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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  December 14, 2020 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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the headlines: the first pfizer covid vaccine is being shipped around the us — mass immunisation begins on monday. the aim is to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of march. us media is reporting that president trump and vice president pence will be among the first to receive the jab. the brexit trade talks are continuing beyond sunday's deadline after the uk and the eu agreed their negotiators should keep talking. major issues are still unresolved, but after a telephone call, boris johnson and ursula von der leyen they said they would ‘go the extra mile‘. one of britain's best—known novelists, john le carre, has died. he was 89. a former secret agent, le carre drew on his own experiences to create ha rd—edged thrillers without the glamour ofjames bond, but which proved to bejust as popular. many became films and tv series.
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now on bbc news, the week in parliament. hello there, and welcome to the week in parliament. coming up: ahead of last—minute talks to try to get a post—brexit trade deal, the labour leader reckons borisjohnson is between a rock and a hard place. he's absolutely stuck and dithering between the deal he knows that we need, and the compromise he knows his backbenchers won't let him do. but the prime minister thinks labour's position isn't clear. if he can't say whether he would vote for our deal, yes or no, then i'm afraid, mr speaker, he simply cannot attack the government's position. as the first patients in the uk are vaccinated against covid—19, one mp is looking to the future. how many of those of us who are
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healthy under—50—year—olds might be vaccinated by the school summer holidays? and music—maker nile rogers joins calls for artists to be paid more fairly for songs streamed online. let's pay these people what they should have been making all along, and we're going to be one big, happy family — bingo and done. but first: the parliamentary week stuttered to a close with no—one knowing if the eu or the uk were going to reach a post—brexit trade deal. boris johnson jetted to brussels for a meeting with the european commission president, ursula von der leyen. the pair had agreed to talk over dinner after negotiations between officials ended in deadlock, and with time fast running out to reach a deal before 31 december, when the uk stops following eu trading rules. before setting off, borisjohnson took his weekly round of prime minister's questions and explained the sticking points. ourfriends in the eu are currently insisting that, if they pass a new law in the future with which we in
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this country do not comply or don't follow suit, then they want the automatic right, mr speaker, to punish us and retaliate. and secondly, they're saying that the uk should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters. and i don't believe, mr speaker, that those are terms that any prime minister of this country should accept. but whatever terms the uk ended up with... i have absolutely no doubt that, from january the first, this country is going to prosper mightily, mr speaker. the labour leader, sir keir starmer, was taking part via video link, self—isolating after a staff member tested positive for covid—19. he is absolutely stuck, this is the truth of it. he's absolutely stuck and dithering between the deal he knows that we need,
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and the compromise he knows his back benchers won't let him do. mr speaker, i genuinely hope this is the usual prime minister's bluster and, that like one of his newspaper columns, a deal arrives at the last minute. i think it's a bit much of the leader of the opposition to criticise the government for the failure to come up with a policy on brexit, when he can't even — and a bit much for him to attack those consequences of coming out on australian terms — when he can't even say whether he would vote for that deal, yes or no. mr speaker, the prime minister asked me how i'll vote on a deal that he hasn't even secured. secure the deal, prime minister. and i can say this, mr speaker — if there is a deal,
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and i hope there's a deal, then my party will vote in the national interest, not on party political lines, as he is doing. because of its history and land border with the european union, northern ireland has been made a special case and will remain in greater alignment with the eu. and now, there's been an extra agreement to make sure that goods can also still flow smoothly between northern ireland and the rest of the uk, at least in the short term. the snp‘s westminster leader said government ministers had described that as "the best of both worlds". what is good for northern ireland, mr speaker, is surely good enough scotland. why is scotland being shafted by this doubledealing? can the prime minister explain to scottish businesses why this is fair? mr speaker, in common with the whole of the rest of the united kingdom, scotland will benefit from substantial access of devolved powers for scotland, and will benefit from the regaining of money, borders, and laws. and, as i nevertire of telling my friend, the gentleman opposite, in spite of all hisjeering, scotland will take back control of colossal quantities of fish,
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which i think is something that the people of scotland deserve to be able to exploit for the advantage of those communities. borisjohnson. with that session over, borisjohnson headed to brussels to meet ursula von der leyen. but after a three—hour dinner, number ten said very large gaps remained between the uk and the eu. and mrs von der leyen said the two sides were still far apart. next morning, a treasury minister answered an urgent question on the trade talks. we are working tirelessly to get a deal, but we cannot accept a deal at any cost. we cannot accept a deal that would compromise the control of our money, our laws, borders, and our fish. the country was hoping for a breakthrough last night — yet, there was none. there is a sense of huge dismay, as we all wanted
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to hear significant progress. but we heard more about the prime minister's meal than we did about his deal. mr speaker, on sunday, we'll have just 18 days to go until the end of the transition period — how has it come to this? in calling urgent questions or asking other questions on the floor of the house, with the express mission of trying to undermine our negotiating position by pretending we are not ready for any outcome that these negotiations might yield, i think, is not helping secure the outcome we all want, and it is certainly not in the interests of the country. they've made themselves hostages to their own brexit right—wing. any compromise will now be interpreted as a sell—out to them — and they've only got themselves to blame, with the appalling language they've used against the eu, and their demonisation of them as some sort of cartoon villains. what we need is some reassurance that, if by sunday there is not an agreement,
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that the government will not give up on trying to reach a trade deal with the european union that does not see us crash out on the first ofjanuary, with all the catastrophic effect that could have for our local businesses and for the economy. clearly, we have prepared for every eventuality and we have a phased approach to the border, we have many pots of work going on into the new year to ensure that there aren't those cliff edges that she refers to. penny mourdant. on tuesday, a 90—year—old woman from coventry became the first person in the world to receive a clinically—authorised vaccine against coronavirus. margaret keenan said she had spent most of the year self—isolating and was looking forward to seeing family and friends. in the commons, the health secretary told mps it was a momentous day. this simple act of vaccination is a tribute to scientific endeavour, to human ingenuity, and to the hard work of so many people.
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today marks the start of the fightback against our common enemy, coronavirus, and while today is a day to celebrate, there is much work to be done. the pictures today of 90—year—old margaret keenan receiving her vaccine, given by a nurse originally from the philippines, is a wonderful moment — bringing home to all of us that there is now a light at the end of this very long tunnel. and we are all beaming with pride for our nhs today. and he asked what could be done to target anti—vaccination campaigns — a point picked up by the snp. recent studies have shown as few as 54% of the uk population are certain to have the vaccination. there is a clear need to counter misinformation, be that online scare stories orjingoistic nonsense.
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so, what extra steps will the minister take to ensure public trust in the vaccine's safety and effectiveness, and encourage its take—up? i agree strongly with him and, in fact, the honorable member for the front bench opposite also raised this point, and i didn't answer it, so i shall now. countering disinformation is incredibly important, and is best done with positive information and explaining objectively why the vaccine is safe and how it's safe. i think the thing that we can all do in this house is positively talk about the benefits of the vaccine for keeping you safe, and keeping your community safe. could the secretary of state say whether he still thinks it's feasible that the most vulnerable will be vaccinated by the spring? and how many of those of us who are healthy under—50—year—olds might be vaccinated by the school summer holidays? i understand why the honourable lady and many of us want to know the answer to the speed of the rollout. because we are reliant on the manufacturing process, which is itself a difficult
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challenge, we can't put figures on when that rollout will be. matt hancock. meanwhile, scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, announced that 11 areas living under tough coronavirus restrictions were being downgraded. it means that nonessential shops and other businesses across much of western and central scotland could reopen. meanwhile, the education minister, john swinney, announced that next year's higher and advanced higher exams have been cancelled, with teacher assessments being used instead. the question is less whether we can hold the exams safely in the spring, and more whether we can do so fairly. there is no getting around the fact that a significant percentage of our poorest pupils have lost significantly more teaching time than other pupils. the statement today is far from one that makes good on promises, and is instead an admission of complete failure, because we were told in october that cancelling national exams would save the hires — failed. we were told it was the safety
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of exams that sat at the heart of that decision—making — failed. we were told it was home learning which was delivering for every pupil in every part of scotland — again, failed. we were told it would not be teachers who would bear the brunt of the assessment workload — again, failed, cabinet secretary. following the controversy of moderation in 2020, will the cabinet secretary commit to publishing whatever system is used to verify and alter grades awarded this year, in full, and in a repeatable and transparent methodology? john swinney said that material that had been published alongside his statement would explain clearly the approach that would be taken. later in the week at first minister's questions, nicola sturgeon was asked what the impact on scotland's health service would be if the uk failed to reach a post—brexit trade deal. nhs tayside has said that a no—deal brexit could lead to an inability to deliver safe and effective care. and other boards are warning of disruption to medicine
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supply, workforce shortages, and of vulnerable patients abroad being forced to travel home. and we don't even know if there's going to be a deal — and if there is a deal, it will be barebones and minimalist and will do real damage to the scottish economy and to our society. so i am deeply, deeply concerned about that. in terms of the specifics of patrick harvey's questions, i can't stand here and give an absolute assurance that there will be no impact on our economy, on society, and even on the health service, if there is a no—deal brexit at the end of this year. what i can give an assurance of is that the scottish government is doing everything within our powers to try to minimise and mitigate against that impact. nicola sturgeon. meanwhile, the first minister of wales hinted at fresh restrictions there after christmas.
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wales has already had a so—called firebreak lockdown in october, and more recently, banned pubs from selling alcohol. the conservative leader wondered if measures were working. we know that infection rates in wales are 70% higher than when we entered the firebreak in october, and rates have increased by 82% since the end of the firebreak lockdown. indeed, the fact is that there are now more than 1800 coronavirus—related patients in hospitals across wales, which is the highest number since the pandemic began. and it shows that something has seriously gone wrong. will the first minister confirm exactly what further measures are now being considered? and is the welsh government looking at further restrictions before the christmas period restrictions, or is the intention to bring in further measures post—christmas? all those facts and figures that the leader of the opposition began with are the facts and figures that i put to him last week, when he refused to support the measures we took in relation to hospitality — measures which, this week, i think nobody could possibly deny were right and necessary. now, we need to give those
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measures an opportunity to make a difference. so, he didn't think there'd be new rules this side of christmas, but a relaxation of the rules over the festive season would lead to a further rise in numbers. and that means any responsible government has to think about the measures that might be needed in order to protect the health service, who can go on doing everything else, it has to deal with the most pressurised point in any year, and to prevent avoidable deaths. mark dra keford there. now, at the top of the programme, you'll have heard the snp leader at westminster calling for the same deal for scotland as has been struck with the eu for northern ireland. the agreement, reached in the week, ensures goods can still flow smoothly between northern ireland and the uk, at least in the short—term. in the commons, the cabinet office minister set out the details. i'm pleased to say that, under the agreement that we've reached, northern ireland businesses selling to consumers or using goods in northern ireland will be free of all tariffs.
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whether that's nissan cars from sunderland or lamb from glamorganshire, internal uk trade will be protected as we promised, whether we have a free trade agreement with the eu or not. we've got a grace period for supermarkets to update their procedures, and our agreement also prevents any disruption at the end of the transition period on the movement of chilled meats. british sausages will continue to make their way to belfast and ballymena in the new year. ours is a great country, and labour wants to see a good life for all our people. but as great as our country is, it cannot afford to be afflicted by government incompetence. every price rise, every traffic jam, every lost contract and every redundancy caused by this government's mistakes and poor planning holds our great country back. next year must be a year of rebuilding and recovering from covid—19, not dealing with the fallout of reckless decision—makings, tariffs or incompetence. whilst we welcome the changes which we made today, nevertheless the real test
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will be in how these measures work on the ground, rather than the spin we get in this house. we welcome details that businesses have sought anxiously all year and, of course, we keenly anticipate a wider trade deal might finally allow us to enjoy the conditions that we currently enjoy. mps representing other parts of the uk seemed envious of the deal secured for northern ireland. we would give our right arm for access to the eu single market, unfettered access across the rest of the uk market. from the ist ofjanuary onwards, if the he was a business owner primarily exporting to the eu, would he prefer to be located in northern ireland or wales? well, that is the most difficult question i've ever faced in this house! and it was when he diplomatically decided not to answer, insisting that he loved both northern ireland and wales. now, that agreement with the european union in regard to northern ireland meant the government could drop controversial clauses to the uk internal market bill.
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it had put in sections allowing ministers to break parts of the brexit divorce deal, agreed with the eu last year. ministers said they were a safety net to ensure the free flow of goods to and from northern ireland in all circumstances. cue a row between the two houses of parliament, with peers taking the clauses out and the commons putting them back, pinging the bill back to the lords where, after that agreement with the eu, the government formally withdrew them. we sought these measures to guard against the possibility of not reaching agreement with the eu in the joint committee. as we have now reached agreement with the eu, i am pleased to say that the clauses that provided for the safety net are no longer needed. the government's climbdown was widely welcomed. i'd still like to think that the government has recognised the strength of feeling throughout this house, across all parties and none, not least some of the giants of their own party in this house, that those clauses
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simply would not do. but that wasn't the end of the story, with opposition parties saying the bill was also a westminster power grab. peers voted to give governments in wales, scotland and northern ireland a bigger voice on rules that decide trade across the uk and sent the bill back to the commons. this is absolutely critical in the kind of country we want to build post—brexit. we want a functioning uk internal market. but we believe this can be achieved in a way that upholds high standards and allows devolved governments to both have a voice in setting those standards and make choices in devolved areas appropriate for each nation. scotland's parliament, the voice — the democratically elected voice of scotland's people — has voted against this bill by a margin of 90 to 28 msps. so what i say to the minister is, we are sick to the back teeth of your disingenuous words, saying you listen to the scottish government.
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listening is not enough! you have to have respect for the democratic voice of scotland! when he says "wales will be consulted," what we hear is contempt. we have and will continue to be reasonable in discussions on this bill. since monday, we've had a lot of good, positive movement and agreement, and we welcome that. but ultimately, government needs to balance this with a need to deliver a bill that provides a certainty that businesses want and need, and invest and create jobs. i beg to move. mps then voted to overturn changes to the bill made by peers, so the uk internal market bill will go back to the house of lords again on monday. now, let's take a look at some other news in brief. the government faced calls to do more following the sentencing of three pro—democracy activists in hong kong. and a warning here — the following pictures contain flashing images.
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joshua wong, agnes chow and ivan lam were sentenced earlier this month for their involvement in mass protests. the trio, all in their 20s, were convicted of unauthorised assembly. these are notjust breaches of human rights somewhere in the world of which we know nothing. these are direct breaches of the sino—british agreement and direct infringements of personal rights, which the uk is guarantor of until 2047. we need far more action than we've seen. a report into failings in maternity services in shropshire has described how some mothers were blamed for their babies‘ deaths. the enquiry into services at the shrewsbury and telford hospital nhs trust found a higher than average number of women died in labour or shortly afterwards. the former health secretary, who'd ordered the report, described excruciatingly traumatic births which would never have happened if the mother's wishes had been listened to. it's time to stamp out the normal births ideology, which says that there can be a debate or compromise
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about the total importance of a ba by‘s safety, which should always be paramount. and the decisions on it should always be taken in consultation with a mother. this report said that they had the clear impression that there was a culture within the trust to keep c—sections low. that needs to stop — not just at shrewsbury and telford, but everywhere throughout the nhs. and the biggest mistake in interpreting this report would be to think that what happened at shrewsbury and telford is a one—off. it may well not be, and we mustn't assume that it is. the house of lords agreed to suspend the former ulster unionist mp lord maginnis for at least 18 months over bullying and harassment claims. it follows allegations that he used homophobic and offensive language. lord maginnis denied the accusations and called a report by the lord's conduct committee "ridiculous".
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we identified, on lord maginnis‘ part, both an absence of any remorse and a complete lack of insight into the impact of his behaviour on, in particular, the victims of such behaviour. lord maginnis portrayed himself before us as a victim of a conspiracy by people who disapproved of his views and insisted that all of his conduct had been provoked. he continued to refer to the claimants in a disobliging and sometimes offensive manner. and he said he was not, in fact, minded to accept either any training course 01’ suspension. scientists have taken a step towards producing a low—cost vaccine for malaria. final—stage human trials are due to begin in several african countries. the disease kills around 400,000 people a year, mainly children. peers wanted to be sure that uk funding wouldn't be affected by a cut in the overseas aid budget. will the minister accept that it's taken us more than four decades to recover the ground lost since the 1970s when anti—malaria funding dried up, and that we must not allow this to happen again?
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finally, the frontman of chic, nile rodgers, has told mps that streaming platforms should be paying musicians more for their work. he was appearing by video link in front of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, which is looking into the economics of music streaming. before speaking to him, the committee spoke to two other musicians and asked if payments for streaming were cloaked in mystery. any songwriter will know that when they get their prs statement and see the streaming income, it's all 0.00003 forthis, 0.00005 forthat, and, in different countries, it's different amounts. we don't know the rates for each country because of the ndas between the streaming platforms and the publishers and labels. "ndas" being nondisclosure agreements. eight out of ten songwriters earn less than £200 a year from streaming, so we have a big problem here.
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there are people with vested interests in keeping that system as opaque and un — sort of unintelligible as possible, because if you don't know what to ask for, then you don't know how much you're entitled to. we'd never have a kate bush or david bowie in today's music ecology because it's very risk—averse, and there aren't people making those sorts of investments. and, foran independently—minded artist like that, you're making songs for playlists. you're making songs for a very narrow sonic wall. you're not making the sort of incredible music risks that a bowie or somebody like rod stewart might have taken decades ago. the committee also heard from singer—songwriter and producer nile rodgers. the only time that we really get to check to see if things are the way they should be is we go in and audit. and every single time — and i'm not making this up for dramatic purposes or comedic purposes — but every single time i have audited a label, i have found money. and sometimes, it's staggering, the amount of money.
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and that's because of the way that the system was designed right from the beginning. let's go into a room, have an organisation that represents songwriters and artists at the table, and say, " look, we love you guys. we're in business together for the rest our lives. let's make it right. let's make it fair now. because your stockholders, your shareholders are going to be thrilled, because you're getting ready to experience explosive growth in the next few years." let's pay these people what they should have been making all along, and we're going to be one big, happy family — bingo, and done! nile rodgers there. and that's it for me for another week. but dojoin me on bbc parliament on monday night at 11pm for the latest news from westminster, as mps grapple with our post—brexit future. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello there. it was a wet day across the country on sunday, and there's more unsettled weather to come over the week ahead as well. the more persistent rain, that has been sweeping away out into the north sea and instead, we are seeing more showery sort of airstream filtering into the uk. that's coming in around that area of low pressure, and that's not going to move very far over the next few days. so lots of showers, actually, coming in at the moment, particularly across western areas. but because we've got a blustry southerly wind, it's a very mild start to monday. temperatures have been rising, actually, in scotland and the northeast of england. those temperature probably won't change much through the day. good start though with some wetter weather in scotland, and we will continue to feed in quite a lot of showers, maybe even longer spells of rain into some western areas of the uk. those showers will get pushed in land, but there will be some sunny spells too. probably not too many showers for northern ireland and showers becoming fewer in scotland. but there will be brisk and gusty south to south—westerly wind, particularly near those heavy showers, but it does mean it's
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going to be a mild day. temperatures higher in scotland and the northeast of england then they were yesterday, and the highest temperature this time is likely to be in the southeast, 13 degrees here. there will be some heavy showers, though in the southeast and east anglia during the evening, those showers continuing further west as well. overnight, the showers do tend to ease, skies will tend to clear, and we could well start a little cooler on tuesday. still a mixture of sunshine and showers on tuesday, mostly showers around western and southern coasts. more areas will have a dry day, there will be fewer showers, the winds won't be quite as strong and temperatures still above average for the time of year, so 9—11 celsius. things get interesting around the middle part of the week because this area of low pressure arrives. it's going to be deepening, not only will be bringing some wetter weather again on wednesday, it will bring some stronger winds. and by the morning, we could be gusting 50—60 mph in the southwest approaches, and those gales will push up through the irish sea and across the north channel as well. so western areas in particular will be windy. we will see a spell of rain pushing its way eastwards and we keep some wetter weather
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going in northern ireland, perhaps into western areas of scotland. some more rain, stronger winds in the west. again, it's a southerly wind, so those temperatures are 9—11 celsius. really, through the rest of the week, it does stay mild, but it does stay unsettled. a quieter day probably on thursday before we see the cloud thickening, the wind and rain, again, pushing in from the atlantic on friday.
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welcome to bbc news. i'm james reynolds. our top stories: the first covid vaccine is being shipped around the us. mass immunisation begins on monday. talks about a post—brexit trade deal are extended. the uk and eu promise to "go the extra mile" to reach an agreement. tributes are being paid to one of popular fiction's best known authors, the spy novelistjohn le carre, who's died aged 89. his previous career was as a secret agent. it really was as if the whole of my life had prepared me for this moment. and climb every mountain: the adventurer who's defying the odds to reach his own personal peak.


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