04/05/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


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.


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