08/02/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


08/02/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 8 February, presented by Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Wednesday In Parliament,

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our look at the best of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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On this programme, the Bill that triggers the UK's EU departure

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process finally clears the Commons and heads for the Lords.

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The ayes to the right, 494. The noes to the left, 122.

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As a local authority abandons a large council tax rise

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to pay for social care, the Labour leader presses Theresa

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Is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing

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the social care crisis created by her government?

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The last thing social care providers need is another one of Labour's

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bouncing cheques! A minister in the Lords calms fears

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about those absent vegetables The only shortage will be of iceberg

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lettuce, which we think will be for about a few months

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and there is a wonderful variety But first, the Bill that authorises

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ministers to trigger Article 50, the process by which the UK

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starts its departure from the European Union,

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has cleared the House of Commons. The EU Notification

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of Withdrawal Bill will now move on to the House of Lords,

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where it will undergo Before the Bill's final day

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of debate in the Commons, the Brexit process was brought up

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at Prime Minister's Questions Angus Robertson focused

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on the decision of the Scottish Parliament to reject the triggering

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of Article 50. When the Prime Minister

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was in Edinburgh on the 15th of July last year, she pledged

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that she would, and I quote," not trigger Article 50 until she had

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an agreed UK wide approach." So, given the Scottish Parliament

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has voted overwhelmingly against her approach and all bar one

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MP representing a Scottish constituency in this House

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of Commons has voted against her approach, she does not

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have an agreed UK-wide approach. Now, Mr Speaker, as the Prime

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Minister knows, a lot of people in Scotland watch primaries this

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questions so will she tell the viewers in Scotland

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whether she intends to keep her word The Supreme Court was very clear

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that the Scottish parliament does not have a veto on the triggering

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Article 50. The Bill that is going through

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the House obviously is giving the power to the government

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to trigger Article 50 and I would also remind him of this

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point because he constantly refers to the interests of Scotland

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inside the European Union. An independent Scotland would not be

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in the European Union. Then came a reference

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to Kenneth Clarke's speech The Prime Minister's Right

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Honourable friend the member for Rushcliffe last week pointed out

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that her aspiration to achieve barrier-free, tariff-free trade

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with the single market getting all the benefits but paying none

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of the costs was actually akin to disappearing down the rabbit

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hole to Wonderland. Mr Speaker, I think she makes a very

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interesting choice for Alice but if she doesn't manage to achieve

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that high ambition, would she produce an analysis

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of what trading on WTO rules would actually mean for our economy,

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so we can make a proper choice? We believe it is possible

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within the two-year time frame to get the agreement,

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not just for our withdrawal from the European Union, but also

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the trade arrangements that will ensure we have a strong

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strategic partnership with the European Union

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in the future. Shortly after PMQs, the Commons

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moved onto more discussion on the details of the EU

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Notification of Withdrawal Bill, The co-leader of the Greens,

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Caroline Lucas, seized on the fact that Theresa May has not expressed

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any guarantees so far about the rights of EU nationals

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living and working in the UK. What we talking about

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here people's lives. People's lives are not

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simply commodities to be traded at the convenience

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of some wider bargain. The Prime Minister quite simply

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could and should guarantee to people who have made their lives

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here in good faith that of course The idea that it is appropriate

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to do otherwise I think is quite Will the honourable lady

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give way on that point? Is she aware as I am of EU nationals

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in very senior positions in UK institutions who are already leaving

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the country and people who are EU nationals who are being interviewed

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for senior positions, who are now asking very searching questions

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about what does Brexit mean for them I want to make sure that this issue

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is put into perspective. Out of the 3.5 million EU nationals

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currently residing in the UK, approximately 64% of them already

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have the right to stay here. 8% of them are children of an EU

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National parent and therefore they have a right to reside

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here and 12% of the 3.5 million people will have accrued

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there five years of permanent We can't even deport

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convicted criminals. The truth is that not

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a single EU national is ever I agree wholeheartedly with that,

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and that would be against any ideas of natural justice,

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legitimate expectation and the rule of law if we were to be going down

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that course of action. The Prime Minister could vote to

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guarantee those rights for EU nationals working here. She could

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make clear that they will not be used as a bargaining chip and we

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could end their uncertainty today. Likewise, we will also want to

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safeguard the rights for Brits living in Europe too. But, I

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believe, by adopting a positive approach today, we make it more

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likely Brits living in the EU will be treated fairly.

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The issue of EU nationals was once again raised this afternoon.

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It has been debated also earlier this week.

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I want to once again state to the House that the government

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fully recognises that the issue of EU nationals resident

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in the United Kingdom is an extremely important one

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and one which we wish to address as a matter of priority,

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just as we wish to address the issue of the rights of UK nationals

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This, however, has got to be a matter that is addressed

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And after the detailed committee stage of the Bill was finished,

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the legislation entered what's known as its Third Reading stage.

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And when a final vote of the House took place,

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The ayes to the right 494. The noes to the left, 122. CHEERING

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The ayes to the right, 494, the noes to the left 122. The ayes have it,

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the ayes have it! Claims that the government agreed

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a behind-the-scenes deal with a Conservative-controlled

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council over the funding of social care have you made

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by the Labour leader, Surrey County Council was due

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to hold a referendum of its residents to gain approval

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for a 15% rise in council tax to pay for the cost of care in Surrey

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for elderly and vulnerable people. The vote was called off

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and the 15% rise was withdrawn. A much smaller increase

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will be made instead. At Prime Minister's Questions,

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Jeremy Corbyn said the problems of paying for social care

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across the country The crisis is so bad

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that until yesterday, Mr Speaker, David Hodge,

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the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council planned

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to hold a referendum for a 15% And at the last minute

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it was called off. Can the Prime Minister tell

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the House whether or not a special I recognise the short-term

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pressures, that's why we have enabled local authorities to put

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more money into social care. Over the next two years

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?900 million more will be Mr Speaker, my question was how

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is there been a special The leaders said they had had many

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conversations with the government. We know they have because I have

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been leaked copies of texts sent by the Tory leader David Hodge

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intended for somebody called Nick who works for ministers

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in the Department for Communities These texts read, "I'm advised that

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DCLG officials have been working on a solution and you will be

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contacting me to agree Will the government now publish this

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memorandum of understanding? What the Labour Party fail

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to understand is that this is not just a question of looking at money,

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it is a question of looking at spreading best practice

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and finding a sustainable solution and I have to say to him that

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if we look at social care provision across the entire country,

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the last thing social care providers need is another one

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of Labour's bouncing cheques. Mr Speaker, I wonder

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if it is anything to do with the fact that the Chancellor

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and Health Secretary both represent But Mr Speaker, there was a second

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text from Surrey County Council leader to Nick and in the second

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text it says "the numbers you indicated are numbers that

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I understand are acceptable for me Now, I have been reading a bit

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of John le Carr and apparently And he goes on to say

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it his text to make, "If it is possible for that info

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to be sent to myself, So, how much did the government

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offer Surrey to kill this off and is the same sweetheart deal

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on offer to every council facing the social care crisis

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created by her government? Yet again, what we get from Labour

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are alternative facts. What they really need

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is an alternative leader. What he always fails to recognise,

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what he fails to recognise, is you can only spend money

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on social care and the National Health Service if you have a strong

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economy to deliver the wealth A Labour MP has recently returned

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to the Commons after going hospital It has been absolutely

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wonderful, the service I got, but there is a flip side

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and the flip is what We have dedicated nurses,

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you call them corridor nurses, and they are in the corridor

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and looking after To be quite honest with you,

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Prime Minister, that's not the way we want the health service to run,

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we want it to run the way Get your purse open and give them

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the money that they want. Well, as the speaker said,

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I welcome the honourable gentleman to his place again in this chamber

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and I commend all those, the surgeon and all those

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who have treated him in the National Health Service that

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has enabled him to be here today There are, as we know,

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surgeons, doctors, nurses, other staff up and down the NHS day

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in and day out saving lives and we should commend them

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for all that they do. The north-east actually is a very

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good example of some of the really good practice that we see

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in the National Health Service. What I want to see is that good

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practice being spread across the NHS As we long suspected,

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the Prime Minister is a keen During Prime Minister's Questions,

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she told MPs how often should choose It all stemmed from a question put

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to Theresa May by an SNP MP Does the Prime Minister agree that

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in a 21st-century Parliament, the rules should not enable any

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member to speak for 58 minutes Does she agree with me

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that the rules of the House should be changed to prevent filibustering

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and to ensure that members on all sides of the House get a fair

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share of the time available? I have to say I find that

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a rather curious question Last night as it happens I was out

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of the House to wean the two votes. I switched on the BBC

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parliamentary channel and I saw I switched back to the

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parliamentary channel. I saw the honourable

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gentleman still speaking. I switched back and the honourable

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gentleman was still speaking. He's the last person to complain

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about filibustering in this House. You're watching our round-up

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of the day in the Commons As overseas veg

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becomes more scarce in the an appeal for

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shoppers to buy British. The Government's faced demands

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for a limit on the amount that high street banks can charge customers

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who have an unarranged overdraft. The calls follow an investigation by

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the consumer organisation "Which?" into what it's called

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the "punitive" charges. It found the cost to borrowers

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of an unauthorised overdraft was even higher than the cost

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charged by a payday lender. In a debate in Westminster Hall,

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MPs joined "Which?" in urging the Government

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and the watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority -

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the FCA, to take action. The major banks currently make over

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?1 billion per year on charges The majority of whom,

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says the head of the Competition and Markets Authority,

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from financially Step Change debt charity has

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estimated that around 1 million people in the UK are trapped

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in an overdraft cycle, and are consistently

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using overdrafts to meet essential found consumers needing as little

:17:17.:17:18.

as ?100 could be charged up to ?156 more by some major high street banks

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than The Financial Conduct Authority allows payday loan companies

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to charge when borrowing the same So as an example they compare

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the cost of borrowing ?100 for 30 days and found that arranged

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overdraft charges at some high street banks were as much a 7.5

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times higher than the maximum charge of ?24 on a payday loan

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on the same period. Sometimes it is in the banks'

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interest to allow customers to amass massive overdrafts so they can push

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them on to even higher personal loans and other products

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which they might not need and may not be the right thing

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for their circumstances. The Government is committed

:18:04.:18:12.

to doing two things. Firstly, to making sure

:18:13.:18:14.

that we support and encourage competition amongst financial

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services providers, not only so people have more choice

:18:18.:18:18.

over who to bank with, but because we know more competition

:18:19.:18:21.

inevitably means better options on offer to customers who can vote

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with their feet. But secondly we want to make sure

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that British customers are supported in the important financial

:18:28.:18:31.

decisions they make. The FCA, he said, was already

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investigating high-cost credit, We will, I can reassure honourable

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members, the Government will be monitoring closely the work

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of the FCA in looking at this area and I am sure,

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and I will say it again, that the views expressed

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by honourable members this morning will be taken into consideration

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as the Committee We will also be continuing our

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efforts as a Government, We have taken steps

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to encourage competition. We have taken steps

:19:03.:19:05.

to support credit unions. We've taking steps to improve

:19:06.:19:08.

financial education. Added to this, approach that this

:19:09.:19:15.

Government will continue to take steps to ensure British customers

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have the quality choices, good information, and strong

:19:18.:19:19.

protections they need. Voters are to be asked to produce

:19:20.:19:22.

a form of identification at polling stations under new plans

:19:23.:19:25.

being trialled by the Government. It follows a review published last

:19:26.:19:29.

year into tackling electoral fraud. But at question-time in the Commons,

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a Labour MP said a requirement for ID could lead to some people

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being denied their right to vote. In December 2008 I was an election

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observer in Bangladesh, and because of previous voter fraud

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they actually photographed 18 million people and it was clearly

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identifiable when the people went Because we need in a democracy

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as many people to vote as possible but we don't want theft of identity

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when people vote. My right honourable friend makes

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a very good point around There are many countries

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across the world including Canada, Brazil, Austria, that already have

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photographic ID when it comes to registering in polling stations,

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including in Northern Ireland The Government is taking

:20:18.:20:19.

forward pilots looking This will take place in local

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government elections in 2018 and we will be willing to test these

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forms of identification, photographic ID, non-photographic

:20:29.:20:32.

ID, above all to ensure that no one is disenfranchised

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when it comes to voting. The Government's talk of voter

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fraud is a smoke screen They are putting obstacles

:20:45.:20:46.

between people and the polling booth instead of working

:20:47.:20:54.

to boost our democracy. If it is such a problem then

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they must report how many convictions there has been

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from voter fraud last year. I am surprised that the honourable

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gentleman for somehow claiming It was a Labour Government

:21:06.:21:07.

introduced photographic ID The Electoral Commission

:21:08.:21:12.

and all other electoral administrators have called for ID

:21:13.:21:16.

in polling stations. The case of Ched Evans,

:21:17.:21:23.

the Wales international footballer eventually found not guilty of rape,

:21:24.:21:26.

has thrown into the spotlight the issue of how far

:21:27.:21:29.

cross-examinations in court In the Commons, a Plaid Cymru MP has

:21:30.:21:31.

said women are being unfairly subjected to "humiliating"

:21:32.:21:37.

questioning over their sexual history and, even,

:21:38.:21:41.

their choice of clothing. She was introducing a Bill under

:21:42.:21:44.

Parliament's 10-minute rule that would limit the ability

:21:45.:21:47.

of barristers to bring in evidence about an accuser's sexual history

:21:48.:21:51.

in an assault trial. The provisions in this Bill

:21:52.:21:56.

are all based on the distressing experiences of victims

:21:57.:21:59.

of serious sexual claims. Ivy, a rape victim, was told

:22:00.:22:01.

at a ground rules hearing that her sexual history

:22:02.:22:04.

would not be used. But in court she faced

:22:05.:22:06.

questions and allegations Emma was followed by a stranger

:22:07.:22:09.

who attacked and tried to rape her. Her screams were met with a threat

:22:10.:22:16.

of stop or be killed. Fortunately two off-duty police

:22:17.:22:20.

officers heard her screams. The trial fixated on why Emma

:22:21.:22:23.

chose to wear a red dress The humiliation of victims of sexual

:22:24.:22:27.

assault by reference to matters irrelevant to the case cannot be

:22:28.:22:31.

allowed to continue. The Bill won the initial support

:22:32.:22:36.

of MPs, but is not likely to become law without the support

:22:37.:22:39.

of the Government. Now, it's probably not at the top

:22:40.:22:47.

of the Prime Minister's in-tray. But the shortage of items

:22:48.:22:49.

on the fruit and veg shelves of our supermarkets -

:22:50.:22:53.

following recent bad weather in Southern Europe--

:22:54.:22:55.

has certainly led to The absence of courgettes

:22:56.:22:57.

in particular prompted a flurry Some reports have declared that

:22:58.:23:00.

Britain is 'in the grip of a courgette shortage that

:23:01.:23:04.

could last for months'. In the House of Lords,

:23:05.:23:07.

a Minister was keen to calm our You will have seen the news reports

:23:08.:23:13.

of empty shelves in supermarkets, with the crisis expected to last

:23:14.:23:19.

until the spring, and meanwhile prices have trebled,

:23:20.:23:23.

in part because it costs more to fly vegetables from the USA

:23:24.:23:27.

and from Egypt than that does Can I ask, given the public

:23:28.:23:30.

health implications, has the department ensured

:23:31.:23:35.

that there are sufficient alternative sources of vegetables,

:23:36.:23:37.

particularly in schools Can I also ask is the department

:23:38.:23:40.

monitoring the prices to make sure My Lords, my officials have been

:23:41.:23:45.

discussing this matter In point of fact the

:23:46.:23:55.

situation is improving. The climate conditions in Spain

:23:56.:23:58.

and the Mediterranean are enabling the situation to improve,

:23:59.:24:02.

but not only that, there are other sources of supply from the Americas

:24:03.:24:04.

which are coming in. But I would say that this is a time

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when we should be reflecting about using our own wonderful

:24:09.:24:12.

nutritious British vegetables, and at the moment, all I can say

:24:13.:24:17.

is in the last few years food prices And I think that may

:24:18.:24:21.

deal with what some of the Labour Baroness

:24:22.:24:30.

may have been implying. Would not any rational man or woman

:24:31.:24:32.

think that to describe a shortage of lettuces in the supermarket

:24:33.:24:36.

as a crisis shows a lack of understanding of the meaning of

:24:37.:24:40.

the words in the English language? My Lords, I was seeking to be

:24:41.:24:45.

courteous to the noble Baroness The only shortage will be of iceberg

:24:46.:24:58.

lettuce which we think will be for about a few months,

:24:59.:25:03.

and there is a wonderful variety My Lords, my Lords, my Lords,

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half of vegetables we eat in this country are imported,

:25:06.:25:10.

including native crops Isn't it time for the Government's

:25:11.:25:11.

forthcoming green paper on food and farming to tackle this decline

:25:12.:25:17.

in home grown veg? My Lords, I thoroughly endorse

:25:18.:25:22.

the wish that we all have It's precisely going

:25:23.:25:25.

to be at the heart of But very much so, in fact

:25:26.:25:30.

I was pleased only this morning to hear that cauliflowers

:25:31.:25:40.

from Cornwall are coming So we have a great opportunity again

:25:41.:25:42.

to buy some British vegetables. I think it is only fair

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we go with the Greens My huge thanks to the

:25:50.:25:52.

Leader of the House. Back in 2008 at the request

:25:53.:25:59.

of the then mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, I produced a report

:26:00.:26:02.

on how to make London more sustainable in its food supplies,

:26:03.:26:05.

and part of that was actually Would the noble Lord the Minister

:26:06.:26:07.

like me to forward a copy of my report for the Government's

:26:08.:26:11.

use to contribute I am sure the paper,

:26:12.:26:13.

and I would like to see a copy, endorses the importance of having

:26:14.:26:19.

lower food miles, which means But do join me for our

:26:20.:26:22.

next daily round-up. Until then, from me,

:26:23.:26:30.

Keith McDougall, goodbye.

:26:31.:26:41.

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