Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 12 July with Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there, and welcome to the programme.
Coming up in the next half-hour:
There's a different look to PMQs, but some familiar
questions for the Government about the Brexit negotiations.
As a country, we have got 20 months to go until Brexit.
We absolutely have got to get a grip.
It is conceivable that we would be offered a kind of punishment deal,
that would be worse than no deal.
It's not our intention, we want to have a deal,
we want to have a good deal.
The Government announces more money to help the Iraqi city of Mosul,
following the defeat of so-called Islamic State there.
And MPs speak up about the abuse they received from the public.
I accept that male politicians get abuse too.
But I hope the one thing we can agree on in this chamber
is that it is much worse for women.
But first, Theresa May was otherwise engaged on Wednesday lunchtime,
on parade for the formal visit for the King of Spain.
So it was down to her Cabinet colleague, Damian Green,
who's the First Secretary of State, to fill in for her.
As is the convention, when the PM is away,
the opposition also field a deputy.
So he was facing the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornbury,
across the dispatch box.
She turned her attention to the Brexit negotiations,
saying ministers had to get a grip on Brexit and reveal the impact
of a no-deal scenario.
This isn't some sinister nightmare, dreamt up by Remainers -
it was the Prime Minister who first floated the idea of no deal.
The Foreign Secretary said it would be privately OK.
The Brexit Secretary who said we'd be prepared to walk away.
But, since the election, the Chancellor has said that would be
a very, very bad outcome.
And a former minister has told Sky News that no deal is dead.
So will the First Secretary clear this up?
Are ministers just making it up as they're going along...?
Or is it still the Government's clear policy that
no deal is an option?
I recommend the right honourable lady read
the Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech, that is the basis
on which we're negotiating.
But we're also saying that it is conceivable
that we would be offered a kind of punishment deal that
would be worse than no deal.
It's not our intention, we want to have a deal,
we want to have a good deal.
Can I also point out to her, that it is her leader
and her party's position that, whatever is on offer,
they will accept it.
That is a terrible way...
That is a terrible way to go into a negotiation.
Emily Thornbury asked again what no deal would mean.
And she made reference to the suspension of Anne Marie Morris
from the Conservative Party producing a racially offensive term.
Well, the First Secretary apparently didn't get
the Prime Minister's memo - you're supposed to be
building consensus, man.
And if we ignore the political bluster...
And if we ignore the political bluster, I think what
we heard was that no deal is still indeed an option.
And if that's the case, can we turn to what we I might call
the East India Club question?
Because before of the member for Newton Abbot suddenly turned
herself into Nick Griffin, this was the question
that she was trying to ask - what does no deal actually mean
for our businesses, for our people and for issues such
as the Irish land border?
Damian Green said he was all for consensus, so...
I very much look forward to sharing the Labour Party's views this
morning on the unemployment figures.
Unemployment is now down to its lowest levels
since the early 70s.
There are many members of this House who weren't born when unemployment
was as low as this Government has made it.
As to the substance of the question, he said the Government was seeking
a good deal for Britain that enabled us to trade as freely as possible
with the EU while securing trade deals with other countries.
Emily Thornbury said the point of the session was for her to ask
the questions and Mr Green to answer them.
We've got a Chancellor demanding transitional arrangements,
which a no-deal option makes impossible.
We've got a Foreign Secretary making it up as he's going along.
We've got a Brexit Secretary so used to overruling his colleagues that
he's started overruling himself.
And we've got a Prime Minister so bereft of ideas and she's started
putting suggestion boxes around Parliament.
But as a country, as a country, we have got 20 months
to go until Brexit.
We absolutely have got to get a grip.
And if the party opposite hasn't got the strength for the task,
when we've absolutely got to get rid of them.
What we would have, as we have seen from the Labour Party,
they have so far, I counted, had nine different plans on Europe.
They want to be both in and out of the single market,
in and out of the customs union.
They've said they wanted to remain, they voted for Article 50,
they split their party on that.
And she made one point about whether she would prefer to be
at this dispatch box rather than at that dispatch box.
I would also remind her of the other event that happened recently,
when the Conservative Party got more votes and more seats
then the Labour Party and won the election.
Can the First Secretary of State confirm the devolved administrations
will not face a diminution of powers as a result of the Repeal Bill?
I'm happy to reconfirm what my right honourable friend
the Prime Minister and others have said that, yes, under
the terms of the Brexit deal that we will negotiate,
there will be no diminution of the devolved administrations'
powers, and that we look to devolve more powers as a result
of this process.
Now, the Prime Minister has asked the Committee on Standards
in Public Life to conduct a review into the intimidation experienced
by parliamentary candidates.
It follows reports of abuse experienced by many of those who
stood in June's general election.
The scale of the problem was set out in Westminster Hall
by a Conservative MP, who called a debate on the issue.
I don't know how many colleagues have read the report
from BCS, who published a survey recently.
In a three-month period, MPs received 188,000 abusive tweets.
That's in a three-month period.
That's one in 20 tweets received by colleagues.
Meanwhile, he said older volunteers were scared to put up posters
and candidates were abused because of their
religion or sexuality.
Simon Hart gave an example of the type of harassment being suffered.
He cited the experience of the former Bristol
Conservative MP, Charlotte Leslie.
Whose parents became victims of this particular abuse.
The entire oil heating supply was drained into their garden
by somebody who had an objection to Charlotte's particular
position on fracking, which was a slightly
ironic way of dealing with an environmental consideration.
But, nonetheless, it caused enormous distress,
as did the scratching of "Tory scum" in her elderly parents' car.
Labour's Diane Abbott said abuse had been turbo-charged
by the use of the internet.
30 years ago, when I first became an MP, if you wanted to attack
an MP, you had to write a letter - usually in green ink -
you had to put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and you had
to walk to the post box.
Now they press a button and you read file abuse which, 30 years ago,
people would have been frightened to even write down.
So I accept that male politicians get abuse too,
but I hope the one thing we can agree on in this chamber is that
that's much worse for women.
We are not talking here about a bit of political banter.
We're not talking about the rough-and-tumble of political
debate or even satirising or caricaturing another
person's point of view.
We are talking about vile abuse, dehumanising people,
offering and inciting, sometimes, violence against people.
And this is the sort of activity which should not
be deemed acceptable in any democratic society.
My concern is it stops women especially entering politics.
I can very briefly give the example of a candidate
who unfortunately wasn't elected, who stood in Ealing.
And because Members of Parliament have to declare their addresses
when they stand for parliament, she said she started becoming nervous.
When she noticed activity during the election campaign
by the opponents when they started standing outside my door
at my home, spitting in my face and following me.
I've been an MP for just over two years, and I can't remember
a single day that has gone by without receiving
some sort of abuse.
Whether that be death threats or a picture of me being mocked up
as a used sanitary towel and various other things.
This last election was the most brutal I can certainly imagine.
This is an assault on our democratic values and on our process.
And it has to stop, Mr Hanson.
This is the worst I've ever encountered in any election,
and it is not acceptable, and it is, primarily,
in this particular regard, coming from one particular faction.
And we should be honest about it, we should be honest about it.
And we'll be speaking to Simon Hart about this
in The Week In Parliament, this Friday night, at 11pm.
Now, the Government has said it will only pay for fire safety
alterations to tower blocks ifs councils can show
they can't afford to do them.
In a debate in the Commons, four weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire,
Labour said the response of ministers and Kensington
and Chelsea Council has been too slow and inadequate.
The Minister promised the inquiry into the fire would be wide-ranging.
That necessarily means looking at circumstances
well beyond the design, construction, and modification
of the building itself.
It will mean looking at the role of relevant public authorities
and the contractors and the broader implications of the fire
for the adequacy and enforcement of relevant regulations.
Birmingham has 231 tower blocks.
The City Council has rightly decided that it will retrofit sprinklers
in all those blocks.
That will cost ?31 million, in a council that's suffered
?700 million of cuts to their budget.
Will the Government unequivocally commit to funding
all necessary safety measures, pending the outcome
of the inquiry?
If the Fire Service recommends something needs to be
done for safety reasons, obviously, they will go to the local authority
and the local authority will be first port of call
to pay for that.
I'm sure all local authorities will want to follow the Fire Service's
recommendations on this.
If the local authority can show that it can't afford it, then,
obviously, central Government will step in.
The inquiry, he said, will establish the facts and make
recommendations to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.
The Government will provide the inquiry with all the resources
it needs to complete its work thoroughly and rapidly.
This was a terrible tragedy.
We must learn the lessons to ensure nothing like it can
We must learn the lessons to ensure nothing like it can happen again.
This is the measure of the Government's response
to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Too slow to react, too slow to grasp the gravity
and complexity of the problems.
One step off the pace at every stage.
And he made this pledge...
We will not rest until all those who need help and a new home had it.
We will not rest until all those culpable have been
brought fully to account.
And we will not rest until all measures needed to make
sure this can never ever happen again are fully in place.
When a country as decent and well-off as ours fails to provide
to provide something as basic as a safe home for all its citizens,
then things must change.
When I was a junior Business Minister, I was asked
by people from Number 10, the Cabinet Office,
whether we should get rid of fire regulations in respect
to girls and ladies' nightdresses.
Whether we should get rid of the fire regulations for furniture.
I said no, we didn't get rid of them and or should we.
And he's absolutely right, we must change the culture.
Others turned to the criticism by some of the judge
heading the enquiry.
I don't know how many colleagues have read the report
He's having a series of meetings to listen to the victim's families,
survivors and take their views.
I think it's welcome that the chair has been so open to ideas,
and that he said he wants to establish the terms of reference
as soon as possible, so that the inquiry can begin
the process of making sure that we know what happened and how
to stop it ever happening again.
This horrific event must be a game changer.
We need a thorough review of approaches to estate
development, the funding of social housing, and we need to listen
to the people affected and their warnings,
act upon their concerns and their priorities
with the transparency and honesty that have so clearly been missing.
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.
The International Development Secretary, Priti Patel,
has announced that the Government is to spend another ?40 million
in humanitarian assistance for the people of the
Iraqi city of Mosul.
Iraq's Prime Minister formally declared victory over so-called
Islamic State earlier this week.
The battle for Mosul has taken almost nine months,
left large areas in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and
displaced more than 920,000 others.
The urban combat has been described as the most
intense since World War II.
Making a statement to MPs, Priti Patel said the aid
would help to provide clean drinking water, food, tents, cooking
equipment and soap, and vaccination against the deadly diseases.
Britain will also provide extra funding to a UN-led stabilisation
programme that has helped 200,000 Iraqis return to Mosul.
Victory comes after three years of unimaginable oppression by Daesh.
Three years of fear, executions, abductions,
forced marriages, destruction of Iraqi's ancient heritage.
It comes after nine months of heavy fighting by the Iraqi security
forces who faced brutal Daesh tactics, including the use of human
shields and suicide bombers.
We must, though, be realistic about the challenges ahead.
Almost 50,000 homes have been destroyed.
Although 200,000 people have returned to their homes in east
Mosul, over 700,000 people are still displaced and in need
of continued to assistance.
Explosive remnants of this war will be a problem for many,
many months to come.
I would like to pay tribute to the Iraqi security
forces and the people
of Mosul who have shown remarkable courage in the face
of Daesh's continued oppression.
I would like to also pay particular tribute to the role of the UK
Government in its important work to provide critical aid
and emergency support.
The UK's continued role here in the coming days and weeks,
and the significant funding commitments announced
by the Secretary of State will save lives and help rebuild Mosul.
The UK Government must finally learn the lessons from Iraq,
Libya and Afghanistan.
It cannot be allowed to happen in Mosul, as it has happened
in so many places before, that the cost and impact of UK military
action dwarves the relief and reconstruction efforts that follow.
She will know that if the experience of Fallujah and elsewhere
is to be followed in Mosul,
the vicious tactics of Daesh will be that every single house,
street and public place being booby-trapped and mined
and will take many, many years to clear that.
Will she, first of all, commit the Government to doing
all it can to help the technical matter of removing explosives?
Secondly, it is not the scorching heat of today we are worried about,
it is the cold of the Mosul winter we're worried
about coming along in three or four months' time,
by which time we have to find decent accommodation for the people.
Can I press her on what specific funding will be offered
for the women and girls who have been subject to the most
unimaginable sexual violence at the hands of Daesh?
We must do more to support them.
Through the announcement we've made today, we will naturally
provide the humanitarian support that is required but also
46,000 vulnerable and displaced people, many of whom are women
and girls who have been subject to such
atrocities and violence, will see support from the money
we are announcing here today.
MPs of all parties have been urging the Government to remain part
of the European Atomic Energy Community - or Euratom.
Euratom was set up in a treaty of 1957 to establish
a nuclear Common Market, giving nuclear workers and
material freedom of movement.
The UK joined in 1973.
Nowadays, Euratom regulates nuclear energy and funds research.
During a debate in Westminster Hall, several MPs raised concerns
about the impact of leaving Euratom on the nuclear industry
and the supply of medical isotopes.
The debate was initiated by the Labour MP Albert Owen.
This debate is about getting it right and keeping
the UK as a world leader, in civil nuclear, in
research and development.
We have achieved the status of world leader by cooperation with working
with others across the world, but under the umbrella of Euratom.
I put it to the Government that there are ways forward
without having to have a cliff edge when Article 50
negotiations are complete.
My concern is the impact of this on medicine.
Is he aware of the concerns of the Royal College of Radiologists
that a lack of being able to bring
isotopes easily into this country could affect 500,000 scans
and 10,000 cancer treatments?
These things cannot be stored because they have a short half-life
and we need Euratom.
I absolutely agree with the honourable lady and I have had
a lot of correspondence from experts across the field
including the Royal Marsden where cancer research is vital.
The issues she raised is aboslutely essentially to get right.
I think the burden of the case for staying in Euratom
that he would need to make
is why the same would not apply to every other agency that we're
leaving when we leave the European Union and why it
so impossible, as we leave these other agencies and regulatory
bodies and set up our own agencies and regulatory bodies,
under international standards, why that cannot also
be done with Euratom.
Who would be wanting to frustrate that?
I'm worried about a cliff edge of having to leave an organisation
that has been served as well for many years and has served
the whole global community, and doing so just
because we're leaving the European Union.
I disagree with him that we'd have to deal with every other one.
This is pretty unique in a sense.
Industry experts are worried about it.
It's not politicians worried about it, it is people
that understand and know our very industry.
Several Conservatives spoke up for the UK's membership of Euratom.
We shall do all of these possible legally to maintain those benefits
by whatever means it takes and we shall not allow any thoughts
of ideological purity to get in the way of achieving that.
My judgment is that if we can legally remain
within Euratom, we shall do so.
The energy minister Richard Harrington criticised
alarmist stories in press the saying the UK's ability to access
isotopes would not be a hit.
Remarks echoed Prime Minister's Questions by Damian Green who said
scaremongering was unnecessary.
The Government will set out its position on Euratom on Thursday.
Down the corridor in the House of Lords, peers were urging
the Government to do more to encourage the use
of electric cars.
Last week, the Swedish car-maker Volvo announced that, by 2019,
it will be producing only cars that are either purely electric or
hybrids combining electric and conventional engines.
The minister set out what was already being done
in the UK to boost use.
We have a number of initiatives in place to encourage ownership
and are investing more than ?600 million up to 2020
to make the UK a leader in the development, manufacture
and use of electric vehicles.
We are cutting the upfront cost of purchase with our plug-in car,
van and motorcycle grants, and helping meet the costs
of installation of charge points at homes on residential streets
and in workplaces right across the UK.
The peer who put down the question when asked the question,
said she was the proud owner of a new lighter car.
Is the future to be more electric
in order to reduce pollution and reliance on the Middle Eastern oil?
In which case, we need more infrastructure, more
points including right here in the House of Lords' car park.
Or is the future not so good because there are downsides
to driving all electric?
For example, the cost of extra electricity.
We need to have an answer.
We don't want to find ourselves in another diesel debacle.
Good yesterday but not so good tomorrow.
Lord Callinan accepted electric cars were no use
if there was nowhere to charge.
We already have over 11,000 public charge points the UK,
we have Europe's largest network of rapid chargers.
At the Autumn Statement last year, the Chancellor announced additional
funding of ?80 million for charging infrastructure
for the period to 2020.
Alongside this, Highways England has ?15 million to expand the existing
rapid charge point network.
Electricity does not come from nowhere.
Is it not a fact that, until recently, in this country,
electricity was roughly 20% nuclear, 20% coal, 35-40% gas and 10% -
rising towards 10% renewable.
That is where electricity comes from.
It's very interesting to have electric cars for what happens
on the streets of London but it is nothing to do
with the generation of electricity.
Of course the noble lord is quite correct, the life-cycle CO2
value of electric cars depends on where the electricity
is generated from.
That is a statement of fact.
What is the Government's estimate of the impact of the increase
in electric car ownership over the next five years and the next ten
years on the tax take from the sale of petrol and diesel fuel, and how
will the Government compensate for or make up any reduction
in such tax revenues resulting from increasing
electric car ownership?
I think the noble Lords will realise it is very dangerous for me
to speculate on what the Chancellor might do in future budgets
with regard to tax levels.
Finally, as we mentioned at the top of the programme,
Theresa May wasn't at this week's PMQs as she was welcoming
the King of Spain, King Felipe, to the UK.
After a full ceremonial welcome, the king and queen
came to Westminster.
It is an honour...
..where after a brief speech from the Commons Speaker John Bercow,
King Felipe addressed both Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery
of the House of Lords.
He said that Brexit saddened Spain but that it fully respects
the will of the British people and that Britons who live
in Spain and Spaniards who live in the UK must be remembered.
These citizens have a legitimate expectation of decent and stable
living conditions for themselves and for their families.
I therefore urge our two governments to continue working to ensure
that the agreement on the UK withdrawing from the EU provides
sufficient assurance and certainty.
The King of Spain.
And that's it from me for now but do join me
at the same time tomorrow when, among other things, it is transport
questions at the start of the day in the Commons and MPs commemorate
the Passchendaele campaign in the First World War.
But for now, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.