19/04/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


19/04/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 19 April, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to the programme as MPs back Theresa May's call

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for a general election on June 8th.

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The ayes to the right, 522.

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The noes to the left, 13.

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So, the ayes have it, the ayes have it.

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Unlock.

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At Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May is challenged over why

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she won't take part in televised debates, and on her previous promise

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not to call an early election.

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She wants us to believe that she is a

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woman of her word.

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Is it the truth that we cannot believe a single word

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she says?

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The Prime Minister defends her decision.

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I think it is right now to ask the British people to put their

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trust in me and the Conservative Party to deliver on their vote last

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year, a Brexit plan that will make a success for this country

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and deliver a stronger, fairer, global Britain

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in the future.

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Also on this programme - is it time to ditch diesel cars?

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And the Energy Secretary promises muscular action over fuel bills.

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But first...

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The House of Commons has backed the Prime Minister's call

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for a general election on June 8th.

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MPs voted by 522 to 13, meaning Theresa May secured well

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over the two thirds majority she needed to dissolve Parliament.

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Mrs May took Westminster by surprise on Tuesday by announcing she wanted

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to go to the country - having previously said

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she wouldn't hold an early poll.

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She argued the vote was needed to give her a strong hand

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in the Brexit negotiations.

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At Prime Minister's Questions the Labour leader challenged

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Mrs May's record.

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We welcome the general election...

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HECKLING.

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But this...

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But this is a Prime Minister who promised there wouldn't be one.

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A Prime Minister who cannot be trusted.

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She says it is about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record

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in television debates.

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And it is not hard to see why.

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The Prime Minister says we have a stronger economy.

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Yet...

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Yet she can't explain why people's wages are lower today

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than they were ten years ago, or why more households are in debt,

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6 million people earning less than the living wage,

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child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up, so why

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are so many people getting poorer?

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Well, I can assure the right honourable gentleman, first of all,

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I would point out to the right honourable gentleman that I have

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been answering his questions and debating these matters every

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Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since

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I became Prime Minister.

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And I will be taking, I will be taking out to the country

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in this campaign a proud record of a Conservative government.

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A stronger economy, an economy of a deficit nearly two thirds down,

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with 30 million people with a tax cut.

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4 million people taken out of income tax altogether.

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Record levels of employment and ?1250 more a year for pensioners.

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That is a record we can be proud of.

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Mr Speaker, if she is so proud of her record,

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why won't she debate it?

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Wages...

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Wages are falling, more children are in poverty,

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and the last Tory manifesto, page 28, said...

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"We will work to eliminate child poverty."

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They only eliminated the child poverty targets, not child poverty.

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People will have a real choice at this election.

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They will have a choice between a Conservative government

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that has shown we can build a stronger economy,

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and a Labour Party whose economic policy would bankrupt this country.

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And what voters know is that under Labour it is ordinary working people

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who pay the price of the Labour Party.

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They pay it with their taxes, they pay it with their jobs,

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and they pay it with their children's futures.

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Most people know that the reason we are actually having a general

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election is because of the woeful state of the Labour Party.

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If the Prime Minister is so confident that her hard

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Brexit, pro-austerity immigration case is right, then she should

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debate it with opposition leaders during the campaign.

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We look forward to the straight fight between

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the SNP and the Tories.

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Can the Prime Minister tell the people why she is running scared

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of a televised debate with Nicola Sturgeon?

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I can assure the right honourable gentleman that I will be out

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there campaigning in every part of the United Kingdom,

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taking out there our proud record of a Conservative government that

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has delivered for every part of the United Kingdom.

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And I might suggest to the Scottish Nationalists that

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actually now is the time for them to put aside...

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HECKLING.

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Yes.

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HECKLING.

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Wait for it.

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Now is the time for them to put aside their tunnel vision

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on independence and actually explain to the Scottish people why under

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the SNP they are not putting as much money into the health service

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as they have been given from the UK, they are not exercising the powers

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they have been given, and Scottish education

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is getting worse.

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It is time they got back to the day job.

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The British public deserve to hear the party leaders

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set out their plans and debate them publicly.

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But the Prime Minister has refused to take part

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in televised leaders debates.

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The Prime Minister and I, back in 1992, debated publicly,

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forcibly and amicably when we were both

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candidates together.

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Indeed, Mr Speaker...

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Indeed, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister called out

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the then incumbent who did not show up for some of those debates.

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Why will she not debate those issues publicly now?

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What is she scared of?

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I can assure the honourable gentleman that I will be debating

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these issues publicly across the country,

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as will every single member of the Conservative team.

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The Prime Minister yesterday said she was calling a general election

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because Parliament was blocking Brexit.

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But three quarters of MPs and two thirds of the Lords

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voted for Article 50.

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So that is not true, is it?

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And a month ago she told her official spokesman to rule out

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an early general election, and that wasn't true either, was it?

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She wants us to believe that she is a woman of her word.

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Isn't the truth that we cannot believe a single word she says?

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HECKLING.

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This...

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Order.

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The House is rather...

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Order.

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The House is rather overexcited.

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The question has been heard.

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The answer will be heard.

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The Prime Minister...

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This House and this Parliament voted to trigger Article 50.

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But the Labour Party made it clear they were thinking of voting

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against the final deal.

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The Scottish Nationalists...

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The Scottish...

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HECKLING.

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The Scottish Nationalists...

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The Scottish Nationalists have said that they would vote

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against the legislation necessary to leave the European Union.

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The Liberal Democrats since they are going to grind

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government to a standstill.

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And the House of Lords have threatened to stop us

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every inch of the way.

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I think it is right now to ask the British people

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to put their trust in me and the Conservative Party

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to deliver on their vote last year a Brexit plan that will make

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a success for this country and deliver a stronger, fairer,

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global Britain in the future.

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A veteran Labour MP raised alleged breaches of election expenses

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from the 2015 election which are still being investigated

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by some police forces.

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Will the Prime Minister give a guarantee that no Tory MP

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who is under investigation by the police and the legal

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authorities over election expenses in the last general election be

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a candidate in this election?

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Because if she won't accept that, this is the most squalid election

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campaign that has happened in my lifetime.

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I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in this House

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and who will be out there standing again, campaigning, campaigning

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for a Conservative government that will give a brighter and better

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future for this country.

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Well, a short time later MPs began their debate on the motion -

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with Theresa May returning to the despatch box

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to set out her case.

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I have set out the divisions that have become clear on this issue.

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They can and will be used against us, weakening our hand

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in the negotiations to come, and we must not let that happen.

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I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance

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there should be unity here in Westminster, not division.

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And that is why it is the right and responsible thing for all of us

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here today to vote for a general election, to make our respective,

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to make our respective cases to the country and then to respect

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the result and the mandate that provides to give Britain

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the strongest possible hand in the negotiations to come.

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The question is that there shall be an early

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Parliamentary general election.

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Mr Jeremy Corbyn.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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LAUGHTER.

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We welcome the opportunity of a general election,

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because it gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour

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government that would put the interests of the majority first.

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Britain is being held back.

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Held back by her government.

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The Prime Minister talks about a strong economy,

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but the truth is most people are worse off than they were

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when the Conservatives came to power seven years ago.

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The election gives the British people the chance

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to change direction.

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Jeremy Corbyn.

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It was then the turn of the smaller parties

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and backbenchers to have their say.

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There was strong support from the Prime Minister's own side -

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but accusations of opportunism from opposition MPs.

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A Conservative began by telling MPs that he'd told his local

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newspaper there was no chance of a snap election.

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And as I told them, with absolute confidence,

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turkeys will not vote for Christmas.

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I congratulate my right honourable friend for having achieved

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the impossible and secured the fact that today those turkeys

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will indeed vote for that.

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If this election is, as the Prime Minister says,

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about a more secure future for this country, if it is an election

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of such national significance, we should have an urgent change

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in the law to give Britain's 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds

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a say in what will be very much their future

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on the 8th of June.

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The people of Northern Ireland will have a clear choice.

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They will have a clear choice as to whether or not

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they will want to rally round and say very, very firmly

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they want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom,

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or whether they want to go down the route presented by Sinn Fein,

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which is this Marxist, Leninist concept of a republic

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which has been rejected even by most people who accept their nationalism

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at reject what they stand for in terms of their economic

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outlook and all the rest of it.

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And the only way to support the union is by rallying behind

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the Democratic Unionist Party on the 8th of June.

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She has accused others of playing games in this Parliament.

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In essence, the Prime Minister's argument is that she has no

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confidence in Parliament, so we have this bizarre situation

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where we had a referendum that was about taking back control,

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that was about Parliamentary sovereignty, but then

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we have a Prime Minister who pronounces she has no

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confidence in Parliament.

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She doesn't trust parties in the opposition.

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She confers on them all sorts of exaggerated powers

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to block out to wreck, and then of course she has

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complaints about the House of Lords.

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Mr Speaker, against the European Union,

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for the European Union, then against again.

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Against holding a general election, and now determined

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to have a general election.

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Mr Speaker, the record is about as straight as a legendary

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European Union banana.

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Brexit for us is a very different and brittle world.

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We fully support as Ulster Unionists that we need to find

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the right way forward, but it is going to be used

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by Sinn Fein to really try and break up the union.

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And we need that support.

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The justification which is given for having a general election

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is quite frankly disingenuous.

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To suggest that she needs a mandate to negotiate

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Brexit is just ridiculous.

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She was given that mandate on the 24th of June by a majority

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of the British people, and it's up to her now

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to carry that out.

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If she then wishes to have another election at the end of the process,

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or to have another referendum, then so be it, but to

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justify it now is just, as my honourable colleague

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says, purely opportunistic.

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I believe this is the sort of thing that gives politics a bad

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name in our country, and it's what's leading

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to the alienation of many of our citizens from the political process.

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There was only one reason why the Prime Minister wants a general

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election on the 8th of June, and that is she figures she has

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a better chance of winning it now than she does in the future.

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It is therefore the most blatant abuse of the democratic procedure

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for party political advantage.

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And as this campaign goes on, it will be seen as that.

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I know that this Government, which has delivered so much already

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and has so much more to deliver, will have a resonance

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with the British public when they look at what's on offer

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from the other parties who are divided, they are wrangling,

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they are scaremongering and they are in Brexit denial.

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This Government will give us the best deal

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for all of our businesses and all of our constituencies.

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And at the end Mrs May comfortably got her way.

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THE SPEAKER: Order, order.

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The ayes to the right, 522.

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The noes to the left, 13.

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And that vote means the election will definitely go

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ahead on June the 8th.

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You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.

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A scrappage scheme to encourage people to stop driving their diesel

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cars should be carefully targeted, according to the chair of

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Parliament's Environment Committee.

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Neil Parish said the scheme mustn't become a subsidy for the well-off

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motorist living in a rural location.

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A decade ago, motorists were happily selling their petrol cars

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and replacing them with diesel models - opting for better fuel

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efficiency and heeding the advice of politicians at the time,

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who believed diesel's lower emission of carbon dioxide

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was crucial in curtailing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Then came the discovery that environmental advantages

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from driving diesel cars were more than outweighed by some

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serious disadvantages.

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Diesel engines emit a higher level of nitrogen oxides.

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These gases cause or worsen health conditions like asthma

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and bronchitis, and even risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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They are also linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths

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in Britain every year.

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Would he agree with me that many drivers of diesel cars will feel

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that they were encouraged to go and buy these cars, and now

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they are staring at the prospect of local authorities seeking

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to fleece them for taxes in order to raise money

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to plug their own funding gaps, and they will feel that

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this is deeply unfair?

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Yes, the honourable gentleman does raise a very good point,

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and that's very much partly behind the idea of the scrappage scheme.

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Not only would it help with air quality, but it is some recompense

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for the fact that those who were perhaps moved

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towards diesel will get a carrot as well as a stick.

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However, I do not want a scrappage scheme becoming a subsidy entirely

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for the middle classes.

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Households should not just be able to trading multiple

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diesels for a cash subsidy.

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Instead, the Government should particularly consider targeting

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a scrappage scheme at poorer households, or those earning less

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than 60% of the median UK household income.

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Given that most of the concentration of nitrous oxide and nitrogen

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dioxide and particulates is in urban area, does he think that in any

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scrappage scheme there should be a priority given to people who live

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in urban areas?

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It seems slightly generous and pointless to support people

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who own diesels in the middle of North Yorkshire, say.

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I think the honourable gentleman raised an interesting point,

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because I think, yes, priority does need to be

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given to the inner city, because that is where

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we are particularly trying to get the quality better, in these

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hotspots of poor air quality.

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But another Labour MP criticised the scrappage idea.

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It's all very well to say, yes, we'll give somebody ?1000.

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?1000 towards what?

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Towards buying a new vehicle?

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What does that say to someone who needs his car for going to work,

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probably has seen a drop in the value already

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of around ?2000 in his asset, for people who are asset poor,

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and who need their vehicle for going to work?

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We're going to give them ?1000.

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Who's going to lend them the money?

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Are they buying new vehicles?

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Are they buying vehicles from further up in the chain?

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There may be answers out of this, but figures came there none

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during the course of this debate.

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The minister said the Government was consulting on diesel vehicles

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and listed what had been done to improve air quality so far.

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Since 2011, the Government has invested 2 billion to increase

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the uptake of low emission vehicles and support greener transport

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schemes as well as pledging 290 million to support electric

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vehicles and low emission buses and taxis in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

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But more than that, just last week, 109 million of Government funding

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was awarded to 38 cutting edge automotive research and development

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projects focused on greatly reducing automotive emissions

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and their footprint.

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So those are the facts.

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The honourable member for Tiverton and Honiton proposed to put ultra

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low emission vehicles up the heart of the scrappage scheme.

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We are already investing a suitable amount of money to support the low

0:20:460:20:49

emission vehicle market, because we believe that the switch

0:20:490:20:51

to a zero emission economy is both inevitable and desirable.

0:20:510:20:56

We want almost every car to be low emission by 2050,

0:20:560:21:00

as the honourable gentleman will know because he has

0:21:000:21:02

heard me say it before.

0:21:020:21:03

The Transport Minister, John Hayes.

0:21:030:21:05

Energy companies have been warned that they face "muscular and strong"

0:21:060:21:09

action from the Government over "damaging" price rises.

0:21:090:21:13

The Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, told MPs that he planned

0:21:130:21:16

to take decisive action - although, because of the imminent

0:21:160:21:18

election, he couldn't give a date for this move.

0:21:180:21:20

Appearing before MPs, he was challenged by the Labour

0:21:200:21:22

chair of the Energy Committee.

0:21:220:21:27

You say some really good warm words, but there is no action.

0:21:290:21:35

And in terms of energy customers facing price rises now,

0:21:350:21:37

what action is being taken?

0:21:380:21:42

Or do you think that energy prices are justified in increasing?

0:21:420:21:46

No, I think it is clear that the market isn't

0:21:460:21:48

working for those customers on the default tariffs.

0:21:480:21:51

The CMA established that.

0:21:510:22:01

It has been my very clear view as expressed to this committee

0:22:010:22:04

and expressed to the House of Commons, and when I say

0:22:040:22:07

that we have a duty to act, you will see that action.

0:22:070:22:12

It will be decisive, and it will address this completely

0:22:120:22:16

unacceptable detriment that ordinary working people have been suffering.

0:22:160:22:21

But you have not acted, Secretary of State, and one

0:22:210:22:25

of the arguments for EDF's price rise, its second, last week,

0:22:250:22:29

was that it is pre-empting any Government action.

0:22:290:22:31

Your delay is actually putting up energy prices for customers.

0:22:310:22:34

So why can't you act now?

0:22:340:22:38

There is no delay.

0:22:380:22:42

The response that we will make I think will be, you will see

0:22:420:22:45

will be muscular and will be strong, and it will apply to all

0:22:450:22:48

of the companies that are disadvantages consumers

0:22:480:22:50

in this way.

0:22:500:22:57

Greg Clark.

0:22:570:22:59

It's two years since a policy allowing fathers to take time off

0:23:000:23:03

to be with their children came into force.

0:23:030:23:05

The policy gives parents the right to split up to 52 weeks

0:23:050:23:08

of shared parental leave.

0:23:080:23:11

But some campaigners worry it's not being taken up by many families.

0:23:110:23:14

A former employment minister appeared in front of a committee

0:23:140:23:17

of MPs and was asked what could be done to make the policy work better.

0:23:170:23:22

How do you think that it needs to change, in your opinion,

0:23:240:23:27

to encourage more employers to be promoting that option?

0:23:270:23:30

We know that from our research last year more than seven in ten

0:23:300:23:33

employees did say that they thought shared parental leave

0:23:330:23:37

was complicated or very complicated, and that is an issue.

0:23:370:23:44

So part of that is about communication and leadership.

0:23:440:23:46

And I think looking at how it could be simplified,

0:23:460:23:48

I know from ministerial experience how it is difficult as a policy

0:23:480:23:53

to legislate for every single type of relationship and circumstance.

0:23:530:23:59

There is an element to which, just like maternity leave,

0:23:590:24:03

the detail of the policy does need to account for all of those.

0:24:030:24:06

But in many cases, the ways in which people use it will be

0:24:060:24:10

more straightforward, and I think that the working family

0:24:100:24:13

videos that Matthew mentioned were a really good example actually

0:24:130:24:17

of how by using different case studies you could actually explain

0:24:170:24:20

very simply what looks like a context policy and how

0:24:200:24:22

it works in real life.

0:24:220:24:25

And the other thing that I noticed was that there are four different

0:24:250:24:28

forms for notifying employers about shared parental leave,

0:24:280:24:31

and a little grid about which forms you need to fill in if both parents

0:24:310:24:35

are taking it, or just the mother or just the father.

0:24:350:24:38

And it struck me that actually, if you could have just one form,

0:24:380:24:41

possibly with different sections, certainly when I was in Government

0:24:410:24:43

that was my request, that there be one form that both

0:24:430:24:46

parents would sign, and that would actually mean that it

0:24:460:24:49

could go to both employers, they would know the score

0:24:490:24:52

and you wouldn't need to have this employers having to talk to each

0:24:520:24:55

other, which anecdotally I have heard many employers feel

0:24:550:24:57

that they do have to have that communication, and it was always

0:24:570:25:00

the intention that that wouldn't need to happen.

0:25:000:25:05

So I do think the Government needs to look at all of those ways that it

0:25:050:25:09

could be made simpler, and there is a review

0:25:090:25:12

that is planned which could pick up these issues as well as some

0:25:120:25:15

of the issues about paternity allowance or when it actually kicks

0:25:150:25:18

in in terms of day one right, and I think that would be a sensible

0:25:180:25:21

thing for the Government to do, to tweak and improve the policy.

0:25:210:25:24

Former Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson.

0:25:240:25:27

And that's it from me for now, but do join me at the same time

0:25:270:25:30

tomorrow for another round-up of the best of the day

0:25:300:25:32

here at Westminster, including environment questions

0:25:320:25:34

and a debate on the lessons to be learned from the EU referendum.

0:25:340:25:37

But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.

0:25:370:25:42