08/06/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


08/06/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 8 June, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and Welcome to Wednesday in Parliament, our look at the best

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of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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It's a curious political world at the moment.

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Are those campaigning for Leaving the EU rebels?

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Do they speak for themselves or him and his government? And if they

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speak for themselves, how are they ministers at the same time? The

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honourable member for Edgbaston was out yesterday spinning for Nigel

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Farage. But I don't want to play that game.

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The latest twist in the sag` of the collapsed retail chahn

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Serious allegations are madd against the shop's final

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I think the technical term hs a .. That the term is what he was a

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Premier League liar. And condemnation of the use

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of cluster munitions International humanitarian law has

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been seriously and repeatedly breached by all parties eng`ged in

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warfare in the country, including the Saudi led coalition.

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a fortnight to go and we'll be heading for the polling stations.

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The UK decides on the 23rd whether it's staying in or departing

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Most of the referendum camp`ign has been taking place

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With the party leaders on the same side, the EU issue has

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only fleetingly surfaced at Prime Minister's Questions.

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But at the latest session, the Labour leader opted to discuss

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Europe to highlight the stark divisions in the Conservative party.

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But to get on to the EU, Jeremy Corbyn first turned

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to employment rights and in particular the working

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conditions of some employees of the sports retail

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Yesterday, I met some workers from sports direct who are coming to

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Parliament to give evidence to the select committee. It is abott the

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shocking behaviour of that company, nonpayment of the minimum w`ge, a

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culture of fear on top of the insecurity and exploitation of zero

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hours contracts. Philip wrote to me this week on this issue and

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concerned about it and said, the scandalous scourge of zero hours

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contracts which is blighting the lives of many already low-p`id

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people, so will the Prime Mhnister do what of the European countries

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have done and plan these contracts here? On top of our national minimum

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wage, we are going after unscrupulous employers and laking

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sure people get the deal thdy deserve. Once the issue of zero our

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contracts, we legislated in the last Parliament to stop exclusivd zero

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hours contracts but followed the conclusions of our consultation that

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said we shouldn't go further than that and that for some people, they

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want to have the choice of those contracts.

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The Labour leader quoted Priti Patel, the Work

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and Pensions Minister, who's campaigning for

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But his government's employlent Minister said that if we le`ve

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Europe, we could just of thd burdens of the European Union social and

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employment legislation. So, perhaps the Prime Minister could help us.

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Does she speak on behalf of the government when she promises to

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reduce the burden is, as shd describes them, of this leghslation

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walk on behalf of whom does she speak? The government is in favour

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of staying in a reformed European Union because we are strongdr, safer

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and we're better off. For m`ny people, one of the reasons they will

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want to stay in the European Union as they do believe that provides an

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underpinning in terms of rights for workers.

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Could I quote one other person who has given opinions? He says, I

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cannot guarantee every person currently in their current job will

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keep their job. That was thd member for Surrey Heath. He is the justice

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minister, who seems equally relaxed about unemployment rights. ,-

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employment rights. Two of hhs ministers want to reduce wh`t they

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described as a burden. And he do something about that? Is he knows

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well, we are holding a referendum. That is what is happening. @nd on

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this issue, not only do he `nd I agree, does not only does the

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Conservative government and the Labour Party agree, but we `lso have

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the support of the Liberal Democrats, the Ulster Unionhst

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party, Green party. This ond occasion when business is l`rge and

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small, and the trade unions, are on the same side and we should

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celebrate that. He will be `ware that the Labour position is that we

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want to stay in the European Union to improve workers' rights, tackle

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exploitation, drive down tax evasion and avoidance. But we are concerned

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that these issues are not the priorities of members of his

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government and his party such as the member for Uxbridge, the melber for

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Surrey Heath and the member for Witton. They are speaking to try and

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destroy any of the social advances made within the European Unhon. Does

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he talk to them about this `t any time and to this big for thdmselves

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or him and his government? Hf they speak for themselves, how are they

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ministers at the same time? And here I am trying to be consensual. I m

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doing my best. I could menthon that the honourable member for Edgbaston

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was out yesterday spinning for Nigel Farage. But they don't want to play

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that game. The biggest naval conflict

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of the First World War took place More than 8,000 British

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and German personnel lost their lives in the Battle of

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Jutland. The historical event

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was commemorated last week in Orkney, as in 1914,

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the British Grand Fleet had been relocated to Scapa Flow, thd famous

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waters in the Orkney islands. The commemoration of the battle

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was raised at PMQs by the SNP's Last week, thousands of dead from

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both sides in the Battle of Jutland remembered in commemorations. The

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primers to joined the First Minister and the Princess Royal and the

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president of Germany with thousands of people on Orkney to remelber the

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tragedy of so many people losing their lives. European corporation

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emerged from both world wars is the best way to secure peace. Does the

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Prime Minister agree that wd should never take peace and security for

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granted and that is a strong reason to remain in the European Union I

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think the right honourable gentleman is absolutely right about this.

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There were very moving scends as we start on that cemetery ground and in

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the background, the British and German frigates together was a site

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I'm not going to forget as we commemorated and remember how many

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people lost their lives. I want to be clear about this. The words world

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War three have never passed my lips, let me reassure everyone. Btt can we

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really take for granted... Of course, they have now. Well spotted!

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Can we really take for granted the security and stability that we enjoy

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today when we know that our continent has been wracked by so

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many conflicts in the past? I call conservatives, I will pleasd give

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the greatest credit to Nato for keeping the peace but it has always

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been a conservative view th`t the European Union has played its road

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as well. Another SNP MP posed

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a slightly cheeky question. As he reaches the end of his time in

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office, President Obama reflected that his worst mistake was `

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catastrophe in Libya. What was the worst mistake of the Prime Linister

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in office? Time to reflect `s when you come to your time... Th`t

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doesn't apply. The former owner of BHS,

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Dominic Chappell, has been accused by top BHS managers

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of being "a liar" who had hhs The claims were made at a committee

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hearing Last month it was announced BHS would be closing all its 16

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stores after the administrators failed to find a buyer

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for the famous retail chain. The chief executive of BHS,

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Darren Topp, alleged Mr Chappell threatened to kill him

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in a row over company money. Mr Chappell, whose company,

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Retail Acquisitions, bought BHS for ?1,

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defended his recovery plan. He said it had been

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"credible and viable". When asked about the deal to buy

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BHS, Darren Topp said Mr Chappell had assured him

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HE was a turnaround expert. Dominik said he had put 10 lillion

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of his own mini into the business. He got a crack team, in terls of

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very experienced people in turnaround. It was clear with me

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that my role was focused on running the business. Actually, what he got

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in his team was a property dxpert and financial expert. They were the

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two things we needed. We nedded someone who could raise fin`nce and

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somebody who could deal with our property portfolio. I think

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unfortunately, as time progressed, that unravelled in terms of that

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promise and it became clear to us, towards the end, that rather than

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putting money in, he got his fingers in the till. What was your sense

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where you arrived in June as to the cash position of the companx? This

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was my first interaction with Dominic Chapple and like many others

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throughout this process, I think I was duped. I think the technical

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term is a little maniac. Thd layperson's Tim is, he was ` Premier

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League liar and a Sunday pub league retailer at best. Could you tell us

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whether it is true that he tried to take ?1.5 million out of thd

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business and put it into a company called BHS Sweden? That is true

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Michael had left the business at this point. I got a call from a head

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of Treasury, Harry, to say that 1.5 million had been removed by a manual

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transfer to BHS Sweden. My hnitial reaction was to call the police if

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I'm honest, because I wasn't aware of this transaction. That's a

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substantial amount of money and this was during the end of the process. I

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said, tell you what, let me, because Olivia the director who is ` friend

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of Dominic's is Swedish, before we call the police, let the ring

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Dominic. I rang Dominic. He knew about it straightaway and I said to

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him, that theft. Now, if I take out all the expletives, he basically

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said, do not kick off about this, Darren. I've had enough of xou

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telling me what to do over the last few months. It's my business, I can

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do what I want. If you kick off about it, and going to come down

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there and kill you. It thre`tened to kill me again and I know it sounds

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silly but apparently, he saxs he was in the helicopter squad of the SAS

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and I know he's got a gun. There was a bit of me that thought... I said,

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you certainly again, Dominic, they'll call the police.

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The MPs didn't put those last allegations

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to Dominic Chappell himself - but they did ask him

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You obviously have a lifestxle to maintain. A much of this money went

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into your personal account? I was paid a regular salary from BHS but I

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was working on an everyday basis. Yes, I did have money from that

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from the original transaction which filled in the costs I had an easing

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into the transaction. How mtch went into your personal account? I will

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send you a full breakdown of that. Dominic Chappell blamed BHS's former

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owner Sir Philip Green for the thousands of job losses

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at the retailer - saying he and his team had worked flat out

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to try to save the business - an MP wondered more

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about his responsibilities. Knowing what you know now, what

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would you do differently next time? The pension. It was down to the

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pension. We... Yes, it's thd pension side. We should have spent lore time

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dealing with the pension acquisition. We should have ensured

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that Philip was contractually bound to produce insurance for thd

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company. And knowing what you know now, is there anybody you would like

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to apologise to? I am very tpset that there are 11,000 peopld

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directly, and a number of thousand people indirectly, who have now lost

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their jobs. It is a travestx that that has happened. I am verx upset

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that it has happened and it was avoidable. For the record, hs that

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an apology? That is an apology. I must stand as the majoritx

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shareholder and say we were part of the downfall.

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You're watching our round-up of the day

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A computer glitch causes a headache for the process to get all dlectors

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The Saudi Arabian air force has been violating international hum`n rights

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law by dropping bombs on schools and hospitals in Yemen.

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That was the assertion of the SNP's Margaret Ferridr.

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In Westminster Hall the MP `lso claimed Saudi Arabia was ushng

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But a senior Conservative w`rned about the dangers of

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With the growing humanitari`n crisis in Yemen and mounting reports

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indicating that internation`l humanitarian law is being sdriously

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and repeatedly breached by all parties engaged in w`rfare

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in the country including thd Saudi led Coalition the Government needs

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The UK is bound by an international convention banning

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But Margaret Ferrier said Alnesty had found evidence

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There they found evidence of UK produced BL 755 cluster munhtions

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being dropped on farmland in the north of the country.

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They estimate that these munitions were dropped from the air

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in the last quarter of 2015 and provide a compelling case

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She said some cluster bombs sat on land in an unexploded st`te.

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She said a UN report on Yemdn made for uncomfortable reading.

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People will recall the fant`stic work of Princess Diana in r`ising

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awareness of mines leading to the success of the Ottaw` mine

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ban treaty, putting ourselvds in danger in the process.

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Again in violation of international humanitarian law including

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refugee camps, weddings, civilian buses, medical fachlities,

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There is a lot of Saudi bashing but what everybody needs

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to understand is that a leghtimate government has been displacdd.

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For the first time ever Arab countries are trying to address

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their own regional problems without Western intervention.

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We have been telling them for years to sort out their own probldms.

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And as soon as they try to do so we round on them

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We have not supplied cluster weapons of any kind to Saudi

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United Kingdom signed the convention on cluster munitions in 2008

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and ratified it in May 2010 and since May 2008 we have not

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supplied, maintained or supported these weapons anywhere in the world.

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And he said that according to an assessment by the Minhstry

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of Defence, the Saudi milit`ry was not targeting civilians.

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As we said earlier, voting takes place in a fortnight's time

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But in order to vote you have, of course,

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But a last-minute rush to rdgister online before a deadline on Tuesday

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night caused a dramatic crashing of the Government website,

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so preventing thousands of people from registering.

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Not a good situation to be hn, as a leading Conservative

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in the Leave campaign made clear in the Commons.

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First may I commend the Govdrnment and my right honourable fridnd

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for so successfully engaging millions of people to register

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But I'm afraid the problems he has encountered are borne out in fact

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that the Government has been ill-prepared, and the Electoral

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Commission has been, for this surge of registrathons

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which the Government spent billions of pounds on promoting,

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We have a cut-off in our legislation, because the register

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has to be finalised six days and published before the referendum.

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Who can understate the seriousness of what is this very great

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If we go ahead to consult the people of this country on such an hmportant

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decision for the first time in 0 years and deny tens of thousands

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of our citizens the ability to participate I think that

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will tarnish and call into puestion the entire process.

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What stress testing was dond on the website in advance

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and what provisions were made for the predictable rise in traffic?

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On stress tests, we did of course undertake stress tests.

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We tested to a higher level, a significantly higher level

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of interest and applications than at the general election last

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But as I said the level of hnterest was significantly higher

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And it is because of this exceptional demand that the website

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Later in the day it was announced that in light of Tuesday's computer

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glitch the deadline for reghstering to vote would be extended.

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Parliament would legislate to extend the registration period

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The reaction in the Commons continued.

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I support the decision to extend the registration period but given

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the shambles that has occurred here can the Leader of the House

:20:24.:20:26.

guarantee that everybody who wants to register to vote is now

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going to be able to and would he consider looking at autolatic

:20:29.:20:31.

registration in the future hn order that they can try and

:20:32.:20:34.

Of course these are matters for the debate tomorrow.

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I can simply assure the House that the Government will sedk

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to ensure that all those who have been attempting to register,

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because that is what this is about, have the opportunity to do so.

:20:43.:20:46.

Can my right honourable fridnd confirm that people have had months

:20:47.:20:48.

and months in which to register and that if they waited

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until the last minute and all tried to register yesterday,

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that is their fault, and that we should not

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change our regulations in the middle of a very important referendum

:20:59.:21:03.

campaign simply to suit those who haven't organised their personal

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affairs well enough to secure their registration in good time

:21:07.:21:14.

Well a central issue in the EU referendum campaign

:21:15.:21:16.

The Leave and the Remain calps have repeatedly clashed over the numbers

:21:17.:21:22.

of people who've come to thd UK and who could potentially come

:21:23.:21:25.

to the UK, because of the well-established free movement

:21:26.:21:27.

of labour principle within the member countries of the EU.

:21:28.:21:32.

Part of that debate over imligration has been going on in

:21:33.:21:35.

We cannot keep out an awful lot of people from the European Union

:21:36.:21:42.

because they have a right to come here.

:21:43.:21:49.

And because we are trying to cut immigration overall this le`ds us

:21:50.:21:51.

to keep out an awful lot of people from outside the European Union

:21:52.:21:55.

We control migration, economic migration and other

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migration, whether from Europe or elsewhere.

:22:04.:22:06.

In the context of the Europdan Union of course there are rules,

:22:07.:22:11.

there are provisions, but in the context outside Durope

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there are rules, there are provisions.

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Does the Minister agree with me that it would be a great pity

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if the outcome of the vote on the 23rd of June,

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which affects our lives in so many ways and particularly our young

:22:29.:22:32.

people, if that outcome was decided by a nasty, xenophobic camp`ign

:22:33.:22:34.

To speak of immigration is not to be xenophobic.

:22:35.:22:46.

My Lords, loyal supporters of this Government such as myself

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are waiting with baited bre`th to see some progress

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on the manifesto commitments made both in 2010 and 2015,

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so could my noble and learndd friend the Minister tell the House first

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why there has been this del`y in moving the immigration fhgures

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in the direction we expected from the manifesto, and second,

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notwithstanding what happens on June 23, when we can expect to sde some

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progress in reducing the nulber of immigrants to this country

:23:15.:23:16.

The pressure of economic migration has been driven in part

:23:17.:23:27.

by the success of our econoly making us a goal for so many migrants

:23:28.:23:31.

it is our ambition and vision to achieve sustainable levels

:23:32.:23:39.

of migration during the course of this Parliament.

:23:40.:23:42.

There may of course be two routes to that goal depending

:23:43.:23:44.

A Northern Ireland Minister has said a British departure

:23:45.:23:49.

from the European Union would put safety at risk in Northern Hreland.

:23:50.:23:52.

At question time, Ben Wallace told MPs that the security arrangements

:23:53.:23:56.

on the border between the Rdpublic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

:23:57.:23:59.

in the event of a UK exit would be up to the EU.

:24:00.:24:02.

A Labour backbencher started the exchanges.

:24:03.:24:06.

There has been a period where both Ireland and Britain have bedn

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outside the European Union and a period where they havd both

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But if we vote to leave it would be a historically unprecedented period

:24:13.:24:18.

What assessment is his department making on the impact this whll have

:24:19.:24:23.

The Government is clear that should the United Kingdom leave

:24:24.:24:31.

the European Union the borddr of the European Union

:24:32.:24:35.

and the United Kingdom will be that land border in Northern Ireland

:24:36.:24:46.

and that will place us outside the customs union.

:24:47.:24:49.

And the customs union will lean delay and checks and reforms

:24:50.:24:52.

which will hamper our ability to export and import

:24:53.:24:54.

Mr Speaker the most passion`te Europhile I know is the amb`ssador

:24:55.:24:58.

to the UK from Ireland, Dan Mulhall.

:24:59.:25:00.

Dan Mulhall says that in thd event of Brexit not only the principles

:25:01.:25:03.

of the Good Friday Agreement will be maintained but also

:25:04.:25:05.

Instead of inflating fears `round the border is it not incumbdnt

:25:06.:25:09.

on our Minister to deflate and de-escalate those strawlen?

:25:10.:25:14.

I know the honourable member is an active campaigner

:25:15.:25:16.

for Brexit and no doubt wants to control his border.

:25:17.:25:18.

He can't want to control his borders, make checks,

:25:19.:25:22.

and then just let everything carry on as normal.

:25:23.:25:24.

And with all due respect to the Republic of Ireland this

:25:25.:25:27.

will be up to the European Tnion what it does on its customs union

:25:28.:25:30.

border, not necessarily up to individual states.

:25:31.:25:32.

And that is why campaigning for Brexit will put our safdty

:25:33.:25:36.

at risk and will actually ptt bariers to trade across that border.

:25:37.:25:39.

Do join me for our next daily round-up.

:25:40.:25:44.

Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:45.:25:54.

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