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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  November 23, 2020 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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the prominent hong kong, pro—democracy activist, joshua wong, has announced he will plead guilty at the opening of a trial over his involvement in last year's siege of the territory's police headquarters. wong who is on trial with two other activists says he expects to be jailed. the head of the us coronavirus vaccine programme says he expects to begin an immunisation programme from the eleventh of december. dr moncef slaoui said he hopes two vaccines from pfizer and moderna could be ready to be shipped within 2a hours of final approval. donald trump is beginning to face pressure from some senior republicans to drop his attempts to overturn joe biden‘s victory in the us presidential election. the former newjersey governor — chris christie, has described mr trump's legal team as a "national embarrassment." now it's time for a look back
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at the week in parliament. hello, and welcome to the week in parliament, where borisjohnson self—isolates after a coronavirus contact, but rejects suggestions there's not enough financial help for other people forced to stay at home. i do think it's a reasonable package, mr speaker. i know it's tough for people who have to self—isolate. but the labour leader says people are having to live on £13 a day sick pay. if you can't afford to isolate, there's little point in being tested or traced. scotland's first minister announces tough new coronavirus restrictions for 11 council areas, including glasgow. the level four is intended to be short and sharp, and in this situation it is specifically intended to have an impact in
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advance of christmas. and a multi—billion pound boost in defence spending is welcomed by many of borisjohnson‘s mps, but one wonders... since the era of the duke of wellington the mod's not very good of managing big expensive projects. what are you going to do about that? but first, the prime minister had been hoping to use the week to reset his relationship with the public and his party, after the departure of his controverisal adviser, dominic cummings. but his plan was dealt something of a blow when borisjohnson was forced to self—isolate. the prime minister used a video to announce that he'd been "pinged," as he put it, after a meeting with an mp who later tested positive for coronavirus. borisjohnson doesn't have the illness, but is staying in his downing street flat for another few days in line with covid rules. at prime minister's questions, at which he appeared by video link, the labour leader
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wished him well, but questioned how easy it was for other people to follow the self—isolation regulations. the prime minister is doing the right thing by self—isolating after being notified by track and trace. but does he think he would've been able to do so if, like so many other people across the country, all he had to rely on for the next 14 days was either statutory six pay, which is £95 a week, that's £13 a day, or a one—off payment of £500 which works out at £35 a day? it's good finally to hear something from the right honourable gentleman in praise of the nhs test and trace. i think they secured at least one objective, to keep me from answering these questions in person. i can say that i believe the package we have a place to protect people and support people throughout this crisis has been outstanding and exceptional. i do think it's a reasonable package. i know it's tough for people who have to self—isolate but i'm glad after a long time
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in which he simply attacked nhs test and trace seems to be coming around and supporting it. while the prime minister won't pay people enough to isolate properly we learned this week they can find £21 million of taxpayer money to pay a go—between to deliver lucrative contracts to the department of health. £21 million. i will remind the prime minister that a few weeks ago he could not find that amount of money for free school meals for kids over half term. borisjohnson said when the crisis began, labour had urged the government to move faster to get ppe and ridiculed a suggestion at the time from labour's rachel reeves. the shadow chancellor of the duchy of lancaster wrote to the government attacking us for failing to approach various companies, including a football agent who was apparently offering to supply ventilators and a historical
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clothing manufacturing company who have offered to make 175 gowns per week and whose current range includes a 16th century silk bodices. borisjohnson. but if the prime minister's plans for a reboot were hobbled by coronavirus, another misstep was all his own. the prime minister came under fire for reportedly telling a virtual meeting of conservative mps that devolution had been a "disaster" in scotland. mrjohnson also reportedly described it as tony blair's "biggest mistake". but keir starmer reckoned the biggest threat to the union was borisjohnson. the prime minister's quote is very clear. he said devolution has been a disaster north of the border. this is not an isolated incident. whether it's the internal market bill, the way the prime minister sidelined the devolved parliaments over the covid response. the prime minister is undermining the fabric of the united kingdom. but borisjohnson said the snp had used devolution. a means not to improve the lives of their constituents,
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or address their health concerns, not to improve education in scotland, but constantly... i know this is a point of view that is shared by the right honourable gentleman leading the opposition, but to campaign for the break—up of our country. his attack of devolution wasn't just a slip of the tongue, it was a slip of the tory mask. the chasm between westminster and the scottish people has never been bigger. the real disaster facing the people of scotland is another 20 years of westminster government. isn't it clearer than ever that the only way, the only way, mr speaker, to protect scotland's interests, our parliament, and our place in europe, is from scotland to become an independent country? when he talks about taking scotland back into the european union, which i think seemed to be what he was saying just now,
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what he should understand what the people of scotland should understand is that the mass surrender of power, by the people of scotland straight back to brussels just as this country, just as the people of scotland have taken it back again. borisjohnson. meanwhile in holyrood, nicola sturgeon announced that the toughest covid restrictions were being introduced in 11 council areas, including glasgow. scotland has a different system to england, with restrictions in levels zero to four. the toughest rules see the closure of non—essential shops, pubs, restaurants and gyms. the new restrictions affect about 2.3 million people living across west and central scotland, and will remain in place until 11th december. the level four is intended to be short and sharp, and in this situation it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of christmas, and the most challenging winter period. in the latest projections in the documents accompanying this statement, it shows the nhs in greater glasgow, and others could run out
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of covid hospital beds and icu capacity in those areas will also soon be reached. we hope for the best but we must also plan for the worst. one of the reasons we are taking the really difficult decisions we are taking today around the greater glasgow area, lanarkshire and stirling as far as it relates to fourth valley, is to make sure our hospitals and icu facilities do not get to the point over the winter period with a cannot cope, and i believe this action will help to protect your health service but all health boards have contingency plans in place for icu. that involves plans to double icu capacity and if necessary to triple, treble icu capacity. so can the first minister explain to people like those in north and south lanarkshire what the hard data is, what the evidence is,
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to move them up a tier at a time when the transmission rate in lanarkshire is coming down? if you look at cases per 100,000 over the past seven days, the national average is 141. in north lanarkshire, it's 238. so, it has stabilised and slightly decreased but must come down faster to deal with the biggest and most important bit of evidence that ruth davidson referred to in her question, that if we don't act now, there is a risk that hospital and icu services, as winter pressures kick in, would not be able to cope with covid and other winter pressures. was the first minister sure the sacrifices will help cut the virus? is the first minister sure this is going to work? i am as sure it as i can be an inherently uncertain and unpredictable situation, that what we are announcing
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today will drive infection rates lower, to the levels that we need them to be in these central belt areas. nicola sturgeon. but the week brought more promising news on possible coronavirus vaccines. after positive results from pfizer—biontech, a second — this time from us company moderna — was declared to be around 95% effective. at health questions, matt hancock promised any vaccine would be made available across the whole of the uk. a conservative praised the vaccines task force, which has ordered millions of doses of the different vaccines being developed. mr speaker, katie bingham and the vaccines task force have done an amazing job in securing so many doses of vaccines as and when they become available, which will be centrally procured by uk governments and equally available across all parts of our united kingdom. does my right honourable friend agree that this shows the power of all parts of the uk speaking with one voice and working together for the good of ourentire union?
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we should take forward this vaccine and we should ensure it's available fairly and equally across all parts of our united kingdom. of course it will be deployed in each of the devolved nations through the devolved nhs, and i've been working closely with my counterparts in the nhs, the four nhs organisations have been working together. but ultimately, let us hope that should a vaccine become available, because we still don't have one authorised yet, but should one become available, it will be a moment at which the whole country can come together in support of making sure that those who are clinically most vulnerable will get support first, wherever they live. i represent a vast and very remote constituency. what worries me is the thought of elderly and vulnerable constituents having to travel long distances to get the vaccine. we're proposing roving teams to be able to get out into rural communities across england. and i know that there's
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discussions going on between the nhs in england and in scotland who are responsible for the deployment of this vaccine, but it's a critical principle that it should be deployed according to clinical need, not according to where you live across the united kingdom. a labour mp asked the health minister how long it would all take. it looks, mr speaker, like vaccines to be effective may have to have two injections rather than one, which doubles the number, so can she give any view at this stage, given the logistical efforts that are going in, how long it will take, in her opinion, for us to be able to safely vaccinate everybody in the country? we will deploy it as fast as it is...there is a process. we have to know it's safe through the regulatory framework. we then have to know that as it arrives from the manufacturers we can distribute it at pace. we are aiming to do that and every sinew is being strained to make sure we can deliver as swiftly as possible.
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the prime minister is thought to be keen to return england to a tier system when the current lockdown ends. but the measures are under review, after a senior government adviser said the three—tier system used previously may need strengthening. labour wanted answers. now, yesterday at his press conference we heard that tier1 has had very little effect and the tiers must be strengthened. so can he confirm that it's the government's intention to impose a tougher set of restrictions on tier1 areas, post this lockdown? mr speaker, it is too early to do the analysis that the honourable gentleman requests, but of course we remain vigilant. now, let's take a look at some other news from westminster in brief. mps have been given an insight into the stress and fatigue faced by nhs staff during the pandemic by the chair of the doctors‘ union, the bma. he told them that even before the pandemic, there were already high levels of stress and anxiety. and doctors were describing
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things like, you know, the emotional impact of having to hold a smartphone or an ipad as being the vehicle of contact between patients in their last days of life and relatives — just imagine a whole hospital without any visitors. could the end of the brexit transition period mean checks on more foodstuffs going from great britain to northern ireland? the first and deputy first minister have written to the eu commission, warning of the impact on food supply chains. the member might recall the famous issue around lasagnes from great britain into northern ireland. frankly, it is a nonsense because, as far as i'm concerned, the lasagne comes over in a supermarket truck, which goes to a destination in northern ireland and is sold in sterling to a consumer. so, what is the difficulty? the government suffered more defeats in the lords on its internal market bill.
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critics warned it would force devolved administrations to accept goods and services from other parts of the uk after brexit. so, for example, in future, they'd be unable to do things like ban plastic bags or set minimum prices for alcohol. the housing secretary has been accused of "gerrymandering" a scheme to help deprived towns in england. a multi—billion pound fund awarded £25 million to robertjenrick‘s constituency of newark. why did the secretary of state tell his own constituents, "i helped to secure a £25 million deal which will make the town centre a more attractive place to spend time in," despite claiming to not have been involved in any decision about newark on the andrew marr programme, on 11 october, 2020? newark was the 16th most highly—ranked town in the east midlands to be a beneficiary of the fund, and we supported 19 places in the east midlands. there's absolutely no reason why a minister should disadvantage
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their constituency. anyone who travels to work by train will know that once—crowded commuter services now carry a fraction of their pre—pandemic passengers. the commons transport committee questioned railway operators about how the industry would have to change to lure its customers back. we were down to as low as 5% of passenger numbers in the very early part of the pandemic. and typically, across the industry, we're around 28—30% during the current english lockdown. so, of course, we've adjusted services from a point of view of demand, allowing for social distancing, i should say. i think we need to stop thinking about commuting in the way that we used to as some sort of torturous experience, but maybe think about it as travelling to collaborate. and actually that'll happen fewer days of the week, but it'll happen at perhaps different times. so, i think that presents a really big opportunity to flatten the peak, to move some of the cost that goes into providing the peak into providing
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more services off— peak. i think we also need to think about that on—train experience. i think more people will be less tolerant of very crowded services. we'll be living with it like this for some time. so, do you have a vision of an idea of optimal service, and how to make it financially sustainable ? these are the discussions that we're having with government presently around what should be the future size and shape of the railway. and i'm sure my colleagues, we remain very confident of winning the majority of passengers back. we've got to work hard to do that when covid circumstances allow. but we expect to be able to win back around about 75% on a like—for—like basis of passenger journeys. next to be questioned was the rail minister, chris heaton—harris. is this sustainable for the taxpayer, or will rail services or costs have to be radically reduced if passengers do not return?
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passenger railway was only able to operate and respond like this, mrchairman, because the government believed it was beneficial for our nation and backed it with taxpayers' cash. the yet—to— be—fully—finalised figures for the emas put the amount of taxpayers' money put in at £4.07 billion. so, your question, "is it sustainable" — well, i'm not a fortune teller, and who knows, if vaccines and testing bring confidence back to people and markets, maybe people will return in decent numbers to our railway. but no—one can be sure of this at this point in time. which is why we need to reform, as your previous speaker in questioning was alluding to, to put the passenger first. and probably for the first time in its history, the railway will need to fight for its passengers to come back to it. at the top of the programme, we heard the backlash from labour and the snp over comments boris johnson was alleged to have made about devolution in scotland,
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which he's reported to have told some of his mps had been "a disaster." well, those comments got a salty response from the first minister in wales, too. the sennedd exists not because of the failure of a borisjohnson government, but because of the success of a labour government, in making devolution happen in the first place. and, you know, devolution thrives when there is a labour government to support it. and devolution comes under the sorts of pressures it is now under when we have a conservative government, where you scratch the surface of the conservative party and all its old hostility to devolution rises back to the surface. that's what happened yesterday when the prime minister thought he could show off in front of a few conservative mps from the north of england. elsewhere in that session, the leader of the conservative group asked about support for mental health services. mark drakeford reckoned one thing that could help families under stress would be for the westminster government to make permanent a £20—a—week increase to the benefit universal credit, which was boosted at the start of the pandemic.
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i wonder if he'd like to add his name to that call today? because that is genuinely crucial support that families in wales know that they can rely on. well, i know, first minister, you want to distract from talking about your responsibilities as a government in order to avoid highlighting your failures... just trying. ..with the health service, your failures with the education system, and when it comes to the economy. you could've said yes. paul davies and mark drakeford. the very public departure of the prime minister's chief adviser dominic cummings followed reports of behind—the—scenes rows and infighting in boris johnson's team. when mps questioned the former head of the civil service, lord sedwill, who stood down earlier this year, they asked him what he made of recent events. these things happen from time to time. advisers come and go in government. and clearly, the prime minister wants to try and ensure he has the right support around him as he navigates through the next phase.
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but as for the specifics and the stories i've seen in the press, i don't really have more insight than anyone else not directly involved. so you don't think it reflected any internal tensions that you might have been aware of as cabinet secretary? i think there are always tensions and frictions within government, particularly when governments are under pressure. we've seen that with governments of different political complexions over the years. there are often stories around advisers, particularly high—profile advisers. i can think of several in the past, over the past couple of decades. and when those stories crystallise and when those advisers leave government, it's a big story. it's a big story within the westminster and whitehall village. i'm not sure it's a big story in the rest of the country. but it is obviously a significant political story, at the time when we've seen with other advisers in the past.
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on the last day of the parliamentary week, borisjohnson unveiled what he called a "once—in—a—generation modernisation" of the armed forces, which he said was needed to extend british influence and protect the public. the prime minister told mps a new multi—billion pound, four—year funding deal would protect "hundreds of thousands" of jobs. based on our assessment of the international situation and ourforeign policy goals, i've decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end, and it ends now. i am increasing defence spending by £24.1 billion over the next four years. that's £16.5 billion more than our manifesto commitment, raising it as a share of gdp to at least 2.2%, exceeding our nato pledge and investing £190 billion over the next four years.
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the returns will go far beyond our armed forces. from aerospace to autonomous vehicles, these technologies have a vast array of civilian applications, opening up new vistas of economic progress, creating 10,000 jobs every year, 40,000 in total, levelling up across our country and reinforcing our union. the security and intelligence agencies will continue to protect us around—the—clock from terrorism and new and evolving threats. we will invest another £1.5 billion in military research and development designed to master the new technologies of warfare, and we will establish a new centre dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a new raf space command — raf space command, launching british satellites and our first rocket from scotland in 2022. the labour leader welcomed the move, but wondered... how will this announcement be paid for?
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such is the government's handling of this pandemic that the uk has the sharpest economic downturn of any g7 country. next week, the chancellor will have to come here and set out the consequences of that. so, can the prime minister tell us today, will the commitments he's made require additional borrowing, mean tax rises — if so, which ones? or will the money have to come from other departmental budgets? well, mr speaker, of all the humbug i've heard from the right honourable gentleman opposite, i think that really takes the cake. this was a man who campaigned until december last year to install in government a prime minister who would've wanted to scrap our armed services and pull out of nato. this review will reportedly see the uk as europe's biggest defence spender when just three weeks ago, this government refused to provide free school meals for children during the holidays.
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and we have learned that the uk government is considering cutting the overseas aid budget by billions of pounds. madam deputy speaker, the prime minister may use the term "global britain", but on these benches, we believe the prime minister has his priorities all wrong. once again, he seems to be a veritable geyser of confected indignation. under his plans, it's notjust that there'll be no deterrent, there will be no shipbuilding, no black watch, mr speaker, in the land of the snp. that's the reality. a labour mp asked about rumours of a temporary cut in the uk's aid spending, currently set at 0.7% of national income. how will the prime minister ensure that development remains front and centre of the uk's new international policy following the integrated review? and can he please quash rumours and confirm his manifesto commitment to the 0.7,
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both now and going forwards? i think we can all be proud of our record on overseas aid, and that will continue. but it's also by investing in armed services that you can do some of the greatest things for the poorest and neediest people around the world. since the era of the duke of wellington, the mod is not very good at managing big, expensive projects. what will you do about that? boris johnson accepted there had been historic overspends and mistakes in procurement, but he was setting up a unit to make sure the government got value out of the package he'd announced. and that's it from me for now. but dojoin david cornock on bbc parliament on monday night at 11pm for a full round—up of the day at westminster. but for now from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello there. high pressure means a largely dry but rather a chilly start to the new working week with a touch of frost in place. however, a frontal system up to the north—west will eventually change things for some as we head on up through monday. but the morning starts off rather on a chilly note. temperatures down around freezing even a touch below for some. not as cold in the far south with some extra cloud, not as cold in the far west either. in the cloud in the west will roll its way eastwards through the day introducing rain into northern england, wales, the south—west. especially around the coast and over the hills the sunshine through the afternoon across eastern counties of england and perhaps some parts of north—east scotland. windy, particularly towards the north—west. those are the average speeds.
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the gusts could touch 60 mph for the western isles. turning milder from the west. it will be a bit of a struggle with those temperatures in eastern areas after such a chilly start. but as we go through monday night into tuesday, that milder air will waft its way right across the british isles. temperatures by tuesday morning, double digits for most of us. still some rain across northern ireland and scotland with quite a lot of cloud elsewhere. as you go through tuesday with this wriggling frontal system, we will see further pulses of rain across northern ireland and scotland. quite a wet day in prospect actually, on tuesday across northern ireland, some heavy rain across western parts of scotland. for england and wales, drier conditions, some spells of sunshine, best of that towards the south and the east. and tuesday will be the mildest day of the week. highs of 11, 12 or 13 degrees. that is set to change because as we move out of tuesday and into wednesday, this wriggling frontal system will finally start to push eastwards. the rain along it will tend to weaken but behind that weather front, a cold front. we open the door to some much colder air which will start to push in from the north—west. the remnants of this front are likely to linger
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across south england. perhaps southern coastal counties more generally through the day on wednesday with some patchy rain. some showers in north—west scotland, sunshine in between but temperatures for many stuck in the single digits by this stage. and it stays rather cool by day and chilly by night as we head towards the end of the week. largely dry with some frost and fog in places.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: the prominent hong kong democracy activistjoshua wong says he will plead guilty to all charges at the trial relating to last year's siege of the territory's police headquarters. may god bless hong kong and now was not the time for us to kowtow to beijing and surrender. the us says it hopes to approve and start distributing a coronavirus vaccine in less than three weeks time. amost three weeks after the us election, donald trump comes under pressure from some senior republicans to drop his attempts to overturn joe biden‘s victory. and the perfect present for a russian patriot. what a board game on sale in moscow, says about


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