Highlights of Wednesday 19 October in Parliament, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello, and welcome to Wednesday In Parliament.
At Prime Minister's Questions Theresa May is challenged over
mental health, sexual abuse and arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The Chancellor urges fellow Tories to stop leaking to newspapers
as ministers work out how to tackle Brexit.
And a Conservative wonders why it's not possible to check the tdeth
of child migrants to make stre they're under 18.
There are various tax rate that can be done without even opening a
child's mouth. -- various x,rays. The session started with both
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbxn 50 years ago on the 21st of October
1966, an avalanche of coal waste crashed into a school and 18 houses
in the South Wales village of Aberfan, killing 116
children and 28 adults. The disaster made headlines around
the world and devastated thd Jeremy Corbyn reckoned it
would never be forgotten. Many in that community are still
living with that tragedy and they will live with that tragedy for the
rest of their days. I remember it very well as a young person growing
up at that time and watching collections for the disaster fund. I
think the BBC documentary presented last night was absolutely brilliant
and poignant. It serves to remind us all of what that disaster w`s about.
I'm an age where I can remelber those terrible scenes on television
about what happened in Aberfan. I did not see the whole of thd
documentary, but the bits that I did see I thought were very poignant, as
the Right Honourable gentlelan said. Interestingly, what it showdd that
issue of those in power not being willing to step up to the plate
initially and accept what h`d actually happened.
Jeremy Corbyn moved on his lain topic, mental health and thd NHS.
One in four of us will suffdr a mental health problem. Analxsis by
the fund suggests that 40% of our mental health trusts had thdir
budgets cut last year. Six trusts have seen their budgets cut for
three years in a row. Is thd Government happy that we ard
delivering parity of esteem for mental health? It is right that we
are delivering parity of esteem in our National Health Service. We ve
been waiting too long for this. It's important that it is being done But
we are investing more in mental health services. An estimatdd record
?11.7 billion. Particularly, we are increasing the overall numbdr of
children's beds to the highdst number of children's beds in
relation to mental health problems. I had a letter from Colin, ` family
member of his have a chronic mental health condition. He, like lany
others, who have relatives going through mental health crisis, says.
The NHS is so underfunded that too often it's left to the underfunded
police forces to deal with the consequences of this crisis. Indeed,
the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall have this month threatens
legal action against the NHS because he is forced to hold people with
mental conditions in police cells because there aren't enough NHS
beds. I simply ask the Primd Minister this. If the Government is
truly committed to parity of esteem, why is this trust and so many others
facing an acute financial crisis at the present time? Halai first of all
stay to: but I think we all in this house recognise the difficulty that
people have when they are coping with mental health problems. Can I
commend those in this house who have been prepared to stand up and
referred to their own mental health problems. I think that's bedn an
important signal to people with mental health issues across the
country. He raises the whold question of the interaction between
the NHS and police forces. H'm proud of the fact that when I was Home
Secretary I worked with the Department of Health to bring a
change to the way in which police forces were dealing with people in
mental health crises so that we do see those triage pilots out on the
street. We do see better NHS support being given to police forces say the
number of people who are having to be taken to a police cell as a place
of safety in some areas has, overall, I think it has mord than
halved. In some areas it cole down by even more than that. This is a
result of the actions that this government has taken.
A Labour MP asked about the latest problems around the child
sexual abuse enquiry, which is now on its fourth
chairwoman after Dame Justice Lovell got quit in the summer.
She set up the enquiry. She appointed the chair. She was the
individual responsible for the s successful Sochi was Home Sdcretary
in April and the only person who had the power to act. Can she now
finally tell us when she personally learned of the serious problems
developing in this enquiry, and why it was that she took no acthon at
all? Can I say I recognise that the honourable lady has taken a
particular interest in this issue. I'm sure she will recognise, as I
hope other members of this house do, why it was that I set up thd
enquiry. For too long peopld who had been subjected to child sextal abuse
had their voices unheard. They felt they weren't getting justicd. That's
why it's very important that the enquiry is able to continue and
finite justice for them. Thdre were stories around about the enpuiry and
about individuals related to the enquiry. But the Home Secretary
cannot intervene on the bashs of suspicion, rumour or hearsax.
The SNP's Westminster leader turned to the conflict in Yemen and
whether or not British arms were being used by Saudi forces
It is beyond doubt that the Saudi air forces bombing Yemen flxing
planes made in Britain by phlots trained by Britain, and thehr
droppings missiles made in Britain. I asked a direct question and she
couldn't answer it. I can try for a second time. Can she give this house
an assurance that civilians have not been killed by bombs being dropped
on Yemen which are partiallx manufactured in Scotland under
license by our government? Hf she doesn't know the answer to that
question, how can she possibly in good conscience continue selling
them to Saudi Arabia? First of all, in response to the right honourable
gentleman, the point he madd was very simple, which is that we press
for proper investigations into what has happened and that those
incidents before we reach a decision or a conclusion on what has happened
in relation to those incidents. We have a very strong relationship with
Saudi Arabia, that is important for this country. It's important in
terms of dealing with counterterrorism and a numbdr of
other issues. But what mattdrs when incidents happen about which there
was concern is that they're properly investigated.
Earlier this week, Downing Street said that Theresa May had ftll
confidence in her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, after reports
he was trying to slow progrdss towards the UK's leading thd EU
Some newspapers said colleagues believe that Mr Hammond
was attempting to undermine the process by delaying
A Treasury source said the claims were rubbish.
The man himself was asked about the newspaper stories
when he appeared before the Commons Treasury committee.
He was also asked about the progress of Brexit negotiations, and angered
a Labour MP when he repeated the Government's line that linisters
We cannot have a public deb`te about what our negotiating
If we were to do that, we would have no negotiating position.
So we won't be having a public debate, Chancellor,
about the future relationshhp with the European Union?
We must now leave that in the hands of the Governmdnt?
That's a ridiculous extrapolation, if I may say so.
Of course we'll be having a public debate.
We are clearly having it every single day.
But what we can't do is publish the various options which mhnisters
will be considering and the modelled output of those options in terms
That would be to undermine our negotiating position
A public vote is very difficult to have, Chancellor,
without the evidence available either to parliamentarians
So we could have a public debate, but it won't be
I would be a very poor publhc debate and I think that the disappointing
I would suggest to you that there will be plenty of people producing
material, between now and ndxt March.
Tax payers pay for the Treasury to do that work, Chancellor.
I think the public and parliamentarians deserve
I have to say that I expect that the majority view
The heart of the matter is that we are having
And the public debate occurs every time the Brexit Cabinet
Within 24 hours we have a vdry full and public debate.
I'm not going to tie everybody in the room with the long lhst
of leaps that there have bedn, but we can identify the datds
of meetings even if they're not made public merely from the arrival
Don't you think it would be a far more intelligent way
to have a debate by publishhng proposals, than to carry
on with this idea that we c`n't say anything because it will interfere
with our negotiating position and running commentary?
We're having a running commdntary anyway.
The Government can't keep this stuff secret for 24 hours between itself.
Once it gets into the hands of our counterparties,
27 countries plus the EU, it might as well get
I think it would be far mord helpful to this debate if we were able
to conduct these internal discussions privately
We need space to explore different options.
It's no secret that there are different views about how
we should approach of the negotiation.
We are exploring together how to give the Prime Minister
I think your first sentence gives a pretty clear view of your own
attitude to whether or not one agrees with it is another m`tter.
Andrew Tyree the main campahgn during the referendum,
Another committee member, the Conservative Jacob Rees Mogg,
was and is an outspoken supporter of Brexit.
The press have had you down as a Remainer, but I think
everything you said has been a positive view of how Brexht can
The Chancellor smiled slightly at that.
My job is to look at the economy, the challenges it will face
and the opportunities that will be in front of us to make sure
we are well-equipped to seize those opportunities.
But also to make sure that we spot the challenges coming.
The Chancellor on his Brexit position.
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament, with me,
The former head of a progralme to help England's most disadvantaged
families has hit back at cl`ims that the initiative has madd
The programme was launched hn 2 12, at a cost of ?448 million,
and was intended to turn around the lives of 120,000 familids.
But the National Institute of Economic and Social Rese`rch
using data from a quarter of the families taking
part in the first stage, found a very small number
Jonathan Portes, one of the authors, called it "a perfect case study
of how the manipulation and misrepresentation
of statistics by civil serv`nts and politicians meant bad
Well, the top civil servant at the Department for Communities
argued the research and the way it was reported didn't
What the evaluation does show is that the families
in the programme did improve their outcomes.
It does show that quite cle`rly whether that's work or school
It also shows that there is a statistically signific`nt
improvement in how they feel about their lives,
and in particular about feeling that the worst is behind thdm.
We don't want to go into the detail of...
Well, I think at some level you have to bring out the detail a bht,
if you will just forgive me with one more point.
What I think we need to sort of in a way put in context
is that this evaluation onlx ran for 12 to 18 months with individual
bits of data, and what provdd not to be possible in the research
was to be able to form a kind of control group,
that would have allowed you to say, here's a group of families that
didn't have a troubled families intervention,
that are similar to the ones that did, and therefore how can
That's the thing that the rdsearch wasn't able to prove.
But the report does also sax they were unable to find consistent
evidence that the programme had had any significant or systemic impact.
That was attributable to the programme -
although the outcomes did ilprove and that is shown in the ev`luation.
We're going to move on now from the actual publication
The frustration is that it hs one part of a much bigger story,
and I think the other thing is the way that it is being
presented in the media, and if I'm honest quite
deliberately, is that it hasn't got the caveats across.
Nowhere does the word "Attributable"...
When you say "quite deliber`tely," who are you attributing that to
Sorry, I mean I've got nothhng to lose in a scenario like this
I think lots of comment madd by those closely involved
with the evaluation, which has been leading on the press
in the last few days, has been unedifying.
They didn't wait until the rest of the evaluation was out,
I'm sure they feel suppressdd, that simply isn't true.
I'm the first to say that Jonathan Portes and NIESR,
their research, after a lot of correction and sorting ott,
I accept the findings of the research.
Which is over the timescale they looked at the families,
which was really early on in the programme,
that the changes in those f`milies, which they do not dispute,
you cannot directly attribute to the troubled families programme.
You can on the other hand fhnd a lot of information as to why thdy hadn't
frankly put any of the cave`ts in the public domain...
So you're unhappy with the way the people who are funded
by the department to do this the evaluation have
And I don't want to make it a personal thing, because actually
I accept that within this one piece of research it doesn't provd
Did I ask the department to sit on it?
No, I didn't, I think it's better to have that stuff out and washed
out in the public domain so you can have a discourse about it.
Now, a Conservative MP is c`lling for child migrants arriving
in the UK from Calais to have their teeth tested
Several unaccompanied children have arrived to join relatives
in the UK this week, but there have been suggesthons that
The Monmouth MP David Davies said mandatory teeth checks
would reassure people, and it was a suggestion takdn up
There was a lot of dissatisfaction in the paper today, saying
that these are adults rather than children, and it went on to say
that the best way of identifying the age is dental examination.
And that's why I'm asking this question, because it then wdnt
on to say that they couldn't do a dental examination becausd wisdom
teeth are highly significant, and they couldn't do it
But of course, there are various X-rays that can be done without even
So I think there is something very strange about that,
and I wondered why it hasn't been possible to make some agreelent
whereby if you wanted to cole in you should be obliged
to be allowed to be checked in terms of age.
Well, my lords, I must confdss to be 49 years of age and still not
having wisdom teeth, but that probably says
We are working very closely with the French authorities
and their partner agencies to ensure that all those who come to the UK
from the camps are eligible under the Dublin Regulations.
So all individuals who are referred to the UK authorities by thd FTDA,
and are then interviewed by French and UK officials, and where credible
and clear documentary evidence of age is not available,
criteria including physical appearance and demeanour ard used
as part of the interview process to assess age.
That is the process in France, and I want noble lords to bd quite
clear that we are bound by the French system
When those children come here, we do not use dental X-rays
to confirm the ages of thosd seeking asylum in the UK.
The British Dental Associathon is vigorously opposed to thdm,
and has described them as inaccurate,
May I do something I don't think I've ever done before,
The peer who'd championed t`king children from the so-called
Jungle camp in Calais welcomed their arrival.
May I do something I don't think I've ever done before,
which is to welcome what the Government has said today.
Could I say that this is good news that child refugees
are coming to Britain, I wish we'd had these
statements several months ago, but it's happening now
May I simply ask the Ministdr to assure us that all presstre
is being brought to bear on the French Government,
because I understand they have a part to play
in assessing the other children who come under the Immigrathon Act.
The minister said pressure was being brought to bear,
and the UK Government was trying very hard to work with the French.
Now, Scottish Nationalists have led calls in the Commons for ministers
to guarantee all European Union citizens living in the UK
retain their existing rights after Brexit.
Around 3 million EU citizens are waiting to find out
if they can remain here, while the Government seeks
to guarantee the futures of Britons living overseas.
The SNP accused Conservativds of using EU citizens
Despite repeated requests, this Government has refused
to guarantee in the long term the rights of EU nationals who have
made their home in the United Kingdom.
In the meantime, in England and Wales hate crime has so`red
and xenophobic rhetoric is common in the mainstream media and sadly
also sometimes in the mouths of Government ministers.
Nobody is suggesting that anybody is going to be ejected
from the United Kingdom, and she is simply
But would she understand and admit that there is a layer of colplexity
So, if she is giving rights to people, which I think
we would all accept, what effective date
what then happens when people go outside the UK and seek
to return, and all these things are relevant also
to British nationals, that the Government has to negotiate
Many of the people we're talking about provide vital services
For instance, 6% of the doctors working in the Welsh health
We are facing a crisis wherdby a third of our doctors may retire
We're going to need these pdople, and extra qualified individtals
to work in health services, and the rhetoric by the Govdrnment,
if enacted in policy, will have a detrimental imp`ct
on the delivery of health services in my country.
Isn't it time we got our act together as a country, and gave
people who given their lives and their taxes to this country
the security that they need to know that they can remain?
The point is that there are people out there who have been emboldened
by the current political clhmate, who want to see EU
nationals living here expelled, and worse.
And giving the sort of sign`l but she is calling for
and which I support today would be a very powerful signal in s`ying
that the views of these people are wholeheartedly rejected
On this side of the House wd don't believe in cutting off our nose
to spite our face, we want to see unilateral and immediate action
to guarantee the status of DU national succumbed to be it
And we don't believe, to be absolutely clear,
that that will undermine the Government's ability to secure
the status of UK nationals living in other EU countries,
because we believe they also are an asset to the communities
The Government has been cle`r that it wants to protect thd status
As the Prime Minister's madd clear, the only circumstances in which that
would not be possible, are if British citizens' rights
in other EU member states wdre not protected in return.
The Government has provided repeated assurances on this point,
And I'm sorry but the SNP has not included this
At the end, the SNP's motion was rejected by 43 votes.
Now, plans to allow people to raise money by selling their penshon
annuities have been dropped by the Government.
Annuities - financial products that provide regular payments to retired
people until death - have long been criticised for giving
Last year, the then Chancellor George Osborne announced
he'd be extending pensions freedoms, allowing people
But this week, that option was withdrawn.
A Lib Dem said dropping the policy showed the Government didn't
trust people to look after their own money.
It was specifically included in the manifesto on which this
Government was elected, yet yesterday afternoon
the Government announced, Mr Speaker, via the press,
not via this House, that thdy were scrapping the whole deal.
This is a huge U-turn, announced after clear lobbyhng
by the industry that never really subscribed to this, and a f`ilure
with the Government to work to build a reasonable
Of course it's right that protections are put in placd
to ensure people are not exploited on the secondary annuities larket,
but there are tens of thous`nds of people trapped in poor v`lue
annuities who are eager to be able to take advantage
Rather than being to the benefit of British pensioners, it
And it is for this reason, Mr Speaker, that we are not prepared
to allow such a market to ddvelop, and we will not be taking
Doesn't this announcement rdpresent two new problems - first of all
to those hundreds of thousands of pensioners who have been marched
up the hill only to be marched back down again, and left uncert`in
about their own financial options, but secondly also to those other
generations of potential savers who are baffled by pensions
generally, and will find thhs mixed message about chopping and changing
on flexibilities even more of a reason to feel sour towards
We've got a savings crisis hn this country, and the Government needs
far more consistency and a clearer policy here.
The minister said no-one wanted to see people being baffled,
and all politicians had a dtty to educate and inform peopld
about the importance of savings and pensions.
A Labour MP is calling for a tightening up of the rules
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said
there were just over 51,000 surgical procedures in 2015 -
Kevin Jones put forward a Bhll calling for a change in the rules,
to allow the General Medical Council to strengthen the rules,
and recognise specific qualifications and accredit`tions.
His Bill also aims to tackld the marketing around
The law at present allows any qualified doctor, not even
a surgeon, to perform cosmetic surgery without undertaking
additional training or qualifications.
My Bill aims, Mr Speaker, to close this loophole,
and has the support of the Royal College of Surgeons.
His Bill also aims to tackld the marketing around
Some of the techniques that are used would be more appropriate
for selling double glazing than cosmetic surgery
These include two for one offers, along with glossy brochures,
with no explanation of the potential risks of undergoing surgery.
The whole thrust of the advdrtising is to sell procedures withott any
counselling or advice on whether or not it is appropriate
for an individual to undergo such procedures.
Well, Mr Jones won the right to take his Bill forward,
but it won't make real progress unless it's backed
And that's all from me for now, but do join me again at the same
time tomorrow for another round up of the day in Parliament,
including a Commons debate on what went wrong at BHS.
But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.