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tv   Thursday in Parliament  BBC News  September 8, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST

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it's already lashed barbuda, where almost all of the buildings have been destroyed. it's now on its way to haiti and the turks & caicos islands. storm surges, flooding and high winds are expected. more than 160,000 rohingya muslims have now fled violence in myanmar. the exodus across the border into bangladesh was sparked by a crackdown by burmese security forces. the authorities there have blamed rohingya militants for provoking the crisis by attacking police stations. bbc news has witnessed around 1,000 mostly african migrants, being held in detention in libya in inhumane conditions. the medical charity doctors without borders says migrants wanting to cross the mediterranean to italy are being detained in what it's calling nightmarish conditions. now on bbc news, a recap of the political day in westminster with thursday in parliament. hello and welcome to
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thursday in parliament. coming up: the brexit secretary david davis says a bill to transfer eu laws into uk legislation is vital. let me be clear, this bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit. and to provide stability. but labour reckons it's a government power grab and will vote against it. that we are leaving is settled, how we leave is not. this bill invites us to surrender all power and influence over that question to the government and to ministers. also on this programme: ministers pledge support for british territories hit by hurricane irma. and a former cabinet minister launches a stinging attack on disgraced pr firm bell pottinger accusing it of... running a pernicious and poisonously racist smear campaign in south africa.
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but first: mps spent the afternoon on their first day of debate on the eu withdrawal bill. which originally had the rather more catchy informal title of the great repeal bill. it repeals the european communities act of 1972 which took us into the european community and sets up the process to transfer current eu laws into uk law, so that the legal system doesn't collapse after brexit. mps will conclude their debate and vote late on monday night. the legislation — and more specifically the power it gives to ministers to make changes to legislation — is controversial. opening the debate, the brexit secretary explained why it was needed. put simply, this bill is an essential step, whilst it does not take us out of the eu, that is a matter for the article 50 process, it does ensure that on the day that we leave, businesses know where they stand. workers' rights are upheld
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and the consumers remain protected. this bill is vital to ensure that as we leave, we do so an orderly manner. he set out what the bill would do and defended the powers it gave to government. this bill does only what is necessary for a smooth exit and to supply stability but i welcome and encourage contributions from those who approach the task in good faith and in the spirit of collaboration. we cannot await the completion of negotiations before it is legal certainty at the point of exit and to do so, or to delay or oppose the bill would be reckless in the extreme. mr speaker, i have, in the past, witnessed the labour party on european business take the most cynical approach to legislation that i have ever seen. they are now attempting to do the same today and, the british people are not going to forgive them
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if at the end of their process, they delay or destroy the process by which we leave the eu. labour voted for the article 50 act. that is because we accept the referendum result. as a result, the uk is leaving the eu. that we are leaving is settled. how we leave is not. the bill invites us to surrender all power and influence over that question to the government and to ministers. that would betray everything we were sent here to do. unless the government make significant concessions before we vote on monday, labour will table, and has done, tabled a reasonable amendment to vote against the bill. keen to portray this bill as a technical exercise converting eu law into our law without raising any serious constitutional issues about the role of parliament. nothing could be further from the truth. mind as i am at the moment to contemplate voting
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for a second reading, i am going to need some assurances before we get there. in particular, there is going to be sufficient movement to some of the unanswerable points that are being made about parliamentary democracy and a smooth transition to whatever the alternative is. for the bill to be anything other than a wrecking piece of legislation, if it proceeds forward. it is interesting, if you look at the amendments put forward, is huge number of power for reasons different mps from different parties have come up with this for rejecting the bill at this stage. it tells us a huge number of serious and sometimes fundamental flaws are in the bill which means it cannot be allowed to go forward at its present format. to fit in with the government timetable? tough. what is in this bill is incompatible with the idea of parliamentary sovereignty. it is not taking back control of parliament,
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or parliamentary sovereignty, for this to exist, the bill threatens to destroy it once and for all. i believe it's necessary legislation. we start with the principle of how necessary it is. we have to get all of that european law and regulation transposed into uk law, get it applicable and actionable in uk law properly so that it is properlyjust as a ball at the end of the day which requires a huge amount of action. there are many pages of laws, i was looking at it the other day and i thought, if we vote on everything through that, you have to have something in the order of 20,000 different boats and there is no way on earth that could possibly happen. the fact is, we do not need to legislate in this fashion to carry out the technical task of leaving the eu and i remain utterly bemused as to why the legislation has been drafted
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in this form. dominic grieve, and we'll have more from that debate later in the programme. earlier in the day the snp's constitutional affairs spokesman, pete wishart rebuked ministers over the amount of time they were proposing to give the commons to debate the detail of the eu withdrawal bill at it's later stages. there are only eight days according to them for the committee of the whole house, eight days to negotiate the setting up of a new legal framework for the uk to disentangle themselves from an institution, they have been a member for a decade, for all of the treaties, put it in context. there were 41 days for the masters treaty, and 25 days for the lisbon treaty, 39 days to enter the european union but it was just a common market. eight days for leaving the eu. it's almost beyond a joke. it is eight days with eight hours protected every day. really importantly, i think
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honourable members need to appreciate that this withdrawal bill is to provide a base for the uk's departure from the eu. there will be a large number of subsequent bills relating to new policies, new systems and new processes, there will be many opportunities for all colleagues across the house to have their views taken into account and as we said time and again, it is clear that we want to be a consulting government and want to take into account the views right across the house. the shadow leader of the commons raised another concern about the bill — the use of what are known as henry the eighth powers which allow ministers to make changes to legislation without the detailed scrutiny of parliament. and with the withdrawal bill, section seven, eight and nine, it says the minister of the crown may by regulations as the minister
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considers appropriate. never before have ministers been given unfettered powers like this. anyone, on all sides of the house, who believes in parliamentary democracy, the sovereignty of parliament and separation of powers should be against this bill. but andrea leadsom argued the use of such powers were nothing new. may i give an example to the house of the psychoactive substances bill of 2016 where we can all understand, i think, that henry viii powers there are something we can quickly update, as any new legal high is created, we can update legislation to ensure it is then banned to keep people safe. that is the kind of use of henry viii powers, to finally define the terms that are necessary. around half of all legislation in the last parliament contained henry viii powers. there is nothing new or unusual about the use of those powers. and very specifically, they are always subject to either the committee of the whole house or by committees as a part of this house.
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they are absolutely subject to scrutiny. andrea leadsom. one of the most powerful storms on record — hurricane irma — is continuing to devastate parts of the caribbean. the islands of barbuda and st martin have suffered catastrophic damage and several people have been killed. among the islands hit by sustained wind speeds of more than 180mph were british 0verseas territories and members of the commonwealth — including anguilla, montserrat and the british virgin islands. in a statement in the commons, the government pledged urgent assistance. the royal naval ship, it is already in the caribbean and should reach affected territories later today. this ship carries royal marines and army engineers, and her primary task is the protection of our overseas territories. she is loaded with a range
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of equipments, tents, stores, and hydraulic vehicles specifically designed to respond to disasters like this. it stands ready to charter flights to deliver additional supplies as appropriate. the prime minister, he said, had spoken to france's president macron and they had agreed to cooperate closely over the relief effort. 0ur priority is to support the territory ‘s government in meeting their immediate humanitarian and security needs, including shelter, water and accommodation. we have four uk aid humanitarian experts in the region who are helping coordinate the response. what effort is the government making to work with authorities in these areas on their reconstruction plans? i would also like to ask what reassurances he can give that the uk stands ready to provide not only the immediate humanitarian and security relief needed so urgently, but also the sustained commitment to reconstruction, which will be so important in the longer term. sir sir alan said £12 million
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was immediately available for disaster relief. we are pulling out all the stops to do our utmost to bring urgent assistance, once we, with the professionalism that defeat has, they do the assessment to make sure that we know who is in greatest need, and then we can use our adeptness and flexibility urgently to address those who need our help the most. the devastation in the caribbean is grave and a tragedy, our thoughts go to all of those waiting to find out whether or not they are in the path of hurricane. in the dominican republic, florida, haiti, in the virgin islands, barbuda, and i quote to the islands almost destroyed, the prime minister of barbuda says his island is almost totally demolished and inhabitable.
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we encourage the prime ministers to send as much aid as possible. the french have put a lot more in than we have, into anguilla. will the minister layout what resources we can provide from a military point of view to deal with the immediate humanitarian catastrophe and support anguilla's government would support for hospitals, schools, airports, prisons, and all the devastated infrastructure they will need to get on their feet. helping those in danger has to be the immediate priority that i do ask the minister to engage in the wider issue of what the government is doing to get global climate change action on track. this is vital, urgent, and we are currently failing. there is preparing us for severe weather instance to ensure that flooding can be reduced, buildings are solid,
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and infrastructure can hold up. i know the kind of advanced work to which the honourable lady implicitly refers is deeply entrenched in many of the programmes across the world on which they spend their money. sir alan duncan. you are watching thursday in parliament with me, alicia mccarthy. the commerce committees may not attract as much attention as the main chamber but they carry out vital work. there are lots of different committees but the most important are those that scrutinise bills and the select committees that look at policy and the work of government departments. the select committees haven't been re—established sincejune‘s election — leading some mps to become restive. the leader of the commons had news... select committees provide vital scrutiny in this place. i've been working hard to ensure we establish them as soon as possible and i am grateful
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for the cooperation of colleagues across the house who have worked quickly to bring the names of elected members forward. i am now delighted to draw the attention of colleagues to the motion in my name that will ensure the select committees can begin their important work next week. but the snp's pete wishart could not understand the delay in setting up the select committees. he raised the delay in setting up the other main group of committees, those which scrutinise the detail of legislation. there is continuing disagreement over their make up because the government wants to have a majority on those committees, even though it does not have a majority in the commons. this government cannot expect to have a majority. they do not command a majority, this is a house of minorities and the parliamentary arithmetic needs to be deflected into the parliamentary standing committees of the house. my last question, does the leader of the house understand
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and appreciate she's in the minority in this house and recognise that minority? andrea leadsom didn't address that point but rejected the suggestion the government had dragged its feet on setting up select committees. the honourable gentleman's others points about committees are rather churlish. we have made every effort to establish the select committees as soon as we possibly could. they have been established faster than in the previous two parliaments. it is extremely churlish. what he actually demonstrates is opposition for opposition‘s sake. he does not even have the decency to recognise that the house is responding to a genuine request from select committee chairs right across the house to get a move on and do it, and we have done it. he does not have the grace to say thank you or to appreciate that fact. andrea leadsom. the public relations firm, bell pottinger, has been furiously attacked in the lords by a former labour cabinet minister. the company was expelled
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from the industry trade body for a campaign stirring racial divisions in south africa. lord hain, who grew up in the country, didn't mince his words. does the government agree that after running a poisonous smear campaign in south africa where the wealthy group two brothers, from the president allowed to capture the state and bankroll his family and friends through corruption and cronyism, all bell pottinger‘s work for british public bodies must be called in and reviewed? —— wealthy gupta brothers. and since the respected former finance minister has stated that they had benefited from 6.8 billion rand of money laundering, can the government investigate whether any british banks were involved and what action can be taken at a european level, and will the minister agree to meet me about this? i am grateful for those questions.
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0n the point of money—laundering, i have read the reports that i referred to in my original reply and there is no implication in those reports that there has been any money—laundering or criminal activity. the company behaved unprofessionally and unethically. if there is any evidence of money—laundering, that should be investigated. isn't that the wider consideration arising from these matters and it is this... while bell pottinger might have suffered reputational and financially, the fact that this is a british company, albeit operating in a foreign country, we will have the effect on the extent to which in the febrile atmosphere of south african politics, diplomatic representations may be disregarded? i have been in touch
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with the high commissioner in pretoria this morning and he has made it clear that this has had a very damaging impact on our country's reputation in south africa, which is why i have gone out of my way to make it clear the government was not involved, nor were the staff of the high commission in south africa involved in any way with this particular contract. when the lobbying bill was going through the house, we warned the government that if it did not require a lobby firm to be a member of the professional body, and abide by its code, then its statutory register would be meaningless. we see that bell pottinger, although thrown out because it broke the code, is still a member and still remains on the statutory register, able to lobby ministers and permanent secretaries. you can only be removed from the register if you stop acting as a lobbyist, that is what the law says.
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there was an attempt last year with a private members bill which started in the house and progressed through the house to take this a step further and have a statutory code of conduct. and although it had passed through this house there was no parliamentary time to take this forward, and i understand discussions are taking place at an official level between those who would like to see the sort of reform the noble baroness has outlined, but at this stage the government has no plans to legislate. lord young. now let's go back to the first day of debate on the eu withdrawal bill. the chair of the home affairs committee, labour's yvette cooper, joined the attack on the powers given to ministers in the bill. parliament also has a job to do to hold ministers to account and the bill, as drafted, stops us doing that. it stops us standing up for democracy in this house, and it stops us making sure, frankly, that the government do not
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screw up brexit in the process they put it through and the decisions they take. parliamentary scrutiny is not an affront to democracy. it is its very essence. the true saboteurs of brexit are those who would sanction the exclusion of parliament from this process. the debate on this bill has onlyjust started. well said. they said this would be a great opportunity... to get rid of all the rules and regulations, the miles of red tape and all the things that were strangling british business and the economy, but we are going to take those very same things and place them lock, stock and barrel into substantive british law. they told you that you would get an extra £350 million for the nhs, and you will not. they told you that you would take back control, but if this bill is not amended, you can forget that, because the people will not be taking back control in this place, but giving it to ministers. that may notjust be a conservative government; it could, god forbid, be a labour government led by the right honourable member
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for islington north. will the minister be precise and could he quantify how many welsh jobs he is willing to sacrifice... in pursuit of the uk's brave new role at the vanguard of some globalist utopia? the truth is that the bill was always going to be a sow's ear, because the government started the negotiations without clear objectives or outcomes in mind, so the bill had to cater for any eventuality or scenario, deal or no deal. what started with democracy must not end with a stitch—up by ministers. the liberal democrats believe that the people, as well as politicians, must have a meaningful vote on the final deal. if they do not accept the deal negotiated by the prime minister and her cabinet, they should have the option to remain a member of the european union. the bill must provide for this. the government claim it will restore sovereignty to parliament and secure certainty post—brexit, but that isn't the case.
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it transfers huge powers to ministers, not to members of the house, over issues vital to people's lives, such as maternity and paternity leave, holidays, environmental standards and a range of other issues. i fear that the bill could increase uncertainty, including the likelihood of legal challenge and judicial review, because the powers in it are so broadly drawn. but a conservative didn't believe the legislation was as "dramatic" as some were making out. we have got to make sure that on the day of exit, the statute book in this country works and the only way that we can achieve that in the timescale with which we are constrained and which are set out in article 50 is to have a flexible, pragmatic system such as the system that is laid out in the draft bill. you can love parliament and want to jealously
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guard its rights and privileges created by our predecessors, but still show pragmatism in the national interest when the times demand it, because that is politics. that is life. that is the job we are sent here to do. that is poetry and prose, romance and reality. that is what we are sent here to achieve. robertjenrick and mps will conclude that debate and have their first votes on the bill late on monday night. during that debate labour's rosie duffy — the new mp for canterbury — made her maiden speech. she condemned the abuse she received online. this ranges from badly researched articles published as fact to unpleasant personal messages late at night and vile insults from a small, persistent handful of activists from other parties posted online. i would like to acknowledge the efforts being made by the inspirational women in parliament who are working hard to raise this issue and fight against it, even though that usually
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results in much more abuse being thrown their way. she said it was possible to engage in passionate debate without resorting to name calling, death threats and abusive language. finally, an unfortunate thing happened to the veteran labour mp ann clwyd on wednesday on her way to the commons. she'd wanted to take part in votes on three government finance measures but was prevented from doing so. i was locked, not in the lavatory but in the lift, and were it not for one of the researchers of the party opposite, i suspect i would still be there! i think it is very unsatisfactory but in our first week back after the recess that there are problems with the lift. can i ask the house to ensure that there are maintenance men around and surely the lift should be serviced! i am sure that mr speaker will be as concerned as i am to hear about that and i will look into this situation and assure the honourable lady that i will take
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that up later on today. the situation is extremely irregular and the honourable lady has my support this. i hope she will not take that out of good humour if i say i am surprised that the lift dared! ann clwyd, taking the joke in good humour! and that's it from me for now, but dojoin me on bbc parliament on friday night at 11pm for a round up of the week here at westminster when we'll be chatting to mps and peers aboutjust how the government is going to get its eu withdrawal bill through parliament. but for now from me, goodbye. hello. we're keeping our eye on three hurricanes in the caribbean. hurricanejose hot on the heels of hurricane irma, not quite as strong as irma, but still
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the potential for damaging winds for the northern leeward islands by the weekend. hurricane irma is heading turks and caicos, heading through cuba on friday, eventually florida by the weekend and hurricane katia in the gulf of mexico more a rain maker, with a lot of damaging wind. back home, it's somewhat quieter over here, but still an unsettled end to the week, thanks to this area of low pressure driving the weather. and there'll be strong winds at times particularly across southern coastal counties and the north—west of scotland and northern ireland as well. here, there'll be some showers from the word go. not quite so many showers here first thing tomorrow across the eastern side of scotland, maybe some sunshine coming through, but always a lot of cloud. and showers never too far away across northern england. there'll be some spells of sunshine coming through across northern parts of wales, but again there'll be some showers here through the day. and the showers already getting going across south—west england, and across southern coastal counties of england.
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they will start to become a little bit more frequent, and the rain more persistent. the showers merging, really, to give a longer spell of rain. so it's quite an unsettled feel to the end of the week. for many northern parts of england, parts of scotland and northern ireland, it's a day, really, of sunshine and showers. but for wales, southern and central parts of england, those showers, as i mentioned, becoming more frequent, and merging together for a longer spell of rain. you could well even catch a rumble of thunder during the afternoon. so temperatures no great shakes, really, somewhere between 16 and 19 celsius for most. there'll be further heavy showers, longer spells of rain around tomorrow evening. slowly, we start to lose some of the energy, but there will be more showers around overnight, so nowhere reliably dry. but there should be some lengthier clear spells in between the showers. a slightly fresher night, lows of 11 or 12 celsius. but, for most, still in double figures. and it's still a fairly unsettled weekend. sunshine and showers i think should just about cover it for saturday.
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the emphasis more on dry weather and not quite as many showers. but again, nowhere reliably dry, and the temperatures still not much higher than 18 or 19 celsius. and we do it all again on sunday. many places should get off to a reasonably dry start, but then we look to the north—west, something unsettled is happening here — strengthening winds, and spells of rain, light to very heavy, sweeping across the country. so for the weekend here, yes, wet at times, rather cool and quite windy as well. goodbye. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: hurricane irma devastates the islands of the eastern caribbean. barbuda and st martin pick up the pieces. irma heads for haiti and then florida where mass evacuations are ordered. an unfolding humanitarian disaster. families flee myanmar were buddhists are targeting rohingya muslim villages. and a special report on nightmarish conditions in a refugee
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camp in libya. hello. hurricane irma, one of the strongest storms ever


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