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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  September 16, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST

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assessment to the highest level following a bomb explosion on a rush—hour train in london. theresa may said security analysts had concluded that a further attack might be imminent — and there would be more armed police on the streets. the united nations security council has strongly condemned north korea for carrying out its latest missile test — calling it ‘highly provocative‘. but after an emergency meeting — the un said there would no further sanctions for now. north korea fired a missile over japan for the second time this month. after 20 years in space, the cassini mission to the ringed planet — saturn — has come to a spectacular end. the probe had run out of fuel — and the us space agency — nasa — had commanded it to destroy itself by plunging into the planet's atmosphere. now on bbc news, the week in parliament. hello and welcome to
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the week in parliament. a controversial bill that turns all eu law into british law has passed its first parliamentary test — but the battle is far from over. it actually represents the biggest peace time power grab by the executive over the legislature, by the government over parliament, in 100 years. the government rejects accusations that it is riding roughshod over the democratic process. the government of the day must have a realistic opportunity to make progress with its business through the house. the motion that the house is being asked to agree today guarantees that the party with a working majority is able to do exactly that. and for mps worried about a government power grab, there's a lesson in how to tame the executive. i am no friend of the front bench. i thrash them and i lash them —
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thwack, thwack, thwack — on a regular basis! but first, mps voted on the eu withdrawal bill in the early hours of tuesday morning. a strange time of day to be making big decisions, but the timing provided a dash of drama. because, in the end, the result wasn't as dramatic as expected. a comfortable win for the government. order! the ayes to write, 326. the noes to the left, 290. but ministers can't rest easy. the bill has a long parliamentary journey ahead. during eight hours of debate on monday, mps of all parties made it clear the bill was far from perfect and they'd be trying to amend it when the committee stage starts in october. it actually represents the biggest peacetime power grab
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by the government over parliament in 100 years. some mps warned against opposing the bill as a way of stopping brexit. it actually represents the biggest peace time power grab by the executive over the legislature, by the government over parliament, in 100 years. and some members seem to think that it's a compliment to refer to these as henry viii powers. i mean, i know that henry viii in 1536 legislated to allow two mps to come here from calais, but on the whole, the tudor exercise was not a proud demonstration of democracy. i will not support this bill because it threatens a fundamental principle of british democracy, namely the supremacy of parliament and the division of powers, and gives sweeping powers to government ministers and bureaucrats. this approach of ourselves alone against the world is not one that i can possibly endorse and not one that my colleagues can possibly endorse, either.
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we must reject this bill — a new approach is needed, and that's why i'll be voting against tonight. so, although i shall support it at second reading, as will become apparent, i do so on the basis that this bill needs improvement in a number of areas in the committee stage. i believe it's true that 80% of the people who voted some mps warned against opposing the bill as a way of stopping brexit. it actually represents the biggest peace time power grab by the executive over the legislature, by the government if that promise is broken, i believe the resulting anger will give rise to extreme political movements right across the uk that will change our politics for ever. i don't think the vast majority of honourable members in this house actually want to create a chaotic brexit. i think it's... i think they're going to be voting for a tactical defeat of themselves. when i was a rebel, i used to care about these things. now, i'm a loyalist, i let the government get away with it in so many ways.
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i mean, henry viii is a bastard but he's my kind of bastard! so, where might the debate over leaving the eu rank in the historical records of parliament? sean curran asked the historian and crossbench peer lord hennessy for his assessment. it's always troublesome, the european question, for the british house of commons, and parliament generally, because it doesn't fit our left—right structure of politics. it's not a left or right question, and from 1950, when the first bit of it was proposed, the coal and ssteel community, it has bust us up, our politics, in a way that no other question does. so, it has these particular fissile properties. but in terms of the magnitude of this debate, the withdrawal bill debate, i think it's greater than all the previous ones, even maastricht, even the debate in the early ‘60s about the first application, even the referendum debate of ‘75, and indeed the debate that led up to ted heath getting us in, in 1973. this has got very, very special properties. and i think it is so great
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a question for the house of commons and so disruptive of people, of people's psyche, the notion of their country, their part in it, who they are, where they're from, that the british political system is being tested on the anvil of brexit. so, it's a lineal successor of all these previous debates which have been remarkable for their ferocity when they really take off. but i think it has special qualities all on its own. when you think about it, the european debate in our country is either unbelievably boring or deeply disruptive. there's nothing in between. it reminds me of that line in aldous huxley about life — that life is routine punctuated by orgies. this is an orgy with a capital 0. if it's not like maastricht, is it like the end of the british empire? the end of empire is a comparator in terms of the magnitude of the geopolitical shift, but not in terms of the ecology
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of the politics of it. i think it's the single most disruptive thing that we face, europe. in some ways in my darker moments, because it's quite distressing, the rancour that it produces, it's our substitute for wars of religion. and i try and cheer myself up about that, because it's much better to have rows about wine lakes and prune mountains and tariffs than it is about religion. so, reason to be cheerful number one. some striking thoughts there from lord hennessy. the conservative cheryl gillan and labour's margaret hodge both entered parliament in the 1990s. i asked mrs gillan if she thought this was a divisive time for parliament. well, i think the europe question ridges a huge generalisation in itself, has divided both our parties, labour and conservative, for a long time and i think that lend it does defy the normal politics of left and right. but strangely enough, at,, and i hope that i had pitchman to do with the withdrawal bill going
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through with a reasonable majority, i felt the matter was settling down andi i felt the matter was settling down and i hope i heard right from the frontbenchers, i'm talking about my party, i have the matter was settling down because i felt a frontbench also willing to admit on which all of us know, the parliamentary draughtsmen work very ha rd parliamentary draughtsmen work very hard on producing our legislation but it's never, ever perfect. dc government under stress? i remember
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the debates on war, the rates on a rock. they were incredibly powerful, stressful moments. i do not think this is the only one. it is a ridiculously disruptive time, when we can't focus on some of the key issues that matter to all our constituents. you are hoping the front bench will concede, they have no option but to do so, that is the honest truth because with a very small majority and with such a diversion fuse on your bench, i don't they will be. i will come back to the labour side. with the diverging views within the conservative party, there was a concession around the henry viii powers, there are diverging views. labour as a whole has no option but to oppose that. that's what we are about four. if we can secure a defeat the government, that is very disabling for the conservative party
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and its very good for the labour party. so whatever the diverging views are within labour, i think you won't see them openly. they will disappear. i have a slightly different take on it. in a strange sort of way, the narrowness of the majority and the parliamentary arithmetic in many ways makes, the government's sposition more stable and theresa may more secure, because those mps that are at the extreme ends of the debate can look over the abyss, and the opposite to remaining in government is to havejeremy corbyn, and i think that's such a hugely strongly uniting factor. i think it's really healthy that we've got no overall majority, because i think it does give room for backbencher influencing parliament. if we go away from the party political aspect, if you look at the history, when the labour government in 1997 and 2001, we had massive majorities, we never lost anything.
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what is your advice to back inches, what is the best strategy? my view is that backbenchers have to cooperate across the parties. so, i think the more we can get cross—party co—operation, where we agree on issues around europe, i think that's the best possibility of achieving the changes that i want, to see an exit from europe which doesn't damage living standards and jobs, that's my priority. as a conservative backbencher and a very experienced one? i love the way you say experienced! been around a long time! i think what is key is, if you've got a sensible front bench and they look at these amendments and they see that it will improve the legislation, and accept those amendments... i have to say, what i hate about frontbenchers is,
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if they push every amendment back because it hasn't come from their side. i think we need a different approach. it's sort of what you were saying but slightly from a different point of view. there are going to be some very constructive amendments going around with this legislation. whether they are cross—party or whichever side of the house they come from, i think if the front bench is sensitive enough to respond to them, that will be good. can you gaze into the crystal ball for me to 150 amendments already, how is the committee stage going to look? i think we are going to see substantial amendments, they have no option but to listen to the backbenches — and that is great. late nights? i'm not bothered by late nights, to be truthful. lam, i do think... you want to get to
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bed earlierfor me! ijust think we are doing serious business and playing silly tricks is not the way to tackle serious business. even this week keeping us there till midnight one night, that's not the way in which we can sensibly engage in what are hugely convex issues which have an incredibly lasting effect on the country. i disagree. i think we've got eight days on committee stage which i think is plenty long enough. and i think it is a good length of time. on maastricht we didn't have guillotine motions and all of these things which the labour government brought in. and so it went on too long and did not really add to the debate. cheryl gillan and margaret hodge. some mps think the government is getting a taste for power in many areas of parliamentary life. on tuesday the government set out proposals to exert control of the committees that scrutinise legislation in detail. the commons leader, andrea leadsom, defended the move, saying that with dup support, the government had a working majority. the government of the day must have a realistic opportunity to make progress with its business
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through the house. the motion that the house is being asked to agree today guarantees that the party with a working majority is able to do exactly that. i will give way to the honourable gentleman. for the purposes of this parliament, the government only has a working majority for matters of confidence and supply. matters of confidence and supply, madam deputy speaker, are not committed to the public bill committees. they are dealt with on the floor of the house. in committees, they should not have, because they do not have in this house, a working majority. well, the right honourable gentleman will be aware that on the floor of this house the government does have a working majority, and as extensions of the floor of this house, it is right that the government must be able to have a realistic opportunity to get its business through. i feel sorry for the honourable leader of the house. she is sent out, in a bright outfit like that television presenter from north korean tv,...
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sent on in a bright outfit, to tell us everything is well, when actually something really bad and dramatic is happening. and it is to our democracy. charles walker said he was not afraid to cross swords with the government. i am no friend of the front bench. i thrash them and i lash them on a regular basis. but madam deputy speaker, try as i might, i cannot work myself up into a lather about this. i would love to be furious with the government, i really would. but i can't, and i get angry very quickly, and i make some spectacular apologies. but i can't really get too wound up about this. "great power grab two, the sequel. "the return. "then they came for our committees". this is an incredible, totally undemocratic power grab from a government that does not command a majority in this house. in the end, the government got its way by 320 votes to 300. now, to other news from
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parliament this week. at prime minister's questions, theresa may and the labour leader, jeremy corbyn, argued over who was acting in the interests of "ordinary people". mr corbyn quoted remarks the chancellor, philip hammond, reportedly made to the 1922 committee of backbench conservative mps. last week at the 1922 committee meeting, he told conservative mps... he told conservative mps, "look at us, no mortgage, "everybody with a pension, and never had more money in the current account". a conservative prime minister... a conservative prime minister once told britain, "you've never had it so good". now, tory mps tell each other, "we've never had it so good". can the prime minister tell us what's happened in the last seven years to the average person's bank account? ordinary people, he's talking about the situation they face.
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this is his fourth question. he has not yet mentioned the employment figures today. that show unemployment at lowest levels since the mid—19705, and employment, people in work, people taking home a wage, a salary to support their families, at record levels, the highest level since records began. jeremy corbyn. the only problem is, more people in work are in poverty than ever before, and more are in insecure work. more relying on tax credits and housing benefit to make ends meet. consumer debt rising by 10%, as wages are falling. household savings lower than at any time for the past 50 years. that is the conservative legacy. the honourable gentleman promised
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workers he would protect their rights, and on monday he let them down. he promised students that he would deal with their debt, and he's let them down. he promised... he promised the british people that he would support trident, and he's let them down. and he promised voters he'd deliver on brexit, and he's let them down. what people know is that it's only the conservatives that deliver a better britain. theresa may is, of course, the second woman conservative prime minister and she takes a close interest in promoting women in parliament. there are now more female mps than ever before,
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a record 208 women won seats at this year's general election. but that's still onlyjust under a third, 32% of all mps. and in more than 100 constituencies, 16% of the total, there were no female candidates. so what can be done to encourage more women to apply? conservative backbencher mims davies led a debate on the issue on wednesday. parties can only work with the candidates that come through the door. when i described it took me four years to fill out my form and feel i was ready to have a go, it's a big thing to get knocked back from. so you've got to wait for a time to feel ready to go for it. so obviously, candidates are only going to come through if the parties are open and making that opportunity. and actually, the candidates will want to come through because they feel that being in government has a benefit, that time spent is actually worth it. now, if we don't get the pipeline right in parties, such as local councillors, where i started and got the bug for making things happen, then we are not going to end up with parliamentarians. harriet harman has been a longtime campaigner for gender
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equality in parliament. she singled out the speaker, john bercow, for praise. though you did arrive in this house as a man and as a tory, you have... you have, since... since... since you have been... since you have been in the chair, really, you have proved yourself to be nothing less than an honorary sister. the right honourable lady for camberwell and peckham, and to the house as a whole, that as members can probably tell, my cup runneth over. i'm in a state of overwhelming excitement. the commons select committees are up and running again. the home affairs committee got down to work quickly, investigating allegations of abuse at brook house immigration removal centre near gatwick airport.
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the bbc‘s panorama programme has exposed violence and chaos at the centre. first to give evidence was a former gas manager at brook house. i wasn't surprised but was shocked that the level of abuse that was going on, so i have been raising concerns about practice within gas since 2001. and in particular raised concerns tojerry petherick upon my resignation. jerry petherwick is the gas executive in charge of detention centres. would you have been aware of any of these things, or taken any action on them, had there not been a panorama programme? well, i was ashamed of what i saw and very sorry for what we saw. i can assure you that if we were in any way aware of any of that behaviour, we would have taken action. of course, since the panorama programme we have taken action. we've immediately suspended ten members of staff and have now dismissed three of those members of staff, and there are ongoing investigations into the conduct of the other people involved. you clearly have a system failure,
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to allow those things to happen in the first place. as peter says, we were both absolutely ashamed and disappointed, because it doesn't reflect the behaviour of the vast majority of our staff at brook house or elsewhere, who do a very good job in very trying conditions. and we need to remember and acknowledge that. around aa,000 people die each year in this country from sepsis, a condition in which an infection spreads to other parts of the body. to coincide with world sepsis day this week, nhs england has launched a new action plan. in the lords, peers shared personal stories about their experience of sepsis. as a survivor of total body sepsis, can i very much endorse what my noble friend said about the speed of, and the danger of this illness? and what was so difficult in my case, for both my family and the professionals who treated me to understand was it could lead to a total failure of all the body's
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organs, as it did in my case, within literally hours. so the urgency of this must be really emphasised in any public awareness campaign. i'm very sorry to hear the noble lady has suffered that but obviously delighted that she is still here. just to re—emphasise the point about speed, and i encourage noble lords to look at the quality standard, because it really is very stringent, the speed at which treatment needs to be administered. the critical thing of course is making sure there is proper triage and assessment ahead of that, and that is where we still need to make some progress. mps have been relating disturbing stories about the way they and their families have been treated by members of the public. here's the conservative mp and former army officer bob stewart. all my four children have been hassled by other kids in their local schools because of the job of theirfather. there is little that can be done about that, because they are children, and my kids are robust enough to withstand it.
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but such behaviour is taken to a new level when, during the last general election, a teacher tells the class of my 13—year—old boy that nobody should talk to him because he's the son of a conservative mp. i'm grateful to my honourable and gallant friend for sharing with the house such a personal and deeply upsetting and deeply troubling incident that's happened to his son, and that is simply unacceptable. it's a noble thing to stand for election. it's a noble thing to want to represent your community, whether as a councillor, or as an mp in this place. so what's been happening in the wider world of politics this week?
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patrick cowling has our countdown. tony blair has said he was obsessed with the idea of combining the scottish and english football leagues to improve cultural ties. as we know, teams who play each other regularly, learn to love each other. several mps were seen sporting interesting lapel badges on wednesday. sadly, not a reference to the prime minister's forays into fields of wheat, but a show of support for british farming. conservative mp michael fabricant has been revealed as contestant on celebrity first dates, but assured colleagues he was not appearing on another programme. i will not be appearing on they could attraction. baroness golding clashed with former holyrood nemesis lord faulkes on thursday in the house of lords, and reminded the labour peer where he was. you're not in the scottish parliament now, mister. sports minister tracey crouch provided first—hand evidence of bbc parliament's drive to gain a younger audience with this video
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of her little one glued to the screen. so watch out cbeebies. mummy. mummy! patrick cowling, with news of one of ourjunior viewers! parliament is having a three—week break now for party conference season. mps will be back again on monday 9th october. until then, from me, kristiina cooper, goodbye. hello. saturday starts on a chilly
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but fine note for many of us. showers for coastal parts will begin to develop elsewhere throughout the day and the bells of rain affecting parts of northern and western scotla nd parts of northern and western scotland for a time and edging down into northern scotland by the end of the afternoon. the winds are a little bit lighter so it might hang a little longer. perhaps thundery threesome parts of england. inevitably some places were makes the showers and stay dry. one shower doesn't make a wash out of the day if you do catch one. and there will be sunny spells around as well. most of us the showers failed, and overnight into sunday there will be some heavy rain towards south devon. along the south coast could be some heavy showers close by, but most places going into sunday morning dry, clear and chilly. temperatures in parts of scotland and northern ireland close to freezing. could be a touch of frost for some of us. for scotland, wales and western england, scattered showers elsewhere. maybe the odd heavy one. hello and welcome to bbc news. britain is at its highest terror threat level
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following friday's tube bombing in london. there will be additional patrols in busy areas and at landmarks. 29 people were injured when the home—made device exploded at parsons green station. it's thought it didn't detonate as intended. the train was heading towards central london. our special correspondent lucy manning reports. on the floor of the tube, still in flames, it was supposed to blow up the carriage. that bag is on fire. it caused panic, fear, some injuries, but thankfully it didn't kill. guys, let's get away and move to the end of the platform.
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