05/07/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


05/07/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 5 July, presented by 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 party leaders clash over public sector pay.

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The Lope epidemic is a threat to our economic stability. It isn't fair to

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bankrupt economy because it means for people losing their homes and

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losing their jobs. Claims that some young people voted

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twice in the General Election. This is straight out of the Donald

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Trump file, because again they are trying to suppress voter

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participation. to tears as he speaks

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about the Grenfell The families I have met have been

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through unimaginable pain. This is a tragedy that should never have

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happened. With the current increasing focus

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on whether the Government's cap on public sector pay should be

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lifted, the issue was a near certainty to be raised at the weekly

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round of Prime Minister's Questions. The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

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was said in recent days to have come round to the view that the 1

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per cent pay cap could now be lifted The new Environment Secretary

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Michael Gove also suggested While the Chancellor Philip Hammond

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went public to defend the cap. In the Commons, the Labour leader

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Jeremy Corbyn said the cap on public sector pay

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was causing real hardship. I had a letter last week from a

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teacher called David. It is all right, here's a teacher, all right?

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And he said, and I quote, I have been teaching for ten years. I see

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my workload increase, I have seen more people leave the profession

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than start, and no form of pay increase in seven years. The only

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thing holding the education system together is the dedication to

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struggle on for the students and staff, and he said this dedication

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is starting to run out, so what we are doing with this pick-up is we

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are saying to the Prime Minister is recklessly exploiting the goodwill

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of public servants like David. They need a pay rise. Let me remind the

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right Honourable gentleman why it has been necessary to exercise

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restraint. It is because we inherited the biggest deficit in

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history. The Prime Minister phoned ?1 billion to keep her own job, why

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can't she find the same amount of money to keep nurses and teachers in

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their job who after all serve all of us? Contrary to all of what he said,

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we have more nurses working in the NHS today compared to 2010. Let me

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remind the right honourable gentleman of what happens when you

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don't deal with the deficit. It's not a theoretical issue. Let's look

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at those countries who failed to deal with it. In Greece, where they

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haven't dealt with the deficit... What did we see with failure to deal

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with the deficit? Spending on the health service cut by 36%. It

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doesn't help nurses are patients. I hope the Prime Minister is proud of

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her record of controlling public sector pay to the extent that

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hard-working nurses have two axis that banks in order to survive. And

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we frozen wages of teaching assistants, paramedics and council

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workers, but it is not just in public sector but across the economy

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wages are rising by 2.1% while inflation is nearly 3%. 6 million

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workers already earn less than a living wage. What does the Prime

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Minister think that tells us about seven years of a Conservative

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government and what it has done to the living standards of those people

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on whom we all relied to get our public services and health services

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delivered to us? Let me just say what isn't free. It isn't fear to

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refuse to take tough decisions and to load bets on our children and

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grandchildren for the future. It isn't fair to bankrupt economy bit

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cause that means for people losing their jobs and losing their homes.

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Mr Speaker, let me spell it out, this is the only country in which

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wages have not recovered since the global financial crash. More people

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are using food banks. 4 million children living in poverty. Record

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in work poverty, young people who see no prospect of owning the

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long-haul, and 6 million earning less than a living wage. The Lope

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academic is a threat to our economic stability. Can she take some tough

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choices and instead of offering platitudes, offer some real help and

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support for those in work, young people who deserve better and

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deserve to be given more optimism rather than greater inequality. We

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actually now see that the proportion of people in absolute poverty is at

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a record low. I know the right honourable gentleman has taken to

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calling himself a government in waiting. We all know what that

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means. Waiting to put up taxes, waiting to destroy jobs, waiting to

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bankrupt country. We will never let it happen. The UK Government has not

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announced any measures to address rising inflation and slowing wage

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growth which the IFS has described as dreadful. As workers face more

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than a decade of lost wage growth and endure the worst period for paid

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in 70 years, does the Prime Minister think she is looking out for the

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just about managing? What is important is that we ensure we have

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an economy which is increasing the number of jobs because the best

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route out of poverty is for people to be in work. That is what we are

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doing and we have seen nearly 3 million more jobs being created over

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recent years and that is important for people. We also help people, for

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example, by cutting taxes. That is what we have done for the low paid,

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introducing the national living wage. That is giving people real

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help. Theresa May. Straight after PMQs,

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the Conservative Kenneth Clarke warned that any removal

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of the public sector pay cap The former Chancellor said

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Ministers had to maintain what he called their 'sensible

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policy' of keeping His remarks followed the tabling

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of an urgent question If she were to give way to this week

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was by lobbying on this subject it would be a political disaster

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because the government would be accused of Utah and surrender and

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would set off a wave of pay claims across the entire public sector what

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the opposition are obvious and looking forward to taking part in.

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It would also possibly be an economic disaster and not in the

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interests of the many people in the public and private sector having

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economic difficulties in these times, and want to move forward to a

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much more prosperous future as they get our economy back into health

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again. In many services workers have received additional paid to the 1%

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national increase. Teacher attacked another rich pay rise of 3.3% in

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2015-16. More than half of nurses and other NHS staff had an average

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increase of over 3% in 2016. Government pay policy is designed to

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be fair to public sector workers who work so hard to deliver the strong

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public services. The Shadow Chancellor talked about tensions

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between ten and 11 Downing St. For the Prime Minister that must be

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tough living next to a disruptive neighbour you can't stand, you try

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to get rid of bad you can't get on with. We then receive in the press,

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Mr Speaker, the wisdom of are tolerable member for Oxbridge who

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according to spokesperson supports the idea public sector workers

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getting a better pay deal. This was followed up by his campaign

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manager,... His campaign manager turned political assassin, the new

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Environment Secretary, who actually supports the putsch against the

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Chancellor. It descends into farce when we have David Cameron earning

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300,000 a speech telling us that those want more than 1% are selfish.

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As the Shadow Chancellor knows well the former Prime Minister didn't say

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it was selfish for dedicated public sector workers to ask for a pay

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rise. He argued that is selfish and immoral for politicians to offer

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benefits to the voters of today paid for by the borders of tomorrow, so

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would my right honourable friend agree that for her children in mind

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it is important to balance the treatment of the public sector with

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handing money strong country not saddled by excess debt. In the

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exceedingly fine city of Norwich we have three NHS trusts, two local

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authorities, a teaching hospital, thousands of public sector workers

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to contribute to our economy and who at present are struggling to make

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ends meet. Surely this government must understand that austerity is

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dying on its feet. Invest in these people and left the public sector

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cake up and invest in the Norwich economy. We know that since 2010,

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there have been 30,000 more nurses employed in the NHS but I am worried

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that the party opposite's unfunded proposals can actually lead to a cut

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in the number of nurses. A ?68 billion black hole in their

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manifesto. Mr Speaker, right now 130 workers at the DUP office have been

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told their place of work will be closed and jobs relocated up to an

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hour's drive away. Haven't these public sector workers suffered

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enough from the pay cap? The last thing they now need to be told as

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you have to find more money to pay via travel to and from work. That is

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a fundamental difference in the economic conditions when the 1% pay

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cap was introduced, with the fear of large-scale unemployment and

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inflation, from the present Dave when the chronic labour shortages

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throughout the public sector and salaries have been eroded by rising

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inflation. Will she not left the pay cap to reflect basic economic

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reality? It is not fair to say it is solely the 1%. Public sector workers

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are awarded on a number of ways. There've been claims that

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when the nation went to the polls one month ago,

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at the June 8th General Election, some young people may have

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deliberately voted twice - both in the place where they're

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a student and in their home town. The claims of double voting led

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to some robust exchanges in the Commons on the extent

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of electoral fraud in the UK. Is the Minister aware

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that there is now clear evidence that many students boasted on social

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media of voting twice - once at university, and once

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by post at home? Surely this is straightforward

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electoral fraud. Indeed, it is nothing less

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than an abuse of our democracy. I am meeting Sir John Holmes,

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the chair of the Electoral Commission, this afternoon,

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and I intend to raise this Let all of us in this House be

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clear: this is a crime. If anyone has any evidence

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of people voting twice, they should report it to their local

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returning officer and the police, Are we not supposed to have

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policy driven by evidence, and is it not significant

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that the Minister gave not one shred Quite frankly, in every election

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there are one or two cases of people being convicted of fraud,

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out of tens of millions of voters. This is straight out

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of the Donald Trump disinformation playbook, because Ministers

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are again trying to suppress The Minister cannot come up

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with any evidence - if anyone has such evidence,

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they should take it to the police - and he should

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be ashamed of himself. The last Electoral Commission report

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on the subject shows that 38% of people felt that electoral fraud

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was an issue. Since 2010, 2,394 alleged cases

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of electoral fraud have been reported to the Electoral

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Commission. In Eddisbury there was clear

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evidence of double registrations, Does the Minister agree

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that we should have a central system that flags up people

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who are double-registered, But surely the time

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has come for automatic How can it possibly be fair that,

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according to the Office for National Statistics,

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in my inner-city Nottingham constituency, less than three

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quarters of adults are on the electoral register,

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but in the Minister s constituency, Is not the real electoral fraud

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those policies that stand in the way of citizens

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exercising their democratic rights? It has been highlighted that

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all someone needs when they go In theory, someone could get

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hold of a telephone directory and vote all day

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in different polling stations. Does the Minister agree

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that it is time to use photo identification to prevent

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electoral fraud? People deserve to have confidence

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in the security of our democratic Voter ID has been in place

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in Northern Ireland for decades, and the use of photographic ID

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was introduced in 2003 under The Electoral Commission has

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consistently called for use of ID in polling stations to protect

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the integrity of the polls. The Government will conduct voter ID

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pilots in the local elections in May 2018 to enable us to learn

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what works best, and to ensure that we develop a system

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in which there is You're watching our round-up of the

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day in the Commons and the Lords. Still to come: MPs declare

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"something must be done" It's three weeks since

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the Grenfell Tower fire - Theresa May promised that all those

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who had lost their homes in the tragedy would be offered

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temporary housing by this date. The Government has announced that

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a taskforce will be sent in to take over parts of Kensington

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and Chelsea Council. The Council has been

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heavily criticised for its Updating MPs, the Housing Minister

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said 158 families had been identified as needing temporary

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housing - where, he said, they could live, rent-free,

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while permanent accomodation I can confirm that every family

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that is ready to talk to the housing team has been offered a temporary

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home, and that 139 families have However, 19 families have not yet

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been ready to engage in the process, Some are still in hospital

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as a result of their injuries. In some cases, the people

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on the ground offering those families support have made clear

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that it would be inappropriate at this time to ask them to make

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a decision about where They have been through

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unimaginable trauma, and we need to go at the pace

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at which they want to go. What matters above all else is

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what the families individually want. As he came to the end

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of his statement, the Minister My visits to the Westway,

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hearing the harrowing accounts of survivors,

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have been the most humbling The families I have met have been

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through unimaginable pain. This is a tragedy that should

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never have happened, and we are determined to do

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all that we can to make sure something like this

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never happens again. I welcome the Minister

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to the Dispatch Box for his first oral statement in this job

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and thank him for making a copy John Healey said it had

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been a testing first few weeks for the Minister -

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but he had to say that After the fire, the

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Prime Minister said: "I have fixed a deadline of three

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weeks for everybody affected to be The three weeks are up,

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yet whole families, who have lost everything,

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are still in hotels and hostels. We have learned today that three -

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just three - of the 158 families from Grenfell Tower have moved

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into a fresh home, and these are only temporary, which was not

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what the Prime Minister first said. Is the Minister aware that,

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despite the press narrative of survivors refusing ?1 million

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luxury flats, some are being offered One man in particular,

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whom I think the Minister has met, runs his own business and cares

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for his elderly disabled mother. He was offered a home in a poorly

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maintained, rat-infested estate What kind of peace and stability

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could that traumatised family, who escaped with their lives

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while rescuing their neighbours, possibly find in that

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frankly shameful offer? I would really like to know

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who considered that kind We do not want any family to be

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placed in accommodation Lady to join me and the shadow

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Minister - let us go and visit some of these properties and make sure

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that she is happy with the quality I want to share the words

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of my constituent, Jess. She says: "I am a firefighter

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and went into Grenfell Tower, rescuing an unconscious girl

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from the 12th floor. Myself and my fellow firefighters

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will never forget the horrors of that night and the fact

:19:49.:19:50.

we couldn t rescue everyone. But we are not to blame for these

:19:51.:19:53.

deaths, the shocking and tragic fire I have never seen a building go up

:19:54.:19:57.

in flames so quickly, it took minutes for the fire to hop

:19:58.:20:02.

from floor to floor. This tragedy has shown that the laws

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on fire safety in buildings say to my constituent,

:20:05.:20:07.

and what support has been put In reply, Mr Sharma paid tribute

:20:08.:20:17.

to the "incredible work" that the firefighters did, and do,

:20:18.:20:22.

every day of the year. He said trauma

:20:23.:20:25.

counselling was vital. He said a public inquiry had been

:20:26.:20:27.

set up to get to the bottom There was discussion also

:20:28.:20:31.

in the House of Lords on the Government's latest moves

:20:32.:20:37.

in the aftermath In the Prime Minister s Statement

:20:38.:20:39.

on 22 June, she first outlined that the accommodation will be

:20:40.:20:43.

on the same terms as the original accommodation, and we have seen

:20:44.:20:46.

a definition of that today. Unfortunately, I understood "same

:20:47.:20:51.

terms" to be in the personal injury lawyer sense,

:20:52.:20:53.

which is to put the person back into the position they would have

:20:54.:20:56.

been in had none of this happened. People who have been placed

:20:57.:21:00.

in accommodation with more bedrooms should be in the same position -

:21:01.:21:05.

having the same money still in their pocket -

:21:06.:21:07.

as if they were in the house This tragedy should

:21:08.:21:10.

never have happened. Everything must be done to make sure

:21:11.:21:15.

it never happens again, to do right by the victims

:21:16.:21:18.

and their families, to treat them with care and respect,

:21:19.:21:24.

and to give them the support they deserve and the

:21:25.:21:26.

answers they need. There is a real risk that

:21:27.:21:29.

something will happen - It is quite clear that

:21:30.:21:31.

the organisation in London of individual boroughs is not

:21:32.:21:39.

properly equipped to handle There is no wonder that

:21:40.:21:42.

Manchester City Council did a better job than Kensington and Chelsea:

:21:43.:21:45.

the resources available The Minister talked

:21:46.:21:53.

about a task force. There needs to be a permanent

:21:54.:21:56.

organisation so that if tragedy strikes in one of these ways,

:21:57.:21:58.

it can go straight I very much hope that that will be

:21:59.:22:01.

the outcome of this. What steps is the Minister taking

:22:02.:22:11.

to ensure that there are no other local authorities that are equally

:22:12.:22:14.

weak in disaster Although this was a terrible

:22:15.:22:16.

tragedy, in terms of managing the disaster,

:22:17.:22:21.

it was not particularly difficult. It was very concentrated

:22:22.:22:23.

geographically. What would have happened

:22:24.:22:28.

if a wide-bodied jet had landed My noble friend said that this

:22:29.:22:30.

case was easy to handle It might have been geographically

:22:31.:22:35.

concentrated, but the nature of this tragedy was such that it was,

:22:36.:22:43.

and still is, very I have no particular knowledge

:22:44.:22:45.

of detailed plans for the type of disaster he talked about,

:22:46.:22:53.

but the suggestion by my noble friend Lord King

:22:54.:22:57.

and the Prime Minister of some sort of civil action disaster task force

:22:58.:23:00.

is an appropriate one to deal with such awful occasions,

:23:01.:23:03.

which do happen over time - we can think of transport

:23:04.:23:14.

disasters or Hillsborough. Such situations would be helped

:23:15.:23:17.

by having an appropriate body with legacy ideas passed on from one

:23:18.:23:20.

awful disaster to another. It is an idea that is worth pursuing

:23:21.:23:22.

on a non-partisan basis. Councils in England are to be given

:23:23.:23:25.

access to a multibillion-pound fund It could mean new by-passes

:23:26.:23:28.

and relief roads for country towns Under the scheme, to be

:23:29.:23:33.

implemented in 2020, road improvement projects will be

:23:34.:23:40.

judged on how they contribute to creating a more

:23:41.:23:45.

geographically balanced economy, It was originally thought the money,

:23:46.:23:47.

held in the national roads, fund would be spent

:23:48.:23:53.

on motorways and A-roads. MPs in Westminster Hall have been

:23:54.:23:55.

staging a general debate on problems Can I perhaps be the first

:23:56.:23:58.

honourable member in this house to make an oral application to

:23:59.:24:10.

the Roads Minister for bypasses for Little Common off the A259

:24:11.:24:13.

and Hurst Green off the A21. I'm sure I will not be

:24:14.:24:16.

the last applicant today. I would like to talk about the A27

:24:17.:24:19.

that runs through my constituency. It was envisaged as a

:24:20.:24:22.

coastal highway, but anybody who has travelled

:24:23.:24:24.

along the road will know it is

:24:25.:24:26.

too often a If you ask many drivers and what

:24:27.:24:28.

their priorities are, they will say it is fixing

:24:29.:24:46.

damage local roads, not Potholes don't just

:24:47.:24:49.

impair the quality of driving, extended journey times

:24:50.:24:55.

and damage vehicles, they are a real safety risk for

:24:56.:24:58.

drivers and cyclists. Everyone is a road user,

:24:59.:25:00.

and tackling the poor condition of our roads should be

:25:01.:25:02.

a national priority. the Russian published Rhoda

:25:03.:25:10.

mentalist survey found almost one fifth of roads were improved

:25:11.:25:14.

condition while local authorities said one in six roads crossing

:25:15.:25:18.

England and Wales Mac are in such bad state they must be repaired

:25:19.:25:23.

within the next five years. The bypass has been waiting for 20

:25:24.:25:28.

or 30 years and we are progressing but this kind of fund is exactly

:25:29.:25:32.

what we need to get it over the line. The other three decade Rd in

:25:33.:25:39.

waiting is one that also affects the Tower Lane.

:25:40.:25:40.

And that's the end of the road for me for this programme.

:25:41.:25:43.

Do join me for our next daily round-up.

:25:44.:25:45.

Until then, from me, Keith Macdougall, goodbye.

:25:46.:25:48.

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