08/06/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


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


of the day in the Commons and the Lords.


It's a curious political world at the moment.


Are those campaigning for Leaving the EU rebels?


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


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


honourable member for Edgbaston was out yesterday spinning for Nigel


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


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


Serious allegations are madd against the shop's final


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


Premier League liar. And condemnation of the use


of cluster munitions International humanitarian law has


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


warfare in the country, including the Saudi led coalition.


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


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


Most of the referendum camp`ign has been taking place


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


only fleetingly surfaced at Prime Minister's Questions.


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


Europe to highlight the stark divisions in the Conservative party.


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


to employment rights and in particular the working


conditions of some employees of the sports retail


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


wage, we are going after unscrupulous employers and laking


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


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


hours contracts but followed the conclusions of our consultation that


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


want to have the choice of those contracts.


The Labour leader quoted Priti Patel, the Work


and Pensions Minister, who's campaigning for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


underpinning in terms of rights for workers.


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


cannot guarantee every person currently in their current job will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the support of the Liberal Democrats, the Ulster Unionhst


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


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


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


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


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


that these issues are not the priorities of members of his


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that game. The biggest naval conflict


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


and German personnel lost their lives in the Battle of


Jutland. The historical event


was commemorated last week in Orkney, as in 1914,


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


waters in the Orkney islands. The commemoration of the battle


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


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


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


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


tragedy of so many people losing their lives. European corporation


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


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


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


think the right honourable gentleman is absolutely right about this.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


as well. Another SNP MP posed


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


office, President Obama reflected that his worst mistake was `


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


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


doesn't apply. The former owner of BHS,


Dominic Chappell, has been accused by top BHS managers


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


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


stores after the administrators failed to find a buyer


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


Darren Topp, alleged Mr Chappell threatened to kill him


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


Retail Acquisitions, bought BHS for ?1,


defended his recovery plan. He said it had been


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


BHS, Darren Topp said Mr Chappell had assured him


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


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


very experienced people in turnaround. It was clear with me


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


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


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


somebody who could deal with our property portfolio. I think


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


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


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


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


was my first interaction with Dominic Chapple and like many others


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The MPs didn't put those last allegations


to Dominic Chappell himself - but they did ask him


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


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


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


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


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


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


owner Sir Philip Green for the thousands of job losses


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


to try to save the business - an MP wondered more


about his responsibilities. Knowing what you know now, what


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


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


dealing with the pension acquisition. We should have ensured


that Philip was contractually bound to produce insurance for thd


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


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


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


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


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


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


shareholder and say we were part of the downfall.


You're watching our round-up of the day


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


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


law by dropping bombs on schools and hospitals in Yemen.


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


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


But a senior Conservative w`rned about the dangers of


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


indicating that internation`l humanitarian law is being sdriously


and repeatedly breached by all parties engaged in w`rfare


in the country including thd Saudi led Coalition the Government needs


The UK is bound by an international convention banning


But Margaret Ferrier said Alnesty had found evidence


There they found evidence of UK produced BL 755 cluster munhtions


being dropped on farmland in the north of the country.


They estimate that these munitions were dropped from the air


in the last quarter of 2015 and provide a compelling case


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


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


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


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


ban treaty, putting ourselvds in danger in the process.


Again in violation of international humanitarian law including


refugee camps, weddings, civilian buses, medical fachlities,


There is a lot of Saudi bashing but what everybody needs


to understand is that a leghtimate government has been displacdd.


For the first time ever Arab countries are trying to address


their own regional problems without Western intervention.


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


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


We have not supplied cluster weapons of any kind to Saudi


United Kingdom signed the convention on cluster munitions in 2008


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


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


And he said that according to an assessment by the Minhstry


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


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


But in order to vote you have, of course,


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


night caused a dramatic crashing of the Government website,


so preventing thousands of people from registering.


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


in the Leave campaign made clear in the Commons.


First may I commend the Govdrnment and my right honourable fridnd


for so successfully engaging millions of people to register


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


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


Commission has been, for this surge of registrathons


which the Government spent billions of pounds on promoting,


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


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


Who can understate the seriousness of what is this very great


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


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


of our citizens the ability to participate I think that


will tarnish and call into puestion the entire process.


What stress testing was dond on the website in advance


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


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


We tested to a higher level, a significantly higher level


of interest and applications than at the general election last


But as I said the level of hnterest was significantly higher


And it is because of this exceptional demand that the website


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


glitch the deadline for reghstering to vote would be extended.


Parliament would legislate to extend the registration period


The reaction in the Commons continued.


I support the decision to extend the registration period but given


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


guarantee that everybody who wants to register to vote is now


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


registration in the future hn order that they can try and


Of course these are matters for the debate tomorrow.


I can simply assure the House that the Government will sedk


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


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


Can my right honourable fridnd confirm that people have had months


and months in which to register and that if they waited


until the last minute and all tried to register yesterday,


that is their fault, and that we should not


change our regulations in the middle of a very important referendum


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


affairs well enough to secure their registration in good time


Well a central issue in the EU referendum campaign


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


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


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


of labour principle within the member countries of the EU.


Part of that debate over imligration has been going on in


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


because they have a right to come here.


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


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


We control migration, economic migration and other


migration, whether from Europe or elsewhere.


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


there are provisions, but in the context outside Durope


there are rules, there are provisions.


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


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


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


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


To speak of immigration is not to be xenophobic.


My Lords, loyal supporters of this Government such as myself


are waiting with baited bre`th to see some progress


on the manifesto commitments made both in 2010 and 2015,


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


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


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


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


progress in reducing the nulber of immigrants to this country


The pressure of economic migration has been driven in part


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


it is our ambition and vision to achieve sustainable levels


of migration during the course of this Parliament.


There may of course be two routes to that goal depending


A Northern Ireland Minister has said a British departure


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


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


on the border between the Rdpublic of Ireland and Northern Ireland


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


A Labour backbencher started the exchanges.


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


outside the European Union and a period where they havd both


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


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


The Government is clear that should the United Kingdom leave


the European Union the borddr of the European Union


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


and that will place us outside the customs union.


And the customs union will lean delay and checks and reforms


which will hamper our ability to export and import


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


to the UK from Ireland, Dan Mulhall.


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


of the Good Friday Agreement will be maintained but also


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


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


I know the honourable member is an active campaigner


for Brexit and no doubt wants to control his border.


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


and then just let everything carry on as normal.


And with all due respect to the Republic of Ireland this


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


border, not necessarily up to individual states.


And that is why campaigning for Brexit will put our safdty


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


Do join me for our next daily round-up.


Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.


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