Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 1 March, presented by Keith Macdougall.
Browse content similar to 02/03/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Now it's time for a look back at the day in parliament.
Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament, our look at the best
of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
Drama in the House of Lords, as the Government suffers its first
defeat on the Bill that starts the UK's departure process
The Labour leader attacks Theresa May over changes
This is a shameful decision that will affect people with dementia.
Why will they not let local authorities decide what's best
We're back to the situation where every Labour councillor
is trying to set up their own bus company.
Lots of ideas on how to run our bus services.
But first, the Government has suffered a setback in the House
of Lords in its plans to start negotiations on leaving the EU
Peers decisively backed a Labour-led amendment to guarantee the rights
The defeat means the EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill,
better known as the Brexit Bill, will now have to return
to the Commons, where MPs will either accept or reject
The crucial vote in the Lords came after a three-hour debate
First, Labour's Lady Hayter spoke about the interests of British
citizens living in the 27 countries of the EU outside the UK.
We all have heard lots of representations of the serious
worries of Britons who have settled abroad.
They've got homes, children, jobs or lives there and they now
fear for their rights, their access to medical treatment
and other services and wonder what the future holds for them.
And it's not acceptable to place such people under that pressure.
And it is quite clear to everyone in this House that there is no
chance that Parliament would approve the expulsion of EU citizens legally
And this is understood by the Government.
There is no way the Government would propose this so there is no
danger what ever to EU citizens resident in the UK so apart
from a certain amount, too much I would say,
in my personal opinion, of virtue signalling,
what is the purpose of this amendment?
This amendment has no place in this Bill whatever.
In the end, this is a matter of principle.
This House can, in fact, make a unilateral decision and give
a unilateral guarantee and, my Lords, that is what we should do.
Let us all remember how shocked we were when Idi Amin expelled
So shocked that we offered them refuge in this country.
The question that your Lordships have to decide this afternoon
is what action to take in the light of the truth,
perhaps unpalatable to many of your Lordships,
unpalatable to me because I have made it clear on numerous occasions
that I actually favour a unilateral guarantee,
that I think that is what the Government should give,
but nevertheless, what actions should your Lordships take
in the face of the unpalatable truth that the Government is not
As we've heard, over 3 million people live in this country
It's not just them who are experiencing anguish.
It's also their family members, it's also their employers,
Indeed, it affects a whole cadre of people well
And I suspect that our committee is at the receiving end
of the greatest number of communications from those people
about their distress, their anxiety, the fears of their children
and the fears that they have as to their future.
Why is everybody here today so excited about this amendment
which looks after the foreigners and not the British?
I just would like to point out to the noble Lord that the reason
that the amendment is structured as it is because we are conscious
of the powers of the British Government and the British
Government is able to determine the lives of the EU citizens
resident in this country but we are not able to determine
the lives of our own citizens abroad but that does not mean to say
we think any less of them and we are fighting for them.
So, of course, we don't have the power to look
Not in these days when we don't have many gunboats.
But we have an obligation to look after the rights of those
people and to look after those rights first and I think
that the best way in which we can in fact preserve the rights
of all those concerned, EU citizens here, our citizens
on the continent, is to allow the process of section 50 to be
proceeded with as expeditiously as possible.
Lord Bragg believed the outcome of the referendum was a disaster.
One major aspect of the disaster is to turn our backs on those
who come here and give their talents and skills to the United Kingdom,
settle here, transforming us in so many ways for the better.
They're now reduced to pawns in a Government strategy that too
many observers here and abroad seems largely clueless and without any
response, save bluster, to any critical questions.
I think that the Government ought to accept that the weight of opinion
is in favour of that unilateral guarantee which will then trigger
What has changed is the Prime Minister has said
She has said that the fate of those people living in this country
from Europe will be determined by primary legislation and that no
change will be made other than with the agreement of the other
That's good enough for me not to wish to amend a Bill
Which allows us to get on with the process
These people are not bargaining chips.
If we say, quite freely, that they are now free to stay,
that actually does give the moral high ground to our Government
in its negotiations and I would argue that all noble Lords,
including noble Lord Howard, should vote with their consciences
If, as I do, we want to see this decision which the Government makes
on the half of all of us, that citizenship should be
guaranteed to remain, the best way to do it is to call
the bluff of Angela Merkel by saying, we have now triggered
Article 50 and we will go in unilaterally and talk
It will be much quicker than the three months of proposals
which have been written for this amendment.
My Lords, this is a matter of principle.
It is a simple matter of principle of being prepared to do the right
thing because it is the right thing and being prepared to say
so and that is what I hope these benches and members on all sides
of the House, not all members, but members on all sides
of the House, including the Bishop's bench, will be prepared to do
The reason why I cannot support these amendments is the fundamental
flaw that lies at the heart of these amendments is that they will create
more uncertainty in particular for the million British
The noble Lord said we should trust the British Government.
The Home Secretary's written a letter to all of us
in which he says, I reassure my colleagues that Parliament
This is the same Home Secretary who wanted companies to list
This is the same home department that has a minister who wants EU
workers, for companies to pay ?1000 per EU worker.
The law can only be changed with the agreement of Parliament.
That is why these amendments are at the wrong time in the wrong
bill on the wrong subject and we should support the rights
of British citizens living in Europe.
But when the House divided, peers voted for the Labour-led
amendment and against the Government.
Later, Government sources said Ministers would seek to overturn
the Lords defeat on the Brexit Bill in the Commons.
At Prime Minister's Questions, Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Ministers
have made a "shameful decision" on the entitlement of people
The Government intends changing the criteria for the daily living
component of Personal Independence Payments,
or PIPs, to make the system "fairer."
The Labour leader asked why Ministers couldn't find the money
to support people with mental health conditions.
A year ago, the new Work and Pensions Secretary said you can
tell the House, "We're not going ahead with the changes to PIP
Her friend, the member for South Cambridgeshire,
said "In my view, the courts are there for a reason.
If they've come up with this ruling that says that the criteria should
be extended, I believe we've got a duty to honour that."
He referred to the Social Security advisory committee and they can
My right honourable friend the Work and Pensions Secretary called
the chairman of the Social Security advisory committee and spoke to him
about the regulations on the day they were being introduced.
He called the chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee
and spoke to him about the regulations that
He called both offices of the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary,
but they were still outside and they didn't come back to him
Mr Speaker... Mr Speaker...
Calling the... Mr Speaker, calling the...
Mr Speaker, calling the chairs of two committees and making
a written statement to the House does not add up to scrutiny and,
as I understand it, there was no call made to the office of my friend
Mr Speaker, the reality is this is a shameful decision that
will affect people with dementia, those suffering cognitive disorders
due to a stroke, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
Can she look at the effects of her decision to override
what an independent court has decided and think again?
The issues that he raises, the conditions that he raises,
these are taken into account when decisions are made
about the personal independence payments.
What the court said was that the regulations were unclear.
That is why we are clarifying the regulations and we are ensuring
that they respect that they reflect the original intention
Theresa May said the Government wasn't cutting benefits and said
no-one would see a reduction from the benefit already
This week, her policy chair suggested people with debilitating
conditions were those who, and I quote, "who take pills
at home, who suffer from anxiety and were not really disabled."
Isn't that proof the nasty party's still around?
My honourable friend has rightly apologised for the comments
that he made and I hope that this whole House will accept his apology.
The right honourable gentleman asks me about the parity
between mental health and physical...
Mental health conditions and physical conditions.
It is this Conservative Government that has introduced parity of esteem
in relation to dealing with mental health in the National Health
There are 6600 fewer mental health nurses and 160,000 people
with severe mental health conditions are about to lose out on support.
Can she not recognise parity of esteem means funding it properly
and not overriding court decisions that would benefit people suffering
We should reach out to them, not deny them the support they need.
As I say, we are spending more than ever on mental health.
More people each week are now receiving treatment in relation
to mental health than have done previously.
Is there more for us to do on mental health?
I've said that in this chamber in answer to questions that
"Well, do it," shouts the Shadow Foreign Secretary
from her normal sedentary position, commenting...
We are doing it, that's why we're putting record
That's why we're seeing more people actually being provided with mental
health treatment every week under this Government.
Theresa May has tried to reassure Scottish Nationalists that those
negotiating Britain's exit terms from the EU will be taking "full
account" of the concerns of the devolved administrations
At Prime Minister's Questions, the SNP's Westminster leader said
Ministers had failed to come up with any answers
as to what the future will be for Scottish agriculture and fishing
These are important industries for the rural economy
and they are devolved areas to the Scottish Government
With Brexit ending the role of Brussels in these areas,
we'll all decisions about agriculture and fisheries be
Well, the right honourable gentleman knows very well
that we are discussing with the devolved administrations
the whole question of the UK framework and devolution of issues
During the Brexit referendum, people in Scotland, including those
working in the agriculture and fisheries sector,
were told that farming and fisheries powers would be exercised fully
by the Scottish Government and the Scottish parliament,
Now, it seems judging by the Prime Minister's answer,
Will the Prime Minister confirmed today, she has the opportunity,
will she confirmed today that it is her intention to ensure
that it is UK ministers that will negotiate and regulate over
large areas that impact on Scottish fisheries
When he asks about the negotiations were Brexit with the European Union,
it will be the UK Government that will be negotiating
with the European Union, taking full account of the interests
And, indeed, of all the other regions of England.
Then came a link between Brexit and supposed leadership manoeuvring
The Prime Minister I'm sure cannot fail to have noticed
the intervention by two former prime ministers recently in relation
And as a result, very helpful they were, I'm sure.
I'm sure the Prime Minister will know, of course,
what they and everybody else means by hard Brexit,
what is meant by soft Brexit, but we're all now wondering
what is meant by a soft coup and when, indeed...
And when indeed it might be triggered and when we will know it
Perhaps the Prime Minister can elucidate on that as well
since she's been so helpful in so many other ways.
Would she take the opportunity today, however, to make it clear
that whatever former prime ministers may say and whatever members
of the unelected upper house may say, the reality is that her plan
to trigger Article 50 by the end of March is now clearly on track?
I thank the right honourable gentleman for the question
It is indeed my plan to trigger by the end of March when I refer
to that, I refer of course to the triggering of Article 50
rather than attempting to trigger any coup,
soft or otherwise, that might take place.
It is still our intention to do that.
You're watching our round-up of the day in the Commons
Still to come: Parliament's newest MP gets a warm welcome,
from one half of the House of Commons.
There's been growing concern in recent months about Russia's
Russia is building up its forces there, causing the US
to describe its actions as "aggressive".
It is also planning a new wave of giant icebreaking ships.
The region is believed to contain massive and,
as yet untapped, reserves of oil and gas.
A Commons defence committee is investigating what is happening
in the region and what the UK should be doing about it.
In its first session the committee heard from the Ambassadors of three
To what degree do you sense any kind of threat in the Arctic?
Quite clearly, Poland has expressed a threat coming from Russia.
To what degree is there a threat to the peace and security
If I can ask you to talk about Greenland.
One of the main elements in our defence strategy
for the Arctic region is a priority for us in Denmark to maintain
the Arctic as a low tension region, which it actually is.
We have a significant operation of all the Arctic states,
both on a bilateral basis and a multilateral basis.
We see the same things as I think everyone else sees.
We see a Russia that is upgrading, modernising, building
up its military forces in general and that takes place
We also see a Russia that, in general, has showed itself ready
to use military force to further its objectives
in contravention of international law and we see, obviously,
the Arctic is an area that is strategically crucial
for Russia in several ways, not least being the basing area
for their nuclear deterrent in Murmansk.
The Russian official line is the re-militarisation,
as we would see it, of the Arctic, with an additional 6000 troops
which have been deployed recently, and the reopening of Arctic bases
as well as a considerable, it would seem, investment in capabilities.
It's merely an answer to the bad days of the Soviet Union
when the infrastructure has been degraded and it is no more
than an assertion of Russian sovereignty and with planet changing
A different view, a second scenario, would be that this
is a manifestation of Mr Putin's ambitions, that it fits
with a greater Russian strategy and that in the shadow of Ukraine,
Crimea, Georgia and indeed I would go back as far as the second
Chechen war, that this could be preparation,
So what role could and should the United Kingdom play in the region?
I suppose that the United Kingdom could play a very positive role
as a noble broker in the Arctic, because it has no geographical
access to the region, but still, it plays a very substantial
historical role of this region in exploration,
and it could serve as a intermediary between Russia and other neutral
countries at least with an understanding of This Place.
And so my recommendation is that yes, we should think about some
military and security developments in the Arctic and be cautious
in formulating these ideas and projects.
that was the pledge of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
when MPs debated the bus services bill.
Among other things, it gives a new generation of directly elected
mayors in the city regions of England responsibility
But in the Lords, peers have altered the bill.
Their change would allow local councils to set
The Transport Secretary disagreed with that.
We're not going back to the 1970s world, of local authority plans
It was one of indifferent services that cost the taxpayer.
We want decommissioning and provision of bus services to be
kept separate as far as possible and to ensure that it will retain
Although we will seek, Mr Speaker, to return this bill so that it
What I was seeking to ask the Secretary of State
was to understand his approach to municipal bus operators.
When we look at the UK bus awards, and in four of the last five years
it has been won by a municipal bus operator.
I don't think the municipals are the answer to everything
and I certainly wouldn't expect every local authority to want to set
one up, but why will he not let local authorities decide what's
We do not want to go back to the situation where every Labour
council is trying to set up its own bus company.
We think it will absorb private sector capital that could be
The by-election winner in Copeland in Cumbria was welcomed
into the Commons at the end of Prime Minister's Question Time.
Huge cheers sounded from the packed benchers of the Conservatives
as 40-year-old Trudy Harrison entered to take a seat.
It had been, to say the least, a notable election victory
for the former parish councillor in West Cumbria,
as it was the first time a governing party had made a by-election gain
The seat had been made vacant by the departure of the previous
Labour MP for a job in the nuclear industry.
Trudy Harrison took the oath in the traditional way.
I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear
true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors,
Do join me for our next daily round-up.
Until then, from me Keith McDougall, goodbye.
Well, a very blustery night out there for some of us,
particularly across southern parts of the UK, especially
the south-west, around the Bristol Channel.