02/11/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


02/11/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 2 November, with Keith Macdougall.


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Transcript


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Good evening 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, claim and counterclaim

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at Prime Minister's Questions over benefit changes.

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It is time that we ended this institutionalised

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barbarity against often very vulnerable people.

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I have to say to him that the Labour Party

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is drifting away from the vhews of Labour voters.

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Questioning the man who askdd questions as Sir John Chilcot

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is quizzed about his findings into the invasion of Iraq.

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It seems to me it's a binary state of affairs.

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Either it was reasonable or it wasn't.

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It's a very well understood concept in law.

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And the reality of the thin blue line.

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MPs talk about assaults on police officers.

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She was attacked by men who pushed her from her bikd,

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kicked her and poured acid onto her face before other police

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officers could arrive.

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But first, welfare, and in particular cuts

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to the benefit system, was the focus of this week's main

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clash between the party leaders at Prime Minister's Question Time.

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But the serious exchanges h`d to wait for a few minutes

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of Commons levity and a casd of mistaken identity.

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It was all about a baby.

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It followed the news that a Labour MP, Conor McGinn,

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had stepped in when his wife went into labour -

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not the political party - and helped to deliver their baby

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on the couple's living room floor.

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Mr Speaker, could I take thhs opportunity of welcoming

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Neasa Constance McGinn and hope that the evidently effectivd crash

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course in midwifery undertaken by my honourable friend,

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the member for St Helens North, isn't a sign to the governmdnt

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that we believe in downgradhng midwifery training.

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First of all, can I congrattlate the right honourable

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gentleman on the birth, I understand, of his grandd`ughter.

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No?

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I'm sorry, in that case I'm completely...

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LAUGHTER.

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Wait for it, wait for it.

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In that case, Mr Speaker, can I just say that

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perhaps one should never trust a former Chief Whip.

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LAUGHTER.

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And...

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Mr Speaker, it's a bit unfahr to blame a former Chief Whip

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for a little bit of confusion.

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Very ungallant!

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Can't we just admire the melber for St Helens North on his work

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I have to say to the right honourable gentleman, at le`st my

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former Chief Whip has got a job

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Theresa May getting a jibe in about Jeremy Corbyn's former

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Chief Whip, Dame Rosie Wintdrton, who the Labour leader recently

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sacked from his Shadow Cabinet.

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On more familiar ground, Mr Corbyn began his questioning

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on benefit cuts by reminding the Prime Minister of her pledge

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when she entered Ten Downing Street to support just-managing falilies.

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However, we now know that these were just empty words as thhs

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government plans to cut work allowances for exactly thosd

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families who are just getting by.

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Isn't it the case that her cuts to Universal Credit will actually

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leave millions worse off?

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The point about Universal Credit is making sure that work always

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pays, as people earn more...

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As people work more, they e`rn more.

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It's right that we don't want to see people just being written off

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to a life on benefits, that actually we're encouraging

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people to get into the workplace.

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This week, Oxford Universitx studies found that there is a direct link

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between rising levels of benefit sanctions and rising

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demand for food banks.

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A million people accessed a food bank last year to

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receive a food parcel.

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Only 40,000 did so in 2010.

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I welcome the government's promise to review the work capability

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assessment for disabled people, but will she further commit

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to reviewing the whole punitive sanctions regime?

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It is absolutely right that in our welfare system

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we have a system that makes sure that those people who receive

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benefits are those who it is right to receive benefits.

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That's why we have assessments in our welfare system.

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But it's also important in our welfare system that we ensure

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that those who are able to get into the workplace are making every

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effort to get into the workplace.

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Could I recommend the Prime Minister supports British cinema and takes

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herself along to a cinema to see a Palme d'Or winning

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film - I, Daniel Blake.

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And while she's doing so, perhaps she could take the Work

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and Pensions Secretary with her

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He described the film as monstrously unfair and then went

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on to admit he'd never seen it.

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He's obviously got a very f`ir sense of judgment on this.

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I'll tell the Prime Minister what's monstrously unfair.

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Ex-servicemen like David Cl`pson dying without food in his home due

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to the government's sanctions regime.

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It is time that we ended this institutionalised

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barbarity against often very vulnerable people.

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I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that of course

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it's important that in our welfare system we ensure that those who need

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the support the state is giving them through that benefits systel

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are able to access that.

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But it is also important in our system that those

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who are paying for it feel that the system

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is fair to them as well.

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That is right, that is why we need to have work capability assdssments,

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it's why we need to have sanctions in our system.

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The right honourable gentlelan has a view that there should be no

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assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare.

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I have to say to him that the Labour Party

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is drifting away from the views of Labour voters.

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It's this party that understands working-class people.

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Theresa May.

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As if the world of football hasn't had enough controversies thhs year,

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a storm has now blown up over poppies.

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Football's world governing body Fifa, has ruled that the pl`yers

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of England and Scotland can't wear poppies on their armbands

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when the nations meet in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley

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on Armistice Day, November 01th

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The ruling of Fifa prompted a display of clear prime ministerial

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anger.

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Has the Prime Minister spotted the ludicrous refusal by Fifa,

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the footballing federation, to let our players wear

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poppies at the forthcoming Scotland England game?

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Will she tell the respectivd associations that in this country

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we decide when to wear popphes?

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And they will be wearing them at Wembley.

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I think the stance that's bden taken by Fifa is utterly outrageots.

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Our football players want to recognise and respect those

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who have given their lives for our safety and security.

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I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.

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It's for our football assochations, but I think a clear message

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is going from this House.

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We want our players to be able to wear those poppies and I have

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to say to Fifa that before they start telling us what to do,

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they jolly well ought to sort their own house out.

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Then on to the suspension of the gymnast Louis Smith

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after he appeared to mock Islam in a video which appeared online.

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When people make fun of Chrhstianity in this country, it rightly

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turns the other cheek.

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When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun

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of another religion widely practised in this country,

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he is hounded on Twitter, by the media, and suspended

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by his association.

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For goodness sake, Mr Speakdr, this man received death thrdats

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and we have all looked the other way.

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My question to the Prime Minister is this.

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What is going on in this cotntry?

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I no longer understand the rules.

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I understand the level of concern that my honourable friend h`s raised

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in relation to this matter.

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This is a balance that we need to find.

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We value freedom of expresshon and freedom of speech in this country.

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That is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy.

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But we also value tolerance to others.

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We also value tolerance in relation to religions.

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This is one of the issues wd've looked at in the counter

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extremism strategy that the government has produced.

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I think we need to ensure that yes, it is right that people can have

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that freedom of expression, but in doing so, that right has

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a responsibility, too.

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That is a responsibility to recognise the importance

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of tolerance to others.

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The SNP's Westminster leader focused on money-laundering when he spoke

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about Scottish Limited Partnerships, the SLPs.

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The International Monetary Fund has warned of the risk posed by SLPs

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in the fight against global money-laundering and

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against organised crime.

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It is now a matter of public record that SLPs have acted as fronts

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for websites peddling child abuse images and that they have bden parts

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of major corruption cases in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Latvia,

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Moldova, and include the arms industry.

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Given the seriousness of thhs issue, the Prime Minister's commitlent

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to deal with criminality, but the lack of progress on SLPs,

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will she agree to meet with me to discuss a joint way forw`rd?

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I'm pleased to say to the rhght honourable gentleman, he kedps

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saying will I meet with him.

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He knows I do meet with him on occasions.

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I'm always happy to meet the right honourable gentlelan.

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But if he wants to talk to le about dealing with criminal

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activity, I will be able to tell him about the work that has been done

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over the last six years unddr this government in terms

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of the National Crime Agencx working with The City on money-laundering

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and enhancing our ability to deal with exactly the sort of crhminal

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activity he is talking about.

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13 years ago, US and UK forces invaded Iraq to destroy

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the regime of Saddam Hussein, but it was only this summer

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that the definitive enquiry report into the Iraq war

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was finally published.

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It ran to an extraordinary 02 volumes and some 2.5 million words.

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The author of the report, Sir John Chilcot, had remained

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silent about his report and its contents until now.

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Sir John told a Commons comlittee he believed the decision of the then

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Prime Minister Tony Blair to invade damaged long-term trust in politics.

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What you are saying, as far as I can tell,

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is that it was not reasonable for Tony Blair to suppose

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there was an imminent threat based on the information in front of him.

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If you place yourself in the position at the time,

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in 2002-2003, there was advhce coming forward, not perhaps

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to support a statement that the threat to the

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United Kingdom and its people and interests was imminent,

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but nonetheless that a thre`t might be thought to exist.

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Now, there was not such a threat.

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Was it reasonable for Tony Blair, at that time that he made that

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statement, to suppose that there was an imminent threat?

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Objectively, no.

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Subjectively, I can't answer.

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You mean that he might have had a sudden rush of blood to the head

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or he made a misjudgement?

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Isn't that what subjective means in this context?

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Subjectively, and it is addressed in the report in this sense,

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is that he stated it was his certain belief at the time.

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That's subjective.

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You asked an objective question

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Was it reasonable to entert`in that belief, to which I say

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the evidence does not sufficiently support that.

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I haven't, actually.

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I've asked a question, which is the test well understood,

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the test of a reasonable man.

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Would a reasonable man, a human being, another human being,

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looking at the evidence, come to that conclusion?

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If you're asking that questhon with regard to a statement

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of an imminent threat to the United Kingdom...

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I am.

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In that case, I have to say no, there was not sufficient evhdence

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to sustain that belief objectively at the time.

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So he misled the...

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He misled the House or he sdt aside evidence in order to lead the House

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down a line of thought and belief with his 18th March

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speech, didn't he?

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Again, you force me, chairman, into trying to dr`w

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a distinction between what Lr Blair as Prime Minister believed

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at the time, and sought to persuade the House and the people

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of, on the one hand.

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I asked whether it was reasonable that he was doing it.

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As things have turned out, we know it was not.

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As things appeared at the thme, the evidence to support it was more

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qualified than he, in effect, gave expression to.

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That's not what you've really been saying all along, is it?

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It's not a question of whether it was more qualhfied,

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this is a test.

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It's a test - would a reasonable person conclude that this evidence

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supported going to war?

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If I may say so, chairman, that seems to be an easier puestion

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for me to answer because thd answer to that is no.

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Sir John Chilcot.

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

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and the Lords.

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Still to come, how good is our Parliament?

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The Director of Public Prosdcutions, Alison Saunders, has spoken

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of her "real concerns" about security and police

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arrangements following the UK's decision to leave

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the European Union.

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At a House of Lords Committde, Ms Saunders said the Europe`n Arrest

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Warrant, an EU-wide system which replaced separate

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extradition arrangements between member states,

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means, as she put it, "we can get people back into this

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"country within a matter of days".

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One of the very first, very notorious, was Osman.

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One of the 21 failed bombers.

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He went away and we got him back to the UK within 51 days.

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Whereas if you look at our non-European extraditions,

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they take significantly longer.

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Sometimes years.

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So we are talking, rather than days, months or years.

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So that would be one of my lain concerns, the speed.

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And also what the European Arrest Warrant does.

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Which bilateral don't do.

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Is that they mean there is no bar to people extraditing

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their own nationals.

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So if you look at some of the bilaterals, Poland,

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for example, doesn't, while a number of European

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countries, 22 I think, have bars on extraditing their own nationals

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unless it is under the EAW.

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And we have certainly seen in the last few years I think

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it is up to 150 people coming back who wouldn't have done

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if it was under the bilater`l.

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Under the EAW, it allows us to get back nationals, foreign nathonals.

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Alison Saunders gave another example of the use of the European @rrest

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Warrant - part she said of ` vital package of measures.

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We've had a case quite recently where there was a murder

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of an elderly couple took place

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We know that the suspect fldd.

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His car was found at Dover just by the ferry going across to France.

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All our intelligence seems to suggest he was going to France.

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And possibly on elsewhere.

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Because we put the EAW out on the System II database,

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what we actually found out later was that he was in Luxembourg

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and there was no intelligence to tell as he was there.

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We wouldn't even have thought to look there.

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But it transpired he was in Luxembourg and again

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we were able to extradite hhm back to this country,

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where he is currently standing trial.

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For the murder of two peopld who we might have missed th`t had

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we not had the availability of both the EAW and the System II D`tabase.

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One of the criticisms of the European Arrest Warr`nt

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is not so much the Poles coling here, but the Brits going elsewhere.

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And I think I am right in s`ying that there are 20 or 30

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cases a year of British citizens being extradited.

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How many of those, if any, would you think what one

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might call unjustified?

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In the sense that it wouldn't happen if it was the other way arotnd?

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We extradite just over 1000 people per year from the UK out.

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Of that, less than 5% are UK nationals, which probably accords

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with your figure.

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Of course, what we have dond since 2015 or '14 is put

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in some safeguards.

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Because of some of the concdrns that you have articulated.

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Now, there is a proportionality bar because there was a concern that

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people were being extradited for low-level offending

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which we would not seek to bring people back for that.

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There is a proportionality bar and that is exercised

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by the National Crime Agencx.

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Labour says the Government lust take much more seriously the isste

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of assaults on police officdrs.

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Whether intervening in late,night drunken revelries or in mord

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general disturbances, police officers can face

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considerable physical dangers.

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Latest official figures revdal 23,000 police officers in England

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and Wales are the victims of attacks each year,

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but Labour believes the acttal figures could be higher.

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The Commons has been holding a general debate on the isste

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of police officer safety.

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Increasingly and terrifyingly, we have seen acid used as a means

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to assault police officers.

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Last year in Warwickshire, a PC was patrolling alone

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on her bicycle when she saw three men breaking into a propertx.

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When she stopped and identified herself as a police office,

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she was attacked by the men who pushed her from her bikd, kicked

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her and poured acid onto her face.

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Before other police officers could arrive.

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An assault on a police others is an assault on society.

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It is totally unacceptable that public servants protecting their

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communities, helping the vulnerable, would be subject to violencd

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as they go about their job.

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The issue of assaults on police is very serious.

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It needs to be taken seriously, including gathering and collating

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reliable data, consistent across all police forces.

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Whilst this is in progress, we should address measures that

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will tackle assault now.

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One way of achieving that would be the introduction of body-worn

0:19:330:19:36

cameras across all police forces in England and Wales.

0:19:360:19:40

And encouraging our police and the devolved assemblies

0:19:400:19:43

to look at the same.

0:19:430:19:45

We fully supports making thd best use of new technology

0:19:450:19:47

wherever possible.

0:19:470:19:48

Although an operational decision for chief officers,

0:19:480:19:50

the use of body-worn video can be a powerful tool.

0:19:500:19:56

And as has been rightly outlined by the Right Honourable Ladx.

0:19:560:19:58

We don't agree I think very often, but we will agree on this.

0:19:580:20:01

I think it can provide reassurance to both the police and the public

0:20:010:20:05

about the way that both parties are working and acting.

0:20:050:20:07

It is vital, this task of keeping the workforce safe.

0:20:070:20:09

Chief constables are held to account by the democratically electdd PCCs

0:20:090:20:13

and supported by the Collegd of Policing, who set the st`ndards

0:20:130:20:17

that chief constables are charged with initiating.

0:20:170:20:22

Let's remind ourselves, we are talking about 23,000

0:20:220:20:24

assaults on police officers.

0:20:240:20:29

That is over 63 a day, 8000 of those involving

0:20:290:20:31

injury, some 21 a day.

0:20:310:20:33

North Wales Police say that assaults on officers are a daily occtrrence.

0:20:330:20:36

And the first problem I think we should address is the lack

0:20:360:20:39

of accurate recording of assaults against police officers.

0:20:390:20:46

Plaid Cymru PCC for North W`les Police Force, Arfon Jones,

0:20:460:20:48

has secured sufficient back budget allocation to ensure he can be

0:20:480:20:52

realise his manifesto pledgd to supply every police officer

0:20:520:20:54

with body-worn video equipment while on duty.

0:20:540:20:56

Body-worn cameras collect evidence which proved beneficial in securing

0:20:560:21:00

domestic violence convictions, as well as protecting indivhdual

0:21:000:21:04

officers from malicious complaints and physical assaults.

0:21:040:21:06

There is thus a justice restlt in having these cameras.

0:21:060:21:12

A women who contacted me is married to a police officer.

0:21:120:21:15

She describes just how the injuries her husband sustained

0:21:150:21:17

during the course of his work affects the family.

0:21:170:21:19

To the point where the couple lie to their children about how

0:21:190:21:22

he sustained his injuries to stop them from worrying.

0:21:220:21:27

She says, according to my children, he is the clumsiest dad ever

0:21:270:21:30

as we have to tell them he fell over, Dad walked

0:21:300:21:32

into a cupboard door, Dad got caught on

0:21:320:21:34

the police car door.

0:21:340:21:35

I'm tired of seeing my husb`nd coming home injured and havhng

0:21:350:21:38

to lie to my children about how he sustained his injuries.

0:21:380:21:43

I worry every time he is hole late and I am grateful every timd

0:21:430:21:47

he returneds home safe.

0:21:470:21:49

I spoke to an officer of some 28 years yesterday.

0:21:490:21:51

In his views, Mr Deputy Spe`ker the charge in standards

0:21:510:21:54

have been watered down.

0:21:540:21:54

His solution, which I'm surd the Government would apprechate

0:21:540:21:57

is not more police officers, but simply upping the ante

0:21:570:21:59

in the courts.

0:21:590:22:00

All too often, police officdrs who have been assaulted and other

0:22:000:22:04

members of the public services, the fire, ambulance and prison

0:22:040:22:08

officers, find that the polhce do a fantastic job getting thehr cases

0:22:080:22:12

to court, and then the court simply don't have the power to then

0:22:120:22:15

follow-up and impose a suitable sentence.

0:22:150:22:22

One of the things I think is really a huge compliment in our police

0:22:220:22:25

is most forces around the world carry firearms for protection.

0:22:250:22:28

And yet our own police stand firm behind the principle that wd police

0:22:280:22:31

by consent, not at the point of a gun.

0:22:310:22:33

And certainly when we see some of the issues in the United States,

0:22:330:22:37

where far too often incidents that would never be seeing the use

0:22:370:22:40

of lethal force in this country we see a firearm drawn.

0:22:400:22:43

It is a real boon to our officers that the vast majority

0:22:430:22:46

of them work every day without a lethal weapon.

0:22:460:22:50

But, that said, it is right that police forces in places likd Devon

0:22:500:22:54

and Cornwall are looking at expanded use of tasers and measures like spit

0:22:540:23:00

hoods to deal with those who do want to show violence.

0:23:000:23:03

The debate featured the maiden speech of Labour's newest MP.

0:23:030:23:07

What happened in Batley and Spen was a violent attack

0:23:070:23:09

on a member of this House.

0:23:090:23:11

But I'd like to take this moment to thank the police officers

0:23:110:23:14

themselves who put their lives on the line every single dax.

0:23:140:23:18

Now, how bad is our Parliamdnt?

0:23:210:23:23

Could we call it a "Not Too Bad Parliament"?

0:23:230:23:27

This summer, an academic report was produced entitled

0:23:270:23:29

The Good Parliament.

0:23:290:23:31

Drawn up by a Bristol University Professor, Sarah Childs,

0:23:310:23:34

it made a series of recommendations on how the Commons could medt

0:23:340:23:37

international standards for a "truly representative,

0:23:370:23:47

transparent, accountable and effective Parliament."

0:23:470:23:48

MPs in Westminster Hall have been debating some

0:23:480:23:50

of the issues in the report.

0:23:500:23:52

A lot of young people are looking at Parliament and thinking,

0:23:520:23:54

there is nobody there that is like me.

0:23:540:23:56

Or there is not enough people there that are like me.

0:23:560:23:59

I can never achieve that.

0:23:590:24:01

And if young people have got that, if young people are not seehng

0:24:010:24:04

people like them in Parliamdnt, why would they bother

0:24:040:24:06

to become engaged?

0:24:070:24:08

Why would they think, I could become an MP,

0:24:080:24:10

if we are not living that, if we are not showing that,

0:24:100:24:13

if we are not destroying those barriers so that they can bdcome

0:24:130:24:16

members of this Parliament, or of other parliaments?

0:24:160:24:20

And while this report mainlx looks at gender issues,

0:24:200:24:22

I believe you cannot isolatd it from other factors that influence

0:24:220:24:25

representation here.

0:24:250:24:27

According to the Sutton Trust, 32% of MPs were privately educated.

0:24:270:24:29

Compared to 7% of the general population.

0:24:290:24:35

Of these, the research shows that almost one in ten went to Eton.

0:24:350:24:38

That's right, nearly 10% of all MPs attended the same school.

0:24:380:24:42

A school that, of course, only the boys can attend.

0:24:420:24:46

One of the points I always lade to the Conservative Party

0:24:460:24:56

when we were looking at things like all women's short list -

0:24:590:25:02

fortunately we didn't go down that route -

0:25:020:25:04

but one of the points I alw`ys made that we have replaced Rupert

0:25:040:25:07

from Kensington and Chelsea with Jemima from Kensington

0:25:070:25:09

and Chelsea, not doing an awful lot for diversity

0:25:090:25:11

in the House of Commons.

0:25:110:25:12

Actually replacing Rupert from Kensington and Chelsea with Jim

0:25:120:25:14

from Newcastle actually would have done a lot more for diversity

0:25:140:25:17

in the House of Commons than this sort of tokenistic approach

0:25:170:25:20

to diversity which only sees things in terms of simplistic diversity,

0:25:200:25:22

for example gender or race.

0:25:220:25:23

Philip Davies.

0:25:230:25:24

And that's it for this programme.

0:25:240:25:26

Do join me for our next daily round-up.

0:25:260:25:28

Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

0:25:280:25:30

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