21/06/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 21 June, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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Hello, and welcome to the programme, on the day the Queen came


to Westminster for the state opening of Parliament.


Her Majesty set out the bills the Government wants to pass,


My Government will seek to maintain a deep and special partnership with


the European allies. And to forge new trading relationships across the


globe. But Theresa May said her Government


would build a stronger and safer The Lords too give their first


verdict on the speech. While back in the Commons


a conservative MP uses his big May I wish to reassure members, may


I reassure the Prime Minister, I am still young...


LAUGHTER Still thrusting.


But let's begin at the start of the day.


This was a rather unusual state opening.


Because no one was expecting a general election at the start


of June, there was no time to prepare for the traditional pomp


and ceremony with coaches, horses and mass ranks of guardsmen.


And so it was a very scaled back procession that set off


With the Queen travelling by car to Westminster accompanied


The Duke of Edinburgh was unusually absent too,


having been taken to hospital for treatment for an infection.


Inside the Lords there was a more familiar look to things -


with peers in their traditional red robes and ermine -


despite the sweltering heat and the Yeoman of the guard lining


When the Queen - without her ceremonial robes -


and Prince Charles arrived they processed through the Lords


gallery walking behind the imperial state crown


and took their seats on the thrones in the House of Lords.


And then it was time to despatch Black Rod to the House of Commons


As is the tradition, the door to the Commons


was slammed in his face, showing the independence


And there was a more recent tradition, a heckle from veteran


Mr Speaker, the Queen commands this honourable house to attend Her


Majesty immediately in the house of Peers. Get your skates on! First


race is half-past two! And with that Mps left the Commons -


processing out of their chamber - through central lobby


and on into the House of Lords. Normally the Prime Minister


and the Leader of the Opposition exchange pleasantries,


but there was little chit chat between Theresa May


and Jeremy Corbyn. And when MPs had arrived at the bar


at the back of the Lords, the Queen read out the contents


of the speech - the 64th time Beginning with the Government's


plans for Brexit. My Government's priority is to


secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union.


My ministers are committed to working with Parliament, the


devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest


possible consensus on the country's future outside the European Union.


Establishing new national policies on immigration, international


sanctions, nuclear safeguards, agriculture and fisheries.


There was a pledge to bring in a Bill on the next


And a pledge to reform technical education.


There was no word on grammar schools.


But, instead, there was a pledge to prioritise mental health


My Government will continue to work to ensure that every child has the


opportunity to attend a good school and that all schools are fairly


funded. Proposals will be brought forward to


ban unfair tenants fees, promote fairness and transparency in the


housing market and help ensure more homes are built. My ministers will


work to improve social care and will bring forward proposals for


consultation. There'd be a public inquiry


into the Grenfell Tower block fire. To ascertain the causes and ensure


that the appropriate lessons are learned. To support victims my


Government will take forward measures to introduce an independent


public advocate who will act for bereaved families after a public


disaster, and support them at public inquests. In the light of the


terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, my Government's


counterterrorism strategy will be reviewed to ensure that the police


and security services have all powers they need and that the length


of custodial sentences for terrorism related offences are sufficient to


keep the population safe. So, a legislative programme


containing 27 bills with several focused on the country's departure


from the European Union, and largely stripped of the more


controversial elements of the Conservatives'


election manifesto. The nine-minute address saw symbolic


policies such as the expansion of grammar schools shelved -


and others like controversial social care plans given


the status of consultations. And there was one other omission -


no mention of the proposed state visit by the President


of the United States, Donald Trump. A couple of hours later MPs gathered


to begin their debate on what had been proposed,


but before they began they held a minute's silence to remember those


who'd lost their lives in the recent terror attacks and the


Grenfell Tower block fire. On these occasions the opposition


leader gives their thoughts on the speech before the Prime


Minister. Jeremy Corbyn began by talking


about the fire at Grenfell Tower which left dozens dead and hundreds


homeless. What makes it both a tragedy


and an outrage is that every single one of those deaths


could have been avoided. Something has gone


horrifically wrong. The North Kensington


community are demanding answers, and they are


entitled to those answers. Thousands of people living


in tower blocks around the country need urgent reassurance,


and the emergency services, especially Fire And Rescue Services,


in this case, deserve our deepest Turning to the speech itself


he argued there was very little in it for a two year session


of Parliament. A threadbare legislative


programme from a Government that has lost


its majority and apparently ran This would be a thin legislative


programme even if it was There's not enough in there


to fill up one year! He turned to what was


not in the speech. To cheers he said there was no


mention of scrapping the winter fuel Mercifully, neither is there any


mention of ditching the triple lock. Pensioners across Britain will also


be grateful to know that the Tory commitment on that


has also been binned. And older people and their families


might also be keen for some clarity around the Government's


policy on social care. Whether it's still what was


originally set out in the Conservative manifesto,


or whether it is what it was later amended


to, or whether it is now And I'm sure it's just a matter


of historical record, but looking on a Conservative


website today the manifesto has been It apparently


no longer exists. No deal is not better


than a bad deal. It is a bad deal and not


viable for this country. We need full access to the single


market and a customs arrangement that provide Britain,


as the Brexit secretary has pledged, and I quote, "with the exact


same benefits as now". Neither must arbitrary


targets for immigration be prioritised over the jobs and living


standards of the people of Let's decide our immigration


policy on the basis of the needs of our communities and our


economy, not to the tune of dog whistle cynicism of Lynton Crosby


or the hate campaigns or indeed... Or indeed, Mr Speaker, the hate


campaigns of some sections of our press, whose idea of patriotism


is to base themselves in an overseas And he concluded by


reflecting on the outcome The Prime Minister began the


election campaign saying if I lose just six seats I will


lose this election. When it came to it, she lost more


than four times that many From Cardiff to Canterbury,


from Stockton to Kensington, people And they sent an unequivocal message


that austerity must be in London and Manchester and said


the Queen's speech included measures Theresa May also reflected


on the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester and said


the Queen's speech included measures We will work to reach


international agreements that regulate cyberspace,


to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning,


and encourage tech companies to do more to remove


harmful content from their networks. And we will establish


a new commission for countering extremism, as a statutory body


to help fight hatred and extremism in the same way


as we have fought racism, because this extremism is every bit


as insidious and destructive to our values, and we will stop


at nothing to defeat it. The whole country was heartbroken


by the horrific loss of life and the utter devastation


that we have seen. I am sure the whole House


will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the friends


and families of all those who lost loved ones, and today we also think


of those who survive but lost One lady I had met ran from the fire


wearing no more than a So let me be absolutely


clear, the support on the ground for families in the initial


hours was not good enough. People were left without belongings,


without roofs over their heads, without even basic information about


what had happened, what they should That was a failure of the state,


local and national, to help people As Prime Minister,


I apologise for that failure. And as Prime Minister I have


taken responsibility for doing what we can


to put things right. Mrs May turned to Labour's


performance in the recent election. He fought a spirited campaign


and he came a good second. Which was both better


than the pundits predicted and that The election also showed that,


as it faces the big challenges of our future, our country is divided -


red versus blue, young versus old, As I said here last week,


the test for all of us is whether we choose to reflect


divisions or help the country With humility and resolve,


this Government will seek We will do what is in the national


interest and we will work with anyone in any party


that is prepared to do the same. How is the interim


Prime Minister going to LAUGHTER Going to convince


the country that she can negotiate a successful


Brexit within the time limit with 27 other EU countries, when she hasn't


been able even to negotiate the deal with ten Democratic Unionist members


of this house in the time limit Can I thank the honourable


gentleman for giving me the opportunity to welcome


the work that the Right Honourable member, the Secretary of State


for Exiting the European Union, has undertaken in relation to preparing


our negotiations and starting those formal negotiations


on Monday of this week? And I will be in Brussels for the EU


Council later this week And she concluded that the last


few months had been It has been an unsettling


time which has tested the spirit of our country,


but we are a resilient country. Our response to disaster and acts


of terror which takes the lives of innocent people must be this:


compassion, unity, resolve. For we are a great nation


and a great people. We have been through and survived


the toughest of times Once again, we can and


will grow stronger from The Queen's speech


on its own will not solve every challenge


our country faces. Not every problem can be solved


by an act of Parliament. It is a step forward to building


a more compassionate, more united That is what this Government


will aim to achieve, it is what this Queen's


speech will deliver. and I commend the Queen's


speech to the house. It was then the turn of other party


leaders and backbench MPs to give their initial reactions


to the Government's plans. And much of the focus


was the arguments that The Prime Minister's gamble


backfired and she's desperately clung onto power, at least for now,


and stumbled into the Brexit negotiations on Monday morning,


regardless of the almost all-male team equipped with no credible plan,


no mandate and seemingly no I can see the Prime Minister


floundering, but where is the stable Government that the Prime


Minister promised us? The longest serving MP,


the father of the house argued for continued membership


of the single market. We can show that we


can rise above this. I'm glad that there are channels


that are open to the Liberals, the Labour Party, I am


sure the Scottish Nationalists we don't really know what the basis


is on from which we are negotiating I think it's will have to be


carried by what I think cross-party majority that this house


could easily command, if we were able to put in to place some


processes to achieve it. One, we want to do


free trade agreements with other countries around


the world and you can't do it if you're in the customs market


or the customs union. Two, they made it very clear


that they had to pay budget contributions and accept free


movement, which we have no intention It is one of the few things the two


campaigns agreed upon. We all told the British public


we would be leaving the single That was repeated in the Article 50


letter and was appreciated by the EU and voted on and approved


overwhelmingly by the House of Her Majesty has launched


many ships in her time, never such an empty vessel


as the one today. I am not sure whether wasting


the Monarch's time is a treasonous act, I hope


for the Prime Minister's sake it is not, but the Queen's speech


shows that we have a Government who has lost touch with its people


and lost touch with reality. The Prime Minister continues


to pursue, it is clear from the recent statement,


that she seeks to pursue a extreme version of Brexit,


having failed to gain any There is no plan to keep Britain


in the single market as the right honourable member


mentioned earlier or indeed for the We will therefore seek to amend


the Queen's speech to add in membership of the single


market and of the custom's union. When people voted


in the European Union referendum to leave


the European union, they voted to leave


the single market and the customs I believe that Northern Ireland


must, along with the rest of the And there was a clear warning over


the direction the DUP wanted to see. We work with Government


during the course of the next period in this party


to ensure that we do deliver prosperity, to deliver greater


spending on health and education and that we do see an end to the tunnel,


the dark tunnel of austerity. This Queens' speech does


not herald any hope for This Government and the preceding


Government have knocked out the rungs of the ladder


of opportunity for so That reach to the first


rung is now very high and it is very difficult


to get into further Or into nursing without


the nursing bursary. When Southern is not happening


because of the election result, no grammar schools,


no proposals in social care, no scrapping of free school


meals for infants. We need to see a Government,


not discovered, we need to see at the next election


a Government that looks at those who are aspirant, gives them


the opportunity to succeed. This Government, this


Queen's speech is I wish the Government well


in what it is trying to do on Brexit, I will give it my


support, not unqualified, I will try as a backbencher to be


helpfully critical. I appreciate we're going,


I want to work with other members of this house to try and achieve a


sensible outcome that doesn't damage our economic well-being


and our national security. If we don't get this right,


we are going to be in Just like MPs, peers have also been


away from Westminster But unlike MPs, their Lordships


haven't had to face any battles When the Lords commenced its debate


the first speaker was a seasoned Conservative and former


Cabinet Minister. It looks like a good


election for Labour. Indeed, they are behaving as if they


have won it, despite being 56 seats behind the Tories and


the new rapturous enthusiasm on the benches opposite for


Jeremy Corbyn is only matched by their relief


that he is not running the country. Then came the youngest


member of the Lords, She spoke about theories why


the State Opening had Some of you may know that


I was David Cameron's press secretary and whilst


I have huge operation for my former boss, I


think it is fair to say he did give me one or two PR


challenges over the years. However, faced with an unforeseen,


shall we put it, delay of the Queen's speech, I don't think


even I could have come up with slow drying ink on vellum,


so I have to hand it to my successors in number


ten for that stroke of genius. Lord Newby said he'd


struggled to write his speech because of uncertainty over


what might be in the Queen's Speech. But Sunday came and


the fog hadn't lifted. The only new announcement was that


because it was proving so difficult to write this


year's Queen speech, the Government had decided not


to have one next year at all. I suspect there are


a number of issues on which the Conservative and DUP


Government might not find all the MPs of their respective


parties in total agreement. Particularly, if the Prime Minister


fails to put jobs and the economy of this country at the heart


of the Brexit negotiations. My Lords, I want


to be clear on this, should the House of Commons send


this house legislation that has been amended from the


Government's original intentions then ministers should not


seek to use your lordship's house to thwart the mandate of


a democratically elected house. Last year, the vote


was not just to leave the EU, it was a profound


and justified expression that our country often does not


work in the way that it should for millions


of ordinary, working families. For that reason, we


will work to build a stronger economy so we can improve


people's living standards and fund the public services


on which we all depend. Finally, The tradition


is that the opening speeches in the Commons on the day of state


opening are light hearted affairs, given by two Government MPs,


one older hand and one It fell to Richard Benyon to get


the day under way and he revealed Mr Speaker, I'm not the first


Richard Benyon to be asked to move My great, great grandfather


was the MP for Berkshire Though, in many ways


a great man, there is no record of him ever troubling


Hansard with any speech. However, he was asked by Disraeli


to move the loyal address in 1869, but replied


that though mindful of the honour as a matter


of principle, he never As you know, my father was one


of your predecessors as member for Buckingham and he told


that story to Speaker Thomas who clasp a hand to his head and said,


how I wish there were more like him Mr Speaker, I still think


of myself as young. But being asked to do


this singular honour reminds me that I am,


as golfers put it, on the back nine. In the election that we have


all just enjoyed or endured, whatever your perspective,


I faced a Labour candidate who was born a year after I was selected


to fight the seat I now hold. Teams of therapists will be needed


to help me overcome the brutal reality that I've gone


straight from being young thruster to old codger


with nothing in between. The second speech came


from another Conservative. It is a great privilege for me,


the son of Ghanaian this country in the 1960s


to perform this duty today. My mother lived in Liverpool


where her elder brother She remembers Sir Winston


Churchill's funeral and She certainly would


never have believed that her only son would come


a British member of Parliament. This is one of the strengths


of this country. I know people are wondering,


the custom is for this speech to be delivered


by a young, thrusting MP. After seven years in this house,


I was slightly confused One of my honourable


friends, a former whip, said, oh, you're meant to be


the young one, are you? In my intake of 2010,


I have seen such meteoric high-flyers as the Business


Secretary, a Home Secretary and even May I reassure the Prime Minister I


am still young, still thrusting. And that's it from me for now but do


join me at the same time tomorrow when that debate on the Queen's


speech continues, but for


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