12/07/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


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12/07/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 12 July with Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello there, and welcome to the programme.

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Coming up in the next half-hour:

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There's a different look to PMQs, but some familiar

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questions for the Government about the Brexit negotiations.

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As a country, we have got 20 months to go until Brexit.

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We absolutely have got to get a grip.

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It is conceivable that we would be offered a kind of punishment deal,

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that would be worse than no deal.

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It's not our intention, we want to have a deal,

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we want to have a good deal.

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The Government announces more money to help the Iraqi city of Mosul,

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following the defeat of so-called Islamic State there.

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And MPs speak up about the abuse they received from the public.

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I accept that male politicians get abuse too.

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But I hope the one thing we can agree on in this chamber

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is that it is much worse for women.

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But first, Theresa May was otherwise engaged on Wednesday lunchtime,

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on parade for the formal visit for the King of Spain.

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So it was down to her Cabinet colleague, Damian Green,

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who's the First Secretary of State, to fill in for her.

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As is the convention, when the PM is away,

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the opposition also field a deputy.

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So he was facing the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornbury,

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across the dispatch box.

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She turned her attention to the Brexit negotiations,

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saying ministers had to get a grip on Brexit and reveal the impact

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of a no-deal scenario.

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This isn't some sinister nightmare, dreamt up by Remainers -

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it was the Prime Minister who first floated the idea of no deal.

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The Foreign Secretary said it would be privately OK.

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The Brexit Secretary who said we'd be prepared to walk away.

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But, since the election, the Chancellor has said that would be

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a very, very bad outcome.

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And a former minister has told Sky News that no deal is dead.

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So will the First Secretary clear this up?

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Are ministers just making it up as they're going along...?

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GENERAL CLAMOUR

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Or is it still the Government's clear policy that

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no deal is an option?

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I recommend the right honourable lady read

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the Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech, that is the basis

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on which we're negotiating.

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But we're also saying that it is conceivable

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that we would be offered a kind of punishment deal that

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would be worse than no deal.

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It's not our intention, we want to have a deal,

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we want to have a good deal.

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Can I also point out to her, that it is her leader

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and her party's position that, whatever is on offer,

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they will accept it.

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That is a terrible way...

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That is a terrible way to go into a negotiation.

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Emily Thornbury asked again what no deal would mean.

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And she made reference to the suspension of Anne Marie Morris

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from the Conservative Party producing a racially offensive term.

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Well, the First Secretary apparently didn't get

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the Prime Minister's memo - you're supposed to be

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building consensus, man.

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CHEERING

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And if we ignore the political bluster...

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And if we ignore the political bluster, I think what

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we heard was that no deal is still indeed an option.

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And if that's the case, can we turn to what we I might call

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the East India Club question?

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Because before of the member for Newton Abbot suddenly turned

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herself into Nick Griffin, this was the question

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that she was trying to ask - what does no deal actually mean

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for our businesses, for our people and for issues such

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as the Irish land border?

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Damian Green said he was all for consensus, so...

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I very much look forward to sharing the Labour Party's views this

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morning on the unemployment figures.

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CHEERING

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Unemployment is now down to its lowest levels

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since the early 70s.

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There are many members of this House who weren't born when unemployment

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was as low as this Government has made it.

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As to the substance of the question, he said the Government was seeking

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a good deal for Britain that enabled us to trade as freely as possible

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with the EU while securing trade deals with other countries.

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Emily Thornbury said the point of the session was for her to ask

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the questions and Mr Green to answer them.

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We've got a Chancellor demanding transitional arrangements,

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which a no-deal option makes impossible.

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We've got a Foreign Secretary making it up as he's going along.

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We've got a Brexit Secretary so used to overruling his colleagues that

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he's started overruling himself.

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And we've got a Prime Minister so bereft of ideas and she's started

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putting suggestion boxes around Parliament.

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But as a country, as a country, we have got 20 months

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to go until Brexit.

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We absolutely have got to get a grip.

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And if the party opposite hasn't got the strength for the task,

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when we've absolutely got to get rid of them.

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What we would have, as we have seen from the Labour Party,

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they have so far, I counted, had nine different plans on Europe.

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They want to be both in and out of the single market,

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in and out of the customs union.

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They've said they wanted to remain, they voted for Article 50,

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they split their party on that.

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And she made one point about whether she would prefer to be

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at this dispatch box rather than at that dispatch box.

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I would also remind her of the other event that happened recently,

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when the Conservative Party got more votes and more seats

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then the Labour Party and won the election.

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Can the First Secretary of State confirm the devolved administrations

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will not face a diminution of powers as a result of the Repeal Bill?

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I'm happy to reconfirm what my right honourable friend

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the Prime Minister and others have said that, yes, under

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the terms of the Brexit deal that we will negotiate,

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there will be no diminution of the devolved administrations'

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powers, and that we look to devolve more powers as a result

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of this process.

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Damian Green.

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Now, the Prime Minister has asked the Committee on Standards

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in Public Life to conduct a review into the intimidation experienced

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by parliamentary candidates.

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It follows reports of abuse experienced by many of those who

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stood in June's general election.

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The scale of the problem was set out in Westminster Hall

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by a Conservative MP, who called a debate on the issue.

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I don't know how many colleagues have read the report

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from BCS, who published a survey recently.

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In a three-month period, MPs received 188,000 abusive tweets.

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That's in a three-month period.

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That's one in 20 tweets received by colleagues.

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Meanwhile, he said older volunteers were scared to put up posters

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and candidates were abused because of their

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religion or sexuality.

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Simon Hart gave an example of the type of harassment being suffered.

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He cited the experience of the former Bristol

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Conservative MP, Charlotte Leslie.

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Whose parents became victims of this particular abuse.

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The entire oil heating supply was drained into their garden

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by somebody who had an objection to Charlotte's particular

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position on fracking, which was a slightly

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ironic way of dealing with an environmental consideration.

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But, nonetheless, it caused enormous distress,

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as did the scratching of "Tory scum" in her elderly parents' car.

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Labour's Diane Abbott said abuse had been turbo-charged

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by the use of the internet.

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30 years ago, when I first became an MP, if you wanted to attack

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an MP, you had to write a letter - usually in green ink -

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you had to put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and you had

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to walk to the post box.

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Now they press a button and you read file abuse which, 30 years ago,

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people would have been frightened to even write down.

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So I accept that male politicians get abuse too,

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but I hope the one thing we can agree on in this chamber is that

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that's much worse for women.

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We are not talking here about a bit of political banter.

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We're not talking about the rough-and-tumble of political

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debate or even satirising or caricaturing another

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person's point of view.

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We are talking about vile abuse, dehumanising people,

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offering and inciting, sometimes, violence against people.

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And this is the sort of activity which should not

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be deemed acceptable in any democratic society.

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My concern is it stops women especially entering politics.

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I can very briefly give the example of a candidate

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who unfortunately wasn't elected, who stood in Ealing.

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And because Members of Parliament have to declare their addresses

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when they stand for parliament, she said she started becoming nervous.

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When she noticed activity during the election campaign

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by the opponents when they started standing outside my door

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at my home, spitting in my face and following me.

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I've been an MP for just over two years, and I can't remember

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a single day that has gone by without receiving

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some sort of abuse.

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Whether that be death threats or a picture of me being mocked up

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as a used sanitary towel and various other things.

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This last election was the most brutal I can certainly imagine.

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This is an assault on our democratic values and on our process.

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And it has to stop, Mr Hanson.

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This is the worst I've ever encountered in any election,

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and it is not acceptable, and it is, primarily,

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in this particular regard, coming from one particular faction.

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And we should be honest about it, we should be honest about it.

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Andrew Percy.

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And we'll be speaking to Simon Hart about this

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in The Week In Parliament, this Friday night, at 11pm.

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Now, the Government has said it will only pay for fire safety

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alterations to tower blocks ifs councils can show

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they can't afford to do them.

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In a debate in the Commons, four weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire,

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Labour said the response of ministers and Kensington

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and Chelsea Council has been too slow and inadequate.

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The Minister promised the inquiry into the fire would be wide-ranging.

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That necessarily means looking at circumstances

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well beyond the design, construction, and modification

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of the building itself.

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It will mean looking at the role of relevant public authorities

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and the contractors and the broader implications of the fire

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for the adequacy and enforcement of relevant regulations.

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Birmingham has 231 tower blocks.

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The City Council has rightly decided that it will retrofit sprinklers

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in all those blocks.

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That will cost ?31 million, in a council that's suffered

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?700 million of cuts to their budget.

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Will the Government unequivocally commit to funding

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all necessary safety measures, pending the outcome

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of the inquiry?

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If the Fire Service recommends something needs to be

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done for safety reasons, obviously, they will go to the local authority

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and the local authority will be first port of call

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to pay for that.

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I'm sure all local authorities will want to follow the Fire Service's

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recommendations on this.

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If the local authority can show that it can't afford it, then,

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obviously, central Government will step in.

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The inquiry, he said, will establish the facts and make

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recommendations to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

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The Government will provide the inquiry with all the resources

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it needs to complete its work thoroughly and rapidly.

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This was a terrible tragedy.

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We must learn the lessons to ensure nothing like it can

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We must learn the lessons to ensure nothing like it can happen again.

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This is the measure of the Government's response

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to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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Too slow to react, too slow to grasp the gravity

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and complexity of the problems.

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One step off the pace at every stage.

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And he made this pledge...

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We will not rest until all those who need help and a new home had it.

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We will not rest until all those culpable have been

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brought fully to account.

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And we will not rest until all measures needed to make

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sure this can never ever happen again are fully in place.

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When a country as decent and well-off as ours fails to provide

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to provide something as basic as a safe home for all its citizens,

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then things must change.

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When I was a junior Business Minister, I was asked

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by people from Number 10, the Cabinet Office,

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whether we should get rid of fire regulations in respect

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to girls and ladies' nightdresses.

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Whether we should get rid of the fire regulations for furniture.

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I said no, we didn't get rid of them and or should we.

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And he's absolutely right, we must change the culture.

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Others turned to the criticism by some of the judge

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heading the enquiry.

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I don't know how many colleagues have read the report

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He's having a series of meetings to listen to the victim's families,

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survivors and take their views.

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I think it's welcome that the chair has been so open to ideas,

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and that he said he wants to establish the terms of reference

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as soon as possible, so that the inquiry can begin

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the process of making sure that we know what happened and how

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to stop it ever happening again.

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This horrific event must be a game changer.

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We need a thorough review of approaches to estate

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development, the funding of social housing, and we need to listen

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to the people affected and their warnings,

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act upon their concerns and their priorities

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with the transparency and honesty that have so clearly been missing.

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

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The International Development Secretary, Priti Patel,

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has announced that the Government is to spend another ?40 million

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in humanitarian assistance for the people of the

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Iraqi city of Mosul.

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Iraq's Prime Minister formally declared victory over so-called

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Islamic State earlier this week.

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The battle for Mosul has taken almost nine months,

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left large areas in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and

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displaced more than 920,000 others.

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The urban combat has been described as the most

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intense since World War II.

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Making a statement to MPs, Priti Patel said the aid

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would help to provide clean drinking water, food, tents, cooking

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equipment and soap, and vaccination against the deadly diseases.

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Britain will also provide extra funding to a UN-led stabilisation

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programme that has helped 200,000 Iraqis return to Mosul.

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Victory comes after three years of unimaginable oppression by Daesh.

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Three years of fear, executions, abductions,

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forced marriages, destruction of Iraqi's ancient heritage.

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It comes after nine months of heavy fighting by the Iraqi security

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forces who faced brutal Daesh tactics, including the use of human

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shields and suicide bombers.

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We must, though, be realistic about the challenges ahead.

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Almost 50,000 homes have been destroyed.

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Although 200,000 people have returned to their homes in east

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Mosul, over 700,000 people are still displaced and in need

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of continued to assistance.

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Explosive remnants of this war will be a problem for many,

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many months to come.

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I would like to pay tribute to the Iraqi security

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forces and the people

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of Mosul who have shown remarkable courage in the face

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of Daesh's continued oppression.

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I would like to also pay particular tribute to the role of the UK

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Government in its important work to provide critical aid

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and emergency support.

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The UK's continued role here in the coming days and weeks,

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and the significant funding commitments announced

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by the Secretary of State will save lives and help rebuild Mosul.

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The UK Government must finally learn the lessons from Iraq,

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Libya and Afghanistan.

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It cannot be allowed to happen in Mosul, as it has happened

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in so many places before, that the cost and impact of UK military

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action dwarves the relief and reconstruction efforts that follow.

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She will know that if the experience of Fallujah and elsewhere

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is to be followed in Mosul,

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the vicious tactics of Daesh will be that every single house,

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street and public place being booby-trapped and mined

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and will take many, many years to clear that.

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Will she, first of all, commit the Government to doing

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all it can to help the technical matter of removing explosives?

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Secondly, it is not the scorching heat of today we are worried about,

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it is the cold of the Mosul winter we're worried

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about coming along in three or four months' time,

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by which time we have to find decent accommodation for the people.

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Can I press her on what specific funding will be offered

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for the women and girls who have been subject to the most

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unimaginable sexual violence at the hands of Daesh?

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We must do more to support them.

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Through the announcement we've made today, we will naturally

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provide the humanitarian support that is required but also

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46,000 vulnerable and displaced people, many of whom are women

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and girls who have been subject to such

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atrocities and violence, will see support from the money

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we are announcing here today.

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Priti Patel.

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MPs of all parties have been urging the Government to remain part

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of the European Atomic Energy Community - or Euratom.

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Euratom was set up in a treaty of 1957 to establish

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a nuclear Common Market, giving nuclear workers and

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material freedom of movement.

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The UK joined in 1973.

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Nowadays, Euratom regulates nuclear energy and funds research.

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During a debate in Westminster Hall, several MPs raised concerns

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about the impact of leaving Euratom on the nuclear industry

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and the supply of medical isotopes.

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The debate was initiated by the Labour MP Albert Owen.

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This debate is about getting it right and keeping

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the UK as a world leader, in civil nuclear, in

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research and development.

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We have achieved the status of world leader by cooperation with working

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with others across the world, but under the umbrella of Euratom.

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I put it to the Government that there are ways forward

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without having to have a cliff edge when Article 50

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negotiations are complete.

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My concern is the impact of this on medicine.

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Is he aware of the concerns of the Royal College of Radiologists

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that a lack of being able to bring

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isotopes easily into this country could affect 500,000 scans

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and 10,000 cancer treatments?

0:19:220:19:27

These things cannot be stored because they have a short half-life

0:19:270:19:30

and we need Euratom.

0:19:300:19:33

I absolutely agree with the honourable lady and I have had

0:19:330:19:36

a lot of correspondence from experts across the field

0:19:360:19:38

including the Royal Marsden where cancer research is vital.

0:19:380:19:44

The issues she raised is aboslutely essentially to get right.

0:19:440:19:46

I think the burden of the case for staying in Euratom

0:19:460:19:54

that he would need to make

0:19:540:19:56

is why the same would not apply to every other agency that we're

0:19:560:19:59

leaving when we leave the European Union and why it

0:19:590:20:01

so impossible, as we leave these other agencies and regulatory

0:20:010:20:04

bodies and set up our own agencies and regulatory bodies,

0:20:040:20:07

under international standards, why that cannot also

0:20:070:20:08

be done with Euratom.

0:20:080:20:09

Who would be wanting to frustrate that?

0:20:090:20:13

I'm worried about a cliff edge of having to leave an organisation

0:20:130:20:17

that has been served as well for many years and has served

0:20:170:20:20

the whole global community, and doing so just

0:20:200:20:22

because we're leaving the European Union.

0:20:220:20:25

I disagree with him that we'd have to deal with every other one.

0:20:250:20:29

This is pretty unique in a sense.

0:20:290:20:30

Industry experts are worried about it.

0:20:300:20:32

It's not politicians worried about it, it is people

0:20:320:20:34

that understand and know our very industry.

0:20:340:20:39

Several Conservatives spoke up for the UK's membership of Euratom.

0:20:390:20:41

We shall do all of these possible legally to maintain those benefits

0:20:410:20:48

by whatever means it takes and we shall not allow any thoughts

0:20:480:20:51

of ideological purity to get in the way of achieving that.

0:20:510:20:54

My judgment is that if we can legally remain

0:20:540:20:56

within Euratom, we shall do so.

0:20:560:20:59

The energy minister Richard Harrington criticised

0:20:590:21:03

alarmist stories in press the saying the UK's ability to access

0:21:030:21:06

isotopes would not be a hit.

0:21:060:21:08

Remarks echoed Prime Minister's Questions by Damian Green who said

0:21:080:21:11

scaremongering was unnecessary.

0:21:110:21:14

The Government will set out its position on Euratom on Thursday.

0:21:140:21:19

Down the corridor in the House of Lords, peers were urging

0:21:190:21:22

the Government to do more to encourage the use

0:21:220:21:24

of electric cars.

0:21:240:21:26

Last week, the Swedish car-maker Volvo announced that, by 2019,

0:21:260:21:29

it will be producing only cars that are either purely electric or

0:21:290:21:32

hybrids combining electric and conventional engines.

0:21:320:21:38

The minister set out what was already being done

0:21:380:21:40

in the UK to boost use.

0:21:400:21:42

We have a number of initiatives in place to encourage ownership

0:21:420:21:47

and are investing more than ?600 million up to 2020

0:21:470:21:49

to make the UK a leader in the development, manufacture

0:21:490:21:52

and use of electric vehicles.

0:21:520:21:55

We are cutting the upfront cost of purchase with our plug-in car,

0:21:550:21:59

van and motorcycle grants, and helping meet the costs

0:21:590:22:02

of installation of charge points at homes on residential streets

0:22:020:22:04

and in workplaces right across the UK.

0:22:040:22:14

The peer who put down the question when asked the question,

0:22:160:22:18

said she was the proud owner of a new lighter car.

0:22:180:22:21

Is the future to be more electric

0:22:210:22:23

in order to reduce pollution and reliance on the Middle Eastern oil?

0:22:230:22:26

In which case, we need more infrastructure, more

0:22:260:22:28

points including right here in the House of Lords' car park.

0:22:280:22:30

Or is the future not so good because there are downsides

0:22:300:22:33

to driving all electric?

0:22:330:22:35

For example, the cost of extra electricity.

0:22:350:22:38

We need to have an answer.

0:22:380:22:44

We don't want to find ourselves in another diesel debacle.

0:22:440:22:46

Good yesterday but not so good tomorrow.

0:22:460:22:50

Lord Callinan accepted electric cars were no use

0:22:500:22:52

if there was nowhere to charge.

0:22:520:22:55

We already have over 11,000 public charge points the UK,

0:22:550:22:58

we have Europe's largest network of rapid chargers.

0:22:580:23:04

At the Autumn Statement last year, the Chancellor announced additional

0:23:040:23:06

funding of ?80 million for charging infrastructure

0:23:060:23:08

for the period to 2020.

0:23:080:23:12

Alongside this, Highways England has ?15 million to expand the existing

0:23:120:23:15

rapid charge point network.

0:23:150:23:17

Electricity does not come from nowhere.

0:23:170:23:19

Is it not a fact that, until recently, in this country,

0:23:190:23:28

electricity was roughly 20% nuclear, 20% coal, 35-40% gas and 10% -

0:23:280:23:35

rising towards 10% renewable.

0:23:350:23:36

That is where electricity comes from.

0:23:360:23:37

It's very interesting to have electric cars for what happens

0:23:370:23:40

on the streets of London but it is nothing to do

0:23:400:23:42

with the generation of electricity.

0:23:420:23:48

Of course the noble lord is quite correct, the life-cycle CO2

0:23:480:23:50

value of electric cars depends on where the electricity

0:23:500:23:53

is generated from.

0:23:530:23:54

That is a statement of fact.

0:23:540:23:59

What is the Government's estimate of the impact of the increase

0:23:590:24:02

in electric car ownership over the next five years and the next ten

0:24:020:24:09

years on the tax take from the sale of petrol and diesel fuel, and how

0:24:090:24:13

will the Government compensate for or make up any reduction

0:24:130:24:15

in such tax revenues resulting from increasing

0:24:150:24:17

electric car ownership?

0:24:170:24:21

I think the noble Lords will realise it is very dangerous for me

0:24:210:24:25

to speculate on what the Chancellor might do in future budgets

0:24:250:24:27

with regard to tax levels.

0:24:270:24:29

Lord Callinan.

0:24:290:24:31

Finally, as we mentioned at the top of the programme,

0:24:310:24:35

Theresa May wasn't at this week's PMQs as she was welcoming

0:24:350:24:38

the King of Spain, King Felipe, to the UK.

0:24:380:24:43

After a full ceremonial welcome, the king and queen

0:24:430:24:45

came to Westminster.

0:24:450:24:46

It is an honour...

0:24:460:24:52

..where after a brief speech from the Commons Speaker John Bercow,

0:24:520:24:55

King Felipe addressed both Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery

0:24:550:24:57

of the House of Lords.

0:24:570:24:59

He said that Brexit saddened Spain but that it fully respects

0:24:590:25:01

the will of the British people and that Britons who live

0:25:010:25:04

in Spain and Spaniards who live in the UK must be remembered.

0:25:040:25:07

These citizens have a legitimate expectation of decent and stable

0:25:070:25:09

living conditions for themselves and for their families.

0:25:090:25:11

I therefore urge our two governments to continue working to ensure

0:25:110:25:14

that the agreement on the UK withdrawing from the EU provides

0:25:140:25:16

sufficient assurance and certainty.

0:25:160:25:26

The King of Spain.

0:25:290:25:32

And that's it from me for now but do join me

0:25:320:25:35

at the same time tomorrow when, among other things, it is transport

0:25:350:25:38

questions at the start of the day in the Commons and MPs commemorate

0:25:380:25:41

the Passchendaele campaign in the First World War.

0:25:410:25:44

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

0:25:440:25:50