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
of the day in the Commons and the Lords.
The Budget addresses the crisis in social care in England.
The Chancellor has help for stretched local councils.
I am committing additional grant funding of ?2 billion to social care
in England over the next three years.
But the Labour leader accuses Philip Hammond of producing
Who is reaping the rewards of this economy?
For millions, it is simply not working.
Away from the Budget and back to Brexit, and predictions of long
delays in the processing of residency applications
It would take the Home Office more than 50 years...
50 years to deal with 3.2 million European nationals in the UK.
It was Phlip Hammond's first Budget and, curiously, it was
Or at least his last to be presented in March.
From now on, the annual Budget will take place in the Autumn.
The Chancellor called it a 'fair' package of measures:
there was ?2 billion for social care, relief
for those hit by changes to business rates, and higher
National Insurance Contributions facing
In the late morning, outside 11 Downing Street,
the Chancellor paraded the familiar red box,
complete with its detailed contents - some unveiled in advance,
The Chancellor posed for the photographers...
And then made his way the relatively short distance from Downing Streeet
As he started his speech shortly after half past 12, Mr Hammond said
employment was at a record high, unemployment at a record
low, but it was crucial to avoid complacency.
As we prepare for our future outside the EU, we cannot rest on
We must focus relentlessly on keeping Britain at
the cutting-edge of the global economy.
The deficit is down but debt is still too high.
Employment is up but productivity remains
Too many of our young people are leaving formal
education without the skills they need for
today's labour market, and
too many families are still feeling the squeeze almost a decade after
A word about the size of the national debt...
Britain has a debt of nearly ?1.7 trillion.
Almost ?62,000 for every household in the country.
Each year, we are spending ?50 billion on debt
interest, more than we spend on defence and policing combined.
And borrowing over the forecast period
is still set to be ?100 billion higher than predicted at
My ambition is for the UK to be the best place in the world to
Under the last Labour Government, corporation tax was 28%...
By the way, they do not call it the last Labour
On to his important announcement on the rising cost of caring
Today, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am committing
additional grant funding of ?2 billion to social care in England
Mr Deputy Speaker, that is ?2 billion over the
This will allow local authorities to act now to commission nuclear
Today I can announce funding for a further 110 new free
schools on top of the current commitment to 500.
This will include new specialist maths schools, to
build on the clear success of Exeter Maths School and Kings College
London Maths School, which my right honourable friend the Prime
We are committed to this programme because we understand
that choice is the key to excellence in education.
There would be action against tax avoiders...
From July, we will introduce a tough new financial penalty for
professionals who enable a tax avoidance arrangement that is later
Taken together, these measures will raise ?820
And money for the new technologies...
?270 million to keep the UK at the forefront
of disruptive technologies, like biotech, robotic systems and
driverless vehicles, a technology I believe the party
As the Chancellor's nickname to Westminster commentators
is Spreadsheet Phil, why not live up to the name...?
I turn now, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the OBR forecast.
This is the spreadsheet bit but bear with me because I have a reputation
The OBR forecast for the level of GDP in 2021 is to be broadly
He justified changes to National Insurance contributions...
Employed and self-employed alike, use our
public services in the same way, but
they are not paying for them in the same way.
The lower national insurance paid by the self-employed
is forecast to cost our public finances over ?5 billion this
This is not fair to the 85% of workers who are employees.
He said he'd listened to concerns about the new levels
I will provide local authorities with a
?300 million fund to deliver discretionary relief to target
individual hard cases in their local areas.
The Chancellor ended with a triumphant tone...
Today we reaffirm our commitment to invest in Britain's
future and we embark on this next chapter
our strengths and clear in our determination
to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain.
Well, the Chancellor was on his feet for near enough exactly an hour.
The custom and tradition is for the Budget speech
to be replied to, not by the Shadow Chancellor
Jeremy Corbyn accused Philip Hammond of boasting
He said for millions the economy was simply not working...
This was a budget of utter complacency
Utter complacency about the crisis facing our public services and
complacent about the reality of daily life for millions
Yesterday, Mr Deputy Speaker, over 3000 people in this
country will have queued up at food banks to feed themselves and their
Last night, Mr Deputy Speaker, over 4000 people will have
slept rough on the streets of this country.
The Chancellor made his boast about a strong economy, but
who is reaping the rewards of this economy?
For millions, it is simply not working.
The budget didn't provide the funding necessary now for the
crisis in our NHS, which the BMA reckons needs an extra ?10 billion.
It did not provide the funding necessary to end
in social care now, which needs ?2 billion
a year just to plug the gaps, according to the King's Fund.
That is not met by ?2 billion over three years,
This is a budget that lacks ambition for this country
It demonstrates again the appalling priorities of this
Another year, tax breaks for the few and public
When she took office the Prime Ministers said, if you are
one of those families who are just managing,
I want to address you directly.
This budget has done nothing to tackle low pay,
nothing to solve the state of emergency that persists for so many
people demanding and needing health and social care now.
It does nothing to make a fair economy that truly works
The SNP's finance spokesman said in many ways Philip Hammond
We had the self-effacing jokes about the spreadsheets, we had
the spun lines about being stronger together and then it went downhill
and barely a mention of Brexit, the most
momentous challenge facing the UK - barely a mention of Brexit.
We've seen a scandalous attack on aspiration,
Taxing them more, changes, 4.2 billion or so from people.
The party of aspiration taxing those low self
employed, putting an active, real, hard disincentives
to starting businesses, to employing people,
I think that is a decision that will come back to haunt this Chancellor.
In fact, the Commons debate on the Chancellor's measures goes
As soon the front-benchers are finished, it is up to backbench
Some backbenchers were clearly worried by Philip Hammond's decision
to increase the National Insurance contributions paid by
The self-employed, who are working longer, despite earning
less, typically twice the proportion working 50 hours each
week than in employment, they are going to be paying
If they are on ?27,000 of profits, they will be hit
by an extra ?30 a month now because of this decision.
I do have some small concerns around national insurance.
I find myself in agreement with the concerns expressed
by the honourable member for Nottingham East and
the honourable lady, the member for Leeds West.
It is very important to ensure we do not disadvantage
This party on this side always has been, and I hope always will be,
the party that supports white van man - and on this particular
You are watching our round-up of the day
in the Commons and the Lords. Still to come,
could the NHS be transformed by genomic medicine?
Jeremy Corbyn has again put Theresa May on the spot
over the recent decision of Surrey County Council to drop
plans for a local referendum and a 15% rise in council tax to pay
In previous exchanges, the Labour leader had wanted to know if
the county council had been given favourable treatment,
in the form of a sweetheart deal, by ministers, in order
He returned to the subject during the latest session of
Could the Prime Minister explain the difference between a sweetheart deal
and a gentleman 's agreement? I assume he is referring to Surrey
County Council. He is making it as if it was a particular deal
available to Surrey County Council or not to others. That is not the
case. The ability to raise the social care precept is available for
other councils. The Labour leader believed he had
done unearthed some new evidence. Evidence has emerged that the leader
of the Surrey County Council that it was a gentleman 's agreement between
the council and the government. The question is, what deal was done with
Surrey County Council? He is asking me if there was a special deal
available to them that was not available to other councils, the
answer is no. If he is working for a conspiracy, I suggest you looks
behind him. The Prime Minister says there was no deal. She seems rather
run clear. Does she know what arrangement was made with Surrey
County Council? There is another area of deep concern. Could the
Prime Minister tellers in a new school places will be needed by
2020? The Prime Minister should listen to the answer is that I give
before he asks the next question. I have answered the question if the
claims about Surrey County Council. There was no deal with them that was
not available to other county councils. The Prime Minister was
also asked a question about the number of new school places needed
by 2020. Could she explain why we have the crisis? Class sizes are
soaring thanks to her government. A flagship scheme has meant schools
being built in the wrong places. Millions of guidance been given to
three schools will funding is falling in real terms. Is it not
time this colossal waste of money was addressed? It is doing nothing
for children, doing nothing to solve the crisis at schools and the sizes
of commerce. That is what the people want. Not vanity projects from the
government. It is not a vanity project. We will ensure that every
child has a good school place. The majority of free schools have been
opened in an area for other was a need for school places. They are
also in areas of disadvantage. They are in the places where we want
people who are disadvantaged to get on in life.
It could take 50 years for the Home Office to process UK
residency applications from European Union nationals
according to Angus Robertson, the SNP leader at Westminster.
At PMQs, he said his estimate followed on from reductions
Since 2010, the Home Office has seen its full-time
At the current rate of processing applications for residency, it would
take the Home Office more than 50 years - 50 years -
to deal with over 2.3 million European nationals in the UK.
This is clearly totally unacceptable, so
will the Prime Minister tell us how quickly she hopes to be able
to guarantee all European nationals permanent residency?
I would say to the honourable gentleman, he simply cannot just
stand up and say, because the Home Office
is getting more efficient, it is going to be longer for answers to
Yes, the Home Office is getting more efficient in the way it
He maybe has not heard of technology.
But people apply online and are dealt with online.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic leader brought up the forthcoming
service in London to dedicate the unveiling
in London of the new Iraq- Afghanistan Memorial.
Yesterday, we heard that hundreds of families of soldiers who
died in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denied seating at tomorrow's
unveiling of the memorial to our fallen troops.
Inviting a relative of each of those killed in Iraq and
Afghanistan would have taken up fewer than one-third
Will she now apologise to those families for what, I assume,
is a careless oversight, and rectify the mistake immediately,
so that bereaved families can come and pay their respects
Over half of those attending tomorrow are either current or
No-one from the bereaved community has been turned away.
Everyone of those who had applied for a ticket has been successful.
But I have been reassured that, if there are any
bereaved families who wish to attend, then the Ministry
of Defence will make every effort to ensure that they
We were hearing earlier about the change of heart
from Surrey County Council on its plan to introduce a
15% rise in council tax to pay for social care.
At PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn asked if a sweetheart deal,
or gentlemen's agreement between Surrey County Council
and ministers in Whitehall had been made, while other councils had not
In the House of Lords, one peer said the calims and counter-claims
were eroding trust between central and local government.
Does my noble lord, the minister, agree that
subterfuge of this sort undermines the pre-requisite of trust and
confidence that has to exist between local government and central
government and would he ensure that te Secretary of State the
comes clean on this gentleman's agreement and
reveals all the other secret deals done with Conservative-run councils?
Let me restate, and I think this was confirmed yesterday
by the council yesterday, there was no deal.
There was never any question of a special arrangement for Surrey.
They are subject to the same rules as every other local authority.
In the north-east, there is not a single place where those eligible
for social care, as opposed to 1% in Surrey. In the north-east, the tax
amount is much lower because of the lower property base, the property
values, to be raised in council tax. What caused this? I have no idea.
That is a question for Surrey County Council. We do have freedom of
information. I believe we are very keen to respond to that and all the
relevant documents I am sure will be disclosed. The leader of Surrey
County Council said there was a gentleman 's agreement. Who is
telling the truth? I will restate the government position. There was
no agreement. The leader of Surrey County Council is not telling the
truth? That is a matter for them to deal with. I cannot take questions
which are properly for Surrey County Council. The question does have is
to be asked, either the leader of Surrey County Council was not
telling the truth or he completely misunderstood his conversations with
the secretary of state. It was one or the other. Could he tellers
categorically whether anyone in Downing Street was involved in the
discussions? The discussions where conducted quite openly by Department
officials. The National Health Service is going
to be transformed through the use of Genomics is the study of how sets
of genes and DNA work together and why that interaction sometimes
leads to disease. Two experts told the Science
and Technology Committee that this cutting-edge science was leading
to the development of new drugs. We are already seeing
the fruits of cancer genomes, in terms of our knowledge of cancer
genomes and their So, by sequencing cancer genomes
and finding the mutations, the so-called somatic
mutations, that have occurred during the lifetime of an individual
and that are responsible for converting a normal
cell into a cancer cell, we find key genes that,
when they are mutated, are And these genes, or the proteins
that they encode, become targets And there is the potential to detect
cancer very early on. Cancers are leaky.
They leak DNA. And they leak DNA that then
circulates around the body. Although that only accounts
for a small amount of the DNA in the blood, you can
tell that that is cancer DNA. And, therefore, in the next few
years, as a result of research which Are we at the risk of being able
to diagnose an individual, then not have the capacity
within the NHS to be able to treat the individual?
Is there a danger of that? One of the things we
will find is that, when you do genome sequencing,
you will find mutations Either that we are seeing patients
who have mutations where there is not a trial open with a targeted
therapy or that there is a need - and I think Cancer Research UK
are working on this - for a national database,
so that, for example, if you have breast cancer,
but you have a B mutation, which Mike was talking
about earlier, and there is no trial in your area,
that you could find somewhere Because obviously, patients
will travel a long way The Department of Health
has set up a project, known as Genomics England,
to sequence 100,000 genomes from people with cancer
and rare diseases. The reason the project
exists is to show that this can be done
and can be done on a scale. One of the aims of the project,
apart from the benefit to current patients, is to try
to transform the NHS into a service which can
offer the benefits of That aspect of the work
has taken time. But there are concerns about keeping
data out of the hands of some private organisations,
such as insurance firms. The genome has a wealth
of information. It contains very senstive
information such as, in some cases, a pre-disposition
to sensitive mental illness. If this kind of information
is readily available, this could be extremely
harmful to people. So, I think we have to be very clear
about what constitutes an acceptable I am not supportive of general
profiling, of people having But in the end, that is only so much
they can tellers. I am not supportive of general
profiling, of people having whole genome profiles
to determine their risk of disease at this stage,
because it has been shown in research that each of us carry
genes which we may think should be fatal and,
yet, we are clearly alive. We are at a very early stage
of knowledge with this, so it would be premature to do
that sort of thing. Do join me for our
next daily round-up. Until then, from me
Keith Macdougall, good bye.