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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  April 30, 2018 2:30am-3:01am BST

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of long—term migrants from the caribbean. her departure is a major blow to the prime minister, theresa may, who has to maintain a delicate balance over brexit in her divided cabinet. the us secretary of state, mike pompeo, says north korea must take irreversible steps towards ending its nuclear programme if a deal can be struck between the two countries. america's national security adviser, john bolton, has also sounded a cautious note about a possible agreement. armenia's ruling party says it will not try to prevent the man who's led two weeks of anti—government protests from becoming prime minister. seniorfigures in the republican party say they will not field a candidate against nikol pashinyan, who told a rally earlier that he was ready to take office. now on bbc news, the week in parliament. hello and welcome to
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the week in parliament. there is continued pressure on the home secretary over her handling of immigration. if she does take full responsibility for this serious issue, then perhaps she should do the honourable thing and resign. i do take serious my responsibility, but i do think that i am the person who can put it right. it is 60 years since the life peerages act. i have been talking to three prominent peers about the changes in the rules that allowed women to sit in the lords the first time, and hearing about the men who opposed the change. "we like women, we admire them, we even grow fond of them, but we do not like them here." the idea that people could think of saying that today is extraordinary. and the brexit secretary tells the committee he expects mps to back the government's stand on leaving the customs union.
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i expect the government's policy to be upheld. but if it is not, you will have to respect that. the government always respects parliament, but i expect the government policy to be upheld. but first it was another tricky week for the home secretary amber rudd. on monday she came to the commons to try and draw a line under the scandal over the way members of the windrush generation have been treated. thousands of people from commonwealth countries who arrived in the united kingdom before 1973 are to be given free uk citizenship if they want it, with the waiving of citizenship fees and language tests. amber rudd said she would compensate those who had been disadvantaged. she told the commons that the windrush migrants had been caught up in measures designed to crack down on illegal immigration. but the row refused to go away. at prime minister's questions, jeremy corbyn cause on theresa may to abandon what he described as the government's cruel immigration policies.
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can the prime minister send a clear message today and tell us the hostile environment is over, and that her bogus immigration targets that have driven this hostile culture will be scrapped? the windrush generation have served this country and deserve better than this. the labour frontbench are saying that the windrush generation are not legal — they are not illegal, they are here legally. that is why we are providing the support to enable them to get documents for their status. what we are talking about, what the right honourable gentleman the leader of the opposition is talking about, is whether or not we should deal with illegal immigration, and up and down this country the british public will tell him that we should deal with illegal immigration. but a short time later the home secretary appeared in front of the committee that scrutinises her department, and was asked when she knew about the problem.
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i became aware over the past few months, i would say, that there was a problem of individuals that i was seeing, this was covered as far and i could see from newspapers and mps bringing it forward anecdotally over the past three orfour months, and i became aware that there was a potential issue. i bitterly, deeply regret that i did not see it as more than individual cases that had gone wrong that needed addressing. i did not see it as a systemic issue until very recently. amber rudd. during a committee hearing she was asked if her department had targets for removing illegal immigrants, and she said that it did not. but overnight documents emerged suggesting that that was not the case. and so labour put down an urgent question on thursday, when ms rudd faced repeated calls for her to quit. i have never agreed that there should be specific removal targets and i would never support a policy
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that puts targets ahead of people. the immigration arm of the home office has been using local targets for internal performance management. these were not published targets against which performance was assessed, but if they were used inappropriately, then i am clear that this will have to change. when lord carrington resigned over the falklands, he said it was a matter of honour. isn't it time that the home secretary conceded her honour and resigned? this home secretary is residing over a department out of control. marked by cruelty and chaos. will she shop shielding her minister, will she do the honourable thing and resign. surely if she does take full responsibility for this serious issue, then perhaps she should do
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the honourable thing and resign. i do take seriously my responsibility, but i do think that i am the person who can put it right. but conservative mps backed the home secretary. illegal immigration is wrong because it creates unfairness for those legal migrants who do the right thing and play by the rules, like the windrush generation. isn't it vital that we keep that distinction, and don't allow the party opposite to cynically conflate the two political purposes? most people in the real word outside the labour party, the snp and the metropolitan london elite in the media, believe the government don't do enough to remove illegal immigrants from this country, not that they are doing too much. a short time later the home office announced it is to scrap its internal targets for removing illegal immigrants. however the government's overall target of reducing net migration to under 100,000 will stay in place. monday, april 30 marks 60 years since the passing of the act
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which created life peerages in the house of lords, and enabled women to join the upper house for the very first time. for the first time in a decade, members of the house of lords met again in their own chamber, redecorated after its temporary use by the commons. so the house of lords in the early 19505 had more than 800 members — only about 100 turned up on an average day, and sometimes it was a lot less, sometimes maybe at no more than 30. this was just a matter of not enough members attending. many lords inherited their positions, not many were labour, and many did not want to inherit their positions. there was discussion over this, and in 1958 they agreed to allow peerages to be created for life. i think the introduction of life peers was a transformation
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for the house of lords. i think it stopped it from falling into complete disrepute, and possibly saved it from being abolished. and despite opposition from some in the lords, four of the first life peers granted in 1958 were women. we asked some long serving life peers to reflect on their time in the house. they alljoined before the reforms of 1999 which removed most of the hereditary peers. we will hear first from lady blackstone who arrived in 1987. i was not allowed to go into the library, because as the attendant thought, i must be a secretary, because i was relatively young and female, and i said, i think i am allowed to go in to the library, because i havejust become a member. so the expectations were that you would not be young and a woman, however once you got working it was as easy to work as young woman as it was to
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work as an old man. the hereditaries really did influence the atmosphere there, because there was this tremendous sense of conservatism with a small c, and of legacy. one of the impressions was that there was a lot more men than there was women, it was much smaller in those days, it has increased a tremendous amount. the women here now are remarkable. they are very highly intelligent, and they are frightening for people like me, but they are very good at what they do. and it is a joy. i am joined by a labour peer and former leader of the house of lords, ladyjay of paddington.
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ladyjenkin of kellington, and by baroness kramer, a former libdem mp and now independent peer. let's take a step back, what do you think would have happened to the lords if we had not had the life peerages act? i think it would have fallen into complete disrepute, because as they said in interviews on the tapes, there were a large number of hereditary peers, some of whom took it seriously, but most of whom did not. and i think all the accusations which are probably wrongly now directed at all of us about being unelected, and so on, would have been far louder and stronger if there had not been the changes that were made, both in the life peerages act and in my view the much more important 1999 act, which got rid of the majority of the hereditary peers. that is when you got real change in house. but sticking with the life peerages act for now, there was a lot of
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opposition, wasn't there? there was a lot, and one of the hereditary peers said, "frankly i find women in politics highly distasteful. i believe there are certain duties and responsibilities which nature and custom had decreed that men are more fitted to take on." he went on to say, "why should we allow women to eat their way like acid into metal into positions that men have previously held. we like women, we admire them, sometimes we even grow fond of them, but we do not like them here." the idea that anyone could even think of saying that today is absolutely extraordinary. they went on saying that into the 90s, as you heard. what is it like as a place to work now? i have only been there after all of the changes, and i love it, is far less tribal than it is down in the house of commons. but i also think women play a very significant role in the house of lords and more in a sense,
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you are more likely to have women coming up with particular ideas, taking leadership on issues, taking leadership and pieces of legislation, in a way that i don't quite remember from the commons. the commons may have changed as well, but i find that actually it is a very good place for women in this day and age. that would i think surprise a lot of people, if you stopped people in the street and asked them about the house of lords, they will probably say it is full of old white men in funny outfits who don't turn up for work until they have had a very convivial lunch. i think it is a very much more professional body, i think one of the things building on what you was saying about the role of women in the lords is that before i became leader as you mentioned, i was leader from 1998, but before that there had only been one woman leader of the house of lords in the previous a0 years, and she was only their for 18 months or so. since i was leader there have been five women in the house of lords as leader, and those of the two original speakers of the house
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of lords are women. i want to look at the future, if we were to sit here in ten years time, do you think we would see a very different house of lords to the one we have now? would it be smaller, more diverse, would we have more women in its? i think there will be more women, i think every political party, and we are all appointed by our political leaders, are well aware that there is still an imbalance, still only 26%, and certainly my grandmother came in in 1963, i come from a politicalfamily, and so was a very early pioneer in the days when, as we heard, it was quite a lonely place for women. and it certainly does not feel that today. my guess is that they will be considerably more women, and my guess is that it will be more diverse. but there is already a diversity of background which as you pointed out earlier, i think the public are not aware of. you think things are going to change, in ten years time we'll be looking at a different house of lords?
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i think is likely we will go to at least a partly elected house of lords at some point, i think the appointed system becomes untenable after a while. that will be a decision of the public, not for me or anyone else around this table. i think the thrust of the country that i hope is in the direction of diversity, recognising the incredible diverse and true that we live in, the different regional interests, we are not really regionally balanced in the way we should be, and i also feel that women have justified their place, and you will see more and more women until it reflects the population far better than it does. and the crucial question, will we have tackled the issue of the size of the house of lords? i hope so, one problem that i think is outstanding is the question of the very large numbers of peers. we should cut it, we did
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in 1999 and it crept up. we should go on putting more women in the we don't need to necessarily feel ashamed of the numbers that are there, because at the moment it is pretty gender neutral. for the time being, thank you all very much for coming the programme. and you can see a longer version of that interview, including the ladies‘ thoughts on the brexit bill, on the week in parliament website. speaking of that topic, let's have a round—up of the week's brexit news. the bill putting eu law into uk law after brexit is continuing its journey through the lords, but has suffered a string of defeats at the hands of peers, with four inflicted through the week. two were about legal aspects, one about whether the eu charter of fundamental rights should be kept after brexit, and the fourth about the ability of ministers to change laws without full parliamentary scrutiny by making regulations.
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a former clerk of the commons explained his concerns. regulations can do anything an act of parliament can do, including of course wholesale amendments or repeal of statutes that have passed through the far more exacting process of primary legislation. whichever side of the brexit argument they stand on, people might reasonably believe that "taking back control" would be under the sovereignty of parliament, rather than ceding swathes of power to the executive. they are saying they can be used, but only if necessary, and they need the flexibility if it is appropriate to tidy things up. well, who is taking the decision of whether it is appropriate? today it is theresa may as prime minister. tomorrow it might be jacob rees—mogg or boris johnson orjeremy corbyn. this house's responsibility
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is to ensure that we do not give the executive more power than is necessary in order to achieve their objectives. i have considered this issue, and i think the lordships need to consider it in the round, the round being all the other limitations that currently exist on ministers, and most importantly, the amendment that my noble friend, the minister, is making to this point, which i believe does address many of the concerns. what i would ask your lordships at this point is to consider this. is the government acting in a reasonable way to ensure it has the powers necessary to deliver a smooth and orderly brexit? i understand the notional appeal of only permitting ministers to act where it is necessary, and here i agree with my distinct predecessor, my noble friend lord bridges, the midwife, as he put
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it, to this bill. but it should not be the role of a minister to be a statutory firefighter, dousing deficiencies in the statute book only where it is absolutely necessary. instead i would argue that a more proactive role is the only way that we can ensure the best possible outcomes for the statute book. but lord lisvane was not persuaded. despite a dogged defence, i am going to ask noble lords to indicate their views and i wish to test them in advance. and when it came to the vote, peers backed lord lisvane‘s amendment by 349—221, another heavy defeat for ministers. and there will be more votes in the lords on the eu withdrawal bill next week. meanwhile, the brexit secretary was being questioned about the possibility of the uk staying in some kind of customs union which allows free trade between member states.
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amber rudd, who was not having the best week, ran into controversy when at a lunch with journalists she failed to confirm that the united kingdom would be leaving the eu customs union, which is the official government policy. in a tweet later she said she should have been more clear, and of course britain would leave the customs union. the brexit secretary was asked, what if the house of commons didn't agree with that? you have emphatically rejected remaining in the customs union but when the trade bill returns to the house, the house will vote on whether it wishes to adopt a different policy, ie, to remain in the customs union. if that is carried, you are going to have to change policy, aren't you? well, i'm not going to enter into hypotheticals on what the house may or may not do, and if the government is defeated in these arguments i expect the government's policy to be upheld. but if it isn't, you'll have to respect that. the government always respects parliament. i expect the policy to be upheld. and there was a taste of what that
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debate might be like on thursday when mps debated whether the uk should stay in the customs union. at dover, 400 lorries per hour rumble on and off the ferries to france. in ireland, 6000 lorries and 8000 fans whizz to and fro across the border without even braking. from apples to aerospace, from yorkshire woollens to scottish salmon, britain does more than £230 billion of export trade with european countries every year. those businesses do not get stopped at the border, don't pay tariffs or fill out extra forms. theyjust sail through. that is the frictionless trade that so many of our manufacturing jobs depend on. outside the eu and outside the customs union the uk will be able to sign its own trade deals with our partners around the world. saying this does not mean that we will no longer need a deep and special partnership with our nearest trading partner. the eu is still and will remain a very significant marketplace for us.
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our markets are deeply interconnected and this will remain the case for the future. that is why the prime minister has set out the government's intention to negotiate the broadest and deepest possible economic partnership, covering more sectors and cooperating more fully than any free trade agreement anywhere in the world. at the end of that debate mps agreed without a vote that the government should try to negotiate for the uk to stay in a customs union with the eu. but that decision is not binding on the government. but there was a brexit breakthrough of sorts in the week. the westminster government managed to reach a deal with the administration in wales over the devolution of powers after brexit. here is our wales political correspondent, david cornick, to explain. this row has been about what happens to european powers in areas like farm subsidies and food labelling once britain leaves the eu. the welsh government said those powers, as they affect wales, should automatically go from brussels to cardiff. but the uk government wanted to see powers kept in london so that uk—wide policies could be developed. welsh ministers said that was a power grab. the deal is a compromise.
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most powers in devolved areas will pass to the devolved government. but some will stay in westminster, although the uk government has agreed that will only be temporary and those powers will only be used with wales‘ consent. not everybody is happy. plaid cymru's lead in westminster was unimpressed. for the first time since the birth of devolution the westminster government has succeeded in clawing back powers which should be held by our national assembly. this will have major consequences for the uk's constitution. and this is all thanks to the labour party in wales. and while wales may have signed up to the plan, the scottish government in holyrood has rejected it. the snp‘s pete wishart accused the welsh government of capitulation on the issue. it comes as no surprise that welsh labour have so easily
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capitulated to the tories on this issue. we will never stop defending the integrity of our parliament and we will never allow the tories to diminish our parliament's power. we will not allow that to happen. at prime minister's questions, theresa may said she hoped scotland's first minister nicola sturgeon would change her mind. we have made considerable changes to the bill to reflect issues raised by our members and by the devolved administrations. it is indeed disappointing that the scottish government have not yet felt able to add to their agreement to the new amendments, and we sincerely hope that they will reconsider their position. parliament square has a new statue, its first commemorating a woman. the work by gillian wearing depicts the suffragist millicent fawcett who led the non—militant campaign for votes for women. here are some moments from the unveiling ceremony. # shout, shout, on with the song...
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i think we are all immensely excited, thrilled, honoured and are very grateful to all the people who made it possible. less than 3% of british statues feature woman who actually existed. with this statue of millicent fawcett, the first actual statue of a woman and the first statue by a woman, in this iconic location, we've made one hell of a start on changing that. three, two, one... applause. this is a moment ofjoy and celebration and also thanks, because millicent fawcett and all her suffragist colleagues and suffragette colleagues, they are the reason that we as women have the vote today. it is a timely reminder, as we have just heard the gender pay gap announcements, we know that there is more work to do, in terms of ensuring women
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are treated fairly in the workplace and in society generally, i think it is great that we can take stock this year and celebrate 100 years of the beginning of universal suffrage, but also reflect on what more we need to do. # we are soldiers on the battlefield! finally, two bits of happy news. scottish conservative leader ruth davidson has announced she is three months pregnant. she said she and her partner, jen wilson, were excited to be expecting their first child in october after undergoing ivf. she said she would be taking time off for maternity leave like thousands of working women do every year, but she says she expect to return to the scottish parliament in spring of next year. meanwhile, in the house of commons, congratulations for the duke and duchess of cambridge on the arrival of their third child. the couple posed for pictures with the new arrival just seven hours after the duchess was admitted to hospitalfor the birth. john bercow offered congratulations
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on behalf of the commons and the lord speaker, lord fowler, sent congratulations from the upper house. i am sure noble lords on all sides of the house willjoin me in congratulating their royal highnesses on this most happy of occasions. and that's it from me for now. but do join christine cooper for a full round—up of events from westminster on bbc parliament on monday night at 11. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello again. we are looking at a
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cold start the new working week across parts of eastern england. normally at this time of year would see highs of around 15 degrees but underan area of see highs of around 15 degrees but under an area of persistent rain we might see temperatures struggled to get much past four degrees across most of the data parts of east anglia and south—east england under this band of rain. a cold frosty start to the david plenty of sunshine across northern and western areas, strong winds really restricted to central and eastern england but that band of with us through the day. 25— 35 millimetres of rain, and up to cause localised surface water flooding and will stay really called for these eastern and central areas of england. with sunshine, temperatures reaching double figures. tuesday, that low pressure with sunshine into a time ahead of the next weather system, a band of rain into western areas into tuesday afternoon, still a little call for this time of year.
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welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is nkem ifejika. our top stories: britain's home secretary resigns amid claims she misled parliament over targets for removing illegal immigrants. the us says there's a real opportunity for a deal with north korea but pyongyang must get rid of its nuclear weapons. protesters show their support for armenia's main opposition leader, days before a new prime minister will be chosen. and a group of migrants who've been travelling through mexico stage a demonstration at the border with america. the british home secretary, amber rudd, has resigned after weeks
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