Skip to main content

tv   Monday in Parliament  BBC News  October 31, 2017 2:30am-3:01am GMT

2:30 am
this is bbc news — the headlines: the official us investigation into alleged russian meddling in last year's presidential election has produced its first criminal charges. former trump campaign manager paul manafort has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including concealing earnings from his dealings with ukraine before he joined the trump team. his lawyer has denied any suggestion of collusion. a former foreign policy advisor to the trump campaign has admitted lying to the fbi about his contacts with russian officials. the white house has distanced itself from the arrests. catalonia's sacked leader — carles puigdemont — has gone to belgium — amid reports he may claim asylum. spain is seeking charges including rebellion, sedition and the misappropriation of public funds against him and other separatist leaders over last week's unilateral declaration of independence. it's just gone 2:30am. let's have a look at the front pages of this morning's papers. the ft leads on the first charges
2:31 am
made as part of investigations into alleged russian links to donald trump's presidential election campaign and it features pictures of george papadopoulos and paul manafort on its front page. it's the top story in the guardian too, summed up in its headline: trump under new pressure after ex—aide admits perjury. it's a different lead in the metro. it's splash is the government promising a crackdown against sexual harassment at westminster. it's the same lead for the daily telegraph — the paper says the story could turn out to be more embarrassing for mps than the expenses scandal. the times is one of several papers to feature a picture of kevin spacey who today apologised for inappropriate advances a young actor claims he made when he was only 1a. and the express focuses on a health story the papers says a dose of aspirin a day can halve the risk of developing some cancers. now it's time for a look back at the day in parliament. hello and welcome to monday
2:32 am
in parliament, our look at the best of the day in the commons and the lords. on this programme. the government promises action "within days" to deal with allegations of sexual harassment at westminster. these reports risk bringing all of our offices into disrepute. a peer voices fears that a flu epidemic could strike with little warning. the problem with viruses, like pandemics is that they are completely unpredictable and never hit on the way we expect beforehand. and what's wrong with first past the post voting? lots of things, say some opposition mps. unless you live in one of a small number of heavily targeted marginal seats, your vote quite simply does not count. not for the first time, mps have been putting the spotlight on themselves. or, at least, on the practices and, more particularly,
2:33 am
the "culture" of westminster. it follows days of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour inflicted on mainly female mps and staff working at parliament. there've even been reports of women using the ‘whatsapp‘ social messaging service to issue warnings about known "sex pest" mps. the commons speaker john bercow stressed the importance of the issue. i wish to make a statement about recent disturbing allegations about a culture of sexual harassment and westminster. between members and those who work for members. let me make it clear, there must be zero tolerance of sexual harassment or bullying here at westminster or elsewhere. the leader of the house favoured bringing in a code of conduct
2:34 am
and a grievance procedure. as members of parliament, our constituents will be rightly appalled at the thought that some representatives in parliament may have acted in an entirely inappropriate way towards others. these reports risk bringing all of our offices into disrepute. i know this is an issue of great concern to you, mr speaker, and i know you will do everything you can to tackle this issue. i know members from all parties will want to work alongside you to investigate every claim, provide the right support in the future, and make sure this never happens again. mr speaker, it is a bright, not a privilege, to work in a safe and respectful environment. these plans will ensure that parliament takes a zero tolerance approach.
2:35 am
it is absolutely right that the house must address the urgent issue of alleged mistreatment of staff by members of parliament. these allegations make clear that there is a vital need to provide better support and protection for the thousands of staff members working in westminster and in constituency offices across the country. she is right, there is obviously a problem. it's a good thing it has been exposed and it has to be dealt with. no woman or man coming to work in this house should be subjected to an unwanted sexual advances from those who are in a position of power over them. no one should have to work in the toxic atmosphere of sleazy sexist or homophobic banter. no mp, let alone a minister, should think it is something to make jokes about. this is not hysteria. this is something which is long overdue for all the parties in this house to deal with. no one voted for me to come to this house to engage in highjinks, no one elected any of us
2:36 am
to engage in sleazy, oppressive behaviour. it has to be stopped now is the time to do it. welcoming the new procedures, one mp recalled comments made about her by the shadow chancellorjohn mcdonnell. i'm delighted to hear the leader of the house will extend these to other forms of abuse. will that include those mps who go on rallies endorsing the lynching of other mp5? it is an absolute disgrace that senior mps go about their business getting violence against female mps. i welcome these steps to eradicate harassment from this place. but when i complained recently to an officer of parliament to have some responsibility in this area that i knew a number of researchers, male and female, who had been made to feel deeply uncomfortable in the sports and social club here by members of parliament, i was told that that happens in pubs all over the country. of course the house, what we recognise is that this is a
2:37 am
fault of undiluted power. when someone holds your entire future in their hands, it is very difficult to refuse or to speak out. while it is sexual abuse and sexual harassment that has brought this to the attention today, it is also misogyny, dismissal, and gender discrimination. sexual harassment is a problem in parliament as it is in workplaces and schools, right across the country. it is often worst weather big discrepancy of power i really hope that the news reports of the last few days actors watershed moment and help to catalyse the change that we so clearly need, not least in the outdated attitudes that exist still in some quarters. as i walked in here, rushed in here today to come to this statement, i overheard two male colleagues walking through the halls,
2:38 am
wittering about a witch hunt that was going oi'i in parliament. i think what we need to do in this building is not think of this as being a party political thing, but something that has two absolutely happen. we do notjust cheer when our own side is the person getting attacked, we cheer when everyone is bound to rights. we talk about this being a modern workplace. isn't that the rub? this is not a modern workplace, it's a very strange one. it is strange for members, for our families, and most of all for those members of staff. this is nothing new, as others have said. this comes about because of a political culture deferments, where people can't speak about what has happened to them for fear of their career being stifled. in order to change that political culture, it requires all of us to take very strong political leadership. i say this to the political leaders on both sides and all sides of the house, that means taking decisions against colleagues
2:39 am
and others, even when that is inconvenient, even when that is against their own allies or their own supporters on their own side. urgency is very important in how we deal with this issue, but nevertheless with the leader of the house confirms is not going to be something that will be dealt with simply by house officials and those working in the palace of westminster? but the best practice would be utilised, and that advice would be sought from external organisations as to how they deal with this. over the weekend i read some very worrying articles saying that whips officers from all political parties and senior members of the government—held information about sexual misconduct by their own mps but stayed quiet because of fear of sabotaging their career and bringing the government into disrepute. is the leader of the house where these reports? that she believed them to be true and if so, what will she do about them? i am absolutely not aware of any such
2:40 am
wrongdoing as she suggests, and i am absolutely confident that anybody you had serious allegations would be directed by the whips office or by members of parliament to go directly to the police. andrea leadsom. a report into deaths in police custody in england and wales has called for major reforms. the review was commissioned by theresa may when she was home secretary two years ago. the report's 110 recommendations include changes in the police treatment of people suffering with mental health problems. in the commons, a home office minister said the government had to ensure that the public had confidence in police officers. when things do go wrong, policing by consent can only have meaning. where swift action is taken to find the truth, to expose institutional failings and tackle any conduct
2:41 am
issues where these are found. i want to stress to the house that the issues identified in this report point to the need for reform in a number of areas. where we have gone all set in motion work today. her report also highlights complex issues, for which there are no easy answers at this time. the government response which are outlined today is to be seen as the start of the journey, a journey which will see a focused programme of work to address the problems identified. i personally have had to comfort to many families who said goodbye to their son in the morning, and he never came back. can the minister explain why we have had to wait two and a half years for the publication of this report which i understand is completed 15 months ago? does the minister agree with united friends and families that officers must be held to account? i have met with the home secretary and some of the families and their camp is overwhelming. overwhelming. in terms of what they have had to endure, not
2:42 am
just the original lost but the journey from that point, absolutely unacceptable. the report is devastating. it is a story of system failure and human failure going back over many, many years. i welcome this report and the governments response, in west yorkshire we had the tragic case of mark kam who died as a result of being held in police custody when he should in have been sent on an emergency basis to hospital. and his family campaign for years to have the truth uncovered about the lack of monitoring of him in a police cell, but also who injured real difficulties with the failure of the ipc to properly investigate in a timely way and ensure that lessons were learned as a result of that case. can i thank mr foy‘s statements, and his personal commitment to following through, particularly for better support for bereaved families?
2:43 am
can i take him up on his point about making sure we find the right places to detain people? we have heard about it and the respect of people with mental health problems. i want to press on the point of those were intoxicated. tim ellis makes a strong recommendation, recommendation 22, the government should consider drying up centres with international evidence suggests may be safer and cheaper than police custody. still to come: the government is accused of "passing the buck" over g re nfell tower. now we regularly call parliament the heart of british democracy. but how democratic is parliament? an e—petition that's attracted more than 100,000 signatures says the current westminster electoral system makes parliament "unrepresentative". the petition demands the replacement of first—past—the—post voting with proportional representation, or pr, where numbers of mps would exactly match the amount of public support across the country for each political party.
2:44 am
in westminster hall, mps debated changing the voting system. possibly the biggest argument for first past the post and against pr is that more often than not, it will produce a clear, decisive result and a stable government. just one moment. whereas, pr often results in no clear majority and days or weeks of backroom dealing in order to form a government. ijust wonder whether he could perhaps explain what his definition of democracy is? because i would have thought democracy is about ensuring that the governing party or parties actually command a majority of support in the country. and the truth is, that hasn't happened, has it, for some time? i think that historically, in our party, we have had the first past the post system which has delivered decisive government results over many, many years and that has served our country well.
2:45 am
i believe that the current system has served our country well. and we are one of the greatest democracies on the planet, i personally believe, and therefore, i don't share his views. it is right and excellent if you are viewing this as a partisan position where simply what matters is your side wins, but if you are a democrat, you have to look at this from the point of view as to what the public are putting forward and responding to that public demand. and if you are not doing that, you have to ask yourself, what is the purpose of elections to begin with? it cannotjust be about maximising our individual own party advantage and finding a system that gets us to that point. that is not good enough and it is not what democratic systems are based upon. would you agree that the scottish parliament's d'hondt system, which has a first past the post correction and also proportional representation list, is one of the best examples of a tried and tested proportional representation system that keeps the constituency link, which this petition advocates. for example, at the last scottish
2:46 am
election, the snp got 46.5% of the votes and 48.8% of the seats. lord norton is actually simplified the issues around pr and the ability of parties to form coalitions. and he has said that even though party a might have 40% of the vote and party b might have 20% of the vote, it does not mean that their joint manifesto has 60% of the vote. without a secondary vote agreement in the manifesto, their government actually enjoys 0% support. it is a stitch up, done in a back room between parties. that is in stark contrast to single—member government produced by first past the post which knows for certain that it enjoys a large plurality of support and is therefore far more legitimate than a coalition government. why do the honourable member think that after the second world war, british constitutionalists recommended to germany
2:47 am
for introducing the best government possible, the best democracy, not first past the post, but a proportional system based on ams? it was not first past the post. could he explain why he thinks that was? i'm here to talk about first past the post in the united kingdom... laughter. ..continue to talk about. the current representative voting system is doing long—term pervasive damage. it manifested itself in phenomena like a widespread lack of trust and faith in public servants, the growth of what have some have coined with orwellian overtones, post—truth politics. far too many of our constituents are disillusioned, disaffected and disengaged. continuing to deny them a voice in the decisions that affect us all only perpetuates that problem. and yet that is exactly what is happening past the post. a system where votes are not all equal because unless you live in one of a small number of heavily targeted marginal seat, your vote, quite simple, doesn't count. the government's preparedness
2:48 am
programme for a flu outbreak this winter should be urgently reviewed. that was the demand of opposition peers when debate in the lords turned to the level of take—up of flu vaccinations in england and wales. first, a labour peer said a recent health service survey had disclosed a rise in numbers of people being re—admitted to hospital after being discharged. the survey also showed a rise of 29% of people readmitted to hospital as emergencies within 2a hours. does this not raise huge concerns about patients being discharged unsafely and before they are medically fit in order to meet the government's empty beds target? not to mention the trauma and upset caused to the patients themselves and their carers and families. do the targets take account of readmission? what additionalfunding and contingency plans are in place across nhs trusts and local
2:49 am
authorities if there just aren't enough beds to cope with the flu crisis and isn't the government's flu preparedness in urgent need of review? well, the nhs has never been better prepared for winter or indeed forflu. there are something like 21,000 people who are eligible for free flu jabs this year, including for the first time care workers the voluntary sector. so i think that is good progress. of course, we don't know how exactly that will play out. my lords, i wonder if my noble lord the minister would perhaps consider or reconsider the statement he made in answer to the question, that the nhs has never been better ready for flu outbreak? the problem with viral infections is, like pandemics, that they are completely unpredictable and often hit in a way that we never expect beforehand. they remain one of the biggest single threat to humanity and i hope he will understand that this unpredictability is a real issue with all these infections, including influenza, as history has shown us. the noble lord is of course quite right.
2:50 am
we can't know what will hit us. what we can do is prepare in advance as much as possible and that was the sense in which i meant there was a huge amount of preparedness in terms of what has gone on notjust for flu, but in terms of winter. starting earlier this year than ever before. i was talking to a very senior consultant early this morning and to my absolute amazement, he said to me that the latest research on flu jabs, compulsory for nhs staff, provides no significant improvement at all in patient health. and i wondered whether the minister has any different research or evidence because it is rather striking and unexpected. well, that would be unexpected and worrying if that is true. that is not the information on which we have based our policy. the information on which we have based our policy is that flu jabs are effective in most people. of course, they are not effective in all people, but they are effective in spreading the risk of flu within care settings. the world health organization
2:51 am
recommends about nine months to a year what strain of vaccine should be developed. and this is of course, before the australian epidemic that took place which of course killed many people and affected many elderly. can my noble friend the minister say that the vaccine that has been developed here in the uk is both effective and remains very relevant and people need to go and access it, both young and the elderly? yes, my noble friend is absolutely right. simon stephens, the head of the nhs, warned about the impact of the flu epidemic in australia and new zealand back in september. the feedback on the australian epidemic was that those particularly vulnerable groups were the over—80s and five—year—old to nine—year old. so we have talked about helping the younger children through the school—based immunisation, and i should also point out that we have the highest uptake of over 65 is getting flu jabs in europe, but clearly there is more to do because around a third of people don't.
2:52 am
lord o'shaughnessy. the government's being urged to stop "passing the buck" in its response to the disaster at grenfell tower. at least 80 people died when fire tore through the block in west london on the evening of wednesday june 14th. an inquiry into the disaster opened in september. at commons question time, the deputy leader of the liberal democrats focused on how such tragedies could be prevented in future. i want to ask him about things that could be done to prevent fires from claiming lives. we know that sprinklers saved lives yet only 2% of council tower blocks have systems. is the secretary of state content with that state of affairs and if not, four months on from the grenfell tragedy, when will he stop passing the buck and help local authorities fit sprinklers in high—rise buildings? mr speaker, the honourable lady will know that it is already the law in building regulations that since 2007, any new high—rise buildings above 30 metres are required to fit sprinklers.
2:53 am
in terms of whether that is appropriate, and whether more can be done, i think the appropriate way to look at that is through the independent building regulations review on fire safety which damejudith hackett is taking. i know she is gathering evidence, there is a call for evidence right now, perhaps the honourable lady would like to input into that. is it not an irony, actually, that it wasn't that enough money was not spent on grenfell tower, but that £10 million was spent on grenfell tower to provide cladding to stop water ingress which caused the whole problem? and is my right honourable friend aware that experts have told me that sprinklers are not the sole solution to this issue. sprinklers alone without sound fire doors will not work. and there are other provisions that can be made. mr speaker, if my honourable friend will allow me, i won't speculate on grenfell tower and the causes of that terrible
2:54 am
tragedy. but in terms of his broader point about measures which also are important, such as fire doors, something that we found in camden, when fire safety checks were done, there were hundreds of fire doors that were not there and so there are other measures alongside sprinklers, which certainly can be and should be taken when necessary. sajid javid. finally, 100 years have passed since this humble—looking but very significant document was drawn up. the balfour declaration was sent in 1917 to lord rothschild, leader of the british jewish community, and to the zionist federation of great britain. it pledged support for the establishment of a national home forjews in the area of palestine, which was then part of the ottoman empire. the declaration was written by arthur balfour,
2:55 am
conservative prime minister in the first few years of the 20th century, who later became foreign secretary. his successor 100 years on told mps the government was proud of the uk's part in the creation of israel. and i see no contradiction in being a friend of israel and a believer in that country's destiny while also being profoundly moved by the suffering of those who were affected and dislodged by its birth. that vital caveats in the balfour declaration intended to safeguard the rights of other communities, by which of course we mean the palestinians, has not been fully realised. as we approach the centenary of the balfour declaration we on this side of the house are glad tojoin him in commemorating this historic anniversary and expressing once again our continued support for the state of israel. notwithstanding the challenges of unfinished business to which my right honourable friend rightly referred, does he agree with me that centenary
2:56 am
can be a powerful way of drawing people together thoughtfully and respectfully, even where, as here, the history is complex and nuanced. i agree very strongly with that. and it has been very salutary for people to go back over the last hundred years and look at the many, many opportunities that have been missed and also to look at the reasons why balfour thought it necessary to make his declaration. and it wasn't, as is frequently said, simply because britain wanted to solicit american support in the first world war, it was genuinely because of a need, an imperative to deal with the pogroms and the anti—semitism that have plagued russia and parts of eastern europe for so long. it was vital to find a homeland for the jewish people
2:57 am
and it was vital that balfour made that decision. but we have to balance that with the suffering that was occasioned by that decision. and that's it for this programme. mandy baker will be here for the rest of the week. but for now, from me keith macdougall, goodbye. the weather is turning a bit milder and cloudy for most of the country today. on monday morning, —5 and
2:58 am
tulloch bridge completed this morning, temperatures 15 degrees higher. were clad in a defence that an south—westerly wind. those winds bring murky weather across the high ground of northern ireland, northern england as well with persistent rental western scotland. through the day we could see some heavy rain arrived akin to wales in north—west england late in the day. then the early morning showers clear away from east anglia and the south—east of england and anna looks like a dry picture. some bright sunny spells. temperatures between 12 and 1a celsius. tuesday evening turns spooky for a time for those halloween trick or treat as. there will be rain around across the north—west was the driest weather further south. a mild night with temperatures overnight in a range from around eight in the south to nine, ten, 11 in the north with wet weather building in through western scotland. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley.
2:59 am
our top stories: probing possible links with russia — donald trump's former campaign manager is accused of conspiracy against the united states. meanwhile, a former trump aide pleads guilty to lying to the fbi about his contacts with russian officials. the white house says it's got nothing to do with the president. we've been saying from day one there's been no evidence of trump—russia collusion and nothing in today's indictment changes that at all. the sacked catalan president carles puigdemont has gone to belgium amid reports he may claim asylum as spain considers charging him with rebellion. and levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere surge to a record high. the un says we have solutions, but must act now.
3:00 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on