17/01/2018 Wednesday in Parliament


17/01/2018

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 17 January, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello and welcome to

Wednesday in Parliament.

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On this programme:

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Jeremy Corbyn

attacks the Government's handling

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of Carillion's collapse.

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But Theresa May says

the Labour party has turned

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this isn't one isolated case of

government negligence and corporate

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failure.

It has a broken system.

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But Theresa May says

the Labour party has turned

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its back on investment,

growth and jobs.

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A Labour Party that will always put

politics before people.

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Peers demand answers

about why so many nurses

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are leaving England's NHS.

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And MPs hear about the

children as young as 12

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being used by drug gangs.

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They are trafficked to remote areas

and forced to deal drugs in squalid

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conditions.

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But first, Jeremy Corbyn,

has accused ministers of negligence

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for continuing to award contracts

to the construction firm Carillion,

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after it issued

profit warnings last year.

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The firm went into liquidation

at the start of the week.

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Carillion has around 450

public sector contracts,

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from NHS cleaning to

school dinners, and prisons.

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It's also involved in the

HS2 high-speed rail line

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and maintenance for Network Rail.

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Jeremy Corbyn thought ministers

had some explaining to do.

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In the last six months, the

government has awarded more than £2

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billion worth of contracts to

Carillion. It did so even after the

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share price was in freefall, and the

company had issued profit warnings.

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Why did the government do that?

If

it was the case that the government

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pulled out of contracts, or indeed

private-sector companies pulled out

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of contracts, whenever a profit

warning was issued, that would be

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the best way to ensure that

companies failed and jobs were lost.

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It looks like the government was

handing Carillion public contracts,

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either to keep the company afloat,

which clearly hasn't worked, or it

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was just deeply negligent of the

crisis that was coming down the

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line.

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I am very happy to answer questions,

when the right or gentleman asks

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one.

He didn't. Carillion went into

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bankruptcy with debts we understand

to be 1.29 billion, and a further

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pension deficit, and at this time,

this country is paying out

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ever-increasing shareholder

dividends wildly excessive bonuses

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to directors

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dividends wildly excessive bonuses

to directors, and today, workers on

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private sector Carillion contracts

will no longer be paid. However, the

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chief executive will be paid for

another ten months. One rule for the

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super-rich, another for everybody

else. Can the Prime Minister assure

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the house today that not a single

penny more will go to the Chief

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Executive or the directors of this

company?

He has raised the issue of

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bonuses, and of course, people are

concerned about this issue and are

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rightly asking questions about it.

That's why we are making sure that

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the official receiver's

investigation into the business

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dealings of the company has fast

tracked, that looks into the conduct

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not just of current directors but

also of previous directors and their

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actions, and that the official

receiver does have the powers to

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ensure that, in reviewing payments

to executives, where those payments

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are unlawful or unjustified, he can

take action to recover those

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payments.

The Right Honourable gentleman said

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earlier on one of his questions it

was the government's job to ensure

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that Korean was properly managed. We

were a customer of Carillion, not

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the manager of Caribbean, and that

is a very important difference, --

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Carillion was properly managed. It

is also important that we have

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protected taxpayers from an

unacceptable bail out of a private

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company.

This isn't one isolated case of

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negligence and corporate failure. It

is a broken system.

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Under this government, Virgin and

Stagecoach can spectacularly

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mismanaged the East Coast Mainline

and be let off a £2 billion payment.

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Capita and Atos can continue to

wreck the lives, through damaging

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disability assessments, of many

people with disabilities, and win

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more government funded contracts.

G4S promised to provide security at

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the Olympics, failed to do so, and

the army had to step in and save the

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day. These corporations, Mr Speaker,

need to be shown the door. We need

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our public services provided by

public employees with a public

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service ethos and a strong public

oversight. As the ruins of Carillion

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lie around her, will the Prime

Minister act to end this costly

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racket of the relationship between

government and some of these

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companies?

I might first of all remind the

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Right Honourable gentleman that a

third of the Carillion contracts

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with the government were let by the

Labour government. What Labour

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opposed isn't just a role for

private companies in public

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services, but the private sector as

a whole. The vast majority of people

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in this country in employment are

employed by the private sector, but

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the Shadow Chancellor calls

businesses the real enemy. Labour

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wants the highest taxes in our

peacetime history, they have

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policies that would cause a run on

the pound. This is a Labour Party

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that has turned its back on

investment, on growth, on jobs, a

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Labour Party that will always put

politics before people.

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The SNP Westminster group

leader turned to Brexit.

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Can the Prime Minister tell the

house what official advice she has

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had on the impact on the UK economy

from leaving the EU single market,

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and when she requested any such

advice?

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Well, I have to say to the

honourable gentleman that of course,

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as we go through the Brexit

negotiations, we are constantly

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looking at the impact of the

decisions that are taken and what

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impact it will have on our economy.

We want to make sure we maintain

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good access, good, COBRA hints of

free trade agreement with the

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European Union, while also, as

leaving the EU, we will be able to

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ensure we get good free trade

agreements with other parts of the

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world.

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Well, the effect of leaving

the single market

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and the customs union came up

in the last day of Commons debate

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on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

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As it entered its final stages,

a number of MPs put down amendments

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trying to make further changes

to the bill.

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In a debate heavily

dominated by remainers,

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Labour's Ian Murray proposed

that the government must publish

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an impact assessment

on both staying in

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and leaving the single

market and customs union.

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And those assessments should be done

before MPs held their final vote

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on the overall deal.

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We need the government to put this

house, so both houses, a full,

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independently assessed analysis of

the impact on the economy of the

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United Kingdom, comparing two

conclusions to this debate - staying

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in the single market and the customs

union, or coming out and looking at

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the deal the government proposes.

The reason the government will

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resist this new clause is not

through any principle, it is because

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they know that a negotiated deal

they come back with, the deal will

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not be as good as the one we have

today. That will be saying to the

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public, they will be bringing back a

deal that makes a country poorer.

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Some of my right honourable and

honourable runs on the side of the

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house seems positively relish the

prospect of the negotiations

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collapsing and our leaving the EU

with absolutely no deal at all. I

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happen to believe it would probably

be the single most catastrophic act

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perpetrated by any government on

this country in modern history. So I

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don't intend to allow that to

happen. So, I simply make the point

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to my friends on the front bench who

have this difficult task of taking

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this project forward, that the point

that is raised in new Clause 17 may

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not be the right place to amend a

piece of legislation which is not

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particularly germane to it, but my

goodness, it is a relevant point to

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make. Because at what point can this

house, and indeed, the public, have

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a proper understanding of what the

government has in fact succeeded in

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negotiating? At the moment, it

reminds me so much of that company

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set up during the South Sea bubble

in the early 18th century which

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said, a company of great and

innocent -- inestimable value to

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shareholders, nobody to know what it

is. And that is what we are being

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asked, regularly and on a daily

basis, to sign up to, while the

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negotiations proceed.

The government

has ruled out membership of the

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single market and Customs union.

Everyone recognises that the single

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market issues are complex, link as

they are two issues around

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immigration and also to questions

around how we deal with future

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rules. But that makes more important

for Parliament and the public to be

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able to scrutinise the government's

decisions on those complex issues,

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and to do so, we need to know the

facts and the impact on the economy

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and on our constituencies.

56% of Scotland's international

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exports are either to the European

Union or two to countries which have

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a free trade agreement. This could

increase to 90% by the time we leave

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the single market and a customs

union. How much of that is

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absolutely unconditionally

guaranteed to still be available

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after we leave? Right now, Mr

Speaker, the answer is nil, or very

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close to nil.

Were we to say to the British people

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that their express will in a binary

choice to leave the European Union

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were to be frustrated, through

obfuscation, prevarication, delay,

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confusion, that the trust between

this house and the people would be

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broken in a way that would be very

hard indeed to mend, so the cost

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would be not only to everyone here

but to the system as a whole for a

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very long time indeed.

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Well, summing up the minister

didn't address those demands

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for an impact assessment directly.

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There then followed

a series of votes,

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all of which

the Government won,

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meaning the bill

was able to go on

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for its final reading

in the Commons.

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A former cabinet minister argued

Brexit had to work for everyone.

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And so the Brexit Secretary

came to the chamber

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to make one final speech on the bill

before it went to the House of Lords

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to be scrutinised by Peers.

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Mr Speaker, we are sending an

improved piece of legislation

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onwards to the other place, and I

hope that that house will

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acknowledge the substance and spirit

of the debate and scrutiny this bill

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has received thus far, and that

debate there will unfold in the same

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constructive way that it has in our

house.

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But his Labour opposite

number disagreed.

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This Bill has never been fit for

purpose. It was not fit for purpose

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when it started its life last year,

and after 64 hours at committee and

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ten hours at report, it is still not

fit for purpose.

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It is fit for purpose, however, for

implementing the greatest festival

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of democracy that we have ever known

in this country!

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Where in June 20 17 million of our

citizens voted to leave the EU.

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The SNP put down an amendment,

saying the bill shouldn't

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get its final third reading

in the Commons,

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in effect wrecking it.

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Ian Blackford argued the bill

was incompatible with devolution.

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In declining a third reading this

evening, we send a clear signal to

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the government that this has cannot

allow the commitments made and

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broken to pass. It is the last

chance for Scottish Tory MPs to join

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us and to stand up for the devolved

settlement.

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But that SNP amendment was defeated

by 322 votes to 295,

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But that SNP amendment was defeated

by 322 votes to 295.

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The bill went on to

get its third reading

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and will now go off

to the House of Lords.

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You're watching

Wednesday in Parliament

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with me, Alicia McCarthy.

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And if you want to keep up

with events in Parliament

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as they unfold you can find live

coverage of the day's debates

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on our website -

bbc.co.uk/parliament

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MPs have been told that children

as young as 12 are being used

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by gangs to traffic drugs

across the country

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Known as "county lines",

the gangs use the youngsters

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to transport drugs, weapons

and money between cities

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and smaller towns.

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The National Crime Agency says

there are at least 720

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of these lines in England

and Wales, with 283 coming

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out of London alone.

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The Labour MP, Joan Ryan, raised

the wide reaching criminal activity

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in a Westminster Hall debate.

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Vulnerable children as young as 12

are being groomed by county Lions

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goings with promises of money,

companionship and respect. But in

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reality they are often forced to go

missing from home for long periods

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of time, they are used as drug

mules, with orifices plugged with

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class A drugs, predominantly heroin

and crack cocaine, they are

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trafficked to remote areas and

forced to deal drugs in squalid

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conditions. At all times, they are

at great personal risk. Risk of

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arrest by the police, which is in

fact probably the only time they are

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really safe, or from physical or

sexual abuse from older gang

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members, local drug users or rival

gangs.

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A Labour MP said she first found out

about the problem when a mother came

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to her about her son,

who'd been arrested for trafficking

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drugs between London and Portsmouth.

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Her son was involved in running

drugs from Lewisham to the south

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coast. There are currently 317 under

25s from Lewisham believed to be

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involved in that activity, of which

about 200 or of school age. They are

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supplying drugs in 19 different

counties. That is 200 school-aged

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children from one London Borough out

of 32. This is not an insignificant

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problem. In my first term as a

member of Parliament, I visited the

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parents of three boys who had been

stabbed to death in my constituency.

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I never want to do that again. I

fear is that the post wars of seven

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or eight years ago, where gangs were

defined by territory, violence

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escalated through revenge stabbings,

this is being replaced with gangs

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running drugs down to different

parts of the country. The outcomes

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of people being stabbed and poor

kids living in fear, are exactly the

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same.

Drug gangs targeted vulnerable

young people, including, sadly, as

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we have heard from the Honourable

Member for Stockport, children in

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care and those that have had very

difficult times at home. They

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deliberately target those children

because they know that they are

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susceptible to peer pressure, they

are susceptible to the influence of

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these adults. They beguile, they

entice, they flatter and they

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befriend them. When they have

ensnared them, they put them to

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criminal work. It is exploitation,

pure and simple, and this is why I

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am so pleased that we are beginning

to see these cases prosecuted under

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the modern slavery act, so that we

give them the stigma that they

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deserve, as well as tackling their

criminality.

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Victoria Atkins.

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Under changes made three

years ago the Probation

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Service was split in two.

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High risk offenders were supervised

by the state run service.

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While low to medium

risk cases were handed

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to Community Rehabilitation

Companies.

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New rules were also imposed

so anyone sentenced to under 12

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months in prison had to be

supervised on release.

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That meant the number of cases

has risen by a fifth.

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Labour member of the Public Accounts

committee Shabana Mahmood

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could barely believe that this

increase hadn't been anticipated.

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I can tell you for nothing, I am no

expert in this area, but four times

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a month in my surgery I see people

who fall into this category and they

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are the hardest to help. They have

chaotic lives. All of the things

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that you said in your answers about

an hour ago. I can tell you that for

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free. Your department does not

appear to have anticipated that

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level of change. I am worried that

this level of expertise and basic

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common sense appears to desert

officials in the department that the

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point where you negotiate contracts.

That it is not right. The new code

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was anticipated and custard for.

It

was clear from the outset, the

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providers knew they would have a

higher caseload because they were

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taking on short sentenced prisoners

that were not on the system before.

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Community orders have reduced,

suspended sentence orders have gone

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up, but they also have a higher

caseload because of the people

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coming out of prison. Those

individuals, through those services,

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the ones least paid for the service

because they are the ones where we

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pay less upfront because the

expectation is that if they are

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successful with that group they will

gain income from the payment by

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results. So, they expected that.

What they didn't expect was the

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reduction in community sentences

and, specifically, the change in

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activity requirements on the

community sentences from the

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activities that got greater income

towards that got less income on

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contracts.

My point was referring to

the fact that this is an ecosystem

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of types of prisoner, sorts of

things we can expect from types of

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prisoner, the behaviour of the

ports. This is something that is the

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bread-and-butter of your department.

Also, the sort of organisations that

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are providing the services by way of

CRCs and the charity sector. You

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don't have too delve into the sector

very much to work out where the

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pressure points out. I'm concerned

that time and again, and we have

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this before when we talked about

economic monitoring, the expertise

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that should be inherent within the

operational capacity of the ministry

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seems to desert the officials at the

point at which contracts are

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negotiated. You would agree that are

simply not good enough?

I think this

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demonstrates the complexity of

trying to their service like this,

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the contracts which we are adjusting

reflect complexity. I cannot argue

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with the fact that the changes are

much greater than we anticipated,

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anybody anticipated, us or those

that are going to deliver the

0:20:180:20:23

services. That demonstrates the

degree of volatility that there can

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be in a system where we are reliant

on demand being determined by

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others.

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New figures show that one in ten

nurses are leaving the NHS

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in England every year.

0:20:340:20:35

And last year more than 33,000

nurses gave up their jobs -

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that's 3.000 more than

joined the service.

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When Labour raised the issue

the Lords a Health Minister insisted

0:20:410:20:44

nursing numbers had

increased since 2010.

0:20:440:20:52

Including 11,700 more nurses on

hospital wards. In order to retain

0:20:520:20:57

more of these hard-working staff,

and to build a workforce fit for the

0:20:570:21:01

future, the Government is increasing

the number of moves trading places

0:21:010:21:06

by 25%, supporting new, flexible

working arrangements in the NHS and

0:21:060:21:10

delivering a new homes for nurses

programme.

Even for the minister,

0:21:100:21:17

that is remarkably complacent. The

overall number of nurses might be

0:21:170:21:20

rising, but that has not kept pace

with the increasing number of

0:21:200:21:23

patients. For years, the Government

has failed to recruit new recruits

0:21:230:21:28

coming through, while failed policy

decisions like the NHS pay cap, the

0:21:280:21:34

ending of the NHS bursary,

contribute to a growing crisis.

0:21:340:21:36

There are now more than 100,000

vacant posts in the NHS. My Lords,

0:21:360:21:42

will the Minister accept the need to

lift the pay cap, fund proper rises

0:21:420:21:46

for nurses, restore bursaries and

support this precious profession,

0:21:460:21:52

who have been so unappreciated by

this government EU?

The noble Lord

0:21:520:21:58

is quite wrong to say that they are

underappreciated, they are deeply

0:21:580:22:01

appreciated by everybody in this

country, including members of this

0:22:010:22:04

Parliament. Of course we want to

reduce the number of nurses leaving

0:22:040:22:10

the profession. It is important to

point out that they are down onto

0:22:100:22:13

two years ago, the peak, in number

or proportion. The number of nurses

0:22:130:22:21

has risen over that period.

Can my

noble friend tell me how many of the

0:22:210:22:27

nurses that have left the NHS are

now working for agencies and are

0:22:270:22:30

still in the same hospitals, the

same wards, doing the same work, but

0:22:300:22:37

costing the taxpayer rather more

money?

Well, in the last few years

0:22:370:22:43

there had been an increase in agency

spend. It does tend to be more

0:22:430:22:53

expensive. We have managed to reduce

agency spend by reducing the

0:22:530:22:57

availability of what are called

nursing banks, the people employed

0:22:570:23:00

on flexible contracts. That is very

welcome for many nurses looking for,

0:23:000:23:03

they say this in staff surveys,

looking for more flexible

0:23:030:23:12

conditions. Cyber-criminal of those

leaving the profession are new

0:23:120:23:14

recruits, many of them --

Many of

them are leaving the profession and

0:23:140:23:21

they are new recruits, but I ask, it

costs £20,000 to trade a nurse. Any

0:23:210:23:27

employer with sense would want to

retain them, and when they have

0:23:270:23:32

left, would like to know why they

have left, where they have gone and

0:23:320:23:35

how we can get them back.

We know

that pay is important, that is

0:23:350:23:41

lifting the cap makes an important

difference to show how we value

0:23:410:23:42

these staff.

0:23:420:23:43

Lord O'Shaughnessy.

0:23:430:23:45

Later in the Lords, the Government

suffered a heavy defeat

0:23:450:23:47

after a former head of the judiciary

criticised plans to give

0:23:470:23:50

ministers the power to create

new criminal offences.

0:23:500:23:53

Lord Judge, who is a former

Lord Chief Justice of England

0:23:530:23:55

and Wales, told peers,

proposals to allow ministers

0:23:550:23:57

to create new money laundering

offences without having to get

0:23:570:24:00

a new bill passed by parliament

were "constitutionally troublesome".

0:24:000:24:05

The amendment won cross party

support and the Government

0:24:050:24:07

was defeated by 264 votes to 184,

a majority of 80 votes.

0:24:070:24:17

Finally there was a warm welcome

at PMQs for one bit of Euronews.

0:24:190:24:22

The revelation that the the Bayeux

Tapestry is set to be

0:24:220:24:24

displayed in the UK.

0:24:240:24:28

The tapestry tells the story

of the future William I's

0:24:280:24:30

conquest of England,

culminating in the Battle

0:24:300:24:32

of Hastings and the defeat

of Harold in 1066.

0:24:320:24:36

It is on permanent display

at a museum in the town of Bayeux,

0:24:360:24:39

in Normandy, and has very

rarely been moved.

0:24:390:24:42

The tapestry is unlikely to be

transferred before 2020.

0:24:420:24:45

But at PMQs one MP was putting

in an early bid to host it.

0:24:450:24:55

I understand London has been

mentioned as a potential host to the

0:24:550:24:59

Bayeux Tapestry. Given that visitors

to London who wish to see two size

0:24:590:25:06

chucking things at each other are

already catered for by the gallery

0:25:060:25:09

in this chamber, code the Prime

Minister put in a good word for

0:25:090:25:13

Battle Abbey in Sussex, where

viewers can not only see the

0:25:130:25:16

tapestry, but look through the

window and see the rolling east

0:25:160:25:20

Sussex countryside, where sadly the

Normans gave the Saxons six of the

0:25:200:25:24

best?

I bid that he put in. From a

sedentary position on the front

0:25:240:25:28

bench, my right honourable friend

the Home Secretary and member for

0:25:280:25:32

Hastings is also putting in a bid

for this particular issue. I am sure

0:25:320:25:36

we will be looking very carefully to

make sure the maximum number of

0:25:360:25:39

people can take benefit of seeing

this tapestry.

0:25:390:25:41

Theresa May.

0:25:410:25:42

And that's it from me for now,

but do join me at the same time

0:25:420:25:46

tomorrow for another round up

of the best of the day

0:25:460:25:49

here at Westminster.

0:25:490:25:49

But for now from me, goodbye

0:25:490:25:51

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