Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 14 December, presented by Kristiina Cooper.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.
The main news from Westminster: Labour demands a big changing tack
on funding for social care.
Why doesn't she do something really bold?
Cancel the Corporation Tax cut and put the money
into social care instead?
Theresa May accuses previous Labour Governments
of ducking the issue.
13 years and no action whatsoever.
Also on the programme: The Education Secretary says she's
introducing a fairer funding system for schools, but Labour says
disadvantaged areas will lose money.
That will mean the one-to-one tuition going, it will mean
the catch-up classes going, it means the extra curricula,
the drama, the Shakespeare, all those vital things that
I want to see kids in Moss Side and Moston doing,
will be going as a result of a funding crisis.
But first, it was the last Prime Minister's Questions of 2016
and it certainly got off to a jovial start, with a few jokes
at the expense of the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Mr Speaker, can I take the opportunity to wish
you and all the members of the House a merry Christmas
and a happy New Year.
Mr Speaker, in the light of the Foreign Secretary's display
of chronic foot in mouth disease, when deciding on Cabinet positions,
does the Prime Minister now regret that pencilling "F O" by his name
should have been an instruction, not a job offer?
There's far too much noise in the chamber.
We've heard the question, but I want to hear the Prime Minister's answer.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
First of all, I join the honourable gentleman in wishing
everybody a happy Christmas.
I will, of course, have an opportunity to do
that again on Monday, when I'm sure the House will be
as full for the statement on the European Council meeting.
Funny, it seems to come from this side, "Yes",
but not from the Labour side.
And I have to say that the Foreign Secretary is doing
an absolutely excellent job.
He is, in short, an FFS - a fine Foreign Secretary.
But it was soon back to serious business,
with some spirited exchanges about social care for older
and disabled people.
The Government is set to allow local councils in England to further
increase the amount they can raise for social care via council tax
- what's known as a social care precept.
But the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thought there was another way.
The Prime Minister doesn't seem to be aware that 4.6
billion was cut from the social care budget in the last
And that her talk of putting it into local Government
ought to be taken for what it is, a con.
2% of council tax is clearly nonsense.
95% of councils use this social care precept and it raised
less than 3% of the money they planned to spend on adult social
Billions seem to be available for tax giveaways to corporations,
not mentioned in the Autumn Statement, underfunded and many
elderly people left isolated and in crisis because of the lack of
Government funding of social care.
We see many councils around the country that have taken
the benefit of the social care precept and have,
as a result, actually seen more people being able to access social
care and needs being met.
Sadly, there are also some councils across
the country, some Labour councils, who haven't taken that opportunity,
where we do see a worse performance in relation to social care.
But the Right Honourable gentleman once
again refers to the issue of money.
I might remind him that at the last election,
the then Shadow Chancellor said if Labour were in Government,
there would be not a penny more for local authorities.
And also that when recently asked about...
When recently asked about spending more
money on social care, the Labour Shadow Health
Secretary said, when
he was asked where the money would come from, he said, "Ooh, well,
"we're going to have to come up with a plan for that."
Jeremy Corbyn said the impact of raising council tax
vary across the country.
For example, if you raise the council
tax in Windsor and Maidenhead, you get quite a lot of money.
If you raise the council tax precept in
Liverpool or Newcastle, you get a lot less.
Is she saying that older people, frail, elderly, vulnerable
people are less valuable in our big cities than they are in wealthier
parts of the country?
The crisis affects individuals, it affects
families and it affects the National Health Service.
So why doesn't she do something really bold?
Cancel the corporation tax cut and put the
money into social care instead?
Well, the Right Honourable gentleman has quoted
Newcastle Council in the
list that he said there.
I have to say, Newcastle Council is one of the
councils where we saw in September virtually no delayed discharges.
So elderly people were not being held
up in hospital when they didn't need to be and when they didn't want to
So what this shows is that it is possible
for councils to deliver on
Councils work very hard to try to cope with a 40% cut in
their budgets across the whole country and the people who pay the
price are those who are stuck in hospital who should be allowed to go
home and those who aren't getting the care and support they need.
This is a social care system that is deep
The crisis is made in Downing Street by this Government.
This social care crisis forces people to give up work, to care for
loved ones, because there isn't the system to do it.
It makes people stay in hospital longer than they
should and leads people into a horrible, isolated life, when they
should be cared for by all of us through a properly funded social
Get a grip and fund it properly, please.
The issue of social care is indeed one that has
been ducked by governments for too long.
That is why it is this Government...
It is this Government that will provide a long-term,
sustainable system for social care that gives reassurance to people.
But when he talks about governments ducking social care, let's look at
that 13 years of Labour in Government.
In 1997, they said they'd sort it in their
They had a royal commission in 1999.
A Green paper in 2005.
The Wanless report in 2006.
In 2007, in the CSR, they said they'd sort it.
In 2009, they had another green paper.
13 years and no action whatsoever.
Time now to catch up on the latest twists and turns of Brexit.
David Davis, the Brexit secretary, had his
first appearance in front of the committee
set up to investigate the
UK's exit from the EU.
Now, the Chancellor said on Monday there is an
emerging view amongst business regulators and thoughtful
politicians that it would be generally helpful to have a longer
period to manage the adjustment as we leave the European Union.
Can we classify you as a thoughtful politician when it comes to
Well, I am not sure about the second qualification.
I am hopeful that you can classify me as a thoughtful
politician in that context.
Let me be clear about where I think we are
Firstly, as the Prime Minister has said a number of times
and I have said a number of times, what we're after is a smooth and
orderly exit - that is the overarching aim.
People get frustrated with us sticking to overarching aims,
but the point is that is what we are trying to do.
That is the purpose or at least part of the tactic and
And within that box, we want to get the maximum market
access for British companies with the minimum of disruption, and so we
will do what is necessary to that aim.
What if all of those things can't be negotiated within the...
It could be 18 months, depending on...?
Well, it has been said it will be 18 months and I think
that it is all negotiable in that time.
That is the sort of core of this, really.
We have got a lot to do, but that is one of the
You may have thought perhaps my opening answer was that was not
that helpful, but it is one of the reasons
we are taking our time to
get prepared on all fronts.
That is why our 57 studies cover 85% of the
Everything except sectors that are not affected by
So we are aiming to get ourselves into a
position where we can negotiate within the article 50 process.
After all, the article 50 process
was written to allow departure from the European Union.
That is its purpose and plainly the architects of
it, the authors of it, thought that it was time
enough to do the job.
You are watching Wednesday in Parliament
with me, Christina Cooper.
Labour MPs have criticised plans for a
shake-up in the way state schools in England are funded.
The Government wants to introduce a new formula
that places greater emphasis on factors such as sparsity of
population when allocating funds.
Our school funding system, as it exists today, is unfair, it is
opaque, and it is outdated.
The reality is that patchy and inconsistent decisions
on funding have built up over many years on
data that is sometimes a decade or more out of date.
She outlined how the new formula would work.
We are proposing to protect resources for
pupils who come from disadvantaged families and are taking a broad view
to target ?3 billion annually of funding
most in need of support.
Our formula will prioritise not only children in
receipt of free school meals but also those who live in areas of
disadvantage, helping to support many more families who are most
likely to be just about managing to get by.
We will also protect those small, rural schools which are so
important for their local communities by inclusion of a
Thirdly, alongside a basic amount and an uplift for
disadvantage, we will be directing ?2.4 billion per year in funding
towards pupils with low prior attainment at both primary and
Can the Secretary of State tell the house how exactly
a funding formula can be fair when it means that a third of local
authorities and around 10,000 schools serving over 2 million
children will be losing money?
In a period where pupil numbers and inflation
is rising in tandem, the
pressure on school budgets will continue to increase.
In a constituency like mine, which is a
loser under this formula, where I have over 50%
of children living in
poverty, the second-highest constituency in the entire country
losing money to their school budgets, that will mean the
one-to-one tuition going, it means the catch-up classes going,
it means the extracurricula, the drama,
the Shakespeare, all of those vital things that I want to see kids
in Moss Side and Moston doing will be going as a result of her funding
crisis and this announcement today.
The concern in Liverpool will be the coming on top
of substantial cuts to
local Government funding - our schools will lose
out at a time when they
are finding it challenging to recruit teachers and head teachers.
She is dressing it up very well, but isn't the reality
of what the Secretary of State
announcing today is that some of the schools in the most deprived
parts of the country facing the biggest
challenges are going to see money taken away from them and that money
given to other schools elsewhere?
Wouldn't it be much fairer for her to have
gone to the Chancellor and
said have some more money to bring the gap up that way.
Instead, what she is making is that teachers will
become redundant to pay for this change.
Indisputable, absolutely indisputable, that school overheads
are going up and more secondary schools are going to go into debt.
Why are we continuing to squander money on pointless pet
projects and restructuring?
Surely it is a huge diversion now?
We have seen year-on-year improvements in the education
system, as one of my predecessors said on the Today Programme
earlier this week.
I do think it's important we continue the reforms we have
already got under way and that's precisely what we are doing.
A Conservative supported the new formula.
Does the Secretary of State agree with me that it starts to address
the myth that constituencies like Cheltenham and Gloucestershire
do not have areas of deprivation?
The reality is that Cheltenham has intense urban challenges and this
starts to address funding on the basis of need
and not postcode.
I strongly agree with him.
I think that up until now, school funding has been the ultimate
postcode lottery and funding is really overly being determined
by where children are growing up.
That's completely unacceptable.
If we're really going to make Britain, and in this
case schools in England, a country where all schools can
progress, we have to get on with the reform.
progress, we have to get on with fair funding.
Staying with education matters, the Lords has been discussing
a proposal to enable 10,000 children from low-income families to attend
private schools in England.
The idea has been mooted by the Independent schools Council
The idea has been mooted by the Independent Schools Council
in response to a Government consultation on the
future of education.
The council says that if the Government pays
around ?5,000 a year, the cost of a state school
place, private schools would cover the rest.
My Lords, we welcome the positive way which the Independent Schools
Council has responded to the consultation document
Schools That Work For Everyone by putting forward a number
of proposals for ways in which the independent school
sector can achieve the aim of improving access to families
at a good school places.
The consultation period closed on Monday this week
and we are considering all responses received and will be publishing our
response in due course.
My Lords, I declare my interest as a former general secretary
of the Independent Schools Council and current president
of the Independent Schools Association,
one of the Council's constituent bodies.
Has my noble friend noted that the proposals contain plans
that are specifically designed to assist social mobility
by providing large numbers of new places across the age range
based on need and need alone at no extra cost to the Government?
So this is not a repetition of the assisted places scheme.
I wonder if the minister realises how unrealistic this is for areas
like the north-east and given that that is one of the prime areas
where there needs to be both improvement in education outcomes
and in social mobility, it really isn't going to make much effect.
We have very few independent schools in the north-east.
That's for history reasons, because there's never been enough
money around to support them, and on that basis, will the Minister
make sure that this is not seen as a realistic way of addressing
what is a very important issue in our part of the country?
I agree entirely with the noble lady's comments about the education
issues in the north-east and, of course, this isn't a panacea.
Only 7% of the population are educated in private schools
and they are predominantly in the south of England, so,
as I say, our proposals will have to be practical.
as I say, our proposals will have to be practicable.
What this reveals is the cost of educating a pupil in the state
sector is about ?5,500.
Meanwhile, the average cost of private school fees
is about three times that, which I think is very revealing
in terms of the different offers to children in the different sectors.
But will the Minister say if he knows whether or not this
offer would be conditional on selection tests being operated
to see who would be able to take up those places?
Because if that happened, would he not agree with me that
what would be not so much poor children per se were helped,
that already bright children themselves were helped to achieve
what they would very likely have achieved in the state sector anyway?
Would he agree that if selection is to be involved in this offer,
then the Government should not accept it?
Well, there are a range of proposals being submitted under
the consultation document.
Some will involve selection and some won't and we will look at them
all before we designed the final proposals more carefully.
Now, last month, there was a brief walk-out by prison officers
in protest at the escalating violence in jails in England.
On that day, the Justice Committee had been due to hear from governors
of the six reform prisons who have been given greater control
over their affairs.
That session had to be cancelled because of the walk-out,
but this time they finally made it.
And they reckoned they had a good news story to tell.
We are in the process, for example, of fitting 494 grilles to windows
as a deterrent to drones, smuggling of drugs,
and actually to ensure that rubbish isn't thrown out of the windows.
We want a decent environment.
This is a healthy prison and it starts with having
a clean environment, where staff and prisoners
feel better themselves.
So we've done a whole range of things.
Some of the technical stuff right through to the relationship issues,
and I think we've seen...
I mean, I've looked at some of the figures for violence, etc,
etc, and we appear to be doing- early days- but we appear
but we appear to be doing better.
Would you say the way the Government characterises this as the biggest
shake-up since the Victorian era is really how it feels in terms
of the way your rules have changed?
I mean, again...
So there is something really fundamental happening
in the way we run our presence that is different to how
in the way we run our prisons that is different to how
we have run them, I mean, all the time I have been associated.
You've got well over 100 years of prison experience in front
of you this morning and this is feeling significantly different
in terms of how we are operating.
The biggest single difference at the moment is not having
the sense of the line manager telling us what to do and shaping
how we are behaving, so that is kind of significantly different.
Prison officers have gone from being something
which is prestigious, professionalised to almost
de-skilled and infantalised.
I exaggerate to make the point.
Do you think that you're going to be in a position to bring back,
restore the professional pride,
so that people can say I can have professional career development
and I'm going to go places, I'm going to become a proper skilled
professional in my own right?
Is this going to help you do that?
So that is fundamentally an aim of what we are trying to do.
I mean if, in terms of her prison officers have been seen in the past,
I mean if, in terms of how prison officers have been seen in the past,
I'm not sure they have ever have the respect they deserved,
at any time, in the time that I have been...
They never get mentioned in the same way, for example,
alongside nurses, police officers.
Nobody thinks about the fact that there will be thousands
of prison officers working on Christmas Day.
They will talk about nurses, they'll talk about police,
but they won't talk about prison officers.
So I'm not sure they've ever had the respect they deserve
for the work that they do.
Prison officers will say they don't want to be locking
locking and unlocking, doing exercise, taking
prisoners to education,
coming back again and repeating the same stuff in the afternoon.
They will absolutely say to you, I think without fail,
that they want to be able to engage effectively to help people.
Again, we all have our little nuances, I'm sure.
My sense of success for us will be when I see prison officers sitting
on the end of beds helping men read and write letters and then
encouraging them to go into education because there
is a need there that they've identified.
My guys simply don't have time to do that work right now.
I don't think we've ever had such a positive session on prisons.
Your enthusiasm is striking and I think slightly surprising
for the committee to hear.
To go back to challenges, I am sorry, for a minute,
do you feel that the new freedoms you have are actually
helping you with staff relations, for example?
Can we deal with that first?
Particularly as you couldn't come last time because of a quite major
staff relations issue.
If you're a member of staff walking along on A Wing today, would
you feel significantly different?
Well, staff facilities have improved a little bit,
we've invested in wellbeing, with talked about training,
we've invested in wellbeing, we've talked about training,
we talk about recruitment, we talk about what the
regime will look like.
But fundamentally, it still feels pretty similar at Wandsworth.
It's probably safer, is less violent, there's lest drugs around,
It's probably safer, is less violent, there's less drugs around,
but fundamentally as a prison officer, you don't see colleagues...
There is that slowness, but it's been since the 1st of July,
so there is that transition to have to make here.
Of course, the really important outcomes around reducing reoffending
back in the community and doing that through improved outcomes around
housing and employment, those are going to take longer.
We would expect to see difference within a couple of years in those
outcomes and much more immediately in terms of the impact,
so more education, more work, more time out and therefore less
violence, less drugs, those are the things we need to see
much more quickly in a matter of weeks and months.
Bringing the session to a close, the committee chairman,
the Conservative Bob Neill, wished the witnesses luck
in their role as trailblazers for the new regime.
Now, the United States is going to limit arms sales
to Saudi Arabia over concerns about civilian casualties
during the conflict in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is conducting air strikes in Yemen in a bid to help
the Government put down a rebellion.
The SNP leader at Westminster is putting pressure on the UK
Government to follow the American lead.
The US Government has just said that, and I quote,
"Systematic endemic problems in Saudi Arabia's targeting drove
the US decision to hold a future weapons sale
the US decision to halt a future weapons sale
involving precision-guided munitions."
The Saudis have UK-supplied precision-guided Paveway 4 missiles.
They're made in Scotland.
The UK has licensed ?3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia
since the beginning of the bombing campaign.
What will it take for the UK to adopt an ethical foreign policy
when it comes to Yemen?
Well, as the Right Honourable Gentleman knows,
the intervention in the UN...
..in Yemen is a UN-backed intervention.
As I've said previously, where there are allegations
of breaches of international humanitarian law, then we require
those to be properly investigated.
We do have a relationship with Saudi Arabia, the security
of the Gulf is important to us and I would simply also remind
the Honourable Gentleman that, actually, Saudi intelligence,
the counter-terrorism links we have from Saudi Arabia,
the intelligence we get from Saudi Arabia has saved
potentially hundreds of lives here in the UK.
Now, as a turbulent year draws to a close, the late MP Jo Cox
is very much in the thoughts of her colleagues.
This coming Friday is exactly six months since the Labour MP
was murdered in her constituency.
As a tribute to Jo Cox, the Parliamentary rock band MP4,
along with several pop stars, have released a single.
It's a cover of the Rolling Stones' song You Can't Always
Get What You Want.
Proceeds from the download will go to the Jo Cox Foundation.
Sadly, Mr Speaker, our late colleague Jo Cox will not be
celebrating Christmas this year with her family.
She was murdered and taken from us.
So I hope the Prime Minister, I'm sure she will, will join me
in encouraging people to download the song, which many
members helped to create, as a tribute to Jo's life and work
and in everlasting memory of her.
Well, The Right Honourable gentleman is absolutely right
to raise this issue.
I'm sure everybody in this House wishes to send a very clear message
to download this signal...
this single for the Jo Cox Foundation.
It's a very important cause and we all recognise that Jo Cox
was a fine member of this House and would have carried
on contributing significantly to this House and to this country
had she not been brutally murdered.
It's right, I think the Chancellor is waiving the VAT on the single,
I think everybody involved in it has in fact given their
services for free.
I'm having a photograph with MP4 later this afternoon.
Peter Wishart is a member of MP4.
And once again, once again, let's just encourage everybody
to download this single.
There were rave reviews from the Speaker, who called MP
for "An outstanding band".
Well, that's it from Wednesday in Parliament, but do join me
at the same time tomorrow for another round-up
of the news from Westminster.
Until then, from me, Christina Cooper, goodbye.