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tv   Monday in Parliament  BBC News  July 9, 2019 2:30am-3:01am BST

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the headlines: donald trump has announced that he will no longer deal with the uk's ambassador in washington, sir kim darroch, following the leak of e—mails written by the diplomat criticising the president's administation. mr trump also attacked the way, the british prime minister, theresa may, has handled brexit. the american financier jeffrey epstein has pleaded not guilty to trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex more than a decade ago. thejudge ordered epstein, who once counted donald trump among his friends, to remain in custody until a bail hearing on thursday. an amsterdam museum has begun the biggest ever restoration of rembrandt‘s famous painting the night watch, and is inviting people to watch online. the masterpiece, created in 1642, has been placed inside a specially designed glass case so that it can still be viewed.
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now on bbc news, monday in parliament. hello there and welcome to monday in parliament. coming up, as whitehall looks into the leak of sensitive e—mails to the uk ambassador, criticising the trump administration, a conservative mp says he's taken it up at the police. i have today written to the commissioner of the metropolitan police to ask that a criminal investigation also be opened into the leak. ministers come under pressure over the unexpected tax demands leading some nhs consultants in england to refuse to work beyond their planned hours.
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but many have faced tax bills of almost £100,000, and the bma's survey shows three quarters are citing this as a reason to retire. and as peers debate setting up the bodies to oversee the renovation of parliament, a labour member has a radical idea. and whether we should seek to rebalance our political constitution and to move parliament away from london. but first, police have been urged to investigate a leak of sensitive diplomatic messages which showed the uk's ambassador to washington believed donald trump's administration to be inept. downing street said theresa may has full faith in sir kim darroch, the conservative who chairs the commons foreign affairs committee told mps he had written to the metropolitan police commissioner to ask that a criminal investigation also be opened into the leak. her majesty's government utterly deplores this serious breach of classified information. it is totally unacceptable. we retain full confidence in the british ambassador to washington, sir kim darroch, for whom we have enormous respect
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as a distinguished and long—serving diplomat. the prime minister and the british public expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest and unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country. we pay our ambassadors to be candid, just as the us ambassador here will send back his candid reading of westminster politics and personalities. but it does not mean that this is the same as what the british government thinks. a cross—government investigation led by the cabinet office has been launched, which i can reassure the whole house will be thorough and wide—ranging. the mp who had asked the question said he was extremely concerned by it. i fear that we are developing a culture of leaks, and that will be extremely detrimental to the uk. they damage our reputation, impact on our ability to function effectively, and undermine our relationships with our allies. and, while i understand
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that the foreign office has opened an inquiry into this leak, i have written to the commissioner of the metropolitan police to ask that a criminal investigation also be opened into the leak. so i want confirmation from the minister that this issue is being treated with the seriousness it requires at the heart of government. and my right honourable friend the minister has already spoken powerfully condemning it. what i would like to see is that he treats this with the seriousness that he has already begun, and orders a criminal inquiry. any actions short of these steps will send out a dangerous message that the uk is reckless with information and cavalier with the trust placed in it. there will be a cross—government investigation led by the cabinet office. obviously it's not for me to prejudge the inquiry, but i can assure my honourable friend and the house that it will be comprehensive, and with all leak inquiries, it will endeavour to report its findings clearly. and if evidence of criminality is found, then yes, the police
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could be involved. the shadow foreign secretary said sir kim had been betrayed. he has been hung out to dry, even though his only crime was to tell the truth. he told the truth about donald trump, and that was because it was hisjob. i've seen some reports that people think it's a good idea to have mr farage as a uk ambassador in washington. now, he is leading a party, his second party, that's been overwhelmingly rejected both by the people of north east fife and by scotland as a whole, and will be rejected again should he stand. so does he agree with me that mr farage with his extreme views, should be utterly unfit for the post of uk's ambassador to the usa, and should have no place in any administration of which the minister isa part? can i just say to the honourable gentleman that this
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is not about brexit. this is about an utterly disgraceful leak which needs to be traced and punished, whoever it is. in respect of his comments about nigel farage, may ijust say that fortunately, for the good of our diplomatic reputation, he has ruled himself out of wanting to be ambassador to washington. these toxic and unjustified attacks on the president of the united states and his administration are completely... jeering. ..are regarded by many people as completely unjustified. as chairman of the european scrutiny committee, i was more than well aware of sir kim's own prejudices in relation to the eu. surely it is not his so—called frankness which should be the issue but his lack ofjudgement, which disqualifies him from his post. i regret having to say that i consider my honourable friend's
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intervention deeply unworthy. he is a diplomat of calibre and of integrity. nothing in his reporting from the embassy could ever be construed as an attack on the president of the united states. all of it was reporting of the highest quality, which we expect of our diplomats and diplomatic network. what's more interesting is why this was leaked, and what the consequences might be. and we've already seen a full—broad, nationalist right—wing attack on the civil service this morning as a result of this. so what i want to ask the minister is, what guarantee can we have, in the future, that the new regime taking over government at the end of the month will not indulge
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in this kind of nationalist, right—wing attack on institutions like the civil service, like the judiciary, or others that are essential for a representative parliamentary democracy? the new regime, as he calls it, will have to speak for itself, when it has taken its place. but i think there's something else this house should condemn very strongly, and that the comments of nigel farage, immediatelyjumping on a political bandwagon, as he saw it, to call for the ambassador to be sacked. i think, in the eyes of many people, what little respect they might have had for him will have evaporated even further when they heard that. sir alan duncan with his own no—holds—barred assessment there. now, waiting lists for routine surgery have risen up to 50% in england because senior doctors say they cannot afford to work extra shifts.
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consultants have begun refusing to work beyond their planned hours after receiving unexpected tax bills, following new pension rules in 2016. the change has meant consultants who earn more than £110,000 a year face new limits on how much they can contribute to their pension. a conservative asked an urgent question. can we imagine the conversation between couples along the lines of, "so you're leaving me the children again this "weekend to go voluntarily to work to make our family worse off?" it's not going to happen, is it? the same applies to gps, many of whom are now doing less sessions each week than they want to, and patients desperately need, in order not to be made worse off by reaching their annual pension allowance. is there a fundamental distinction between how do we deal with those issues in the nhs, which the health secretary is very much leading on, and the broader issue of our pension system, which is there to encourage people
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to save, but has to be considered in a holistic manner. so we can'tjust design it around one workforce. it has to be designed to work for everyone in the public and private sector. of course that takes time, and we are working through some of the conclusions of the reforms that took place a few years ago. the worst—case scenario that we have all feared has become a reality. hospital leaders are raising the alarm that waiting lists for routine surgeries have risen by up to 50%. unless this issue is dealt with, there's a risk that at the approach of the end of the financial year will lead to even greater levels of working to rule after the summer. nhs staff retention is already poor, this issue is one of many affecting dedicated senior staff, with large numbers raising concerns about levels of stress and a general lack of resource. a whole variety of government failures are driving those retention problems. today's crisis will likely add to this, with confusion over pension relief pushing many to retire
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earlier than they previously would've, or encouraging some to opt to take on additional private work. i am concerned not only for those consultants but for their patients. there's currently 100,000 nhs staff vacancies. that's one in 11 of every nhs post. the latest failure will see yet more delays for people in desparate need of care, unless the whole of this government, working together, gets a grip. the important thing to remember is, whilst we do need to look for nhs—specific solutions, which is precisely what the health secretary is working on, the broader issue of taxation cannotjust be looked at from one profession. it has to look at pension systems in the round, on the whole, and i am not going into today, mr speaker, at this despatch box, announce an entirely new pensions policy. this issue was raised in 2017. it hasn'tjust come to light. and yet in may, the chancellor
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talked about the threshold of about £150,000, and which the problem kicks in at £110,000, which many senior consultants and gps earn above that. now, the average extra bill is £18,500, but many have faced tax bills of almost £100,000, and the bma survey shows three quarters are citing this as a reason to retire. you are watching monday in parliament with me, alicia mccarthy, why not follow me on twitter @bbcalicia. now, the government has refused to say when legislation will be brought forward to change the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving to life imprisonment. at the moment, the maximum sentence is 1a years. two years ago, ministers set out plans to increase it to life, but no legislation has been introduced. a petition to parliament calling for harsher punishment has been signed by nearly 165,000 people.
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mps were told about the case of four—year—old violet—grace youens, who was killed by a stolen car driven by an uninsured driver, doing 83 miles an hour in a 30 miles an hour zone. violet suffered catastrophic injuries and died later. her grandmother suffered life—changing injuries. but the driver and his passenger did not even attempt to help. they fled the scene. indeed, there is evidence that they had to step over the bodies of their victims, lying in the road, to get out of the car. the defendant's barrister objected to the parents reading out their full impact statement, arguing that the defendants would find it too upsetting. the judge accepted this. when is the maximum sentence of life for causing death by dangerous driving, as announced by the government 21 months ago, going to be brought to parliament?
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and i would add that a response of "when parliamentary time allows" simply is not good enough. a labour mp quoted the road safety charity break. it cannot be right that the average prison sentence for a driver who has killed someone through dangerous or illegal driving is four years, especially when we consider the minimum sentence for domestic burglary with no additional charge of bodily harm is three years. it's a very powerful point, minister. this has been quite a difficult debate to listen to, when you have heard all the personal tragedy that's involved, and you think about the issues that then go into families and to communities, and the devastating impact that has on people's lives, with the initial incident, going on perhaps even for generations afterward. i bitterly regret that i am not able today to give honourable members that all—important timescale. but, the force of the speeches
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and the contributions made today, i think leave me and the government in no doubt at all about the high priority that is placed upon this reform. in fact, i would say the highest priority that is being placed upon this much needed reform. and the force of the argument today, put forward in this debate, reinforces my sincere wish and drive to bring forward this reform at the very earliest possible opportunity. thejustice minister, robert buckland. now, peers have been urged to consider moving parliament away from london while the restoration of the palace of westminster goes ahead. the labour peer lord adonis says the idea should at least be considered to rebalance our political constitution. the commons has already agreed the legislation, paving the way to set up organisations to oversee
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the restoration and renewal of the palace of westminster. opening the debate on the bill in the upper chamber, the leader of the lords said the horrific fire that swept through notre dame in paris had served as a stark reminder of the risks to the historic and iconic building, which now required regular fire patrols. other issues which have affected the palace in recent months include falling masonry, water lea ks, floods, sewage lea ks, lighting and power outages and toilet closures. whatever individual position members may take on particular elements of this programme, i think your lordships would all agree that significant maintenance work cannot be delayed any longer. anthony gormley, following the fire, he said this should be the beginning of the future, not the end of the past. i think we should think about this programme over
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the next 16—20 years as the beginning of a new future, building on the heritage of this building, retaining that heritage and ensuring the restoration of those parts of the building which are crumbling literally under us. on these benches, we very much welcome the bill and are supportive of it. we hope it will make speedy progress through this house and in particular, i hope it can be concluded during our september sitting so that it won't be delayed should we find ourselves having an early general election. a labour peer had an idea. ..whether we should seek to rebalance our political constitution and to move parliament away from london. now, my lords, i know that will be a revolutionary suggestion to noble lords, and i don't expect for any moment for it to be agreed in any great or rapid timeframe. but i think it is worth us considering and it may be because the planning work for this complete refurbishment is going to take many years, and it maybe further work
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on this could continue in parallel to early planning work, not least because so little work, my lords, has been done on the cost estimates for this work. peers also heard from a former leader of the lords, who'd been involved in the original reports on the need to move out. these works must go ahead to protect the future of this building. as we have heard, the catastrophic risk of fire is real and doing nothing is not an option. as for the question of moving out of london, for us residing in another part of the uk, my lords, it's my view that it doesn't matter where parliament resides, it will make no difference to how the public feel about parliament from where they sit, if we as parliamentarians do not listen more to them. lady stoll. now, it is like "turning
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a secret tanker around" said a defence minister about increasing the size of the british army. mark lancaster insisted that more recruits were joining but labour repeatedly attacked the government's handling of the armed forces, questioning if the uk could even defend itself. if we were threatened with invasion, our army is now down to 82,000 members. less than that. and the fact that the matter is that the russians have a million people in their army and a million and a half in reserves, could we really defend this country if push came to shove? we could defend ourselves. just the other week i was with hms albion and the nine nations, the joint expeditionary force, 44 ships and submarines, the largest deployment of the royal navy in that region and just off of lithuania for the last 100 years. so, yes, we could, and the size of our trained and untrained strength is growing. not only have raf personnel numbers fallen more than a quarter
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since 2010, but the government is consistently failing to train a sufficient number of pilots. some 350 are currently on their waiting list, and the problem's going from bad to worse, with the backlog having doubled over the past year. so when is the secretary of state going to get a grip on the situation and ensure that things are put right? the pipeline for our pilots is one of the first questions i asked when i came into the department. the numbers are improving but it is an area where we are fragile and one of the areas where we are most fragile. i would gently point out to the honourable lady and the front bench team, the last i heard the leader of her party wished to reduce the headcount of our armed forces to zero. labour mps hit back when one of the defence secretary ministers who was at the despatch box. he and every conservative members of parliament who were elected in 2015 were elected on a manifesto promise to have a standing army of 82,000. that's never been achieved
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since they were elected in 2015. indeed, on the ist of april, the fully—trained army size was down to 75,000, so while he may claim that they are meeting their commitments, one commitment they are not meeting is to have the army of the size they promised in the manifesto. is that still the policy of this government? and if not, could he tell us at what point that was actually dropped? let'sjust see if we can debunk this myth that the army numbers are somehow in freefall. on the ist of may, the total size of the british army, including the brigade both trained and untrained, was 85,430. as of the ist ofjune, one month later, the most recent figures we have, the total size of the british army, including again the gurkas, both trained and untrained, was 85,730, and that is an increase of 300.
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thank you very much, mr speaker. in 2010, there were 30,000 more fully—trained armed forces personnel than there are today. does that concern the minister? does it concern the government? and if it doesn't, why not? i am concerned in recent years that we did have a drop below the figure, but as ijust demonstrated, we are turning the supertankeraround. you can only increase the size of the trained strength of the british army is by having untrained recruits in the first place, and as i demonstrated we have seen an increase in the number of people joining the british army and that's positive. the snp asked about claims of the secret ministry of defence torture policy. mr speaker, the last time the secretary was at the despatch box, we discussed an internal ministry of defence policy on torture that contravenes domestic and international law. she promised a review. has the review happened and has a policy been dumped? that review has concluded, and i have looked at it
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and the policy will be changing. away from the chambers, stuart mcdonald said there should be a government statement about what penny morden had just said. —— penny mordent. legislation allowing the government to delay elections to the northern ireland assembly has cleared its first parliamentary hurdle. the legal change is being pushed through in two days, to ensure ministers do not have to call an election in northern ireland until the 21st of october with an option of a further delay until january of next year. the move is intended to give a bit more time for cross—party talks to try to find a way of restoring devolved government at stormont. northern ireland secretary karen bradley said progress had been made in the talks, but an agreement still needed to be reached. this legislation is only and can only ever be a contingency plan. today, i mark 18 months as secretary of state, and i have stood here on numerous occasions
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to make clear my commitment to restoring devolution. this bill does not change that and it does not and cannot remove the imperative for the restored executives. even with this act, numerous decisions are going unmade, important decisions needed to improve the delivery of hospital care, to reform the education system, to improve major transport and infrastructure links. we need to see the executive back now, not next week or next month, not in october, but now. i will continue to work intensively with all five main northern ireland parties to make sure that a reality, and will continue to offer all the support all i can. i thank the secretary of state for giving way, and i echo her sentiment that we would like to see the executive restored now. but if we're going to put this right and ensure that we don't have a repeat in the future of what we've had over the past two years and more, then
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that requires reform. and it requires a commitment to ensure that never again can one single party hold the entire population of northern ireland to ransom and leave them without a government for such a long period of time. i want to make sure that we restore the institutions and that we do so in a sustainable way. labour drew attention to the fact that the assembly had not been functioning during much of the brexit talks, and their spokesman said the two contenders for the tory leadership were vying to be the most no—deal candidate. the simple reality is this — we know from many different sources the outgoing chief constable of northern ireland warned that there's a hard border across the island of ireland and northern ireland and it would inevitably follow a no—deal brexit and that hard border could become a potential target for the terrorists, the hard border at south and making
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the target for the terrorists would potentially lead certain members of the s&p, to be put at risk and potentially people more generally across northern island. those are serious warnings that we ought to take very seriously. debate on that bill continues on tuesday when several mps are set to put down controversial amendments on abortion rights and equal marriage. the fomer attorney—general dominic grieve has tabled an amendment that seeks to try to avoid a no—deal brexit but it will be down to the speaker to decide if those amendments are selected for debate and vote. and that's that from me for now, but don't forget on tuesday morning at 10am, sir david attenborough will be giving evidence to the business, energy and industrial strategy committee on clean growth and international climate change targets. you can watch that live on bbc parliament. david cornock will be with you for the rest of the week. for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello. this time last year, we were on a run of five days with temperatures sitting 30 celsius or above somewhere in the uk. great news if you don't like heat like that. occasional like heat like that. patchy rain for north wales, occasional patchy rain for north wales, the midlands and into east anglia but south of that, mainly dry. a lot of cloud around, but some sunny spells, cornwall, devon, the channel islands and temperatures approach the mid—20s in the warm spots but most in the high teens and low 20s. into wednesday, we'll pull away one area of trainees and weight for the next one to come in, wetter in northern ireland, parts of northern ireland and scotland later in the night and the nights are getting a bit warmer and becoming a bit humid as we go through the week.
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another spell of rain pushing east on wednesday with sunny spells and a few showers following. bear in mind on thursday, there could some heavy and perhaps disruptive thunderstorms in parts of scotland, northern ireland and northern england.
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welcome to bbc news, i'm duncan golestani. our top stories: donald trump lashes out at the british prime minister and the uk ambassador to the us, following leaked memos criticising his adminstration. the wealthy american fiancier jeffrey epstein pleads not guilty to charges of trafficking underage girls for sex more than a decade ago. footage of eight international climbers swept away by an avalanche in the himalayas is released by the police. and a balancing act for the planet. we have a special report from the amazon on the vital role played by its trees, as more and more are cut down.


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