22/02/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 22 February presented by Kristiina Cooper.

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.


The Labour leader says the Government has put


England's NHS and social care in a state of emergency.


We need a Government that puts the NHS first,


But the Prime Minister says Labour policies would leave no money


That doesn't help doctors and nurses, it doesn't help


patients, it doesn't help the NHS, and it doesn't help ordinary,


working families up and down this country.


The Local Government Secretary says he understands only too well


the pain caused by increases to business rates.


Growing up above the family shop, I saw for myself the impact


an increase in rates can have on small businesses.


A rise in the costs lowered the mood of the whole family.


Even as a child, I knew it wasn't good when I found a stack of bright


red final reminders hidden away at the back of the drawer.


A fortnight ago, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sprang a surprise


on Theresa May at Prime Minister's Questions.


He read out leaked text messages which, he said,


indicated the Government had offered Surrey County Council a special deal


His remarks were widely reported, and the Department


for Local Government spent the day rejecting the assertions.


At the latest session of PMQs, Mr Corbyn returned


to the same territory, saying that the Government had put


health and social care in a "state of emergency".


Her friend, the Tory chair of the Local Government Association,


Lord Porter, has said, and I quote:


Extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money


to alleviate the growing pressure on social care.


Two weeks ago, we found out about the sweetheart


When will the other 151 social services departments in England get


The right honourable gentleman refers to the questions he asked me


about Surrey County Council two weeks ago.


Those claims were utterly destroyed the same afternoon.


So rather than asking the same question, he should


Mr Speaker, far from apologising, it's the Prime Minister who ought


to be reading her correspondence and answering the letter


from 62 council leaders, representing social services


authorities, who want to know if they're going to get


the same deal as Surrey, as they are grappling


with the crisis which has left over a million people not getting


Theresa May insisted it was her Conservative Government


that was putting extra funding into the NHS.


I remind the right honourable gentleman that we are spending


1.3 billion more on the NHS this year than Labour planned to do if


Let's just look at what's happening in the NHS.


We have 1800 more midwives in the NHS than 2010.


We have more people being seen in accident


We have more operations taking place every week


Our National Health Service staff are working hard,


they're providing a quality of care for patients up


What they don't need is a Labour Party policy that leads


to a bankrupt economy, because Labour's policy is that


you spend money on everything, which means you


and have no money to spend on anything.


That doesn't help doctors and nurses, it doesn't help


patients, it doesn't help the NHS, and it doesn't help ordinary,


working families up and down this country.


Her Government has put the NHS and social care


Nine out of ten NHS trusts are unsafe.


18,000 patients a week are waiting...


Mr Speaker, I repeat the figure - 18,000 patients a week are waiting


We need a Government that puts the NHS first,


First of all, I have to say to the right honourable gentleman,


that he should consider correcting the record.


Because 54% of hospital trusts are considered good or outstanding.


Quite different from the figure he has shown.


Secondly, I will take no lessons on the NHS...


Oh, the deputy leader of the Labour Party says we should


I won't take any lessons from the party that presided over


Remember Labour used to talk about boom and bust?


Now it's no longer boom and bust, it's borrow and bankrupt.


Representatives of international children's charities have strongly


criticised the decision to wind down the scheme to give sanctuary


The Government says the arrangement is acting as an incentive


for children in warzones to make dangerous sea crossings to Europe.


The Home Affairs Committee is investigating the issue.


When the Dubs scheme was first announced,


it was very clearly about targeting the most vulnerable children,


and we thought that was absolutely the right thing to do.


It makes very little sense to us that the scheme


would be cancelled now, when we know there are still 2500


unaccompanied children in Greece, ten times as many in Italy and many


We are very disappointed that the Dubs scheme has closed.


We would like the Dubs scheme to remain open and remain as a safe


and legal route for unaccompanied child refugees that are in Europe


I think the impact we have seen of the closure,


and some of the confusion around what has been going on


To take a handful of local authorities, in Lewisham,


they've offered 23 places for unaccompanied minors,


only one of those has been filled since that offer was made.


Also aware of the real disjuncture between the National Transfer Scheme


and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales,


and if the Dubs provision is conflated with the National


Transfer Scheme, it denies those nations the opportunity


to make a full contribution we believe they desire to.


When a country that's as capable and relatively wealthy as the UK -


the fifth-largest economy in the world, a country that has


real expertise in child protection, that has real expertise in our staff


at the Home Office - when a country like ours is seen


to close the door in the face of child refugees and refuse


to help, it is really noticed by other countries in the world.


The Government has said that one of their reasons


for closing the Dubs scheme is because they think


it was increasing the pull factor, that it was increasing the risk


of children becoming involved in trafficking.


If there is ever some very strong evidence to suggest


that this kind of scheme or any one like it was doing harm


by encouraging children to make dangerous journeys,


then we would have a problem with that too.


For that reason, we accepted the need for a date cutoff


point when we first had the scheme announced.


I think there is very little evidence in this particular context


that a scheme like Dubs would act as a pull factor.


There is evidence that safe and legal routes protect children,


and the question we should be asking ourselves is,


what intervention is most likely to make children safe?


And we have evidence that a route to safety


is that intervention, so that's what we should pursue.


You spoke earlier on - forgive me, I didn't make


detailed enough notes - about what capacity you felt


that there was within local authories, because, unfortunately it


tends to contradict what we're told when local authorities tell us


that they don't have the capacity, that they already have children


in care that they need to find homes for.


If Lewisham has 22 spaces going, and only 150 children are proposed


to be resettled through the entire Dubs programme, in its entirety,


that's a very significant proportion to go to just one London borough.


Proportionally, actually, we're finding there are quite large


I think a huge amount could be done through the LGA and other forums


to help share learning and best practice at local authority level,


to, number one, help channel the interest and goodwill


that we know exists to try and support refugee


children into foster care that is actually


The committee then heard from local government representatives.


It is almost chicken and egg about capacity.


If they Dubs scheme continues, do you think local councils could offer


more? We have been clear that support is


contingent upon resourcing. We had been it clear that councils across


the country are under pressure, and want to know that commitment to


taking in a refugee child doesn't mean that they can't make a


responsibility to another child in the area. That message has been very


clear. The UK's former Ambassador


to the European Union has warned MPs that the EU will want to play


hardball with the UK over Brexit and could refuse to strike a free


trade deal unless the UK contributes Sir Ivan Rogers -


who quit in January - was making his second appearance


this year before The budgetary issue now comes


to the fore, and I think we can expect a number of them to think,


well, if the British want a future trade deal,


and they want some sort of transitional arrangements before


a future trade deal - all big ifs - then this will come together at some


gory European Council in the autumn of 2018,


and will come together And there will be some


who want to play hardball and say, well, absent British money over


a transitional period, why the hell should we give


them any trade deal? I'm not saying that's


a majority view, I wouldn't be in a position


from my discussions before Christmas to know exactly where people


will come out on that. It was very early days


there, pre-Christmas. All I was conscious


of from the discussions I was having with opposite numbers


was that there was a hell of a lot of work going on in the undergrowth


to examine the implications Sir Ivan also said that the EU


was unlikely to agree specific deals They will be very loath to have


individual sectoral deals done legally and ratified,


unless it's all agreed. The age-old Brussels mantra


of nothing is agreed They will think, rightly or wrongly,


that we'll care most passionately about financial services,


maybe automotive, and therefore, unless and until they've got other


things that they want, out of us on various other areas,


which may include money, they ain't going to sign


on the dotted line for any full-blown equivilancy agreement


on financial services which gives us We have precisely the sort


of problem that exists in every other international agreement,


but that's the issue... Yes, but we have enormously valuable


and competitive services sector, sector, with a huge surplus,


where we risk being screwed This is a very serious problem


unless we get a bespoke financial services deal with equivalence that


really works for us. I agree with you, then that comes


to the Government's arrangement. But this would be something


that the EU 27 have not done It didn't do that for the States,


it hasn't been prepared to do So we would have to say


of our financial services, we're big, you need access to us,


access to finance on good terms, there's a massive interest


for you still having London But we need a totally different type


of agreement with you than any that The Government has recently cut


the funding for an Ethiopian girl band, saying there were more


effective way" to invest UK aid. The International Development


Secretary, Priti Patel, reviewed the funding after reports


that the group had received Her decision was raised at


Question Time in the House of Lords. Popular culture is used to tackle


difficult issues because it works. For example, many in this House


will be familiar with the Archers, the storyline of domestic abuse


endured by Helen Archer resulted in a 20% increase in calls


to the Domestic Abuse Helpline. The very popular Ethiopian


girl group Yegna, dubbed the Ethiopian Spice Girls


by the Daily Mail, reaches 8.5 million people and helps


transform the lives of some of the hardest to reach and most


disadvantaged girls in the world. So may I ask the Minister why,


when faced by attacks from the Daily Mail,


did the Secretary of State withdraw funding from this


multi-A-rated project? The decision was taken,


as mentioned earlier, because it was deemed


there were other things that were more effective


that the money could be spent on. There is another programme operating


in Ethiopia aimed at child marriage, It focuses more on rural areas


that the Girl Effect And it was deemed more effective


because it worked directly Now, Girl Effect is going


to continue, we're not going to continue to fund it,


because we're going to send the money elsewhere,


but we hope that it will continue and we acknowledge that it did some


good work whilst it was there. My Lords, was that judgment made


after the Daily Mail had The review which took


place was actually begun We undertake an absolute review


of how taxpayers' money is being spent to make sure it gets


full value for money. And that is a very important thing,


because if we don't do things like that, then announcements such


as that which were made by the Secretary of State this


morning, announcing ?200 million in urgent humanitarian aid,


saving millions of lives, in Somalia and in South Sudan,


would not be possible. You're watching Wednesday


in Parliament with me, Back to PMQs, where Theresa May was


tackled over increases in business New rates will come


into force in April - following an assessment


of the rateable value of business properties such


as shops and offices. The Prime Minister hinted


at the prospect of special arrangements for businesses facing


large rises. The Government's business rates hike


could devastate the local Brighton pier is facing a 17%


increase, the World s End pub a 123% increase,


and Blanch House hotel Does the Prime Minister recognise


that Brighton will be Will she urgently set up


a discretionary fund to support small and micro-businesses,


and agree to a full review If we just stand back,


we can see that business rates are based on the rental


values of properties. Those values change over


time, they can go up that business rates change


to recognise that. That is the principle


of fairness that underpins However, we also want to support


businesses and we recognise that, for some, business rates will go up


when the revaluations take place. That is why we have put


significant funding in place I recognise that there has been


particular concern that some small businesses will be adversely


affected as the result of this revaluation,


and that is why I have asked the Chancellor and the Communities


Secretary to ensure that there is appropriate relief


in those hardest cases. Cash for local councils in England


was the main business in the Commons The Local Government Secretary Sajid


Javid said he understood how it felt And he promised more support


in next month's Budget. Growing up above the family shop,


I saw the impact that an increase in rates can have


on small businesses. A rise in the cost lowered the mood


of the whole family. Even as a child, I knew


that it was not good when I found a stack of bright red final


reminders hidden away My dad was never shy about sharing


what he thought of out-of-town retail parks and how they took


customers away from his shop If he were alive today,


I am sure that he would be the first to phone and lobby me


about the business In particular, I can just


imagine him telling me about how the treatment of large online


retailers compares with that of more traditional shops


on the high street. The amount that most businesses,


three quarters of them, in fact, the amount they pay will go


down or stay the same. As I have said, 600,000 small


businesses are being lifted out of business


rates altogether, permanently. Although those three


quarters of businesses will benefit or see no change,


I am also acutely aware of the impact on the quarter


that will see increases. If someone s rates are going up,


it is no consolation to hear that He said more needed to be done to


make the system fairer. I am working closely


with my right honourable friend, to determine how best


to provide further support to businesses facing


the steepest increases. We expect to be in a position


to make an announcement in the Budget in just


two weeks time. Labour said the Local Government


Secretary had had a rough week. He was accused by the former


Conservative party chairman of spinning the numbers,


and I hear that there was concern among Conservative Members


that the Secretary of State was being hung out to dry


by colleagues, so it was good to hear the Prime Minister s


spokesperson confirm that No 10 In truth, in just eight short


months, the Secretary of State has been found asleep at the wheel


twice, with a social care crisis entirely


of the Government s own making, about which he was warned


well in advance, and now a business rates crisis,


which he must have known might create a problem


for many businesses, given that his party delayed


the revaluation by two years, yet the seriousness of which it has


apparently taken him On Friday, MPs will be debating


a Bill that would ratify an international convention


requiring Governments to prevent The private member's bill


is being sponsored by the SNP MP for Banff and Buchan,


Eilidh Whiteford. But last time it was debated


a Conservative Philip Davies appeared to try and block


the legislation. At PMQs, the SNP leader


hoped the Prime Minister Will she join me in encouraging


Members to support the Bill and discourage any attempts


to use parliamentary The Government have tabled some


mutually agreed amendments, for which the Government


will vote this Friday. friends who are present on Friday


will support these measures. The Government have supported it,


and I hope it will be supported Companies involved in the so-called


gig economy have been Their workers get paid for each job


they do rather than being fully The boss of the food delivery firm,


Deliveroo, said this gave their workers flexibility -


85% of them had another form of income on top of what they earned


for their deliveries. And he said Deliveroo


wanted to do more. The developments we would like to


see, are greater support for our riders. Potentially some benefits


that employees might have. That's not from us to determine, that is


the Government to determine that legislation. We are supported of the


idea that if you have certain riders who work longer hours, perhaps it


should be entitled to benefits... Can I interrupt on that? I'm sitting


on my hands here, but I'm sorry, no, if you are buying people approaching


30 hours and your talking about National Living Wage, it is not


National Living Wage, because these people are not getting sickness,


maternity, holiday pay, anything. You have a handle on the number of


hours your people typically work, can you tell me, never mind waiting


for the Government, when a guy to start paying people properly when


they're doing something a regular basis something that is approaching


full-time? The way that it works, they provide


to us their availability which we then matched cadaver is that they


have available according to consumer demand. That can fluctuate. It is


not about flexibility. We are asking about your duties. I understand but


it is because of that flexibility that we are self-employed and within


the... It is because of your business model. If they were


self-employed, we could not offer them the same degree of Flex ability


that we do, even working 30 or 40 hours a week. If we were to make


them employees, would have to restrict that Flex ability which we


know that they value. If we were not to make them employees, we are


restricted from providing some of the benefits that we would as a


business like to provide. That, as they go through the next few months,


is hopefully something that the government will consider looking at.


That is not my question. If you have employees, and you can all get


underneath the information to understand where they're working for


someone else or not. If they are predominantly working for you, in my


view you need to look at their wages properly. They are now under


self-employed. And pay National Insurance. I understand. I've said


before, there is significant Flex ability, even those who were


significant hours, and so we maintain a self-employed model for


those individuals. There doesn't seem any Flex ability at all except


on your side. You're not paying National Insurance, you're not


covering other costs which taxpayers will have to pick up. It is a


marvellous model as you can get away with it, is it not?


We would like to protect them when they are out on the road. It is not


for us disability what that looks like and with a self-employed model,


we cannot offer those by the current letter of the war. Legislation would


need to change. If the government wanted to ask other efforts are


made, of course we welcome that. What I mentioned previously about


the national Living Wage, particularly in light of such a high


degree of using the feeble delivery scheme, is we cannot offer that


amount of flexibility to those riders if we are forced to pay a


given wage in a given average every single rider, you would have to


restrict, as I said before, the number of riders who login. You


would have to restrict their earning capacity during peak, which does not


tie into the Flex ability we know that they want. So you are prevented


because of people's wishes not to be employed by you. But also because


they have freely opted for self-employed? They have really


opted for self-employed and, usually because they are doing this


alongside something else. 85% have an ancillary income stream, they


have other commitments. Are ideal to build some extra money around those


extra commitments. Finally - finger pointing,


fist-shaking, thumping The Commons is a good place


to witness expressive gestures. But the deputy Labour leader


Tom Watson may be the first MP to perform what's known as a "dab"


in the Chamber. He was sitting on the front bench,


celebrating one of Jeremy Corbyn's contributions at Prime Minister's


Questions. Invest in our NHS! Let's have


another look at his technique. He says he has been practising with his


children. Invest in our NHS! Think I'll need a bit of practice


before I perform my dab move! Well that's it from


Wednesday in Parliament. I'll be back at the


same time tomorrow. Until then, from me,


Kristiina Cooper, goodbye!


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