Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 20 July, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.
On this programme: Theresa Lay takes on Jeremy Corbyn in her first
The Government's urged not to forget the people of Gibraltar
when negotiating Britain's dxit from the EU.
And fresh calls for a public inquiry into clashes
between police and picketers during the miners' strike.
I still have people come to my surgery in tears reliving the horror
when they went with their f`milies to peacefully picket.
But, first, to Theresa May's debut at Prime Minister's questions.
In the week since Mrs May took over from David Cameron,
she has held her first Cabinet, met the First Minister
of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, and was about to fly to Gerlany
At the start of the session Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Mrs May
on becoming the second woman Prime Minister.
Can I thank the right honourable gentleman for the welcome
Can I say to him, he refers to me as the second woman Prime Mhnister.
In my years here in this Hotse, I have long heard the Labour Party
ask what the Conservative P`rty does for women.
The Labour leader drew on the speech Theresa May made when she arrived
The Prime Minister is rightly concerned, Mr Speaker, and she said
this, "If you are black, you are treated more harshlx
So, before appointing her new Foreign Secretary,
did she discuss with him his description of black people
as "piccaninnies" and why he questioned the motives
of the US President Obama on his part Kenyan heritage?
He refers to the remarks I lade and it is correct that
if you are black you will bd treated more harshly in the criminal
It is exactly why, as Home Secretary, I dealt
I was concerned to make surd that nobody should be stopped
and searched on the streets of this country because of the
13 years of Labour did nothing on it.
Mr Speaker, my question was actually about the language used
In her speech on the steps of Downing Street, she also
addressed insecure workers saying, "You have a job, but you don't
Does that mean, to those people who are worried
I am talking of the people that sent us here to serve them.
Does that mean that she is proposing to scrap the employment tribunal
fees, repeal the Trade Union Act or ban zero-hours contracts,
as more than a dozen Europe`n nations have already done?
That would help to give gre`ter job security to many very worridd
I am interested that he refdrs to the situation of some workers
who might have some job insdcurity and potentially unscrupulous bosses.
I suspect that there are many members on the opposition bdnches
who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss.
A boss who does not listen to his workers?
A boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload?
Maybe even a boss who explohts the rules to further his own career?
Yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found th`t
two-thirds of children living in poverty in Britain have `t least
What, other than warm words, is she going to offer those
families, those children who are hungry often and very
Isn't it our duty to offer some hope and security to them?
Yes, it is and we are concerned about those people, but the answer
is not the Labour Party's answer of unlimited,
The answer to the people who are in work and who are
struggling and work, and the answer to those people
who want to get into work is to have a strong economy,
an economy that delivers jobs and that delivers well-paid jobs.
That is why I can assure thd right honourable gentleman that
on the side of the House we are focused on building ` country
That is an economy that enstres that everyone can benefit
from the nation's wealth, a society where everyone gets
the opportunities they deserve and a democracy that everyone can
Finally, I would just say to the right honourable gentleman,
the Labour Party may be abott to spend several months of fighting
The Conservative Party will be spending those months bringhng this
The SNP's leader at Westminster looked to Theresa May's forthcoming
meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Germany has the highest levdl of support of any continent`l
European country for Scotland remaining in the European Union
So, would the Prime Minister thank Chancellor Merkel for the interest
of the members of her government and members of the Bundestag,
their interest in having Scotland remaining within the EU,
and will she assure the Chancellor and other heads of state
and government that we in Scotland will do everything, everythhng
that is necessary for us to remain in the EU?
I have to say to the right honourable gentleman,
because this is a line he h`s been taking for some time,
he took it with my predecessor, I do find a little confusing,
given that only two years ago in the Scottish referendum,
that the Scottish National Party was campaigning for Scotland
to leave the United Kingdom, which would have meant Scotland
The final question went to the Liberal Democrat leader.
He and Theresa May had both been unsuccessful candidates in the 992
General Election for the se`t of North-West Durham.
Can I genuinely warmly welcome the Prime Minister to her position
and reflect that she has cole a long way since we were on the hustings
She will reflect that she is possessing greater support hn this
chamber than either of us got in Consett Working Men's Cltb?
Today, there are reports that the new Brexit Unit will be
hiring lawyers at a cost of ?5, 00 per head per day.
Can I asked the Prime Minister whether she will be using
the mythical ?350 million to pay the legal fees or is that
still pencilled in for the NHS as promised by her
Cabinet colleagues, who campaigned for Leave?
I think it is absolutely right that we create a new Departlent
to focus on the work of negotiating the United Kingdom leaving
the European Union and that department will need
to have the expertise necessary to undertake those negotiathons
I say to the right honourable gentleman, I am very happy
to remember the days that he and I spent campaigning
in the General Election in North-West Durham.
Little did the voters of North-West Durham know
that the two candidates, unsuccessful candidates in that
election would become leaders of two of this country's political parties,
although as I would point ott to the right honourable gentleman,
my party is a little bit bigger than his is!
Meanwhile, the woman who has stepped into Mrs May's
old job as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said she's
still looking at whether to hold a fresh investigation
into the police handling of what became known as 'Thd Battle
of Orgreave' during the mindrs' strike in the mid-80s.
About 10,000 strikers and 5,000 police officers clashed
at the coking plant near Rotherham in South Yorkshire in June 0984
More than 120 officers and pickets were injured.
More than 90 miners were prosecuted, but they were subsequently `cquitted
amid accusations that the protestors were "framed"
The Home Secretary said she'd been in touch with those
I can tell the right honour`ble gentleman that I have,
today, I have written to the campaign secretary,
Barbara Jackson, to say that I would be very happy
to meet her and the campaign immediately after the summer recess.
I would also be happy to medt the right honourable gentlelan
to discuss this case, as I know this is something
This is one of the most important issues in my intr`y
as a new Home Secretary and I can assure him that I will be
considering the facts very carefully over the summer.
I hope to come to a decision as quickly as possible following that.
A year ago, the IPCC found senior officers gave untrue statemdnts
exaggerating violence from liners to distract from their own tse
So the force that would wrongly blame Liverpool supporters tried
to do the same against the miners five years beford.
The South Yorkshire police had also been in charge of policing
Hillsborough and a minister in the Lords told Peers
than an inquiry into Orgreave couldn't be launched
while until the Hillsborough investigations finished.
Does she accept that there hs no reason why ongoing investig`tions
And in similar situations it is commonplace for protections to
Can you see why the Governmdnt's actions look like a Home Office
manoeuvre to shunt a controversial issue into the long grass?
What I am going to do is look at it over the summer and meet
with the campaign group in September and reach a decision after that
But he should not allow anybody to think that this means th`t
We take it very seriously on the side of the House
and will reach a proper conclusion when I have looked at the evidence.
The name South Yorkshire Police now does a disservice to the honest
hard-working officers who ptt themselves on the frontline.
I appreciate that my right honourable friend is taking
time over the summer to consider this enquiry.
Can I ask, not to answer today because I know that she can't,
but can I ask to consider that the time has come to rdorganise
Yorksire policing and removd the name 'South Yorkshire Police'?
My father was a West Midlands policeman in the 1980s and spent
Clearly, where there is solhd evidence of police malpracthce,
it must be dealt with effectively and with the full force of the law.
But does the Home Secretary recognise the concerns of m`ny
serving and retired police officers, what they perceivd
of a political campaign with a predetermined outcomd?
Well, my honourable friend raises an important point and, really,
the answer to that is why I will take my time to come
to what I feel will be a fair answer, looking
There are serious allegations that have been made,
Orgreave is in my constituency and I still have people comd
to my surgery in tears reliving the horror when they went
with their families to peacefully picket.
The violent abuse they suffdred the vile media campaign aftdrwards.
Please, will the Home Secretary give them the justice and the pe`ce
The new Work and Pensions Sdcretary has said he will make a dechsion
in the autumn on whether or not to proceed with plans to cap
Housing Benefit for people living in supported housing.
The plan was announced by George Osborne in last
year's Autumn Statement, then put on hold while a review
was carried out, but Labour has led fresh calls for the idea to dropped,
warning that the cap would hit the most vulnerable.
It will affect elderly citizens our Armed Forces veterans,
those with disabilities, people with learning diffictlties
and people with mental health problems.
It will hit homeless people and it will jeopardise the safety of people
I received a letter from the New Charter Housing Group
that operates social housing in the Tameside part
of my constituency and they hit the nail on the head in this letter
where they say that, as a rdsult, they will not have the incole
to sustain the provision of supported housing.
Then they will inevitably sde the closure of some schemes,
many of the supported and sheltered schemes in Tamesside become
Isn't that exactly what is going to happen up and down the country?
Is it not true that is important to do this review with Housing Benefit
And this scaremongering that there is going to be ctts
people don't actually know what the outcome is going to be
So let's have a constructivd discussion during this
review and give some certainty to the sector.
He asked for two things in his speech.
First of all, he asked me to change the policy now, and, secondly,
he asked us to take the evidence first and then take a decishon.
Now, I could either take ond of his pieces of advice
or the other piece of advicd, but I really can't take both pieces
of advice so I have decided to take the second piece of advice `nd look
at the evidence first and then take a decision because that is, indeed,
I have had discussions about this with Solihull carers,
What they have told me is that they understand this
is the first review to take place into this for ,0 years and they also
is the first review to take place into this for 20 years and they also
understand that the total bhll for Housing Benefit in this country
is some ?25 billion and it hs right that we take time and we explore
all the options and try and come to the best resolution.
I expect to make an announcdment on the way forward in
We are going to spend the stmmer looking at the evidence
and I will make an announcelent in the early autumn.
We require a solution that is flexible enough to leet
the needs of service users and providers, while it rem`ins
affordable for the taxpayer and delivers value for monex.
Supported housing projects provide a range of people with vital support
which saves this Government money in hospital beds, prisons
As the honourable member made clear in the adjournment debate l`st
Tuesday night, a wide range of service provision is unddr threat
by the continued uncertaintx over this policy.
I am appalled, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the people supported bx this
sector are being put at risk by the lackadaisical 'speak now
figure it out later' attitude that this Government
I accept entirely that therd needs to be a review,
We keep getting told we will make a decision in the spring,
in the autumn and, in the mdantime, future provision is not being built
because of the uncertainty `nd those existing provisions feel
that the uncertainty makes their future a little
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia LcCarthy.
The rights of the people of Gibraltar should be at the front
of the queue when it comes to EU exit negotiations, MPs have
The people of Gibraltar votdd overwhelmingly to Remain
Gibraltar's ministers have demanded to be fully involved
The Spanish government, meanwhile, has called for joint soverehgnty
in the light of the UK's decision to Leave.
The chair of the all-party group on Gibraltar at Westminster
campaigned to leave the EU, but acknowledged opinion
All the electorate in Gibraltar entitled to vote in the refdrendum
96% voted to remain. Admittddly slightly less than the 98% who voted
to remain British, but very impressive all the same. But for
perspective it must be seen in the context of the UK as a hole where
there were 17.4 million votds to leave, and as the Prime Minhster
said, Brexit means Brexit. We understand the nervousness `nd fear
a large number of people in Gibraltar are experiencing `t the
moment. When the Chief Minister came to speak to the all-party group a
few weeks ago he described grown men in tears at the result. Spahn has
been obstructive regardless of principles and how the borddr
operates will be to turn and between United Kingdom and Spain. The
Spanish Foreign Minister crowed that the Spanish flag is now much closer
to the rock. In reply the chief minister of Gibraltar replidd in his
usual manner to all these threats and sovereignty, saying, another
day, another stupid remark. I extremely disappointed by the way
the Foreign Office pussyfoot around this matter. They spent thehr time
summoning the Spanish ambassador and gave him a dressing down and then he
went off and nothing changes. It is about time the Foreign Office had
some courage and did somethhng and represented the people of Ghbraltar
better. I thank the honourable gentleman for his interventhon and
comments. This debate will give us all a chance to show our colmitment
and eagerness to respond in a more robust fashion. Gibraltar mtst be
included in all of those discussions, at the start. Hf it is
not then there is no question about it, the government in Madrid,
particularly the existing government in Madrid, will try to scupper any
negotiations on the basis of trying to force our government to give some
sort of concession over Gibraltar. That cannot happen. It would be
welcome at some point to sed a sense of the trilateral conversathon
happening again. I know that it is fraught but it is very important to
talk and have discussions. But I also believe the town is crtcial. I
hope that members will be hdlpful in regarding their town. We must
remember the geography of Ghbraltar -- remembering their tone. @nd the
fact that so many Spanish h`ve an intimate relationship with Gibraltar
on a daily basis, that is the kind of thing we want to get tow`rds a
practical discussion about what it means on a day to day basis, this
new reality. Gibraltar did not get the desired outcome but I al pleased
played its part in its historic decision and that speeches we have
heard across this chamber rdflect a determination to make it for them. I
want to deal with detailed hssues raised by this debate. I want to be
absolutely clear that the ottcome of the referendum does not in `ny way
diminish our steadfast and long-standing commitment to
Gibraltar and its people. Shnce 1713 United Kingdom has always stood by
Gibraltar and always will. The Romanian Ambassador says he s
"cautious" about predictions of a wave of Romanians coming
to the UK before it leaves the EU. He estimated there were currently
between 400,000 and 500,000 The Ambassador was facing qtestions
from the Home Affairs committee which is looking
into the implications The issue of the pull factor, of
Britain exiting the EU, and therefore Romanians deciding they
need to come here before exht. It is a serious one, is it not? Do you
think there might be a surgd of people wanting to come in bdfore
exit date? I would be very cautious about a wave of Romanians coming
before the cut-off date. Sure. But we would not know. Is it not the
case that as far as Romanians are concerned some may have passports,
others, on the basis of identity documents. As with European
citizens. Exactly. The same applies to British citizens going to the EU,
they do not get stamps on their passport. Would you know whdre the
remaining citizens are in the United Kingdom, do they all registdr with
the embassy? No, because thdy travel freely as European citizens. So is
that a practical problem, identifying who is here? It will be
British authorities a very difficult issue. Because I don't belidve you
will impose visas on tourists. He was asked about the reported
rise in racist attacks The evidence you have, is it
subsiding again or do we sthll encounter these problems, are there
still attacks? We have no w`ve of attacks on a nine citizens. We had
this incident in Norwich. -, attacks on remaining citizens. Wherd a store
that was owned by Romanians was burnt. OK. I was in Norwich last
Friday, with a colleague who is a minister for Romanians abro`d, we
have such a post in our govdrnment. And it was impressive for md to see
the solidarity of the local community in Norwich against such
attacks. There was a wall ftll of hearts, they raised money, lore than
?20,000, from the local comlunity. I think there was a strong re`ction,
and this reaction will the nationwide, to see that there are
integrated in the British community, and the British community do not
want to give such a signal. Staying with the EU,
it was announced on Wednesd`y that the UK is to relinquish
its six-month presidency of the Council of the EU,
which it was due to hold The presidency rotates
between the 28 member states, giving each the opportunity to shape
the agenda, by chairing sumlits Only the previous day,
peers had asked whether the UK's So, following the announcemdnt,
Labour called the minister to the Lords to explain
what had happened. The noble Lord told us that
ministers would discuss the issue of the presidency with EU colldagues
but he also said, we remain a full member until negotiations are
concluded, with the rights `nd responsibilities that this dntails.
I happily said that at times holding the presidency could be
uncomfortable for ministers, a bit embarrassing at times. But preparing
to enter negotiations we must be as strong and influential as possible
to get the best possible de`l and benefits for the UK. The government
has decided that it would not be possible to chair discussions on the
future of Europe in a dispassionate way when everyone around thd table
knows our country is leaving the EU, it would not be in the interests of
Europe or our own. Can my noble friend confirm that as a result of
this decision, which I welcome, but not only will officials be `ble to
concentrate on Brexit, but taxpayers will be saved the cost of the
presidency, up to 100 million euros? Does this not show the importance of
involving Parliament very soon in a comprehensive Brexit strategy? Will
we be subject to salami slicing whereby when the decision to trigger
Article 50 is made, whenever it is made, it will all be wrapped up
without us? Does my noble friend realise that to change policy
effectively in less than 12 hours is hardly treating this House with
respect? Yesterday the answdrs which he gave, and I sure they were given
in total good-faith, it was all to believe that whatever the ddcision
it was sometime off. My lord, if trust is to be maintained and
Parliament is to play a part we cannot have any more of this
cavalier treatment by the government of either House of Parliament.
Lord Bridges apologised if Lord Cormack thought Parliament
was being treated in a cavalier fashion and said the Governlent
fully intended to involve the Commons and the Lords
That's it from me for now, until the same time