Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 23 November, presented by Keith Macdougall.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday In Parliament,
our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, warns the British economy is set
to grow more slowly, while Government borrowing is rising
following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
This Autumn Statement responds to the challenge of building on that
strength while also heeding the warnings in the OBR's figures
as we begin writing this new chapter in our country's history.
The Shadow Chancellor says it's an opportunity wasted.
Today's statement places on record the abject failure
This government's choice was to cut social care by ?4.6 billion
It was just minutes before the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond,
stood up to deliver his Autumn Statement
that news came through from the Old Bailey
that 53-year-old Thomas Mair had been found guilty
The Yorkshire Labour MP was shot and stabbed to death in a village
in her constituency of Batley and Spen on 16th June -
Thomas Mair had shouted "Britain First" in the attack.
But the Old Bailey judge said the true "patriot"
There was reaction to the guilty verdict in the Commons.
of a fierce advocate for social justice and a passionate campaigner.
Her killing was an attack on democracy itself.
Our thoughts are with her family this morning.
I hope that the whole life sentence for Jo's murderer at least gives
some comfort to her family at this incredibly difficult time,
and will also enable us to remember Jo for the way that she lived
rather than the way that she was murdered.
I associate myself with the remarks that she has just made
and I'm sure she's right, that the entirely sensible sentence
that has been handed down will be a source of some comfort
Well, half an hour before the Old Bailey
the Chancellor had departed from Number 11 Downing Street
and made the familiar, but short distance by shiny car
It was Philip Hammond's first Autumn Statement,
it turned out to be the last Commons occasion to be so-named.
After days of speculation, interest was considerable
in what the Chancellor might be about to deliver.
But before announcing any new measures, Mr Hammond started
by saying he was proud to be reporting on an economy
which the International Monetary Fund had predicted
would be the fastest growing in the world this year.
An economy which, through the hard work of the British people,
has bounced back from the depths of Labour's recession.
And an economy which has confounded commentators at home and abroad
with its strength and resilience since the British people decided
exactly five months ago today to leave the European Union and
Mr Speaker, that decision will change the course
It has thrown into sharp relief the fundamental strengths
of the British economy that will ensure our future success.
from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Today's OBR forecast is for growth to be 2.1% in 2016,
In 2017, the OBR forecast growth to slow to 1.4%,
which they attribute to low investment and weak consumer demand,
given respectively by greater uncertainty and by high inflation,
resulting from sterling appreciation.
That is slower, of course, than we would wish.
Mr Speaker, it is customary in the run-up to the Autumn
Statement to hear representations from the Shadow Chancellor
of the day, usually for untenable levels of spending and borrowing.
We used to think on this side of the House that Ed Balls' demands
were an extreme example but I have to say the current Shadow Chancellor
has outperformed him in the fiscal incontinence
What we don't know, of course, is whether he can also dance.
The Chancellor said UK productivity had to be improved.
I can announce that we are forming a new national productivity
investment fund of ?23 billion, to be spent on innovation
and infrastructure over the next five years.
So we will focus government infrastructure investment
With a new ?2.3 billion housing infrastructure fund to deliver
infrastructure for up to 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand.
And to provide affordable housing that supports a wide range of need,
we will invest a further ?1.4 billion to deliver 40,000
So today I can announce the national Living Wage
will increase from ?7.20 to ?7.50 in April next year.
That is a pay rise worth over ?500 a year
I can also confirm today that, having consulted further,
my right honourable friend the communities secretary will lower
the transitional relief cap from 45% next year to 43%,
That is complicated, but it is good news.
Mr Speaker, our future transport, business and lifestyle needs
will require world-class digital structure to underpin them.
It says here, because I wrote it here.
This is my first Autumn Statement as Chancellor.
After careful consideration and detailed discussion
with the Prime Minister, I have decided that it will also
Mr Speaker, I am abolishing the Autumn Statement.
No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice
So the Spring Budget in a few months will be the final Spring Budget.
Starting in autumn 2017, Britain will have an Autumn Budget,
announcing tax changes well in advance of the
From 2018, there will be a Spring Statement, responding to...
We are a great nation, bold in our vision, confident
in our strengths and determined in our ambition to
build a country that works for everyone.
I commend this statement to the House.
Unlike the Budget, the Autumn Statement
is replied to not by the Oppositon Leader,
John McDonnell had caused some entertainment in the chamber
a year ago when he brought to the despatch box
a copy of Chairman Mao's "little red book"
Mr McDonnell said the time since Labour left power in 2010
Mr Speaker, today's statement places on record the abject failure
And offers no hope for the future.
The so-called long-term economic plan has failed.
And as the Treasury's own leaked paper revealed,
the Government knew it had failed before the referendum
The greatest economic challenge of a generation,
and we face it unprepared and ill-equipped.
Today, we have seen the very people the Prime Minister promised
The Chancellor has failed to break with the economic
The country remains unprepared and ill-equipped to meet
the challenges of Brexit and secure Britain's future as a
After all the sacrifices, after all the sacrifices people have
made over the last six years, I fear today's statement has laid
the foundations for more wasted years.
And then came the response from the SNP benches.
The Chancellor did give us plenty of information today,
but with no more than kind of a glib reference to being match
fit at the beginning and a bit of deflection,
very little actually on the elephant in the room, which is Brexit.
It is not as if the Treasury don't know what the consequences will be.
Their own assessment tells us that tax yield could be down 66 billion
a year after 15 years, GDP down perhaps 9.5%,
a figure confirmed by the LSE as a result of reduced trade,
That amounts to some ?6,500 per year per household.
And plenty of questions from backbench MPs
May I congratulate the Chancellor on reverting to the extremely
sensible practice of only having one Budget a year, which Gordon Brown
abandoned in order to try to buy votes twice a year
The OBR tells us on page 19, Mr Speaker, that ?58 billion
of the worsening in the public finances is due to
Isn't this a salutary warning to us about the decisions we take
Isn't it a very strong argument for us remaining as close
as possible to our largest trading area, the single market,
and inside, not outside the customs union?
The Chancellor's Autumn Statement suggests yet more public borrowing,
with total public debt due to increase to ?1.6 trillion
in the New Year and 1.9 trillion by 2020,
Rather than a reflection of Brexit, is the accumulation of these
unsustainable levels of public debt not due to the failures of his
predecessor to match his words with deeds and get a grip
Disappointingly, this Chancellor has joined his predecessor in failing
to mention the words "climate change" even just once
That is in the year that is the hottest on record,
set to be the hottest on record, and when part of the country
The elevation of the condition of working people has always been
a priority of the Conservative party and, in that vein, I particularly
welcome the fiscal changes in the Autumn Statement,
particularly fuel duty, tax allowances and the national
Living Wage, which I campaigned for for many years.
There is actually not one single mention in the 72 page
Autumn Statement document of the words NHS, social care,
The Chancellor cannot ignore the fact that our health and social
care services are in crisis, facing massive, massive deficits.
The North of England is crying out for a plan for investment
in rail, and people will be left asking today, where is it?
But it is also crying out for investment in social care
and, quite frankly, Mr Speaker, it is unbelievable
that the Chancellor could find no mention for it today.
An awful lot of R money, funding, is going to fund my constituency.
The scientific businesses I have in South Cambridgeshire have been
worried since Brexit, so thank you for that.
East/West rail links and road links will help us
But, overall, for the money in universal credit,
It's not everything we wanted, but I very much welcome the money
The last word in the Commons on the Autumn Statement.
You're watching our round-up of the day at Westminster.
The last word in the Commons on the Autumn Statement.
You're watching our round-up of the day at Westminster.
Could Sir Philip Green's yachts be sold to fill the black hole
Normally, the centre-stage act in Parliament on Wednesdays
This time, it had to take second billing.
So, before the Autumn Statement got underway, the Labour leader decided
to make social care for elderly and vulnerable people the key
Jeremy Corbyn accused Theresa May of failing to fund adequately both
the National Health Service and also social care budgets in England.
The Prime Minister told him that Labour government's had failed
to come up with a suitable plan to deal with the rapidly
expanding demands placed on care services.
Part of the reason for the strain on our National Health Service
is that more than 1 million people are not receiving
As a result of this, there's been an increase
in emergency admissions for older patients.
Margaret wrote to me this week, saying...
She described how her 89-year-old mother suffered two falls,
leading to a hospital admissions, due to the lack of nursing care.
What action will the Prime Minister take
to stop the neglect of older people, which ends up forcing them
when they should be cared for at home, or in a care home?
Well, we've introduced the Better Care Fund
Let's just look at what Labour did
They... They said they'd...
They said they deal with social care in the '97 manifesto.
Introduced a royal commission in 1999.
Said they'd sort it in the CSR of 2007.
Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister well knows, health spending
trebled under the last Labour government.
And the levels of satisfaction with the National Health Service
This government's choice was to cut social care by ?4.6 billion
At the same time as they found the space,
shall we say, to cut billions in corporate taxation bills.
The whole house, I'm sure, would have been appalled
by the revelations in the BBC Panorama programme this week,
showing older people systematically mistreated.
The Care Quality Commission's assessment that care homes
run by the Morley Group require improvement.
And they have issued a warning notices.
The Commission goes on to say that the owner has allowed services
to deteriorate further and has, and I quote...
"Utterly neglected the duty of care to the residents of these homes".
What action is her government going to take to protect
What we do about it is ensure that we have the CQC,
which is able to step in, which takes action, which has powers
to make sure that nobody, nobody in the chain
of responsibility is immune from legal accountability.
But we know that there's more that can be done.
That's why the CQC is looking into ways in which it can
improve its processes, increase sufficiency.
The Scottish National Party focused on disability benefits.
It's widely trailed that the Prime Minister
will make changes impacting on benefit recipients in work.
Will the Prime Minister confirm that she has no intention
of helping people with disabilities and medical conditions?
Why should people who are unable to earn a living be punished
for their disability or illness by losing ?30 a week?
Does she have any intention of changing that?
The overall funding and spending on disability benefits will be
higher every year to 2020 than it was in 2010.
But it is also important to recognise that,
when we give support for people with disabilities,
it isn't simply about the benefits system and how much
For those workers who are able to get into work and on that part
of the ESA we provide packages which are outside of the benefits.
Because we recognise that people want the dignity
That's what we are helping people with disabilities,
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson was accused of being "provocative"
and "arrogant" after apparently telling politicians in Turkey
he supports their country's bid to join the EU.
The leading German Member of the European Parliament,
Manfred Weber, called the Foreign Secretary's comments
"unbelievable", given his warnings about Turkish migrants
during the referendum campaign in Britain.
The German MEP said, "I cannot respect him anymore".
on the words of the German politician.
The Brexit Secretary and the Foreign Secretary
are described by a senior German politician as...
"having no idea what Brexit really means".
The Times reports today that EU ambassadors think
the Foreign Secretary's more colourful outbursts
are damaging our relationship with member states.
When is the Prime Minister going to get a grip on her ministers?
And when she going to demonstrate the country,
that she has a coherent, workable plan for Brexit?
I've been very clear in this house on many occasions about the plan
Crucially, we will be leaving the European Union.
And we will be triggering Article 50 by the end of March next year.
And that's when the formal negotiations will start.
As millions of public sector workers face another year of suppressed pay,
after another week of shambolic Brexit negotiations,
and with a National Health Service facing the winter crisis,
and crying out for cash, does the Prime Minister worry
that her government is only just about managing?
What the Right Honourable gentleman wants to do is to stop us
from leaving the European Union by denying the people the decision
and the deliverability of the vote that they took rightly on 23rd June.
He wants to deny people what they want.
Earlier this year, the Lib Dem MP and former Minister Norman Lamb
put forward a proposal to ban the use
when dealing with incidents in mental health units.
On that occasion, the Commons voted down the proposal.
But there's been a long-standing campaign from human rights activists
sometimes called electro-shock weapons -
on patients in psychiatric hospitals.
When a Lib Dem peer raised the issue at Lords Question Time,
this was the reply of a Home Office Minister.
My Lords, there is ongoing work to ensure that any operational
police decisions on the use of force in a mental health setting
This includes development of a new protocol on police
attendance, national collection from 2017 to 2018
of police data on any force used.
And a request to local areas to scrutinise the use of any Taser
I thank the minister for that response.
But she will know that a recent Independent Police Complaints
Commission report has stated that people suffering from mental illness
are four times more likely to die after police use of force
Will the government look at the possibility that better
training for police officers in how to deal with people suffering
from mental health illness might alleviate the need for them
Because they might understand better how to deal with the situation?
It cannot be the position that the police officers
are called in to mental health units, actually into the units,
unless there has been a major failure of care
This is blaming the people who are clearing up the mess,
rather than dealing with the problem itself.
I think that we agree on one level, because if somebody has got a mental
health problem or is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is a health
issue. However, if somebody experiences of behaviour that is
both a danger to themselves or to others, including staff within these
mental health settings, then there may be no other option. These
situations are rare, but there may be no other option then for police
restraint to be used. Seven months ago came news that
British Home Stores had collapsed, with debts of more
than ?1.25 billion. In October, MPs took the
unusual step to vote for a removal of the knighthood
given to the shop's former owner, Since then, there's been
speculation that Sir Philip might have something else
taken away, namely his yachts. Sir Philip's been pictured more
than once apparently enjoying life on board in various
Mediterranean locations. But could the yachts be used
to fill the large deficit A question for the
Work and Pensions Committee. First of all, I would like to assure
that the NHS pension scheme members that we are pursuing the best
possible outcome that we can secure for them. -- BHS. On the 2nd of
November, we issued a warning notice, giving indication of our
intention to attempt to use our powers against various targets. The
committee will understand that I am reluctant to discuss the precise
terms of settlement offers and so on. What I can say is that typically
in these situations, it is not... If it was as simple as a check being
written, then we'd all be happy that that would be a good outcome if it
was a right to some. It could be though? Absolutely right. But if the
offer takes a more complex form in some way, then we have to not just
be satisfied that the monetary amounts are correct. But also to
ensure a good outcome for the members that there is not any
residual risk. My last question, partly because the public have been
lobbying me over it. This ostentatious display of his boats.
That might be for the courts to decide? That is correct.
And that's where we tie up our boat for now.
But do join me for our next daily round-up from Westminster.
Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.