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tv   Thursday in Parliament  BBC News  February 1, 2019 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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as low as —50 degrees celsius across several midwestern states. the extreme weather has been blamed for at least 21 deaths. it's been more than 20 years since a similar polar vortex covered such a large area. both the us and the chinese negotiators have praised what they say is progress achieved in two days of trade talks in washington. american officials are to visit beijing for further talks soon. president xijinping expressed his hope that the two sides could meet each other halfway. venezuela's self—proclaimed interim president has promised to focus on rebuilding the country's economy and ending the country's humanitarian crisis. in a speech, juan guaido accused president nicolas maduro‘s administration of trying to intimidate him by sending special police to his house. the organisation of american states denounced that move. you are up—to—date on the headlines.
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now on bbc news — thursday in parliament. hello there, and welcome to thursday in parliament, where the government indicates a clamp—down on social media firms to protect youngsters from harmful content. the government's intent is to set out with clarity what the responsibilities of online companies like facebook are, how they should meet those responsibilities and what will happen to them if they do not. the leader of the commons cancels mps‘ half—term break but promises them brexit is on track. we are making good progress, we are under pressure, but it is all very much under control. and a commons committee counts the cost of fast fashion. we throw 11 million items worth £140 million into the bin in the uk every year. but first, the culture secretary has indicated the government
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is preparing to clamp down on social media companies to protect young people from harmful content. jeremy wright was responding to concern over the death of molly russell. the 14—year—old took her own life in 2017 after viewing disturbing posts about suicide on social media. a new report by mps on the technology committee says social media helped facilitate online bullying and grooming. and they've called for a regulator who could take action against internet companies if they broke the law. the government is preparing a policy document, a white paper, to set out proposed changes to the law. but the culture secretary explained that he didn't want to rush it. the most important thing we can do for the family of molly russell and other young people and their families who are concerned about this issue is to make sure that our response is effective, it's properly thought through and it will work in the long—term. it is no good getting good headlines for a day or two, and then finding that the structures we set up have holes in them
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which mean they can't deliver. so what that means is that the government is taking time to get this right. it's also worth pointing out that we are the first country who will do this. if we produce a holistic approach to online harms and to internet regulation, we will be the first country to do it. we should be proud of that, but we should make sure we get it right. nick clegg seems to have landed on his feet since leaving this place and is now the government affairs officer or director or vice president of facebook, earning a million or two i understand, although a bit more i'm told from someone in front of me. he seemed startled at the idea that facebook has any responsibility in this area when he was asked about it on television recently. does my right honourable friend have any plans to speak with mr clegg about this? or is it sir nick? i spoke to sir nick last week, and what i told him is what i'm
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happy to tell the house, which is when the white paper is published, he and everyone else, including facebook, will see that the government's intent is to set out with clarity what the responsibilities of online companies like facebook are, how they should meet those responsibilities and what will happen to them if they do not. last week, we heard of the tragic case of a young girl taking her own life after being exposed to harmful material about depression and suicide online. this week, we learned online bullying has doubled. if i got to talk to nick clegg, i would tell him that rather than focusing on protecting children, facebook and others are focused on profiting from children. this morning, the science and technology committee have called for a legal duty of care on social media companies. we support that very important report. will the secretary of state confirm that he supports that claim and say explicitly that it has to be underpinned and enforced by a regulator that has teeth? i'm grateful to the honourable
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gentleman, and what he says about molly russell and others affected as he knows, she is not sadly the first of these cases and she's unlikely to be the last. and may i take the opportunity, mr speaker, to also pay tribute to her father. i'm sure the whole house will agree has notjust dealt with his loss with immense dignity, but has sought to ensure that that loss was not in vain and that people will make the changes that we all agree are necessary. on the point about duty of care, it is certainly something, as he knows because we've discussed it, it is something we are considering very carefully. and we are also very keen to ensure that whatever the white paper says, whatever the structures it sets up, that those structures can be enforced. because it is clear that although i think it is right
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to point out that some social media companies have done some things in this space which we should applaud, there has been nowhere near enough activity yet, and i think it would be wrong to assume that this house or this government can sit back and allow the social media companies to do this voluntarily. and he concluded by repeating that this was ground—breaking work. but the speaker felt he'd heard enough after what he felt was an overlengthy answer from the minister. perhaps we can get through the remaining questions without replies taking a minute and a half. hopeless, sorry, hopeless. john bercow. now, mps been told that their february half—term break is likely to be cancelled. the leader of the commons andrea leadsom said it may need to sit to make progress on the new laws needed for britain to leave the european union at the end of march. i realise that this is short notice for colleagues and house staff,
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but i do think our constituents will expect that the house is able to continue to make progress at this important time. but she was challenged on whether the new laws that needed statutory instruments or 51s would be ready in time. on a scale of one to ten, how confident is the leader that the sis will be properly debated given they're all wrapped up sometimes in one package, multiple sls, by 29th of march? i'm confident that the legislation we need to have royal assent or up to have in the case of secondary legislation by the 29th of march will be done. in terms of secondary legislation for brexit sis, over 360 eu exit 51s have now been laid as of today. we are making good progress, we are under pressure but it is all very much under control. i'm grateful to the leader of the house for confirming that there will no longer be a february recess which i'm sure has gone down the bucket for several honourable friends who had planned their holidays. but what happens that week?
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is it going to to be brexit week? is it business like we see for next week? what happens to departmental questions? the normal row to departmental questions? the normal rota has already been done. andrea leadsom said there was lots of brexit—related business. but mps suggested that there were other pressing issues that should be debated now, including the government's plans to tackle knife crime. where's his statement to this house? why is our home secretary not here addressing this house about one of the most crucial things facing our constituents up and down this country? only a couple of days ago, a police chief went to the home affairs select committee, 10,000 children are being exploited and used in county lines. knife crime is rampant. young people are being slaughtered. where is the home secretary? the home secretary sajid javid was planning changes to his offensive weapons bill. all honourable members will be aware that this has been discussed for some considerable amount of time, and what i can say is that the new deterrent
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in the form of knife crime prevention orders is in effect to try and prevent young people from getting into a life of knife crime. the speaker said the home secretary had been utterly discourteous. the way in which ministers are held to account is by interrogation in this chamber. simply writing a letter to an opposite number and then beetling off to do a radio or television interview won't do. it's simply not up to the required standard. he said a minister could be brought before mps at the first opportunity. and amongst other things, i think we'll all be interested to know what possible credible exclamation for the conduct can be proffered by the minister to the house? in the absence of a credible explanation, what of course is required is an unqualified apology. another absent mp was fiona onasanya. on tuesday, the mp for peterborough was injailed for three months for lying to police about a speeding ticket. she's been expelled from the labour party, but remains an mp. there is one issue that is bringing this house into disrepute
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and that is a member of this house is imprisoned and continues to become... to be an mp. mike constituents and other constituents in the country do not understand this. they do not understand how anybody could be convicted of a crime and still be a member of this house and be in prison. the police officers who protect us here, they lose their pensions, they lose everything. something is seriously wrong, and we have to debate in the time we've got now it seems to actually change the law that allows the public to believe what we do is right. if you go to the prison, you should not be in this house. the leader of the house. well, of course my honourable friend is quite right. it is not acceptable for residents of peterborough that their member of parliament is unable to represent them, very physically unable
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to represent them but also is choosing not to do what i think all the members would say is the right thing to do. and andrea leadsom said that fiona onasa nya's constituents could force a by—election if herjail sentence is upheld on appeal. now a report this month from the housing and homelessness charity shelter argued that 3 million new social homes needed to be built over the next 20 years to deal with what are called the uk's housing crisis. in the lords, some of the problems were set out labour's lord. he said there were for many people on housing waiting list in both town and country. in london, the ratio of those households on the list of available property is actually 20—1. in central london, it's even higher. unless this is seen as a purely urban issue, the cpre estimate that in rural england, at the present rate, it will take 133 years to clear the current waiting list
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in rural counties of england. over the last three decades, state support for housing has not diminished but it has shifted dramatically from subsidies to building homes and improving homes and managing homes to providing welfare benefits for tenants. so instead of the exchequer investing in building for the future, the state goes on and a benefit bill which is now going to private landlords and increasing housing shortages and town and country alike. a liberal democrat said successive governments have all failed to take the action needed. so what of the future? first of all, parties have failed over long period on this crucial policy. commit we have failed. second, all parties must work together with a real target
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for social housing instead of the usual arguments over the least lamentable option. it's like a dispute often about the size of the head of a pin rather than the sledgehammer required. we've introduced a number of measures to create a more stable investigative branch. we abolished the hra borrowing caps. we've secured longer—term funding. we've increased our affordable homes programme to 9 billion, we've announced social funding and we have sent long term rent certainty. we are not complacent but now is a time for councils and housing associations to step up and deliver the affordable housing for councils and housing associations to step up and deliver the affordable housing the communities need. back in the commons, ministers have been told they can't get away with devolving the blame for cuts. the accusation came as mps debated the future of free tv licences for the over—75s. the government has guaranteed them untiljune 2020 but, after that, responsibility for the concession transfers to the bbc. the corporation is consulting and what it should do about it, arguing that continuing with the current scheme will cost it hundreds of millions of pounds. an snp mp argued keeping it would simply be too expensive.
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this obligation would cost the bbc three quarters of a billion pounds, rising to a billion by the end of the decade, equating to one fifth of the bbc budget, more than its entire radio budget and equivalent to the entire spend in drama, entertainment, comedy and sport programming. can i say to the secretary of state that he's going to get away with devolving the blame for his cuts? more than 2 million over—75—year—olds live alone, and the campaign to end loneliness report that four in ten of them say the television is their main source of company. now, the last conservative manifesto promised to keep tv licences, and the government has committed to ending loneliness with a loneliness strategy. so will he pledge now that no—one over 75 and living alone will lose their free tv licence? it's all very well the labour party criticising this move but, unless this is more than hot air, they are going to have to explain
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whether they intend to reverse this policy and, if they don't, people will suspect this is just the labour party making further promises they have no intention of keeping. with the exception of god's grace, nothing should be free. it distorts markets and misallocates resources, doesn't it? as ever, mr speaker, i admire my honourable friend's ideological purity! but what is important here is that we make sure that the bbc continue to provide an excellent service to all those who watch television. that's what the bbc is committed to doing. jeremy wright. you're watching thursday in parliament with me, alicia mccarthy. and don't forget, you can find all our programmes via the bbc iplayer, and you can
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follow me on twitter. the uk fashion industry contributes £32 billion to the economy every single year, but the environmental audit committee has been looking at fast fashion — the cheap and easy garments picked up for pennies that can have a huge impact on workers and the environment. mps called for evidence from 16 of the uk's leading fashion retailers, and the mp who chairs the committee presented an interim report to the commons. we heard evidence that fast fashion encourages the overpurchase, overconsumption and underutilisation of clothes. this leads to excessive waste. we throw 11 million items of clothing worth £140 million into the bin in the uk every year. the committee heard of the dire conditions in some factories in asia, but there were terrible working practices much
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closer to home. one whistle—blower told me they saw fire exits padlocked shut. online retailer missguided told us that two of their inspectors were manhandled by factory bosses. and it raises the question — if that is how factory owners treat their potential customers, what are the conditions being endured by their workers? we heard their workers working long, gruelling shifts, often earning as little as £3.50 an hour. hmrc told us that, since 2012, over 90 factories in the uk have been caught in breach of minimum wage regulations, illegally underpaying their workers and forced to pay out £90,000 in wage arrears. there was praise for some retailers, namely asos, burberry, marks & spencer, primark and tesco, who had all made commitments to reduce the environmental footprint of their products. but mary creagh also named those not living up to expectations. jd sports, sports direct, amazon uk,
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tk maxx, boohoo and missguided — clear industry laggards. and kurt geiger did not even give us the courtesy of a response, so i leave you to draw your own conclusions on that. mr speaker, you'll know, just by looking at me, that i used to be the minister for fashion for six years. and the honourable lady will know, just looking at me, that none of my clothes enjoy a single—use outing. her report is so good that it should not gather dust, and that ministers and other willing members should work with her and fashion stakeholders to give british fashion actually a fantastic competitive edge in being the world's leading sustainable fashion industry. the committee will be releasing its full report
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with recommendations in the coming weeks, and the minister, mims davies, said she looked forward to reading it. now, the government's been told it's time to take radical action to increase rape convictions. the shadow solicitor general, nick thomas—symonds, said the government's own figures showed only two in 100 reported rapes reached prosecution. latest figures published by the home office show that only 1.9% of recorded rapes are prosecuted. baroness newlove, the victim's commissioner, said, "i am often hearing from victims of sexual crime that their criminal "justice journey is as harrowing as the crime itself. "this is just not acceptable. "i fear we are letting these victims down badly." she's right, isn't she? well, the honourable gentleman will be interested to know that, only last week, i met baroness newlove and discussed these very issues.
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it is vitally important that both colleagues and the ministry ofjustice and across government understand that the journey for victims in cases like that can be an extremely tough one. that is well understood. that is why the agencies are now working together to ease that journey. i don't pretend the task is easy or that the job is anywhere near finished, but the commitment is there, and we will continue to work to support victims of rape. mr speaker, i don't dispute the solicitor general‘s worthy intentions in this, but we have a situation here where two in 100 reported rapes are reaching prosecution. it's a quite appalling statistic. in the first instance, can i say to the solicitor general that he must acknowledge the impact that spending cuts have had on the ability to investigate these offences? and secondly, he should acknowledge that piecemeal change is no longer enough. the time has come
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for drastic action. with respect to the honourable gentleman, he must not forget that independent prosecutors have to apply evidential tests, and it will not always be the case that complaints will merit a prosecution. i wholly reject his suggestion that expenditure cuts have resulted in a decrease in prosecutions. expenditure's not an issue when it comes to the prosecution of offences and will never be. mps have again called on the government to provide full compensation to the nearly 900,000 investors who are still out of pocket due to the near meltdown of pension provider equitable life in the year 2000. although compensation of some £1.3 billion has been paid out for maladministration, in the regulation of equitable, it falls well short of the £4.3 billion of losses identified by the parliamentary ombudsman in 2008. the co—chair of an all—party campaigning group on behalf of equitable life policyholders reckoned there was more the government could do. the reality is this —
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if the government fail to honour the debt, then clearly further action will have to follow and will force the treasury to take action. i met with a constituent of nearly seven years old on friday afternoon, and he was distraught, in tears, about how he has been left as a result of this equitable life scandal. this cannot be another full storm for those who look to us most. i urge all members of this house, current and future, to take up the cause of equitable policyholders and to try and restore their faith in the ability of this house, as the elected representatives of the people, properly to compensate the victims of one of the greatest financial scandals of our age. we have a moral duty and should not be afraid to carry it out. but the minister said the government had done what it could. whilst i appreciate and completely empathise with the fact that some policyholders who have invested their funds have not received the returns they hoped for, like my late father,
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and this impacted on their plans and their futures, we have taken the best action we could have to resolve the government's part in these reduced returns, and we have done more than any previous government. and i would draw colleagues‘ attention to equitable life's own research from 2011 which suggested that their policyholders wanted the government compensation to draw a line under this issue. and madam deputy speaker, i agree with them. the government's view is that this issue is now closed and, as a minister, i have never been in the business of offering false hope. john glen. finally, back to the lords, where there is a hint of revolution in the air. for as long as anyone can remember, the laws have been what they like to call self—regulating. it means that, although the upper chamber has a speaker, he or she doesn't select who is going to speak at question
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time. instead, peers very politely give way to each other if more than one of them wants to ask a question. at least, that's the theory. but in recent years with the numbers in the chamber growing, things have become a bit more fractious, and a labour peer thinks the lords speaker should have more of a role refereeing proceedings. this must surely be the only legislative assembly anywhere in the world where, at question time, the only person who is not allowed to speak is the speaker. that must be a first by anyone's standards! and i simply say to her that, to anyone watching from the public gallery or elsewhere, the proceedings in this house at question time are often a complete shambles, they are a shouting match, and they are unintelligible. but a peer who's previously held the job of lords speaker disagreed. it has operated on the basis of self—regulation for ever, and this is an extremely valuable convention, simply because it ensures that each and every peer in this house takes
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responsibility for the courtesies of this house. now, i understand that these have become somewhat frayed of late, but i think to undermine the self—regulation would be an unfortunate precedent. well, i agree with the noble lady. i believe that self—regulation does work and characterises this house. it means we do not need to resort to, for instance, selection of amendments, enforced groupings, programme motions or guillotines, none of which i think the noble lords will particularly want to be introduced into this house. isn't it correct that, when the role of lords speaker was originally set up, it was envisaged that there would be a review after the term of office of the first lords speaker? that review never took place. and is it not timely to look at the role of the lords speaker in its entirety but including question time? if, during questions, peers can't decide who should speak
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next, the government front bench can intervene to say whose turn it is. but lady hayman thought that wasn't the answer. having a member of the government assisting the house in deciding who should speak doesn't feel good in a parliamentary democracy. well, lady evans said the procedure committee was due to look at the issue and, if it came up with any suggestions, it would be down to peers to decide if they wanted to support them. and that's it from me for now, but do join me at the same time tomorrow for the week in parliament, when we'll be taking a look at the highlights of the week here at westminster. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello.
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there is more snow to come in this forecast as we head into friday. the main focus is the zone, say, from south wales across east anglia and anywhere south of here. all driven by this area of low pressure, which stays close by as we go into friday. now, whilst the earlier amber warning from the met office has expired, we still have yellow warnings in place for both snow and ice. so, slippery surfaces, tricky travelling conditions. stay up—to—date with the latest travel news on your bbc local radio station. by friday morning, we are likely to see perhaps 5—10 centimetres of snow across parts of wales, south—west england, particularly over the higher ground, up towards the chilterns and the cotswolds. at least a couple of centimetres elsewhere. and we will start to see further sleet and snow showers piling into north—east england. some of those may well get further south and westwards, perhaps down towards the midlands. should be a fine start to the day across northern ireland, but cold and frosty. and a really cold start again across scotland, although not quite as cold as the nightjust gone. and, once again, frequent snow showers piling into north scotland,
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the highlands and also the northern ireland. so, as the day wears on on friday, we will keep our zone of snow showers across central and southern england. it will become more fragmented and increasingly sleety through the day. still further snow showers piling into north—east england, across the north york moors. as i mentioned, some of those may just get across the pennines and down towards parts of the midlands. it will be a breezy day in places, particularly the further south you are, so that's just going to exacerbate the cold feel. and, for most, temperatures are not going to get much above three or four celsius. and, for most, temperatures are not going to get much above three or four celsius. but we should at least see them above freezing across parts of northern england and scotland, where we struggled through thursday with the fog. as we go through friday night and into saturday, we still keep this stream of showers, mainly down eastern coasts. and we start to lose the sleet and snow from south—east england. but a cloudier night here, so temperatures will stay above freezing. now, with a northerly wind, we are still going to pick up some wintry showers down
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some eastern coasts. a few mayjust clip some western coast, but for most on saturday it's a dry date, with some crisp winter sunshine. perhaps 6—7 across south—west england. to sum up the weekend, it's going to stay cold, there will be some sunshine, further wintry showers and perhaps we could see some rain later on sunday, perhaps some snow across scotland. guaido a very warm welcome to bbc news — broadcasting to our viewers
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in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: the deep freeze. cities in the american midwest grind to a halt as temperatures hit record lows. ‘substantial progress‘ claim american negotiators — but no agreement yet in the us—china trade war. we're going to have a great trade deal with china if it all works out. it will be great for both countries. venezuela's self—declared interim president says his family has been threatened by units loyal to his rival — president maduro. is this a disaster waiting to happen? we visit one of the 200 dams the brazilian government says are at risk of collapse.


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