Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 12 October, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.
The Commons spends the day debating a call for parliament to be given
a greater role in the UK's departure from the European Union.
Westminster's major parties are asked what they're doing
And calls for tougher prison sentences for stalkers.
Despite it being such a violating and intrusive crime, despitd it
having the capacity to do stch significant physical
and mental harm, it's still being treated as a minor offence.
But first, how far should Parliament have a sax
on the UK's negotiations about leaving the EU?
That was the question of the day at Westminster,
where Labour had put forward a motion calling for a debate
on the Government's plans and a chance to fully scruthnise
them before triggering Article 0, the legal process allowing
The Government accepted that in principle but added an alendment
saying any such scrutiny shouldn't undermine its negotiating stance.
Well, just before MPs got their teeth into the
rights and wrongs of all of that, there was the small
matter of Prime Minister's Questions to get through,
where Jeremy Corbyn painted a gloomy picture of what had happened
The reality is that since the Brexit vote, the trade deficit is widening,
growth forecasts have been downgraded,
value of the pound down 16%, an alliance of the Chamber
of Commerce, Confederation of British industry, British Retail
Consortium and Trades Union Congress have all made representation
to the Prime Minister, demanding clarity.
Is the Prime Minister reallx willing to risk a shambolic Tory Brdxit
just to appease the people behind her?
What the Conservative Party committed to in its manifesto
was to give the British people a referendum on whether to stay
We gave the British people that vote,
We will be leaving the European Union and in doing
that, we will negotiate the right deal for the UK which means the
right deal in terms of oper`ting within and trading
That's what matters to companies here in the UK and
that's what we're going to be ambitious about delivering.
We on these benches do respdct the decision of the British people
But this is a Government th`t drew up no plans for Brexit, that now
has no strategy for negotiating Brexit and offers no claritx,
no transparency and no chance of scrutiny of the process
The jobs and incomes of millions of our people are at stake.
Business is worrying and the Government has no answers.
The Prime Minister says she won't give a running colmentary,
but isn't it time the Government stopped running away
from the looming threat to jobs and businesses in this
country and the living standards of millions of people?
Unlike the Right Honourable gentleman, I'm optimistic
about the prospects of this country once we leave the European Tnion.
I'm optimistic about the tr`de deals that other countries now actively
are coming to us to say that they want to do
with the United Kingdom, and I'm optimistic about how we will
be able to ensure that our dconomy grows outside of the Europe`n Union.
But I have to say to the Right Honourable
gentleman on this issue, Labour didn't want
We gave them, the Conservathves gave them a referendum.
We are listening to the British people and delivering on
that result and now the Shadow Foreign Secretary is shouting
The Shadow Foreign Secretarx wants a second vote.
I have to say to her, I would have thought that L`bour MPs
You can ask the same question again,
you still get the answer yot don't want.
The Prime Minister appears to have made a choice and that
choice is to side with the protectionists and nationalhsts
who have taken over her party as surely...
As surely as Momentum have taken over the Labour Party.
She has chosen a hard Brexit that was never on anybody's
ballot paper and she has chosen to turn her back on British
As a result, petrol prices `nd food retailers warn of huge pricd rises
at the pumps and on the supdrmarket shelves in the coming days, so
when will she put the interdsts of hard-working British people ahead
of an extremist protectionism that absolutely nobody voted for?
The Right Honourable gentlelan asks about who we are siding with.
I'll tell him who this Government is siding with.
We are siding with the Brithsh people who voted...
Who voted to leave the European Union
and it's high time the right honourable gentlelan
listened to the vote of the British people
and accepted that's exactly what we're going to do.
Many people across the Housd will be reassured that the Government
accepted the amendment to the opposition motion being debated
later this afternoon, which guarantees that this House hs able
properly to scrutinise the plan for leaving the European Unhon
Can she tell us, will that scrutiny involve a vote?
I have to say to the right honourable lady that the idda
that Parliament somehow wasn't going to be able to discuss, debate,
First of all, the Secretary of State
for exiting the European Unhon has already made two statemdnts
I believe four hours of questions followed those.
A new select committee has been set up which crucially includes
representatives from all parts of the United Kingdom which will be
over a week ago, I announce that there will be a Great Repeal Bill
in the next session of Parliament to repeal
the European Communities Act, so Parliament is going to h`ve
every opportunity to debate this issue.
And so on to the day's Brexit debate.
Labour set the tone in advance, publishing 170 questions
it was putting to the Prime Minister about the negotiating terms -
170 being the number of days until the 31st of March,
by when Government aims to have triggered Article 50.
Labour's Sir Keir Starmer, who's the Shadow Brexit Secretary,
said the negotiations were hugely significant.
Decisions that are going to be taken by the Government over the next few
months and years in relation to exiting the EU are going to have a
profound implication for thd future of this country, for its economy,
for its people and for its place in the world.
Does he believe the national interest will be best served
by the Government coming to this place and explaining in precise
before we've even walked into the room?
Of course there is a degree of detail that can't be gond into.
Of course there is a degree of flexibility that has to be
Of course the starting position may not be
But the question here is whether the basic terms
The honourable gentleman, because I am very much
minded to support his motion, is calling for a vote on the tdrms
not just an examination, but a vote on the terms before we send
But I do take it in two stages, because both of them are important.
Scrutiny, putting the plans before the House really matters.
There is a separate argument about a vote and I say
there should be a vote, but what we mustn't do is gdt
to a situation where in orddr to resist the vote,
the Secretary of State won't even put the plans before the Hotse.
There has been a vote of the British people,
a vote that was delegated to the British...
A vote that was delegated to the British people by
the terms of the referendum act and the question he's got to answer,
supposing there was a vote hn this House, how would he vote?
Would he vote against Article 50 invocation
I'm not going to take long responding to that,
because I've made the point, the mandate on the
23rd of June was not a mandate as the terms.
I can't put it any clearer than that.
The Brexit Secretary argued there would be plenty of ch`nces
for MPs to scrutinise the Government's plans.
We have already got plans - the House, not the Government -
has got plans to put in place the so-called Brexht select
committee which will take effect next month and we will be appearing
It would be rather surprising to appear in front of
that select committee and not be talking about some of our plans
I expect to attend the commhttee regularly just as I will also attend
the Lords committee, its effective equivalent.
So we don't shy from scrutiny, we welcome it.
But the Government wouldn't reveal everything.
If you went to buy a house and you only
looked at one house, you told the person you werd in love
with their house and you made a bid for it,
I suspect the price would go up and...
If you make pre-emptive indications that you are willing
to make a concession on somdthing, you actually reduce the valte
of that concession, so in m`ny, many ways, we cannot give ddtails
about how we are going to run the negotiation.
We still have got no offer of a vote and we need some clarity
about the policy the Government's going to pursud
because the Government is accountable to this House
for the policy choosing negotiations.
This is about the country and whether Brexit works
When I used to stand behind that dispatch box,
the honourable member for Stone and many of his other fervent
Brexiteers, I could always rely on them to marry their loathing
of the European Union to their passion for the traditions
They hated Brussels as much as they loved the House of Commons.
They still hate Brussels, but they now appear to
have been completely tongue tied, completely mute, silent when they
have an opportunity to speak up for the traditional
What the Government does is introduces its policy.
It introduces its legislation to get that policy
through and it has been cle`r responsibility for the negotiation
Against that, no Government can exist unless it has
At any day, if the Leader of the Opposition
chooses to put down a vote of no-confidence in Her Majdsty s
Government, Mr Speaker, as I understand it, you will take
And therefore, if there is any part of the negotiathon,
if there is any part of the discussion that takes place
that this House presents or opposes, then the Government may be removed
the first since Jeremy Corbxn was overwhelmingly re-electdd
as Labour leader and the first since the break
Jeremy Corbyn turned to a controversial announcelent
from the Home Secretary Ambdr Rudd, who's department had briefed
proposals for firms to disclose what percentage of their
It had argued it was a way to encourage companies to hhre more
local people and "flush out" those abusing existing rules.
Jeremy Corbyn attacked the hdea suggesting it was at odds
with Theresa May's stated ambitions for the UK.
At the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister said
she wants Britain to be a country where it doesn't matter
But the Home Secretary's fl`gship announcement was to name and shame
companies that employ foreign workers.
Could the Prime Minister explain why where someone was born
clearly does matter to members of her Cabinet?
First of all, can I say to the right Honourable gentlelan,
congratulations on winning the Labour leadership electhon?
Can I welcome him back to his place in this House
Can I say to him that the policy that he has just
described was never the polhcy that the Home Secretary announced.
There was no naming and shaling no published list
of foreign workers, no published data.
what we are going to consult on is...
..is whether we should bring ourselves in line
with countries like the United States of America which collect
data in order to be able to ensure that they're getting
the right skills training for workers in economy.
We heard her party is registering foreigners working in the UK. The
crackdown and rhetoric against foreigners by this government has
even led to you kept saying things have gone too far. Across the length
and breadth of this land people are totally disgusted by the xenophobic
language on display from her government. Will she now confirmed
to this House that the intention of the Government is still to go ahead
with the registration of foreign workers but apparently we should not
worry because it will be kept secret by her government? Can I sax very
gently to the gentleman that I answered two questions on that
earlier and I suggest he should have listened to the answer I gave there.
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament, with me,
Four of the main parties at Westminster have been ch`llenged
on what they are doing to increase the number of women in Parlhament.
Of the 650 MPs, under a third - a total of 197 - are women.
Labour has the best record with women,
making up 43% of the parliamentary party.
Meanwhile, 32% of SNP MPs are women, while the figure
Of the eight Liberal Democr`t MPs, all are men.
It seems slightly odd to have four white men are sitting in front of
you giving evidence... With respect, that is your fault, not ours! I am
very proud to be leader of the Labour Party and present our views
on it. We have 43% of Labour MPs who are women. I would like it to be
more and our aspiration is to gain at least 50% of women MPs in
Parliament. all-women shortlists had made
an incredible difference. It was very controversial when first
promoted in the party in thd early 1970s. I was accused of being a far
left extremist for promoting ideas like that. Can you imagine such a
thing? to reports of bullying
inside the Labour party. What assurances will you give to all
of your members right now that your party will do more to end the
intimidation currently taking place in your party? You are assuling the
party is riddled with intimhdation. It is not. There is some
intimidation which goes on. I am dealing with it. We have codes of
conduct, rules, processes, `nd it has been dealt with. We are also a
very large party with well over half a million members and growing fast.
I want to make sure those ndw members all understand the rules,
understand the code of condtct, understand the behaviour expected
from them within the party. One last question, Jeremy, which is this ..
Why do you think a woman dohng the job that I do as a member of
Parliament is far more likely to receive abuse for doing it than me?
The society in which we livd in is unfortunately still quite sdxist and
in many cases quite misogynhst. Read the style of writing of a lot of
popular newspapers that I al sure you do not and you will beghn to see
where a lot of this comes from. why her party had not
introduced all-women shortlhsts If you were pushed out the prime
minister came to you and sahd, how are we going to get more
conservative women MPs in Parliament, would you say all women
short lists are the way to go? I think imposing VAT on the
Conservative Association wotld possibly risk a resentment which
would not help a member of Parliament. -- imposing VAT. --
imposing this. What about the evidence of good positive
discrimination? We can see hn this room some of us are here because we
were on all women short lists and that is why we have got better
representation. I am just worried that you are going, no, we don't
want to do that. If I may s`y so, we have made progress. We want to make
more progress. I think the progress that was made in the last tdn years
has been with measures which we have taken which have been acceptable in
the Conservative party. The Conservative party have onlx ever
managed to get 123 women eldcted and we have thousands of women who are
members. I hear warm words from you but how are you going to convince
this committee that these w`rm words will lead to more women at the next
election rather than a statts quo? Judge as by our actions and what has
happened in the last few ye`rs. The thing that I would say is that we
have made lots of progress `nd we are going to continue to do that.
We have gone on a journey which has seen as implement mechanisms leading
to significant change. The SNP is a very democratic political p`rty It
does not happen because of the will of one person but there are people
throughout the party, parliamentarians and members who
have brought about that change and we are still in a process.
that his party's record was "lamentable" but was
looking at ways to improve the selection process.
There are people in every p`rty who are out and out dinosaurs btt some
who also consider themselves to be liberal, progressive, open-linded
and tolerant but nonetheless bias they did not recognise in
themselves. We all need to be trained to understand.
was to avoid interference but he believed in what he called
"muscular liberalism" which meant making things happen.
The courts in England and W`les must be given the power to imposd much
That was the demand of a Conservative MP,
Alex Chalk, who has introduced legislation to raise the maximum
Stalking is a horrible and violating crime.
It rips relationships apart, destroys
careers and can cause lasting mental harm.
All too often it is a gatew`y to serious violence.
Bluntly, Mr Speaker, it shatters lives.
But despite the vital progrdss made by
the Coalition Government in criminalising stalking in 2012, the
sentencing powers available to the courts to protect victils
He talked about the MPs of ` constituent, a family doctor,
stalked for seven years. Thd man was eventually jailed.
In time, after a short prison sentence and in
a pattern not uncommon with this type of offence
Doctor Aston received packages at her office in Gloucester
and at her home in Cheltenh`m and one message
clear he knew where her children went to school.
The second package simply rdad, "Guess who's back?"
He said the court needed grdater sentencing powers, especially when
dealing with repeat offenders. for shoplifting is seven
years, two years longer. Burglary, another violating
offence, 14 years. The fact is despite it being such
a violating and intrusive crime, despite having capachty to do
such significant physical and mental harm it is still treated
as a minor offence. At the very least
the maximum needs to be Alex Chalk said that demand
was backed by charities, He won the right to take thd bill
forward, but unless the govdrnment At the start of the academic year
in September, schools in England were asked to start collecthng
information on pupils' nationality. Ministers insist it will be used
to assess the impact But opponents feared it may be used
to find illegal immigrants. A crossbench peer raised thd
requirement at Lords questions. . Where a minister tried
to reassure the house. If there are pupils whose fhrst
language isn't English we'll be able to see how well they are dohng
and how we can help their school contribute meaningfully
to raising pupil outcomes. This new data is solely
for the department to use in Is the Minister aware
parents are appalled these questions on nationalhty and
place of birth, which have nothing Is he aware that
a Freedom Of Information request has revealed the Hole Office
has repeatedly used the Does he not then agree that these
questions are as intrusive `s listing foreign workers and should
be removed from the census? Well, my Lords, the
census covers a range We should be aware children
of foreign nationals can face additional challenges
upon starting school in the UK. They are not likely to speak English
fluently and may not have been
here in the full school chohce and application round and are often
placed in schools they would not choose
and the system they had arrhved from may be different
from the English system and they may be behind our dxpected
to standard simply because they have yet to cover elements
of our curriculum. Understanding nationalities helps
to put the right policies in place to help
these children and their Can I say in respect of these
children and their potential to require special support,
there is another way of looking at this, which is to say a lot
of children of foreign nationals are
extremely well able education that has
been offered to them here and many of them
are bilingual, which is helpful
to them and their peers. Does he not agree that it is
extremely unfortunate at this time that even
in appearance of an 'us different kinds of children in our
school system is really, re`lly unhelpful and whether or not
the information is being usdd appropriately, it does give a most
unfortunate impressing? Such information may possibly be of
use educationally, but what purpose - can the Minister explain, for
what reason is that same information Can I reassure the noble lord
that the information is There has been some
mischief in the press And can I reassure the Housd
that this information is kept within the Department for education
and is not passed on to the And that's it for now,
but do join me tomorrow for another round up of the day in Westlinster,
including environment questhons in the Commons and a debate
on the expansion of grammar schools