Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 10 January, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello, and welcome to the programme.
The Labour leader mocks the Prime
Minister over her reshuffle.
We know the Prime Minister
recognises there is a crisis in our
NHS because she wanted to sack the
Health Secretary last week but was
too weak to do it.
Theresa May defends
her health policy.
Preparations for winter in the NHS
have been more extensive and
meticulous than ever before.
And is the head of the energy
regulator Ofgem just too laid back?
Do you ever just roll your sleeves
up and get stuck in, because I don't
really see the evidence of that?
It was the first Prime Minister's
Questions since Theresa May
reshuffled her cabinet.
But, to be honest, you did
have to look quite hard
to spot the new faces.
Sitting on the front
bench for the first time
were Esther McVey, the new Work
and Pensions Secretary,
and Brandon Lewis the new
Conservative Party chairman.
A few victims of the reshuffle had
returned to the backbenches -
Damian Green, the former
First Secretary of State.
And in a corner, quite
near to where the Brexit
rebels seat themselves,
was Justine Greening,
lately of the Education Department.
So with everyone in their
places we were off.
Mr Speaker, I know it seems a long
time ago, I know it seems a long
time ago but just before Christmas I
asked the Prime Minister about the
12,000 people left waiting more than
half an hour in the back of an
ambulance at A&E departments. She
told the House the NHS was better
prepared for winter than ever
before. So what words of comfort
does the Prime Minister have two the
17,000 patients waiting in the back
of ambulances in the last week of
December? Is it that nothing is
perfect, by any chance?
accept that the NHS is under
pressure over winter. It is readily
and a pressure at wintertime is. I
have been very clear that I
apologise to those people who have
had those operations delayed and
those people who have had their
admission to hospital delayed but it
is, indeed, the case that the NHS
was better prepared this winter than
Be known Prime Minister
recognises there is a crisis in our
NHS because she wanted to sack the
Health Secretary last week but was
too weak do it. If the NHS is so
well resourced and so well-prepared,
why was the decision taken last week
to cancel the operations of 55,000
patients during the month of
In terms of being prepared,
this is what NHS providers said only
last week, preparations for winter
in the NHS have been more extensive
and meticulous than ever before.
Health Secretary said that the
government wanted to be the best in
the world for cancer diagnosis,
treatment and care. Today, according
to a memo from the head of
chemotherapy at Oxford Churchill
Hospital, terminally ill cancer
patients will have their
chemotherapy cut because of a
massive shortfall in specialist
nurses. Will the Prime Minister
apologise to cancer patients and
their families for this appalling
I say to the honourable
lady that the trust have made clear
there are absolutely no plans to
delay the start of chemotherapy
treatment or reduce the number of
cycles given to cancer patients.
What Simon Stephens has said is
happening in the NHS in relation to
this is over the past three years
highest cancer survival rates ever,
latest survival figures show an
estimated more than 7000 more people
surviving cancer after successful
NHS cancer treatment compared to
three years prior.
funding our NHS is doing more than
ever, but when the UK is in the
bottom third of countries for heart
attack deaths, when we have
significantly worse survival for
stroke than France and Germany and
when our closest match for cancer
survival as Chile and Poland, is it
not time to act on calls from across
this House and backed this week by
the Centre for Policy Studies to
establish a Royal commission on
health and social care in the 70th
anniversary year of our most
cherished national institution.
honourable friend is right. We need
to continue looking at the national
health service and continuing to
ensure we improve the performance in
a variety of areas.
And the NHS remained firmly
on the agenda later in the afternoon
when Labour used an opposition
debate to highlight
the strain winter was placing
on the health service.
It was the first chance MPs had
to questions the Health Secretary
since the reshuffle,
when he'd not only held on to his
job, but extended it
to encompass social care.
The Shadow Health Secretary said
the NHS was suffering from a winter
crisis that was
This is not just a winter crisis.
This is an all-around year funding
crisis. A year around staffing
crisis and social care crisis and
the deer health inequality crisis,
manufactured in Downing Street by
this government. Isn't the truth
that doctors and nurses have lost
confidence in him? Patients have
lost confidence in him? The Prime
Minister in seem to have lost
confidence in him? He fights for his
own job but he won't fight for the
NHS. Our patients are crying out for
It is a big deal for
patients who are told that their
planned procedure is going to be
postponed and no one wants to
minimise the distress that it
causes, but what happened last year
and what has happened in previous
winters is that operations have been
cancelled at the last moment and
that is much more distressing and it
is much more challenging for
hospitals to plan around that said
the decision was taken this year to
do it in a much more planned way and
we actually hope that overall we
will see fewer operations cancelled
at the last moment.
And he defended the government
from accusations of under-funding.
We spent 9.9% of our GDP on health,
that is 1% above the EU average and
about the same as the EU 15, the
Western countries. We want to spend
more so this is what we have been
doing, in England from 2011 funding
went up by 15.6%. In Wales Labour
chose to only increase it by 8%.
This motion is about money and I
just want to conclude by saying
this, when it comes to NHS funding,
Labour give the speeches but
conservatives give the cash.
government is putting an extra £437
million specifically for the winter
period. Would he not at least give
the government credit for that
planning, which we have never seen
All of us recognise this is
a particularly tough winter because
there has been an outbreak of flu on
top of a bad freeze. I would point
for those of you who think the worst
is passed that the flu season goes
until March and at the moment this
is an outbreak, it isn't an
epidemic, it is an outbreak. But it
comes on top of underlying pressures
and obviously we see right across
the four nations that this is
involved staff having to really, as
I said, go above and beyond the call
The money they came in the
budget was too little too late. It
is really hard as a commissioner and
a provider to spend that money when
you get it at the last minute
because you have to get people to
come into work in order to do work
to do -- to spend the money. If the
money had come earlier than they
would have been able to put in place
cannot remember a winter when there
was not talk of pressure, we have to
understand this is not a new
phenomenon. I remember particularly
the bad winter of 2009, and
actually, to be fair, the very
positive way in which the then
opposition approaches and helped the
government at the time, in the
interests of not
politicising and westernising the
issue and it is a pity we haven't
seen the same repeated.
One of the
real problems or the real absences I
have seen is any acknowledgement
from ministers about the huge
knock-on effect rescheduling a whole
month 's worth of operations will
have. It will simple make patients
already on the waiting list have to
wait even longer and it will be
very, very difficult to bring back
Labour's motion condemning
government spending on the NHS
was later passed unopposed,
as Conservative MPs continued
their tactic of abstaining
on opposition motions.
You're watching Wednesday in
Parliament, with me, Mandy Baker.
Now the Chief Executive
of the energy regulator Ofgem has
admitted the organisation should
have done better for
Dermot Nolan was given
something of a roasting
by the Commons business committee.
Can you just explain to me how you
think the price cap will help
vulnerable custard to switch?
itself it will not help them to
Warble of gem do to make
sure that they do have adequate
protections for vulnerable
I would say there are
three answers to that. First is they
will have a basic level of price
protection. It strikes me that
standard variable, vulnerable
customers on standard variable are
now paying some of the highest
prices in the market and a price cap
will reduce their prices and offer
them direct protection. The second
point would be in general as we go
forward, and I think it was said by
the CM a panel before Christmas as
well, we will attempt to promoting
gauge route and specifically attempt
to promoting gauge meant for
vulnerable customers and thirdly we
have a variety of other protections
including the vulnerability
principle that every supplier in the
market must treat its vulnerable
Given that you
accept a high proportion of
vulnerable customers are being
failed by the current system, isn't
that a failure of engagement and the
failure of regulation by off gem?
think it is a problem and I accept
that point we could have done better
and we should have done better on
vulnerable customers. We put in
place principles for vulnerability
relatively recently which will give
a strong level of protection.
that you accept you have a statutory
duty to protect the vulnerable
customers, do you think that you
have effectively admitted that you
have failed them to date? I think we
have not done as well as we could
have. I fully accept that.
the single most important player in
the market because extraordinary
powers as a regulator and yet your
testimony sounds so incredibly
passive. Do you ever just roll your
sleeves up and really get stuck in,
because I don't really see the
I apologise if I seem
passive, I honestly do not feel
passive. I said before that I wished
we'd moved earlier in putting price
What lessons have you taken
from that and how has it changed
We're rolling up our
sleeves very strongly at the moment
and have been doing so in the last
year. Since the CMA finished in
terms of bringing forward a price
cap for vulnerable customers which
is at the limit of the powers that
You just admitted that you
wished you'd acted earlier and the
consequence has been a vulnerable
customers have paid much more money
than they should have done.
we should have moved earlier on
Due apologise to
Dermot Nolan also told
the committee that, if Parliament
passed the necessary legislation
by the end of July, an energy cap
could come into effect by Christmas.
Labour has told ministers that
they're rewarding failure by bailing
out train companies that
run into trouble.
In 2014, Virgin and its partner,
Stagecoach, signed a deal to run
the East Coast line until 2023,
promising the government more
than £3 billion in premiums.
But in November, ministers allowed
the companies to withdraw
from running the service
three years early.
The Shadow Transport Secretary
condemned the move.
In 2016, the Department
for Transport set out its aims
and objectives for rail franchising.
These were to encourage
a flourishing, competitors passenger
rail market which secures high
performing value for money services
for passengers and taxpayers
while driving cost effectiveness.
Madam Deputy Speaker,
it's clear that the department has
failed to meet these objectives.
The latest collapse
of the East Coast franchise
announced in November makes
a mockery of the
Department's 2016 aims.
The Virgin Stagecoach didn't deliver
and defaulted on their contract,
and the Secretary of State has given
them a gift.
I'll give way.
I'm very grateful to my honourable
friend for giving way.
Given, on the East Coast Main Line,
that this will be the third occasion
in just over a decade
that the private contractor has
announced that it wishes
to hand back the keys,
was it not a fundamental mistake
on the part of the government not
to have allowed East Coast Trains,
that successfully ran the franchise
for over five and a half years,
paid back £1 billion
to the Treasury, to allow
carrying on its good work,
and instead idealogically demanding
that anyone could bid to run it
but not the company that had
done it so successfully?
My right honourable friend has made
an absolutely perfect point,
and it's a theme that will be
consistent throughout this debate,
I have absolutely no doubt.
Indeed, the government should have
followed the example of Labour
in 2009 when the operator defaulted
and taken the contract back
into the public sector.
If a company defaults,
it doesn't deserve the contract.
That way, there'd be
no reward for failure,
and other companies in the industry
wouldn't expect the same treatment.
When it came to his turn, the
Transport Secretary was scathing.
We've just heard something like 45
minutes of complete nonsense
from the party opposite.
I suspect you might also say it
would be unparliamentary of me
to call him hypocritical,
so I would call him personally
hypocritical, but I've no doubt that
others in the know will be
astonished by the gall
with which they simply
forget their actions in government
with which they pretend their ideas
won't cost a penny.
I keep hearing their ideas
won't cost a penny,
it's absolutely untrue,
and with which they make inaccurate
claims based on a lack
of facts on subjects
they appear not understand.
The Government has been warned that
moves to cut the size of the House
of Lords could be undermined
if the Prime Minister
appoints new peers.
Reports have suggested Theresa May
is preparing to create 12
new Conservative peers to help get
through the Lords.
In a debate last year,
there was strong support among peers
for the recommendations
of a committee led by
the independent peer Lord Burns
to reduce the numbers
from 800 to 600.
At Question Time, Mrs May
was urged to show restraint.
Would it not be an embarrassment
and make a nonsense of any further
consideration of the Burns report
if the Prime Minister was to go
ahead and make a series
of nominations before we had
considered it fully?
The point that the noble Lord
has just made was made
during the debate and I thought,
if I may say so, it was dealt
with very well indeed
by the Lord Butler of Brockwell
and he said this.
We are told that a further
list of appointments
is about to be published,
but I do not share the apocalyptic
view expressed earlier
by the noble Lord, Lord Steel.
I believe this can be regarded
as a legacy issue arising
from the May general election that
does not inhibit the adoption
of the approach in the Burns report.
I hope the noble Lord
is reassured by the words
of the former Cabinet Secretary.
If the government is prepared
to accept the Burns proposals,
and that includes departures
from and introductions to this House
on the basis of two out, one in,
as on a 15-year term limit,
probably from the last general
election, we will abide by that.
Will the government
agree to do so as well?
As I said, the government
is considering the report
and will make its views known
shortly, but if I can just pick up
the point that the noble
Baroness made in her speech,
and she made a good speech, if I may
say so, as did my noble friend,
the Leader of the Lib Dems?
What she said was this.
It is not about giving up
patronage or appointments
but about showing some restraint,
as it used to be.
Now, the Prime Minister has
Putting on one side David Cameron's
in the last 18 months,
the Prime Minister has
appointed eight new peers -
five crossbenchers and three
Now, I think that is demonstrating
the restraint that the noble
lady has just asked for.
Is there not another way that this
little dilemma might be resolved?
Quite clearly, if you look
at the electorate as a whole
and the votes which have been cast
at recent elections,
the Lib Dem peers are grossly
Suppose 50 of them did
the decent thing and resign,
this would all be resolved!
I think that question,
if I may say so, from my noble
friend is not addressed to me
but addressed to
the benches opposite.
It is indeed the case that,
on almost any objective basis,
the Liberal Democrats
are overrepresented and,
in credit to them, they actually
recognised this join the debate.
The noble Lord, Lord Newby,
when he spoke on behalf
of the Lib Dems, recognised
that their numbers would have
to come down under the proposals
of the Burns report.
Whether one could expect
the Lib Dems to unilaterally
cut their numbers without anybody
else doing anything at all would be
to exhibit a generosity
for which the Liberal Democrats
are not well known!
The whole of the proposals
of the Lord Speaker's Committee
are dependent on the Prime Minister
accepting the proposal
and the principle that is inherent
right through their report that it
must be two out before
they=re can be one in.
Will the ministers on the front
bench make that clear
to the Prime Minister?
And if she's not prepared to respect
that, how can we expect anything
to come from this exercise?
I thought he struck a slightly
different tone in his wind-up speech
to that of his noble friend,
Winding up for the Liberal
Democrats, despite what the noble
Lord has just said, he referred
to Burns as a temporary
expedient, a process
appropriate for the membership
of the gentleman's club,
an incestuous process that
runs the risk of leading
to our abolition.
That doesn't sound to me
like wholehearted support for Burns!
The understated view of Lord Young.
The House of Lords has voted
for a proposal requiring
the Government to proceed
with the second stage
of the Leveson Inquiry.
Stage two would examine unlawful
conduct by media organisations
and the relationship
between journalists and the police.
The Government opposed
the amendment, but it was approved
by 238 votes to 209.
The Brexit debate of the day
concerned the return of the EU
Withdrawal Bill to the Commons next
week and, more particularly,
Clause 11 of it.
This is all about the restriction
on the ability of the devolved
legislatures to modify
retained EU law.
A Conservative raised the issue of
LCMs or Legislative Consent Motions.
The minister will be aware that
personal assurances were given to me
and colleagues that the government
would bring forward amendments
to clause 11 of the Repeal Bill,
and it has failed to do so.
Can he assure me that the government
remains committed to working
with the devolved administrations
to find a form of words that will be
agreed and allow LCM to be passed?
I can certainly give
my honourable friend
that commitment and,
when I spoke to the Deputy First
Minister of Scotland last night,
I said that we were disappointed
that we had not been able to reach
agreement with the devolved
administrations on an acceptable
form of words for such an amendment
but that I was committed now
to intensifying our discussions
with the devolved administrations
to seek to reach an agreed form
of words in time for proceedings
in the House of Lords.
The Scottish Nationalists
returned to the issue
at Prime Minister's Questions,
quoting Paul Masterton.
The government's EU withdrawal bill
is quite simply not fit for purpose
and must be changed.
These are not my words.
These are the words
of the honourable member
for East Renfrewshire.
Does the Prime Minister
agree with her colleague
that we must amend clause 11,
which is nothing more
than a power grab from Scotland?
The honourable gentleman knows
full well that we have
said that we will look
to improve clause 11.
Indeed, if he was in his place
when my right honourable friend,
the Chancellor, the Duchy
of Lancaster, was answering
questions earlier, he made it very
clear that we continue to look
to amend clause 11.
We are, however, and this
is something I discussed
with the First Minister before
Christmas, we are looking to work
with the devolved administrations
to ensure that we put the right
frameworks in place so that,
when we come to bring
any amendment forward,
it is being donw in
possible way in the interests
of all concerned.
I thought that had been
accepted by the SNP,
but we will be looking to bring
forward amendments in the Lords.
Mr Speaker, that simply
is not good enough!
The Secretary of State for Scotland
promised a power bonanza
for Scotland and that,
crucially, amendments would be
tabled ahead of next week's debate.
Yesterday, it was revealed that no
amendments would be lodged.
The Tories always promise Scotland
everything and deliver nothing.
The Prime Minister
has one last chance.
Will she assure the House
that these amendments will be
tabled ahead of next
week, as promised?
The SNP say they want to work
with us on the future frameworks,
and we are doing exactly that.
They say they want clause
11 amended, and we are
doing exactly that.
My right honourable friend
is intensifying his discussions
with the Scottish Government
and indeed with the Executive
in Wales as part of this.
We will be bringing forward
amendments, but the honourable
gentleman says that this
is a government that never
delivers for Scotland.
£2 billion extra as a
result of the budget.
That's delivering for Scotland!
On a scale between 1-10,
how does the Prime Minister
think her Brexit is going,
with ten being all going perfectly,
we know what we want to achieve
and we know how to get it,
and one being chaotic cluelessness?
I know what I'd give
the Prime Minister.
What would she give herself?
Can I say to the honourable
gentleman that I think...
At this point, out of camera shot,
Pete Wishart held up a banner
which read "nul point".
Let me just say to the honourable
gentleman, who I've known
for a long time, I think,
when he comes to reflect
on his conduct, he'll know he can
do better than that.
He can do better than that.
The Prime Minister.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Can I say to the honourable
gentleman that I think anybody
who saw the success we had
in negotiating phase one of Brexit
and getting that sufficient
progress will say that,
actually, this is a government that
knows what it's doing and is getting
on with the job and is doing well?
But she wouldn't put a figure on it.
Well, during the course of the day,
there were many words
of congratulation for the various
ministers who gained or moved
jobs in the reshuffle.
One of the main talking points
on Monday was the erroneous and then
hastily deleted tweet
from Conservative Central Office
that Chris Grayling had been made
chairman of the party.
The Shadow Transport Secretary felt
it important to mark Mr Grayling's
very brief achievement.
And I also want to congratulate
the Secretary of State
for his superb stewardship
of the Conservative Party.
There's never been a finer record.
No elections lost, no major
scandals, and I think he's
maintained his membership of around
70,000, so not bad for 27 seconds'
work, so all the best to him.
Chris Grayling - the mayfly
of Conservative chairmen.
And that's all we've got time for.
So, for now, from me,
Mandy Baker, goodbye.