08/03/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


08/03/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament from Wednesday 8 March, with Keith Macdougall.


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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament, our look at the best

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of the day in the Commons and the Lords.

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The Budget addresses the crisis in social care in England.

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The Chancellor has help for stretched local councils.

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I am committing additional grant funding of ?2 billion to social care

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in England over the next three years.

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But the Labour leader accuses Philip Hammond of producing

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Who is reaping the rewards of this economy?

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For millions, it is simply not working.

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Away from the Budget and back to Brexit, and predictions of long

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delays in the processing of residency applications

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It would take the Home Office more than 50 years...

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50 years to deal with 3.2 million European nationals in the UK.

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It was Phlip Hammond's first Budget and, curiously, it was

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Or at least his last to be presented in March.

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From now on, the annual Budget will take place in the Autumn.

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The Chancellor called it a 'fair' package of measures:

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there was ?2 billion for social care, relief

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for those hit by changes to business rates, and higher

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National Insurance Contributions facing

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In the late morning, outside 11 Downing Street,

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the Chancellor paraded the familiar red box,

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complete with its detailed contents - some unveiled in advance,

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The Chancellor posed for the photographers...

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And then made his way the relatively short distance from Downing Streeet

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As he started his speech shortly after half past 12, Mr Hammond said

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employment was at a record high, unemployment at a record

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low, but it was crucial to avoid complacency.

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As we prepare for our future outside the EU, we cannot rest on

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We must focus relentlessly on keeping Britain at

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the cutting-edge of the global economy.

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The deficit is down but debt is still too high.

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Employment is up but productivity remains

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Too many of our young people are leaving formal

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education without the skills they need for

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today's labour market, and

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too many families are still feeling the squeeze almost a decade after

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A word about the size of the national debt...

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Britain has a debt of nearly ?1.7 trillion.

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Almost ?62,000 for every household in the country.

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Each year, we are spending ?50 billion on debt

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interest, more than we spend on defence and policing combined.

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And borrowing over the forecast period

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is still set to be ?100 billion higher than predicted at

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My ambition is for the UK to be the best place in the world to

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Under the last Labour Government, corporation tax was 28%...

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By the way, they do not call it the last Labour

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On to his important announcement on the rising cost of caring

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Today, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am committing

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additional grant funding of ?2 billion to social care in England

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Mr Deputy Speaker, that is ?2 billion over the

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This will allow local authorities to act now to commission nuclear

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Today I can announce funding for a further 110 new free

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schools on top of the current commitment to 500.

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This will include new specialist maths schools, to

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build on the clear success of Exeter Maths School and Kings College

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London Maths School, which my right honourable friend the Prime

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We are committed to this programme because we understand

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that choice is the key to excellence in education.

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There would be action against tax avoiders...

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From July, we will introduce a tough new financial penalty for

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professionals who enable a tax avoidance arrangement that is later

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Taken together, these measures will raise ?820

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And money for the new technologies...

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?270 million to keep the UK at the forefront

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of disruptive technologies, like biotech, robotic systems and

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driverless vehicles, a technology I believe the party

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As the Chancellor's nickname to Westminster commentators

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is Spreadsheet Phil, why not live up to the name...?

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I turn now, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the OBR forecast.

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This is the spreadsheet bit but bear with me because I have a reputation

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The OBR forecast for the level of GDP in 2021 is to be broadly

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He justified changes to National Insurance contributions...

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Employed and self-employed alike, use our

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public services in the same way, but

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they are not paying for them in the same way.

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The lower national insurance paid by the self-employed

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is forecast to cost our public finances over ?5 billion this

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This is not fair to the 85% of workers who are employees.

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He said he'd listened to concerns about the new levels

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I will provide local authorities with a

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?300 million fund to deliver discretionary relief to target

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individual hard cases in their local areas.

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The Chancellor ended with a triumphant tone...

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Today we reaffirm our commitment to invest in Britain's

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future and we embark on this next chapter

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our strengths and clear in our determination

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to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain.

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Well, the Chancellor was on his feet for near enough exactly an hour.

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The custom and tradition is for the Budget speech

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to be replied to, not by the Shadow Chancellor

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Jeremy Corbyn accused Philip Hammond of boasting

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He said for millions the economy was simply not working...

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This was a budget of utter complacency

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Utter complacency about the crisis facing our public services and

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complacent about the reality of daily life for millions

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Yesterday, Mr Deputy Speaker, over 3000 people in this

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country will have queued up at food banks to feed themselves and their

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Last night, Mr Deputy Speaker, over 4000 people will have

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slept rough on the streets of this country.

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The Chancellor made his boast about a strong economy, but

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who is reaping the rewards of this economy?

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For millions, it is simply not working.

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The budget didn't provide the funding necessary now for the

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crisis in our NHS, which the BMA reckons needs an extra ?10 billion.

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It did not provide the funding necessary to end

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in social care now, which needs ?2 billion

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a year just to plug the gaps, according to the King's Fund.

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That is not met by ?2 billion over three years,

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This is a budget that lacks ambition for this country

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It demonstrates again the appalling priorities of this

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Another year, tax breaks for the few and public

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When she took office the Prime Ministers said, if you are

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one of those families who are just managing,

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I want to address you directly.

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This budget has done nothing to tackle low pay,

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nothing to solve the state of emergency that persists for so many

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people demanding and needing health and social care now.

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It does nothing to make a fair economy that truly works

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The SNP's finance spokesman said in many ways Philip Hammond

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We had the self-effacing jokes about the spreadsheets, we had

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the spun lines about being stronger together and then it went downhill

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and barely a mention of Brexit, the most

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momentous challenge facing the UK - barely a mention of Brexit.

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We've seen a scandalous attack on aspiration,

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Taxing them more, changes, 4.2 billion or so from people.

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The party of aspiration taxing those low self

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employed, putting an active, real, hard disincentives

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to starting businesses, to employing people,

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I think that is a decision that will come back to haunt this Chancellor.

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In fact, the Commons debate on the Chancellor's measures goes

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As soon the front-benchers are finished, it is up to backbench

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Some backbenchers were clearly worried by Philip Hammond's decision

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to increase the National Insurance contributions paid by

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The self-employed, who are working longer, despite earning

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less, typically twice the proportion working 50 hours each

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week than in employment, they are going to be paying

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If they are on ?27,000 of profits, they will be hit

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by an extra ?30 a month now because of this decision.

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I do have some small concerns around national insurance.

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I find myself in agreement with the concerns expressed

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by the honourable member for Nottingham East and

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the honourable lady, the member for Leeds West.

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It is very important to ensure we do not disadvantage

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This party on this side always has been, and I hope always will be,

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the party that supports white van man - and on this particular

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You are watching our round-up of the day

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in the Commons and the Lords. Still to come,

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could the NHS be transformed by genomic medicine?

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Jeremy Corbyn has again put Theresa May on the spot

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over the recent decision of Surrey County Council to drop

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plans for a local referendum and a 15% rise in council tax to pay

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In previous exchanges, the Labour leader had wanted to know if

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the county council had been given favourable treatment,

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in the form of a sweetheart deal, by ministers, in order

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He returned to the subject during the latest session of

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Could the Prime Minister explain the difference between a sweetheart deal

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and a gentleman 's agreement? I assume he is referring to Surrey

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County Council. He is making it as if it was a particular deal

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available to Surrey County Council or not to others. That is not the

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case. The ability to raise the social care precept is available for

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other councils. The Labour leader believed he had

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done unearthed some new evidence. Evidence has emerged that the leader

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of the Surrey County Council that it was a gentleman 's agreement between

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the council and the government. The question is, what deal was done with

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Surrey County Council? He is asking me if there was a special deal

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available to them that was not available to other councils, the

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answer is no. If he is working for a conspiracy, I suggest you looks

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behind him. The Prime Minister says there was no deal. She seems rather

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run clear. Does she know what arrangement was made with Surrey

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County Council? There is another area of deep concern. Could the

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Prime Minister tellers in a new school places will be needed by

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2020? The Prime Minister should listen to the answer is that I give

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before he asks the next question. I have answered the question if the

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claims about Surrey County Council. There was no deal with them that was

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not available to other county councils. The Prime Minister was

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also asked a question about the number of new school places needed

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by 2020. Could she explain why we have the crisis? Class sizes are

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soaring thanks to her government. A flagship scheme has meant schools

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being built in the wrong places. Millions of guidance been given to

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three schools will funding is falling in real terms. Is it not

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time this colossal waste of money was addressed? It is doing nothing

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for children, doing nothing to solve the crisis at schools and the sizes

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of commerce. That is what the people want. Not vanity projects from the

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government. It is not a vanity project. We will ensure that every

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child has a good school place. The majority of free schools have been

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opened in an area for other was a need for school places. They are

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also in areas of disadvantage. They are in the places where we want

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people who are disadvantaged to get on in life.

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It could take 50 years for the Home Office to process UK

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residency applications from European Union nationals

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according to Angus Robertson, the SNP leader at Westminster.

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At PMQs, he said his estimate followed on from reductions

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Since 2010, the Home Office has seen its full-time

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At the current rate of processing applications for residency, it would

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take the Home Office more than 50 years - 50 years -

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to deal with over 2.3 million European nationals in the UK.

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This is clearly totally unacceptable, so

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will the Prime Minister tell us how quickly she hopes to be able

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to guarantee all European nationals permanent residency?

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I would say to the honourable gentleman, he simply cannot just

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stand up and say, because the Home Office

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is getting more efficient, it is going to be longer for answers to

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Yes, the Home Office is getting more efficient in the way it

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He maybe has not heard of technology.

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But people apply online and are dealt with online.

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Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic leader brought up the forthcoming

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service in London to dedicate the unveiling

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in London of the new Iraq- Afghanistan Memorial.

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Yesterday, we heard that hundreds of families of soldiers who

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died in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denied seating at tomorrow's

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unveiling of the memorial to our fallen troops.

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Inviting a relative of each of those killed in Iraq and

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Afghanistan would have taken up fewer than one-third

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Will she now apologise to those families for what, I assume,

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is a careless oversight, and rectify the mistake immediately,

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so that bereaved families can come and pay their respects

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Over half of those attending tomorrow are either current or

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No-one from the bereaved community has been turned away.

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Everyone of those who had applied for a ticket has been successful.

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But I have been reassured that, if there are any

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bereaved families who wish to attend, then the Ministry

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of Defence will make every effort to ensure that they

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We were hearing earlier about the change of heart

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from Surrey County Council on its plan to introduce a

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15% rise in council tax to pay for social care.

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At PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn asked if a sweetheart deal,

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or gentlemen's agreement between Surrey County Council

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and ministers in Whitehall had been made, while other councils had not

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In the House of Lords, one peer said the calims and counter-claims

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were eroding trust between central and local government.

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Does my noble lord, the minister, agree that

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subterfuge of this sort undermines the pre-requisite of trust and

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confidence that has to exist between local government and central

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government and would he ensure that te Secretary of State the

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comes clean on this gentleman's agreement and

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reveals all the other secret deals done with Conservative-run councils?

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Let me restate, and I think this was confirmed yesterday

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by the council yesterday, there was no deal.

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There was never any question of a special arrangement for Surrey.

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They are subject to the same rules as every other local authority.

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In the north-east, there is not a single place where those eligible

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for social care, as opposed to 1% in Surrey. In the north-east, the tax

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amount is much lower because of the lower property base, the property

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values, to be raised in council tax. What caused this? I have no idea.

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That is a question for Surrey County Council. We do have freedom of

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information. I believe we are very keen to respond to that and all the

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relevant documents I am sure will be disclosed. The leader of Surrey

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County Council said there was a gentleman 's agreement. Who is

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telling the truth? I will restate the government position. There was

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no agreement. The leader of Surrey County Council is not telling the

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truth? That is a matter for them to deal with. I cannot take questions

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which are properly for Surrey County Council. The question does have is

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to be asked, either the leader of Surrey County Council was not

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telling the truth or he completely misunderstood his conversations with

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the secretary of state. It was one or the other. Could he tellers

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categorically whether anyone in Downing Street was involved in the

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discussions? The discussions where conducted quite openly by Department

:21:42.:21:42.

officials. The National Health Service is going

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to be transformed through the use of Genomics is the study of how sets

:21:47.:21:49.

of genes and DNA work together and why that interaction sometimes

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leads to disease. Two experts told the Science

:21:54.:21:55.

and Technology Committee that this cutting-edge science was leading

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to the development of new drugs. We are already seeing

:21:59.:22:08.

the fruits of cancer genomes, in terms of our knowledge of cancer

:22:09.:22:10.

genomes and their So, by sequencing cancer genomes

:22:11.:22:13.

and finding the mutations, the so-called somatic

:22:14.:22:18.

mutations, that have occurred during the lifetime of an individual

:22:19.:22:20.

and that are responsible for converting a normal

:22:21.:22:25.

cell into a cancer cell, we find key genes that,

:22:26.:22:30.

when they are mutated, are And these genes, or the proteins

:22:31.:22:32.

that they encode, become targets And there is the potential to detect

:22:33.:22:38.

cancer very early on. Cancers are leaky.

:22:39.:22:45.

They leak DNA. And they leak DNA that then

:22:46.:22:48.

circulates around the body. Although that only accounts

:22:49.:22:52.

for a small amount of the DNA in the blood, you can

:22:53.:22:54.

tell that that is cancer DNA. And, therefore, in the next few

:22:55.:22:58.

years, as a result of research which Are we at the risk of being able

:22:59.:23:06.

to diagnose an individual, then not have the capacity

:23:07.:23:09.

within the NHS to be able to treat the individual?

:23:10.:23:12.

Is there a danger of that? One of the things we

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will find is that, when you do genome sequencing,

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you will find mutations Either that we are seeing patients

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who have mutations where there is not a trial open with a targeted

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therapy or that there is a need - and I think Cancer Research UK

:23:26.:23:29.

are working on this - for a national database,

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so that, for example, if you have breast cancer,

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but you have a B mutation, which Mike was talking

:23:36.:23:38.

about earlier, and there is no trial in your area,

:23:39.:23:41.

that you could find somewhere Because obviously, patients

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will travel a long way The Department of Health

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has set up a project, known as Genomics England,

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to sequence 100,000 genomes from people with cancer

:23:56.:23:57.

and rare diseases. The reason the project

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exists is to show that this can be done

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and can be done on a scale. One of the aims of the project,

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apart from the benefit to current patients, is to try

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to transform the NHS into a service which can

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offer the benefits of That aspect of the work

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has taken time. But there are concerns about keeping

:24:17.:24:25.

data out of the hands of some private organisations,

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such as insurance firms. The genome has a wealth

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of information. It contains very senstive

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information such as, in some cases, a pre-disposition

:24:35.:24:35.

to sensitive mental illness. If this kind of information

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is readily available, this could be extremely

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harmful to people. So, I think we have to be very clear

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about what constitutes an acceptable I am not supportive of general

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profiling, of people having But in the end, that is only so much

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they can tellers. I am not supportive of general

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profiling, of people having whole genome profiles

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to determine their risk of disease at this stage,

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because it has been shown in research that each of us carry

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genes which we may think should be fatal and,

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yet, we are clearly alive. We are at a very early stage

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of knowledge with this, so it would be premature to do

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that sort of thing. Do join me for our

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next daily round-up. Until then, from me

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Keith Macdougall, good bye.

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