14/12/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


14/12/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 14 December, presented by Kristiina Cooper.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.

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The main news from Westminster: Labour demands a big changing tack

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on funding for social care.

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Why doesn't she do something really bold?

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Cancel the Corporation Tax cut and put the money

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into social care instead?

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Theresa May accuses previous Labour Governments

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of ducking the issue.

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13 years and no action whatsoever.

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Also on the programme: The Education Secretary says she's

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introducing a fairer funding system for schools, but Labour says

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disadvantaged areas will lose money.

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That will mean the one-to-one tuition going, it will mean

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the catch-up classes going, it means the extra curricula,

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the drama, the Shakespeare, all those vital things that

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I want to see kids in Moss Side and Moston doing,

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will be going as a result of a funding crisis.

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But first, it was the last Prime Minister's Questions of 2016

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and it certainly got off to a jovial start, with a few jokes

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at the expense of the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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Mr Speaker, can I take the opportunity to wish

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you and all the members of the House a merry Christmas

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and a happy New Year.

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Mr Speaker, in the light of the Foreign Secretary's display

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of chronic foot in mouth disease, when deciding on Cabinet positions,

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does the Prime Minister now regret that pencilling "F O" by his name

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should have been an instruction, not a job offer?

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LAUGHTER

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Mr...

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Order!

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There's far too much noise in the chamber.

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We've heard the question, but I want to hear the Prime Minister's answer.

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Prime Minister.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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First of all, I join the honourable gentleman in wishing

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everybody a happy Christmas.

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I will, of course, have an opportunity to do

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that again on Monday, when I'm sure the House will be

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as full for the statement on the European Council meeting.

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Funny, it seems to come from this side, "Yes",

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but not from the Labour side.

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And I have to say that the Foreign Secretary is doing

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an absolutely excellent job.

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He...

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He is, in short, an FFS - a fine Foreign Secretary.

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But it was soon back to serious business,

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with some spirited exchanges about social care for older

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and disabled people.

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The Government is set to allow local councils in England to further

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increase the amount they can raise for social care via council tax

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- what's known as a social care precept.

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But the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thought there was another way.

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The Prime Minister doesn't seem to be aware that 4.6

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billion was cut from the social care budget in the last

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parliament.

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And that her talk of putting it into local Government

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ought to be taken for what it is, a con.

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2% of council tax is clearly nonsense.

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95% of councils use this social care precept and it raised

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less than 3% of the money they planned to spend on adult social

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care.

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Billions seem to be available for tax giveaways to corporations,

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not mentioned in the Autumn Statement, underfunded and many

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elderly people left isolated and in crisis because of the lack of

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Government funding of social care.

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We see many councils around the country that have taken

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the benefit of the social care precept and have,

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as a result, actually seen more people being able to access social

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care and needs being met.

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Sadly, there are also some councils across

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the country, some Labour councils, who haven't taken that opportunity,

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where we do see a worse performance in relation to social care.

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But the Right Honourable gentleman once

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again refers to the issue of money.

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I might remind him that at the last election,

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the then Shadow Chancellor said if Labour were in Government,

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there would be not a penny more for local authorities.

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And also that when recently asked about...

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When recently asked about spending more

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money on social care, the Labour Shadow Health

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Secretary said, when

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he was asked where the money would come from, he said, "Ooh, well,

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"we're going to have to come up with a plan for that."

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Jeremy Corbyn said the impact of raising council tax

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vary across the country.

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For example, if you raise the council

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tax in Windsor and Maidenhead, you get quite a lot of money.

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If you raise the council tax precept in

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Liverpool or Newcastle, you get a lot less.

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Is she saying that older people, frail, elderly, vulnerable

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people are less valuable in our big cities than they are in wealthier

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parts of the country?

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The crisis affects individuals, it affects

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families and it affects the National Health Service.

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So why doesn't she do something really bold?

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Cancel the corporation tax cut and put the

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money into social care instead?

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Well, the Right Honourable gentleman has quoted

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Newcastle Council in the

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list that he said there.

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I have to say, Newcastle Council is one of the

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councils where we saw in September virtually no delayed discharges.

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So elderly people were not being held

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up in hospital when they didn't need to be and when they didn't want to

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be.

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So what this shows is that it is possible

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for councils to deliver on

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the ground.

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Councils work very hard to try to cope with a 40% cut in

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their budgets across the whole country and the people who pay the

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price are those who are stuck in hospital who should be allowed to go

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home and those who aren't getting the care and support they need.

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This is a social care system that is deep

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in crisis.

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The crisis is made in Downing Street by this Government.

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This social care crisis forces people to give up work, to care for

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loved ones, because there isn't the system to do it.

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It makes people stay in hospital longer than they

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should and leads people into a horrible, isolated life, when they

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should be cared for by all of us through a properly funded social

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care system.

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Get a grip and fund it properly, please.

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The issue of social care is indeed one that has

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been ducked by governments for too long.

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That is why it is this Government...

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It is this Government that will provide a long-term,

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sustainable system for social care that gives reassurance to people.

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But when he talks about governments ducking social care, let's look at

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that 13 years of Labour in Government.

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They said...

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In 1997, they said they'd sort it in their

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manifesto.

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They had a royal commission in 1999.

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A Green paper in 2005.

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The Wanless report in 2006.

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In 2007, in the CSR, they said they'd sort it.

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In 2009, they had another green paper.

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13 years and no action whatsoever.

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Time now to catch up on the latest twists and turns of Brexit.

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David Davis, the Brexit secretary, had his

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first appearance in front of the committee

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set up to investigate the

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UK's exit from the EU.

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Now, the Chancellor said on Monday there is an

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emerging view amongst business regulators and thoughtful

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politicians that it would be generally helpful to have a longer

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period to manage the adjustment as we leave the European Union.

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Can we classify you as a thoughtful politician when it comes to

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transitional arrangements?

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Well, I am not sure about the second qualification.

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I am hopeful that you can classify me as a thoughtful

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politician in that context.

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Let me be clear about where I think we are

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going.

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Firstly, as the Prime Minister has said a number of times

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and I have said a number of times, what we're after is a smooth and

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orderly exit - that is the overarching aim.

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People get frustrated with us sticking to overarching aims,

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but the point is that is what we are trying to do.

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That is the purpose or at least part of the tactic and

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strategy.

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And within that box, we want to get the maximum market

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access for British companies with the minimum of disruption, and so we

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will do what is necessary to that aim.

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What if all of those things can't be negotiated within the...

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It could be 18 months, depending on...?

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Well, it has been said it will be 18 months and I think

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that it is all negotiable in that time.

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That is the sort of core of this, really.

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We have got a lot to do, but that is one of the

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reasons.

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You may have thought perhaps my opening answer was that was not

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that helpful, but it is one of the reasons

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we are taking our time to

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get prepared on all fronts.

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That is why our 57 studies cover 85% of the

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economy.

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Everything except sectors that are not affected by

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international trade.

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So we are aiming to get ourselves into a

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position where we can negotiate within the article 50 process.

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After all, the article 50 process

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was written to allow departure from the European Union.

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That is its purpose and plainly the architects of

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it, the authors of it, thought that it was time

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enough to do the job.

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You are watching Wednesday in Parliament

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with me, Christina Cooper.

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Labour MPs have criticised plans for a

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shake-up in the way state schools in England are funded.

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The Government wants to introduce a new formula

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that places greater emphasis on factors such as sparsity of

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population when allocating funds.

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Our school funding system, as it exists today, is unfair, it is

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opaque, and it is outdated.

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The reality is that patchy and inconsistent decisions

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on funding have built up over many years on

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data that is sometimes a decade or more out of date.

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She outlined how the new formula would work.

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We are proposing to protect resources for

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pupils who come from disadvantaged families and are taking a broad view

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to target ?3 billion annually of funding

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most in need of support.

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Our formula will prioritise not only children in

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receipt of free school meals but also those who live in areas of

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disadvantage, helping to support many more families who are most

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likely to be just about managing to get by.

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We will also protect those small, rural schools which are so

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important for their local communities by inclusion of a

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sparsity factor.

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Thirdly, alongside a basic amount and an uplift for

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disadvantage, we will be directing ?2.4 billion per year in funding

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towards pupils with low prior attainment at both primary and

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secondary schools.

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Can the Secretary of State tell the house how exactly

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a funding formula can be fair when it means that a third of local

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authorities and around 10,000 schools serving over 2 million

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children will be losing money?

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In a period where pupil numbers and inflation

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is rising in tandem, the

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pressure on school budgets will continue to increase.

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In a constituency like mine, which is a

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loser under this formula, where I have over 50%

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of children living in

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poverty, the second-highest constituency in the entire country

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losing money to their school budgets, that will mean the

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one-to-one tuition going, it means the catch-up classes going,

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it means the extracurricula, the drama,

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the Shakespeare, all of those vital things that I want to see kids

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in Moss Side and Moston doing will be going as a result of her funding

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crisis and this announcement today.

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The concern in Liverpool will be the coming on top

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of substantial cuts to

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local Government funding - our schools will lose

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out at a time when they

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are finding it challenging to recruit teachers and head teachers.

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She is dressing it up very well, but isn't the reality

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of what the Secretary of State

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announcing today is that some of the schools in the most deprived

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parts of the country facing the biggest

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challenges are going to see money taken away from them and that money

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given to other schools elsewhere?

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Wouldn't it be much fairer for her to have

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gone to the Chancellor and

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said have some more money to bring the gap up that way.

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Instead, what she is making is that teachers will

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become redundant to pay for this change.

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Indisputable, absolutely indisputable, that school overheads

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are going up and more secondary schools are going to go into debt.

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Why are we continuing to squander money on pointless pet

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projects and restructuring?

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Surely it is a huge diversion now?

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We have seen year-on-year improvements in the education

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system, as one of my predecessors said on the Today Programme

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earlier this week.

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I do think it's important we continue the reforms we have

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already got under way and that's precisely what we are doing.

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A Conservative supported the new formula.

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Does the Secretary of State agree with me that it starts to address

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the myth that constituencies like Cheltenham and Gloucestershire

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do not have areas of deprivation?

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The reality is that Cheltenham has intense urban challenges and this

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starts to address funding on the basis of need

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and not postcode.

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I strongly agree with him.

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I think that up until now, school funding has been the ultimate

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postcode lottery and funding is really overly being determined

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by where children are growing up.

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That's completely unacceptable.

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If we're really going to make Britain, and in this

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case schools in England, a country where all schools can

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progress, we have to get on with the reform.

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progress, we have to get on with fair funding.

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Staying with education matters, the Lords has been discussing

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a proposal to enable 10,000 children from low-income families to attend

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private schools in England.

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The idea has been mooted by the Independent schools Council

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The idea has been mooted by the Independent Schools Council

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in response to a Government consultation on the

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future of education.

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The council says that if the Government pays

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around ?5,000 a year, the cost of a state school

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place, private schools would cover the rest.

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My Lords, we welcome the positive way which the Independent Schools

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Council has responded to the consultation document

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Schools That Work For Everyone by putting forward a number

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of proposals for ways in which the independent school

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sector can achieve the aim of improving access to families

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at a good school places.

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The consultation period closed on Monday this week

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and we are considering all responses received and will be publishing our

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response in due course.

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My Lords, I declare my interest as a former general secretary

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of the Independent Schools Council and current president

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of the Independent Schools Association,

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one of the Council's constituent bodies.

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Has my noble friend noted that the proposals contain plans

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that are specifically designed to assist social mobility

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by providing large numbers of new places across the age range

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based on need and need alone at no extra cost to the Government?

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So this is not a repetition of the assisted places scheme.

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I wonder if the minister realises how unrealistic this is for areas

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like the north-east and given that that is one of the prime areas

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where there needs to be both improvement in education outcomes

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and in social mobility, it really isn't going to make much effect.

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We have very few independent schools in the north-east.

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That's for history reasons, because there's never been enough

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money around to support them, and on that basis, will the Minister

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make sure that this is not seen as a realistic way of addressing

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what is a very important issue in our part of the country?

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I agree entirely with the noble lady's comments about the education

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issues in the north-east and, of course, this isn't a panacea.

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Only 7% of the population are educated in private schools

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and they are predominantly in the south of England, so,

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as I say, our proposals will have to be practical.

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as I say, our proposals will have to be practicable.

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What this reveals is the cost of educating a pupil in the state

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sector is about ?5,500.

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Meanwhile, the average cost of private school fees

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is about three times that, which I think is very revealing

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in terms of the different offers to children in the different sectors.

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But will the Minister say if he knows whether or not this

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offer would be conditional on selection tests being operated

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to see who would be able to take up those places?

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Because if that happened, would he not agree with me that

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what would be not so much poor children per se were helped,

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that already bright children themselves were helped to achieve

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what they would very likely have achieved in the state sector anyway?

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Would he agree that if selection is to be involved in this offer,

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then the Government should not accept it?

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Well, there are a range of proposals being submitted under

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the consultation document.

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Some will involve selection and some won't and we will look at them

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all before we designed the final proposals more carefully.

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Now, last month, there was a brief walk-out by prison officers

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in protest at the escalating violence in jails in England.

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On that day, the Justice Committee had been due to hear from governors

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of the six reform prisons who have been given greater control

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over their affairs.

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That session had to be cancelled because of the walk-out,

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but this time they finally made it.

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And they reckoned they had a good news story to tell.

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We are in the process, for example, of fitting 494 grilles to windows

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as a deterrent to drones, smuggling of drugs,

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and actually to ensure that rubbish isn't thrown out of the windows.

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We want a decent environment.

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This is a healthy prison and it starts with having

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a clean environment, where staff and prisoners

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feel better themselves.

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So we've done a whole range of things.

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Some of the technical stuff right through to the relationship issues,

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and I think we've seen...

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I mean, I've looked at some of the figures for violence, etc,

0:18:350:18:38

etc, and we appear to be doing- early days- but we appear

0:18:380:18:43

but we appear to be doing better.

0:18:430:18:45

Would you say the way the Government characterises this as the biggest

0:18:450:18:48

shake-up since the Victorian era is really how it feels in terms

0:18:480:18:51

of the way your rules have changed?

0:18:510:18:53

I mean, again...

0:18:530:18:54

So there is something really fundamental happening

0:18:540:18:57

in the way we run our presence that is different to how

0:18:570:19:00

in the way we run our prisons that is different to how

0:19:000:19:06

we have run them, I mean, all the time I have been associated.

0:19:060:19:09

You've got well over 100 years of prison experience in front

0:19:090:19:11

of you this morning and this is feeling significantly different

0:19:110:19:14

in terms of how we are operating.

0:19:140:19:16

The biggest single difference at the moment is not having

0:19:160:19:18

the sense of the line manager telling us what to do and shaping

0:19:180:19:21

how we are behaving, so that is kind of significantly different.

0:19:210:19:24

Prison officers have gone from being something

0:19:240:19:26

which is prestigious, professionalised to almost

0:19:260:19:27

de-skilled and infantalised.

0:19:270:19:30

I exaggerate to make the point.

0:19:300:19:33

Do you think that you're going to be in a position to bring back,

0:19:330:19:36

restore the professional pride,

0:19:360:19:37

so that people can say I can have professional career development

0:19:370:19:40

and I'm going to go places, I'm going to become a proper skilled

0:19:400:19:43

professional in my own right?

0:19:430:19:44

Is this going to help you do that?

0:19:440:19:46

So that is fundamentally an aim of what we are trying to do.

0:19:460:19:49

I mean if, in terms of her prison officers have been seen in the past,

0:19:490:19:53

I mean if, in terms of how prison officers have been seen in the past,

0:19:530:19:56

I'm not sure they have ever have the respect they deserved,

0:19:560:19:59

at any time, in the time that I have been...

0:19:590:20:02

They never get mentioned in the same way, for example,

0:20:020:20:04

alongside nurses, police officers.

0:20:040:20:05

That's true.

0:20:050:20:06

Nobody thinks about the fact that there will be thousands

0:20:060:20:08

of prison officers working on Christmas Day.

0:20:080:20:10

They will talk about nurses, they'll talk about police,

0:20:100:20:12

but they won't talk about prison officers.

0:20:120:20:14

So I'm not sure they've ever had the respect they deserve

0:20:140:20:17

for the work that they do.

0:20:170:20:18

Prison officers will say they don't want to be locking

0:20:180:20:20

locking and unlocking, doing exercise, taking

0:20:200:20:22

prisoners to education,

0:20:220:20:23

coming back again and repeating the same stuff in the afternoon.

0:20:230:20:26

They will absolutely say to you, I think without fail,

0:20:260:20:28

that they want to be able to engage effectively to help people.

0:20:280:20:31

Again, we all have our little nuances, I'm sure.

0:20:310:20:34

My sense of success for us will be when I see prison officers sitting

0:20:340:20:37

on the end of beds helping men read and write letters and then

0:20:370:20:40

encouraging them to go into education because there

0:20:400:20:42

is a need there that they've identified.

0:20:420:20:44

My guys simply don't have time to do that work right now.

0:20:440:20:46

I don't think we've ever had such a positive session on prisons.

0:20:460:20:49

Your enthusiasm is striking and I think slightly surprising

0:20:490:20:51

for the committee to hear.

0:20:510:20:55

To go back to challenges, I am sorry, for a minute,

0:20:550:20:58

do you feel that the new freedoms you have are actually

0:20:580:21:04

helping you with staff relations, for example?

0:21:040:21:05

Can we deal with that first?

0:21:050:21:07

Particularly as you couldn't come last time because of a quite major

0:21:070:21:10

staff relations issue.

0:21:100:21:15

If you're a member of staff walking along on A Wing today, would

0:21:150:21:18

you feel significantly different?

0:21:190:21:20

Well, staff facilities have improved a little bit,

0:21:200:21:21

we've invested in wellbeing, with talked about training,

0:21:210:21:23

we've invested in wellbeing, we've talked about training,

0:21:230:21:25

we talk about recruitment, we talk about what the

0:21:250:21:27

regime will look like.

0:21:270:21:28

But fundamentally, it still feels pretty similar at Wandsworth.

0:21:280:21:30

It's probably safer, is less violent, there's lest drugs around,

0:21:300:21:33

It's probably safer, is less violent, there's less drugs around,

0:21:330:21:35

but fundamentally as a prison officer, you don't see colleagues...

0:21:350:21:38

There is that slowness, but it's been since the 1st of July,

0:21:380:21:41

so there is that transition to have to make here.

0:21:410:21:44

Of course, the really important outcomes around reducing reoffending

0:21:440:21:46

back in the community and doing that through improved outcomes around

0:21:460:21:49

housing and employment, those are going to take longer.

0:21:490:21:52

We would expect to see difference within a couple of years in those

0:21:520:21:56

outcomes and much more immediately in terms of the impact,

0:21:560:22:00

so more education, more work, more time out and therefore less

0:22:000:22:05

violence, less drugs, those are the things we need to see

0:22:050:22:08

much more quickly in a matter of weeks and months.

0:22:080:22:12

Bringing the session to a close, the committee chairman,

0:22:120:22:14

the Conservative Bob Neill, wished the witnesses luck

0:22:140:22:17

in their role as trailblazers for the new regime.

0:22:170:22:21

Now, the United States is going to limit arms sales

0:22:210:22:23

to Saudi Arabia over concerns about civilian casualties

0:22:230:22:26

during the conflict in Yemen.

0:22:260:22:29

Saudi Arabia is conducting air strikes in Yemen in a bid to help

0:22:290:22:32

the Government put down a rebellion.

0:22:320:22:33

The SNP leader at Westminster is putting pressure on the UK

0:22:330:22:36

Government to follow the American lead.

0:22:360:22:39

The US Government has just said that, and I quote,

0:22:390:22:43

"Systematic endemic problems in Saudi Arabia's targeting drove

0:22:430:22:48

the US decision to hold a future weapons sale

0:22:480:22:54

the US decision to halt a future weapons sale

0:22:540:22:57

involving precision-guided munitions."

0:22:570:22:58

The Saudis have UK-supplied precision-guided Paveway 4 missiles.

0:22:580:23:00

They're made in Scotland.

0:23:000:23:01

The UK has licensed ?3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia

0:23:010:23:05

since the beginning of the bombing campaign.

0:23:050:23:09

What will it take for the UK to adopt an ethical foreign policy

0:23:090:23:12

when it comes to Yemen?

0:23:120:23:16

Well, as the Right Honourable Gentleman knows,

0:23:160:23:19

the intervention in the UN...

0:23:190:23:21

..in Yemen is a UN-backed intervention.

0:23:210:23:25

As I've said previously, where there are allegations

0:23:250:23:28

of breaches of international humanitarian law, then we require

0:23:280:23:30

those to be properly investigated.

0:23:300:23:33

We do have a relationship with Saudi Arabia, the security

0:23:330:23:37

of the Gulf is important to us and I would simply also remind

0:23:370:23:40

the Honourable Gentleman that, actually, Saudi intelligence,

0:23:400:23:45

the counter-terrorism links we have from Saudi Arabia,

0:23:450:23:47

the intelligence we get from Saudi Arabia has saved

0:23:470:23:52

potentially hundreds of lives here in the UK.

0:23:520:23:54

Now, as a turbulent year draws to a close, the late MP Jo Cox

0:23:540:23:58

is very much in the thoughts of her colleagues.

0:23:580:24:01

This coming Friday is exactly six months since the Labour MP

0:24:010:24:04

was murdered in her constituency.

0:24:040:24:05

As a tribute to Jo Cox, the Parliamentary rock band MP4,

0:24:050:24:09

along with several pop stars, have released a single.

0:24:090:24:12

It's a cover of the Rolling Stones' song You Can't Always

0:24:120:24:14

Get What You Want.

0:24:140:24:16

Proceeds from the download will go to the Jo Cox Foundation.

0:24:160:24:20

Sadly, Mr Speaker, our late colleague Jo Cox will not be

0:24:200:24:24

celebrating Christmas this year with her family.

0:24:240:24:26

She was murdered and taken from us.

0:24:260:24:29

So I hope the Prime Minister, I'm sure she will, will join me

0:24:290:24:32

in encouraging people to download the song, which many

0:24:320:24:36

members helped to create, as a tribute to Jo's life and work

0:24:360:24:39

and in everlasting memory of her.

0:24:390:24:44

Well, The Right Honourable gentleman is absolutely right

0:24:440:24:46

to raise this issue.

0:24:460:24:50

I'm sure everybody in this House wishes to send a very clear message

0:24:500:24:53

to download this signal...

0:24:530:24:54

this single for the Jo Cox Foundation.

0:24:540:24:55

It's a very important cause and we all recognise that Jo Cox

0:24:550:24:58

was a fine member of this House and would have carried

0:24:580:25:01

on contributing significantly to this House and to this country

0:25:010:25:05

had she not been brutally murdered.

0:25:050:25:08

It's right, I think the Chancellor is waiving the VAT on the single,

0:25:080:25:11

I think everybody involved in it has in fact given their

0:25:110:25:13

services for free.

0:25:130:25:15

I'm having a photograph with MP4 later this afternoon.

0:25:150:25:18

Peter Wishart is a member of MP4.

0:25:180:25:22

LAUGHTER

0:25:220:25:24

And...

0:25:240:25:27

And once again, once again, let's just encourage everybody

0:25:270:25:30

to download this single.

0:25:300:25:32

There were rave reviews from the Speaker, who called MP

0:25:320:25:38

for "An outstanding band".

0:25:380:25:39

Well, that's it from Wednesday in Parliament, but do join me

0:25:390:25:42

at the same time tomorrow for another round-up

0:25:420:25:44

of the news from Westminster.

0:25:440:25:45

Until then, from me, Christina Cooper, goodbye.

0:25:450:25:50

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