Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 4 May, presented by Keith Macdougall.
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Hello, welcome to Wednesday In Parliament,
our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
On this programme, with hours to go before polling across the UK,
the political temperature rises at PMQs.
David Cameron issues a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn.
He must stand up and say they are not his friends.
Anyone that commits racist acts or is anti-Semitic
is not a friend of mine, it is very clear about that.
Foreign correspondents describe their fears
Given how the fight will go, both from the defenders
and the attackers, Mosul, I believe, will be pretty bloody awful.
And, harmless joke or a tasteless insult?
The story of the German comedian gets an airing
Chancellor Merkel, under pressure from President Erdogan,
has agreed that this prosecution can go forward because she is desperate
But first, it is only a matter of hours before the polling stations
open in elections of different sorts around the United Kingdom.
One issue has loomed large in the last fortnight
of campaigning, namely claims and counterclaims of anti-Semitism
The MP, Naz Shah, was suspended from the party last week, saying
on Facebook that Israel should be moved to America.
In the Commons, at Prime Minister's Questions,
David Cameron was keen to keep the focus on the issue.
He repeatedly pressed Jeremy Corbyn over remarks the Labour Leader had
once made about the militant Islamic groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
First, Jeremy Corbyn spoke about commemorations about to take
place for Israel's Day of Remembrance for Holocaust victims.
I hope there is an agreement right across all parts of this House
in sending our best wishes to those commemorating the occasion
and sending a very clear statement that anti-Semitism has no place
in our society whatsoever and we all have a duty to oppose it.
Let me join the right honourable gentleman in saying, yes, of course,
we should always support Holocaust Memorial Day,
whether it is here in the United Kingdom,
where we have a number of commemorations,
But I am going to press him on this point because he did say this.
He said, it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event
in parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking.
I have also invited friends from Hamas to come
Hamas and Hezbollah believe in killing Jews.
Not just in Israel, but around the world.
Because if he wants to clear up the problem of anti-Semitism
in the Labour Party, now is a good time to start.
Mr Speaker, I have made it very clear, Labour is an anti-racist
party and there is no place for anti-Semitism within it.
We have suspended any members that have undertaken any anti-Semitic
activities or work or statements and have established an enquiry
The points he was making earlier relate to a discussion I was hosting
in order to try to promote a peace process and it was not an approval
of those organisations, I absolutely do not approve
But I am afraid he is going to have to do this one more time.
He referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as has friends.
Now, he needs to withdraw that remark.
Are they your friends or are they not?
Because those organisations, in their constitutions,
believe in persecuting and killing Jews.
They are anti-Semitic organisations, they are racist organisations,
he must stand up and say they are not his friends.
Mr Speaker, obviously anyone that commits racist acts
or is anti-Semitic is not a friend of mine.
And, at this point, Jeremy Corbyn moved to the battle between two
of the candidates in this week's election for who will succeed
Those candidates being Zac Goldsmith for the Tories and
The Labour leader accused the Conservatives of
smearing Sadiq Khan, who is the MP for Tooting.
I would make this argument, as I said before at this
Despatch Box, we are not responsible for everything someone says
We cannot control everyone who appears in a picture
but there is a pattern of behaviour with the honourable
Let me tell him, he shared a platform with Sajeel Shahid,
the man who trained the ringleader of the 7/7 attacks and accused
the United States of bringing 9/11 on themselves.
He shared a platform with an extremist who called
When this was put to the honourable member for Tooting,
He described it as mere flowery language.
If he wants to know why he has a problem with anti-Semitism,
it is because his candidates share platform after platform
after a platform with extremists and anti-Semites and then
One more time, say you withdraw the remark about Hamas
Mr Speaker, last week the Prime Minister tried,
as he often does, to smear my friend, the member for Tooting
by his association with Solomon Ghani.
It turns out that Mr Ghani is actually an active
Who has shared platforms with the honourable
He also should reflect on the words said by Lord Lansley some years ago
that racism was endemic within his party.
We have set up a commission of enquiry, I suggest he might think
David Cameron had with him remarks made by Solomon Ghani.
Do you want to know the views of the person that your
leader has just quoted? He described women...
The honourable member for Islington might be interested in this.
He described women as subservient to men.
He said that homosexuality was an unnatural act.
He stood on a platform with people who wanted an Islamic State.
That is why his attempts to deal with anti-Semitism are utterly
Because he won't even condemn people who sit on platforms
with people like that. Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Speaker, I did point out to the Prime Minister,
I was actually trying to help him, that the gentleman concerned
So maybe he would care to think about that.
He might also consider that Shazia Awan, a former Conservative
parliamentary candidate, said this of the Tory mayoral campaign.
"A lifelong Tory voter and ex-candidate, I am ashamed
The Prime Minister, this Government, has cut income tax for the richest.
Cut capital-gains tax, cut corporation tax
At every turn, they make the wrong choices.
Tomorrow people can make their own choices.
About the crisis of social care, the housing crisis in this country.
The unprecedented cuts to local councils in areas of greatest need.
The cuts to further education, taking opportunities away
The choices have been made, they cut taxes for the rich.
We want to ensure that there is proper taxation to ensure
there are decent services for the rest.
He's right, tomorrow is about choices.
You can choose a party that is on the side of security
That wants to make sure there are more jobs,
better pay, lower taxes, good schools for your children,
a seven-day NHS there for you when you need it.
Or the other choice, you can back a party that puts
That is utterly incapable of providing the leadership
your local council needs or our country needs.
Well, a little later at Prime Minister's Questions,
David Cameron disclosed that ministers are in talks
with the Save The Children charity about what more Britain can do
to help unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.
There are been threats of a Conservative rebellion over
the refusal, up to now, of the Government to take child
So far, the Government has only been willing to take children
The SNP's leader at Westminster quoted Sir Eric Reich,
chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees Kindertransport
He wrote, the echoes of the past haunt many of my
Whose fate similarly rested with members
I feel it is incumbent on us to once again demonstrate our compassion
and human kindness to provide sanctuary to those in need.
Why has it taken so long, and the threat of a parliamentary
defeat, for the Prime Minister to begin changing his mind?
We are already taking child migrants in Europe with a direct family
connection to the UK and we will speed that up.
I am also talking to Save The Children to see what we can
do more, particularly with children who came here before the EU
Because, as I say again, what I don't want us to do
is to take steps that will encourage people to make this
Otherwise, our actions, however well-meaning they will be,
could result in more people dying, rather than more people
Mr Speaker, last week I accused the Prime Minister of walking
by on the other side when he stoutly defended his then policy opposing
further help from unaccompanied refugee children in Europe.
So if what we are hearing now is indeed the beginnings
of a U-turn, I very much welcome it, as I'm sure the members
May I encourage him to think more about what can be done given,
of course, that the Kindertransport helped 10,000 children from Europe?
Will I asked the Prime Minister, finally, to take the opportunity
to thank Lord Alf Dubs and all campaigners who have worked
so hard for the UK to live up to the example and the spirit
I certainly think that all those people deserve recognition
for the work they have done to put this issue so squarely
But let me just say again, I do reject the comparison
For this reason, I would argue that what we are doing, primarily,
taking children from the region, taking vulnerable people
from the camps, going to the neighbouring countries
and taking people into our country, housing them, clothing,
feeding them, making sure they can have a good life here,
that to me is like the Kindertransport.
To say that the Kindertransport is taking today children from France
or Germany or Italy, safe countries that are democracies,
I think that is an insult to those countries.
As I have said, because of the steps we are taking, it will not be
necessary to send the amendment back to the other place,
the amendment doesn't now mentioned a number of people.
We are now going to go round the local authorities and see
what more we can do but let's stick to the principle that we should not
And, outside the chamber, Downing Street explained that
children registered in Greece, Italy or France, before
the EU-Turkey deal was signed last month, would be
Well, the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, said Britain
is not bound to sign up to new EU rules on asylum seekers.
The European Commission plans to alter what is called
These state that asylum applications should be considered in the first
country in the European union that a claimant reaches.
The European Commission wants it changed so that the continent
is better able to deal with a future refugee crisis.
And to ease the burden on front line countries like Greece.
Mr Brokenshire was answering an urgent question in the Commons.
As the House will be aware, the UK has an opt-in to any EU
proposals on justice and home affairs issues.
It is not bound to sign up to the proposals the commission has
published today and we will have three months to consider
In practice, the Dublin Agreement is very far from perfect and the EU
is desperate to find ways of evening out the strains of the large numbers
of asylum seekers as well as not rocking the British boat
Even the European Commission has acknowledged that the current Dublin
system doesn't work, Germany has all but abandoned it
and Greece has not abided by it apparently since 2011.
In relation to the benefit, yes, we do see significant benefit
from the existing Dublin regulations and, as I have indicated,
we have sought to remove nearly 12,000 people from the UK to other
EU member states over the last ten years, using that process.
It is also clear we have got a keen national interest and a moral
responsibility to ensure that effective systems are in place
to tackle the worst humanitarian crisis in a decade in Europe.
A humanitarian crisis on a scale that clearly needs
It's clear the Dublin arrangements are not working on the ground.
Dublin arrangements are not able to cope with the numbers
and to process the claims the need to be processed.
and to process the claims that need to be processed.
We, Labour, have been calling for a reconsideration of how
the Dublin arrangements actually work in practice for many months
The Government, as ever, has been slow and reluctant to act,
characterised by the involuntary appearance here today.
The Government believes the long-standing principles
at the heart of the Dublin system are the right ones.
And it would be a major error to tear them up and replace them
Dublin may not be operating as it should but that does
not mean its principles are fundamentally flawed.
The migrant crisis we face is our part of a crisis that affects
every European Union member state and it requires
It is a complete absurdity, first promulgated by Ukip,
that somehow if we left the EU these people would no longer be
I know the minister is very proud of his opt-in but,
in reply for to the right honourable member for Rushcliffe,
he seemed to agree that, in principle, the refugee crisis
is a European crisis that requires collective action.
Therefore, if we were having the Brokenshire regulations instead
of the Dublin regulations, what exactly would they be?
I'm very grateful to honourable gentleman for framing
I think what it underlines is the need for each EU member state
to play a part, which is precisely what the UK Government is doing.
But first, it was a busy day in Parliament for David Cameron.
It seems to me the right thing to do is to make sure that if there is a
website, a government website, then it is not refreshed or updated
during the period of purdah, but I would just ask whether it is right
to take something down. It seems that is rather an extreme position
but I want to understand your concerns about that. Well, in the
case in 1937... Leaving a notice on a golf club notice board is a
continuing at of publication. And in other more recent rulings, every
time the server is hit by another request for a page that constitutes
republication of the material. So I think you will find you cannot keep
up that website. Well, we will look at our legal advice and respond to
our letter -- your letter. If we can raise the funds, expect a writ.
Moving on... The trade union Bill... LAUGHTER
Better get back to the office fast, then! It seemed reasonable to me,
taking down a website is like saying you have to remove other
publications people might have from the government or whatever. Correct.
I visited a girl's school that had been bombed on sports day in Aleppo.
One bomb had hurled a girl against the wall
and blasted, in black, her outline there, so there was just
at the end of the school corridor the outline
of a girl of about nine or ten years old, blasted, her silhouette,
That sort of stuff happens the whole time.
It is a terrible vision, it's very
difficult to actually explain to people here because it is so
And there was a warning worse. Come if no soul fell.
We should also prepare ourselves for how bad Mosul will
The word Stalingrad is banded around far too much by the
media and elsewhere but Mosul really has the potential to be really quite
catastrophic given how the fight will go,
both from the defenders and
Mosul will, I believe, be pretty bloody awful.
Is it important in the fight against Isis to actually take
One of the things that the Islamic State
says is it is a state, its ideology is, we
Other people have talked about a caliphate, doing
something other, we have established a real Islamic State.
This is a big ideological blow if that state goes
They are different from other types of
Secondly, it is important in terms of security, the
terrorist attacks we have seen in Brussels, in Paris, potentially
here, what makes them different from terrorist
attacks we have seen in the past is they have the resources
of what is a de facto organised state behind them.
Do you think Russia's action has ensured that Assad is
And should we accept that as the new norm and
The evil genius of what Putin has done
Once Assad cannot lose, eventually, the other side, I
believe, it will filter down, and that means he cannot win.
believe, it will filter down, and that means we cannot win.
There was also evidence that they had approached the conflict in the
wrong way. We had Egypt, we had
Libya, two leaders had I think the political
class looked at that, grandstanding, left,
right and centre. Demanded President Assad should go,
that put his back against the wall and gave him nowhere to go
whatsoever and I think it was a mistake for us to be calling
all the time go, go, go. It is a mistake we have been
repeating for five, six We have now got ourselves
into the position where we say, yeah, you could go, sort of, a bit,
but not necessarily right now. Forgive me for the extended rant
but it was a political mistake that the political class
needs to think much harder about Do you really want to
push this person into You have to keep talking to Russia
and, as I was saying earlier, I think Russia and the significance
of Russian relationship with Assad, there is a positive
side to that in that of outside decisions
in What I also want to say
is that, regardless of outside decisions
foreign policy, war is not something when it is that long-term and that
intense that can just be turned off like a tap by outside powers.
War is about what goes on on the street,
what goes on in a village and what goes on in a valley.
The emotions in this conflict are far hotter than
can be doused by just some foreign policy decision.
Now, a German comedian is being investigated by prosecutors
after reading out an obscene poem on his TV show about
Jan Boehmermann was aware that it included material that breaches
a German law banning insulting remarks about representatives
This man should perhaps be prosecuted for obscenity and it
appears that Chancellor Merkel, under pressure from the president,
has agreed that this prosecution can go forward because she is desperate
for Turkish assistance on the migrant issue. Now, my lords... We
are told we have great influence in the EU, so could Her Majesty's
government use that great influence to insure this prosecution does not
take place? Will tell Chancellor Merkel and the Germans to resist any
pressure, to resist blackmail and not to kowtow to President Burda
one, whose record on human rights and free speech is frankly
lamentable? -- President erred again. It is ultimately for the
people of Germany to implement and set their own laws and the
Chancellor has referred his matter, as is proper, to the security of
authorities for them to make the decision. The President of Turkey is
using a sledgehammer to crush a comic. And in so doing and seeking
to exert pressure upon Angela Merkel he is making it clear that he is
presenting himself more, indeed, as the head of a caliphate, a medieval
caliphate, rather than the leader of a modern country that is desperately
aspiring to be a member of the EU. Now, is there too much academic
pressure on young children? This week there has been a boycott of
exams and the exams have been criticised forcing children to learn
details of English grammar that only of detailed -- limited use. This
point was distracted at PMQs. For the benefit of the House and ten
and 11-year-olds up and down the country, will the Prime Minister
explain what the past progressive tenses, will he differentiate
between a coordinating conjunctive and his definition of a modal verb?
The whole point of these changes is to make sure our children are better
educated than we are. And that's why I'm delighted with three children at
state schools going off to do these tests and I am delighted they are
going to be. And finally an MP raise the case of
his 100-year-old mother. Four years ago I asked my right honourable
friend on behalf of my mother, Maud, in the EU referendum that the vote
be brought forward because of her age. She was then 100. She now
wishes to know if she needs to set a world record for longevity before
Chilcott report is published! LAUGHTER
I think I can reassure her that this summer she will have, I think, a
double opportunity to deal with these things. A referendum on June
the 23rd, and I'm sure the Chilcott report will, not too much longer
after that. I rather imagine she will then want a backbench business
committee debate on the matter! That is it from us. Join us for our
next daily round-up and enjoy polling day. From me, goodbye.