07/09/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


07/09/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 7 September, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.

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Our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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On this programme...

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Summer is over, new term, new mockery from the new Prime Minister.

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Lewis writes, "Does she know that in a recent poll on who would make

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a better Prime Minister, 'don't know' scored higher

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than Jeremy Corbyn?"

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LAUGHTER.

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But Labour says the Government is muddled and confused over Brexit.

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The outcome has left this country divided with increased

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levels of hate crimes, huge uncertainty about what comes

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next for our country.

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And the great education debate...

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In improving children's life chances, do grammar schools pass

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the test or should they be given a fail mark?

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Grammar schools will benefit a minority of pupils.

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It was their destruction, it was a major cause

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of the reduction in social mobility.

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But first, Wednesday at Westminster means Prime Minister's Question Time

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and the still emerging duel between Theresa May

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and Jeremy Corbyn.

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Mr Corbyn could, in theory, have only a couple of

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weeks left in the job.

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The outcome of the battle with his leadership contender,

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Owen Smith, will be known two weeks on Saturday.

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Facing the Prime Minister, the Labour leader stuck to one

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of his main priority issues, namely housing.

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He said the average price of a house in Britain is now ?215,000,

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eight times the level of the average wage.

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For those...

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For those who are desperate to get their own place,

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I just refer the Prime Minister to a note I received

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from a lady called Jenny, whose partner and herself

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work in a supermarket earning ?7.37 an hour each.

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They are trying to get a mortgage and have been told

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they can borrow ?73,000 - not much hope for them then.

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The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Witney,

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promised that there would be a one-for-one replacement

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for every council house that is sold under Right to Buy.

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Sadly, the reality is that there is only one for every five sold.

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Will the Prime Minister give us a commitment on the one-for-one

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replacement and when it will be a reality?"

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Prime Minister.

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Well, firstly, can I say to Jenny that I fully understand

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and appreciate the concerns that individuals have about wanting to be

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able to have their own home and to set up that home.

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I fully recognise the difficulties that there are for some people

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in doing that.

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I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that

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in relation to the figures on council housing, he is wrong,

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we have delivered on the one-for-one replacement on the Right to Buy.

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But, I was...

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I am very interested because I did notice that the right honourable

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gentleman had asked all his Twitter followers what questions he should

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ask me this week, so I thought I would look to see what sort

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of responses he'd received.

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I have to say that the first one was quite good.

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In fact, he might want to make sure he stays sitting down for this.

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Lewis writes, "Does she know that in a recent poll on who would make

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a better Prime Minister, 'don't know' scored higher

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than Jeremy Corbyn?"

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LAUGHTER.

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Mr Speaker, what we do know is that whoever wins the Labour Party

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leadership, we're not going to let them anywhere

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near power again.

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CHEERING.

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Jeremy Corbyn.

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Mr Speaker, the number of first-time buyers has halved in the last 20

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years and their average age has increased a great deal.

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There is a housing crisis in Britain.

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What I say is what this government is doing,

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is ensuring that we are looking across the board so we will see

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more houses being built, we're looking to ensure

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that there is a diversity of opportunity for people in terms

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of getting their own home.

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But I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that everything

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he says just tells us all we need to know about modern Labour...

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The train has left the station, the seats are all empty,

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the leader is on the floor...

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Even on rolling stock, they are laughing stock.

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Jeremy Corbyn went back to the conditions of

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some rented housing.

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The Citizens Advice Bureau says one sixth of housing benefit goes

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to private sector landlords renting out unsafe homes.

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Does the Prime Minister think this really is a satisfactory

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state of affairs?

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We are introducing new regulations in relation to housing

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in multiple occupation, so we're looking at

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all of these issues.

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I recognise, as every Member of Parliament in this house will,

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the problems that people sometimes have when they are living

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in accommodation that is not up to the standard that we would all

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wish to see people living in.

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That is why we are looking, we are changing the rules

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and we are ensuring that the regulations are there.

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Jeremy Corbyn.

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Well, that is extremely interesting, Mr Speaker, because only one year

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ago the Prime Minister voted against a Labour amendment

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to the Housing Bill which quite simply said all homes rented

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in the private rented sector should be fit for human habitation.

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And just over one year ago the Treasury estimated

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that it is losing half of ?1 billion per year on unpaid tax

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from landlords renting in the private rented sector.

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So there we have it, ?9.5 billion in housing benefit,

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half a billion not being collected, a very large number of homes not

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really fit for human habitation.

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Does this not require government intervention on the side of the

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tenant and those in housing need?

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He may have a model of society where he does not want to see

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private landlords, where he wants to see the Government owning

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everything, the Government deliberating on everything

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and the Government doing everything for everybody, that

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is not what we want.

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We want opportunities for people and to help them take

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those opportunities, there is a big difference

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between him and me.

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Jeremy Corbyn.

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Of course, we all recognise there is a mixed housing economy

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but we want to make sure that those living in the private rented sector

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are properly treated and not having to pay excessive levels of rent.

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Jeremy Corbyn.

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Well, ten weeks have gone by since the momentous vote

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for the UK to leave the EU.

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But are we any closer to knowing more about the terms

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of Britain's departure and what the country's future

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relationship with the continuing EU will be?

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The issue was focused on at PMQs by the Scottish National Party.

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The UK Government has had all summer to come up

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with a plan, a strategy.

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So far we have just had waffle.

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So may I ask the Prime Minister a very simple question,

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but it is quite important?

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Does she want the UK to remain firmly in

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the European single market?

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What I want in the UK is that we put into place and into practice

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the vote that was taken by the people of the United Kingdom

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to leave the European Union.

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And that we get the right deal for the trading goods and services

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within the European Union and a new relationship

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that we will be building with them and that we will also introduce

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control of the movement of people from the European Union

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into the United Kingdom.

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And I would say to the right honourable gentleman that we can

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approach the vote that took place on 23 June in two ways.

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We could try to row back on it, have a second referendum and say

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that we did not really believe it, but actually we are respecting

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the views of the British people.

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More than that, we will be seizing the opportunities that leaving

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the European Union now gives us to forge a new role

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for the United Kingdom in the world.

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Angus Robertson.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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We on these benches respect the views of the people of Scotland,

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who voted to remain in the European Union.

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The European single market...

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Order.

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The right honourable gentleman must be heard and he will be heard.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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The European single market is the biggest market in the world

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and it really matters to our businesses and to our economy.

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I asked the Prime Minister a very, very simple question, to which there

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is either an in or an out answer.

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Let me ask it again.

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Does she want the United Kingdom to remain fully part

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of the European single market?

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Yes or no?

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The right honourable gentleman does not seem to quite understand

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what the vote on 23 June was about.

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The United Kingdom will leave the European Union and we will build

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a new relationship with the European Union.

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That new relationship will include control over the movement of people

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from the EU into the UK, and it will include the right deal

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for trade in goods and services.

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That is how to approach it.

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I also say to him that, in looking at the negotiations,

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it would not be right for me or this government to give a running

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commentary on negotiations...

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May I just comment that following the EU referendum

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and under her leadership, I feel more confident

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about the future of this country than ever in my lifetime?

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And...

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And will she beware those who are trying to make leaving

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the European Union ever more complicated and protracted?

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To that end...

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Order, progress is very slow.

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There is far too much noise, the honourable gentleman will be

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heard, it is as simple as that.

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He will be heard.

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And to that end, will the Prime Minister confirm

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that there is no basis in law to require the Government to seek

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the permission of Parliament before invoking Article 50?

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As he alludes to in his question, no one should be in any doubt

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that those who are trying to prolong the process by their legal

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references in relation to Parliament are not those who want to see

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us successfully leave the European Union, they are those

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who want to try to stop us leaving the European Union.

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Well, a few minutes after that, the Prime Minister gave

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the customary report back to MPs on the outcome of the weekend's

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summit in China of the G20 group of leading nations.

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It allowed the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

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to challenge the Prime Minister on the Brexit issue.

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Mr Speaker, when the British people voted to leave the European Union,

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they did not vote to leave Europe.

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To turn inwards or to walk away from the G20 or any

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of our international partners around the world.

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That's never been the British way.

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We've always understood that our success as a sovereign

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nation is inextricably bound up in our trade

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and cooperation with others.

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The G20 met in the wake of the vote to leave the European union.

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We have to be clear, we accept the decision taken

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by the majority of our people, however, we cannot ignore the fact

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that the outcome has left this country divided,

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with increased levels of hate crimes, huge uncertainty

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about what comes next for our country and an extraordinary

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lack of planning and preparation on how to navigate

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the post-referendum situation in relation to Europe.

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He said ministers had come up with contradictory

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messages that did not add up to a considered position.

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The Brexit Secretary said that staying in the single

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market was improbable.

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The Prime Minister's spokesperson said that was not the case.

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It is one or the other.

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It cannot be both.

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So, can the Prime Minister tell the House what the Government's

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policy actually is?

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It will be a new relationship and as indicated in my statement

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and indeed in Prime Minister's Questions earlier, I will not be

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giving a running commentary, nor will the Government,

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on our negotiations.

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And there is a very good reason for doing that, we want

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to get the best deal, we want to get the right deal

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for the United Kingdom and if we were to give a constant

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running commentary and give away our negotiating hand,

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then that would not be what we would achieve.

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Now Australia today has joined the United States at the G20

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last week in slapping down her government,

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telling us we are in fact at the back of the queue for a trade

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deal, the plain fact is that this government is not

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concealing its hand, it hasn't got a hand,

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or it would appear a clue.

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I would like like to thank the Prime Minister for clarifying

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that her Brexit Secretary was wrong to rule out membership

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of the European single market and that her Foreign Secretary

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was wrong to campaign for a points-based immigration

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system and that her International Trade Secretary was wrong to say

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that we are leaving the customs union.

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But is it not the case, Mr Speaker, that if we are to strike

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trade deals with non-EU countries - and I am somebody who appreciates

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the value of free trade deals - then we will have to leave

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the customs union and that will bring disadvantages

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for UK businesses and for foreign direct investment?

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In the European Union, we currently run a deficit

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with the other 27 member states - according to the Office

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for National Statistics - of 62 billion each year.

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However, we run a surplus for the same goods and services

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with the rest of the world at over 30 billion, which went up

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by 10 billion last year alone.

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Will my right honourable friend therefore continue her crusade

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for free trade to develop our world opportunities through Brexit

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and to make sure that the European Commission and the European Union

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are no longer continuing to run our trade policy -

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we will do it ourselves and do it really well?

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Why did the Prime Minister authorise a very public dressing down

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of the Brexit Secretary merely for telling the House that

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membership of the single market and free movement of people tend

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to go together?

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Is it not possible that the Brexit Secretary,

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who has believed in this stuff for years, has thought more deeply

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about it than a Prime Minister who has been a Brexiteer

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for a matter of weeks?

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Can we revert in this House to the traditional practice

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where ministers are disciplined for misleading the House

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as opposed to the odd occasion when they are caught

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telling the truth?

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Please could she tell us and clear up the confusion from yesterday,

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does she value membership of the single market?

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Does she think it should be an aim or an objective of the negotiations

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and that we should be trying to stay in it if we can?

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I would have to say to the right honourable lady, I have answered

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this question on a number of occasions already today.

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And she will find that she can, you know...

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People ask me a question, I give an answer.

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If they ask the same question, they will get the same answer.

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Theresa May.

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

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Still to come, the new Home Secretary tells MPs how she sees

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the immigration question.

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Now, are grammar schools the way to improve the life chances

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of children from disadvantaged backgrounds?

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The debate over selective or comprehensive education was a big

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political topic in previous decades.

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Many hundreds of grammar schools were closed across England

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and replaced by comprehensives.

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But the arguments could now be rekindled.

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Theresa May is said to favour re-instigating grammar

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schools in certain areas as part of her mission

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to improve social mobility.

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This week, a private document by a civil servant about ending

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restrictions on grammars was captured by a photographer

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outside 10 Downing St.

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The issue was taken up in the House of Lords by a Labour peer.

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The inadvertent leak yesterday, if indeed that is how it was,

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that the Government is seeking to create new grammar schools,

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has caused widespread alarm.

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Now, the noble lord the Minister has not accepted that that is the case,

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but I think something must be afoot.

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The Prime Minister has made it quite clear she wants a society

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that works for everyone, she wants children to have access,

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all children, to have access to a good education.

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We are exploring our options for delivering this and we want

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all good schools to help us in this endeavor.

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Will the Minister agree that the majority...

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Grammar schools will benefit a minority of pupils,

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that's well-recognized, but they will not benefit

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the majority of pupils, because the majority of pupils,

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if I may say so, like me, are deprived the opportunity

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to go to grammar schools?

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Anyone who is really concerned about the great lack of social

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mobility in recent years will be delighted about any possibility

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of the return of grammar schools, since it was their destruction

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that was a major cause of the reduction in social mobility.

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Will the Minister tell the House what representations his department

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has received for the return of secondary modern schools?

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Well, as I said, this is a long-running debate.

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We've had plenty of representations for the return of grammar schools.

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In the great Butler Education Act, there was a provision

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for a tripartite system - grammar schools, the secondary

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moderns and the technical schools.

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The failure of successive governments has been to institute

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a suitable number of high-quality technical schools and that is one

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of the reasons why we have lagged behind our rivals

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in Germany in the provision of a skilled workforce.

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Does the Minister not accept that, for every grammar school,

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there is consequentially three secondary modern schools?

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In other words, the comprehensive schools become secondary modern

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schools, so that one child's social mobility is bought at the expense

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of the destruction of opportunity for three other children?

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As one who benefited from a grammar school education and who lives

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in a county of Lincolnshire which has excellent grammar schools

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which do no damaged to children at all, could I urge my noble

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friends to support our right honourable friend

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the Prime Minister, if indeed she is inclined to increase

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the number of grammar schools in this country?

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Of course, my job is to support the Prime Minister and I'm

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fully aware that many, that most grammar schools

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do an excellent job, but this is a long-running argument

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and there are strong views on both sides and I can assure the House

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that we won't do anything without detailed consideration

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and consultation.

0:19:190:19:23

Lord Nash.

0:19:230:19:24

Next week, we'll get an idea of what parliamentary constituencies

0:19:240:19:27

in England and Wales might look like in future.

0:19:270:19:29

The Boundaries Commissions will be publishing their

0:19:290:19:31

initial recommendations.

0:19:310:19:40

The idea is to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and redraw

0:19:400:19:43

constituency boundaries in time for the general election of 2020.

0:19:430:19:46

In the Commons, Labour laid into the plans.

0:19:460:19:54

The review next week is going to be a sham.

0:19:540:19:57

Nearly 2 million voters haven't been counted, so why doesn't the Minister

0:19:570:19:59

start again so our democracy isn't undermined by next week's

0:19:590:20:02

partisan gerrymandering?

0:20:020:20:06

Minister.

0:20:060:20:10

Without the implementation of these reforms, legislated by a majority

0:20:100:20:12

in the previous Parliament, members will continue to represent

0:20:120:20:14

constituencies that were drawn up on data over 20 years ago,

0:20:140:20:19

disregarding significant changes in the population

0:20:190:20:20

since that happened.

0:20:200:20:27

The status quo cannot and must not be an option and in future

0:20:270:20:30

the boundary reviews will take place every five years to ensure

0:20:300:20:33

constituencies remain up-to-date as they should be.

0:20:330:20:36

Glyn Davies.

0:20:360:20:37

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

0:20:370:20:38

The number of electors in the Welsh parliamentary

0:20:380:20:40

constituencies varies hugely.

0:20:400:20:43

Cardiff South, over 72,000 electors, others have less than 40.

0:20:430:20:47

My constituency sits roughly in the middle with about 48,000.

0:20:470:20:50

Now, does the Minister agree that it can't be right for each

0:20:500:20:53

of these constituencies to elect one MP, when the number

0:20:530:20:57

of voters within them is so radically different?

0:20:570:21:01

It's absolutely right.

0:21:010:21:04

We cannot continue with the historic injustice of allowing such

0:21:040:21:07

unequal representation - representation that currently allows

0:21:070:21:11

for one seat to be twice the size of another,

0:21:110:21:15

or to be put in other words, allow one of elector's vote to be

0:21:150:21:19

worth twice that of another.

0:21:190:21:20

This injustice, long recognised, must be resolved.

0:21:200:21:29

Labour said ministers hoped to save ?12 million by cutting

0:21:290:21:31

the number of MPs, but...

0:21:310:21:32

Is it not the case that this town three redistribution is proceeding

0:21:320:21:37

on the basis of a register where 2 million people are excluded

0:21:370:21:40

and is that not an absolute affront to democracy?

0:21:400:21:47

-- boundary redistribution.

0:21:470:21:48

Minister!

0:21:480:21:51

He is absolutely right to recognise that cutting the number of MPs

0:21:510:21:56

of MPs from 650 to 600, will not just save ?12 million,

0:21:560:21:59

it will save ?66 million over the course of a Parliament.

0:21:590:22:02

At the time, Mr Speaker, when many areas of public

0:22:020:22:04

life have found savings, it is right that we should

0:22:040:22:07

put our own house in order, equally it is right that we should

0:22:070:22:10

be finally establishing the Democratic principle of equal

0:22:100:22:12

size constituencies, first called for by the Chartists

0:22:120:22:13

back in 1838 and more recently endorsed by the committee

0:22:130:22:16

on standards in public life.

0:22:160:22:17

Does the Minister agree with the Lord Speaker that

0:22:170:22:19

membership of the House of Lords should be less

0:22:190:22:21

than that of the Commons?

0:22:210:22:23

Minister!

0:22:230:22:24

The other place has an important role in scrutinising,

0:22:240:22:26

improving draft legislation, as a revising chamber.

0:22:260:22:29

The Government is clear that an unelected chamber should not seek

0:22:290:22:31

to block the will of the Commons.

0:22:310:22:35

The Conservative manifesto is clear that a reform of the House of Lords

0:22:350:22:38

is needed and we have seen significant reforms including

0:22:380:22:40

the retirement of peers.

0:22:400:22:41

Over 150 peers have left the Lord since 2010 and the chamber is 400

0:22:410:22:44

members smaller than 1998.

0:22:440:22:48

The operating cost of the Lords have also fallen by 14% since 2010.

0:22:480:22:54

The new minister, Chris Skidmore, who by the way studied

0:22:540:22:56

history at Oxford.

0:22:560:22:59

It may take some time, that was the phrase

0:22:590:23:04

of the Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Britain reaching the flagship

0:23:040:23:06

pledge on immigration, namely to reduce it to tens

0:23:060:23:16

of thousands - it was the target that the previous Prime Minister

0:23:190:23:22

David Cameron famously missed during his years in power,

0:23:220:23:24

a miss that could've played a key part in voting intentions in the EU

0:23:240:23:27

referendum in June.

0:23:270:23:28

Amber Rudd, who campaigned for a Remain result

0:23:280:23:30

in the referendum, has been facing questions for her first time

0:23:300:23:33

in the new job from the Home Affairs Committee.

0:23:330:23:35

The Prime Minister rejected the Australian style points system

0:23:350:23:37

as a vehicle to control immigration to the United Kingdom at the G20.

0:23:370:23:40

Given that this was a key opponent of the Brexit campaign,

0:23:400:23:43

given that many people understood this to be the mechanism

0:23:430:23:51

under which we could regain control of our borders

0:23:510:23:53

and that the public are, I believe, rightly concerned

0:23:530:23:55

about immigration, you may wish to comment on that,

0:23:550:23:58

how do you propose controlling migration and immigration

0:23:580:24:00

if a points-based system is not the way forward?

0:24:000:24:02

I think that with the Prime Minister drew attention to was

0:24:020:24:05

that the points-based system has not been a successful system

0:24:050:24:07

for limiting migration into a country.

0:24:070:24:12

Although the Prime Minister is committed, as I am,

0:24:120:24:15

to making sure we produce migration and we make sure that the public get

0:24:150:24:19

what they have voted for, which is more control

0:24:190:24:21

over their borders with European countries, the points-based

0:24:210:24:23

system is not going to be the way to deliver it.

0:24:230:24:27

-- reduce.

0:24:270:24:28

We need to find a different way.

0:24:280:24:30

So two questions.

0:24:300:24:33

First, the points-based system could well be used, as in Australia,

0:24:330:24:38

to increase migration in certain areas, but it could also be used

0:24:380:24:41

to control migration if the bar was set high enough.

0:24:410:24:43

So perhaps that's a failing of the points-based system

0:24:430:24:47

in the past, but not a reason to rule it out.

0:24:470:24:49

I would welcome your comments on that.

0:24:490:24:51

But second, if it is not a points-based system,

0:24:510:24:53

how do you propose that migration is controlled going forward?

0:24:530:24:56

The Home Office is looking at the various alternatives.

0:24:560:24:59

I can't reveal anything more than that at the moment

0:24:590:25:07

because we want to make sure that we explore all the different

0:25:070:25:10

options and that the Prime Minister is armed with all the information

0:25:100:25:13

she needs, although it is fair to say she has a fairly substantial

0:25:130:25:16

expertise in this area.

0:25:160:25:18

And then she will be able to proceed with the negotiations

0:25:180:25:20

within the European Union.

0:25:200:25:26

-- with the European Union.

0:25:260:25:27

But I want to be absolutely clear that leaving the European Union

0:25:270:25:30

will mean having more control over our borders in a way

0:25:300:25:33

that we haven't to date when engaged with the European Union.

0:25:330:25:36

So are we still going for the tens of thousands?

0:25:360:25:38

We are still going to be looking to achieve tens of thousands,

0:25:380:25:41

but it may take some time.

0:25:410:25:43

Amber Rudd.

0:25:430:25:43

And that's it for this programme.

0:25:430:25:45

Do join me for our next daily round-up.

0:25:450:25:47

Until then, from me, Keith McDougall, goodbye.

0:25:470:25:53

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