tv The Week in Parliament BBC News July 22, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST
hardly any sunny spells through the afternoon. could be, compared with friday, a quieter day at the open golf at royal birkdale. fewer showers on sunday. still the risk of some wet weather as we go into the final round. this is how sunday is shaping up. it is really just sunshine and showers. maybe more of us escaping the showers on sunday. temperatures through the weekend for most of us close to average for this time of year. as we go into monday, this system pulls away. it may have some lingering cloud and outbreaks of rain for eastern parts of england, but for monday and tuesday, for most of us, it is looking like a quieter story. briefly high—pressure and some fairly warm sunny spells coming this is bbc news. the headlines: the world health organisation has said the cholera outbreak
in yemen is out of control, with over 300,000 people affected. the country has been racked by civil war and an intervention by saudi—led forces for the past two years. as a result, government health services have collapsed. the white house press secretary, sean spicer, has resigned, reportedly because he was unhappy with president donald trump's appointment of a new communications director. the new appointee, anthony scaramucci, a former wall street financier, denied there had been tensions over his appointment. the palestinian president, mahmoud abbas, has suspended all official contact with israel, as the crisis grows over additional security measures in the old city ofjerusalem. three palestinians were killed in clashes with israeli security forces. three israelis have been stabbed to death in a west bank settlement. now on bbc news, time for the week in parliament. hello there and welcome
to the week in parliament. on this programme, the last prime minister's questions before the summer recess sees jeremy corbyn and theresa may going to battle on some familiar themes. 3.8 million people in work are now living in poverty. we created the national living wage. that was the biggest pay increase for people on lowest incomes ever. with mps and peers heading off on their summer break, we ask three experts what we have learnt from this parliament so far and what we can expect in the future. also on this programme, the government announces it's bringing forward the date when the state pension age will rise to 68. there is a balance to be struck between funding of the state
pension in years to come, whilst also ensuring fairness for future generations of taxpayers. but first, there was a rowdy end of term sort of feel to the last prime minister's questions before recess. the labour leaderjeremy corbyn focused on low pay, but began by highlighting splits at the top of the government. the chancellor, philip hammond, had appeared on tv a few days earlier, saying some senior ministers were briefing against him because they didn't like his views on brexit. that had followed press stories featuring comments he'd reportedly made during a cabinet meeting. remarksjeremy corbyn seized on. mr speaker, the chancellor said this week that some public services servants are overpaid. given the prime minister has had to administer a slap down to her squabbling cabinet, does she think the chancellor was actually talking about her own ministers? i recognise, as i said when i stood on the steps of downing street a year ago, that there are some people
our country who are just about managing. they find life a struggle. that actually covers people who are working in the public sector and some people who are working in the private sector. and that's why it's important that the government is taking steps — for example, to help those on lowest incomes through the national living wage. it's why we have taken millions of people out of paying income tax altogether. it's why basic rate tax payers under this government have seen a tax cut of the equivalent of £1,000. can i invite the prime minister to take a check with reality on this? mr speaker, one in eight workers in the united kingdom, that is 3.8 million people, in work are now living poverty. why doesn't the prime minister understand that low pay is a threat to an already
weakening economy? the best route out of poverty is to work. that's why it is so important that over the last seven years we have seen 3 million more jobs being created in our economy. what's important for government as well is to ensure that we do provide support for people. that's why we created the national living wage. that was the biggest pay increase for people on lowest incomes ever. when did the labour party ever introduce the national living wage? never. that was a conservative government and a conservative record. i look along that front bench opposite, mr speaker, and i see a cabinet bickering and backbiting while the economy gets weaker and people are pushed further into debt. i'll tell the right honourable gentleman the reality. the reality is that he is always talking britain down and we are leading britain forward. the snp‘s leader at westminster turned to the pensions of the so—called waspy women.
the prime minister has found up to £35 billion for hinkley point c nuclear power station, up to 200 billion to replace the trident missile system, and one billion for a deal with dup just so she can keep her own job. she seems to be able to shake the magic money tree when she wants to. can the prime minister now end the injustice for those women who are missing out on their pension before she herself thinks about retiring? we have put £1 billion extra into this question of the change of the state pension age to ensure that nobody sees their state pension age increased by more than 18 months from that which was previously expected. and i have to also say to the honourable gentleman that the scottish government, of course, does now have extra powers in the area of welfare. and perhaps... perhaps it's about time the scottish government got on with the dayjob and stopped talking about
independence. theresa may. parliament has been back forjust over a month sincejune‘s surprise general election. theresa may was returned without a majority and was forced to strike a £1 billion deal with the dup. the change in her electoral fortunes has left mrs may at the mercy of her own backbenchers and tightened jeremy corbyn‘s grip on his party. it promises to be a parliament with plenty of fight and of course there's one big subject on the agenda. roslyn ball reports. a two—year parliament, but a pared down queen's speech with one big agenda item. presentation of bill. mr secretary davis. mr minister baker. european union withdrawal bill. with brexit talks under way in brussels, opposition parties claimed the uk parliament has been left with little to do.
and in isn't the european parliament, however much mocked in this country, showing the mother of parliaments just what parliamentary control looks like in the modern era? its ability to veto the brexit deal means that the other institutions need to front—load information to the parliament, so there have been seven position papers against one from our government and unfortunately parliamentary scrutiny in the westminster parliament is still rather unstructured. we have just completed an election where we have asked people to vote for us. as a parliamentary democracy, they expect us to debate and vote on motions that were relevant to their lives 31 days ago. 0ur constituents expected us to come back straightaway to work. instead after the gracious speech, there have only been seven votes. this parliament is already being dubbed the zombie
parliament. i actually think that that comparison would actually give the flesh eating undead a bad name. this is turbo—charged political zombie—ism. pete wishart. so those are just some of the issues which are going to shape this parliament over the months to come. and to discuss all of this, i am joined in the studio byjill rutter of the institute for government, professor ian begg of the london school of economics, and by the constitutional expert professor vernon bogdanor. vernon bogdanor, is pete wishart right? is it a zombie parliament? from one point of view, it is a zombie parliament in that it is deadlocked. there is really no majority for any controversial legislation at all. and both of the major parties are internally deeply divided on the major piece of legislation, which is, of course, the european union withdrawal bill. but from another point of view, you might call it the backbencher‘s
parliament, because any backbenchers with proposals which achieve consensus can get their measures through. we have already seen an example of that in the proposal by stella creasey that women who come from northern ireland to secure abortions on this side of the irish sea can have them paid for by the taxpayer. and that was accepted by the government for fear of losing the vote. there may be other similar measures. the great danger with that, of course, is that both of these proposals are for increases in expenditure, which is difficult for the government to resist. so the chancellor of the exchequer in this backbencher‘s parliament may be even more beleaguered than he would be normally. all right. ian begg, let's talk a bit about brexit, then. how, as far as we can tell, are the political shenanigans and the parliamentary shenanigans at westminster being viewed from europe? i think i could sum it up in one word. they are perplexed. they cannot fathom what we're up to. i am regularly in other european countries and the question i am constantly asked is,
"why are you so insistent oi'i shooting yourself in the foot in this manner?" and what comes over is a sense of not understanding what britain wants, which is very clear in the stance that has been put forward in the negotiations, and not knowing what kind of finalite, the outcome britain wants to achieve from it. all right, noinll rutter, we're going to see the great repeal bill as it used to be called, the eu withdrawal bill, being discussed properly for the first time in september, when mps return from their summer break. so how far is the civil service over the summer presumably going to be working flat out to try to make some sense of what this bill is going to do and where parliament can go with it? well, the civil service has been trying to work out what to do with the bill since the referendum, basically. there's been a long task to try and identify both what legislation needs to be brought over, but also how to put that into law, and we have seen that with the repeal bill, which was actually ready for introduction a month or
two earlier because it was ready for before the general election, so what the civil service really has to be getting on with is notjust the legislation. there are seven other brexit bills that need to be drafted on agriculture, fisheries, customs, trade, all those issues, so we need seven more, and i think those are in a less state of readiness than the repeal bill was. then there are all the statutory instruments that need to go under scrutiny. we have seen an estimate from the department on the eu that there will be... these are the changes that ministers can make. these are the things that actually give effect to the changes because the repeal bill is reallyjust more of a shell to give ministers power to make those changes in law when they decide what they need to do. and some of those depend on the outcomes of the negotiations, so the real meat of the repeal bill isn't in the clauses that people are going to start debating in september. it is in all of the statutory instruments that the ministers are going to be bringing forward.
and vernon bogdanof, the fear that has been expressed already by some of the nations but also by some backbenchers is that these ministerial powers are a great, fat power grab by the government. absolutely. statutory instruments don't get the sort of scrutiny that primary legislation, that is bills, get from mps. and the great danger is that this is a transfer of power not from the european union to parliament but from the european union to the executive. now, the government's view is that the repeal bill is dealing with essentially mechanical matters. it is just transposing european law into our own legal system. but perhaps it is not quite so simple in some cases, because what after all is the analogous british institution to say the european commission? where do you find the analogy in britain? so there are political choices to be made and where there are those political choices to be made, mps will understandably want to scrutinise precisely what choices are being made and not hand ministers too much power. meanwhile, ian begg, let's talk money. over in europe, one of the first things on the agenda is the divorce bill and what it
is going to cost us. where are we going to get to with that? well, if i start with where i think it will finish, i believe that we will get a settlement of the order of 30 or 40 billion euros, not the hundred billion euros that is being canvassed in the press. the reason it is contradicted is that if britain withdraws on day one of brexit from paying into the european union, it receives a hole in the eu budget. and that would apply to other net contributors, particularly germany, to pay more. and jill rutter, presumably the government this end trying to negotiate that figure down to is close to zero as they can get. it will be trying to negotiate it down as close to zero but it's not actually put a red line on that one which is quite interesting, given the other areas where we have seen the government draw red lines.
because i think they realised, precisely every zones ian says. that this is one of the cards in our hand to actually secure other things we want. at the end of the day, we can have some flexibility on money, we can use that to improve other parts of the exit offer. so i think ministers will try as hard as they can to avoid being held down, while talking quite tough and trying to anchor to a lower figure. let's look at one issue where we have had a lot of chatter already and that is the status of the eu nationals living in the uk. now, the house of lords so far, we haven't had a lot of noise from them but this is a subject they care passionately about. is this going to be one of the first battles for the lords versus the government in brexit? well, it might well be, but it seems to me the government has put forward a reasonable position on which there can be negotiation. there are problems about families and so on but those matters can be discussed and dealt with. and i think, there, the eu
will have to back down. i think they have been, frankly, a little ungenerous towards theresa may's offer which i think was a reasonable and generous first step. and no doubt it can be improved with negotiation. so, if you think that the eu nationals issue will be settled, if you were a government minister, what would you be looking out for as the flash points particularly in the house of lords? well, the house of lords, i suspect, will want us to remain in the internal market and in the customs union which theresa may at least has said we shouldn't do. she was very clear in her lancaster house speech that brexit means brexit and she means by that we should be out of the internal market and out of the customs union because in her view that would make us the satellite or colony of the eu, that is we would have to accept much eu law but without any role in formulating it. now, the house of lords may take a different view, and the labour party in the commons may take a different view. and the business community may take a different view. there will, i think, be serious clashes with the house of lords because they are dealing
with a minority government. the house of lords is even more strongly remain than the commons. it is worth pointing out that the house of commons not only has a majority of people who voted remain but an even larger majority, given the increase in the number of labour mps, and even larger majority than in the 2015 parliament. so it is being required to do something that it doesn't want to do which is a constitutional first in british history. let's get a brief final thought from all of you. imagine that you are sitting in these chairs 12 months from now, where are we? is theresa may still prime minister? have we had another election? jill rutter. who knows, who knows? i think it is at the impossible to say. ithink, hopefully, well, where do we hope to be? we hope to be much clearer about the uk government's negotiating objectives. ideally, there would be far more consensus about what we are trying to object, we want to make progress in getting some of the necessary legislation through onto the statute book. we would be clear what sort of outcome we are starting to implement. that is what we need to be doing
if we are going to minimise the risks on exit in march 2019. ian begg, are you this optimistic? i think we will have moved to a position where we recognise that what is being talked about now, the dichotomy between hard brexit and soft brexit, is actually a false dichotomy, and the real dialogue will be between hard brexit and rethinking whether we leave at all. interesting. i agree with that comment very much but i think that government is much more stable than many imagine. it has an effective majority with the support of the dup of 13. and it will be able to avoid a vote of no—confidence which is the only way you can get it out. and i think theresa may will last longer than people imagine. the backbenchers say they want to keep her there for the moment, that any leadership election will be divisive and would lead to calls for another general election which they don't want. and the key unifying factor for the government which keeps them there is jeremy corbyn. the fear ofjeremy corbyn.
and that will keep them there possibly for five years. all right, thank you all very much indeed for coming into the programme. now, let's take a look at some other news from around westminster in brief. the state pension age is to rise from 67 to 68 seven years earlier than initially planned. the change will affect those born between april 1970 and april 1978. the increase will now come into effect from 2037. the work and pensions secretary david gauke told mps people were living longer. there is a balance to be struck between funding of the state pension in years to come whilst also ensuring fairness for future generations of taxpayers. the approach i am setting out today is the responsible and fair course of action. most pensioners will now spend their retirement battling a toxic cocktail of ill—health. in our manifesto, we committed to leaving the state pension age at 66 while we undertake a review into healthy life expectancy,
arduous work, and the potential of a flexible state pension age. the snp continue to call for the establishment of an independent savings and pension commission. we believe that the government is not doing enough to recognise the demographic differences across the united kingdom and an independent review of this would look at those. when her majesty the queen came to the throne in 1952, there were 300 people that year who reached the age of 100. last year, it was over 13,000. youth custody centres in england and wales are now so unsafe that the tragedy is inevitable — that is the finding of the annual report of the chief inspector of prisons. peter clark said he hadn't inspected a single establishment where it was safe to hold young people. the jump in violence in our prisons is the crisis of the government's own making. the warning signs have been there. they have been warned by mps, they have been warned by staff in our prisons, and they've been warned by charities.
now, they are being condemned by this damning report. the budget for prisons has been cut by more than a fifth over the last six years, cuts that have now been proved to be a false economy. prison staff have been cut by a quarter, and those who remain are being put at risk. i would argue that the unforeseen exacerbant in prisons has been spice, and drug use. it was not anticipated by a previous government, and this is undeniably causing difficulties, both in terms of the behaviour of the prisoners and indeed the corruption of the prisoners and some staff in regards to the trade of these substances. labour has accused the government of reneging promise to allow mps vote on increasing tuition fees in england. they are due to rise this autumn to a maximum of £9,250. but labour face accusations from the conservatives of misleading students during the election when it homes to write off existing student debt. this weak and wobbly government doesn't even
trust its own backbenchers with a vote on its own policies. can she confirm, is it still labour policy to pay off all 400 billion pounds worth of the outstanding student debt? is it still her policy? yes or no? i said once, and i will say it again, we have no plans to write off existing student debt, and we never promised to do so. the party opposite wants to talk about process because its policy platform is disintegrating before our eyes. this debate which cannot change arrangements for 2017/18 is therefore a sham exercise. the government has confirmed the routes for the second stage of the high—speed rail network hs2. there will be two links on from birmingham, one to the north west, and the other to the east midlands and yorkshire. the transport secretary chris grayling initially made the announcement in a written statement, prompting protests in the commons.
all the indications and now that the news will be sneaked out in a written statement any time now. shocking! mr speaker, this is a gross discourtesy and adds insult to injury for my constituents. itoo, sadly, think that it is outrageous that this major item of public expenditure which is affecting my constituents and those of many others is not being reflected by a statement here today. the transport secretary did eventually come to the commons a little after ten o'clock at night. as you know, mr speaker, sometimes these things can happen as a result of cock—ups rather than conspiracy. we need hs2. since privatisation, the number of passenger journeys in our railways has doubled, it has nearly tripled on the key west coast intercity corridor. we cannot continue to rely on the legacy of our victorian forbearers, far—sighted though they were. what assurances and guarantees can he give that the total cost will not exceed the stated £55.7 billion and not spiral as has been alleged in certain quarters?
there have been some wild rumours, i have to say, mr speaker, in the last 2a hours about the project, based on frankly a finger in the air by people who are not involved in the project. the government has been urged to use the depth of the uk's relationship with saudi arabia to do more than just condemn its use of the death penalty. ministers say they seek clarity over reports that over 11; men could be facing execution for attending protests in 2012. the week the foreign secretary visited saudi arabia, eight people were executed in one day, beheaded. now, when will this government actually decide that it is time to publicly condemn these abuses of human rights? 0ur silence is deafening. surely that depth of our relationship with saudi arabia in trade, in finance, in the presence of many saudi arabians in this country, the long—standing way in which we have been together through war and peace,
it would indicate we have the options for significantly more leverage than mere condemnation. at the end of the day, saudi arabia is a sovereign state and it is not possible for us to either interfere with its judicial system or its constitutional approach to these matters. but we can make clear, as we do, our profound disapproval and our profound opposition to abuses of human rights and to deployment of the death penalty. the lib dem former business secretary vince cable has been announced as the new liberal democrat leader. he takes over from tim farron who stepped down from the job after the june general election. dr cable lost his commons seat in the 2015 general election, regaining it in the election in june. no other candidate stood for thejob. time now for a look at what has been happening in the wider world of politics this week. here is claire gould with our countdown. pmqs might get heated
but that is nothing compared to the passion unleashed in the taiwanese parliament where a debate over infrastructure spending got a bit out of hand. settling their differences on the sport field rather than the battlefield, mps versus journalists in the westminster end of term sportsday. with cross—party working in the tug—of—war and a dispatch box relay decided in a photo finish. a note from the clerks can be invaluable to the speaker. but this week, mr bercow got rather than less than he bargained for. well, that is very helpful. and i mean very helpful. from one of our senior clerks — don't have the details, believe you are correct, we can check. and there was just time for one more election before the end of term, this time in the house of lords where a new hereditary peer was elected.
the successful candidate was lord volkes of harridon. someone in parliament was very keen to get home for the holidays on wednesday evening. the situation, lighting wise, has slightly thrown me off. that's right, minister, keep calm and carry on. claire gould. and that is it from us this week and indeed for the summer. mps and peers are now taking a break from westminster. and we will be back when they return on september the 5th. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello, after the soaking, it is more
about sunshine and story. some sunshine appearing. after the windy friday, lighter winds although it could still be quite gusty around some showers. showers to south—west england, and wales. hefty downpours affecting parts of northern england and southern scotland with the chance of rumbles of thunder and hail as well. warm with sunny spells in scotland. the odd showers in northern ireland. not too many sunny spells for east anglia and south—east in the afternoon. looking at part two of the weekend on sunday, again sunshine and showers. persistent rain affecting parts of
eastern scotland. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. our top stories: president trump's spokesman quits, as a new voice takes over white house communications. the victim of an armed robbery in which oj simpson was jailed tells us why he should be freed. hello, and welcome to bbc news. donald trump's press secretary, sean spicer, one of the most recognisable white house faces, has resigned. it's the latest in a series of developments as the white house comes under increasing scrutiny, as an investigation into alleged