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tv   Thursday in Parliament  BBC News  March 3, 2017 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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into alleged russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. but speaking in washington, jeff sessions denied he'd done anything wrong by not disclosing that he met the russian ambassador twice last year. donald trump says the controversy is a "total witch hunt". the russian government says the syrian army, backed by russian air strikes, has completely reta ken the city of palmyra from the islamic state group. palmyra, famous for its ancient ruins, has changed hands several times during the conflict. the centrist french presidential candidate, emmanuel macron, has promised to boost the economy and fight corruption if he wins the forthcoming election. marine le pen of the national front is forecast to clinch the first round in april but mr macron is considered the favourite to win a run—off vote. now it's time for a look back at the day in parliament. hello and welcome to thursday in parliament, our look at the best
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of the day in the commons and the lords. on this programme... after the drama of the week's government defeat in the house of lords on the brexit bill, peers win praise from some unlikely quarters, such as the snp. the people's aristocrats have spoken and their voice must be listened to. the farming minister rejects claims that food prices are increasing since the uk voted to leave the eu. we have seen a fall in food prices of 0.5% over the last year and a fall of 6% since 2014. and more tributes are paid to the father of the house, sir gerald kaufman, who died last weekend. he had an ability to sum up his views with a witty turn of phrase that could be as colourful and a memorable as his suits. but first...
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the leader of the commons, david lidington, has confirmed that the government will try to overturn wednesday night's defeat for the government inflicted by peers on the so—called brexit bill. peers voted by a majority of 102 to guarantee the rights of eu nationals living and working in the uk. ministers don't want that guarantee to figure in the bill, which simply triggers the process of britain leaving the eu. mr lidington had accompanied theresa may to watch the beginning of the brexit bill's first debate in the lords, something his labour shadow referred to. the leader of the house is keen on visiting the other place, so he will be interested to know, i don't know if he knows and has caught the news or not, but their lordships intend to send back an amendment on the eu bill which they won by 358 votes to 256. could the leader of the house give us some indication when the bill is likely to come back to parliament, week commencing 13th of march or week commencing 20th of march? we will return to the eu bill as rapidly as possible after the house of lords has
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finished debating it and given it its third reading and the government certainly remains of the view that the bill is straightforward. it does no more than confer authority on the prime minister's requirement by the courts to initiate negotiations by triggering article 50 of the treaty. and, we will therefore seek to resist changes that would make that negotiating task more difficult. the snp normally says the lords should be abolished. but such opposition was absent this time. what about three cheers for our heroes? maybe not so much for over there. the people's aristocrats have spoken. and their voice must be listened to. every time, every time i raised the issue in the house of lords, with the leader of the house, he tells me there are absolutely no plans whatsoever to have
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that house reformed, accepting therefore, the absolute legitimacy to raise issues such as this. will he now listen to the house of lords on this issue and will he said today that he has absolutely no plans whatsoever to use the parliament act, if our unelected friends continue to show backbone on this particular issue? i do find, the right honourable gentleman's new—found passionate affection for the house of lords makes me suggest that it's notjust mr farage who has secret yearnings for the honours list. on to the issue of the rights of eu citizens living in britain. from one form of unilateralism to another and i will ask the leader of the house whether we could have a statement from a brexit minister, as to what assessment the government has made for the motives of those people with whom we will be negotiating in the future in other countries,
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not to respond to the initiatives that we have been taking and the indications we have been giving, that members of their societies who have chosen to live in britain, will be able to continue doing so, so long as our citizens are able to continue living in their countries? the other eu 27 governments have been clear they will only engage in negotiations once article 50 has been triggered. but i am optimistic a reciprocal agreement on the status of each other's citizens can indeed be achieved. i think that is in the rational interests of the united kingdom and of all our 27 eu partners. so i very much hope that can be an early achievement of the negotiations once they start. meanwhile, the government's rejected claims that shoppers are paying more for food since the uk
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voted for brexit. the food and farming minister said there had been a fall of 6% overall in prices since 2014. large numbers of people in my constituency are in work, but still in poverty. they are feeling the effects of increased food prices over recent months. we are so dependent on cheap eu food products, what is the minister going to do to protect them in the longer term? minister. the facts don't bear out what he says. we have seen a fall in food prices of 0.5% and a fall of 6% since 2014. we do monitor the situation closely. we have the annual living costs of food survey which monitors the poorest households and the amount of money they spend on food and it has been stable over the last decade. the paradox is that we starve the poor by refusing to buy their food from them.
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will he bear that in mind when we escape from the common external tariff? he makes an important point and we do have some preferential trade agreements in place with developing countries from the caribbean, to buy sugar from them. these are arrangements we will want to maintain and secure, so we can support developing countries. the minister has talked about food prices falling but supermarkets are talking of the potential food prices to rise significantly busier, having a huge effect on every household. nearly half of our food is imported and due to the weak pound and inflation, prices are already starting to rise for the time in three years. what exactly is the government doing to help with the price rises in people's weekly food shop? as i said earlier in answer to this question, we monitor closely the amount of money people are spending on food. it has remained stable at 16.5%
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for the last decade. we continue to keep the issue under review. i point out, the greatest bike we had in food prices took place i point out, the greatest spike we had in food prices took place in 2008 and food prices have been falling since 2014. earlier in the session, mps wanted to know what impact brexit would have on temporary migrants who come to the uk to pick crops of fruit and vegetables. farmers are facing a seasonal shortage of labour. some are worried the food will rot in the ground this year. the government has been asked to reverse its decision to scrap the seasonal agricultural workers scheme. can a decision please be made as a matter of urgency? i point out to him, well we remain members of the european union, we do have free movement and fruit farms and farmers are able to sort their labour from countries such as romania and bulgaria. some have raised concerns
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about agricultural labour going forward after we leave the eu and we are listening carefully to the representations they are making. growers in my constituency are worried about fruit going unpicked, not only when we leave the eu, but this year. will he continue to press the home office on this issue, not only on seasonal agricultural workers after we leave the eu, but between now and then? as my honourable friend may know, i spent ten years working in the soft fruit industry and i will know many of the strawberry farmers which she represents. but i can tell her, somebody, myself ran a soft fruit enterprise and employed several hundred people and i understand the challenges the industry faces. many of the farmers in my constituency have entered into contracts for migrant labour for this coming season. there is concern from reports last week the government are introducing
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work permits when article 50 is triggered. can the minister confirm if this is happening or give them assurance this will not happen and they can fulfil the contract they have already entered into? the minister said until the uk left the eu, free movement would remain. the online property letting service airbnb has faced more claims in parliament that its property lettings to tourists are distorting the rental market. founded nine years ago, airbnb now has some 3 million lodging listings in almost 200 different countries. but it's faced criticism that the service reduces the supply of affordable housing for rent, as landlords let out their properties for affluent holiday—makers. the arguments were taken up during question time in the house of lords. many, possibly even most of the airbnb lettings
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are in properties which are not allowed to let on a short—term basis and they are long—term residential blocks of flats. and in new york, these short—term lets are not allowed any more now in any block which is long—term residential, because of the degree of disruption. is he also aware that seven london boroughs have called for legislation on this issue? my lords, taking up the very relevant last point first, the london boroughs of course do have the power and indeed the responsibility to enforce that in their areas. it is something that rests with local authorities if hosts and tenants are breaking the law in relation to the 90 day limit. not 90 consecutive days, 90 days in any given year. so they do have the power is there, my lords. so they do have the powers there, my lords. there are restrictions in new york,
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but it is still possible of course to operate, but within different limits to those that operate in london. is he aware that it really is a significant problem in parts of central london. for instance, research by central london amenities society show that 20% of housing stock has been lost and indeed in some blocks of flats, it is as high as 80%. my lords, is the answer to this is to have a tough licensing regime, which includes data—sharing, an opportunity to call out on problems and so on? will he discuss all these issues when he meets airbnb and report back to the house on the outcome of those discussions? my lords, first of all, as i have indicated, within london and certainly which is the situation the noble lord was citing, there are restrictions already. so i don't believe it is distorting the market in the way the noble lord suggests because there is that 90 day limit. but certainly, i will be discussing these matters when i do meet with airbnb. surely there is a great growth element in our economy, its tourism. families coming from abroad can have
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much more opportunity of seeing things in london if they get reasonably cheap bed and breakfast, or have airbnb, or what ever they call it. to bring a family of three children and parents over to london for a week would cost an enormous amount, whereas they can at least come, have reasonably priced accommodation and then spend the money in other areas. my lords, i believe my noble friend has a material point. i have certainly spoke to people coming from overseas and have used airbnb in london and have had fantastic experiences of it and largely of course, it operates very effectively and without concern. does the minister realise, it is not only in the heavily urbanised areas, but also in some of the most attractive parts of the country, that short—term holiday lets, referred to in the question, are distorting the longer term letting market. is he aware how attractive this
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is and that a modest house without a view of a lake or a hill in high season can be left without a view of a lake or a hill in high season can be let for over £3000 a week in the lake district national park? there is no incentive whatsoever for landlords rent out there is no incentive whatsoever for landlords to rent out houses to local people, or people who want to work in the area on a long—term basis? my lords, i am aware there are, outside of london, many possibilities for the sorts of lets the noble lord describes. he has cited the lake district, there are other areas, bath, the cotswolds, oxford, cambridge and so on and that is undoubtedly the case, my lords. you're watching our round—up of the day in the commons and the lords. still to come... more tributes are paid to sir gerald kaufman, the veteran labour mp whose death was announced last weekend. the week brought gloomy industrial
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news from south wales. doubts were raised over the future of 1,100 workers at the ford engine plant in bridgend. ford revealed changes to its planned investment in its new dragon engine. the unite union said it would use "all its might" to fight for the future of bridgend's nearly 2,000 workers. the town's mp spoke about the uncertain situation during the annual commons debate on welsh affairs. tariffs are absolutely essential for ford. the vital nature of making sure there is free tariff access into europe is critical. she will know that the impact of the ford factory and the prospect of losing 1100 jobs there would have an impact right across south wales. would she join with me in urging the secretary of state to offer ford whatever assistance he can, including the sorts of deals that
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appear to be offered to nissan. and would she further urge him to make sure that we never see world trade organisation tariffs imposed on cars coming out of the uk, which would cripple the competitiveness of our car industry. i have had assurances that, in fact, ford will have the same deal as nissan. i have asked today for a symposium of automotive manufacturers, which will involve the manufacturers, the ministers here in westminster, the trade unions and local members, to see if we can move that forward. and i hope the secretary of state will support that. there are productivity issues in bridgend as well, which we must deal with. and i know that the gmb union and unite are working with the workforce there. next wednesday sees international women's day, and the commons has held its annual debate to mark the event. one year ago, the labour mp jess phillips read out in the chamber the names of all the women who'd been killed by men in the uk the year before. she said she planned to do the same every year that she remained an mp
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and recited the names of the 123 women who had died since the previous debate. let these women be our inspiration. let these women be the ones who drive us. i would ask each and every one of us to remember these women, one of whom was one of us. we must remember them when we make our decisions, use our votes and our voices. we have a responsibility to be the voices of these women now they are gone. on this international women's day, let us remember why we are all here and let's raise our voices. yesterday, labour women made a short film for international women's day. one of the things we were asked to do was to complete the sentence, "i want to live in a world where..." i said i wanted to live in a world where violence against women was eradicated and where rape was no longer used as a weapon of war.
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but what i wanted to go on to say was that i wanted the statistic that every week two women are murdered by their partner or ex—partner to be eradicated. discussion turned to female representation at westminster. this year marks the 40th anniversary of the election of winnie ewing in hamilton in 1967. she was a lawyer who became the second ever snp mp in the house. so, growing up growing up in hamilton meant knowing strong, passionate women who believed that they could change things in politics, and i hope that that is what i am here to do. we have a long way to go. we're just at 30% of this chamber with women to men, we are behind italy, germany, norway, uncluding rwanda. i want to send out a message today to any young girl or woman who is listening and wants to enter politics. i want her to hear loud and clear that everyone in this house will welcome them wholeheartedly.
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from the medieval age to now, we have the technical age. we are among the first generation of parliamentarians who have had to deal with modern technology and the access it gives the public to their politicians. those of us who know social media know what it is like occasionally to go on to twitter and facebook and see a barrage of abuse from trolls. these are faceless and nameless cowards. sometimes, we minimise the difficulties that women face in getting into parliament and in staying here. sometimes, we prefer not to talk about it. but that does no favours to the women who are still to come to this place if we pretend there is not a problem. the increase in mps coming to this house since 2005, when there were only 17 female conservative mps, has created a transformational change in the make—up of the house of commons and it has transformed the things that we talk about and the debates that we hold. while winnie, nancy astor and barbara castle were isolated
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in here, i really genuinely do feel that if we work together, in our greater numbers, we can make real, positive change. it is not about fighting for equality for equality‘s sake — it never is — but it is making sure that this parliament is more representative of democracy. having a female prime minister does not mean that we have a parliament built on equality, because in 2017, we only have, as we have heard, 30% of the mps sitting on these benches who are women. i want to take advantage of this occasion to say what a huge achievement it is to give birth, and how proud we should be, as women, of our capacity to do that. i also want to acknowledge those first weeks and months of a baby's life when a woman gives herself over entirely to looking after her child. we all choose different ways to do this, but the achievement
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is the same. whether our children are now fully grown adults or small children still, they are only here because their mothers kept them alive in those early weeks and months. again, the effort and sacrifice this takes is often dismissed or overlooked, so i want to tell mothers everywhere today to be proud of what they did because their children would not be what they are without you. the annual debate to mark the start of international women's day. at the start of the week, the commons speaker, john bercow, paid tribute to sir gerald kaufman, the labour mp for manchester gorton and father of the house of commons, whose death was announced on sunday. mps have had the chance to reflect on his life. the conservative former chancellor, kenneth clarke, is the new father of the house. a former labour cabinet minister recalled how sir gerald kaufman beat kenneth clarke to the post. one of gerald's more gleeful tales was of how he had the forethought, when first elected to this house, to take the oath before the right honourable member for rushcliffe in the belief that both were likely to be here for some considerable time and so be contenders for the post of father of the house.
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he took great glee in telling that story. i would like to say that i think he probably would not have begrudged the member for rushcliffe his opportunity, but i am not absolutely certain about that. he had an ability to sum up his views with a witty turn of phrase that could be as colourful and memorable as his suits. for so many of us on these benches, he was simply a style guru. i remember those long scarves he used to wear. one day, he had to be rescued at the entrance to the tube station because it had got caught up in all this, and the great efforts that went into ensuring that gerald was separated from his scarf that day. on a select committee trip to the isle of mull, to cheer him up on his birthday — it was one of the big numbers — he loved marmalade, so he was made orange marmalade ice cream. on a committee visit to rome, some members had not been to rome,
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so before he went to the ambassador's dinner, he took them to the trevi fountain and, of course, to have some gelato. there is this sense with the passing of gerald kaufman of another link being broken with a former political age. his first general election contest was in 1955, where he stood against harold macmillan himself in the bromley constituency. i think without too much expectation of a shock victory on that occasion. he represented successive manchester constituencies for many, many, many years. this was a man who also served in number 10 under harold wilson. some mps referred to his love of watching films. i remember very foolishly going into the members' tea room and being enthusiastic after seeing new film. had just seen superman for the very first time. gerald had been to see it, and he gave this caustic review about everything that was wrong with american cinema at that time, the plot and with the acting. he said, "but you liked it, barry,
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so it couldn't have been all bad." his last recommendation to me, by the way, was to see the brilliant movie "hail, caesar!", which i duly saw and loved. but it would sometimes be embarrassing to go with gerald, because if the weather was cold, he would wear a red tea cosy on his head. when i told him about this, he said it was not half as embarrassing as what i was wearing. but anyway... laughter. tributes to sir gerald kaufman. it's not unusual for mps to complain about other mps visiting their constituencies for political purposes and failing to inform them of the trip. but labour's tulip siddiq had a different complaint following a visit to her north london seat by the conservative, jacob rees—mogg.
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thank you, mr deputy speaker. this week, the memberfor north—east somerset was in my constituency. and, to his credit, he did inform me you was going to my constituency for a conservative fundraiser. i offered to go with him, but he rejected my advances. but today, i opened the camden newjournal, my local paper, to read that he had described the pygmy nature of the opposition. does the deputy speaker think that the term "pygmy" is appropriate while standing in the constituency of the shortest mp in parliament? i await his guidance. the deputy speaker, lindsay hoyle, said he was sure mr rees—mogg hadn't had any such intent. and that's it for this programme. but do join me for the week in parliament, when we not only look back at the last few days in the commons and the lords, but also assess the impact of this week's fly—on—the—wall bbc tv
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documentary meet the lords. but for now, from me, keith macdougall, goodbye. hello. the winter months were quite dry. the first week of march is trying to turn that around. and certainly, during friday, many of us will see some wet weather at some stage of the day, and all the way through the weekend it is looking very unsettled. we'll get to that. this is how early friday is looking. and we're dragging in some rainfall from the south, some already across a large part of southern england, south wales, edging through the midlands, and into east anglia, as the day begins. another area of wet weather producing some hill snow for parts of the far north of england and southern scotland. let's take a look around things at 8:00am in the morning. so a wet start across southern
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england, but you can see that rain advancing through more of wales, the midlands, east anglia, at this stage. it is only going to move further north, so eventually it will get into northern england. but, as you can see, some of us in northern england and into southern scotland seeing some rain, and some snow as well. some of us, even modest elevations, could be waking up to a covering of snow here. further north, in scotland, it is a frosty start. still a few showers in the far north. so, as we go on through friday, we are taking rain northwards through england and wales. eventually, by late afternoon, and into the evening, that should be across much of northern england. we will pivot an area of rain, starting to flirt with just with the eastern side of northern ireland, through northern ireland by the end of the afternoon. the best of the sunshine, without a doubt, will be in northern scotland. turning a bit dry, though, in the afternoon in south—east england, and it actually could feel a bit mild, given any brightness. one or two spots mayjust reach 13 or even 14 celsius. a few heavy showers reaching through parts of south—west england and wales as we go
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through friday night. the rain marching further north, across into southern scotland, eventually into the central belt, staying with us into northern ireland. frost—free for most as saturday begins. will be frost, though, across northern parts of scotland. so that takes us on to the weekend, and friday. well, the theme of the wet weather continues into the weekend. we will see more rain at times. some of that could be quite heavy and persistent, and particularly on saturday, with this area of low pressure just stalling its rainfall from northern ireland and into parts of scotland, whereas further south there will be still some areas of rainfall or showers, but it is not going to be a washout all day long. but we will see rain for much of the day, we think, into northern ireland and southern and eastern parts of scotland. and, particularly through eastern scotland, it will be quite cold with that rainfall, and there will be quite a lot of snow developing into the grampians. further south, it is showers. and then, on sunday, it looks like it turns a little bit better. still a few showers around for scotland and northern ireland, another area of rainfall pushing its way through england and wales, and temperatures at around seven to 10 celsius.
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soggy for the weekend. a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: the us attorney general says he won't resign over contact with russians during the election campaign, but will sit out any investigation. donald trump says the controversy is a "total witch hunt". freed from is for the second time — russia and syria say their forces have retaken the ancient city of palmyra. curbing popular criticism and a free press — china fights to control the narrative ahead of the national people's congress. and jackie's life afterjfk — the lost letters which reveal a love affair with a senior british diplomat.
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