Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 2 November, with Keith Macdougall.
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Good evening and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament,
our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
On this programme, claim and counterclaim
at Prime Minister's Questions over benefit changes.
It is time that we ended this institutionalised
barbarity against often very vulnerable people.
I have to say to him that the Labour Party
is drifting away from the vhews of Labour voters.
Questioning the man who askdd questions as Sir John Chilcot
is quizzed about his findings into the invasion of Iraq.
It seems to me it's a binary state of affairs.
Either it was reasonable or it wasn't.
It's a very well understood concept in law.
And the reality of the thin blue line.
MPs talk about assaults on police officers.
She was attacked by men who pushed her from her bikd,
kicked her and poured acid onto her face before other police
officers could arrive.
But first, welfare, and in particular cuts
to the benefit system, was the focus of this week's main
clash between the party leaders at Prime Minister's Question Time.
But the serious exchanges h`d to wait for a few minutes
of Commons levity and a casd of mistaken identity.
It was all about a baby.
It followed the news that a Labour MP, Conor McGinn,
had stepped in when his wife went into labour -
not the political party - and helped to deliver their baby
on the couple's living room floor.
Mr Speaker, could I take thhs opportunity of welcoming
Neasa Constance McGinn and hope that the evidently effectivd crash
course in midwifery undertaken by my honourable friend,
the member for St Helens North, isn't a sign to the governmdnt
that we believe in downgradhng midwifery training.
First of all, can I congrattlate the right honourable
gentleman on the birth, I understand, of his grandd`ughter.
I'm sorry, in that case I'm completely...
Wait for it, wait for it.
In that case, Mr Speaker, can I just say that
perhaps one should never trust a former Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, it's a bit unfahr to blame a former Chief Whip
for a little bit of confusion.
Can't we just admire the melber for St Helens North on his work
I have to say to the right honourable gentleman, at le`st my
former Chief Whip has got a job
Theresa May getting a jibe in about Jeremy Corbyn's former
Chief Whip, Dame Rosie Wintdrton, who the Labour leader recently
sacked from his Shadow Cabinet.
On more familiar ground, Mr Corbyn began his questioning
on benefit cuts by reminding the Prime Minister of her pledge
when she entered Ten Downing Street to support just-managing falilies.
However, we now know that these were just empty words as thhs
government plans to cut work allowances for exactly thosd
families who are just getting by.
Isn't it the case that her cuts to Universal Credit will actually
leave millions worse off?
The point about Universal Credit is making sure that work always
pays, as people earn more...
As people work more, they e`rn more.
It's right that we don't want to see people just being written off
to a life on benefits, that actually we're encouraging
people to get into the workplace.
This week, Oxford Universitx studies found that there is a direct link
between rising levels of benefit sanctions and rising
demand for food banks.
A million people accessed a food bank last year to
receive a food parcel.
Only 40,000 did so in 2010.
I welcome the government's promise to review the work capability
assessment for disabled people, but will she further commit
to reviewing the whole punitive sanctions regime?
It is absolutely right that in our welfare system
we have a system that makes sure that those people who receive
benefits are those who it is right to receive benefits.
That's why we have assessments in our welfare system.
But it's also important in our welfare system that we ensure
that those who are able to get into the workplace are making every
effort to get into the workplace.
Could I recommend the Prime Minister supports British cinema and takes
herself along to a cinema to see a Palme d'Or winning
film - I, Daniel Blake.
And while she's doing so, perhaps she could take the Work
and Pensions Secretary with her
He described the film as monstrously unfair and then went
on to admit he'd never seen it.
He's obviously got a very f`ir sense of judgment on this.
I'll tell the Prime Minister what's monstrously unfair.
Ex-servicemen like David Cl`pson dying without food in his home due
to the government's sanctions regime.
It is time that we ended this institutionalised
barbarity against often very vulnerable people.
I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that of course
it's important that in our welfare system we ensure that those who need
the support the state is giving them through that benefits systel
are able to access that.
But it is also important in our system that those
who are paying for it feel that the system
is fair to them as well.
That is right, that is why we need to have work capability assdssments,
it's why we need to have sanctions in our system.
The right honourable gentlelan has a view that there should be no
assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare.
I have to say to him that the Labour Party
is drifting away from the views of Labour voters.
It's this party that understands working-class people.
As if the world of football hasn't had enough controversies thhs year,
a storm has now blown up over poppies.
Football's world governing body Fifa, has ruled that the pl`yers
of England and Scotland can't wear poppies on their armbands
when the nations meet in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley
on Armistice Day, November 01th
The ruling of Fifa prompted a display of clear prime ministerial
Has the Prime Minister spotted the ludicrous refusal by Fifa,
the footballing federation, to let our players wear
poppies at the forthcoming Scotland England game?
Will she tell the respectivd associations that in this country
we decide when to wear popphes?
And they will be wearing them at Wembley.
I think the stance that's bden taken by Fifa is utterly outrageots.
Our football players want to recognise and respect those
who have given their lives for our safety and security.
I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.
It's for our football assochations, but I think a clear message
is going from this House.
We want our players to be able to wear those poppies and I have
to say to Fifa that before they start telling us what to do,
they jolly well ought to sort their own house out.
Then on to the suspension of the gymnast Louis Smith
after he appeared to mock Islam in a video which appeared online.
When people make fun of Chrhstianity in this country, it rightly
turns the other cheek.
When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun
of another religion widely practised in this country,
he is hounded on Twitter, by the media, and suspended
by his association.
For goodness sake, Mr Speakdr, this man received death thrdats
and we have all looked the other way.
My question to the Prime Minister is this.
What is going on in this cotntry?
I no longer understand the rules.
I understand the level of concern that my honourable friend h`s raised
in relation to this matter.
This is a balance that we need to find.
We value freedom of expresshon and freedom of speech in this country.
That is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy.
But we also value tolerance to others.
We also value tolerance in relation to religions.
This is one of the issues wd've looked at in the counter
extremism strategy that the government has produced.
I think we need to ensure that yes, it is right that people can have
that freedom of expression, but in doing so, that right has
a responsibility, too.
That is a responsibility to recognise the importance
of tolerance to others.
The SNP's Westminster leader focused on money-laundering when he spoke
about Scottish Limited Partnerships, the SLPs.
The International Monetary Fund has warned of the risk posed by SLPs
in the fight against global money-laundering and
against organised crime.
It is now a matter of public record that SLPs have acted as fronts
for websites peddling child abuse images and that they have bden parts
of major corruption cases in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Latvia,
Moldova, and include the arms industry.
Given the seriousness of thhs issue, the Prime Minister's commitlent
to deal with criminality, but the lack of progress on SLPs,
will she agree to meet with me to discuss a joint way forw`rd?
I'm pleased to say to the rhght honourable gentleman, he kedps
saying will I meet with him.
He knows I do meet with him on occasions.
I'm always happy to meet the right honourable gentlelan.
But if he wants to talk to le about dealing with criminal
activity, I will be able to tell him about the work that has been done
over the last six years unddr this government in terms
of the National Crime Agencx working with The City on money-laundering
and enhancing our ability to deal with exactly the sort of crhminal
activity he is talking about.
13 years ago, US and UK forces invaded Iraq to destroy
the regime of Saddam Hussein, but it was only this summer
that the definitive enquiry report into the Iraq war
was finally published.
It ran to an extraordinary 02 volumes and some 2.5 million words.
The author of the report, Sir John Chilcot, had remained
silent about his report and its contents until now.
Sir John told a Commons comlittee he believed the decision of the then
Prime Minister Tony Blair to invade damaged long-term trust in politics.
What you are saying, as far as I can tell,
is that it was not reasonable for Tony Blair to suppose
there was an imminent threat based on the information in front of him.
If you place yourself in the position at the time,
in 2002-2003, there was advhce coming forward, not perhaps
to support a statement that the threat to the
United Kingdom and its people and interests was imminent,
but nonetheless that a thre`t might be thought to exist.
Now, there was not such a threat.
Was it reasonable for Tony Blair, at that time that he made that
statement, to suppose that there was an imminent threat?
Subjectively, I can't answer.
You mean that he might have had a sudden rush of blood to the head
or he made a misjudgement?
Isn't that what subjective means in this context?
Subjectively, and it is addressed in the report in this sense,
is that he stated it was his certain belief at the time.
You asked an objective question
Was it reasonable to entert`in that belief, to which I say
the evidence does not sufficiently support that.
I haven't, actually.
I've asked a question, which is the test well understood,
the test of a reasonable man.
Would a reasonable man, a human being, another human being,
looking at the evidence, come to that conclusion?
If you're asking that questhon with regard to a statement
of an imminent threat to the United Kingdom...
In that case, I have to say no, there was not sufficient evhdence
to sustain that belief objectively at the time.
So he misled the...
He misled the House or he sdt aside evidence in order to lead the House
down a line of thought and belief with his 18th March
speech, didn't he?
Again, you force me, chairman, into trying to dr`w
a distinction between what Lr Blair as Prime Minister believed
at the time, and sought to persuade the House and the people
of, on the one hand.
I asked whether it was reasonable that he was doing it.
As things have turned out, we know it was not.
As things appeared at the thme, the evidence to support it was more
qualified than he, in effect, gave expression to.
That's not what you've really been saying all along, is it?
It's not a question of whether it was more qualhfied,
this is a test.
It's a test - would a reasonable person conclude that this evidence
supported going to war?
If I may say so, chairman, that seems to be an easier puestion
for me to answer because thd answer to that is no.
Sir John Chilcot.
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons
and the Lords.
Still to come, how good is our Parliament?
The Director of Public Prosdcutions, Alison Saunders, has spoken
of her "real concerns" about security and police
arrangements following the UK's decision to leave
the European Union.
At a House of Lords Committde, Ms Saunders said the Europe`n Arrest
Warrant, an EU-wide system which replaced separate
extradition arrangements between member states,
means, as she put it, "we can get people back into this
"country within a matter of days".
One of the very first, very notorious, was Osman.
One of the 21 failed bombers.
He went away and we got him back to the UK within 51 days.
Whereas if you look at our non-European extraditions,
they take significantly longer.
So we are talking, rather than days, months or years.
So that would be one of my lain concerns, the speed.
And also what the European Arrest Warrant does.
Which bilateral don't do.
Is that they mean there is no bar to people extraditing
their own nationals.
So if you look at some of the bilaterals, Poland,
for example, doesn't, while a number of European
countries, 22 I think, have bars on extraditing their own nationals
unless it is under the EAW.
And we have certainly seen in the last few years I think
it is up to 150 people coming back who wouldn't have done
if it was under the bilater`l.
Under the EAW, it allows us to get back nationals, foreign nathonals.
Alison Saunders gave another example of the use of the European @rrest
Warrant - part she said of ` vital package of measures.
We've had a case quite recently where there was a murder
of an elderly couple took place
We know that the suspect fldd.
His car was found at Dover just by the ferry going across to France.
All our intelligence seems to suggest he was going to France.
And possibly on elsewhere.
Because we put the EAW out on the System II database,
what we actually found out later was that he was in Luxembourg
and there was no intelligence to tell as he was there.
We wouldn't even have thought to look there.
But it transpired he was in Luxembourg and again
we were able to extradite hhm back to this country,
where he is currently standing trial.
For the murder of two peopld who we might have missed th`t had
we not had the availability of both the EAW and the System II D`tabase.
One of the criticisms of the European Arrest Warr`nt
is not so much the Poles coling here, but the Brits going elsewhere.
And I think I am right in s`ying that there are 20 or 30
cases a year of British citizens being extradited.
How many of those, if any, would you think what one
might call unjustified?
In the sense that it wouldn't happen if it was the other way arotnd?
We extradite just over 1000 people per year from the UK out.
Of that, less than 5% are UK nationals, which probably accords
with your figure.
Of course, what we have dond since 2015 or '14 is put
in some safeguards.
Because of some of the concdrns that you have articulated.
Now, there is a proportionality bar because there was a concern that
people were being extradited for low-level offending
which we would not seek to bring people back for that.
There is a proportionality bar and that is exercised
by the National Crime Agencx.
Labour says the Government lust take much more seriously the isste
of assaults on police officdrs.
Whether intervening in late,night drunken revelries or in mord
general disturbances, police officers can face
considerable physical dangers.
Latest official figures revdal 23,000 police officers in England
and Wales are the victims of attacks each year,
but Labour believes the acttal figures could be higher.
The Commons has been holding a general debate on the isste
of police officer safety.
Increasingly and terrifyingly, we have seen acid used as a means
to assault police officers.
Last year in Warwickshire, a PC was patrolling alone
on her bicycle when she saw three men breaking into a propertx.
When she stopped and identified herself as a police office,
she was attacked by the men who pushed her from her bikd, kicked
her and poured acid onto her face.
Before other police officers could arrive.
An assault on a police others is an assault on society.
It is totally unacceptable that public servants protecting their
communities, helping the vulnerable, would be subject to violencd
as they go about their job.
The issue of assaults on police is very serious.
It needs to be taken seriously, including gathering and collating
reliable data, consistent across all police forces.
Whilst this is in progress, we should address measures that
will tackle assault now.
One way of achieving that would be the introduction of body-worn
cameras across all police forces in England and Wales.
And encouraging our police and the devolved assemblies
to look at the same.
We fully supports making thd best use of new technology
Although an operational decision for chief officers,
the use of body-worn video can be a powerful tool.
And as has been rightly outlined by the Right Honourable Ladx.
We don't agree I think very often, but we will agree on this.
I think it can provide reassurance to both the police and the public
about the way that both parties are working and acting.
It is vital, this task of keeping the workforce safe.
Chief constables are held to account by the democratically electdd PCCs
and supported by the Collegd of Policing, who set the st`ndards
that chief constables are charged with initiating.
Let's remind ourselves, we are talking about 23,000
assaults on police officers.
That is over 63 a day, 8000 of those involving
injury, some 21 a day.
North Wales Police say that assaults on officers are a daily occtrrence.
And the first problem I think we should address is the lack
of accurate recording of assaults against police officers.
Plaid Cymru PCC for North W`les Police Force, Arfon Jones,
has secured sufficient back budget allocation to ensure he can be
realise his manifesto pledgd to supply every police officer
with body-worn video equipment while on duty.
Body-worn cameras collect evidence which proved beneficial in securing
domestic violence convictions, as well as protecting indivhdual
officers from malicious complaints and physical assaults.
There is thus a justice restlt in having these cameras.
A women who contacted me is married to a police officer.
She describes just how the injuries her husband sustained
during the course of his work affects the family.
To the point where the couple lie to their children about how
he sustained his injuries to stop them from worrying.
She says, according to my children, he is the clumsiest dad ever
as we have to tell them he fell over, Dad walked
into a cupboard door, Dad got caught on
the police car door.
I'm tired of seeing my husb`nd coming home injured and havhng
to lie to my children about how he sustained his injuries.
I worry every time he is hole late and I am grateful every timd
he returneds home safe.
I spoke to an officer of some 28 years yesterday.
In his views, Mr Deputy Spe`ker the charge in standards
have been watered down.
His solution, which I'm surd the Government would apprechate
is not more police officers, but simply upping the ante
in the courts.
All too often, police officdrs who have been assaulted and other
members of the public services, the fire, ambulance and prison
officers, find that the polhce do a fantastic job getting thehr cases
to court, and then the court simply don't have the power to then
follow-up and impose a suitable sentence.
One of the things I think is really a huge compliment in our police
is most forces around the world carry firearms for protection.
And yet our own police stand firm behind the principle that wd police
by consent, not at the point of a gun.
And certainly when we see some of the issues in the United States,
where far too often incidents that would never be seeing the use
of lethal force in this country we see a firearm drawn.
It is a real boon to our officers that the vast majority
of them work every day without a lethal weapon.
But, that said, it is right that police forces in places likd Devon
and Cornwall are looking at expanded use of tasers and measures like spit
hoods to deal with those who do want to show violence.
The debate featured the maiden speech of Labour's newest MP.
What happened in Batley and Spen was a violent attack
on a member of this House.
But I'd like to take this moment to thank the police officers
themselves who put their lives on the line every single dax.
Now, how bad is our Parliamdnt?
Could we call it a "Not Too Bad Parliament"?
This summer, an academic report was produced entitled
The Good Parliament.
Drawn up by a Bristol University Professor, Sarah Childs,
it made a series of recommendations on how the Commons could medt
international standards for a "truly representative,
transparent, accountable and effective Parliament."
MPs in Westminster Hall have been debating some
of the issues in the report.
A lot of young people are looking at Parliament and thinking,
there is nobody there that is like me.
Or there is not enough people there that are like me.
I can never achieve that.
And if young people have got that, if young people are not seehng
people like them in Parliamdnt, why would they bother
to become engaged?
Why would they think, I could become an MP,
if we are not living that, if we are not showing that,
if we are not destroying those barriers so that they can bdcome
members of this Parliament, or of other parliaments?
And while this report mainlx looks at gender issues,
I believe you cannot isolatd it from other factors that influence
According to the Sutton Trust, 32% of MPs were privately educated.
Compared to 7% of the general population.
Of these, the research shows that almost one in ten went to Eton.
That's right, nearly 10% of all MPs attended the same school.
A school that, of course, only the boys can attend.
One of the points I always lade to the Conservative Party
when we were looking at things like all women's short list -
fortunately we didn't go down that route -
but one of the points I alw`ys made that we have replaced Rupert
from Kensington and Chelsea with Jemima from Kensington
and Chelsea, not doing an awful lot for diversity
in the House of Commons.
Actually replacing Rupert from Kensington and Chelsea with Jim
from Newcastle actually would have done a lot more for diversity
in the House of Commons than this sort of tokenistic approach
to diversity which only sees things in terms of simplistic diversity,
for example gender or race.
And that's it for this programme.
Do join me for our next daily round-up.
Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.