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tv   Wednesday in Parliament  BBC News  March 25, 2021 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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india has suspended all major exports of the astrazeneca covid vaccine, because of a surge in the number of infections. the foreign ministry said rising cases mean domestic demand was expected to pick up in the coming weeks, so the doses were needed for india's own rollout. in brazil, the number of deaths from covid—19 has now passed 300,000 with oxygen running low in some of the country's busiest hospitals. brazil is the second worst affected country in the world after the united states, and has recorded more than 12 million cases of the virus. virginia has become the first southern us state, and the 23rd overall, to abolish the death penalty. signing the bill into law, the democratic governor ralph northam said capital punishment had been applied disproportionately to black people, and a flawed legal system had too often led to mistakes.
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now on bbc news, wednesday in parliament. hello and welcome to wednesday in parliament, where borisjohnson warns there could be tougher covid restrictions on people crossing the channel from france. we will take a decision, no matter how tough to interrupt that trade and to interrupt those flows, if we think it is necessary to protect public health and to stop new variants coming in. priti patel sets out new rules for dealing with asylum seekers she says the system will be firm but fair. 0pposition mps reckon it's an outrage. the home secretary should be ashamed to make this statement today, mr speaker. there is nothing pretty about this. it is ugly dog—whistle politics. and the labour leader
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challenges the prime minister over army cuts. lord richards, former chief of defence staff, has warned that with an armed force of this size now, we almost certainly would not be able to retake the falklands. the prime minister has told mps that the uk may need to take tougher action on travel from france, to prevent an influx of new coronavirus variants. but he expressed concern about the possible knock on effects on uk food and medicine supplies. some countries in the eu are facing a further wave of coronavirus, with high levels of new variants. while most people coming to the uk from france now have to quarantine at home, hauliers are exempt. when borisjohnson faced questioning from the liaison committee of senior mps, labour's yvette cooper said france now had 2000 to 3000 new cases each day of the south african and brazilian variants, against which vaccines may be less effective. you said just this week
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previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits ourfriends in europe, i'm afraid it washes up on our shores here as well but that is because we had no border restrictions in place. shouldn't that previous experience have taught us that what we need is an effective border arrangements to stop... all right, thank you, yvette... you have been advised that you need to bring in restrictions and testing... no, that isn't actually true but thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify that, yvette. there is a balance to be struck. and what we don't know is the efficacy of the vaccines against the new variants, and we have to balance that against the very serious disruption that is entailed by curtailing our cross—channel trade, this country depends very largely for the food in our shops, the medicines that we need
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on that trade flowing smoothly. now we will take a decision no matter how tough to interrupt that trade, to interrupt those flows, if we think that it is necessary to protect public health and to stop new variants coming in. and it may be that we have to do that very soon. 0n yvette's logic, you would put the whole of the world into a red list and stop movement flowing freely of any kind for a very long time. what we need to see... prime minister, new zealand and australia... crosstalk. we need to see a clear understanding that make a clearer understanding of the rules. thank you, yvette. prime minister, i have you finished? we will go into data now. those countries don't depend on other countries for 75% of their medicines and 50% of their foods. do you believe that covid vaccine certification for domestic use is compatible with a free society such as ours? i do think that the basic
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concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us because after all, when you have... when you are entrusted with the care of a patient and say you are a surgeon you're expected to have a vaccination against hepatitis b, the principle is there, this is a particularly contagious disease, it can be very nasty indeed, we have seen what happened in care homes as we were discussing earlier. it doesn't seem to me to be irresponsible at all. far from it, wholly responsible, for care home companies to think of requiring vaccination. you meant surgeons in the care sector, it is very different to the ordinary citizen going to the pub.
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so do you recognise that for covid vaccination certification? i think that is the kind of thing that may be up to an individual publican. it always seems to be the case now that going abroad - on holiday is a dirty word, which is absolute tragedyl given you yourself are i a great internationalist and that we always ruled the waves in terms of. our exploring abroad. how do we get this market i opened up again and how do we also get people to look beyond these shores? - do not underestimate the natural wanderlust and spirit of inquiry and general dynamism of the british people, it has served us for hundreds and hundreds of years, and as soon as people feel it is safe, you will see a miraculous change in the mood and in what happens. that's what this is all about. borisjohnson. the home secretary has announced an overhaul of the way asylum seekers are dealt with.
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for the first time, people seeking protection as refugees would have their claim assessed based on how they arrive in the uk. under the plans, people who arrive by illegal means will no longer have the same entitlements as those who get here through proper routes. last year, more than 8,000 people crossed the english channel in small boats, with the help of people smugglers. 0pposition mps attacked the plans, but priti patel said they were fair but firm. for the first time, if the people enter the uk legally or illegally, will have an impact on how their asylum claim progresses and on their status in the uk if that claim is successful. we will deem their claim as inadmissible and make every effort to remove those who have travelled illegally to the uk if they first passed through a safe country in which they could and should have claimed asylum. we will build on plans to take back control of our borders, build a system that upholds our
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reputation as a country where criminality is not rewarded but which is a haven for those in need. there are no quick fixes or shortcuts to success, but this long—time plan pursued doggedly will fix our broken system. the government policy is defined by a lack of compassion and a lack of competence. i am afraid the plans outlined by the government today look like they are going to continue exactly the same vein. no wonder the plans outlined have been described as "inhumane" by the british red cross — the plans risk baking into the uk system the callousness of this government's approach. are we or are we not - still signatories to the un refugee convention? is the home secretary aware of article 31 which prohibits i the penalising someone - for the way in which they reach a country or for that matteri arriving so—called illegally? the home secretary should be ashamed to make this-
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statement today, mr speaker. there is nothing. pretty about this. | it is ugly dog—whistle politics| and i can tell her that the snp wants no part in it. when the government doesn't secure a safe passage for people seeking asylum to come to the uk, criminal gangs will exploit them. so what the home secretary update the house on what steps she is taking to ensure that her policy is notjust about building higher walls for people to climb over but opening safer doors for people to walk through? mr speaker, i suggest the honourable lady reads the new plan for immigration because it's spelled out in there. there are no details of how the new uk resettlement scheme will work. so could the home secretary tell us how many people it will take, explain how it will operate, and outline for example, the process available to a refugee from what is currently the world's worst conflict in yemen? mr speaker, i won't take any lectures from the gentleman opposite about resettlement schemes at all when this government has successfully resettled 25,000 people —
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he shakes his head, but it is true. conservative mps were very supportive. never before have we had a home secretary who has shown such determination to finally get a grip of our failed and broken asylum system, and she deserves immense credit for this statement today. 0ne senior tory didn't think priti patel had gone far enough. our present asylum system is a complete joke. every young man living in misery in a failed state knows that if he managed to reach our shores, the chances of him being deported are virtually zero. and there is no point in introducing more and more penalties, more and more laws unless we are prepared to deport people. priti patel said the government had to be firm in removing those who should not be here. you're watching wednesday in parliament, with me, alicia mccarthy. earlier this week,
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the government announced details of its overhaul of the uk's armed forces. the size of the army is to be cut by around 4,000 to 72,500 soldiers by 2025, and there's to be a move towards drones and cyber warfare. sir keir starmer said borisjohnson had made promises about the size of the armed services. he said before the last election, we will not be cutting our armed services in any form. what did he do this week? he cut the british army by10,000, he cut the number of tanks, he cut the number of planes for our raf and he cut the number of ships for the royal navy. i say he, the prime minister did not have the courage to come to the house himself to say what he was doing. so let me ask the prime minister a simple question. going back to that promise before the election, did he ever intended to keep his promise
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to our armed forces? not only did we keep our promise in the manifesto, we actually increased spending by 14% more than the manifesto commitments, and again i think it's frankly satirical to be lectured about the size of the army when the shadow foreign secretary herself recently wrote that the entire british army should be turned into a kind of peace corps. and as i say, the leader of the opposition stood on the manifesto, or wanted to elect a leader who himself wanted to disband the armed services. this is a massive investment in our defences and in our future, and it's wonderful to hear that the new spirit ofjingo that seems to have enveloped the labour benches,
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they don't like it up �*em. he raised further past comments by the prime minister — and he had another quote. lord richards former chief of defence staff has warned that with an armed force of this size now we almost certainly would not be able to retake the falklands or stop genocides, he says it's rubbish, that's lord richards. after ten years of conservative government, is the prime minister not ashamed of that? mr speaker, this conservative government is massively proud of the investment we have made in our armed forces, which has the biggest uplift since the cold war. and he shall look at with the nato secretary—general had to say about our investment which is vital for the future success of the alliance and indeed for the security of many other countries around the world. he promised the nhs
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that they would have, quote, whatever they need. now nurses are getting a pay cut. he promised a tax guarantee and now he's putting taxes up for families. he promised he would not cut the armed forces, now he's done just that. so if the prime minister is so proud of what he's doing, so determined to push ahead, why doesn't he at least have the courage to put this cut in the armed forces to a vote in this house? mr speaker, i'm proud of what we are doing to increase spending on the armed forces by the biggest amount since the cold war. the only reason we can do that is because under this conservative government we've been running a sound economy. it is because we believe in defence, we've been getting out thejob. he talks about nurses and investment in the nhs, i'm proud the massive investment that we've made in the nhs and actually we have 60,000 more nurses now in training. an snp mp moved on to more possible cuts. we learned today unfortunately from the media rather-
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than the minister- that the treasury has informed the veteran office that the budget to become| by 40% from 5 million to 3 million. - this cannot be right, - as just yesterday the snp scottish government's veterans minister announced a further i £1 million to support - scottish veterans alone. these disparate positions are irreconcilable, this. is a tale of two governments. so will the prime minister follow the snp public - lead and assure us today- that he will not allow this cut to uk funding for veterans? not only was it the first government to create a veterans minister with the charge of looking after veterans, not only have we invested in them, but we've also taken steps to protect our armed service veterans from vexatious litigation pursued by lefty lawyers, the kind sitting not a million miles away from me today. who pursue them long after they have served their queen and country, and when no new evidence
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has been provided. borisjohnson. it was the last session of first minister's questions before the holyrood elections in may. the session came just a day after nicola sturgeon saw off a no—confidence vote in her put forward by the tories over her handling of the alex salmond affair. it was also the last appearance of ruth davidson as scottish conservative leader. she's stepping down as an msp. she used her final questions to focus on an audit scotland report on the attainment gap between the most and least deprived school pupils. nicola sturgeon tackled her head on. ms davidson could've chosen to ask about education in any one of the previous weeks. she indulged in smears and focusing
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instead of what the people want, i'm extra pleased that ruth davidson is back on the issue of education and attainment and of course what is her last fmqs when she goes to the unelected house of lords. ajibe she repeated in the session, provoking a rare intervention from the presiding officer. i always let some latitude but first minister, twice mentioned the house of lords. i think the point has been made, it's a political issue and i get it, i do understand it. however the point has been made and rather it wasn't so personal. ms davidson. gallant but not required, presiding officer. - nicola sturgeon called - closing the attainment gap, and i quote, her sacred responsibility. - and the report is clear. that the attainment gap that was meant to close is just as wide as ever. _ and who is to blame on this vital issue? i can't be the party it's been. in full control over education
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system for the past 14 years, | no, when confronted by more than a decade of failing| scotland, we heard this government's only. solution on monday. another independence i referendum bill because that's all they've got. so with my last questionj in this chamber to nicola sturgeon, let me ask you this, . how many times will she demand another independence referendum before she finally gets around - to closing the education gap? there is evidence that almost all of the short and medium—term outcomes have been achieved, there's been demonstrable progress on several of the long—term measures to close the attainment gap. as to independence... there will be another independence referendum if the people of scotland vote for another independence referendum. it is, presiding officer, called democracy. which i know it's a principle that ruth davidson perhaps doesn't recognise these days as much as she might have done one day. at this rate of progress, it will take 35 years to have
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equity in education. 35 years. meanwhile, yet more generations with thousands of young people will be left behind. 5,000 teachers on casual contracts, maths and science at record low in international tables and 0ecd reports hidden from the voters on purpose. even the government website admits to... website admits performance is worsening. nicola sturgeon quoted the international council of education advisers. scottish education exhibits many strengths, values equity as well as excellence, has excellent standing internationally, it has effort and resources to narrow attainment gaps working with strengthening the teaching profession, so that's the foundation we have and if we are reelected we will work every day in the next parliament
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to build on that foundation. the greens called for the £10—a—week scottish child payment, targeted at youngsters under the age of six in qualifying families, to be expanded. will the first ministerjoin the greens and commit to increasing the scottish child payment at the earliest opportunity? there's more to be done on all of these areas, particularly in light of coronavirus but one of the things that makes that decision and debate about the future of scotland so important in the next parliament is that we should not have to face up to these challenges with one hand tied behind our back. the scottish labour leader focused on a review into the cases of 84 children who developed infections while undergoing treatment at glasgow's children's hospital. anas sarwar asked if the first minister backed the calls from the family of millie main for a fatal accident inquiry into her death. they demanded an inquiry. they understand the delays due to covid but it is unfair to prolong their grief.
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i know the first minister cannot direct the lord advocate, but given the findings in this report, does she agree there must now be that fatal accident inquiry? nicola sturgeon told him that was the decision for the crown office but added she understood and sympathised with the view of millie's family that there should be a fatal accident inquiry. the metropolitan police has faced further criticism over its handling of a vigil in south london for sarah everard. the organiser said the force was "obstructive" during discussions ahead of the vigil. the event was deemed illegal under covid restrictions but went ahead regardless, and culminated in disturbances during which officers were seen restraining women. she told mps that when the vigil was being planned she had constructive conversations with local officers, but things changed when senior staff got involved. when we had new scotland yard officers the tone changed. we found them to be
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very obstructive. we think that, it came across that they were disregarding local leadership and they insisted on, it's a small thing, but the local police were talking about a vigil. everything we wrote was about a vigil and they referred to it as a vigil after the scotland yard officers talked about us as protest organisers. that said a lot about their understanding of the strength of feeling and grief that we were feeling in the local area. the local mp attended the vigil twice — the second visit came after the disturbances. i took the opportunity to go and speak to the officer in charge for his perspective for what happened. are you able to share - what he said to you and were you able to speak- other folk taking part as to what their version of events was? - what the officer explained
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to me is that everything was fine initially but then there was, he said that people got up onto the bandstand and began making political speeches. left—wing political speeches he said, and at that moment that's when the police had to come in and stop people from making speeches, because we are not allowed to protest, and that's signified that was a protest. she said it was "concerning" that the police could, as she put it, "police the politics". my belief was that the role of the police there was to keep people safe. and the idea that different views were not keeping people safe makes no sense, especially when in the past few weeks and months, we've seen the police actually policing events for people who believe covid is a hoax, anti—maskers and anti—vaxxers, that's something which i personally feel is dangerous but those individuals have exercised their right to protest
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in the right to gather in that way, and even of the politics of the situation or something was done of us here would probably agree with the police have acted accordingly in facilitating their right to gather and share their views. the committee also heard about the policing operation at a peaceful vigil in nottingham. we were focused on the safety, and in all things we must ensure that we act proportionally, first and foremost obviously context is important, isn't it? so the position here was radically different than that the police were facing. i've only seen the footage on the tv and read about it in a newspaper. so we did not have that situation but we did not have those people, our intelligence feed was very much that it was it was a local vigil, the numbers would be relatively low. there was no keen interest from other organisations that would perhaps seek to undermine what the greater good was trying to achieve by registering the sympathy and empathy for the situation
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in lighting a candle, and i think that was statistically different than the scenes i saw which were quite deplorable around some of the violence towards police officers on that evening. chief constable craig guildford. a conservative former chancellor, lord lamont has warned that linking the fate of nazanin zaghari ratcliffe with a historical debt to iran is "beyond the pale". the dual british iranian national completed a five year sentence earlier this month on spying charges but is now awaiting the outcome of a second court case. some peers have suggested repaying the debt to pave the way for her release. would the minister agree that even if iran has a justified sense of grievance over the unpaid money, the 400 million that was referred to by lord dobbs, it's beyond the pale for a civilised country to try to make a link between the fate of ratcliffe and a financial argument. does the minister remember that
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when president rouhani first took office, in his first speech he said he wanted to the world the rational face of iran and the compassionate face of islam. isn't it time now at the beginning of the iranian new year for those qualities to be made a reality? the noble lord makes an extremely powerful point, compassion is certainly not a word that can be used to describe the manner in which this british subject has been treated. the uk does not and never will accept our dual nationals being used as diplomatic leverage. under any circumstance. lord goldsmith. and that's it for wednesday in parliament butjoin me next time for our round up of the week at westminster and beyond. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye. hello there.
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the weather's looking pretty unsettled over the next few days and it's going to be turning a bit colder as well. before we get there, though, today on the satellite picture, we can see some thick cloud developing to the west of the british isles. and this is going move its way across northern ireland, with a little rain developing over the next few hours. more general rain and cloud heading into western scotland, so wet weather into the highlands, the western isles and perhaps pushing into 0rkney as well, as we head into the first part of thursday morning. so for these northwestern areas of the uk, cloudy with rain at times. now, there will be a few showers elsewhere developing through the day across england, also some spells of sunshine, but towards eastern england, we're going to have a zone of convergence. this is where the winds bash together and make a line of showers. and if you happen to live in this area, that's where the greatest chance of showers are, whereas across the midlands and across the south coast, your chance of showers is much lower and there should be more in the way of sunshine. in the sunshine, temperatures
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widely around 13 or 14 degrees across england and wales. a bit cooler across scotland and northern ireland, ten to 12 celsius, ten where it stays cloudy with rain. now, it is going to be turning colder. colder air that's just to the west of greenland at the moment has our name on it, and it's going to be arriving across the british isles as we head into friday behind this stripe of rain, which is our cold front. so, this band of rain, squally winds on it, will push its way eastwards across england — sunshine and showers follow. cold enough for a little bit of snow across some of the higher mountains across the northwest of the uk, and those temperatures really taking a plunge. just seven degrees celsius in both belfast and glasgow through friday afternoon. beyond that, into the weekend, it stays pretty unsettled. often, the weather's going to be quite windy and there will be some rain around as well. of the two days, probably saturday the better of it, but quite cloudy across western areas with some patches of rain, more general rain spreading to northern ireland. and all the while, we'll have gusty winds. temperatures still below par for the time of year, about nine to 12 celsius
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on saturday. and on sunday, we've probably got some heavier rain on the way, working into some central portions of the uk. to the south of this area of rain, temperatures not so low. we're looking at highs of around 12 or 13 degrees. but cold still in scotland, about 8—10, below average for the time of year.
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this is bbc news — my name's mike embley — our top stories. india suspends all major exports of the astrazeneca vaccine following a domestic surge in coronavirus infections. with brazil struggling to contain the rapid spread of covid—i9, the number of deaths has surpassed 300,000. virginia becomes the first southern us state to sign away the death penalty. democrats say there has been rising opposition to the practice. even just a few years ago, signing this into law would be unthinkable but it is the by—product of a tonne of hard work, and a lot of passion by advocates across the state, and lawmakers, and i think a change in the climate here in virginia and across the country. egypt is due to restart efforts to free a giant container ship that's been wedged across the suez canal for almost 48 hours.
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and the tokyo olympic torch relay gets under way injapan.

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