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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  January 15, 2017 2:30pm-3:01pm GMT

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the royal college of surgeons says hospitals around the uk are reporting sharp increases in the number of cancer operations being postponed, because of a shortage of beds. the combination of increased admissions through accident and emergency combined with difficulties in getting patients home because of lack of support and social care in the community means that hospitals are just too full. the french foreign minister has urged the incoming us administration not to move the country's embassy in israel to jerusalem — warning this would have serious consequences. president obama has described his successor donald trump as "unconventional" and warned that he shouldn't be underestimated — on friday mr trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the united states. now on bbc news, the week in parliament. hello and welcome to the week in parliament.
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coming up on this programme. as winter tightens its grip, there's a row in the commons about the health of the health service. our nhs, mr speaker, is in crisis. but the prime minister is in denial. the only way we can ensure we've got funding for the national health service is a strong economy. with the stormont assembly in crisis, we find out what's gone wrong in northern ireland's power sharing agreement. also on this programme. a damning indictment of the uk's approach to defence. we are short—sighted, penny—pinching, naively optimistic. we are complacent and we are ostrich—like to the way in which the world has become interconnected. and, how can we get more women into parliament? a senior mp thinks it's time for action. in our committee sessions, we heard very warm words from all of the party chair and leaders.
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we didn't really hear very much detail. but, first, it was a parliamentary week dominated by the stresses and strains facing england's nhs. mps returned to westminster after the christmas break to news that the national health service had been at full stretch over the holidays. the health secretaryjeremy hunt told the commons that it had been a tough christmas and that, with cold weather on the way, the winter pressures were likely to continue. the tuesday after christmas was the busiest day in the history of the nhs. and some hospitals are reporting that a&e attendances are up to 30% higher compared to last year. and he looked to the future. it is clear we need to have an honest discussion with the public about the purpose of a&e departments. there is nowhere outside the uk that commits to all patients that we will sort out any health need within four hours.
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since it was announced in 2000, there are nearly 9 million more visits to our a&es, up to 30% of whom, nhs england estimates do not need to be there, and the tide is continuing to rise. so if we are going to protect ourfor our standard, our four hour standard, we need to be clear it is a promise to sort out all urgent health problems within four hours, but not all health problems, however minor. labour said the nhs was in a worse state than the health secretary had suggested. 15 hospitals ran out of beds in one day in december. several hospitals have warned they cannot offer comprehensive care. elderly patients have been left languishing on hospital trolleys in corridors, sometimes for over 24 hours and he says care is only falling over in a couple of places. i know la la land did well at the golden globes last night, i didn't realise the secretary of state was living there. perhaps that's where
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he's been all weekend. he seems to be blaming the public for overwhelming a&e departments, when he well knows the reason the public goes to a&e is because they can't get to see their gp and social care is in crisis. so it was no surprise when the labour raised the nhs at prime minister's questions a couple of days later. earlier this week, the prime minister said she wanted to create a shared society. well, we've certainly got that. more people sharing hospital corridors on trolleys. more people sharing waiting areas in a&e departments. more people sharing in excise duty created by this government. 0ur nhs, mr speaker, is in crisis but the prime minister is in denial. can i suggest to her on the economic question, cancel the corporate tax cuts! spend the money where it's needed, on people in desperate need in social care or in our hospitals. he talks to me about corporation tax, and restoring the cuts
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in corporation tax. the labour party has already spent that money eight times. the last thing the nhs needs is a cheque from labour that bounces. the only way we can make sure we've got funding for the national health services a strong economy. yesterday, the right honourable gentleman proved that he's not only incompetent but that he destroy our economy, and that would devastate our national health service. does the nhs have the money it needs? the head of the nhs said that spending in real terms would decrease. i think it would be stretching it to say the nhs has got more than it has asked for. 0k. would you agree there's not enough money, that there is a clear gap? there are clearly very substantial pressures, and i don't think it helps anybody to try and pretend that there aren't. but that's not a new phenomenon, to some extent. it's a phenomenon that is intensifying. i think this debate,
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2020 this, 2020 that, kind of misses the point, actually, which is that in the here and now there are very real pressures. over the next three years, funding is going to be highly constrained. and in 2018/19, as i've previously said in october, real terms nhs spending per person in england is going to go down, ten years after lehman brothers and austerity began. we all understand why that is, but let's not pretend that's not placing huge pressure on the service. sir simon stevens. a political crisis is threatening the future of the power sharing arrangements in northern ireland. on monday night sinn fein‘s martin mcguinness resigned as deputy first minister and in effect brought down the devolved administration at stormont. but what's going on and how did we get here? chris page explains. this has ostensibly been triggered because of the financial mismanagement of a green energy scheme. the incentive was set up in 2012
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and overseen by dup ministers. it was supposed to encourage businesses to switch to environmentally friendly fuels. there was no upper limit on payments service scheme ran over budget. the overspend is expected to run to almost half £1 billion. the deputy first minister, martin mcguinness, asked the overspend is expected to run to almost half a billion. the deputy first minister, martin mcguinness, asked arlene foster to stand aside as first ministerfor an investigation but she refused to do so, so mr mcguinness has now resigned himself. that puts mrs foster out of a job because under the power—sharing system the first and deputy first ministers cannot work in isolation. there are very many other disagreements on issues like brexit, same—sex marriage and budgets. it has never been an easy relationship. under the stormont rules, if the posts aren't filled within seven days, the northern ireland secretary must, by law, call the new election to the stormont assembly. it's only been eight months since the last one. the crisis was raised at prime
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minister's questions by the snp's westminster leader, who thought the breakdown could have wide reaching implications. the prime minister has indicated that she wants to take the views of the elected representatives and the devolved institutions on brexit seriously. so it stands to reason then that if there is no northern ireland assembly and no northern ireland executive for much of the time before the march timetable that she has set for invoking article 50, she will be unable to consult properly, to discuss fully and to find agreement on the complex issues during this period. in these circumstances, will the prime minister postpone invoking article 50... or will she just plough on regardless? i am clear that, first of all, we want to try to ensure that,
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?within this period of seven days, we can find a resolution to the political situation in northern ireland, so that we can to see the assembly government continuing. but i am also clear that, in the discussions that we have, it will be possible, it is still the case that ministers are in place and that, obviously, there are executives in place, that we are still able to take the views of the northern ireland people. now let's take a step back in time. do you remember this? when tony blair swept to power in 1997 there was much fanfare about the number of women who'd become mps. nicknamed the blair babes they represented a big jump in the numbers, in large part due to labour's policy of all women short lists. in total 101 labour women were elected in 1997, doubling the overall total of female mps, from 60 to 120. spin forward 20 years and there are now 195 women mps,
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but that's still only 30%! the women and equalities committee has been looking at how to boost those numbers. it's suggested that in future political parties should be fined if they don't ensure at least 45% of general election candidates are female. i asked the committee chair, maria miller, if a system of fines wouldn't have a disproportionate impact on smaller parties. well, clearly, you'd have to look at how smaller parties were dealt with but the lion's share of mps are from the main parties, who contest all of the westminster seats, and we feel very strongly, if you're going to put measures like a 45% vote on candidates in place, there needs to be teeth there to make that really have an effect. in the end, doesn't this all come down to the local associations that you can say to the parties, this is what we want. but if you have local associations which have slightly older members, slightly old —fashioned views,
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they might just still cling onto this idea that they prefer to have a man doing thejob, and that's what you've got to overcome. at the 2015 general election, only one in four candidates was female. so we're not really giving people the chance to be able to choose women locally. local associations may not be given enough choice from female candidates in the first place. so i think we've really got to look back at the root cause of this, which is getting more women to consider putting themselves forward to become a member of parliament. a lot of that is about outreach by parliament to get people to consider that, but also by the parties as well. what is it that puts women off putting themselves forward? i think we have in the past focused a great deal on things like child care and family friendly working, and the work that sarah charles has done is important in that area. but i think it's more than that, that's really emerging now. and i think the dissuading effect of online abuse, sexual harassment, but also the murder ofjo cox last
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year, i think really shows those intimidatory aspects also need to be dealt with. and parliament is dealing with that at the moment. but, surely, those would be things that would put off men as well as women. but i think all of the research would suggest that women are disproportionately affected by, particularly, online abuse. and i applaud the work the police are doing on securing convictions there, but it is an element that i think some women are finding off—putting. we need to tackle that. but we also need to have more effective outreach to get more women to consider how important it would be to be able to represent the community but also improve the community in which they live. now, you said it's not you. it's not for your committee to tell parties exactly how to go about this. isn't the long and short of it that all women short lists have worked and that the labour party has increased more dramatically and more quickly its number of women mps? just in the same way as having
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a female prime minister isn't the panacea for all evils, neither is all women short lists. i think different political parties have done different things in the past. i think parties need to have a plan. and they need to have a plan which is effective. and, whilst in our committee sessions we heard very warm words from all of the party chair and leaders, we didn't really hear very much detail. so i think the most important thing is those parties have a clear plan and a real will to make this change. how confident are you that things will be different this time around, but going into the next election, there will be more female candidates in winnable seats? i think that will only happen if the parties now take a hard look at the processes their following and make sure they've got clear plans in place to put women in those winnable seats. at the moment, we're not seeing those plans come through. and if we don't have plans in place, there will no change in the status quo.
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it's highly likely at the next election, with the reduction of the number of constituencies, there will be fewer opportunities for women to come through or for new members of parliament to come through. so, those parties need to have a clear plan and, at the moment, that's not there. so, it doesn't sound to me like you're terribly optimistic. only if we see, i think, a radical change in notjust the warm words we're hearing from parties but actually the practical measures that are put in place, the funding they are putting in place will we see that change. perhaps there's too many other things to think about at the moment. we've got a little bit of time before the next election, i hope. a little bit of time for real action. all right, we will get you back to see how it's going. maria miller, thank you very much indeed for coming in to the programme. now let's take a look at some news from around westminster in brief. there's was a big surprise in westminster on friday morning with the announcement that the labour mp tristram hunt
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is to stand down to become the director of the victoria and albert museum. his decision will trigger a by election in the stoke—on—trent central constituency. in a letter to local party members, the former education spokesman, who resigned from the shadow cabinet whenjeremy corbyn was elected party leader, said serving in parliament had been "both deeply rewarding "and intensely frustrating." financialjobs in london are bound to be affected by brexit, but a lack of knowledge about the government's plans will make the situation worse. that was the message to the commons treasury committee from leading financiers including the head of the london stock exchange. they called for the city to have its own transitional arrangements, known as "grandfathering", meaning new rules wouldn't apply for around five years. part of the uncertainty and the planning is how much you would need to move. clearly, you would need to move the front part of the business. but the question would be whether the negotiation would allow the settlement,
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the risk management, the accounting and so on to the done outside of eu 27 or whether it is part of the negotiations. that is a political negotiation, as much as a technical negotiation. immigrants have to make more effort to fit in, that's according to the author of last month's casey review on integration. dame louise casey told mps that britain needed to be "less shy" about telling immigrants what was expected from them. i think that is a sound bite which people like to say, that integration is a two—way street. i would say that if we stick with the road analogy, i think integration is more like you've got a bloody big motorway, and you have the slip
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road of people coming in from the outside, and what you need to do is the people in the middle in the motorway need to accommodate and be gentle and kind to people coming in from the outside lane. we're all in the direction and we are all heading in the same direction. we are getting to this place where we have decided that it is a two—way street. to some degree, it is a two—way street but to some worry it is not. there is more give on one side and more take on the other. and i think that is where we have made a mistake which is we have not been honest about. the government was defeated in the lords on monday over plans to change the way england's universities are run. the legislation is designed to make it easierfor new colleges to award degrees. peers voted in favour of an opposition amendment to the higher education bill to define the powers and aims of universities. one of the aims is to extend the university title. this piece of legislation has made no attempt to define what a university is or its role in society more widely and particularly what do we expect
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these new universities to do. the government spokesman said there were dangers in setting out a definition of a university that could be challenged in the courts. universities have never been defined in legislation before and we have not led to any problems in the system. labour says plans to close dozens of local tax offices should be immediately scrapped after a spending watchdog found costs have spiralled. the national audit office revealed hmrc has had to rethink the proposals after underestimating the expense and scale of disruption involved. the nao reports confirm ourfears, first of all, it calls the original office closure plan unrealistic, the estimates of the cost of the move increased by 22%, £600 million extra, furtherjob losses, it finds the cost of redundancy and travel have
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tripled to sa million and it says hmrc cannot demonstrate how it services cannot be improved and it hasn't even introduced a business plan. as we predict it, this is an emerging disaster. as we predicted, this is an emerging disaster. given how clear and stark warnings that truly are, would it not simply make more sense to pause this, rip it up, and start again? for the public, this seems a better, more modern service, run by fewer staff, costing £18 million a year less by the time that changes take effect. it's a plan to say goodbye to the days of manual assessing that can be done more easily with today's technology. the uk's green investment bank could be killed off if the government goes ahead with plans to sell it, according to one mp. the bank supports offshore wind farms and other green projects. the government has announced plans to pa rt—privatise it,
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with australian bank macquarie thought to be the preferred bidder. it has been widely recognised as an innovative project. and yet, this preferred it not only has a dismal and terrible environmental record, it also has an appalling track record of assets. the minister said he couldn't comment on the process, potential bidders or "media speculation." it is precisely because we want them to do more unfettered by the constraints of the state that we are seeking to put it into the private sector. the objectives we have set out in the cell could not be clearer. we have also been very clear that the reason we want to move into the private sector is to enable the business to grow and continue as an institution supporting investment in the green economy. a former nato secretary general has warned against further defence cuts,
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saying the uk is sleepwalking into potential calamity. opening a debate on the uk's armed forces capability the labour former defence secretary, lord robertson, also questioned us president elect donald trump's attitude to nato. during the us election campaign donald trump appeared to play down the importance of the military alliance which raised questions about nato's commitment, known as article 5, which says members will support nato countries if they're attacked. in his speech in the lords, lord robertson warned the world was now seeing a "bonfire of the post cold war certainties." he told peers he'd recently been asked what was the biggest threat to the safety and security of the uk and the list of potential answers was a long one. i considered some of the immediate and looming threats and challenges. some of them are pretty formidable. migration flows which have suddenly ended up on our shores. the spread of religious extremism and jihadi violence plumbing
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new depths of savagery. a resurgent russia. a rising china. and the disruption of north korea. but my answer to the question of what is the greatest threat, it is ourselves, we are ur own worst enemies. it is ourselves, we are oui’ own worst enemies. we are shortsighted, penny pinching, naively optimistic, we're complacent, and we are ostrich like to the way in which the world has become interconnected, more fragile, and more unpredictable. and donald, with his mexican wall, with new protectionism and donald, with a serious questioning of nato solidarity,
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with a belief in torture and with lieutenant general michael flynn as his chief security adviser, perhaps we don't need more enemies in the world today. a former conservative defence minister raised concerns. i hope president putin and his colleagues realised how easily that mobilisations and provocations, that accidents can happen, and how easy conflict can start. and we don't have to have the memories of the first world war and of the second world war where wars were started by accident involving the wrong people, the wrong time, they weren't meant to happen. and ijust do take that threat very seriously. in the face of russian ambition, my lords, european can no longer get their defence on the cheap. it is an interesting reflection that whereas the word burden sharing used to be used, when i went to washington, now, the assessment of europe is my contribution is shall we say expressed in more in trenchant and perhaps less suitable terms for a debate of this kind.
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we lack strength in numbers and are not well placed to deal with it. more independently minded we become, the more capability we need in a dangerous world. surely, the two must go together. defence spending is going up. when it increases by 5 billion, it is nonsense for anyone to suggest there is no new funding. i hope it is clear that the government fully recognises the breadth and severity of threats that face our country today. we know that in this is of uncertainty, we can take is era of uncertainty, we can take nothing for granted. the approach we have taken in the sts or is the right one for strengthening our security and it is the one to which this
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government is fully committed. lord howe. now for something very different, it's time to take a look at some of the other political stories making the news this week. with our countdown, here's alex partridge. new minister lord 0'shaughnessy hasn't exactly made a splash with tory peers. that might be why one was caught asking who he was while he made his dispatch box debut. we are used to political u—turns but health secretaryjeremy hunt ended up doing a real—life u—turn while looking for his car. tuesday's foreign office questions clocked in at more than 70 minutes but it wasn't nearly enough for foreign secretary borisjohnson. for two hours, the minister chunters from a sedentary position. i certainly wouldn't object to that. jeremy corbyn's relaunch also involves chatting football on twitter. he offered to talk some sense into itv‘s piers morgan on the subject of embattled arsenal boss arsene wenger. on the subject of embattled arsenal boss arsene wenger.
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and on thursday, labour's chris bryant took an opportunity to send his best wishes to the speaker on a very special day. sorry, mr speaker, may i first of all wish you a happy kiss a ginger day. kiss a ginger day activity is probably perfectly lawful but i've got no plans to partake of it myself. alex partridge, bringing us to the end of this week's programme, but dojoinjoanna shinn on monday night at 11pm for another round up of the best of the day here at westminster. but for now, from me, goodbye. good afternoon. if you have been
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outside, you cannot help notice the change. it feels milder than yesterday but we have a lot of cloud and this was the scene in carmarthenshire in wales showing the snow soaring on the hills. it has been murky as we have seen in the coleraine area. the brecon beacons have been murky as well with the snow continuing to soar in southern wales. the mall the air is coming off this high pressure. atlantic at moving in but the weather front traipse across the heart of the country. it has been bringing a lot of rain to scotland and england. it has been cool across east anglia with the mild air slow to mix in. as we go through this evening and overnight, it will be predominantly grey and murky. missed on hill fog patches likely. we will see a rejuvenation of the fronts, so rain more active across scotland, england
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and wales through the night. chilly across east anglia, but for the vast majority it will be a frost free night and relatively mild. 0n monday, the front is still with us so monday, the front is still with us so expect further rain across england and wales. becoming dry across scotland, england and northern ireland for a time before rain returns back into the northwest. the rain reluctant to clear away from the midlands and central and southern england. so in the afternoon it will be damp in this area. in south—east england, the cold air is never far away. across wales and western england, temperatures should be nine or ten, is similarto temperatures should be nine or ten, is similar to the values we have today. northern ireland, 10 degrees in belfast and western scotland, 10 degrees as well. but here we will see afternoon rain moving back in. as we go on to tuesday, and the middle part of the week, we will reorientate high—pressure and it should draw in some slightly colder airto should draw in some slightly colder air to south—east england. we will
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see a return of frost, but sunshine. for most of the uk we are stuck with this milder and atlantic and with that, expect a lot of cloud to the first half of the week at least. it will be damp at times, temperatures continue to run in double figures for many western areas. prospect of something a little bit sunnier coming into south—east england, but along with that we will see some frost on tuesday night. find out more about what is going on where you live by going on to the bbc weather website but also there is also more on your smartphone apps. that is the latest weather. this is bbc news.
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the headlines at three. the prime minister prepares to outline her aims in brexit negotiations. the labour leaderjeremy corbyn says the economy could suffer. she appears to be heading is in the direction of a bargain basement economy in europe. where we have low levels of corporate taxation. we will lose access to half of our export market. it seems to me an extremely risky strategy. a warning that cancer operations in some hospitals are being cancelled because of increased pressures on the nhs. also in the next hour, donald trump is urged not to press ahead with plans to move the us embassy in israel to jerusalem. it comes asjohn kerry attends a summit in france in an attempt it comes as delegates from 20 nations attend a conference in france.

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