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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  January 24, 2021 5:30am-6:01am GMT

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the us state department has condemned what it said were the "harsh tactics" used by russian police against protesters supporting the jailed opposition leader, alexei navalny. more than 2,000 people were detained when large gatherings took place across the country, from moscow to cities in the far—east. chinese state media say rescuers have freed one of a group of miners trapped six hundred metres underground for two weeks. rescue workers have been drilling new shafts to reach the group after an explosion below the surface at the mine in the north—eastern shandong province. dutch police at schiphol airport have arrested the alleged head of one of the world's biggest drugs gangs, on a warrant issued by australia. tse chi lop is a chinese—born canadian national, said to be the head of a syndicate known as the company.
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now, it's time for a look back at the week in parliament. hello there and welcome to the week in parliament, our look back at the big events in westminster and beyond. coming up in the next half hour, the government suffers two commons rebellions in a week — one on trade and one on the planned end of an increased benefit payment. the question for us right now is whether the end of march this year, just ten weeks away, is the right moment to begin unwinding this support. as the uk records its highest daily coronavirus death toll, the labour leader challenges borisjohnson over the home secretary's claims that borders should have shut sooner. "i was an advocate," says the home secretary, "of closing them last march." i think it was last march
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that the right honourable gentleman, along with many others, was actually saying that we didn't need to close borders. and asjoe biden takes over as us president, there's a blunt message for his predecessor from scotland's first minister. i'm sure many of us across - the chamber and across scotland will be very happy to say "cheerio!"| to donald trump today. i think "don't haste ye back" i might be the perfect rejoinder. but first, boris johnson won the 2019 election with what should be a comfortable 80—seat majority, but the week saw some of his backbenchers defying the government on two very different issues. the first pressure point came when labour led a debate calling on ministers to keep a £20 a week uplift in universal credit due to be stopped at the end of march. the increased payment, worth £1,000 a year, was introduced by the chancellor at the start of the pandemic as a temporary measure. 0pposition and some conservatives think it should stay for now at least.
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reducing universal credit and working tax credit this april would be fundamentally the wrong decision. it would be a profound mistake — forfamilies, for the economy, and for our ability to effectively tackle and recoverfrom the covid pandemic. all the evidence suggests that the restrictions which have been caused as a result of the measures taken to deal with covid have hit the poorest in society hardest. poverty is up, and those people who most depend upon this kind of support are the ones who are most damaged at the moment. does the opposition propose to| make this increase permanent? and, if so, how do they propose to pay for it? i grateful again for the intervention. so we believe this uplift should stay in place during the crisis — and i don't think anyone believes the crisis will end in april. the chancellor has always been clear that this measure remains in place until the end of the financial year. now, i hear the calls, mr deputy speaker,
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from the party opposite, and indeed from the honourable gentleman, for a decision now on whether universal credit and the uplift is continued post—april. and i have sympathy with the argument that it would give claimants certainty. however, one of the evident features of a pandemic is uncertainty. if the honourable gentlemen opposite is certain about what the economic and social picture will look like in april, well, to be frank, he must have a crystal ball. if they go ahead with this cut, they will be responsible - for cutting out—of—work support | to its lowest level since 1992, i and its lowest—ever level — lowest—ever level — - relative to average earnings. and the concern wasn'tjust on the opposition side. but the question for us right now is whether the end of march this year, just ten weeks away, is the right moment to begin unwinding this support — specifically to remove the extra support for universal credit claimants. and i don't believe it is the right moment. and opposition criticism came from all sides.
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for the government to cut this vital support that universal credit provides in order to save face would be morally reprehensible. the secretary of state should have the courage to say, "the facts have changed, i have changed my mind." the prime minister stated lastl week that what we want to see is jobs and growth. we all do, mr speaker, - but between covid and brexit, that's simply not a realistic solution at the present. . wanting a better economic. climate is not going to meet the basic needs of those | on universal credit and it ignores the fact that 40% of. claimants are already in work. and when it came to the vote, mps backed a motion to keep the uplift by 278—0. recognising the degree of concern on its benches, the government had told its mps not to take part in the vote, but six conservative mps rebelled, supporting the call to continue the more generous payment. well, the very next day, there was another more substantial tory rebellion, this time over trade policy and whether the uk should have
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free trade deals with countries that commit genocide. when the trade bill was going through the lords, a cross bench peer, lord alton, made a change so that if the high court ruled a country was committing genocide, trade agreements with that country would be revoked. when the bill returned to the commons, the trade minister wanted that amendment stripped out. what i am sure of is that the amendment that is before us today is not an appropriate amendment to put into this legislation, the amendment in the name of lord alton. and the appropriate of the high court in international treaties, particularly the right in the alton amendment for an automatic revocation of an international treaty. rebel tories had put down their own amendment — in effect, a watered—down version of lord alton�*s. under their plan, if the uk high court ruled a country was committing genocide,
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mps and peers would then debate halting or stopping trade deals with that country. we have tabled an amendment, a compromise amendment, which takes into account all the concerns the government has presented on the lord alton's amendment and makes it very clear the separations of powers and, fundamentally, parliament opines, ministers decides, so what is the minister's objection to the compromise amendment tabled by myself and my colleagues today? well, madam deputy speaker, i'll have to have a look at the amendment that she's tabled. my role here is to speak about the amendment that is in front of us, the amendment coming from the other place in the name of lord alton. so, these measures taken together... of course, yeah. i'm grateful for that. actually, i gave that amendment to the foreign secretary - and his team on - wednesday last week. it is on the order paper today. with respect, it's not a case of "will have a look at it?" i he must have a view about it,
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surely, because it's there. - well, madam deputy speaker, i listen to what my right honourable friend says and i note what he says, and what i will say is that the government is open for further discussions. mps are particularly concerned about any possible deal with china, given its treatment of uighur muslims being held in camps and forced into work. we have all read with horror the first—hand accounts of torture and extrajudicial killings, mass incarceration in detention camps, forced sterilisation and abortions, servitude and slave labour. it shames the world that this is happening in our lifetime, it disgraces the government of china, and it is absolutely right that if a uk trade deal with beijing is proposed or agreed, that representatives of the uighur community should be able to seek a ruling from the high court that the crimes they are facing in china meet the criteria for a charge of genocide, in turn requiring the uk government to consider revoking that trade deal.
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there are some serious concerns about this amendment as it stands — not least allowing the english high court to determine what is and what is not genocide. but the principle of revoking a trade deal with a state committing such heinous crimes, i think, is beyond reproach. in the end, the rebel tory amendment wasn't selected to be voted on and mps rejected lord alton�*s tougher amendment, calling for a ruling of genocide to mean trade deals were revoked, by just 11. but more than 30 conservatives rebelled. the bill now goes back to the house of lords. on wednesday, all eyes were on the united states, wherejoe biden took over from donald trump as us president. donald trump left the white house by helicopter, flying to the andrews air base in maryland for a final farewell ceremony — vowing to be back "in some form". a few hours later, his successor, joe biden, was sworn in as the 46th us
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president — calling it "a day of history and hope, renewal and resolve." there were congratulations from all sides in the house of commons at prime minister's questions, where the snp's ian blackford said millions around the world would breathe a massive sigh of relief. turning the page on the dark chapter of trump's presidency isn't solely the responsibility of presidentjoe biden. it is also the responsibility of those in the tory party, including the prime minister, who cosied up to donald trump and his callous worldview. mr speaker, this morning, the former prime minister, the member for maidenhead, accused the current prime minister of abandoning moral responsibility on the world stage by slashing international aid. so — he said — if today was to be a new chapter... will the prime minister begin by reversing his cruel policy of cutting international aid for the world's poorest?
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mr speaker, i think it's very important that the prime minister of the uk has the best possible relationship with the president of the united states. that's part of the job description, as i think all sensible members opposite would acknowledge. as to the uk's place in the world... it was the uk, the first major country in the world to set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. all other countries are following. we hope that president biden willjoin us. we're working to promote global free trade. and, of course, mr speaker, we'll work with president biden to secure the transatlantic alliance and nato, which, of course, the scottish nationalist party would unbundle. the speaker stepped in to remind borisjohnson once again that the snp's full title was the scottish national party, and ian blackford — having used up all his questions — didn't get a chance to respond to that challenge from borisjohnson. the labour leader turned to the coronavirus pandemic and comments made in a video call obtained by the guido fawkes website, in which the home secretary told tory supporters
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she was an "advocate" of closing the uk's borders ten months ago. keir starmer quoted her words. 0n "should we have closed our borders earlier?", the answer is, "yes, i was an advocate," says the home secretary, "of closing them last march." why did the prime minister overrule the home secretary? mr speaker, i think it was last march that the right honourable gentleman, along with many others, was actually saying that we didn't need to close borders. but as usual, captain hindsight has changed his tune to suit events. he then turned to the deletion of around 400,000 fingerprint, dna and arrest records from a police database. how many convicted criminals have had their records wrongly deleted? we don't know how many cases might be frustrated as a result of what's happened, but i can tell him that 213,000 offence records, 175,000 arrest records and 15,000 personal records are currently being
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investigated, because they are the subject of this problem. and borisjohnson insisted work was going on to restore the records that had been lost. now, let's take a look at some other news in brief. visiting flooded areas in greater manchester, borisjohnson urged people to follow the advice from the environment agency. people were evacuated from their homes amid widespread flooding across england and wales caused by storm christoph. earlier, a former environment minister had told peers it was only by visiting flooded areas you could understand the full impact. of the 11,500 homes flooded last winter, there is a few that are 100 yards from my home in ludlow, some still empty with no extra protection. can i ask ministers to visit flooded areas, as the one thing they don't get from television and the media is the smell? and it's that smell that would
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wake them up to do even more. task force has warned that homelessness organisations are facing "fear and fatigue". lady casey said everything had got more challenging and relentless during the pandemic. staff have been doing this now close on to 12 months, so i think there is, in the same way that we are hearing loud and clear — and rightly so — about fatigue within the national health service, i think i would say there is a level of relentless, fear and fatigue in many of the homelessness organisations, many of whom are dealing with people who clearly have very significant drug, alcohol and mental health problems, who can't self—isolate and so on and so forth. the government's faced calls to resolve problems around eu touring visas for musicians and crews. since brexit, they're no longer guaranteed visa free travel and may need extra work permits to play in certain european countries. a petition signed by more than 260,000 people has called
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for "a free cultural work permit". touring europe means everything to our artists and musicians — the thrill of that first tour, crammed into the transit van with all your gear, a0 a room in a cheap hotel in paris, rotterdam or hamburg, using what's left of the fee for a post—gig beer, the dream that when you come back, it will be in a lavish tour bus, staying in five—star hotels. gone. all gone. the eu said they were prepared to offer a 90—day deal. why was that turned down? the eu did not offer a deal that would have worked for musicians. it's quite simple. the eu, in fact, made a very broad offer which would not have been compatible with the government's manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders. a new law to protect british troops from false allegations about their conduct in past conflicts faced strong criticism in the lords. the 0verseas 0perations bill introduces a presumption against prosecution five years after an incident, unless compelling evidence emerges.
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it calls into question britain's proud commitment to the geneva convention and undermines our role at the united nations. it threatens our moral authority to require the conduct of other nations to meet the standards set by international conventions. there's an anomaly. sexual offenses are excluded from the presumption. so, if a soldier tortures, rapes and kills a civilian, there's a presumption against prosecuting him for the torture and the murder but not for the rape. it's well recorded that - a virtual industry to pillory british soldiers was set up following the unpopular. intervention- against iraq in 2003. as the secretary of state of defence has said, - for example, in 2004, phil shiner — a lawyerl — went fishing. he fished for stories, he fished for victims, he fished for terrorists. that conduct was completely unacceptable, and mr shinerj was quite properly struck off, but the damage - to the reputation of-
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the british armed forces had been done. now, the uk death toll from coronavirus reached another grim high in the week, with more than 1,800 deaths recorded on a single day. answering an urgent question, the health secretary, who's self isolating, told mps another 65 mass vaccination centres were opening, including one in a mosque in birmingham. i'm glad to report to the house that we now have given over 5 million doses of vaccine across the uk to 4.6 million people, making good progress towards our goal of offering everyone in priority groups one to four, the first dose by the 15th of february. this virus is a lethal threat to us all. and as we respond through this huge endeavor, let's all take comfort in the fact that we are getting 200 vaccinations every minute, but in the meantime, everyone, everyone must follow the rules to protect the nhs and save lives. the mp who'd asked the question wanted supply smoothed out.
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i know that the government relies on the manufacturers for supplies, but can we try to give more forward—looking supply levels to our county teams so they have indicative estimates and they can plan better on the ground? the challenge to supply potentially that we have a lumpy supply, they work incredibly hard to deliver the supply as fast as possible. but it is challenging and therefore, it isn't possible to give certainty as far out as many gps and those who are on the ground would like. yesterday's death numbers were truly horrific. vaccination has to go hand—in—hand with measures to suppress this virus. that means further containment measures, not everyone can work at home comfortably, can a urge him to fix sick pay give people proper financial support so they can isolate and drive infection rates down. the uk has acquired -
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the rights to vaccinate more than the entire population - multiple times over as of many other developed nations. l can the secretary of state tell. us what steps the uk government is taking to make sure - that those surplus vaccines will be given to less developed countries around the world - and then encourage other countries to do likewise? | matt hancock said the uk had put more money into the international effort to ensure everyone around the world was vaccinated than any other country. earlier in the week, scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, announced that lockdown measures would be extended, with most schools and nurseries staying shut until the middle of next month. at her weekly question time next day, the conservatives asked about the speed of the vaccine roll out amid concerns that some gps hadn't received supplies of the jab. ruth davidson accused the government of changing its target date for when all over—80s would receive theirfirst dose. the problem here is this insistence from the first minister that this is all
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on track, but health secretary gene freeman said on the 11th of january that all over—80s would have the vaccine by the end of this month, which is the 31st of january. but this morning, the deputy first minister, john swinney, rolled back on that commitment, saying instead i can confidently state to you that the commitments we have given for the over—80s will all be vaccinated by the first week of february is a commitment that will be fulfilled. repeated just now by the first minister. so, the health secretary is committed for the all over—80s to be vaccinated from the 31st of january, the deputy first minister has committed to the 7th of february. the first minister explained that it took longer to vaccinate those in the priority care home group that packs of vaccine were being delivered to gps and that vaccine rates for the over—80s were picking up. we refine these target dates as we go along based on our developing understanding of supply. so, if the health secretary did, and i can't recall, if she did say a few weeks ago on the end ofjanuary, we would know more about the supplies that make us through the modelling we do, say that is the first few days in february.
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we've been saying that consistently throughout this year. so, there is no change in that. that is what we are working to, that is what we are on track to deliver. and i would suggest that ruth davidson perhapsjust delve a little bit more into the details of how all of this works, if she wants to continue to have these exchanges. there we have a presiding officer, it is not a slip, - it is a refinement. following richard leonard's resignation as labour leader last week, it fell to the acting leader to raise another aspect of the rollout. last week, they published the covid—19 deployment plan which allows for 5% of covid—19 vaccines to be wasted. can i ask the first minister how many doses of vaccines have been wasted since rollout began? nicola sturgeon said the 5% figure was a "planning assumption". we are just trying to factor in what we hope never happens, some large—scale breakdown
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in the supply chain, a big freezer might malfunction or something helps happens that may disrupt a significant portion of supplies. the greens turned to the departure of donald trump from office. will the first minister stop hiding behind officials - and seek an unexplained i wealth order to make sure donald trump's purchasesl in scotland are given these scrutiny that they urgently need. i the first minister. i'm sure many of us are very happy to say cheerio to donald trump. "don't haste ye back" might be the perfect rejoinder to him. and in advance of the inauguration, i'm sure we all want to say congratulations to soon to be president biden in soon vice president harris. as to the calls for an investigation, she said decisions on unexplained wealth orders were for the lord advocate. questions about the speed of the vaccination rollout surfaced in the welsh parliament, too, following comments by the first minister
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that the supply had to last until february to prevent "vaccinators standing around with nothing to do". following mark drakeford's interview on bbc radio 4, the welsh government clarified that the reason for spacing out vaccine supply was to avoid wastage. the conservatives pounced on mark drakeford's remarks. if it's your policy to get the vaccines into people's arms as quickly as possible, why on earth did you actually say that you wanted to roll out the vaccines over a period of time? because that is just a confusing message. and whilst the welsh government may be happy with its go—slow approach, the people of wales are farfrom happy — they want to see action and they want to see it now. the policy of the welsh government is to vaccinate as many people in wales as quickly and as safely as possible. that is how we've had 162,000 people vaccinated already here in wales. that is why the pace of vaccination will accelerate
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again this week. plaid cymru asked about the different vaccination rate compared to england or northern ireland. my own elderly parents ask me — because they're in the _ position, they haven't| had a date at all, both are in their805. my father, an 85—year—old ex—miner, has copd, he'sj in a clinically vulnerable - group — and yet he's had no communication yet to explain to him when he's going - to get a vaccination. what explains the gap? because it's important for us to know, because if there's i a problem there, - then we can solve it! the figures of what happens elsewhere in the united kingdom, what happens in wales will, as i say, change week by week. what we are focused on is making the fastest and most efficient use of every drop of vaccine that comes here in wales. mark drakeford. those exchanges came just before the news that a group of politicians, including the conservative leader, paul davies, drank alcohol on welsh parliament premises, days after a ban on serving it in pubs took effect.
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senedd authorities said they were investigating. finally, in an age of video conferencing, there are just some days when it all goes wrong. and prime minister's questions suffered a severe attack of the gremlins. first, the chamber lost connection with the snp westminster leader, ian blackford, as he was due to ask his second question. ian blackford. inaudible laughter i somehow think we've lost ian blackford. we'll come back to him. nicole richards. nicole? you're muted. press the mic. i'm not muted. can you hear me? speak. can you hear me? it's not working.
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the speaker did eventually go back to ian blackford and nicola richards for their questions, but another mp had to fight an all too familiar battle. mrspeaker, thank you... phone rings i'm so sorry. it's excellent that we are - leading europe in vaccinations. phone rings and it-s — excellent that we now have strong health borders. phone rings neil o'brien later confirmed that the call on a little—used landline was from an insurance company, asking whether he'd recently been involved in an accident. and that's it from me for this week, but dojoin me on bbc parliament on monday night at 11pm for another round—up of the best of the day at westminster. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello. after one of the coldest nights of the winter so far, sunday brings some significant and disruptive snow to parts of england and wales, and some of us in northern ireland as well. a very cold, frosty start to the day. icy patches, a few fog patches out there, too. and an area of sleet and snow initially for south—west england, parts of wales, northern ireland, but will push further east across southern england towards the south—east, across more of the midlands during the day as well, before stalling and then just pulling away southwards on into sunday evening and clearing. this is ten o'clock in the morning, though. south—west england, some may brighten up here with a few wintry showers but as the snow moves east and within the zone of falling snow here, and again into parts of northern ireland, several centimetres, even to low levels, more into the hills, so certainly some difficult travel conditions. northern england and scotland seeing some sunny spells, a scattering of wintry showers towards the north—west of scotland. but it is scotland, northern england, perhaps northern counties of northern ireland that sees sunday's driest and sunniest weather. but for the rest of england into wales, southern parts
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of northern ireland, cloud, some outbreaks of snow here, again, some difficult travel conditions. some uncertainty about how far north into the midlands and perhaps east anglia the snow is going to reach so we'll need to watch that as well. temperatures just hovering close to freezing where you've got the snow. get some sunshine around, 2—4 degrees. and then the outbreaks of snow gradually clearing away during sunday evening. icy conditions following on behind. where you get the showers pushing in towards scotland, perhaps northern ireland and northern england, icy places going into monday morning. and another widespread frost as monday begins. one or two fog patches potentially towards south east england. some sunshine on monday. plenty of wintry showers towards northern and western scotland, a few for northern ireland, north—west england, north wales. some will push a little further south—eastwards during the day but driest and sunniest towards the south and east of the uk on what will be another cold day. and then, changes. tuesday, weatherfront from the atlantic coming into the cold air so, again, some further rain,
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sleet and snow pushing north—eastwards. and then further weather fronts coming our way from midweek, introducing milder atlantic air, but the winds are going to pick up and we will see further spells of rain, so all parts from midweek will be turning milder but also windier and wetter. and if you are in a flood—affected area, that is something you are going to need to follow very closely as we go through the week ahead.
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good morning. welcome to breakfast, with rogerjohnson and rachel burden. our headlines today: stay patient and stay at home — england's deputy chief medical officer urges millions of people who've been vaccinated not to break the rules. it comes as new figures show more than 4,000 people are now on a ventilator — the highest number since the pandemic began. borisjohnson becomes the first european leader to take a phone call from joe biden since he became president. rescued — the first of a group of chinese miners trapped underground for two weeks is brought to the surface. just minutes away from what could have been the biggest upset in fa


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