Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 6 December presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to our round up
of Wednesday in Parliament.
On this programme: There's
conflicting advice for
Theresa May as talks continue
on an interim Brexit deal.
One Labour MP reckons it's time.
She added jobs her redlines, DUP...
But a leading Brexiteer urges
the Prime Minister to stand
firm ahead of the next
round of talks in Brussels.
Was she apply a new coat of paint to
her redlines? Because I fear Monday
we will look a bit pink.
Also on this programme: MPs demand
answers about the promised
Brexit impact assessments.
And: a committee looks
into the extent of sexual
abuse and harassment.
But first: good progress has
been made, but there's
more work to be done.
That was Theresa May's assessment
of the state of the Brexit talks.
The Prime Minister was answering
questions in the Commons
for the first time since
the Democratic Unionist Party,
whose support she needs to win key
votes at Westminster,
objected to a draft proposal drawn
up by the UK and the EU.
The DUP said the plans which aimed
to avoid a hard border by aligning
regulations in Northern Ireland
with the Republic of Ireland,
were not acceptable.
Jeremy Corbyn attacked what he said
was a coalition of chaos.
Two months after the original
deadline, is the Prime Minister now
able to end the confusion and
clearly outline what the
Government's position is now with
regard to the Irish border was
I am very happy to talk about the
position. It is the exact same
decision that took in the Lancaster
House speech, that I took and
affords a speech, that we have taken
consistently in the negotiations.
Which is we will ensure that there
is no hard border between Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
We would do that while we respect
the constitutional integrity of the
United Kingdom. And while we respect
the internal markets and protect the
internal markets of the United
Kingdom. And those Labour members
who shout how? That is the whole
point of the second phase of the
Bush Asians. -- negotiations.
Because we both deliver this. We aim
to deep River this as part of our
overall trade deal between the
United Kingdom and the European
Jeremy Corbyn turned to
comments for David Davis the Brexit
the Brexit Secretary about analysis
of the impact of Brexit.
he told the programme in June that
it is my job that I do not think
about and I do not make guesses. I
try and make decisions. You make is
based on data, the data has been
gathered. We have 50 nearly 60
sectoral analyses done. This House
voted to see these analyses. But
today, the Brexit secretary told the
select committee that they do not
exist. Well, Candy premise or put us
out of our misery? Due date exist or
don't they? Had they done the work
or haven't they? That is surely one
question she can answer after 18
The House requested as I 58
sectoral impact assessments. There
are no 58 sectoral impact
assessments. There was sectoral
analysis over 800 pages of sectoral
analysis has been published. And
made available to the select
committee. And arrangements have
been made available for members of
this House to see it. We are very
clear that we will not give a
running commentary on negotiations.
But what we will do is work for what
this country wants. We will ensure
we meet the European Union in March
2000 19. We believe the internal
market, we believe the customs union
at the same time. And we will ensure
that there is a hard border between
Northern Ireland and the Republic of
Ireland when we do it.
Well, we'll take a look at exactly
what David Davis said in that
committee in just a moment,
but staying with Prime
plenty of other Mps had questions,
and suggestions, about Brexit.
The clock is ticking and we need a
job that keeps us in the single
market and the customs union. To do
otherwise would devastate the
economy and cost jobs. What the
prime -- with the promise to
recognise that such a deal would
dissolve the average worker
question. Anything less will be a
failure of leadership.
I have to say
to the right honourable General
meant that he could use to park on
the wrong tree. We believe the
single market and the customs union.
A Plaid MP turned to which powers
would go from Brussels to
the nations of the UK after Brexit.
This Scrabble to repatriate powers
from Brussels provides a grubby
excuse to deny our democratic rights
What we will be doing the
movie the European Union is grabbing
powers back from Brussels for the
United Kingdom. And that is exactly
right. And following that, we expect
to see a significant increase in the
decision-making power of default the
The prime Minister
has been unable to provide us with a
present scenario that will meet her
redlines and be except with to her
cabinets, to Ireland, and the DUP.
Is it therefore time that she either
dropped her redlines, DUP, with the
pretence that she can govern this
Before she goes to
Brussels, would she apply new coats
of paint to her redlines? Because I
fear on Monday, they will look pink.
When the British people voted to
lead the European superset, they
voted to end the free movement of
people. To end sending billions
sending billions and billions of
pounds to the EU every year. And
they voted to prevent out was being
judged by our own judges. By Mr,
resell on course to deliver that?
And if we have a problem, would it
help if I came over to Brussels with
you to sort it out?
After something of a pause,
Theresa May said she was always
happy to spend time in Peter Bone's
company and the Government
was on course to deliver
what the people of the UK voted for.
Jeremy Corbyn quoted
one Conservative donor.
MPs, you voted -- voted to release
the press impact studies to show
have 58 different sectors of the
economy would be affected by the EU
-- British exit from the EU. But
when the documents were released,
they turned out to be incomplete.
David Davis was asked to appear
before the MPs to explain just why
that was. And he told them that the
impact assessments was in fact
impact assessments at all.
the question is no. The Government
has not undertaken any impact
assessments for leaving the EU. So,
there isn't one for example on the
On the automotive sector.
No. No map one for financial
services? Note to all of them. Don't
know to all of them. --
Doesn't it strike you as strange
that the Government undertakes
impact assessments all the time, on
the most fundamental change, that
we're facing as a country, you just
notice of the Government has
undertaken any assessments at all
looking at the impact on individual
The first thing to say, Mr
Chairman, is when these sectoral
analyses were initiated, they were
done to understand the effect of
various options. What the outcome
would be. You do not need to do an
impact assessment to understand that
if there is a regulatory hurdle
between our producers and an market,
that they will have an impact. It
will have an effect. The effect of
that -- the assessment of that
effect is not as straightforward as
people imagine. I am not a fan of
economic models because they have
all proven wrong.
And we have been
treated to enormous descriptions of
arrangements, impact assessments,
mathematical purchase, empirical
approaches, broadbrush analysis...
And probably lots more. You could
understand my members of the
committee could feel a little bit
bumpy. Because none of this is an
undertaking it. I think what I'd be
interested to know is how is his
material action being used and shape
in our negotiating strategy?
not use phrases like impact
assessment. That is not my phrase.
Sectoral analysis was used for a
real reason. It is the analysis of
what the sector was like.
just explain where, in your mind,
this misunderstanding grows from the
House and the public at large who
thought that there were impact
assessments, and yet there weren't
impact assessments. Where did this
misunderstanding come from?
to put that question to the people
would use the passphrase impact
assessment. I am making a fall for
myself or not correcting her when
she was argument impact assessments.
I was assuming she meant sectoral
analyses which is the only phrase I
have used. But in the debate in the
House, I'm sure Walker made that
To the Government undertake
an assessment of leaving the customs
union before the Cabinet voted on
Not a form one.
assessment. There is always a
judgement made on qualitative
things, but not a qualitative one.
Isn't that quite extraordinary?
They are phenomenal numbers of
variables in that. At the last thing
I was at when I took you through for
example, and the impact of trade
agreements, and if I said to your
fire member correctly, that the book
trade will increase by 25% after by
40%. And that is the son of
things... They're qualitatively
different. There are three Carrick
-- trading is being carried out by
the European Union who have not been
particularly beneficial to the
United Kingdom. There've been others
for hundreds this was when I've been
much more beneficial. We have to
make judgements about the
effectiveness of ourselves in that
upcoming relationship. The sort of
judgements were taken into account.
You are watching Wednesday in
Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.
Still to come in this programme, MPs
continue their detailed scrutiny of
the EU withdrawal bill. Which was EU
law onto the UK statute book.
Time magazine in the United States
has named "the Silence Breakers",
women who spoke out against sexual
abuse and harassment,
as its "Person of the Year".
A decision associated
with the #MeToo hashtag which sprang
up as allegations emerged
against Hollywood producer,
Time's move came as the Women
and Equalities Committee looked
into whether or not it should hold
an inquiry into women's
experiences of everyday sexism
and sexual harassment.
Just how prevalent was the problem?
YouGov did a national poll. 64% of
women of all ages have experienced
unwanted sexual harassment in public
places. An additional 35% have
experienced unwanted sexual
touching. 45% had experienced
unwanted sexual touching in other
Similar work had been
carried out by the TUC.
Over half of the women polled had
experienced sexual harassment at
some point in their lives. For the
18 to 24-year-old group, it was two
thirds of women who experienced some
form of sexual harassment. This was
all different types of sexual
harassment. Some of those were
serious assaults, some were to do
with jokes and unwanted comments in
the workplace, which is also serious
And recent events had led
to surveys of peoples views
about sexual harassment:
It was not in line at all with what
the law says sexual harassment is
and actually some quite worrying
findings and lots of things that I
would consider to be very serious
and I am sure it that Mark would
consider to be serious crimes were
not perceived by everybody to be
sexual harassment or to be crimes
and were seen as part of everyday
The basic word for me is
unwanted. It is any conduct that is
unwanted. There for there is an onus
on the person who is committing it
to understand that their behaviour
is either wanted or not. What we are
trying to do then is create an
environment where people who receive
unwanted behaviour have the strength
and support to come forward and
report it. I think seeing more and
more of that but it is very basic.
It is unwanted behaviour.
So what was to be done and how much
of a role did education have?
When we be addressing a significant
part of the Republic we addressed
I think you
need to do both. I do not think it
is either addressing gender
stereotyping in schools and
magically solving this problem,
there will be no more sexual
harassment, these boys will go on to
have much more respectful attitudes
towards women. I think it is part of
a picture. I think it is part of a
series of actions that you might
want to look at and addressing
different acts acts of -- different
aspects of sexism in society. I
think there are correlations between
for instance, very male-dominated
workplaces, making a false
distinction between sexism and
sexual harassment. I think a lot of
the stuff overlaps.
There was a lot
of work on prevention to be done. We
have had workshops on compulsory sex
education but of I were to wave my
wand, it would be up about making it
more compulsory to make sure that
the issues we're talking about here
today are talked about in schools by
experts but there is also a need, I
think, to update some of our laws in
this regard which might then send a
clearer message, which might then
help to bring people together to a
common understanding of what
constitutes sexual harassment and
why it is harmful.
And the focus needed to be
on the harm to the victim:
Sexual assault of young women over
13 is one of the highest
contributors to sexual violence. It
is trivialized but it is one of the
areas in which we are seeing more
and more reports and it is not
always taken seriously and it is not
always treated appropriately come up
but that is on the statute books, so
it is implementation as much as new
laws, that I think we need.
Now back to Brexit.
The independent Northern Ireland MP
Sylvia Hermon has made
a plea for the principles
of the Good Friday Agreement to be
preserved in the EU Withdrawal Bill.
In a powerful speech,
she recalled how the Troubles had
affected her family and community.
She said her amendment was designed
to protect the principles behind
the Belfast Agreement of mutual
respect for all communities.
I grew up not in some stately home.
I grew up on a 50 acre farm west of
the river. Very close to what
unfortunately became known as the
murder triangle for the number of
people who were murdered, both
Catholic and Protestant, by the IRA,
and subsequently by loyalist as
well. Many of our farming neighbours
were attacked on tractors or went
out to a shed and opened the shed
door and there was a booby trap and
had their heads or faces blown off.
-- Hans or faces. I would say ever
so loudly and strongly to senior
members that I do not want to hear
them or see them on television
talking about pushing ahead and no
deal. It is an absolute nonsense. It
is so reckless and so dangerous. In
the event of no deal, we certainly
face a hard border and dissident
Republicans will regard HMRC
officers and other officers and UK
border officials as legitimate
targets. I do not want that on my
conscience. I don't believe for one
moment that the Prime Minister wants
The Prime Minister, 48
hours ago, reached an agreement
which seems to show that she shared
the honourable Lady's concerns,
because you cannot have an open
border without having some
regulatory conversions, customs
convergence on both sides. That all
came to an end when the DUP vetoed
it, which makes it extremely
important that her amendment is now
put in the Bill to make sure we are
not backsliding but of course, the
DUP can always, actually, rescue
their reputation if they confirm
that their only objection was to not
having regulatory customs
convergence across the whole United
Kingdom, and they were quite
prepared to raise that regulatory
and customs convergence across the
hall of the Republic of Ireland
eight -- the island of Ireland is
certainly in the interests of
inhabitants on both side of the
Thank you. That was really
very interesting. But a point I will
raise there. The DUP will have to
speak for themselves and I'm sure
this afternoon you'll want to
contribute to this debate will stop
can I intervene?
To answer the
question posed by the right
honourable gentleman, when she said,
does she accept as he does that is a
good idea to have regulatory
convergence and common rules between
Northern Ireland and the Republic.
To give a straight answer to that,
because many in Northern Ireland now
view her as being on the side of the
Thank you so
much. The right honourable member
for North Belfast.
I was moved by
what the honourable Lady had to say
and I think she speaks for many
people in Northern Ireland that I
know and love and it is a shame that
there are not more voices like hers
calling for what, moderation and
focus on what really matters which
is peace and stability.
But the Minister said
the Government would not be
accepting her amendment.
The Government is wholly committed
as my honourable friend have said,
to the Belfast agreement had has
accepted our commitment to that
under international law. Nothing
about our leaving BU will change
that and these are numbered, --
members, well-intentioned as they
may be. -- leaving Viggo.
-- the EU.
This he realised the signal they'll
be sent out in asking artist to vote
Let me reiterate to the
honourable gentleman that we are
absolutely committed to the Belfast
and Good Friday Agreement.
debate drew to a close, there
appeared to be last-minute
escutcheons between a Minister, Lady
Herman and opposition MPs. --
discussions between the Minister,
Lady Hermon and opposition MPs.
In the end Lady Hermon
withdrew her amendment.
the greater objective is to maintain
the integrity of the Good Friday
Agreement, to make sure that they do
nothing in this House that increases
a risk of terrorism. I will not call
a vote but I will accept the very
nice imitation to table, I want a
commitment from the Minister, to
give me a commitment that the Good
Friday Agreement will be preserved
in some other form, if not today
then in some other form.
commitment, the Good Friday
Agreement, is an absolute commitment
that we stand by all stop it will be
preserved. I will work with the
honourable Lady as I have been
invited to do in order to ensure
that the whole of this process we
deliver on the principles.
Debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill
continues next week.
Now recently, MPs heard from people
with disabilities and long-term
illnesses about the problems they've
encountered applying for benefits.
On Wednesday, they questioned
contractors who carry out
the medical assessments on behalf
of the Department of Work
and Pensions, the DWP.
The committee chair asked
if they had ever met the DWP target
for the level of "unacceptable"
assessments, a target of 3%.
Is there a period where you have
ever met the target?
I think the
committees have the data from the
department. Our best performance has
been prepared by percent. That has
So you have never met the
A similar question, in the
last three months rolling, they have
really lifted which means we have
got some pretty stinky fingers
coming from recent months and at
times you have had dirty percent of
your assessment, an upset but again,
the same question is do you. -- 30%.
We were clear that the contract was
unacceptable and it was an absolute
prime target and prime focus and I
am not happy at all until the cases
are deemed to be acceptable, have
passed the criteria.
Back now to Prime Minister's
questions, where Theresa May said
she'd talk to United States
President, Donald Trump
over his plan to recognise Jerusalem
as Israel's capital.
Mr Trump will also start the process
of moving the US embassy
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The decision makes it difficult
for the US to be seen
as a neutral mediator
in the Middle East peace process.
Israel has always regarded
Jerusalem as its capital,
while the Palestinians want
East Jerusalem to be the capital
of a future Palestinian state.
The recognition by Donald Trump of
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
will do grave damage to the
prospects for a just and lasting
peace settlement between the
Israelis and the Palestinians, which
has been British and indeed American
foreign policy for decades. Was she
consulted about this announcement
and if so, what did she say, and
bushy, here and now, unequivocally
and clearly condemn it? -- will she.
I say to the right orderable
gentleman that I am intending to
speak to President Trump about this
matter, but our position has not
changed. Our position, as he says,
has been a long-standing one and is
also a very clear one the status of
Jerusalem should be determined in a
negotiated settlement between the
Israelis and the Palestinians and
Jerusalem should ultimately form a
shared capital to meet the Israeli
and Palestinian states. That is, we
continue to support a two state
solution, we recognise the
importance of Jerusalem and our
position on that has not changed.
And that's it from me for now,
but do join me at the same time
tomorrow, when it's environment
questions in the Commons and MPs
debate prison safety.
But for now from me,
Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.