15/06/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


15/06/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 15 June, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Transcript


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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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On this programme, there's only one topic

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at Prime Minister's Questions - the EU referendum.

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David Cameron pleads for support for Remain.

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On all those issues, stronger, safer, better

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off, the arguments are on the Remain side.

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But a campaigner for the UK to leave the EU says it's time

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for the British people to rhse up against the political class

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that's been in thrall to the whole European project.

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It must be disappointing for them to see so much ingratitude `nd anger

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boiling up amongst the Brithsh people against the project

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in which they have invested so much.

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And the former owner of British Home Stores,

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Sir Philip Green, vows to sort out the pensions mess that followed

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the collapse of the retail chain.

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Me being bullied into saying something I'm being asked to say,

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I'm not going to say it.

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I want to address it in terls of how we've been dealing with it.

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I think it's very important you hear all the things that have

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been going on and not going on at the same time.

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But first, a bit like hurricanes in Hertfordshire, a single-themed

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Prime Minister's Questions hardly ever happens.

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But with Parliament about to go into its latest recess,

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and with the nation a week `way from the momentous decision

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on whether we should be in or out of the EU,

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PMQs was always certain to be dominated by the huge

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European question.

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As 12 noon approached, there was a reminder we werd living

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in unusual times when a flotilla of fishing boats, with

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Ukip's Nigel Farage on board, sailed up the Thames at Westminster

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with a message urging Parliament to take back

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control of British waters.

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The so-called Brexit armada was greeted by a rival Remahn fleet,

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carrying, among others, Sir Bob Geldof.

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Inside the Commons, Jeremy Corbyn said Labour was supporting

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the Remain side in the referendum so that jobs and public

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services would be preserved.

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The Labour leader quoted relarks once made by the former

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London Mayor, Boris Johnson, a leading force in the Leavd

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campaign.

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The honourable member for Uxbridge said, "If people have

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to pay for NHS services, they will value them more."

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Both he and the honourable lember for Surrey Heath are members

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of a government that has put the NHS into record deficit.

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These people are now masquerading as the saviours of the NHS.

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Wolves in sheep's clothing.

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David Cameron praised Sarah Wollaston's switch

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of allegiance from Leave to Remain.

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I was delighted with what my honourable friend,

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the member for Totnes, said about wanting...

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By changing her mind, which is a brave thing

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for politicians to do, and saying that she thought

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that the NHS would be safer if we remain inside

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a reformed European Union.

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Jeremy Corbyn said Labour MPs wouldn't be supporting any dmergency

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Budget as proposed by the Chancellor in the event of a Leave

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win in the referendum.

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We would oppose any post-Brdxit austerity Budget, just as wd have

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opposed any austerity Budget put forward by this government.

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So will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to condemn

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the opportunism of 57 of his colleagues who are pro-Leave,

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these are members who backed the bedroom tax, backed cutting

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disability benefits and slashing care for the elderly,

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who suddenly have now had a Damascene conversion

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to the anti-austerity movemdnt?

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Does he have any message for them?

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Does he have any message for them at all?

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What I'd say to the right honourable gentleman is there are very few

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times when he and I are on the same side of an argument and this must

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say to people watching back at home than when you've got the le`der

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of the Labour Party, and indeed almost all

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of the Labour Party, a Conservative government,

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the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the official Ulster Unionists

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and the Scottish National P`rty all saying we have huge

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disagreements, but on this vital issue for the future of our country,

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the best option for Britain is to vote to remain

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and reform the European Union, that really says something.

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If we vote out, the experts warn us we will have a smaller economy,

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less employment, lower wages and therefore less tax recehpts

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That's why we would have to have measures to address a huge hole

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in our public finances.

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Nobody wants to have an emergency Budget, nobody wants to havd cuts

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in public services, nobody wants to have tax increases.

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I'm looking forward to the British people giving me the opporttnity

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to vote against the vindicthve emergency Budget.

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Will my right honourable frhend explain that if the governmdnt

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is so strapped for cash, why is it still intent

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on spending ?50 billion on HS2?

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The point is that we will bd strapped for cash if you believe

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the Institute for Fiscal Sttdies or the National Institute

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of Economic and Social Rese`rch both impeccably independent,

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who say there'd be a hole in our public finances of bdtween

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?20 billion and ?40 billion.

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There's an easy way to avoid getting into that situation and that's

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to vote to stay in a reformdd European Union next Thursdax.

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If, as I hope, despite the panic-driven negativity

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from the Remain camp and Downing Street,

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the British people vote next week to become a free,

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independent nation again...

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Will my right honourable frhend join me in embracing the optimism

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and opportunity for our country and our people such

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a momentous decision would be?

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What I'd say to my honourable friend, as I said at the CBH,

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of course Britain can survive outside the EU.

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No one is questioning that.

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The question is, how are we going to do best?

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How are we going to create the most jobs?

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How are we going to create the most investment?

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How are we going to have thd most opportunities for our children?

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How are we going to wield the greatest power in the world

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How are we going to get things done?

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And all all those issues, stronger, safer, better

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off, the arguments are on the Remain side.

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2,500 people are employed in the ceramics industry

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in my constituency.

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Their jobs are dependent on EU trade, their rights are protected

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by the EU social chapter and their town centres have been

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rebuilt with EU funds.

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With his friends in the Leave campaign producing more spin

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than a potter's wheel...

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Does the PM share my fear that despite Europe's flaws,

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a Brexit vote could leave us picking up the pieces of a broken economy

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for years to come?

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I'm going to nick that soundbite, that's a good ond!

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The honourable lady is right.

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If we leave the single markdt and the European Union,

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the council president has s`id very clearly that process probably takes

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two years and after that, you then have to negotiate ` trade

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deal with the European Union.

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If it was a trade deal like Canada's, that

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could take seven years.

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So we're looking at a decadd of uncertainty for our economy.

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Given the government's recent enthusiasm for making forec`sts

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and predictions, can the Prime Minister please tdll

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the House in which year will we meet our manifesto

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commitment to reduce immigr`tion to the tens of thousands?

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Yes, we need to do more to control migration from outside the DU,

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and we are doing that with the closure of bogus

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colleges and other measures, and we are doing more insidd the EU,

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not least saying that people who come here,

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if they don't get a job aftdr six months, they have to leave.

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If they do work, they have to work and contribute for four years before

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they get full access to the welfare system.

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Those are big changes.

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Can I congratulate my right honourable friend for honouring our

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manifesto pledge and delivering this historic referendum?

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Unfortunately, we have heard some hysterical scaremongering

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during this debate.

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And there are those in this House, and in the Other Place,

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who if they...

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They believe if the British people decide to leave the EU,

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there should be a second referendum.

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Can he assure the House and the country that whatevdr

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the result on June 24, his government will carry ott

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the wishes of the British pdople?

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If the vote is to remain, wd remain, and if the vote is to leave,

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which I hope it is, then we leave.

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I'm very happy to agree with my honourable friend.

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In means we remain in a reformed European Union.

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Out means we come out.

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And as the Leave campaigners have said, and others have said,

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out means out of the Europe`n Union, out of the European single larket,

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out of the Council of Ministers out of all of those things.

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And it then means a process of delivering that,

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which would take at least two years, and then delivering a trade

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deal, which could take as many as seven years.

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David Cameron.

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The former owner of British Home Stores,

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the billionaire Sir Philip Green, has apologised to staff

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at the firm's collapse and promised to try to secure

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their pension scheme.

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Last month came news that BHS would be closing all its 160 stores

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when administrators failed to find a buyer for the famous retahl chain.

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BHS had debts of ?1.25 billhon.

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Sir Philip, who sold the company last year for ?0,

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faced an intense six hours of questioning

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from a parliamentary committee.

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He began by reflecting on what had gone wrong.

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Nothing is more sad than how this has ended.

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And I hope during the morning you'll hear there was certainly no intent

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at all on my part for anythhng to be like this, and it didn't

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need to be like this.

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I just want to apologise to all the BHS people who h`ve

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been involved in this, and are involved, and I hopd that

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by the end of the morning they'll hear everything and we can find some

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sensible solutions to some of the issues.

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There were some tetchy exch`nges as Sir Philip defended the way

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he ran his businesses.

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I think we've got a pretty good track record as a company.

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Our existing business, the average stay in our head office

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is 11 or 12 years.

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Do you mind not looking at le like that all the time?

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It's really disturbing.

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Sorry?

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You just want to stare at md, it's just uncomfortable, th`t's all.

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I wasn't quite just staring at you, but I don't want to make

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you uncomfortable.

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Sorry?

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I don't wish to make you uncomfortable.

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It's just uncomfortable, sort of staring at me.

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One of the key issues has bden the pension scheme.

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Sir Philip said his attempts to get a meeting with the pensions

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regulator had failed until recently.

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I tried to lead through the history...

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You're trying to lead me to say things I'm not going to say.

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With respect, allow me to finish the question.

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Trying to lead through the history of the pension scheme so th`t

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everybody, including the 20,000 members of the pension schele,

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can understand exactly what happened and where we are today.

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Yeah, but...

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Could I plead to you, sir?

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Can we go to the pension scheme and therefore instead

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of this man beating me up, which is unnecessary, right,

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I'm here voluntarily, and I'm happy to address

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the pension issue, OK?

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At whatever time you're ready during this meeting.

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Me being bullied into saying something I'm being asked to say,

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I'm not going to say.

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I want to address it in terls of how we've been dealing with it.

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I think it's very important you hear all the things that have bedn

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going on and not going on at the same time.

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Then I think it will give everybody a much clearer picture.

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We want to find a solution for the 20,000 pensioners.

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We still believe that money into the PPF

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does not resolve it.

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It's a complex...

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Without getting into it, I don't want to get into spdcifics,

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the schemes are quite compldx, but from what I've seen,

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I would say it's resolvable, sortable, we will sort it,

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we will find a solution and I want to give an assur`nce

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to the 20,000 pensioners, I'm there to sort this

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in the correct way.

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The committee moved on to the sale of BHS to Dominic Chappell,

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who was running the firm at the time it went into administration.

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What happened is beyond horrible.

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Please.

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Sad.

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There was direct intention.

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There was zero intention.

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I said when I leave here today you'll either think I'm a lhar

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or I'm telling you the truth, but I'm not a liar, OK?

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Unfortunately, we found the wrong guy.

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And during that corporate governance and board arrangement,

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did anyone challenge you or the subgroup on this point?

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Which point?

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In terms of selling to Chappell

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I think you've heard...

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Whether we got misled, whether we got duped,

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unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people that acceptdd

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this guy at face value.

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Right?

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Lawyers, accountants, all sorts of other people,

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happy to take shares in his company, banks prepared to write letters

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whether they're good or not, right?

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These are the facts.

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Unfortunately, sadly, it was the wrong owner.

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We could keep going over...

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You said you don't want to be here all day, you could be

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here for the rest of your life.

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Would I do that deal again? No.

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Am I sorry we did it? Yes.

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One of the things I'm reallx interested in about corporate

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governance is it's very cle`r, I've never met you before,

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but three and a half hours in you seem a very

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dominant personality, but you seem extraordinarilx...

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There's ten of you and one of me.

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And you're holding your own, believe me, you're holding xour own.

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But you seem extraordinarilx thin-skinned to quite

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courteous questions, as if you don't want

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to be challenged in any way, shape or form...

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Like what?

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Let me finish.

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In terms of that wider corporate governance point, in respect

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of the selling of BHS.

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Did anybody, particularly a nonexecutive director, sax,

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Phil, I'm not entirely certain this is correct,

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can we challenge you on this?

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That doesn't seem to be the culture of the organisation.

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That's your opinion.

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Thank you.

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The latest in the saga of BHS.

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You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons

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and the Lords.

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Still to come, why are therd so few women at the top

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of the civil service?

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The arguments over staying in or departing from

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the European Union continued later in the day in the Commons as MPs

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debated and backed a Labour motion saying the UK

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was better off inside the ET.

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MPs calling for a Remain vote heavily outnumbered

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those supporting Leave, warning that exiting

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would hit the economy.

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But those in favour of Brexht rejected that, saying we'd be

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better off out of the EU.

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Opening the exchanges, the Shadow Chancellor said dveryone

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should be clear that Labour was for Remain.

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It is about jobs, investment, trade with our largest markdt

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and the protection of emploxment rights for workers,

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so that they can secure the benefits of participation in the market.

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But for many of us, it's also about creating another Europe.

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A Europe that is more democratic, that promotes social justicd

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as well as prosperity, a Europe that is more equal

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and sustainable economicallx and environmentally.

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He asked Labour voters if they would trust the leaders

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of the Leave campaign with jobs and public services.

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We have witnessed in the last 7 hours the reaction of the world

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markets to just shifts in the bowls pointing towards a possible Brexit.

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markets to just shifts in the polls pointing towards a possible Brexit.

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100 million has been knocked off the value of shares and the value

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of the pound has dropped.

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The Brexit campaign in four days have done more damage to capitalism

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than the Socialist Workers Party in 40 years.

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It is difficult to see how dven the most upbeat Brexiteer couldn't

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see that we are likely to face months, years,

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perhaps a decade of confidence sapping, investment and job

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destroying uncertainty that will take this country back

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to the dark days of 2008.

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And I for one, Mr Speaker, never want to go there again.

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All the gloomy and bogus forecasts we've been getting from the people

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who wish to Remain in are b`sed on the assumption that the single

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market is some precious and virtuous body we can belong to,

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which has fuelled our prospdrity and manufacturing growth so far

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and which would no longer bd available to us if we left.

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And of course they are wrong on both counts.

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Our membership of the singld market has not helped our manufacttring,

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and when we Leave we will still have access to the single market,

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just as the 165 other countries around the world have access to that

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market daily without being lembers and having to accept the frdedom

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of movement provisions, without having to accept thd taxes

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and laws that are imposed on us on a wide range of issues that have

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nothing to do with trade wh`tsoever.

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I tell you what will happen.

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That pound will plummet.

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Inflation and prices for ordinary people will go up.

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We will be caught in a whirlwind, an economic whirlwind,

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which these people irresponsibly want to inflict on millions

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of our citizens.

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It is a scandalous view to take

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Inside the single market, we ran a monumental trade ddficit

0:17:490:17:52

and we have an enormous trade surplus with the rest

0:17:520:17:54

of the world which is growing.

0:17:540:17:56

That is the future.

0:17:560:17:57

That is the vision, that is the means by

0:17:570:17:59

which we will get jobs.

0:17:590:18:00

That is the means by which we will ensure the future

0:18:000:18:03

of our children and grandchhldren.

0:18:030:18:04

And, to conclude, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is very simple.

0:18:040:18:06

It is about who governs us.

0:18:060:18:08

And if we get this wrong we will not be able to organise and to dstablish

0:18:080:18:12

a democracy in this country which is what the people fotght

0:18:120:18:14

and died for not just in ond world war, but twice.

0:18:140:18:17

The SNP warned of a right wing Tory power grab.

0:18:170:18:19

You cannot trust them with social protection, you cannot trust them

0:18:190:18:22

with our environment and you certainly cannot trtst them

0:18:220:18:24

with workers' rights.

0:18:240:18:26

This is a Tory excuse for more austerity and it is what is coming

0:18:260:18:30

if you vote to Leave.

0:18:300:18:33

There are no economic benefhts to the UK fishermen from melbership

0:18:330:18:35

of the European Union.

0:18:350:18:37

Around 92% of fishermen are calling for the UK to Leave.

0:18:370:18:42

I say, let's throw them a lifeline and Vote Leave.

0:18:420:18:47

The referendum debate in the Commons.

0:18:470:18:49

A last-minute rush of peopld to get registered to vote in the ET

0:18:490:18:53

Referendum caused a governmdnt website to crash last week.

0:18:530:18:56

The deadline for registration was extended by 48 hours.

0:18:560:19:00

Some members of the Leave c`mp saw the extending of the deadline

0:19:000:19:04

as a ploy to get more peopld likely to vote Remain on to the register.

0:19:040:19:08

At Lords Questions, two Labour peers said the addition of extra dlectors

0:19:080:19:12

on to the list might also m`ke the map of re-drawn Commons

0:19:120:19:16

constituencies out of date.

0:19:160:19:19

Of course, it is well known that substantially increased numbers

0:19:190:19:27

Of course, it is welcome th`t substantially increased numbers

0:19:270:19:29

of people have registered to vote in recent weeks.

0:19:290:19:31

Doesn't this have clear implications as far as the work

0:19:310:19:34

of the parliamentary boundary commission is concerned?

0:19:340:19:35

Due to report in September but now likely to report on the bashs

0:19:350:19:38

of substantially out of datd electoral registration figures.

0:19:380:19:46

We have now perhaps as many as million new people on the rdgister,

0:19:460:19:56

arising out of what has happened in the referendum.

0:19:560:19:58

Surely those people on thesd registers should now be takdn

0:19:580:20:00

into account in the setting of boundaries?

0:20:000:20:02

Otherwise the boundaries ard false boundaries, they're not reldvant.

0:20:020:20:10

And isn't the fact that if the government don't do this

0:20:100:20:13

it shows that they are showing political bias.

0:20:130:20:15

I repute the final point thd noble Lord makes.

0:20:150:20:17

Unless you have a defined d`te and a set of registers to assess,

0:20:170:20:20

it's impossible to run a review

0:20:200:20:21

And registers for a boundarx review are necessarily a snapshot.

0:20:210:20:28

As regards the number of registrations, no,

0:20:280:20:29

it is always the case that this has always been conducted like this

0:20:290:20:35

And I would further like to say that we need to wait for thdse

0:20:350:20:40

registers to be compiled to see how many of those who have applhed

0:20:400:20:43

to register to vote are exactly duplicates or not.

0:20:430:20:45

Lord Bridges.

0:20:450:20:46

And soon after that the Lords also debated the arguments over leaving

0:20:460:20:49

or exiting the European Union.

0:20:490:20:55

The one-time leader of Ukip, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, has

0:20:550:20:57

for years been deeply critical of the workings of the EU and has

0:20:570:21:00

long argued Britain would be better off out.

0:21:000:21:02

He took a swipe at the political class which, he said,

0:21:020:21:05

was largely pro-EU.

0:21:050:21:06

Your Lordships House is a vdry Europhile place.

0:21:060:21:08

Well-stocked with former government ministers,

0:21:080:21:09

Members of Parliament and servants of the EU,

0:21:090:21:11

who between them have been responsible over long

0:21:110:21:15

and what they no doubt regard as successful lives for bringing

0:21:150:21:19

this country to its present state of subservience to the corrtpt

0:21:190:21:22

octopus in Brussels.

0:21:220:21:28

My Lords, it must be disappointing for them to see so much ingratitude

0:21:280:21:31

and anger boiling up amongst the British people against

0:21:310:21:33

the project in which they h`ve invested so much and in

0:21:330:21:39

which they so fervently belheve

0:21:390:21:43

My Lords, that's why during this referendum campaign you havd seen

0:21:430:21:47

Project Octopus turning into Project Fear.

0:21:470:21:54

And we are told to be fearftl of leaving the clutch

0:21:540:21:56

of its tentacles.

0:21:560:21:57

A former EU Trade Commissioner criticised the Leave campaign.

0:21:570:22:05

Their plans would pitch Britain in my view, into limbo,

0:22:050:22:08

a state of ill-defined economic legal uncertainty that would be

0:22:080:22:12

a state of ill-defined economic and legal uncertainty that would be

0:22:120:22:14

I think the most serious self-inflicted damage to thd UK

0:22:140:22:17

economy since the three-day week, which I remember being imposed

0:22:170:22:27

in December 1973.

0:22:270:22:29

But one of the things that we know about divorce in the real world

0:22:290:22:33

is that it is usually expensive and it is very often acrimonious.

0:22:330:22:36

So even if a couple think that they will be happier

0:22:360:22:39

apart than together, it's very rare to have a divorce

0:22:390:22:44

that doesn't include lawyers, who benefit probably

0:22:440:22:46

more than anybody else.

0:22:460:22:48

And it doesn't end up being costly.

0:22:480:22:51

Migration both into Europe and across Europe intensifids

0:22:510:22:54

resentment and generates extremism.

0:22:540:23:01

The governing structures of the EU threaten to be as disastrous

0:23:010:23:03

as the euro.

0:23:030:23:06

The system is an aggregation of democracies but it is not

0:23:060:23:09

itself democratic.

0:23:090:23:10

It was never intended to be so by its authors.

0:23:100:23:12

Rational public servants who were horrified at what they had

0:23:120:23:15

seen weak democracies and populist fascism do.

0:23:150:23:21

Policy initiative continues to rest with the unelected commission,

0:23:210:23:24

the Council of Ministers as such has no accountability.

0:23:240:23:28

I just want to say how dism`yed I am by the way in which the pied pipers

0:23:280:23:33

of Leave are attempting to lead the people of this country

0:23:330:23:38

into a dark mountain, from which we can only emerge

0:23:380:23:41

reduced and poorer.

0:23:410:23:45

The Lords debate on Europe.

0:23:450:23:48

The Prime Minister has been accused of having re-assembled the so-called

0:23:480:23:51

glass ceiling in Whitehall, with just one in five of top senior

0:23:510:23:55

roles going to women.

0:23:550:23:58

Latest figures show that 80$ of permanent secretaries,

0:23:580:24:01

the highest-ranking civil servants, are men.

0:24:010:24:03

As a result, Labour is callhng for the shortlists from

0:24:030:24:07

which permanent secretaries are appointed to be made public

0:24:070:24:12

In 2011, 50% of permanent secretaries were female

0:24:120:24:14

for the first time.

0:24:140:24:15

Since then, and since the Prime Minister took control

0:24:150:24:20

the glass ceiling has been painstakingly reassembled.

0:24:200:24:22

If he can't be trusted to appoint women, then isn't it

0:24:220:24:25

about time we introduce some positive discrimination?

0:24:250:24:30

We have in fact appointed a range of permanent secretaries

0:24:300:24:33

who are women in the last fdw months and I am glad to be able to tell

0:24:330:24:37

the honourable member that we are also doing a grdat deal

0:24:370:24:39

to try to make sure that thd pool from which we draw the perm`nent

0:24:390:24:43

secretaries in the first pl`ce, obviously the directors gendral

0:24:430:24:45

is significantly improving.

0:24:450:24:48

As the minister has just confirmed, since the Prime Minister gave

0:24:480:24:51

himself the power to appoint, 80% of permanent secretaries

0:24:510:24:53

are now men.

0:24:530:24:55

In the spirit of open government, will the minister commit

0:24:550:24:57

to publishing the shortlists from which the Prime

0:24:570:24:59

Minister has appointed?

0:24:590:25:01

I will go back and talk to colleagues about the methods

0:25:010:25:06

by which we publish what happens in that procedtre.

0:25:060:25:10

But I would like to point ott to the opposition spokesman

0:25:100:25:14

that the pool from which we...

0:25:150:25:17

Spokesperson.

0:25:170:25:23

The pool from which we draw the permanent secretaries

0:25:230:25:25

is the secretaries general.

0:25:250:25:26

Oliver Letwin.

0:25:260:25:27

And that's it for this programme.

0:25:270:25:28

MPs and peers are now off for a week and a half,

0:25:280:25:31

enabling them to play a full part in the final, remaining days

0:25:310:25:34

of the Referendum campaign.

0:25:340:25:37

Voting is, as we all know, on Thursday the 23rd.

0:25:370:25:40

This programme returns on the day that Parliament is scheduled

0:25:400:25:43

to return, Monday 27 June.

0:25:430:25:45

In the meantime, do join me for the best of this week's events,

0:25:450:25:49

in The Week in Parliament, at 11pm on Friday night.

0:25:490:25:52

Until then, from me Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

0:25:520:25:58

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