10/01/2018 Wednesday in Parliament


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10/01/2018

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 10 January, presented by Mandy Baker.


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Hello, and welcome to the programme.

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Coming up:

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The Labour leader mocks the Prime

Minister over her reshuffle.

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We know the Prime Minister

recognises there is a crisis in our

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NHS because she wanted to sack the

Health Secretary last week but was

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too weak to do it.

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Theresa May defends

her health policy.

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Preparations for winter in the NHS

have been more extensive and

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meticulous than ever before.

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And is the head of the energy

regulator Ofgem just too laid back?

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Do you ever just roll your sleeves

up and get stuck in, because I don't

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really see the evidence of that?

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It was the first Prime Minister's

Questions since Theresa May

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reshuffled her cabinet.

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But, to be honest, you did

have to look quite hard

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to spot the new faces.

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Sitting on the front

bench for the first time

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were Esther McVey, the new Work

and Pensions Secretary,

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and Brandon Lewis the new

Conservative Party chairman.

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A few victims of the reshuffle had

returned to the backbenches -

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Damian Green, the former

First Secretary of State.

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And in a corner, quite

near to where the Brexit

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rebels seat themselves,

was Justine Greening,

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lately of the Education Department.

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So with everyone in their

places we were off.

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Mr Speaker, I know it seems a long

time ago, I know it seems a long

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time ago but just before Christmas I

asked the Prime Minister about the

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12,000 people left waiting more than

half an hour in the back of an

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ambulance at A&E departments. She

told the House the NHS was better

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prepared for winter than ever

before. So what words of comfort

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does the Prime Minister have two the

17,000 patients waiting in the back

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of ambulances in the last week of

December? Is it that nothing is

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perfect, by any chance?

I fully

accept that the NHS is under

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pressure over winter. It is readily

and a pressure at wintertime is. I

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have been very clear that I

apologise to those people who have

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had those operations delayed and

those people who have had their

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admission to hospital delayed but it

is, indeed, the case that the NHS

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was better prepared this winter than

ever before.

Be known Prime Minister

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recognises there is a crisis in our

NHS because she wanted to sack the

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Health Secretary last week but was

too weak do it. If the NHS is so

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well resourced and so well-prepared,

why was the decision taken last week

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to cancel the operations of 55,000

patients during the month of

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January?

In terms of being prepared,

this is what NHS providers said only

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last week, preparations for winter

in the NHS have been more extensive

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and meticulous than ever before.

The

Health Secretary said that the

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government wanted to be the best in

the world for cancer diagnosis,

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treatment and care. Today, according

to a memo from the head of

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chemotherapy at Oxford Churchill

Hospital, terminally ill cancer

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patients will have their

chemotherapy cut because of a

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massive shortfall in specialist

nurses. Will the Prime Minister

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apologise to cancer patients and

their families for this appalling

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situation?

I say to the honourable

lady that the trust have made clear

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there are absolutely no plans to

delay the start of chemotherapy

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treatment or reduce the number of

cycles given to cancer patients.

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What Simon Stephens has said is

happening in the NHS in relation to

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this is over the past three years

highest cancer survival rates ever,

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latest survival figures show an

estimated more than 7000 more people

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surviving cancer after successful

NHS cancer treatment compared to

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three years prior.

With record

funding our NHS is doing more than

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ever, but when the UK is in the

bottom third of countries for heart

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attack deaths, when we have

significantly worse survival for

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stroke than France and Germany and

when our closest match for cancer

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survival as Chile and Poland, is it

not time to act on calls from across

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this House and backed this week by

the Centre for Policy Studies to

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establish a Royal commission on

health and social care in the 70th

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anniversary year of our most

cherished national institution.

My

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honourable friend is right. We need

to continue looking at the national

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health service and continuing to

ensure we improve the performance in

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a variety of areas.

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And the NHS remained firmly

on the agenda later in the afternoon

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when Labour used an opposition

debate to highlight

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the strain winter was placing

on the health service.

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It was the first chance MPs had

to questions the Health Secretary

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since the reshuffle,

when he'd not only held on to his

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job, but extended it

to encompass social care.

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The Shadow Health Secretary said

the NHS was suffering from a winter

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crisis that was

"entirely preventable".

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This is not just a winter crisis.

This is an all-around year funding

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crisis. A year around staffing

crisis and social care crisis and

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the deer health inequality crisis,

manufactured in Downing Street by

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this government. Isn't the truth

that doctors and nurses have lost

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confidence in him? Patients have

lost confidence in him? The Prime

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Minister in seem to have lost

confidence in him? He fights for his

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own job but he won't fight for the

NHS. Our patients are crying out for

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change.

It is a big deal for

patients who are told that their

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planned procedure is going to be

postponed and no one wants to

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minimise the distress that it

causes, but what happened last year

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and what has happened in previous

winters is that operations have been

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cancelled at the last moment and

that is much more distressing and it

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is much more challenging for

hospitals to plan around that said

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the decision was taken this year to

do it in a much more planned way and

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we actually hope that overall we

will see fewer operations cancelled

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at the last moment.

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And he defended the government

from accusations of under-funding.

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We spent 9.9% of our GDP on health,

that is 1% above the EU average and

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about the same as the EU 15, the

Western countries. We want to spend

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more so this is what we have been

doing, in England from 2011 funding

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went up by 15.6%. In Wales Labour

chose to only increase it by 8%.

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This motion is about money and I

just want to conclude by saying

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this, when it comes to NHS funding,

Labour give the speeches but

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conservatives give the cash.

This

government is putting an extra £437

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million specifically for the winter

period. Would he not at least give

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the government credit for that

planning, which we have never seen

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before?

All of us recognise this is

a particularly tough winter because

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there has been an outbreak of flu on

top of a bad freeze. I would point

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for those of you who think the worst

is passed that the flu season goes

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until March and at the moment this

is an outbreak, it isn't an

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epidemic, it is an outbreak. But it

comes on top of underlying pressures

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and obviously we see right across

the four nations that this is

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involved staff having to really, as

I said, go above and beyond the call

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of duty.

The money they came in the

budget was too little too late. It

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is really hard as a commissioner and

a provider to spend that money when

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you get it at the last minute

because you have to get people to

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come into work in order to do work

to do -- to spend the money. If the

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money had come earlier than they

would have been able to put in place

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better contingencies.

Since 1984I

cannot remember a winter when there

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was not talk of pressure, we have to

understand this is not a new

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phenomenon. I remember particularly

the bad winter of 2009, and

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actually, to be fair, the very

positive way in which the then

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opposition approaches and helped the

government at the time, in the

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interests of not

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politicising and westernising the

issue and it is a pity we haven't

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seen the same repeated.

One of the

real problems or the real absences I

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have seen is any acknowledgement

from ministers about the huge

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knock-on effect rescheduling a whole

month 's worth of operations will

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have. It will simple make patients

already on the waiting list have to

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wait even longer and it will be

very, very difficult to bring back

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down.

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Labour's motion condemning

government spending on the NHS

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was later passed unopposed,

as Conservative MPs continued

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their tactic of abstaining

on opposition motions.

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You're watching Wednesday in

Parliament, with me, Mandy Baker.

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Now the Chief Executive

of the energy regulator Ofgem has

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admitted the organisation should

have done better for

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vulnerable consumers.

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Dermot Nolan was given

something of a roasting

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by the Commons business committee.

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Can you just explain to me how you

think the price cap will help

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vulnerable custard to switch?

By

itself it will not help them to

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switch.

Warble of gem do to make

sure that they do have adequate

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protections for vulnerable

customers?

I would say there are

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three answers to that. First is they

will have a basic level of price

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protection. It strikes me that

standard variable, vulnerable

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customers on standard variable are

now paying some of the highest

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prices in the market and a price cap

will reduce their prices and offer

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them direct protection. The second

point would be in general as we go

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forward, and I think it was said by

the CM a panel before Christmas as

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well, we will attempt to promoting

gauge route and specifically attempt

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to promoting gauge meant for

vulnerable customers and thirdly we

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have a variety of other protections

including the vulnerability

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principle that every supplier in the

market must treat its vulnerable

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customers fairly.

Given that you

accept a high proportion of

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vulnerable customers are being

failed by the current system, isn't

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that a failure of engagement and the

failure of regulation by off gem?

I

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think it is a problem and I accept

that point we could have done better

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and we should have done better on

vulnerable customers. We put in

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place principles for vulnerability

relatively recently which will give

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a strong level of protection.

Given

that you accept you have a statutory

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duty to protect the vulnerable

customers, do you think that you

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have effectively admitted that you

have failed them to date? I think we

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have not done as well as we could

have. I fully accept that.

You are

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the single most important player in

the market because extraordinary

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powers as a regulator and yet your

testimony sounds so incredibly

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passive. Do you ever just roll your

sleeves up and really get stuck in,

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because I don't really see the

evidence that?

I apologise if I seem

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passive, I honestly do not feel

passive. I said before that I wished

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we'd moved earlier in putting price

caps in.

What lessons have you taken

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from that and how has it changed

your behaviour?

We're rolling up our

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sleeves very strongly at the moment

and have been doing so in the last

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year. Since the CMA finished in

terms of bringing forward a price

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cap for vulnerable customers which

is at the limit of the powers that

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we have.

You just admitted that you

wished you'd acted earlier and the

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consequence has been a vulnerable

customers have paid much more money

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than they should have done.

I accept

we should have moved earlier on

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vulnerability.

Due apologise to

those consumers?

I do.

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Dermot Nolan also told

the committee that, if Parliament

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passed the necessary legislation

by the end of July, an energy cap

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could come into effect by Christmas.

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Labour has told ministers that

they're rewarding failure by bailing

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out train companies that

run into trouble.

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In 2014, Virgin and its partner,

Stagecoach, signed a deal to run

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the East Coast line until 2023,

promising the government more

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than £3 billion in premiums.

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But in November, ministers allowed

the companies to withdraw

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from running the service

three years early.

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The Shadow Transport Secretary

condemned the move.

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In 2016, the Department

for Transport set out its aims

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and objectives for rail franchising.

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These were to encourage

a flourishing, competitors passenger

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rail market which secures high

performing value for money services

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for passengers and taxpayers

while driving cost effectiveness.

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Madam Deputy Speaker,

it's clear that the department has

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failed to meet these objectives.

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The latest collapse

of the East Coast franchise

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announced in November makes

a mockery of the

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Department's 2016 aims.

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The Virgin Stagecoach didn't deliver

and defaulted on their contract,

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and the Secretary of State has given

them a gift.

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I'll give way.

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I'm very grateful to my honourable

friend for giving way.

0:13:440:13:46

Given, on the East Coast Main Line,

that this will be the third occasion

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in just over a decade

that the private contractor has

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announced that it wishes

to hand back the keys,

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was it not a fundamental mistake

on the part of the government not

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to have allowed East Coast Trains,

that successfully ran the franchise

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for over five and a half years,

paid back £1 billion

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to the Treasury, to allow

carrying on its good work,

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and instead idealogically demanding

that anyone could bid to run it

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but not the company that had

done it so successfully?

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My right honourable friend has made

an absolutely perfect point,

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and it's a theme that will be

consistent throughout this debate,

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I have absolutely no doubt.

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Indeed, the government should have

followed the example of Labour

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in 2009 when the operator defaulted

and taken the contract back

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into the public sector.

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If a company defaults,

it doesn't deserve the contract.

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That way, there'd be

no reward for failure,

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and other companies in the industry

wouldn't expect the same treatment.

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When it came to his turn, the

Transport Secretary was scathing.

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We've just heard something like 45

minutes of complete nonsense

0:14:540:14:58

from the party opposite.

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I suspect you might also say it

would be unparliamentary of me

0:15:000:15:03

to call him hypocritical,

so I would call him personally

0:15:030:15:06

hypocritical, but I've no doubt that

others in the know will be

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astonished by the gall

with which they simply

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forget their actions in government

with which they pretend their ideas

0:15:120:15:15

won't cost a penny.

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I keep hearing their ideas

won't cost a penny,

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it's absolutely untrue,

and with which they make inaccurate

0:15:180:15:21

claims based on a lack

of facts on subjects

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they appear not understand.

0:15:230:15:26

Chris Grayling.

0:15:260:15:27

The Government has been warned that

moves to cut the size of the House

0:15:270:15:31

of Lords could be undermined

if the Prime Minister

0:15:310:15:33

appoints new peers.

0:15:330:15:35

Reports have suggested Theresa May

is preparing to create 12

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new Conservative peers to help get

Brexit legislation

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through the Lords.

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In a debate last year,

there was strong support among peers

0:15:430:15:46

for the recommendations

of a committee led by

0:15:460:15:48

the independent peer Lord Burns

to reduce the numbers

0:15:480:15:52

from 800 to 600.

0:15:520:15:54

At Question Time, Mrs May

was urged to show restraint.

0:15:540:15:58

Would it not be an embarrassment

and make a nonsense of any further

0:15:580:16:02

consideration of the Burns report

if the Prime Minister was to go

0:16:020:16:06

ahead and make a series

of nominations before we had

0:16:060:16:11

considered it fully?

0:16:110:16:14

The point that the noble Lord

has just made was made

0:16:140:16:17

during the debate and I thought,

if I may say so, it was dealt

0:16:170:16:21

with very well indeed

by the Lord Butler of Brockwell

0:16:210:16:25

and he said this.

0:16:250:16:26

We are told that a further

list of appointments

0:16:260:16:28

is about to be published,

but I do not share the apocalyptic

0:16:280:16:31

view expressed earlier

by the noble Lord, Lord Steel.

0:16:310:16:35

I believe this can be regarded

as a legacy issue arising

0:16:350:16:38

from the May general election that

does not inhibit the adoption

0:16:380:16:41

of the approach in the Burns report.

0:16:410:16:43

I hope the noble Lord

is reassured by the words

0:16:430:16:46

of the former Cabinet Secretary.

0:16:460:16:48

If the government is prepared

to accept the Burns proposals,

0:16:480:16:52

and that includes departures

from and introductions to this House

0:16:520:16:57

on the basis of two out, one in,

as on a 15-year term limit,

0:16:570:17:02

probably from the last general

election, we will abide by that.

0:17:020:17:08

Will the government

agree to do so as well?

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As I said, the government

is considering the report

0:17:120:17:14

and will make its views known

shortly, but if I can just pick up

0:17:140:17:17

the point that the noble

Baroness made in her speech,

0:17:170:17:21

and she made a good speech, if I may

say so, as did my noble friend,

0:17:210:17:27

the Leader of the Lib Dems?

0:17:270:17:28

What she said was this.

0:17:280:17:30

It is not about giving up

patronage or appointments

0:17:300:17:32

but about showing some restraint,

as it used to be.

0:17:320:17:34

Now, the Prime Minister has

demonstrated restraint.

0:17:340:17:37

Putting on one side David Cameron's

resignation honours,

0:17:370:17:41

in the last 18 months,

the Prime Minister has

0:17:410:17:43

appointed eight new peers -

five crossbenchers and three

0:17:430:17:48

ministers.

0:17:480:17:49

Now, I think that is demonstrating

the restraint that the noble

0:17:490:17:54

lady has just asked for.

0:17:540:17:56

Is there not another way that this

little dilemma might be resolved?

0:17:560:18:00

Quite clearly, if you look

at the electorate as a whole

0:18:000:18:04

and the votes which have been cast

at recent elections,

0:18:040:18:07

the Lib Dem peers are grossly

overrepresented here!

0:18:070:18:12

Suppose 50 of them did

the decent thing and resign,

0:18:120:18:16

this would all be resolved!

0:18:160:18:21

I think that question,

if I may say so, from my noble

0:18:210:18:24

friend is not addressed to me

but addressed to

0:18:240:18:26

the benches opposite.

0:18:260:18:28

It is indeed the case that,

on almost any objective basis,

0:18:280:18:33

the Liberal Democrats

are overrepresented and,

0:18:330:18:35

in credit to them, they actually

recognised this join the debate.

0:18:350:18:38

The noble Lord, Lord Newby,

when he spoke on behalf

0:18:380:18:41

of the Lib Dems, recognised

that their numbers would have

0:18:410:18:45

to come down under the proposals

of the Burns report.

0:18:450:18:48

Whether one could expect

the Lib Dems to unilaterally

0:18:480:18:52

cut their numbers without anybody

else doing anything at all would be

0:18:520:18:56

to exhibit a generosity

for which the Liberal Democrats

0:18:560:18:58

are not well known!

0:18:580:19:01

The whole of the proposals

of the Lord Speaker's Committee

0:19:010:19:04

are dependent on the Prime Minister

accepting the proposal

0:19:040:19:09

and the principle that is inherent

right through their report that it

0:19:090:19:12

must be two out before

they=re can be one in.

0:19:120:19:19

Will the ministers on the front

bench make that clear

0:19:190:19:22

to the Prime Minister?

0:19:220:19:23

And if she's not prepared to respect

that, how can we expect anything

0:19:230:19:26

to come from this exercise?

0:19:260:19:27

I thought he struck a slightly

different tone in his wind-up speech

0:19:270:19:30

to that of his noble friend,

Lord Newby.

0:19:300:19:33

Winding up for the Liberal

Democrats, despite what the noble

0:19:330:19:36

Lord has just said, he referred

to Burns as a temporary

0:19:360:19:39

expedient, a process

appropriate for the membership

0:19:390:19:42

of the gentleman's club,

an incestuous process that

0:19:420:19:45

runs the risk of leading

to our abolition.

0:19:450:19:48

That doesn't sound to me

like wholehearted support for Burns!

0:19:480:19:55

The understated view of Lord Young.

0:19:550:19:57

The House of Lords has voted

for a proposal requiring

0:19:570:20:00

the Government to proceed

with the second stage

0:20:000:20:02

of the Leveson Inquiry.

0:20:020:20:04

Stage two would examine unlawful

conduct by media organisations

0:20:040:20:08

and the relationship

between journalists and the police.

0:20:080:20:12

The Government opposed

the amendment, but it was approved

0:20:120:20:14

by 238 votes to 209.

0:20:140:20:20

The Brexit debate of the day

concerned the return of the EU

0:20:200:20:23

Withdrawal Bill to the Commons next

week and, more particularly,

0:20:230:20:27

Clause 11 of it.

0:20:270:20:28

This is all about the restriction

on the ability of the devolved

0:20:280:20:31

legislatures to modify

retained EU law.

0:20:310:20:35

A Conservative raised the issue of

LCMs or Legislative Consent Motions.

0:20:350:20:41

The minister will be aware that

personal assurances were given to me

0:20:410:20:44

and colleagues that the government

would bring forward amendments

0:20:440:20:48

to clause 11 of the Repeal Bill,

and it has failed to do so.

0:20:480:20:51

Can he assure me that the government

remains committed to working

0:20:510:20:54

with the devolved administrations

to find a form of words that will be

0:20:540:20:57

agreed and allow LCM to be passed?

0:20:570:20:59

I can certainly give

my honourable friend

0:20:590:21:02

that commitment and,

when I spoke to the Deputy First

0:21:020:21:04

Minister of Scotland last night,

I said that we were disappointed

0:21:040:21:09

that we had not been able to reach

agreement with the devolved

0:21:090:21:12

administrations on an acceptable

form of words for such an amendment

0:21:120:21:16

but that I was committed now

to intensifying our discussions

0:21:160:21:19

with the devolved administrations

to seek to reach an agreed form

0:21:190:21:22

of words in time for proceedings

in the House of Lords.

0:21:220:21:25

The Scottish Nationalists

returned to the issue

0:21:250:21:27

at Prime Minister's Questions,

quoting Paul Masterton.

0:21:270:21:31

The government's EU withdrawal bill

is quite simply not fit for purpose

0:21:310:21:35

and must be changed.

0:21:350:21:38

These are not my words.

0:21:380:21:39

These are the words

of the honourable member

0:21:390:21:41

for East Renfrewshire.

0:21:410:21:43

Does the Prime Minister

agree with her colleague

0:21:430:21:46

that we must amend clause 11,

which is nothing more

0:21:460:21:49

than a power grab from Scotland?

0:21:490:21:55

The honourable gentleman knows

full well that we have

0:21:550:21:58

said that we will look

to improve clause 11.

0:21:580:22:00

Indeed, if he was in his place

when my right honourable friend,

0:22:000:22:05

the Chancellor, the Duchy

of Lancaster, was answering

0:22:050:22:06

questions earlier, he made it very

clear that we continue to look

0:22:060:22:10

to amend clause 11.

0:22:100:22:12

We are, however, and this

is something I discussed

0:22:120:22:14

with the First Minister before

Christmas, we are looking to work

0:22:140:22:19

with the devolved administrations

to ensure that we put the right

0:22:190:22:22

frameworks in place so that,

when we come to bring

0:22:220:22:24

any amendment forward,

it is being donw in

0:22:240:22:32

possible way in the interests

of all concerned.

0:22:320:22:34

I thought that had been

accepted by the SNP,

0:22:340:22:36

but we will be looking to bring

forward amendments in the Lords.

0:22:360:22:39

Ian Blackford.

0:22:390:22:40

Mr Speaker, that simply

is not good enough!

0:22:400:22:42

The Secretary of State for Scotland

promised a power bonanza

0:22:420:22:44

for Scotland and that,

crucially, amendments would be

0:22:440:22:48

tabled ahead of next week's debate.

0:22:480:22:50

Yesterday, it was revealed that no

amendments would be lodged.

0:22:500:22:54

The Tories always promise Scotland

everything and deliver nothing.

0:22:540:22:59

The Prime Minister

has one last chance.

0:22:590:23:02

Will she assure the House

that these amendments will be

0:23:020:23:04

tabled ahead of next

week, as promised?

0:23:040:23:11

The SNP say they want to work

with us on the future frameworks,

0:23:110:23:17

and we are doing exactly that.

0:23:170:23:19

They say they want clause

11 amended, and we are

0:23:190:23:21

doing exactly that.

0:23:210:23:23

My right honourable friend

is intensifying his discussions

0:23:230:23:26

with the Scottish Government

and indeed with the Executive

0:23:260:23:30

in Wales as part of this.

0:23:300:23:34

We will be bringing forward

amendments, but the honourable

0:23:340:23:37

gentleman says that this

is a government that never

0:23:370:23:39

delivers for Scotland.

0:23:390:23:40

£2 billion extra as a

result of the budget.

0:23:400:23:43

That's delivering for Scotland!

0:23:430:23:45

On a scale between 1-10,

how does the Prime Minister

0:23:450:23:48

think her Brexit is going,

with ten being all going perfectly,

0:23:480:23:52

we know what we want to achieve

and we know how to get it,

0:23:520:23:55

and one being chaotic cluelessness?

0:23:550:23:57

I know what I'd give

the Prime Minister.

0:23:570:23:59

What would she give herself?

0:23:590:24:03

Can I say to the honourable

gentleman that I think...

0:24:030:24:09

At this point, out of camera shot,

Pete Wishart held up a banner

0:24:090:24:12

which read "nul point".

0:24:120:24:15

Let me just say to the honourable

gentleman, who I've known

0:24:150:24:17

for a long time, I think,

when he comes to reflect

0:24:170:24:20

on his conduct, he'll know he can

do better than that.

0:24:200:24:24

He can do better than that.

0:24:250:24:26

The Prime Minister.

0:24:260:24:27

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

0:24:270:24:36

Can I say to the honourable

gentleman that I think anybody

0:24:360:24:39

who saw the success we had

in negotiating phase one of Brexit

0:24:390:24:41

and getting that sufficient

progress will say that,

0:24:410:24:43

actually, this is a government that

knows what it's doing and is getting

0:24:430:24:46

on with the job and is doing well?

0:24:460:24:48

But she wouldn't put a figure on it.

0:24:480:24:50

Well, during the course of the day,

there were many words

0:24:500:24:53

of congratulation for the various

ministers who gained or moved

0:24:530:24:55

jobs in the reshuffle.

0:24:550:24:56

One of the main talking points

on Monday was the erroneous and then

0:24:560:24:59

hastily deleted tweet

from Conservative Central Office

0:24:590:25:01

that Chris Grayling had been made

chairman of the party.

0:25:010:25:04

The Shadow Transport Secretary felt

it important to mark Mr Grayling's

0:25:040:25:07

very brief achievement.

0:25:070:25:10

And I also want to congratulate

the Secretary of State

0:25:100:25:12

for his superb stewardship

of the Conservative Party.

0:25:120:25:17

There's never been a finer record.

0:25:170:25:20

No elections lost, no major

scandals, and I think he's

0:25:200:25:23

maintained his membership of around

70,000, so not bad for 27 seconds'

0:25:230:25:27

work, so all the best to him.

0:25:270:25:30

Chris Grayling - the mayfly

of Conservative chairmen.

0:25:300:25:35

And that's all we've got time for.

0:25:350:25:36

So, for now, from me,

Mandy Baker, goodbye.

0:25:360:25:42