28/02/2018 Wednesday in Parliament


28/02/2018

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 28 February, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Hello there, and welcome

to Wednesday in Parliament,

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where Theresa May makes clear

she will reject EU proposals

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on Northern Ireland's border.

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And denies a rift in her government.

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The Foreign Secretary and I,

are absolutely committed to ensuring

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that we deliver on no hard border

between Northern

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Ireland and Ireland.

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Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime

Minister is incapable of delivering

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a coherent Brexit plan.

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When is she going to put

the country's interests

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before the outsized egos

of her own Cabinet?

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Hear, hear!

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Also on this programme:

The international development

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secretary says she is considering

stopping aid to a number

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of charities in the wake

of misconduct claims.

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And in the Lords, there's a dire

warning about the future of retail.

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Retail trading may decline

by 22% in the next year.

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And really, it is time

for the Government to move

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very urgently indeed.

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But first, Theresa May has told MPs

the EU's draft Brexit withdrawal

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agreement would threaten

the constitutional integrity

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of the United Kingdom.

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The European commission

has published a draft

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version of the treaty,

based on negotiations

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held last year.

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On the contentious issue

of the Irish border,

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it proposes in effect keeping

Northern Ireland in a customs union.

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If solutions cannot be found

for the post Brexit border.

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But a prime Ministers questions,

Theresa May said no UK

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Prime Minister could ever

agree to it.

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The draft, legal text the commission

had published would, if implemented,

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undermined the UK Common Market

and threaten constitutional

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integrity of the UK by creating

a customs and regulatory

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border down the Irish Sea.

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And no UK Prime Minister

could ever agree to it.

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Hear, hear!

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Jeremy Corbyn turned his attention

to the Cabinet meeting at checkers,

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at the end of last week.

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Which was organized the thrash out

the Government's Brexit ambitions.

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Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister

emerged from her checkers away

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day to promise a Brexit

of 'ambitious managed divergence'.

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LAUGHTER.

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Could she tell the country

what on earth ambitious managed

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divergence will mean in practice?

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Hear, hear!

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He asks me about the Government's

position on the European Union.

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Well, it's very simple.

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We want to deliver on the pros

of his people that means

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we will bring back control

of our laws, our

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borders and our money.

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Now, of course, that is in direct

contrast with the Labour Party's

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position who want to be in a customs

union and a have free movement

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and pay whatever it takes

to pay the EU.

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That would mean giving away

control of our laws,

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our borders and our money.

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Hear, hear!

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And that would be a betrayal

of the British people.

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Jeremy Corbyn didn't turn

to the Northern Ireland border,

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and a leaked letter

from the Foreign Secretary Boris

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Johnson to Theresa May.

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In it he said the Government should

focus on preventing the order

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from becoming significantly harder.

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And that comment came hot

on the heels of a BBC interview,

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where he compared the issue

to crossing between London

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boroughs and the use

of the congestion charge.

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Three months ago, the Foreign

Secretary told the House with regard

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to Northern Ireland, and I quote,

"There can be no hard border.

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That would be unthinkable."

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That's what he said.

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Yet, in a leaked letter

to be prime Minister,

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he wrote, "Even if a hard

border is reintroduced,

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we would expect to see 95%

plus of goods pass."

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He's shouting at the moment.

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He's obviously mixing up the border

with the Camden-Islington border.

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Hey!

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LAUGHTER.

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So, Mr Speaker.

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Hey!

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Mr Speaker, can the Prime Minister

confirm that she will not renege

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on commitments made in phase one

to keep an open border in Ireland?

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The foreign secretary

and I are absolutely committed

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to ensuring that we deliver on no

hard border between Northern

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Ireland and Ireland.

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Hear, hear!

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That's the position of the UK

government, it's the position

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of the parties in Northern Ireland,

it's the position of the Irish

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government and it was what we agreed

in the December agreement

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of the joint report.

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We are all committed

to ensuring there is...

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No hard border between Northern

Ireland and Ireland.

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The Government is so divided

the Prime Minister is incapable

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of delivering a coherent

and decisive plan for Brexit.

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Hear, hear!

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So when is she going to put

the countries' interests

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before the outsized egos

of her own Cabinet?

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But Theresa May insisted her

government would not only deliver

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on Brexit, but on housing,

schools and the environment.

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But the SNPs Westminster

leader returned to te

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Northern Ireland border issue.

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The Foreign Secretary's leaked

letter on the Irish border shows

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he cannot get to grips with one

of the most fundamental

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issues of Brexit.

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The Foreign Secretary

compared to crossing

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the Irish border to going

between Camden and Westminster.

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Frankly, you cannot

make this stuff up.

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This is a UK government that has

prepared to put at jeopardy

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the Good Friday Agreement.

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That is right.

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That's right!

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Does the Prime Minister agree

with a bumbling Foreign Secretary

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who is making the United Kingdom

a laughing stock was back this

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government is absolutely committed

to the Belfast agreement?

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Indeed we made sure

that the commitment was included

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in the joint report that we agreed

with the European Union

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last December.

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So, the Belfast agreement stand

and we are committed to the Belfast

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agreement and the institutions under

the Belfast agreement.

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Returning from a jog

in the snow, Boris Johnson said

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what is going on at the moment

is that the issue of

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the Northern Irish border,

being used politically

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to try to keep the UK

in the dust and union,

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effectively the single market.

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So they cannot really leave the EU.

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But MPs wanted him to explain his

views and what he had said in that

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leaked letter to them directly.

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So, straight after PMQs, the shadow

Foreign Secretary Emily Thornbury

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asked what's known as an urgent

question about Northern Ireland's

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border, addressed to Boris Johnson.

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But as you might be able to see

on the very left of the picture,

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quite a reaction.

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the Foreign Secretary stood up

to leave, prompting

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quite a reaction.

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And when Boris Johnson was gone

and Cabinet Office Minister David

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Livingstone stood up to respond

for the Government, there was more

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there was more shouting

from the labor side.

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Where is he, where is he?

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Where is he?

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Mr Speaker, I have

been asked to reply.

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This government has been

consistent in its commitments

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to Northern Ireland

as the United Kingdom

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leaves the European Union.

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First, we will never accept any

solutions that threaten the economic

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or constitutional integrity

of the United Kingdom.

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Second, we will not accept a hard

border between Northern Ireland

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and Ireland, which would reverse

the considerable progress made

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through the political process

over recent decades.

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That position has been consistent

from the Prime Minister's

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Article 50 letter,

through to our position paper

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published last summer.

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And the Prime Minister's Florence

speech last autumn.

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While I am always pleased to hear

from the Minister of State, I have

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to say it is an absolute disgrace...

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Hear, hear!

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..And a huge discourtesy to this

House that the Foreign Secretary

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is not here himself...

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Hear, hear!

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..to answer the questions

of his memo.

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Especially, Mr Speaker,

given that we saw him

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in London a few hours ago,

jogging in the snow and stopping

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to answer questions from the media.

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If he can answer their questions,

he really should be

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prepared to answer hours.

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Hear, hear!

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What is he afraid of?

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Perhaps it's this: These

questions go to the very

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heart of his credibility

and the credibility of previous

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statements that he's

made in this House.

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David Livingstone defended the fact

that it was he, not Boris Johnson,

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at the despatch box.

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Since I both have Cabinet

responsability for constitutional

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affairs, including for

the implementation of

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devolution throughout

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the United Kingdom, and since I also

Chair the Cabinet committee

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on domestic implementation

of our Brexit arrangement,

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it seems to me to be perfectly

reasonable that I should be

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responding to her urgent questions.

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LAUGHTER.

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The leader of the Democratic union

spoke on the central issue.

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It is ironic, is it not,

that some of those people

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who campaigned hardest

about creating a hard border

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between Northern Ireland

and the Irish Republic has today

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welcomed proposals from the EU

which would actually create a hard

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border between Northern Ireland

and the rest of the United Kingdom?

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The fact of the matter

is that there is a border

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between North and South.

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A currency border, there

are different currencies,

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different fiscal regimes,

different tax regimes,

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different economic policies.

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But it is managed in a way

that is sensible and pragmatic.

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The same can be done in relation

to the future relationship.

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It has already been spelt out in

the government's paper last August,

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to use the Belfast agreement,

or more despicably to use the peace

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process as an excuse to either

thwart Brexit or to

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shape it in the way

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some people want.

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It's quite frankly

outrageous and disgraceful.

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Hear, hear!

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Let us back the arrangements that

are in place, but let us go

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forward in a pragmatic,

sensible way and not create

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troubles that are not there.

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We've got to wake up now

as a country and realize

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we are not going to rip our

nation further apart.

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We don't only have to

have a pragmatic approach to Brexit,

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but an honest approach to Brexit.

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Hear, hear!

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And the only solution to a hard

border is membership

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of the customs union,

the single market, Mr Speaker

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they will get there in the end.

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The Foreign Secretary

did say this morning

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after his dog that he was going

to publish the memo.

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When?

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We don't publish internal

ministerial correspondence.

Shouts

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of, "He said it" and "Bring him back

their coastal. Sources told the BBC

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that Downing Street had blocked the

release of the full text of the

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letter from Boris Johnson. You're

watching Wednesday in Parliament

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with me, Alicia McCarthy. Sandwiched

between the rough and tumble of

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normal political debate, there was a

few hours of near consensus in the

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comments as MPs gave their support

to the complaints and grievances

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procedures governing Parliament. A

working group has spent 100 hours

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drawing up a new behavioral code

that covers bullying and harassment

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against anyone who works in the

Palace of Westminster. The leader of

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the Commons explained what would

happen with regard to complaint

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against MPs.

In the most serious of

cases, the Commissioner will refer

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her findings to the committee on

standards. The committee can

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recommend to the House that an

individual is suspended. And the

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House will vote on the

recommendation. And it's through

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this router that the existing

procedures under the recall of MPs

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act of 2015 could be invoked. The

trigger for recall remains the same

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as it is now, and there is no plan

for changes to primary legislation.

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Several MPs said a change of culture

was needed.

I hate that culture in

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this House. I have never, ever been

fond of that in the House of Commons

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will stop some of my friends think

it is a fantastic place to live in

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Emre Can into their business. I

always find it a little bit

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uncomfortable. Something, maybe the

Scottish Nationalist in me that

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perhaps greats just a little bit.

But this House is a peculiar,

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historic culture that practically

oozes patriarchy and an abuse of

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power. I had a female friend in the

House just a few months ago, was

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very conscious of these issues. And

she told me that departures is this

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place practically sing to her rescue

because of the way that the images

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are all set up and the defining

features of this House are embedded

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in this historic patriarchy that we

have in this place.

89% of women MPs

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and 58% of men MPs say that sexism

still exists in Parliament. And that

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golf is significant. Almost all

women know that there is still those

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instances of sexism. But only just

over half of men recognize that's

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the case, and that golf is part of

the problem that we have, and it is

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part of the complacency that still

exists.

The thing that strange isn't

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that the behaviors are no longer is

it acceptable, actually they never

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were acceptable. The difference is

now people cannot get away with

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them, and that is right, and that is

an improvement. And I think what

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we're really trying to deliver with

the training and the of culture is

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that everybody accepts that not only

are those sorts of behavior is not

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acceptable, no one is going to let

them get away with it.

Culture eats

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strategy for breakfast. It is about

the culture. It is about the

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leadership. You can have as many

reports or processes or training as

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people have said as you want. If

that is not followed through, if

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that is not lived and breathed by

deeds, not words, I'm afraid we

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might as well all give up and go

home.

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Some kind of sanctions may have

something similar.

I am so much more

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in favour of our persuasion and

coercion. And in the and, can I just

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tell the honourable lady, you can be

dead horse to water but you cannot

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make them drink. And you could force

MPs to attend a training session,

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but what kind of attitude with a

habit towards the training? If they

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were, they did not feel it. They

want to do.

We are more powerful

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than more -- most people are much

more frightening, if you get a

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direct, I am, that's quite right. I

like to think that I can recognise

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that, try to employ it with

appropriateness, but the truth is

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that I still worried that there'll

be a power imbalance.

It's only when

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processes are in place, and used

will we know they're robust and

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command -- commanded support of

those who seek to use them. The

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opposition support them own it --

motion as tabled an amended and look

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forward to be updated, we thank the

staff are taking on this task, so we

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have a truly modern Parliament.

Where everyone knows the boundaries

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of acceptable behaviour in a safe

secure workplace. The International

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Development Secretary is considering

stopping the UK aid for a number of

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charities after they failed to

provide assurances over safeguarding

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to her department. It follows the

scandals surrounding sexual

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misconduct by eight agency workers.

On the 20th of that -- February I

0:15:460:15:51

asked all UK charities receiving UK

aid to give me assurances on

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safeguarding and reporting of

historic cases, by Monday last. I

0:15:540:15:58

have received 161 responses. My

officials are analysing those with

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independent oversight and we have

shared returns with Charity

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commission. A number of

organisations unbelievably Mr

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Speaker, have not replied. We are

following up, but without

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justification they will have lost

our confidence and will consider

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whether it was right to continue

their funding. I will share my key

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findings trends and themes and in

response to the safeguarding summit

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held by and with the Charity

commission on March five and I'll

0:16:270:16:30

keep the House informed.

Two was

asked about the situation for

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civilians trapped in fighting was in

serious.

The you estimate this is my

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one Syrians are displaced and with

fresh fighting despite the

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cease-fire, this number will

continue to rise. What is her

0:16:440:16:47

department doing specifically to

support these families especially in

0:16:470:16:51

this region and whose that

challenges our increasing?

We had a

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huge number of programmes that are

supporting those people in

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particular, not just as I said, for

short-term needs, shelter, food and

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so forth, but also education and

jobs and livelihoods. But I would

0:17:080:17:13

also say that these individuals have

some unique needs, but have not been

0:17:130:17:19

addressed I think to date with as

much focus by the international

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community and setting up a panel to

actually look at those needs and

0:17:230:17:25

what more we can do to help in

similar situations, I think will be

0:17:250:17:29

a big step forward. The authorities

in me and Mark, formerly known as

0:17:290:17:35

Burma have blocked MPs and for

making a trip to the country. The

0:17:350:17:41

chairman of the international

development committee said the move

0:17:410:17:43

was direct roulette -- Italian --

retaliation for the report they

0:17:430:17:48

publish on the Rohingya crisis. I

get urgent questions, Stephen X but

0:17:480:17:52

what happened to.

Yesterday our

passports were returned to us

0:17:520:17:57

without visas, and clearly the

failure of the Burmese government to

0:17:570:18:00

grant these visas, simply prevents

us from doing our job as a

0:18:000:18:06

committee, which is to oversee how

oversee development assistance is

0:18:060:18:11

spent in countries. I have no doubt,

that a major part of the reason this

0:18:110:18:16

has happened, is direct retaliation

for the report that we published

0:18:160:18:19

last month on the Rohingya crisis. I

believe there is a direct connection

0:18:190:18:25

between our report and these

actions. I understand Mr Speaker,

0:18:250:18:28

that it was Aung San Suu Kyi

herself, who brought -- a block to

0:18:280:18:35

the approval of the visas.

They were

due to visit both Myanmar and

0:18:350:18:41

Bangladesh which is now home to many

refugees.

He has described what has

0:18:410:18:48

been happening to the Rohingya

dictate textbook case of ethnic

0:18:480:18:54

cleansing. Is a withholding visas a

textbook case of an authoritarian

0:18:540:19:02

regime with something to hide trying

to shield itself from legitimate

0:19:020:19:06

international scrutiny? And if Aung

San Suu Kyi is indeed responsible

0:19:060:19:10

for that, then it's nothing short of

disgraceful.

. I like him are at

0:19:100:19:21

disappointed by this, this

displeasure has been communicated to

0:19:210:19:26

the Burmese authorities, the

officials have indicated three

0:19:260:19:27

reasons for that refusal. First,

there is an extended public holiday

0:19:270:19:32

there. Second, the access to Rakhine

state remains restricted for

0:19:320:19:39

security reasons, and finally, I

think this was something that was

0:19:390:19:43

brought up in the press release

yesterday evening, they were unhappy

0:19:430:19:48

that individual members had signed a

letter calling for the senior

0:19:480:19:53

general of the Burmese army to be

held accountable for the military

0:19:530:19:56

behaviour.

It those atrocities are

being carried out, then it's for all

0:19:560:20:04

democracies to make the voices

heard, and on syzygy who's been

0:20:040:20:08

championing zinc dust trapping

democracy there, I hope she is

0:20:080:20:11

listening to the message today,

because she should also be speaking

0:20:110:20:15

out.

The Minister is right, we must

keep supporting and helping the

0:20:150:20:21

vulnerable people in Myanmar

particularly Rohingya, but can I

0:20:210:20:24

press the issue of accountability

and those responsible for the

0:20:240:20:28

military, is it possible for him to

have discussions with others in the

0:20:280:20:31

Security Council that a possibility

for a resolution to the criminal

0:20:310:20:39

court?

Mark said that the feeling

was any move would be vetoed by

0:20:390:20:44

China and Russia. He said the

Government wanted to keep the lines

0:20:440:20:47

of communication open with more

moderate elements within the Burmese

0:20:470:20:50

military. And was pursuing the use

of targeted sanctions through the

0:20:500:20:54

EU. Now there was a dire warning in

the north that trading in Britain

0:20:540:21:00

retail sector was -- nearly

declining. It comes after the UK's

0:21:000:21:07

biggest toy retailer, Toys "R" Us

went into administration. More than

0:21:070:21:11

3000 jobs are now at risk. It's

understood that it made losses in

0:21:110:21:15

seven out of the last eight years.

The electrical retailer collapsed as

0:21:150:21:21

well which could see two and a half

thousand jobs go. One peered Dom --

0:21:210:21:27

blamed on my John dice Giants.

39%

is controlled by Amazon of the UK,

0:21:270:21:36

and 57% if you look at the stakes.

Will Her Majesty level the playing

0:21:360:21:44

field and look at what other

countries are looking at the terms

0:21:440:21:49

of digital taxation or special sales

task -- tax like the USA, or a

0:21:490:21:56

higher rate of VAT which is possible

under our legislation. And at the

0:21:560:22:02

very least, would they edit the up

now, bearing in mind that 39% of

0:22:020:22:08

today's billion Palomar kick, and

our country, set up a monopoly

0:22:080:22:11

commission inquiry for if they do

not, that our retail trade as we

0:22:110:22:18

know it would disappear.

The

Business Minister said the

0:22:180:22:22

Competition and Markets Authority

have powers to look into such claims

0:22:220:22:24

and the Government was acting.

We

believe that all those

0:22:240:22:29

multinationals in that world, ought

to be hang the taxes due, and we

0:22:290:22:33

will not settle for anything less

other than that, my lords, my noble

0:22:330:22:37

friend should accept that many of

the changes that are happening in

0:22:370:22:41

the marketplace are being driven by

what the consumer wants and our job

0:22:410:22:46

is to make sure that the marketplace

can adapt to that.

Today, Toys "R"

0:22:460:22:52

Us went into administration of

putting back 3000 jobs at risk, map

0:22:520:22:56

and has called in the

administrators, there was a crisis

0:22:560:23:00

on the high street. Can the Minister

tell us what the Government is doing

0:23:000:23:04

to recognise the pressure that the

Digital economy is putting on the

0:23:040:23:08

physical shops of our high streets?

Retailers have to pay business

0:23:080:23:13

rates, that means they have to start

off at a significant disadvantage.

0:23:130:23:18

They'd have to contribute their

producing responsibility levies,

0:23:180:23:24

another disadvantage. They have to

pay proper apprenticeship levy,

0:23:240:23:29

another disadvantage. We cannot wait

for a general statement, we have to

0:23:290:23:34

do this now. The latest proposal,

proposition, is that retail trading

0:23:340:23:39

may decline climb at 22% in the next

year. And really, it is time for the

0:23:390:23:45

Government to move very urgently

indeed.

We have made changes in the

0:23:450:23:51

autumn budget, we have measures

worth to pointer billion, in terms

0:23:510:23:56

of cutting business rates and bring

a degree of fairness to the system,

0:23:560:24:00

there are limits to how far one will

go, one has to accept that a lot of

0:24:000:24:04

what is happening as a result of

what the consumers want, and this is

0:24:040:24:07

obviously up to the retail sector

itself to be able to adapt and

0:24:070:24:11

change in the face of changing

consumer and social trends.

The

0:24:110:24:20

Business Minister. Of the Government

has said it will find time to

0:24:200:24:24

increase maximum sentence for

causing death by dangerous driving.

0:24:240:24:27

Minister said last year they would

act when motorists speeding or on

0:24:270:24:36

under drinks, will face a life

sentence. In a short debate and

0:24:360:24:41

Westminster, conservative or is the

case of a 74-year-old man killed by

0:24:410:24:44

a drunk driver.

The 29-year-old

defendant had 15 previous

0:24:440:24:50

convictions for 34 offences.

Including two previous cases of

0:24:500:24:54

dangerous driving. But he was jailed

for just seven years, after

0:24:540:24:59

admitting causing death by dangerous

driving, failing to stop at a scene

0:24:590:25:03

of an accident, driving when

disqualified, drunk driving, and

0:25:030:25:07

having no insurance.

Repine the

Justice Minister setup action have

0:25:070:25:10

to be taken.

These are people whose

recklessness with one and a half

0:25:100:25:18

tonnes of metal, this incredibly

dangerous weapon, it's unbelievable.

0:25:180:25:22

This is why we as a government have

committed to increasing penalties

0:25:220:25:27

for causing death by reckless

driving to a life sentence and why

0:25:270:25:32

we are now working to find the time

for that agenda to bring that in,

0:25:320:25:36

and this needs to happen.

Because he

said, families currently didn't feel

0:25:360:25:40

that they got justice. And that's it

from us for now, do join me at the

0:25:400:25:46

same time tomorrow, out for another

round up of the day here at

0:25:460:25:49

Westminster. But for now, for me,

Alysia McCarthy, goodbye.

0:25:490:26:02

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