Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 21 March, presented by Mandy Baker.
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Hello and welcome to the programme.
the Foreign Secretary compares
President Putin's approach
to the World Cup in
Russia to Hitler's use
of the 1936 Olympic Games.
The comparison with the 1936 is
It is a medic
How is the Health Secretary
going to fund pay rises for more
than a million NHS staff in England?
How is the Prime Minister is "The
skills grown a set magic money tree?
-- cinematic skills.
And Theresa May says claims that
a British company harvested personal
data from Facebook users must
be properly examined.
The allegations are clearly very
concerning as it is right. They
should be properly investigated.
But first, the UK's relationship
with Moscow has been under
the spotlight since the poisoning
of the former Russian double
agent and his daughter
in Salisbury earlier this month.
A complicating factor is of course
that Russia is hosting
the World Cup this summer.
Facing the Foreign Affairs
Committee, Boris Johnson was asked
about the safety of those travelling
to the tournament and indeed
whether the England
squad should go at all.
On balance, it would be wrong to
punish them or the team who worked
on this for a long time incredibly
hard, given up their lives to it, I
think it would be a pity for them.
But your point about the safety of
bands as well-made and taken. This
is of crucial importance to us. Can
we do indeed need to have an urgent
conversation with the Russians about
how they propose to fulfil their
obligations under their feet the
contractor look after all fans. --
their Fifa contract.
A Labour MP was dubious
about the championships
being staged in Russia.
They got the right. Putin will use
it the way he they used the Nokia 36
Olympics. The idea that Putin
handing over a World Cup to the
captain of the winning team is...
think you characterisation of what
is going to happen into Moscow's at
the World Cup, I think the
comparison with 1936 is certainly
right. I think it is a big prospect
to think of Putin glorying in this
The Foreign Secretary
said the safety of fans
was uppermost in his mind.
One of the consequences of the
expulsions that we had from Moscow.
We lost our officer who was going to
be responsible for the fans. You can
imagine anything more
counterproductive than the UK's
ability to help fans in Russia.
There is an issue. I will not hide
it from this committee. There is a
discussion. We need to consider that
issue and at the moment as I say the
numbers of applicants for tickets
are well down where we were at Brio,
and a considerable amount of fans to
want to go and we have to think of
There are fans who will
be gone to places like Rome, which
they will be exposed to hotbeds of
Russian nationalism. That's not
going to places where they will be
exposed. Those journeys...
has a good point. That is featured.
Are right. We are thinking about all
Boris Johnson was also asked
about the Salisbury attack itself.
Why do you think Putin and Russia
felt able to undertake such a
brazen, despicable, illegal attack
on British soil?
It was a sign that
President Putin or a Russian state
wanted to give to potential
defectors in their own agency,
saying this is what happens to you
if you decide that you support a
country with a different set of
values, such as our own. You can
expect to be assassinated. And I
think the reason they picked the
United Kingdom is very simple. It is
because this is a country that does
have that particular set of values
and belief and freedom and an
democracy and in the rule of law.
And a half time and again called out
Russia over its abuses of those
values. You could argue there aren't
saying this as being weak.
are desperate to look the other way.
Rather than seeing bin Asia Russia's
precedents in other countries. --
Saint Russia's depressants another
Regardless would happen 12
years ago after the living echo
assassination, most people I think
both sides of the comments, all
backbenches that I listen to last
Wednesday overwhelmingly approved by
the response the UK is issuing this
time. And it's been a mixture of
Burma, diplomatic responses. The
biggest expulsion of undeclared
Russian agencies since the 1980s.
Coupled with a series of measures,
designed to push back on the Russia
and all sorts of ways.
What are your
plans in terms of communication in
light of what has happened?
will be very difficult politically
for a while to come. But that does
not mean the whole contact must be
stopped and all engagement must be
Boris Johnson gave his
assessment of the UK's
relationship with Russia now.
We do not wish to engage in a new
Cold War. I remember the old Cold
War. It was a pretty miserable time.
I grew up genuinely worrying that
the world, our country was going to
be evaporated and eight
thermonuclear strike. I don't think
we faced that kind of existential
threat. But it is a thread
nonetheless. -- it is a thread
The Foreign Secretary.
The Health Secretary has said a pay
rise for more than a million NHS
staff in England recognises they're
working harder than ever.
Nurses, midwives, paramedics,
cleaners and porters will be among
those receiving at least six
and a half % over
the next three years.
Answering an urgent question
about the deal, Jeremy Hunt said
rarely had a pay rise been
so well deserved.
The whole House will want to pay
tribute to the hard work of NHS
staff up and down the country during
one of the most difficult winters in
living memory. And today's agreement
on a new pay deal reflects public
appreciation for just how much they
have done and continue to do.
However, it is much more than that.
The agreement with Woods in a trade
unions have recommended to the
members today is a something for
something guilt whisperings and
profound changes in productivity in
exchange for significant rises in
pay. Staff, trade unions and the
Labour Party have today been
vindicated in saying a pay rise is
But one we have seen
nurses and paramedics, midwives
losing thousands of pounds in the
value of their pay, but we heard
stories of NHS staff turning to food
banks, we have 100,000 vacancies
across the service, and more nurses
leaving the profession that had
rain, wind must have spent billions
on agency staff than this pay cut it
should have been scrapped years ago.
Then I also write to recognise and
remember back in 2009, labour's or
depression busting economy into the
biggest and most of economic charges
we have faced. As a result of our
stewardship and support of the NHS
through that period, like many other
countries, and cut their health
spending, we secured 200,000 jobs
and the NHS and now we can start
rewarding them for their hard work.
I will come the fact that the NHS
workers in England were finally
receiving a pay rise they deserve.
Health is the bald to do was
government and so could the
secretary clarify how much of this
additional funding is new funding
and also with the consequential will
be for the was government?
Jeremy Hunt said the normal
Barnett Formula, which dictates how
funding from Westminster
is allocated to the devolved
governments, would apply.
We have not had a functioning
assembly for 14 months. We've had no
Health Minister for 14 months! The
how can the hard-working members of
any NHS staff in Northern Ireland
benefit from this new pay deal? With
the Secretary of State commit to
speaking to his Cabinet colleague
who I'm delighted to see on the
bench here today. To make sure that
NHS staff in Northern Ireland seat
the benefits of this deal today.
rise is deserved. Welcome and
overdue. But without a long-term
plan for funding health and care,
this is announcement will not be
trusted. Do that he agreed that we
need a new deal to refresh the
vision for the 21st-century and
should we be prepared to be honest
with the British people is a this
will involve a modest but clear
increase in taxation?
Will need to
find a way of getting more money
into the NHS and social care system
in the future as we paste pressures
of an ageing population. And we need
to the best way to do that.
Now Prime Minister's Question Time
is supposed to be one
of the highlights of the week.
But on Wednesday some MPs were very
slow to take their places
on the green benches and some even
left before the end.
To top it all, a little boy brought
in as guest of a Labour MP to watch
democracy in action fell asleep
on his father's lap
in the visitors' gallery.
In the chamber below there was more
than a hint of local election
campaigning in the air.
Thus the Prime Minister believed
that the collapse in Northampton
town so that the basalt of the
incompetents at a local level or is
it conservative incompetents at a
That has been the
report into Northamptonshire County
Council but let's look at what we
see across the board and councils.
Yes, yes. If you look at what is
happening and councils up and down
this country, there is one message
for everybody. And that is the
conservative councils costume last!
Jeremy Corbyn! Mice question was
actually quite specific to
Northamptonshire, Mr Speaker.
what my question. The tour leader
said we've been warning the
Government for about 2000 13 and 14,
we couldn't cope with the level of
cuts we are facing. Three years ago,
that counsel Brackett was pioneering
an easy council model. It then
proceeded to outsource 96% of his
council staff, transferred them the
new service providers, run by
private companies, paying dividends,
now that counsel has gone bust.
That's the Prime Minister really
believe that the slash and burn
model for local government is really
a good one?
Can I say to the right
honourable gentleman, first of all
it will be helpful if he accurately
reflected the independent statutory
inspection was concluded last week.
Which was the report was clear that
Northamptonshire's failure is not a
case of underfunding. So his
claims... Indeed, no temperature's
core spending power is set to rise
by 14 and a half million pounds. I
say to the right honourable
gentleman, the attack that he is
making that this is all about the
amount of money the Government is
providing is not correct. What we
are answering, what we are ensuring
is that councils are able to provide
the services down the country and
that is what we seek with councils,
conservative councils of and down
the country costing people last than
Jeremy Corbyn said the government
had prioritised tax cuts
for the super rich and big business
over funding for councils.
Theresa May hit back.
We all know what labour it would
mean for council tax payers because
just this week, the shadow community
Secretary... Oh, he says. LAUGHTER
Could that be because he doesn't
want people to know what he is
supporting? Because he has supported
a plan to stop local taxpayers
having the right to stop tax hikes,
he is supporting a plan to introduce
a land value tax, a tax on your home
and George garden! And he wants to
introduce a new hotel tax! We know
what would happen in the labour.
More taxes and ordinary working
people would pay the price.
conservative government/ public
services. They cut funding and!
Councils to pick up the pieces. The
result of this is children's centres
are closing, schools are struggling,
fewer police on the streets, older
people being left without care or
dignity. And refugees turning women
away. The Tories own head of local
government says it is unsustainable.
And doesn't it tell you everything
you need to know about this
government? That it demands
households and businesses pay more
to get less!
The Prime Minister replied
that the economy was strong
under the Conservatives,
which meant more money for schools
and hospitals than ever before.
You're watching Wednesday
in Parliament with me, Mandy Baker.
Dozens of alleged victims of abuses
by undercover police have walked out
of a public inquiry
at the High Court.
They said not enough
officers were being named
and that they had no confidence
in the inquiry's chairman.
The review relates to undercover
police officers who formed sexual
relationships to help them
infiltrate certain groups.
The concerns were
echoed in the Lords.
Over a period of 24 years from 1985
to 2009, almost every single year,
there was a state-sponsored sexual
relationship between a police
officer and a woman who at no point
was accused of doing anything
illegal, not arrested, not accused.
I just don't understand how
the Minister can sit back and think
that this is all right.
This strikes at the heart
of the ethics and the integrity
of our police forces,
and of course, our security
services, and I must stress
that the cases we know
about are the only ones
we have heard about
because they are the only
police names in the public realm.
We don't know all of them.
Until we know the police undercover
names, we won't know
how me victims there were.
I have been made aware of that
walk-out and I am aware
that the hearings are still ongoing
and I would encourage
all core participants and indeed
anyone impacted by undercover
policing to participate fully
in the inquiry so that we
can learn the lessons
and get to the truth.
And the minister was asked
if procedures were now in place
to make sure similar practices
wouldn't be repeated.
My Lords, I would love to stand
at this despatch box and say that
certain things could never happen
again, but nobody can legislate
for the odd rogue undertaking
or malicious intent of people
and therefore, one cannot be
absolutely certain it
will never happen again.
What one can do is put measures
in place to try and mitigate
as far as possible that it
never happens again.
The Minister also thought
it was important for the officers
to retain their anonymity and said
the Home Secretary had full
confidence in the chairman
to carry out the inquiry.
Companies that deliberately put
workers' pensions at risk will face
fines and even criminal sanctions,
a Cabinet minister has warned.
The construction firm Carillion
collapsed in January with a pensions
deficit of almost £600 million
and hundreds of unfinished
The Work and Pensions Secretary,
told a joint committee of MPs
that the pensions regulator
will soon have tougher powers
to deal with situations like that.
Should anybody do anything to weaken
or recklessly put their pension
scheme into difficulties,
then those people will get either
either penalties or now, a criminal
sanction for what they have done.
So this is about
strengthening the regulator.
It is about giving them powers
to investigate more.
It is about putting them
on the front foot, and also,
being able to enforce a funding
standard, and as I said,
there will be a very
clear message that should you not
adhere to what you should be doing
for your pensioners,
then there will be sanctions
and criminal prosecution.
But MPs suggested that regulators
had not done enough.
It became a joke, Peter crying wolf.
It worries us that if the industry
knows that Peter will only ever cry
Lord knows what else is out there,
because they would be
I'm going to defend what they didn't
do and I think it's important that
if you do have powers,
that you should use them.
I know you can't always judge
what was happening in 2013
with what was happening in 2018,
and there's always a very fine
balance that I guess the regulator
was seeking to strike
between the ongoing
sustainability of a business,
because everybody would say the best
way to protect their pension scheme
going forward is to make sure you've
got a viable, strong business.
However, that balance in those
instances, you're right.
They said they could have done more.
Hindsight's a wonderful thing,
but again, moving forward,
they will need to do more
and they've now got
stronger powers to do more.
During the same hearing
the Business Secretary
was challenged over the dominance
of the big four accounting firms:
I think it is an important question.
As I say, it has been looked at
I would suggest it is not
Are you in favour of
breaking them up, Greg?
I don't want to answer that
without having considered advice
on the consequences.
In general, I agree with your fellow
chair that more competition tends
to act in the interest of consumers
and of innovation, I would say,
and in general, when you have
that is, that is not a good state
of affairs, but I think it is,
it would be proper to consider
in your joint committee
and the select committee may
well want to, as I will,
take an interest in whether further
reforms are needed, including
the suggestion you made.
The Prime Minister has said
allegations that the political
consultancy, Cambridge Analytica,
about millions of Facebook users
are "very concerning".
They should be
It's right that the information
Commissioner is doing exactly that,
because people need to have
confidence in how their personal
data is being used.
And I would expect Facebook,
and all organisations
involved to comply fully
with the investigation
that is taking place.
She was challenged about her party's
links to Cambridge Analytica
by the leader of the SNP at
The parent company of
Cambridge Analytica is Strategic
is Strategic Communications
It has been run by the chairman of
the Oxford Conservative Association.
Its founding chairman
was a former Conservative MP.
A director appears to have donated
over £700,000 to the Tory party.
The former Conservative Party
treasurer is a shareholder.
We know about the links
to the Conservative Party.
They go on and on.
Will the Prime Minister explained
to the House her government's
connections to the company?
Can I say, the right honourable
gentleman has been talking
about two companies,
about the parent company, SCL,
and he also referred
to Cambridge Analytica and I can say
that as far as I'm aware,
the Government has no contracts
with Cambridge analytical
or with the SCL group.
Later, on the committee corridor,
a former operations manager
for Facebook told MPs he'd raised
concerns about the risk
of users' data being abused -
but the company didn't tell users.
Speaking on a rather ropey
video-link to the Culture Committee,
Sandy Parakilas, described how
a firm like Cambridge Analytica
could get personal data when people
connected to an app linked
Facebook asks you the user for
permission to give certain kinds of
information from your Facebook
account and once you agree, Facebook
passes that data from Facebook's
servers to the developer.
He explained that they gave
the developer the ability to access
data relating to the users' friends
- but those people hadn't explicitly
given their authorisation.
As a senior manager,
he raised the issue with executives
who are still at the company now.
I included lists of bad actors and
potential bad actors, which
included, for state actors, data
brokers, -- foreign state actors
will stop I said here are some of
the things they could be doing and
here are some of the areas that the
company is still exposed and user
data is still at risk. And I shared
that around with a number of people
at the time.
He said he didn't know
if Facebook's chief executive
Mark Zuckerberg knew,
but it was widely understood
at the company that there
was a risk in the way Facebook
was handling data.
A Conservative asked
about the developer companies.
Do you think they might have
acquired data illegally from
Facebook and that might have been
used in an attempt to impact the
outcome on elections in the UK and
That seems very
likely. The amount of data that was
passed out of the Facebook platform
in 2010 and 2014 is just fast. There
were in my memory, hundreds of
thousands of apps on the platform
while I was there.
In the Lords, it was day nine
of detailed scrutiny of the EU
Withdrawal Bill and the thorny
issue of devolution.
The government explained
that its amendments would place
restrictions on Westminster's
ability to exercise powers returning
from Brussels after Brexit
where those relate
to devolved matters.
Their affect is that by default, on
exit day, any decision-making powers
currently held by DEQ in areas that
are otherwise devolved, would pass
directly to our evolved institutions
without first being diverted through
He said he wanted to be clear.
Any decision that the devolved
institutions could take before exit
day will continue to be a decision
they can take after exit day in
areas where they have exercised
their powers. There is no
encroachment into existing devolved
Labour described the original
drafting of the bill
as an "emasculation" of devolution.
There was "some way to go" before
the government's proposals
would be satisfactory.
I must make the point in sorrow
rather than angered that the way in
which the Government has handled the
whole issue over months of
inactivity from the autumn onwards,
it leaves much to be desired.
Indeed, it would not be wholly
inappropriate to describe it as
And peers are expected to return
to these issues next week.
And that's all we've got time for.
So from me, Mandy Baker, goodbye.