15/11/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


15/11/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 15 November, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

The controversial sport of fox

hunting is the origin for a word

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that has become very much associated

with the portal politics. A whip her

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in is an assistant huntsman he uses

to which to keep the hounds in check

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and drive them into the main body of

the pack. By the late 18th century,

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Parliament had adopted the term.

Officials whose job it was to make

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their MPs behaved and make them vote

according to the party line were

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jokingly referred to as the present.

And by the 1840s, people called them

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whips. It became very common to use

the word whip in this way, for

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example, in the mess, collection for

more wine which everyone was excited

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to contribute to, was called a whip.

So eventually, any collection from

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money among members of the group

became our modern phrase, whip

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round.

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Hello, welcome to our round-up

of the day at Westminster.

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On this programme, Jeremy Corbyn

warns thousands of families

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will spend Christmas fearing

eviction due to the introduction

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of Universal Credit.

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But Theresa May defends the long

term impact of the new benefit.

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Citizens' rights come under

the spotlight on the second

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day of detailed debate

on the EU withdrawal bill.

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And the Foreign Secretary urges

all sides in Zimbabwe

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to refrain from violence.

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We, and I think in everybody this

House, would want the people of

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Zimbabwe to have the choice about

their future in free and fair

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elections.

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But first to Prime Minister's

Questions where Jeremy Corbyn

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renewed his call for the Government

to pause the roll out of the new

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welfare payment, Universal Credit.

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It replaces six working age

benefits, but many MPs have

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expressed concern that claimants can

have to wait up to six weeks

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before getting any money,

leading to debt and rent arrears.

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Jeremy Corbyn kept up the pressure

on the Government to make a change.

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I was passed a letter, Mr Speaker,

from a lettings agency in

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Lincolnshire where

Universal Credit is

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about to be rolled out.

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The agency, and I have

the letter here...

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The agency is issuing

all of its tenants

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with a pre-emptive notice

of eviction because Universal Credit

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has driven up arrears

where it's been rolled

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out, and the letter,

and I quote, says...

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The letter says, and I quote,

"GAP property cannot

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sustain arrears at the potential

levels Universal Credit

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could create."

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Will the Prime Minister pause

Universal Credit so it can be fixed?

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Or does she think it is right to put

thousands of families through

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Christmas in the trauma of knowing

they're about to be evicted because

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they're in rent arrears

because of Universal Credit?

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Prime Minister.

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Can I say to the Right

Honourable gentleman that

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there have been concerns raised

in this House previously

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over the issue of people

managing their budgets to

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pay rent, but what we actually see,

what we see, is that...

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We see that over four

months and number of

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people on Universal Credit

in arrears has fallen by a third.

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Now, it's important

that we do look at

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the issues on this particular case.

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The right honourable gentleman might

like to send the letter through.

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I know in an earlier

Prime Minister's Questions,

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he raised a specific

constituent, a specific case of an

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individual who had written to him

about her experience on Universal

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Credit, I think it was Georgina,

as far as I'm aware he's so far not

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sent that letter to me

despite the fact I asked for it.

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In truth this is a Government

that protects the super-rich

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while the rest of us pick

up the bill through cuts, austerity,

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poverty, homelessness,

low wages and slashing of local

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services all over the country.

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That is the reality

of a Tory government.

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Labour have backtracked

on Brexit, they've gone

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back on their promise on student

debt and they would cause and lose

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control of public finances.

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I say to the right

honourable gentleman, he

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may have given momentum to his party

but he brings stagnation

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to the country.

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Earlier in the year the Prime

Minister told the country that

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she was the only person that

could offer strong and stable

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leadership in the national interest.

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With her Cabinet crumbling

before our eyes,

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can she tell us how it's going?

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LAUGHTER

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Let me say to the right

honourable lady

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what we see this government

dithering post I have spoken about

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--delivering, I have spoken about

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some the things earlier.

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Deficits down,

unemployment down, we have

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seen more record sums

going to our health

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service and our schools

and a

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Government determined with a clear

plan, as set out in my Florence

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speech, a clear plan

to deliver the best Brexit

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deal for this country.

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She is a member of a party that

can't even decide what it wants from

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Brexit, let alone set a plan for it.

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The Brexit Secretary gave a pledge

in the City that freedom of movement

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would be preserved for bankers

and other members of the financial

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services industry.

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Why can't the same pledge

be given to other key

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economic sectors like

manufacturing and agriculture?

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As we look towards the immigration

rules about will be introduced

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once we leave the European Union,

we are clear about

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the need to ensure we take into

account the needs of our economy,

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that's precisely why my right

honourable friend the Home Secretary

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has asked the independent migration

advisory committee to make

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recommendations to the government.

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We are leaving the European Union

and as the EU Withdrawal Bill goes

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through the House of Commons, does

the Prime Minister agree with me

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that it's part of our job as members

of Parliament, some might

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even say it's our duty as members

of Parliament, to

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scrutinise that legislation.

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To debate considered amendments,

which seek to improve

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the bill and which are constructive

and which seek to ensure a smooth

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transition of our laws from the EU

to the UK and importantly that we

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come together and deliver

Brexit for our country and

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for the British people.

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What we are doing as a Government is

listening to the contributions that

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are being made, listening carefully

to those who wish to improve the

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bill, they help we can all come

together to deliver on the decision

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that the country took that we should

leave the European Union.

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Now the second day of detailed

debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill saw

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concerns that rights currently

enjoyed by British citizens

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would not be protected after Brexit.

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Labour's spokesman said that

after exit day, employment,

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equality and other important

rights would be at risk.

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The Bill seeks to

transfer European law

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into British law.

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It's true that the government has

promised to ensure that workers'

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rights are fully protected

and maintained after the UK's

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departure from the EU,

but in the absence of stronger legal

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safeguards, there are good

reasons to be sceptical

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about that commitment.

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Happy to give way.

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Thank you.

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Would my friends agree with me

that given the political

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events of this year,

who the government might be

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in the future has become ever more

uncertain and that therefore

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all of us have a job to protect

the process and institutions

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of our democracy because we never

know what might

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happen in the future?

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I agree with that and I agree

with her, which is her point

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that the public would expect these

rights to continue to have the level

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of protection they have enjoyed

while being underpinned by EU law.

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They should not have a reduced level

of protection going forward.

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The bill seeks to transfer European

law into British law.

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But the Conservative former

Attorney General, Dominic Grieve,

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warned that could mean laws

were "brought to the lowest

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possible status".

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The question is how do we make sure

bringing this law into our own law

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we preserve its essence

because that's what the government

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says it wants to do until such time

as we as a domestic parliament

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decide that we want to do

something about it?

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And the problem which has arisen

is that as presently drafted

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the importation of EU law means that

legal protection and standards

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in areas such as equality

and the environment will no longer

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enjoy the protection that EU

membership gives them.

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Indeed, they will then

for the most part be repeatable

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by statutory instrument.

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--Repealable by

statutory instrument.

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Something which on the whole in this

House we would not think

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an appropriate thing to do

with our own primary legislation

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and this legislation undoubtedly has

the importance of primary status.

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Does he envisage a time

in the future where tariffs

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are imposed, economic circumstances

are imposed, businesses

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demand reductions in cost

and they would turn to the holiday

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pay, to the 48 hours directive,

to anything that cuts their cost

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and that government will be tempted,

then, to abolish these rights.

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At I don't think I'm quite as

apocalyptic as the honourable

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gentleman. I happen to think, as my

right honourable friend said

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yesterday in his speech, that's the

idea that the UK suddenly wishes to

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translate itself into a country of

no regulation, no protection at all,

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is fanciful.

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But he said he wanted the Government

to look at these matters.

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I don't wish to force the

Government's can, even though that

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might appear superficially

attractive. I don't even intend to

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put this amendment to the vote, it

has problems of its own. But I put

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the Government on notice that we are

going to have to draw together the

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issues that we are debating today

and indeed I'm convinced there will

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be similar issues next week, all of

which derive from the same problem

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as to the way the Government has

approached this and drafted this

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legislation of the moment, and it

must be remedied.

The Brexit process

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will in no way whatsoever be used to

undermine or curtail the rights of

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workers that happening find both in

domestic law and by virtue of the

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European Union. I hope that today

can in my remarks and indeed by

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demonstration reassure the right

honourable members that the

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Government's policy here is clear,

is deliberated and this is not some

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out-of-control grab power to use

this bill, which is a framework

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though, it is very much a process

bill, to somehow then use this as

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the basis to change policy. That is

not the intention of this Bill.

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MPs heard

from the recently-resigned

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International Development Secretary:

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I am speaking today in this debate

following an intensive course, over

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the past week, I think it's fair to

say, on how to stage an exit.

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LAUGHTER

Which was the focus of a degree of

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international attention. So for

anyone who is still tracking my

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movements, it is fair to say that I

can confirm that as I walked into

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the chamber this afternoon, a past

studies and portraits commemorating

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some of our greatest statesman

including Margaret Thatcher and

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Winston Churchill, statesmen who

stood up and defended democracy,

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freedom and sovereignty of our great

nation. So, this Bill paves way for

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a smoother withdrawal from the

European Union and it complements

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many of the discussions that have

happened around Article 50 and

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delivers on the will of the British

people as exposed in the referendum.

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Priti Patel, and MPs have six more

days of detailed debate on the EU

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Withdrawal Bill still to come.

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You're watching Wednesday

in Parliament with me,

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Alicia McCarthy.

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Armoured vehicles have been

patrolling the Zimbabwean capital,

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Harare, where President Mugabe has

been placed under house arrest

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after the military declared it had

taken temporary control

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of the country.

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Mr Mugabe, who is 93, has dominated

the impoverished country's

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politics since independence

from the UK in 1980.

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Responding to an urgent question,

the Foreign Secretary urged

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all sides to refrain from violence.

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The events of the last 24 hours

are the latest escalation of months

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of brutal infighting

within the ruling Zanu?PF party.

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Including the sacking

of a vice president,

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the purging of his followers

and the apparent positioning

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of Grace Mugabe as a contender

to replace her 93 rolled husband.

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of Grace Mugabe as a contender

to replace her 93 year old husband.

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I will say frankly to the House

that we cannot tell how developments

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in Zimbabwe will play out

in the days ahead and we do not know

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whether this marks the downfall

of Mugabe or not and we call

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for calm and restraint.

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While it is not a coup in a sense

of the military wanting to run

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the country it is a coup to ensure

the former vice

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president takes over.

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Does the Minister agree that

changing from one ruthless leader

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to another ruthless leader does not

help to create the kind

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of conditions that could lead

to a free and fair election

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in the coming year in Zimbabwe,

nor will it solve the dire economic

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situation where thousands of people

are destitute and food is scarce.

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We, and I think everybody in this

House, would want the people

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of Zimbabwe to have the choice

about their future in a free

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and fair elections and that is

the consensus that we are building

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up with our friends and partners

and I will be having a discussion

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with the vice president

of South Africa later today.

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The situation seems highly volatile.

0:15:340:15:35

Could I ask the Foreign Secretary

for his assurances that the 20,000

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British nationals in Zimbabwe

will be given all the assistance

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they need during this dangerous

period and in the past in times

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of great tension, I understand

there have been Cobra plans

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for the evacuation of British

nationals if necessary.

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I wonder if there will be such

thought processes once more.

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There are about 20,000,

the crisis centre has been working

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overnight to ensure their welfare

and to the best of our knowledge

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at present we have no reports of any

injuries or suffering involving them

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and as I talked earlier

on to our head of mission in Harare

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and he said as far as he understood

it UK nationals were very much

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staying where they were and avoiding

trouble and I think that is exactly

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the right thing to do.

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If this does indeed presage

a move to easier times,

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and I accept the caution

of the honourable lady of course,

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will he acknowledge with me

that the British government does

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have unfinished business

with Zimbabwe and will he assure me

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that the government will offer

further assistance if we can to help

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that wonderful country

and its remarkable people,

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both black and white,

to hopefully transition

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to a better government

and a more prosperous state.

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He knows that Zimbabwe has

fantastic potential,

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this is a country with a very

well-educated population,

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it has a great future if they can

get the right to political system.

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There is reports that Grace Mugabe

is out of the country possibly

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in Namibia so building on,

as he says, the important role

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the regional organisations have

to play and the role of Difid

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and the Foreign Office,

what steps can he make to make sure

0:17:280:17:31

instability that might be in place

in Zimbabwe does not spread

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into the wider region?

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I think it's a very acute question

and I think the answer lies,

0:17:350:17:38

as so often in matters of Zimbabwean

politics, the answer lies very

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much with our friends

in South Africa and it is to them

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we will be telling first.

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Now, the Chief Minister

of Gibraltar knows all

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about handling tricky borders.

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So MPs on the Northern Ireland

Committee were keen to hear from him

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as part of their work looking

at what happens to the Irish

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border after Brexit.

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Fabien Picardo offered some hi-tech

suggestions about how

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to achieve frictionless trade

across an EU border.

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Gibraltar Customs has led in terms

of technological solutions.

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With the United Nations Conference

on Trade and Development Customs,

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they've set up a centre

of excellence at Gibraltar

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University, it's their only centre

of excellence in Europe.

0:18:190:18:21

And what they have created

is something called Asycuda,

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which is a system that allows

trusted traders to pre-declare

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what they are importing

into Gibraltar and

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to have an account

with the Government

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through which they pay their duty

in a frictionless way,

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in an entirely frictionless way.

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And that development of Asycuda

has been something where Gibraltar

0:18:380:18:41

technology is now being shared,

technology developed

0:18:410:18:45

in Gibraltar is now being shared

in 100 other countries.

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He issued a warning to those on

both sides of the Irish border.

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I put it to you that I think

citizens expect us to do everything

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It comes at a cost, but people

will expect us to invest in that

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I mean, yes, we must use border

crossings for controls which relate

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to criminality not being allowed

to run freely across continents,

0:19:200:19:22

but we must not allow anyone

to use a border crossing

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as a political choke point.

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Look, nobody is going to accept

something that looks like,

0:19:260:19:28

feels like or smells

like Checkpoint Charlie

0:19:280:19:30

in Europe in the future.

0:19:300:19:31

And if the Spanish authorities

have not realised that,

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I think their citizens

would wish that they did.

0:19:330:19:35

The Middle East is entering

what many analysts see

0:19:350:19:38

as a dangerous new phase.

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Experts fear that,

with the Islamic State group

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on the brink of defeat,

there's a danger of the long-held

0:19:410:19:43

rivalry between Saudi Arabia

and Iran boiling over as they engage

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in proxy battles in the region.

0:19:460:19:47

In Yemen, the two countries

are backing opposing sides,

0:19:470:19:50

while the Saudis are thought to be

behind the recent resignation

0:19:500:19:52

of the Lebanese Prime Minister

in an attempt to weaken Iran's

0:19:520:19:55

influence in the region.

0:19:550:19:56

Does the noble Lord, the Minister,

accept that we have to adopt a much

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more even handed stance

between Tehran and Riyadh in order

0:19:590:20:02

to resolve the toxic instability

afflicting the entire

0:20:020:20:04

Gulf Middle East region?

0:20:040:20:08

And we are seen to be

allies of Saudi Arabia,

0:20:080:20:11

I don't dispute the need for that,

but we are seen to take

0:20:110:20:15

the side of Saudi Arabia

and the Sunni Muslim faith,

0:20:150:20:20

against Iran and the

Shia Muslim faith.

0:20:200:20:22

And we need to be equally

handed between the two,

0:20:220:20:25

in order to end the proxy wars

in Yemen, Lebanon increasingly,

0:20:250:20:27

Syria and also Iraq.

0:20:270:20:37

Even allowing for the fact

of jihadist terrorism,

0:20:400:20:42

is not the greatest threat to peace,

from the Middle East now

0:20:420:20:45

the imminent danger of a conflict

between the Sunnis and the Shias

0:20:450:20:48

led by Saudi Arabia and Tehran,

in which the West are backing

0:20:480:20:51

one side and Russia

is backing the other?

0:20:510:20:55

In the light of this,

is it not foolish for

0:20:550:20:59

the United Kingdom Government to be

supporting tacitly and with arms

0:20:590:21:02

Saudi Arabia while they are

committing such clearly illegal acts

0:21:020:21:05

in the Yemen?

0:21:050:21:11

First of all, as the noble Lord

knows, the UK is not

0:21:110:21:15

directly involved with

the Saudi led coalition.

0:21:150:21:19

He talks about alliances

and of course, our alliance

0:21:190:21:24

between the United Kingdom

and Saudi Arabia, as an ally,

0:21:240:21:26

is an important one.

0:21:260:21:29

But at the same time, as I have made

the point clear already,

0:21:290:21:32

we believe very strongly that

for peace and stability

0:21:320:21:36

in the region, it requires both

Iran and Saudi Arabia

0:21:360:21:39

to resolve their differences

and move forward in a positive vein,

0:21:390:21:41

and the agenda is not about taking

sort of one side over the other.

0:21:410:21:45

We make sure that any

representation we make,

0:21:450:21:48

including those to the Saudis,

on concerns we have particularly

0:21:480:21:51

in the conflict in Yemen,

are made clear and made

0:21:510:21:53

at the highest level.

0:21:530:21:55

Lord Ahmad.

0:21:550:21:57

There have been many lurid newspaper

headlines of late with allegations

0:21:570:22:01

of inappropriate behaviour,

harassment and even assault

0:22:010:22:03

going on at Westminster.

0:22:030:22:06

The Women and Equalities Committee

is holding an inquiry into women

0:22:060:22:09

in the House of Commons.

0:22:090:22:10

Its chair Maria Miller asked

representatives of the four

0:22:100:22:13

biggest Westminster parties

what was being done to make sure

0:22:130:22:17

anyone with a complaint was more

likely to come forward now

0:22:170:22:20

than they had been in the past.

0:22:200:22:24

I think there have been abuses

of power, and I think this

0:22:240:22:27

is something which goes right

across the political parties.

0:22:270:22:29

I'm appalled that we haven't

shown due leadership

0:22:290:22:31

on this, historically.

0:22:310:22:32

And I think the fact that it has

been public pressure and the media

0:22:320:22:35

that has brought this to the fore,

we actually should be ashamed

0:22:350:22:38

of ourselves that we haven't given

proper leadership on it.

0:22:380:22:41

We now know the scale of the problem

and we must all work together

0:22:410:22:44

to make sure that we get...

0:22:440:22:45

But what's changed which would make

somebody now come forward?

0:22:450:22:48

I think the traditional complaints

processes operated under

0:22:480:22:50

a criminal standard of proof,

which was very difficult

0:22:500:22:53

to establish and inhibited

people coming forward.

0:22:530:22:55

It's now done on the balance

of probabilities, which means that

0:22:550:22:59

cases are much more likely to be

determined for the complainer.

0:22:590:23:03

A Labour committee member asked

about the abuse directed

0:23:030:23:06

at candidates during elections.

0:23:060:23:08

What evidence does your party have

about the effect of fear and abuse

0:23:080:23:11

and harassment on the willingness

of people to come

0:23:110:23:14

forward as candidates

to remain in public life

0:23:140:23:18

once elected, and what do any

of your political parties do

0:23:180:23:23

to offer support to people,

to candidates responding

0:23:230:23:27

to such abuse?

0:23:270:23:28

Because we all have seen,

quite widely, that it exists.

0:23:280:23:31

If we're just about the kind

of aggressive language

0:23:310:23:34

that we encounter in politics,

I mean, to some extent, we have

0:23:340:23:39

to put up with it, men or women.

0:23:390:23:42

Do you think that

it's worse for women?

0:23:420:23:44

I think it probably is,

sort of what you could call casual

0:23:440:23:47

misogyny and the results of that...

0:23:470:23:49

It...

0:23:490:23:50

As somebody who suffers from it,

it doesn't feel very casual.

0:23:500:23:53

And what about abuse

directed at other people?

0:23:530:23:55

If a candidate in an election

from an opposing political party

0:23:550:24:00

suffered from an abuse

from somebody within your

0:24:000:24:03

political party, if,

say, that abuse was

0:24:030:24:06

misogynistic, would...

0:24:060:24:07

You would say that there be robust

processes in the Liberal Democrats

0:24:070:24:10

to stop a person in a candidate

again or being an activist, being

0:24:100:24:14

a member of the Liberal Democrats?

0:24:140:24:16

I think that would be

a reasonable request.

0:24:160:24:18

I shall test that.

0:24:180:24:19

Anybody else want to...?

0:24:190:24:20

I would put the same question

to everybody on the panel.

0:24:200:24:24

This is a massive issue, let's be

absolutely crystal clear about it.

0:24:240:24:27

There is clear evidence that women

candidates and women

0:24:270:24:30

parliamentarians have suffered

from far greater abuse

0:24:300:24:33

than anyone else has.

0:24:330:24:35

So what would you do about it?

0:24:350:24:37

Well...

0:24:370:24:38

There's things we can

do about it in terms

0:24:380:24:40

of providing support to people.

0:24:400:24:41

I think if anyone has crossed

the line, that is a member

0:24:410:24:44

of the political party,

then they have got to be

0:24:440:24:47

held account for that.

0:24:470:24:48

And held to account means...?

0:24:480:24:49

Well, suspension, expulsion,

if that's what it takes.

0:24:490:24:51

We do that as well...

0:24:510:24:53

How many people have you expelled?

0:24:530:24:55

I don't know that number,

I don't have that...

0:24:550:24:57

But you could tell us?

0:24:570:25:00

There was a Labour MP for Harlington

and Hayes who asked,

0:25:000:25:03

who was talking about lynching

0:25:030:25:04

a Conservative MP during

an election campaign,

0:25:040:25:06

repeating it, endorsing it,

going around and talking about it.

0:25:060:25:11

What did the Labour Party do?

0:25:110:25:12

They made him the Shadow Chancellor.

0:25:120:25:13

They promoted him to

the Shadow Chancellor.

0:25:130:25:15

So, if you're saying that,

yes, we expel people

0:25:150:25:18

for the kind of behaviour,

what are you going to do

0:25:180:25:20

about the Shadow Chancellor?

0:25:200:25:22

Or do you endorse that behaviour?

0:25:220:25:25

I think you're misrepresenting

the situation.

0:25:250:25:28

I think going into individual cases

can be difficult to...

0:25:280:25:31

No, I don't think it is.

0:25:310:25:32

There is a real-life case,

we know exactly what he said,

0:25:320:25:35

it was on the record,

there is a recording

0:25:350:25:37

of what he said.

0:25:370:25:38

And so I want to know,

why did the Labour Party promotes

0:25:380:25:41

somebody in that situation rather

than do what you say you do?

0:25:410:25:45

Should we ask Dawn

write to us on that?

0:25:450:25:47

I'm just conscious of...

0:25:470:25:48

You're misrepresenting

the situation.

0:25:480:25:49

But I will happily

write to the committee.

0:25:490:25:53

Finally, to Westminster Hall,

where MPs debated

0:25:530:25:55

the subject of loneliness.

0:25:550:25:57

The session was opened

by Labour's Rachel Reeves,

0:25:570:26:00

a close friend of the murdered MP

Jo Cox, who'd campaigned

0:26:000:26:03

on the subject.

0:26:030:26:07

Loneliness, as we all know,

is bad for our mental health

0:26:070:26:10

but it's bad for our physical

health as well.

0:26:100:26:12

Research suggests that loneliness

is worse for us in terms

0:26:120:26:15

of mortality than obesity is,

and being lonely, being acutely

0:26:150:26:17

loneliness is bad for your health

as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

0:26:170:26:20

A Conservative MP worked

with Jo Cox to set up

0:26:200:26:25

a commission on loneliness.

0:26:250:26:27

I would like to put on the record

that, although this is a burden

0:26:270:26:30

I would never have wanted to carry,

it's been the honour

0:26:300:26:35

of my professional life to carry

on work in Jo Cox's name.

0:26:350:26:39

The MP who took over from Jo Cox

told how she'd been lonely

0:26:390:26:42

as a young actor living in Brighton.

0:26:420:26:44

There were more nights that

I cried myself to sleep off

0:26:440:26:47

loneliness than not.

0:26:470:26:48

Now, I am a gregarious,

can-do person, so I'd force

0:26:480:26:51

myself to go to gigs,

events, libraries, coffee bars,

0:26:510:26:54

just on the off chance that I might

meet someone I'd vaguely know.

0:26:540:26:57

But it was excruciating.

0:26:570:26:59

As a Government, we welcome

the Jo Cox Commission's work and it

0:26:590:27:02

has kick-started a national

conversation on loneliness

0:27:020:27:04

here in the UK.

0:27:040:27:06

And that's why we look forward

to receiving the recommendations

0:27:060:27:09

when they are published next month.

0:27:090:27:11

Jake Berry.

0:27:110:27:12

And that's it from me for now,

but do join me at the same time

0:27:120:27:16

tomorrow for another round up

of the day here at Westminster.

0:27:160:27:18

But for now from me, goodbye.

0:27:180:27:23

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