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tv   Thursday in Parliament  BBC News  January 13, 2017 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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intelligence agencies, a day after they were lambasted by the president—elect. mike pompeo, the man nominated to become the next head of the cia, said he valued the professionalism of staff and their efforts to ensure that truth reached policy—makers. the united states has ended a long—standing policy that granted special status to cuban immigrants, allowing them to enter and remain in the country without a visa. president obama said the immediate scrapping of the measure marked an important step in the normalisation of relations with cuba. moscow says the build up of american military in poland is a threat to russia's national security. more than 3,000 us troops, as well as tanks and armoured vehicles, are being deployed along nato's eastern front. it's the biggest us military reinforcement in europe for decades. the daily express says snow chaos is
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on the way. predicts return will be plunged into a deep freeze next week. the metro leads on snowy conditions. the telegraph leads on britain's role in the donald trump dossier. it quotes an american source as saying dossier. it quotes an american source as saying the british government gave permission to the fbi to speak to the former british spy fbi to speak to the former british spy who compiled the documents. the financial times says thatjust one day after heavily fining volkswagen, the us government is turning its fire on fiat chrysler. the daily mirror front page is dedicated to the nhs, and features a young boy kept waiting in a&e lying on chairs for five hours. his case was referred to by labour leaderjeremy corbyn in the commons yesterday. the times front page features a warning from the prime minister of malta, currently holding the eu presidency, that any transitional brexit arrangements could leave britain under the rule of european judges for years. it is time now for thursday in
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parliament. hello, and welcome to thursday in parliament. coming up, peers speak out against any further cuts to the uk's defence budget. there's a call for a special deal for the north of england in the brexit negotiations. and the chair of the equalities committee argues it's time for tougher action to get more women into parliament. we need to turn those warm sentiments into bums on seats. but first, a former nato secretary general has warned against further defence cuts, saying the uk is sleepwalking into potential calamity. opening a debate on the uk's current armed forces capability, the labour former defence secretary, lord robertson, also questioned us president—elect donald trump's attitude to nato. donald trump is due to take over as us president at the end of next week. during the us election campaign, he appeared to play down the importance of the military alliance. in his speech in the lords,
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lord robertson warned that the world was now seeing a bonfire of the post—cold war certainties. he told peers he'd recently been asked what was the biggest threat to the safety and security of the uk and the list of potential answers was a long one. i considered some of the immediate and looming challenges and threats that there are, and some of them are pretty formidable. migration flows, which have suddenly ended up on our shores, the spread of religious extremism and jihadi violence plumbing new depths of savagery, a restive and resurgent russia, a rising china and the disruption of north korea. and then, on top of all of that, there is the rise and dominance of organised crime, population growth, pandemics and financial instability. that's a pretty formidable cocktail of trouble for us to face. but my answer to the question of what was the greatest threat is actually different. it is ourselves. we are our own worst enemies. we are short—sighted,
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penny—pinching, naively optimistic, we are complacent and we're ostrich—like to the way in which the world is becoming interconnected, more fragile, more unpredictable and more incendiary. he moved on to the election of donald trump as us president. the donald, with his mexican wall, with new protectionism and isolationism, with his serious questioning of nato solidarity, with a belief in torture and with lieutenant general michael flynn as his key security adviser. perhaps we don't actually need more enemies in the world today. he attacked the amount the uk spent on defence, warning we were sleepwalking to a potential calamity. a former first sea lord joined in that call for the government
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to spend more on defence. having robust defence forces makes a war involving our nation less likely. if a small conflagration in a distant part of the world develops into a war that threatens our national survival, the best welfare provision, national health service, education and foreign aid programmes in the world are as nothing. stopping war and defending our nation and people, if war happens, are more important than any other government spending priorities. if ministers get defence wrong, the nation will never forgive them and the cost in blood and treasure enormous. the government has a choice of whether we spend what is required to ensure the safety of our nation, dependencies of people or not. at present, i believe they're getting that choice wrong. a former conservative defence secretary was one of many to raise fears about russia. i hope sincerely president putin and his colleagues realise how easily that mobilisations and provocations, that accidents can happen, and how easily conflict can start.
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we don't have to have the memories of the first world war and second world war, where war started by accident involving the wrong people at the wrong time which weren't meant to happen. ijust do take that factor very seriously. in the face of russian ambition, my lords, europeans can no longer get their defence on the cheap. it's an interesting reflection that whereas the word burden—sharing used to be used when one went to washington, now the assessment of europe's contribution is shall we say expressed in more trenchant and perhaps less suitable terms for a debate of this kind. my lords, proposals for a european army in these circumstances are not credible because it would inevitably create duplication and divert necessary expenditure from the main thrust of nato. we lack strength in numbers.
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we are not well placed to deal with the inevitable unseen, least of all against a capable foe. the more independently minded we become, the more capability we need in a dangerous world. surely the two must go together. defence spending is going up. when defence spending will increase by £5 billion over this parliament, it's nonsense for anyone to suggest that there is no new funding. i hope it is clear that the government fully recognises the breadth and severity of the threats that face our country today. we know that in this era of uncertainty we can take nothing for granted. the approach we've taken in the sdsr is, i believe, the right one for strengthening our defence and security, and it is the one to which this government is fully committed. lord howe. the transport secretary has been accused of putting politics
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before rail passengers. labour mps attacked chris grayling at question time in the commons for refusing to give control of commuter services to the mayor of london. and they demanded the railways be taken back into public ownership. mr grayling said labour could no longer be taken seriously afterjeremy corbyn said he'd join the picket line with southern rail workers. mr grayling faced a call for his resignation in december after a leaked letter revealed he had opposed the devolution of london suburban rail services, to keep them out of the clutches of labour. not only are my constituents of all political persuasions disgusted by the manner in which the secretary of state has politicised this issue, but they have absolutely no confidence in his proposed solution for the south—eastern franchise. it is not right for london to act like a hunger games—style capital seeking to subjugate the districts. we need fair rail services for kent, essex and the other home counties and i urge the secretary of state to carry on and uphold his decision. well, mr speaker, ican
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assure my honourable friend i've every intention of doing so. the reality is this is a partnership arrangement that brings together london, kent county council and my department to do the right thing for passengers. it is interesting that the mayor could offer no proposals to expand capacity on these routes. i intend to bring forward proposals that do offer expanded capacity for passengers on these routes. the secretary of state's leaked letter reveals that he reneged on the suburban rail agreement because of his obsession to keep services out of the clutches of a potential labour mayor. his words. he put party politics ahead of passengers and clearly prefers to see trains run late rather than on time under labour. will he now agree to an independent assessment of the proposal by a respected figure, and with his own department, given the revelations yesterday of conflicting commercial interests, and restore credibility to the process and ensure proper
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consideration of the needs of long—suffering passengers? mr speaker, i cannot believe what ijust heard from the honourable gentleman. putting party politics before passengers. in the week when the leader of the opposition said he would join a picket line to perpetuate the unnecessary strikes on southern rail that are causing so much damage to passengers. i say to him, i will not take him seriously, mr speaker, until i hear him condemn those strikes and tell the workers to go back to work. the government's franchising policy lies in tatters, with desperate attempts to retrofit contracts to protect operators' profits and, as revealed yesterday, national express taking the money and running and selling c2c franchise to the italian state. his director of passenger services awarded the disastrous southern franchise whilst owning shares in the company advising the winning bidder. the country has had enough
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of these sleazy deals. isn't it way past time for franchising to be scrapped and the uk rail industry revitalised through public ownership? well, and the clock ticks ever backwards, mr speaker. they don't want inward investment. they don't want private sector investment in our railways. and of course, mr speaker, what we still don't hear from that part of this house, from the benches opposite, is any words on behalf of passengers about the strikes. this is a party that takes money from the rail unions and defends them when they are on strike, no matter the inconvenience to passengers. they are a disgrace, they should stand up and say the strikes should stop. i'll say one thing at least about the mayor of london. he has at least had the wit and wisdom this week to say the strikes are wrong. chris grayling. a special deal for the north of england should be sought during the forthcoming negotiations on the uk's departure from the eu.
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that was the view of peers in a three—hour debate entitled the state of the north. it allowed peers to talk about the distinctive character of northern towns, northern industry and the northern landscape. peers accepted that while the north had benefited greatly from regional eu funds, large parts of the region had voted overwhelmingly to leave the eu in last year's referendum. despite its significant population, and in the absence of devolution, the north does not punch at its weight and many, especially those living in de—industrialised, rust—belt towns, feel both disaffected and alienated. it's a fact that a baby, a girl born in manchester, can expect to live for 15 fewer years in good health than a baby girl born in the london borough of richmond. consider that londoners currently benefit at a rate of over £65 per head for investments in cultural infrastructure compared with less than £5 per head for the population based outside the capital. we spent £40 million
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on a garden bridge in london without a brick being laid. that would have gone a long way in hull and secured many other scores of arts institutions which have been decimated in the north over the last year or so. why is there no vision for the wealth—making skills up there when we are in clear danger? the vision that, for instance, led us to fast build aeroplanes when the second world warseemed imminent. these are utterly vital. who's defending the country now with anything like that foresight? most governments of all political colours have tended to be london—centric in their thinking and the result of the referendum in many parts of the north was certainly, in part, a reaction to what many regard as the opinions of a westminster elite. the divide was cemented even more by the sneering tone of some commentators, implying that voters
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in the north lacked the intelligence to vote the right way. a lib dem peer praised a recent report on the north of england by the think tank the ippr. its recommendations urging local enterprise partnership resilience audits in the face of brexit, and the creation of a northern brexit negotiating committee to speak for the north in the absence of the devolved structures now available in london, scotland, wales and northern ireland are critically important. the report from ippr on the north warns us that the uncertainties surrounding the brexit vote could set the recovery of the north back very badly. but the status quo before june 23rd was not serving the north well. brexit cannot just be about more control for london. it's certainly heartening that the government has understood the need for an industrial strategy, making things matter. in november, i read in the evening standard that the secretary of state for our exit from the european union,
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david davis, had agreed with the london mayor, sadiq khan, that he would have a monthly face—to—face meeting and this would take place both before and after article 50. so that the position of london could be understood at every stage of the negotiation. as far as i know, there is no such arrangement for the north—east of england. if there are negotiations, and money is to come back, let that go to the regions, let's have constitutional change. in scotland, they want more powers for devolution, and probably stay in, as they say. we've combined, and i've combined with my colleague gordon brown, together, to see if scotland and the north, as a powerhouse, if you want a real powerhouse, put scotland and the north together for the same reason. to redistribute the power, redistribute the resources and begin to develop a northern economy. we don't want to be patronised. we do not intend to bring a begging bowl. but we do insist that we be given the tools so that we can get
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on with the job. that means government being bold enough to let go of the reins. when i first came into this house, i remember a conservative peeress saying to me, "do you know, i've just been to yorkshire "and parts of it were quite nice." the media, as we all know, are also heavily concentrated in north—east london and they report things that happen in islington or tower hamlets in ways they would never think about reporting if they happened in north leeds or east bradford. listening to this debate, i was struck by the number of representations that we heard about the potential relative disadvantage of the north in accessing the decision—makers. that is, without going beyond my brief, that is certainly a point that i think my colleagues in government should be aware of given the strength of feeling that has been expressed throughout this debate. i think that is one of the most important lessons that i have learned.
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you are watching thursday in parliament with me, alicia mccarthy. the commons equality committee says political parties must face fines if they don't ensure at least 45% of general election candidates are female. 30% of current mps are female. the commons equality committee said that represented a serious democratic deficit for no good reason. it said the law must change after the 2020 general election if that figure didn't change significantly. the general secretary made a statement on the report. if 100 years ago the suffragettes who fought for women's rights, fought for our right to be elected to sit in this place, were told that just 455 women would be elected to this place over the next ten decades, i am not sure whether they would have
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laughed or cried. i think they would be proud that the united kingdom had seen two female prime ministers, but the fact is there are as many men sitting in this place today as there are women ever elected to be members of parliament. the committee called for more transparency from parties on the work they are doing to improve selection and for diversity data to be published. she said they also wanted a minimum of 45% of parliamentary candidates to be women and that women should make up 45% of mps by 2030. to make progress, these measures need real teeth and that is why the committee has also recommended that the remit of the electoral commission be extended to introduce fines for noncompliance. in our evidence session with leaders of the political parties it is evident there is enormous support for more representation in parliament. each one agreed that parliament would be a better place if 50% of mps were women, but we need
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to turn those warm sentiments into bums on seats and i hope that isn't unparliamentary language. she said parliament was letting itself down on the global stage and had fallen down the world's rankings in terms of female representation. more than half the mps today are on labour benches. 43.7% of the plp is made up of women. much of this is to do with labour's commitment at the shortlist level and i would like to ask, does she think other parties should look to introduce all women short lists for their parliamentary selections and does she agree that parties that aren't already taking direct positive action should do so as a matter of urgency? i thank the honourable lady for her question. i think the party should look at evidence of what works and what the report clearly says is that there is a body of evidence parties can look at. i don't think it is for the select
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committee to dictate to parliamentary parties as to how they run their own selection procedures. that is for them but they should also look at the evidence. in recalling that labour lost one of the safest seats in blaenau gwent in 2005 because of the imposition of a women only short list, what role does my right honourable friend see in local associations being able to choose what candidate they think are best for that area irrespective of gender or of the voters deciding to vote for that person irrespective of their gender. i thank my honourable friend for that question and he is absolutely right. associations and local parties have a huge role to play in making sure they get the right person for the job in that area, but it is very surprising to see thatjust one in four candidates at the last general election was female. i think perhaps we need to ensure there is the right training and support in place and we have a diversity of candidates from those associations and parties to choose from.
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the snp thought there were lessons to be learned from scotland. the snp scottish government is also making decisive action to make sure women are in senior decision—making roles including in the boardroom, and it contains many ambitious commitments in support of women's equality. can i ask if the uk government is considering similar measures and when they would come in to fruition? the recommendations in our report are for the government to consider. we think it is important after the next general election, if there isn't significant progress, 45% of candidates should be female. she mentioned equal representation in cabinets, and i was really heartened to seejustin trudeau when he became premier in canada having a gender balanced cabinet and saying, what would you expect in 2016? i say, what should we expect in 2017. a senior labour mp has called on ministers to back an independent
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investigation into allegations of breaches of humanitarian law in the yemen civil war, because it is simply not acceptable to wait for saudi arabia to do the job. thousands of people have been killed in the conflict between a saudi arabian—led coalition backing the yemen government and iran—backed houthi rebels. mps are calling for an independent investigation into allegations made against both sides of breaches of international humanitarian law. stephen twigg, the labour chairman of the international development select committee, said such an investigation was long overdue, as he bemoaned the pace of the progress made by saudi arabia on its own investigations. the government repeatedly, over the last 1a months, has been asked about saudi arabia's own investigations. to my knowledge and the minister may be able to update us today, saudi arabia have produced nine reports on violations, even though there have been many other allegations made.
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progress, i believe, on this is glacial and i think it is remarkable the government still hold the line that saudi arabia must take responsibility for investigating its own alleged violation. i give way. these reports put forward have been far too slow and the reason is we are dealing with the country that has never written a report like this and they are having to learn the hard way to show the transparency that the international community expects. the point i would like to make is that this progress is slow because we are talking about a fledgling state, and this is still a very young state which is not used to this level of scrutiny and transparency and so it will take a long time for these reports to come out. the honourable lady anticipates the final remarks that i want to make in this speech because she used the word "slow," the minister used the word "slow," i used the word "glacial" because it is too slow.
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the substantial point i want to ask and i look forward to the minister responding when he speaks, at what point will the british government take the view that we need to move to an independent enquiry? the machine is slow in putting these together. the conduct of investigations is totally new and the assessment team is learning its way. i keep putting pressure on them and will continue to do so and i make it very clear that to lose faith in that process which is beginning, and to digress, how long it took for the chilcott enquiry to come together. and this is a machine that we have in this country well versed to the legal parameters you have to deal with. we have to have faith in saudi arabia for the moment to see these reports must be forthcoming and for the moment i remain confident they can produce these reports. finally, are we any closer to a decision on when mps and peers can decide on whether or not to move
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out of parliament to allow a massive refurbishment programme? the palace of westminster is crumbling with leaking roofs, crumbling stonework and ancient wiring and plumbing. at business questions, one mp wondered if a decisions was on the horizon, but first he wanted to raise something altogether different that was trending on social media. further to the question, sorry, may i first of all wish you a happy kiss a ginger day. the memberfor north antrim quite rightly asked the question... i'm sure you can look it up! the memberfor northampton raised a very serious question earlier about the committee report which was produced 18 weeks ago on the future of the palace of westminster. it is now becoming irresponsible that we have not yet had a debate because a fire in one of the 98 rises of this building would spread
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very rapidly and asbestos, in any part of this building, if discovered could lead to the closing of this building immediately and indefinitely. and any problems in the sewage of the building could close the building immediately. so could he make sure we get on with this immediately and we are outrunning unnecessary costs and risks. the honourable gentleman summarises the points that were made at much greater length and the committee report about the very real challenges in terms of managing risks that there are with the building of the palace of westminster. i said to the honourable member that i would hope we could have a debate as soon as possible. this kiss a ginger activity is probably perfectly lawful but i have no plans to take part in it myself.
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strikes me as a very rum business altogether. i have not the slightest idea about what the honourable gentleman was prating so the matter had to be googled for me. a rather bemused john bercow bringing us to the end of this programme, but pleasejoin me friday night at 11 for a full round—up of the week in westminster including the chair of the women and equality is committee on how to increase the number of female mps, but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello. looks as though friday is going to
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be another cold day right across the british isles. it starts that way with the temperatures close to if not below freezing so whatever fell from your skies on thursday, it will undoubtedly have frozen overnight so driving conditions and walking conditions could be tricky, you may see another spell of snow for a time in east anglia and the south—east but once that's away real concerns about the strength of the wind and the highs bring tides leading to coastal flooding perhaps on the eastern shores of england but other than that, a decent enough day. a peppering of showers with the sunshine doing nothing for the temperatures, a wintry mix in northern and western parts. watch out for highs again first thing on saturday, which will be another chilly sort of vague in its own right. more cloud and showers in western parts and then we get something milder coming in from the atlantic, but it will come at the price of some cloud and rain. a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley.
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our top stories: donald trump's choice to lead the cia talks tough on russia and defends america's spy agencies, hours after mr trump attacked them. i have seen their morale through tough times, where they have been challenged before, and i have seen them walk through fire to make sure they do theirjobs in a professional way. russia describes the deployment of thousands of us troops in poland as a threat to its national security. a big change for cubans entering the us as washington ends its long—standing open—door policy. and the bromance lives on. president obama surprises his deputyjoe biden with the highest civilian honour.
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