce this leaflet, and you have now agreed that it does
look like an NHS leaflet at any reasonable distance, do you think it
might be a good idea to think twice about
putting literature out as misleading as this?
I think you are confused about what my answer was before.
I thought you were asking me, is the leaflet you are holding
in your hand been put into a hospital, has
that come from cars, and I was saying
no, it hasn't come from us, as in, we did not distribute leaflets
to hospital, we are as baffled as anyone else about the
The questioning moved on to financial services.
If we were to leave the EU, you may get free trade agreements,
so no trade tariffs, but it's hard to see,
given the comments of people like Wolfgang Schauble,
the same sort of trade in services outside the European Union.
I mean, you may think it is a good thing, but would
You see, the most important thing with the City and
financial services is that we control the wideboys
and Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan who drove the economy
Britain has the number one financial centre in Europe.
They want to be here, using our services.
There is a great incentive for them to sort out the
passporting system, same as there is for us.
But my main point is, that's not the most important thing.
The most important thing is, we control the banks,
we don't let the corrupt institutions
Will the Vote Leave campaign be setting out their analysis
of the macroeconomic impact of leaving the European Union?
We will be publishing all sorts of things on the macroeconomic
impact, but we won't be publishing these spuriously
I have heard, Mr Cummings, what you won't be publishing,
analysis about international trade, how we think things will improve.
Macroeconomic impact assessment is not just
about international trade, it is about GDP, inflation,
the currency, productivity, all those range of issues,
so what I am asking, Mr Cummings, and if the answer is no,
you can just tell us that, will the Vote Leave campaign be
setting out their analysis of the macroeconomic
We will set out the analysis of the macroeconomic
impacts of Brexit, but it won't look like these.
I have heard, Mr Cummings, what you won't be doing.
What I am asking is, what will you be publishing?
You have to let me answer the question.
Of course we will be publishing that.
I also asked, Mr Cummings, who will be doing
You will find out when we publish it.
When do you intend to publish it, Mr Cummings?
You will find out when we publish it.
Do you think we should continue with single market access
as we currently, as the United Kingdom currently have?
Definitely not, because single market access as we currently have
Single market access that we currently have forced us
to implement the clinical trials directive, which kills an unknown
number of people every year because we cannot test
We would be much better off going outside things like that.
Do you not see that leaving Europe puts at risk inward investment
Read all of the same stuff on the euro.
Well, staying with the EU referendum, not surprisingly
the subject was raised at PMQS, mostly by David Cameron's
First to question the PM, was veteran EU opponent,
Can I ask my right honourable friend whether he agrees
with the Treasury forecast issued on Monday, which warns that
if we stay in the European Union, there will be 3 million more
Last year, my right honourable friend and I were elected on a clear
manifesto pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.
How are we going to be able to deliver on that pledge unless we
The point of the Treasury forecast is, it takes the Office
of National Statistics figures and the ORB figures and it
It is trying to make a very clear and pure argument,
backed by the governor of the Bank of England yesterday,
that shows what would happen if Britain leaves the EU.
There is a demand out there for independent
and clear statistics, and that is exactly
Mrs Thatcher used to occasionally organise seminars for ministers
and senior academics for colleagues like myself,
whose knowledge of modern science she thought
Would he contemplate similar seminars for some of his senior
and very respected Cabinet colleagues with businessmen
on the nature of independent international trade,
because some very respected figures appear to believe that you simply
turn up and sell goods and services that comply with British made rules
but don't have to comply with any rules agreed with the country
Back on the Eurosceptic side of the argument,
another Conservative raised the forthcoming visit
Would my right honourable friend point out to President Obama that
in a series of European Court judgements such as Davis
and Schrems, using EU data protection laws and the EU Charter
of Fundamental Rights, the EU has established its jurisdiction
over our intelligence data, and sought to prevent our
intelligence sharing with the United States?
Will he warn the president that if we vote Remain,
far from the US gaining influence in the EU, the United States
is losing control and influence over her closest ally?
This decision is a decision for the British people
We are sovereign in making this decision.
Personally, I believe we should listen to advice from friends
and other countries, and I struggle to find the leader
of any friendly country who thinks we should leave.
The so-called Islamic State group is guilty of genocide
against Christian, Yazidi and other ethnic groups in Syria and Iraq.
That was the view of MPs who have voted overwhelmingly
in support of a motion calling on the Government to
ensure the United Nations and the International Criminal Court
In a backbench debate, every speaker condemned the group -
also known as Daesh - for its brutality.
Many set out in shocking and emotional detail atrocities
Several quoted the testimony of a young Yazidi girl
My father and brothers were killed in front of me.
He grabbed my arm and my leg and then he raped me.
He was 32 years old, I was 15.
After they raped me, they took my friend and they raped her.
I could hear her shouting, "Where is the mercy?
"There must be some mercy in their hearts."
We also heard from another woman, Yvette, who had come directly
She spoke of Christians being killed and tortured,
of children being beheaded in front of their parents.
She showed us recent film footage of her talking with mothers,
and more than one who had seen her own children crucified.
We know that those who are perpetrating this these crimes
are doing so to exterminate and extinguish a people.
We know that they mean what they are doing
We know that those who are suffering these terrible crimes know
that it is genocide and know that it is meant as genocide.
Why should we hesitate to say as a chamber?
We know what the word genocide means and we know it is being committed
The word that describes the ultimate crime, only that one,
single word accurately describes the full horror of what is happening
here to these communities in Syria and Iraq.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we all know what that word is.
Let us be united, here in this House, and hopefully outside
as well, and to say what is happening is genocide
Here is the chance for the United Kingdom to show
leadership and to take action, to stand up before, to respond
leadership and to take action, to stand up, to respond
to her plea for help, for all of those who have suffered.
Show that, like in 1942, we will do the right thing in 2016.
Or are we just going to stand back, wring our hands and watch as Daesh
My honourable friend the Minister is sitting there,
He is now going to give a really strong and powerful speech,
he is going to condemn Daesh, he is going to say, yes,
we have listened to the debate, we will listen to the House
of Commons, we are going to act, and we are going to refer this
But the Minister would not give that promise, but did pledge
We will do everything we can to help gather evidence that could be used
by the judicial bodies who are the appropriate people
to judge these to make a judgement on this matter.
It is vital that this is done now, before evidence is lost
or indeed destroyed, because ultimately, this
is a question for the courts to decide.
It is not for governments to be the prosecutor, the judge
or indeed of the jury, and we are playing a leading role
in defeating Daesh on the battlefield,
and we are also holding Daesh to
In the courts, no matter how long it takes.
The government has agreed to a plan put forward by Labour
and the Lib Dems to protect tenants' and landlords' money in England
Some letting agents don't keep deposit money in a separate,
protected client account - meaning the letting agents can use
the money themselves, or it can be lost if the agent goes bust.
The government's been defeated a number of times on the Housing and
Labour's spokeswoman explained what the compromise was that had
To require every leading agent to have money they hold belonging
either to the tenant, by way of advanced rent,
or to a landlord as rent is received, to be protected,
so thats even if the letting agent disappeared or went bankrupt,
such money would be safe and made available to the landlord.
Another peer explained that it was often the most
Because they are vulnerable, credit checks, they do not
satisfy credit checks, and so, they cannot give
the guarantees that banks would very often offer,
so agents often are something like four year rent in advance.
Many tenants had to borrow to pay that much in advance.
And even if it isn't a client's account, which internally,
they make all the clients accounts, if it is not recognised
as such by the bank, then those monies can and often
are used by the agent for one purpose, and very often
because the agent is over trading and spends more money
than they should do, and they use that money.
Replying to the debate the minister said the amendment would allow
ministers to make regulations requiring letting and property
agents to belong to a client money scheme, and set out an enforcement
mechanism to ensure the changes had teeth!
Which brings us to the end of this edition of the programme,
but do join me at the same time tomorrow, when MPs and peers pay
tribute to the Queen on her 90th birthday.