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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  November 20, 2017 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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in a highly anticipated speech to the nation, mr mugabe announced his intention to lead next month's ruling zanu—pf party congress. the party has given him until midday on monday to resign orface impeachment. talks to form a coalition government in germany have collapsed, throwing chancellor angela merkel‘s future into doubt. the leader of the liberal free democrats said his party was pulling out because it had not been possible to find a basis of trust with chancellor merkel‘s christian democrats. us planes carrying underwater rescue equipment have arrived in argentina to help hunt for a missing argentine submarine. the sanjuan disappeared four days ago in the south atlantic, with 44 crew on board. now on bbc news, it is time for a look back at the week in parliament. hello and welcome to the programme
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in a westminster week dominated by one big event. european union withdrawal bill, committee. order. how are we going to leave the eu? i will be reporting on the big debates in the commons. mps keep up the pressure on the government to cut payment waiting times for claimants being switched to a controversial new benefit. universal credit has forced them into debt, made it harderfor them to stay in work and left many of them facing eviction. i have been talking to the conservative mp in elected to chair the liaison committee, but what does it do? we are there because we are used to cross—party consensus working and we want to develop ideas, influence and understand what policy is.
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also on this programme: mps denounce an inquiry into a controversial pregnancy test as a whitewash. and i've been talking to the conservative mp who's been elected to chair the powerful commons liaison committee, but what exactly does it do?. but first, on the long road to brexit, this week will go down as something of a parliamentary milestone, as mps held their first two days of line—by—line scrutiny on the eu withdrawal bill. we asked henry mance, of the financial times, for his take on the week's debates. it's one of the most constitutionally significant bills in recent british history, and this week mps got a chance to get their teeth into the detail. the eu withdrawal bill, formerly the great repeal bill, entered the committee stage in the commons on tuesday. the bill's primary purpose is to ensure legal continuity after brexit, converting eu law into british law. before the debates began, david davis offered one major concession to mps who wants to ensure that parliament will have a full vote on any deal agreed with brussels. i can confirm that once we have reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement the agreement, to be known as the withdrawal agreement implementation bill.
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but clever politicians know you always have to read the small print, so what happens if mps vote no to a deal? will the consequence be that we will still leave on the 29th of march, 2019 but without an agreement? yes. and what happens if the uk doesn't reach a deal with the eu? if we don't have eu withdrawal agreement, we can't have a withdrawal agreement bill. in other words, no deal, no full vote for parliament. that wasn't the only thing that some pro—eu mps didn't like about the eu withdrawal bill. some conservatives rejected an idea from the government of inserting a specific date, the 29th of march, 2019, at 11pm london time, into the bill. what if, said the conservative former chancellor ken clarke, the eu and the uk decided they needed a few more days, or a few more weeks to conclude negotiations? it would be utterly foolish if 28 governments all agreed to extend the process and the british representative had to say, but we have put into british law a timing which says,
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to the second, when we are actually leaving. steve baker, junior brexit minister, wasn't interested in hypotheticals. the government intends the united kingdom to leave the eu on the 29th of march, 2019, and that is why we intend to put that on the face of this bill. occasionally, the debate seemed a rerun of the referendum. two world wars took place before the existence of the european union, and the fact that we, in europe, have lived in this country and in germany and france for decades in peace, is that not because of france and germany and other countries now being in a position of never, ever will they be going to war because of the european union? by wednesday, we had returned to the technical stuff, in particular whether the government would commit to maintaining all workers‘ rights and environmental protections after brexit. theresa may has said she will do
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that but labour want her to promise that any changes that are made are made by primary legislation, not by delegated powers. throughout the referendum, prominent leavers consistently drew attention to what they claimed were the high costs of the eu implementing regulations, including the working time directive and the temporary agency workers directive. prominent members of the cabinet are on record as having called for workers‘ rights to be removed. that time—honoured labour message, you can't trust the tories. the conservatives didn't like that, among them priti patel, returning to the backbenches after resigning as international development secretary a week earlier. i am pleased to speak in this debate, particularly to clause two and three. of course, i am speaking today in this debate following an intensive course over the past week on how to stage an exit, which was the focus of a degree of international attention. she welcomed the freedom that ministers would have before and after brexit. we can do that in terms of how
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we can modernise laws more quickly, more efficiently, making them more relevant, because we will have control over them. that is the fundamental point. and that way we can have modern regulations that will maintain and protect rights, as the prime minister herself has guaranteed that we would, and as the solicitor general mentioned. but we can also look at reducing many of those that are not functional, add costs. some conservatives did agree that the bill needed to be amended to put more constraints on the government. i put the government on notice that we are going to have to draw together the issues that we are debating today, and i'm convinced there will be similar issues next week, all of which derive from the same problem as to the way the government has approached this and drafted this legislation at the moment, and it must be remedied. the government could lose a vote on these points if as few as 20 conservative mps rebel, but the conciliatory attitude explains why none of this week's
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debates were in doubt. no mps rebelled and the government defeated the amendments by a minimum of 12 votes. the tests will get tougher as the committee stages progress. a crescendo is expected in mid—december, when mps will finally debate and vote on what happens if britain does not reach a deal with the eu. henry mance. mps and peers have kept up the pressure on the government all week over the welfare payment universal credit. it merges half a dozen working age benefits into one. it's being rolled out across the country with the aim of simplifying the system and making it easierfor claimants to move into work. but critics say the six—week wait before the first payment is made is leading to debt and rent arrears. at prime minister's questions jeremy corbyn read out a letter sent by one lettings agency. the agency is issuing all of its tenants with a pre—emptive notice of eviction,
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because universal credit has driven up arrears where it has been rolled out. will the prime minister pause universal credit so it can be fixed? or does she think it is right to put thousands of families through christmas in the trauma of knowing they are about to be evicted because they are in rent arrears, because of universal credit? after four months, the number of people on universal credit in arrears has fallen by a third. it is important that we look at the issues on this particular case. the right honourable gentleman might like to send the letter through. in an earlier prime minister's questions, he raised a specific constituent case, who had written to him about her experience, georgina. as far as i am aware, he has not sent that letter to me despite the fact that i asked for it. the following day universal credit was debated by both mps and peers. 0ne mother visited a church
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in hartlepool with her disabled son. she was moved onto universal credit and waited seven weeks for her money. she told one of my clergy that sheet of paper napkins from mcdonald's because she was unable to afford toilet paper. her son's condition means that he wears nappies, which she was also unable to afford. can any of us imagine the stress and indignity of such a situation? i am as concerned as anyone else in this chamber that there are glitches in the workings of the system involved. it is not to be amazed about, actually. it is to certainly worry about, but look at the glitches we have had in the it systems through our parliament and throughout this government. they are being tackled. these are being tackled,
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and they will be overcome. our local council has had to spend £3 million to stop people being evicted because of late payment for rent. localfood banks are running out of food because of the increase in people having to go there, going hungry because of what the government scheme has done to them. glasgow will be the last major city to be subject to the full roll—out, but before that, how many thousands of families, children and vulnerable people will have to suffer and starve? members on all sides, the cross—party working pensions select committee, peers, charities, the children's commissioner and our constituents have raised concerns. we can't all be wrong. i am firmly of the view, as are most people on both sides of this house, that work should always pay. that is the principle that underlines universal credit. the minister said universal credit was being rolled out at a measured pace over nine years with frequent pauses in the process. universal credit is a vital reform
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and it changes how we support people out of work and in work, and how we help them progress from one into the other. it is a lot of change, a new benefit, a new it system, new operational system, new ways of working with partners and that brings challenges. we will continue to work with claimants, with stakeholders and partners, with honourable and right honourable member is to resolve these challenges as they arise, and improve universal credit as it is introduced across the country. at the end of the debate mps voted without a division to call on the government to cut the time claimants have to wait before receiving their first universal credit payment. and the chair of the work and pensions committee called on the work and pensions secretary to come to the commons on monday to explain what the government would now do to reform the benefit. the government has said it doesn't intend to impose direct rule in northern ireland despite introducing an emergency bill to allow public
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spending to continue. the northern ireland secretary told mps the recent round of talks between the democratic unionists and sinn fein had failed to break the deadlock over power—sharing in stormont. despite his strong preference for a restored executive to bring forward its own budget, james brokenshire explained why the government now had to step in. but the ongoing lack of agreement has had tangible consequences for people and public services in northern ireland. without an executive, there has been no budget. and without a budget, civil servants have been without political direction to take decisions on spending and public services in northern ireland. the democratic unionist ian paisley said the situation could not continue indefinitely. in taking this decision, there is no political accountability in northern ireland, either to a non—functioning executive, and importantly tonight, to him and his ministerial team in northern ireland either. that is not sustainable
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for any period of time. there must be political accountability and he must move urgently to appoint ministers and take political control. that is not a step that i do intend to take. labour backed the bill but described it as a twilight zone between devolution and direct rule, and urged the prime minister to step in. we are told so often that the reason she is still persisting in this difficult role at this difficult time is because she has a great sense of duty and public service. i can think of no greater duty or public service that she could play right now than to serve the peace process in northern ireland by intervening personally, by getting her hands dirty to try and bring about the breakthrough that we all so desperately require. 0wen smith. members of the welsh assembly held a—minute‘s silence on tuesday in tribute to their
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colleague carl sargeant. he was found dead on november the 7th, four days after being sacked from his post as cabinet secretary for communities and children. a ruling by the supreme court has cleared the way for scotland to become the first country in the world to set a minimum unit price for alcohol. the policy was first announced five years ago but its implementation stalled when the scotch whisky association launched a legal challenge. the first minister, nicola sturgeon, said the policy would improve public health and would be introduced as soon as possible. now for a look at some news from around westminster in brief. mps have denounced an inquiry into a controversial pregnancy test as a whitewash and a cover—up. a major scientific review of hormonal tests widely used in the 19505, ‘60s and ‘70s concluded that they did not cause major birth defects. the inquiry was set up after a long—running campaign by parents whose children suffered heart problems, missing limbs, spina bifida and other conditions. all the available evidence
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on possible association has been extensively and thoroughly reviewed with the benefit of up—to—date knowledge by experts in the relevant specialisms. the evidence which has been reviewed by the expert group will be published in the next year once it has been rightly checked in line with legal duties and data protection confidentiality. in addition to the overall completion, the expert working group has made a number of recommendations to safeguard future generations through strengthening the systems in place in detecting, evaluating, managing, and communicating safety concerns in the use of medicines in early pregnancy. having had some experience as a former public health minister, and knowing about contaminated blood, i'm afraid to say i smell something suspicious in all of this. i think there have been cover—ups. mr speaker, i am so disappointed with the minister's response. clearly, he isjust quoting what his staff at the ministry have been telling him. i do wish the minister would actually go through the occupants that have been submitted
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to the enquiry and the documents we have had. because if he had read those documents, he would never have come to this dispatch box and said what he has said. i'm notjust quoting notes that have been put before me, i'm quoting evidence from an expert working group, an expert panel. and it would really be something if members in this house suddenly started to second guess expert scientific and medical evidence. i'm notjust quoting what is before me. the foreign secretary borisjohnson has apologised and admitted he made a mistake in the case of nazanin zaghari—ratcliffe, the british—iranian woman who was jailed while on holiday in iran. she was accused of spying. her family believe her situation was made worse by borisjohnson‘s suggestion that she was training journalists. will he finally take the opportunity today to state simply and unequivocally, for the removal of any doubt, either here or in tehran, that ' 7
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mr speaker, i am more than happy to say again what i said to the right honourable lady last week. that, yes, of course i apologise for the distress and suffering that has been caused by the impression that i gave that the government believed, that i believed that she was there in a professional capacity. she was there on holiday. the top civil servant at the ministry ofjustice has admitted his department was too ambitious when it attempted to introduce a new form of electronic tagging for criminals. the ankle tagging scheme uses gps satellite technology. it was meant to be a cheaper alternative to prison. but a national audit office report found that by march it had cost the government £60 million and still hadn't been implemented. having been an it procurement manager myself, i do have some insights here. the procurement was absolutely shambolic. you had untested providers.
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you had no clue of liability for who was responsible for the service. and you wouldn't have an integrator. so whoever put this down as a procurement strategy i don't think had any idea what they were trying to achieve. it was completely fundamentally flawed. we pushed ahead with this model, cognisant of the risks, thinking that we would successfully disaggregate the market, thinking, and again this was a mistake we made, thinking that as part of a reprocurement that we could somehow get suppliers to invent on the hoof tags that could do everything. now, that was an overly ambitious reading of what the market was capable of delivering. we could be facing a return to the medical dark ages unless action is taken to tackle antibiotic resistance and get people to use them only when appropriate. antibiotic resistance, known as amr,
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already represents a major global health issue. in the uk alone, it is estimated that every year at least 5,000 deaths result from antibiotics no longer working for some infections. if we do not act now, antimicrobial resistance will be responsible for 10 million deaths per year by 2050. this is more than the worldwide number of people who are killed by cancer in 2015. we run the risk of returning to a medical dark age where routine operations such as hip operations cannot be carried out, and the standard infections of today become deadly. for the first time in 650 years of the role, the next black rod will be a woman. sarah clarke currently organises the wimbledon tennis championships. she will take over early next year, replacing david lea key, who is standing down. there was good news for bees. the environment secretary has announced that an extended ban on controversial neonicotinoid pesticides will be supported by the uk. such chemicals can cause bees to lose their buzz, according to new research.
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0ne mp was delighted. although there are over 250 species of the, including 25 species of bumblebee, they have some remarkable characteristics in common. for example, a bee can find its way in an astonishingly sophisticated way with a combination of using the angle of the sun, counting landmarks, and exploiting electrical fields. and, remarkably, they can exchange information with other bees about the precise location of the perfect flower, and some evidence suggests they do so using movements known as a waggle dance. but beyond their own intrinsic value, they play a vital role in the broader environment. and that role was summarised beautifully by the poet who said: to the bee, a flower is the fountain of life and to the flower, that the is the message of love. parliament has a plethora of select committees that scrutinise the work of different government departments
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and put ice cold fear into the heart of many a bureaucrat or mandarin. but a couple of times a year, the heads of all those committees come together to put questions to the prime minister of the day. and this liaison committee now has a new chair, the conservative dr sarah wollaston. a little earlier i asked herjust what the committee was for. the liaison committee coordinates all the work of the select committees. it is made up of all the select committee chairs so it is a bit like a super committee within parliament. its best known role perhaps is being able to take evidence from the prime minister, which we do three times a year. but it also has a very important role, if you like, in giving more power to the select committees, giving them a stronger voice. from the public‘s point of view, when faith in politics seems to be at a particularly low ebb, people watch the work of select committees, and i think they see parliament at its best, with mps working across party lines to get things done in a much more constructive way than they often see
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in the commons chamber. so, you say you want to give the committee is a stronger voice. what kind of things do you have in mind? how would you make their voice stronger? i think coordinating so they work together more. because we know for example in the last parliament we saw the health committee and the communities and local government committee and the public accounts committee working to have on social care and crises in social care. i think that sort of coordinated action was able to persuade the chancellor with clear evidence the case for why you needed an extra £2 billion for social care. so, that kind of work, i think, is very important. i think that is something i would like to see developed, committees working together to get things done. the liaison committee perhaps holding one—off concessions perhaps to call in people on very important issues that cover several departmental areas. you say the thing that the liaison committee is best known
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for is its hearings with the prime minister which it has a couple of times a year. how are you going to handle that? the feeling is that it can be a bit unwieldy and that liaison committees never really lay a glove on the prime minister at all. i think the way to do it is to focus it. so, to plan beforehand what you want to discuss. the first meeting with the prime minister will be on the 20th of december, and what i envisage, because that will be shortly after the european council, is that we spend an hour of that having the opportunity to drill down on the issues. rather than it being like pmqs where you only get one question and one answer, having the time to develop those questions, but also not forget some really important domestic issues. so, i imagine we will spend the rest of the time thinking in advance about what are the key issues of our domestic agenda that we want to question her about. so what advice would you give theresa may about how she should approach the committee?
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i think not to regard it like pmqs, not just to bat things off, to actually take the opportunity to engage. there is a huge amount of expertise in the room. people aren't there as select committee chairs to create trouble, we genuinely of their because we are used to cross—party consensus working and we want to be able to help develop ideas and influence and understand what policy is. and to share that expertise with number ten in a way that isn't driven in a party political manner but given by the expertise of members across all select committees. sarah wollaston, newly appointed chair of the liaison committee. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the political news this week. here's julia butler with our countdown. conservative mp johnny mercer revealed his new facial hair in aid of movember — a campaign committed to changing the face of men's health. what is your excuse for not doing your homework? —— conservative mpjohnny mercer revealed his new facial hair in aid of movember — a campaign committed to changing the face of men's health. what is your excuse for not doing your homework? labour peer lord stevenson gave
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a pretty detailed account of why he hadn't done his. it's not been a good day so far. i attended a wonderful memorial service for a noble lord and it was a moving experience, so moving that i left the church without my bag and nearly all my possessions, all my keys, my wallet, and everything else. somebody found the bag, didn't hand it in, took it home, thought it was the other lord stevenson, and spent four hours trying to find him, and then realised it wasn't him and it was me, and i got my bag back. australians this week voted in a referendum to legalise same—sex marriage. prime minister malcolm turnbull said he hopes to introduce legislation before christmas. at the lord mayor's banquet at guildhall, the prime minister almost had a run—in with the golden mace. it wasn't the first time she has had to back off from a ceremonial ornament. and two new peers were introduced to the house of lords this week. the addition of christopher guy and sir bernard hogan howe brings
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the current total in the upper house to 801, and counting. julia butler. and that's it from us for now but do join us every weeknight next week at 11 0'clock on bbc parliament for a full roundup of the day at westminster as mps continue their scrutiny of the eu withdrawal bill, and the chancellor philip hammond delivers his budget. but, for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello. it's safe to say there is a lot of weather to come in the week ahead. low pressure after low pressure will be coming in from the atlantic.
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this is how we are starting the week. still cold enough for a bit of snow into the scottish hills for monday morning. but milder air will be pushing in across much of the uk for a time this week, because it looks like this will be pushed away by colder air, again from the north, by the end of the week. but this is how we start off on monday — some snow on the hills in northern scotland, so some slushy roads for higher—level routes here. a lot of rain elsewhere in scotland to begin with, and a lot of cloud across the uk. still chilly, then, in northern scotland. some in northern scotland. outbreaks of rain for norther ireland some outbreaks of rain for northern ireland and parts of east anglia. further south and lots of cloud around. not particularly wet that it may be dampened recently in places. what many will notice is as mundy begins, it isjust what many will notice is as mundy begins, it is just how mountains is competitive recent morning. —— monday. there is a mild flow of air
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beading in across the uk but with plenty of cloud. sunshine is hard to come by during monday. a few brighter breaks to the east of high ground. even into the afternoon, a few areas of thicker cloud and patchy rain not amounting to very much. double—figure temperatures may not figure —— factor into southernmost parts of scotland. ba rely southernmost parts of scotland. barely above freezing in shetland. monday evening and monday night, another spell of rain through northern ireland, parts of wales and northern england. into scotland, any snow in the hills turning back to rain. the milderair snow in the hills turning back to rain. the milder air comes in on tuesday. especially in northern scotland. another area of rain from northern ireland for a time and tuesday, sinking south—east within to england and wales. but really, really milder temperatures reaching into the mid teens in some spots. some of scotland reaching into double figures as well. more low pressure coming midweek as we go into wednesday. it could be pretty
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wet on wednesday the parts of north—west england, north wales, seeing some gales and parts of southern england and showers on monday night. some potentialfor heavy rain. this week, milderfor a time. called by the end of the week. rain at times. some of it could be heavy with snow in the scottish hills. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is lewis vaughanjones. our top stories: robert mugabe defies his own party and refuses to resign as president of zimbabwe. in a speech to the nation, mr mugabe says he will lead next month's party congress, despite mounting calls for him to stand down. talks to form a coalition government in germany collapse, threatening angela merkel‘s position as chancellor. the us navy sends special tracking equipment to help in the hunt for an argentine submarine. and portugal's worst drought in decades affects thousands of honeybees, damaging honey
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