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tv   Thursday in Parliament  BBC News  July 6, 2018 2:30am-3:00am BST

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scott pruitt, has resigned. mr pruitt faces at least a dozen investigations into his spending habits and alleged misuse of office. president trump said he had done an outstanding job. in the next few hours, the us is set to start imposing tariffs of 25% on $34 billion worth of chinese exports, including industrial machinery and medical devices. china has hit back with tariffs on american agricultural produce. rescuers in thailand are stepping up their efforts to get the trapped boys out of a flooded cave before the weather closes in. thousands of litres of water have been pumped out of the caves, bringing the flood levels down. but the window of opportunity for any rescue is not expected to last long, as more rain is expected on sunday. now on bbc news, thursday in parliament. hello and welcome to
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thursday in parliament. on this programme: the home secretary tells mps the nerve agent that's poisoned a couple in wiltshire could be the same as that used against an ex russian spy and his daughter in march. it could very well be the exact same nerve agent that was used in march because it would not have had time to deteriorate in any meaningful way. there's more pressure on the work and pensions secretary over how she interpreted a critical report into a key government benefit. and there's anger in the commons when a debate on allowing mps to vote by proxy after the birth of a child is pulled from the schedule. how many more babies will have to be born to members of this house before we can start to put some modern practises in place to take care of those women and those babies? but first, the home secretary, sajid javid, has said the novichok
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nerve agent that has poisoned two people in amesbury in wiltshire is the same as that used in the attack on sergei and yulia skripal in march. sajid javid was updating mps after a meeting of the emergency committee cobra. the couple had been found unwell at their home on saturday and were taken to salisbury district hospital, where the skripals had also been treated. the home secretary said he understood local people would be feeling very anxious. let me reassure you — the public safety is of paramount importance. public health england's latest assessment is that, based on the number of casualties affected, there is no significant risk to the wider public. their advice is informed by scientists and the police, as the facts evolve. he said the main line of inquiry was that this case was linked to the poisoning of the skripals in march, an attack ministers blamed on the russian government.
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it is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parts, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison. we will continue with our investigations as a matter of urgency and i will keep the house and the public updated on any significant developments. the home secretary will appreciate how alarmed the public — particularly the people of wiltshire — must be at the second incident involving the nerve agent novichok in four months. and this incident has occurred long after local people had been assured that there have been a federal clean—up of the area. we understood that numerous areas across salisbury had been decontaminated, at great expense and with great thoroughness. and it is still not clear whether this is a wholly separate incident or the fallout from the original incident, but with effects being felt months apart. is he in a position to tell us whether or not it is possible
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to identify whether the novichok in this instance is from the same batch as was used in the skripal case, or would that not be possible? he asked specifically about the batch. we cannot attribute this to the same batch at this point. scientists will be looking into that. i've also been told that may not even be possible. the labour mp who chairs the home affairs committee pressed the home secretary to say more about the nerve agent. and whether or how it did great and deteriorate or how easy it is to detect, as he will be aware there is already conflicting information and potentially misinformation being circulated on this. —— or whether or not it degrades or deteriorates. the novichok will deteriorate over some time, like all nerve agents. but my understanding is that in the case of this type of nerve agent, that could take months or months. therefore it is scientifically perfectly possible that this is the exact same nerve agent that was used from the same batch. it could well be the exact same
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nerve agent that was used in march, because it would not have had enough time to deteriorate in any meaningful way. can i thank these home secretary for his excellent statement, and join others in celebrating his distinction between our condemnation of the russian government and our support for the russian people? his careful phrasing today and his diplomatic sensitivity is vital. we reassure the house that all ministers will follow his lead and his calm strength. yes, absolutely. the home secretary is right to draw distinction between the russian government and the russian people. with a potential clash between russia and england in the world cup, can i ask what conversations he's had with the foreign secretary to ensure that english fans in russia are being kept up to date through regular and updated travel and foreign office advice? mr speaker, first of all, i can tell the honourable gentleman that even before the world cup started there was a very robust and well thought—through
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plan in place with work between my department and police and others, in supporting british fans in russia. in light of this incident, we will certainly be reviewing that. there is nothing to indicate in any way at this point that risk to russian fans has changed in any way, but we want to keep that under review. i am deeply concerned for salisbury‘s local economy and community. will my right honourable friend commit to the necessary support to wiltshire to get through this, and also stress again that the government's priority is the safety of residents and that the risk to wiltshire residents must remain low? my honourable friend is right to raise this. i know as a local mp that she will be concerned as he will be hearing concerns from her constituents. i can give her that commitment. we will support the local economy, local business, local people in every way that we can. i have already discussed this since this morning with the community secretary, and i know he shares that desire to help in every way that we can. sajid javid.
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labour has again called on the work and pensions secretary to resign, in the row over how she interpreted a public spending report. esther mcvey apologised in the commons on wednesday for having claimed the report, from the spending watchdog the national audit office, wanted to see a "speeding up" of the roll—out of the new welfare system, universal credit. 2a hours later, labour kept up the pressure on the embattled minister. the secretary of state should be ashamed that she's been forced to come to this house again. cheering. the report... yesterday, the comptroller and auditor general took the extraordinary step of writing an open letter to her, pointing out that she have misrepresented the national audit office report on numerous occasions. the report said that universal credit is not meeting the aims set for it and that currently there is no evidence it ever will.
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why and how did she come to say falsely over two separate occasions in this parliament that the report said, and i quote, "the report said the roll out of universal credit should be speeded up, the report was out of date as it did not take account of changes made by the government in the budget," and, "universal credit was working"? how can these statements be inadvertent slips of the tongue? mr speaker, if she misread this report so badly, this brings into question her competence and her judgment. hear, hear! if she did read the report and chose to misrepresent its findings, she has clearly broken the ministerial code. either way, she should resign. the minister said she'd come voluntarily to the commons on wednesday. i used the word faster rate and speeded up on the premise that the report had said there was no practical alternative but to continue with universal credit and also there had been a regrettable slowing down. so, my interpretation of that was incorrect which is why i came to the house yesterday and apologised for my words. but equally what i said, separating that out,
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is what was the impact of the changes which i said, and i stand by, the impact of those changes could not have been felt because it is still being rolled out and those impacts are still being felt and therefore they could not have been taken into account. mr speaker, if you complain to me that i am being too slow, am i on reasonable in assuming that you want me to go faster? —— unreasonable? laughter. secretary of state. i want to thank the right honourable friend for the way he said that and that was my interpretation of what i read throughout a report. and therefore i apologised when i checked on the words that i had used my interpretation — not the exact words that were in the report. hence i apologised. but what i will say, mr speaker, when we talk about apologies — i'm more than happy to say,
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"can i check on those words? "did i get them right? "did i get them wrong?" i then followed through. what was the right process? how did i do it? nobody asked me to come to the house. nobody told me to come to the house. i actually checked those words and came to the house today. this is an absolutely shameful state of affairs. mr speaker, we can all accept honest error. but the auditor general points out in his letter that a number of the statements the secretary of state has made are without evidence, not correct and not proven. this is not about phrasing, mr speaker, as the secretary of state is saying, because speeding up is not the same as pausing. i'm staggered and disappointed that in answer to an urgent question we have a secretary of state still arguing over the detail of a report. this is an important constitutional issue. the national audit office
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is the independent watchdog of government spending and in this case we had the secretary of state come to the house twice, and an unprecedented letter from the auditor general and i have had two letters from the permanent secretary adding information into what was an agreed report on the 8th ofjune. for eight years, parliament's only reliable information about the status of universal credit has come from the national audit office. ministers have consistently responded with denials, cover—ups, statements which the secretary of state has acknowledged this week were simply untrue. might her apology herald a new openness about the very real problems with the universal credit project? well, i want to thank thank the right honourable gentleman for my openness for the fact that i was willing by myself to come and apologise for the wrong words. if people know me, they will always say about me i am open and i am straight and i say it as it is, which i will do.
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esther mcvey. labour says passengers will — in effect — be paying their own compensation for weeks of rail delays and cancellations. it was another day of rail chaos, with travellers advised to avoid london victoria station after a signalfailure caused major disruption. the latest day of disruption followed weeks of problems for passengers on some northern rail services and on govia thameslink that runs from the north of london through to the south. the government has announced users will be able to claim compensation of between one and four weeks. in the commons, the shadow transport minister wondered who would foot the bill. she quoted previous comments by the transport secretary, chris grayling. in regards to compensation, the companies, the train operating companies, will have to meet the cost of that. so untrue. it is network rail, mr speaker, will be funding the compensation. last year alone, they paid out a82 million through schedules
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four and eight. so, does he agree that while the operating companies write the cheques, it is the state that pays? we will review where responsibility lies and the rail industry will be responsible for undertaking appropriate compensation to make sure passengers have the right redress. the rail industry, as honorable members right honourable members will be aware, is partly and public control through network rail and partly run by private operators and each will pay their fair share. rachael maskell. astonishing — network rail paying compensation means that this is coming from taxpayers. the public. so in effect passengers will be funding their own compensation for delays and cancelled trains, for missing exams, but being sacked from theirjobs orfor lost business revenue. passengers paying their own compensation. so, how much compensation has has the minister budgeted for for the secretary of state's decision to press ahead with this timetable chaos or is instead going to cut more network rail projects to pay for it? minister.
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mr speaker, the compensation involves, as i've already said, four weeks' cash compensation for passengers on the most severely disrupted routes. on both the north, northern services and one week further afield in yorkshire. and similarly gtr announced yesterday a comparable package of special compensation for passengers on the most affected thameslink and great northern routes. another labour mp moved on to what action could be taken against govia thameslink — gtr — which is due to bring in a new timetable in mid—july. the public accounts committee has concluded that the threat to strip gtr of their franchise is not a credible one. what can he do to protect passengers from a continuation of the current appalling performance if thejuly 15th interim timetable fails to bring stability? minister johnson. mr speaker, rail operating companies will be held responsible for that portion of performance for which they are responsible and accountable and that is now under way. the secretary of state has set in train a hard review of gtr
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and at the end of that hard review, all appropriate options will be on the table and available to the secretary of state and to the government as a whole. rail passenger usage is falling, and is it any wonder that my constituents in cardiff central are giving up on using the train when a standard return rail ticket to london for a morning meeting costs £235? they can fly from our welsh labour government owned cardiff airport to barcelona and back three times and still have change for a taxi home. mr speaker, the government is conscious of the cost of fares to the travelling public, and for that reason has ensured that fares have risen at a lower rate than they did under the last labour government. the causes of the decline in season ticket numbers are complex. while the statistics show fall injourneys made using season tickets, there has been an increase in journeys using other ticket types over the last year. factors such as strikes, station closures and weather have also had an impact on season tickets. i've written to the secretary of state about my constituent
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who had no access to a toilet on a bus replacement service or any of the stops along the route between salford and preston. she is a pregnant woman and was forced to wet herself, and then sat on the floor of the train from preston to glasgow because it was overcrowded and delayed. does the secretary of state believe that she should be compensated for that indignity? hear, hear! the inclusive transport structure which is due to be published will look at issues around accessibility and toilets. especially looking at changing rooms and how we can make that information more available at the appropriate time when toilets are and are not functioning. nusrat ghani. you're watching thursday in parliament, with me, alicia mccarthy. now, it can hardly have escaped your notice that the 5th ofjuly marked the 70th anniversary of the creation of the nhs. peers were in celebratory mood. my lords, happy birthday to our nhs. will the ministerjoin me in paying tribute to those parliamentarians over 70 years ago, time and time
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again traipsed through the lobbies to bring about a national health service. in spite of them all being labour! well, they say success has many parents and i think we should pay tribute to the liberal mp william beveridge, to the conservative health minister henry willink and to the labor health secretary nye bevan in theirfounding of the nhs. it's important to point out that over its 70 years the conservative party has been in powerfor 43 of those and the nhs has thrived under our leadership. but a conservative said priorities within the nhs needed to be looked at. i heard this morning that certain treatments and unnecessary medicines are to be ruled out. can we have a comprehensive list of those? it is not right that dandruff shampoo should be on prescription. it is not right that we should be looking at funding treatment
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of gaming machine addiction. can we have real look at the priorities? while we are looking for savings in the national health service, perhaps my noble friend could explain to me why it is that the national health service does not reclaim crutches, zimmerframes, moon boots etc. wheelchairs even are found in attics of deceased former patients. it seems to me that there must be quite a reserve in your lordship‘s attic! well, i couldn't possibly comment on the latter. my noble friend makes an important point. it is of course right to be judicious with the use of these kind of products. however it is sometimes the case that they are damaged in use and they are not always reliable, which is one of the reasons that they can't always be reclaimed and reused. did the noble minister make of the poll that showed that 66% of british people said they would be prepared to pay more for the provisions of
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the national health service and what's his view about a hypothecated tax in order to meet those needs? i'm sure the chancellor would have taken that on board and as we plan, he will reveal his decisions in the budget. the nhs in england is to get an extra £20 billion a year by 2023. but a former labour health secretary said money wouldn't be enough. demographic change, ageing population, new inventions, new therapies, new pharmaceutical products and so on. and while i very much welcome extra money, can i say to the minister that this problem will not be solved just by extra money. can i say to him that it will require massive organisation, radical restructuring and innovation of technology on a massive scale and that will not be achieved by one party on its own. why, therefore, does the government constantly refuse
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the recommendations of some noble lords and committees in this house to establish a cross party consensus on this and take party politics out of this to the maximum extent? that is the only way, accompanied by money, that we will actually save the nhs for the next 70 years. i mean, the noble lord knows better than most the challenges of transforming the national health service. he is quite right about the big challenges we face. i think it's better to look at them as opportunities. he is also right that reform has to go hand in hand with extra money. we promised the extra money, we now need to see the reform and every part of the health service — the department, nhs and others — need to drive that through. lord o'shaugnessey. now, there was anger in the commons when a debate on allowing mps to vote by proxy when they're on baby leave was shelved. because there had been extra items of business added to the schedule, including that urgent question
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to esther mcvey and the statement on the novichok poisoning in wiltshire, there was little time left for the proxy voting debate. so the government decided to postpone it for now, much to the disappointment of many mps, including the chair of the procedure committee which had produced a report on the subject. we passed a motion in this house on february ist to look at proxy voting. the procedure committee which i chair, mr speaker, published its report on may 15th. we are some two months from that point, five months plus in total from february ist. i'm a man of great patience but babies aren't as patient as i am. there are a number of colleagues who are expecting to give birth in the next few weeks who were rather hoping that we would get to this business. if not today, mr speaker, then perhaps next week. i would urge the government to look at rescheduling the baby leave debate as soon as possible
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because time waits for no pregnant woman and i can see a bump over there that is a significantly bigger than it was five months ago when we first debated this issue. last year, i took maternity leave and suffered reputational damage through one of the newspapers for being branded as a lazy mp, somebody who wasn't here for a lot of the time. three of our colleagues are expecting babies in the next few months and one of our colleagues, the honourable member for east dunbartonshire, has recently had her baby. i hope we might be able to get these provisions in place for the recess in time for these honourable members to have that proxy voting during their maternity leave. mr speaker, this is absolutely ridiculous, that people have come here in good faith to debate baby leave — a very important thing which, as we have heard, time is pressing. can the government give us kind of date on when this is actually going to happen? will it happen before recess?
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how many more babies have to be born to members of this house before we can start some modern practices in place to take care of those women and those babies? the motion which was down on the paper today... there wasn't a motion. it was just going to be a general debate. and perhaps matters could be shortened if the government was now to put down a substantive motion on the order paper, which could be debated next week, and then we could reach a decision on it because we weren't able to reach a decision today anyway. my daughter will be born in the autumn so i am really keen to see that this be put in place as soon as possible. can i ask you, on a serious point of order, where is the leader of the house? the government has just unilaterally changed the business of the house this afternoon. i am the acting whip for the snp today, and ifind out by a rumour that this has happened. it is a gross discourtesy to the house and the leader of the house should have come to the dispatch box and made an announcement today. the leader of the commons rushed back to her seat. the purpose of today's debate, however, mr speaker, was to open up the discussion about what is actually quite a significant change to the conventions of this house.
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and my speech, were i delivering it, would be to ask open questions of members as to how they believe it could best be handled and whether there are other alternatives and ,indeed, whether there are potentially unintended consequences. so, my intention was to facilitate a debate and you're absolutely right, mr speaker, unfortunately the events in wilkshire meant that the home secretary couldn't get here before the end of cobra to make his statement and, unfortunately, that led to us having insufficient time to properly air the issues under discussion today. it's absolutely my intention to bring that debate back as soon as possible. thank you. finally, near enough 2a million people watched the england game in the world cup on tuesday night. but one group of people who weren't able to tune in were conservative mps, who had to stay in the commons to vote, after the snp held a series of votes. the snp‘s pete wishart thought the solution lay in a change he's been calling for for a long time. i understand some of my conservative friends gotjust a wee bit upset on tuesday evening for having to vote on our estimates process. and apparentlyjust by doing theirjob, it got in the way of being to cheer on the national
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english football team. well, apparently it's all the fault of us nast scot nats for daring to vote in a parliamentary democracy. how dare we? but salvation is on its way, mr speaker, and there a solution available for my footie—fixated tory friends. and that is just to stop wandering round and round aimlessly for 20 minutes and in a head count in stuffed division lobbies and try and introduce some modern voting facilities and come into the 21st century. what i would observe, mr speaker, is that the scottish nationalist members of parliament could certainly not be playing in the world cup due to their slowness of the 33 of them through the lobby. they showed no ability to sprint. and whilst it is entirely in order for them to vote at all times, as was pointed out on the day, nevertheless, for the sergeant at arms to have to go twice into the lobby to find out what was causing such a delay, for 33 of them to stagger through didn't only prevent those wanting to watch the football
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from this chamber but it also prevented the doorkeepers, the many staff who support us, and it wasjust plain mean to do that. andrea leadsom on football and fair play in the commons. and that's it from me for now, but dojoin me on friday night at ”pm for our round up of the week in westminster, when we'll be looking back over the last few days in the commons and the lords. but for now, from me, goodbye. well, i'm sure you will know what i'm going to say, we're in for a hot and sunny day, no changes to our weather. in fact, the weekend is looking particularly hot across england, temperatures expected to rise.
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i will say, though, there is a chance of one or two storms across south—eastern parts of the country on friday, or at least a big downpours. we had that on thursday, tunbridge wells with some flash flooding. there's a lot of clear whether across the country now, no widespread cloud rain or anything like that but the heat is so intense that it has been sparking off some showers. this is a picture from thursday from east sussex where we had some downpours and we could see further downpours around sussex in kent and maybe even greater london a bit later on friday afternoon. in the short—term, early hours of friday look fairly quiet across the uk, no rain out there. temperatures on the muggy side, 17, the starting temperature in london. 13 in newcastle. a bit fresher in rural parts of scotland. as we head through friday morning, into the afternoon, it's basically sunny. a bit of fair weather cloud developing so it may not be clear blue skies but sunny enough and those temperatures will peak at around 30 degrees in london.
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we had 30 on thursday, we will get that probably on friday. to the north of that, comfortably warm. the low to mid—20s and those showers around kent and sussex at some point in the day. through the weekend, familiar pattern. weather systems away to the north of us, there could be a frontjust about sneaking into wester, north—western parts of scotland later on in the weekend, probably sunday, but still a while away. here's saturday, lots of clear weather around in the morning, lots of sunshine in the afternoon. temperatures will be skyrocketing across the south, posibly up to 30 or 31. 30 is not of question in the midlands too and in the north of the country, northern ireland and also scotland, temperatures up into the mid—20s as well. come sunday, the heat continues to build across many parts of the uk. notice the cold front, a weak cold front, it means a bit of cloud, some spots of rain, you see the yellow colours so a lot fresher for our friends in the outer hebrides and the western isles, maybe around 16, cool north atlantic air but the heat is very much present across many parts of england and wales. so, hot sunday on the way and beyond that, guess what? there's little change. the heatwave continues throughout much of next week with temperatures expected to remain on the high side.
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welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is lebo diseko. our top stories: the controversial head of the us environmental protection agency quits afterjust five months. scott pruitt‘s facing at least a dozen investigations into his conduct. moving towards a trade war? a wide range of chinese exports will be hit by donald trump's twenty 5% tariffs from today. racing against the rain — rescuers step up their efforts to get the trapped boys out of a flooded cave in thailand before the weather worsens. police investigating the new novichok poisoning in britain say the victims probably picked up something used in the attack on sergei skripal, four months ago.
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