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tv   Wednesday in Parliament  BBC News  July 20, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST

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as part of investigations into electoral interference. his eldest son, his former campaign manager and his son—in—law will testify before a committee investigating possible russian meddling in last year's presidential election. president trump says he would never have madejeff sessions the attorney general, if he'd known he'd recuse himself from the investigation into russia. in a newspaper interview mr trump called the decision very unfair. before recusing himself mr sessions revealed he had twice met with the russian ambassador in 2016. the office of us senatorjohn mccain has revealed he has brain cancer. the 80—year—old republican had been recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye. senator mccain — a vietnam veteran — was the republican nominee for the us presidential election in 2008. now on bbc news, it's time for wednesday in parliament. hello and welcome to
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wednesday in parliament. on this programme: the government announces the pension age is going up to 68 seven years earlier than planned. the last prime minister's questions before the recess sees theresa may and jeremy corbyn do battle over pay and the economy. and the government's urged to do more to help unaccompanied child refugees. it is a catastrophe for these children and i feel passionate about it. but first, the state pension age is to rise from 67 to 68 seven years earlier than initially planned. ministers are accepting a recommendation made in the cridland review earlier this year. it means six million people will have to wait longer before receiving their state pension. the change will affect those born
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between april 1970 and april 1978. the increase will now come into effect from 2037. the government hopes the move will save around £74 billion. the work and pensions secretary, david gauke, told mps people that were living longer. in 19118, mr deputy speaker, when the modern state pension was introduced, a 65—year—old could expect to live for a further 13.5 years. by 2007, when further legislation was introduced to increase the state pension age, this had risen to around 21 years and in 2037, it is expected to be nearly 25 years. 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. failing to act now in light of compelling evidence of
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demographic pressures would be irresponsible and place an extremely unfair burden on younger generations. last week, evidence from public health england showed how deep inequalities in healthy life expectancy remain both regionally and between different groups in our society including women, disabled people and black and minority ethnic groups. it is therefore astonishing that today this government chooses to implement their plans to speed up the state pension age and increase it to 68. mr deputy speaker, most pensioners will now spend their retirement battling a toxic cocktail of ill—health, with men expecting to drift into ill— health at 63, five years earlier than this proposed quickened state pension age of 68. labour want a different approach. in our manifesto, we are committed to leaving the state pension age at 66 while we undertake a review into healthy life expectancy, arduous work, and the potential of flexible state pension age. even by the standards of the party opposite,
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their approach to the state pension age is reckless, short—sighted and irresponsible. when the evidence in front of us shows that life expectancy will continue to increase a little over one year every eight years that pass, fixing the state pension age at 66 as advocated by the party opposite demonstrates a complete failure to appreciate the situation in front of us. in the snp, we continue to call for the establishment ofan independent savings and pensions 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 and would take those into account. when her majesty the queen came to the throne in 1952, there were 300 people in that year who reached the age of 100. last year, it was over 13,000.
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does he express or will he express surprise that i feel at the irresponsibility and recklessness of the party opposite in resisting some of these measures? well, i don't know if i'm surprised by anything the labour party does, but it is disappointing. a labour mp had been expecting a statement on the so called waspi women — those born in the 1950s who claim they weren't given proper notice of the rise in their state pension age. i had hopes that the minister was coming here today because he'd seen the light. he'd realised that the women from the 19505 are being dealt a terrible set of cards by this government, that he was going to compensate them, that he was going to make good on the injustice that has been done to them, that he was going to make sure that every single person who wasn't even notified by the government that they were going to be caught by this would be compensated
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and that he was going to finally acknowledge that women in my constituency who are in their 605, who say to me that they are completely clapped—out because they have had tough, laborious jobs all their lives, that they are the very people that his minister says should now take up an apprenticeship. how dull are they? david gauke said he wasn't sure he'd want to call his constituents "clapped—out. " as to the 1950s women, he said that as with this announcement, there was a need to balance a dignified retirement with the fact that state pensions had to be paid for. now, there was a rowdy end of term sort of feel to the last prime minister's questions before parliament begins its summer break. the labour leader, jeremy corbyn, focused on low pay but began by highlighting splits at the top of the government. at the weekend, the chancellor, philip hammond, said some senior ministers were briefing against him because they didn't like his views on brexit.
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that followed press reports that mr hammond had said some public sector staff were overpaid. mr speaker, the chancellor said this week that some public 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 in 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 the 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 taxpayers under this government have seen a tax cut of the equivalent of £1000.
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can i invite the prime minister to take a check with reality on this? 0ne... shouting mr speaker... one in eight workers in the united kingdom, that is 3.8 million people in work, are now living in poverty. 55% of people in poverty are in working households. the prime minister's lack of touch with reality goes like this — low pay in britain is holding people back at a time of rising housing costs, rising food prices and rising transport costs. it threatens people's living standards and rising consumer debt and falling savings threatens our economic stability. 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 through work
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and what we now see is hundreds... 0rder, order! order, the question has been asked. the prime minister's answer must — and however long it takes it will — be heard. the prime minister. the best route out of poverty is through work. that's why it's so important that over the last seven years, we have seen 3 million more jobs being created in our economy. it's why we now see so many thousands of people in households with work rather than in workless households. many more hundreds of thousands more children being brought up in a household where there is work rather than a failure to have work. that's what's important, but what's important for government as well is to ensure that we do provide support to people. that's why we created the national living wage. that was the biggest pay increase
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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. what we want is a country where there are not 4 million children living in poverty, where homelessness is not rising every year and 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 put further into debt. isn't the truth that this divided government is unable to give this country the leadership it so desperately needs now to deal with these issues? 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 those waspi women. the prime minister has found up to £35 billion for hinkley point c nuclear power station,
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up to 200 billion to replace the trident missile system and 1 billion for a deal with the 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 state pension age to ensure that nobody sees their state pension age increase by more than 18 months from that which was previously expected, but 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 endlessly about independence. theresa may. you're watching wednesday in
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parliament with me, alicia mccarthy. youth custody centres in england and wales are now so unsafe that tragedy is inevitable. that was the finding of the annual report of the chief inspector of prisons. the chief inspector said there had been a staggering decline in standards. he had not inspected a single establishment where it was safe to hold young people. prisons for men had also become worse in the past 12 months with startling increases in violence. a labour mp, whose constituency includes the feltham young offenders institution in london, had put down an urgent question. the jump in violence in our prisons is a crisis of the government's making. the warning signs have been there. they've been warned by mps, they've 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
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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. the human impact of tory austerity is now being laid bare at the door of our prison system. yes, the staffing issue has been indicated as a problem, and this has been addressed in the last year. as i said previously, we have appointed more than 500 to march, and we are on course to fulfil our target of 2500 extra prison officers by the end of 2018. but i would argue that the unforeseen exacerbant in prisons has been spice and drug use. and it was not anticipated by any 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 with regard to the trade in these substances. the minister is right to be frank,
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as he always has been, about the dire state of affairs in our prisons, which the select committee highlighted in a number of reports in the last parliament. although there is no prison legislation proposed in the current session for the queen's speech, it would be appropriate for the government nonetheless to forward much of the prison reform agenda that does not require legislation? with regards to legislation, we have not ruled out future legislation for prisons, but i would argue that there is quite a lot we could be getting on with which does not require legislation. we are eager and keen and determined to reform our prison system. the chief inspector says that he'd reached a conclusion, that there was not a single establishment that we inspected in england and wales in which it was safe to hold children and young people, adding that the speed of decline has been staggering as, in 2013—14, nine out of 12 institutions were graded as good
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or reasonably good for safety. given this, what explanation does the minister have for this? we know that there are many, many difficulties in the youth justice system. the violence rate is ten times higher in the youth justice system compared to the adult prison estate. working, and i would like to support, and give full support, actually, to the staff who continue in the youth estate because i've seen it with my own eyes, i've visited the majority of the youth estate, and it is extremely difficult. but given there was a prisons bill already drafted that actually had made some progress in the last session, can he tell the house why that bill has been dropped? and if the government is committed to prison reform, why has it dropped a piece of legislation that was ready to be heard by this house? if there is a requirement for further legislation, that has not been ruled out in the future but, as the right honourable gentleman recognises, there are parliamentary time pressures here, and this is something which we are having to accommodate. however, there is absolutely no reason why they can't continue with the reform programme that we've planned. the outgoing liberal democrat
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leader, tim farron, has demanded to know when the government will meet what he called its measly commitment to transfer 480 unaccompanied child refugees from europe. he said, so far, 200 have come to the uk. the government's preferred approach is to take children not from countries in europe but from the region where they came from. ministers argue this would counter the pull factor and stop families sending their youngsters on the dangerous journey to europe. but in a concession, after a campaign by the labour peer lord dubs, ministers agreed they would take some unaccompanied children who were already in the eu. tim farron was asking an urgent question about the so—called dubs scheme and the promise to bring 480 youngsters to the uk in this way. i say it's a measly commitment because the uk government could do
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so much more. freedom of information act requests show that local councils have voluntarily offered to accept 1572 more children in addition to those they already support. does the minister know this? and in light of this information, would the government reopen dubs and take its fair share? now, i know of two young people who signed a consent form to be transferred under dubs over a year ago. they are still stuck in greece. and the horrific truth, mr speaker, in closing is that the longer this goes on, the more likely that these children will go missing and fall into the evil hands of traffickers. according to 0xfam, 28 children every single day of going missing in italy alone. will this government step up continue to ignore the plight of these desperate children? what we are very clear about is that making sure that we do not create a pull factor but, at the same time, we did the right thing, as we have done with the £2.46 billion of support make us one
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of the biggest contributed with the biggest humanitarian aid project this country has ever conducted to look after the people who need our care the most. and instead of playing politics with children's lives, we should get on with looking after them, and i wish he would join us in doing that. the house understands the government's preference to take unaccompanied children directly from the region, but i've visited the camps in france and greece, and the minister needs to be reminded those children are already there, often living in horrible conditions and particularly at the mercy of traffickers and sexual exploitation. an snp mp quoted a report by the human trafficking foundation that was launched last week. this independent inquiry has found that uk ministers have done "as little as legally possible to help unaccompanied children who have fled war and conflict in their home". it says the uk government have "turned away from a humanitarian crisis that would not be tolerable to the british public if they were more aware of it", and that, by failing to offer safe passage, the uk government
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are "unquestionably fuelling both people trafficking and smuggling". i actually would encourage more people to have a look at what she refers to as an independent report were one of the co—authors is a recently retired labour member of parliament, a report that, actually, when i read it — this is why i would encourage people to read it — actually has a lot of accusations and statements with no evidence to base them on whatsoever. well, that question was repeated in the house of lords, where one of the co—authors of the human trafficking report tackled the minister over the conditions facing child refugees. i hope that the minister has read our report which talks about children being tear—gassed on a daily basis by the riot police in northern france and the terrible conditions both in italy and in greece. there is no effort whatever to identify dubs children in either
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calais or in dunkirk or indeed in greece or in italy, as far as the evidence that we received. it is a catastrophe for these children, and i feel passionate about it, and nothing seems to be done. i recognise the noble lady's passion, and she and i have talked on a number of occasions on this, and i also have read her report. the first thing that i would say, in terms of the treatment by police of children in france, is this, and i've said this before in this house, the prime responsibility for unaccompanied children in europe lies with the authorities in the countries in which the children are present. however, we continue to work with european and international partners to reach a solution
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to the migrant crisis, and the uk has contributed significantly in terms of hosting, supporting and protecting the most vulnerable children. once we have reached the 480 children, she says the government will have accepted or will accept under section 67. is that the end of it or will the government respond to local authorities who say and are still saying they are willing to take more? it's a simple yes or no. the minister didn't give a yes or no answer, saying the government was bound by local authority capacity. now, labour has accused the government of reneging on a promise to allow mps a vote on an increase in student tuition fees in england. that charge came during an emergency debate secured by labour mps on measures which will allow tuition fees to rise this autumn to a maximum of £9,250.
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but labour faced accusations from the conservatives of misleading students during the general election campaign, saying it had promised 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. but the higher education and research act that the education secretary and the universities minister took through this house is very clear on the matter. paragraph 5 of schedule 2 states that the upper limit of fees can only rise when each house of parliament has passed a resolution that, with effect from the date specified in the resolution, the higher amount should be increased. so can the minister guarantee that no students will have to pay the higher fees until both houses have passed such a resolution allowing it? 0n the subject of being weak and wobbly, can she confirm,
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is it still labour policy to pay off all £100 billion of the outstanding student debt? is it still her policy, yes or no? and i have 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. during the election, her party made categorically clear the endless numbers of students that they would abolish the student debt. will she now get up and apologise for using them as election fodder? i'm sure the minister's about to make what he believes is a convincing case. however, the real test is notjust to give us his words but to give us a vote on them, so that is the question i put to him now. if he is so convinced that what he's doing is right, then will he give the courage of those convictions and put them to this house? the party opposite wants to talk
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about process because its policy platform is disintegrating before our eyes. and the regulations, mr speaker, are not proposed, as the honourable member opposite says. they have now been in force for six months. this debate, which cannot change arrangements for 2017—18, is therefore a sham exercise. i suspect this is simply more of the same cynical politics we saw over the weekend when labour broke its own pre—election pledge, about which we've heard so much this afternoon, to write off historic student loan debts. freezing the repayment threshold, making graduates pay more than they signed up for, and members opposite talk about broken promises. there could be no worse breach of faith, breach of promise, breach of contract than that retrospective change. it's frankly fraudulent. if it was any other organisation in the government,
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the financial conduct authority would get involved. no other loan has so many protections built in for low earners. but the focus narrowly on the repayment structure is to ignore so much of what makes the current system a good deal for less advantaged students. it secures more places and higher quality teaching. i know there is a lot of nostalgia in some circles for the days when university was free but, too often, those people fail to acknowledge that this was only possible because the proportion of school leavers who went on to higher education was tiny. and finally, the speaker, john bercow, has quietly been relaxing the dress code in the house of commons. he said that mps should wear businesslike attire, but that it was not essential for male mps to wear a tie. not to be outdone, one female mp took the opportunity of scottish questions to flag up her support for scotland's national women's football team as they prepared to face england's lionesses
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in the euro 2017 tournament. hannah bardell. thank you very much, mr speaker. i'd also like to put on my record the very best wishes of everyone on these benches for the scottish football team. i'm wearing the colours, i hope you don't mind. i used to play alongside two of scotland's national players at university. their career has obviously done better in football than mine. hannah bardell in praise of scotland's women's football team. and that's it from me for now, but do join me at the same time tomorrow for the last day of parliament before the summer recess. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello there. there was still quite a lot
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of energy in the atmosphere, during wednesday afternoon some pretty intense thunderstorms broke out across north wales and parts of north—west england. weather watchers pictures coming through of torrential downpours, and there were reports of flash flooding across the reel area and parts of western lancashire. during the small hours of thursday, those heavy, thundery showers continue to move their way northwards. quite a wet start to thursday across scotland. further south, much of england and wales, it's going to be cloudy with showery outbreaks of rain. the odd heavier burst there too. turning a little bit cool and fresh and pushing to the far west, but quite a humid start again for thursday morning across eastern areas. and it means it will be quite a drab start across many eastern areas through the morning, and outbreaks of rain, the odd heavy outbursts too. eventually clearing out into the north sea, becoming more confined towards the north—east of scotland. but something a bit brighter and drier into the afternoon, but with it cooler and fresher air, so you will notice that — highs around 21 and 22 degrees across the southeast. further west, even cooler than that.
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around the mid—teens celsius, but at least you have the sunshine to compensate. in towards scotland, it's central northern areas will see most of the cloud, outbreaks of rain, the odd heavier burst, particularly across the northern isles. and then into northern ireland, something more showery moving in later on in the day. that is because of this area of low pressure which will become quite a player in our weather through friday, and potentially on into the weekend as well. notice isobars deepening as it continues to move in towards western parts of the uk. so it means quite a windy day for the western half of the country. and a weather front, pretty slow moving, will bring a lots of rain to northern ireland, to wales, particularly into south—west england and maybe in towards the west midlands. whereas further north and east, actually a fine dry day with some sunny spells and temperatures around 20—23 degrees. but cooler further west under that rain. through friday night, the weather front slowly gets a wiggle on, moves its way a little bit further northwards and eastwards but it's still with us though, as we head on into saturday, but a bit of a disappointing start to the weekend, i have to say, across northern and eastern areas —
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quite wet, the odd heavier burst there, too. feeling quite cool as well. the south could see the sunshine come out a little bit but then blustery showers will arrive and it will feel fresh. 0n into sunday, the winds ease down a little bit but it doesn't mean any showers that develop through central southern areas could be quite slow—moving so quite a bit of rain falling in a short space of time. further north, it looks like it will remain quite wet. i think the main message is, then, through this weekend, it is going to remain fairly cool and fresh for the time of year, longer spells of rain, but more likely showers and sunny spells. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers
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in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: three of donald trump's inner circle are called before congress, as part of investigations into russian interference in the us election. us senatorjohn mccain reveals he has brain cancer. the 80—year—old vietnam veteran was the republican nominee for the presidential election in 2008. how the billions of tons of plastic manufactured since the 1950s are now threatening the planet. researchers say the world is at risk of near—permanent contamination. the gaming and women of south asian origin coming under pressure to marry someone of origin coming under pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex — we have special report. and a british zoo joins the fight to save the northern white rhino, using ivf from its closest relatives.

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