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tv   Wednesday in Parliament  BBC News  July 22, 2021 2:30am-3:00am BST

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hello. this is bbc news. i am ben boulos with the headlines. flooding in china has caused millions of dollars in damage following the heaviest rain fall since records began. climate scientists say extreme weather events are becoming more likely and severe. america's most in your general has acknowledged the taliban have strategic momentum in afghanistan. they now control half the districts in the country. the general said the us withdrawal was now 95% complete but insisted a taliban takeover it was not a foregone conclusion. the sporting action continues in tokyo with a shock defeat for the us women's football team. ahead of friday's official olympic opening ceremony, former prime minister shinzo abe has decided not to attend the event due to the state of emergency.
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now on bbc news: wednesday in parliament. hello again, and welcome to wednesday in parliament, your indispensable guide to the day at westminster. as some covid rules are scrapped, the labour leader accuses the prime minister of spreading confusion. mr speaker, isn't it clear there's only three words, three words this prime minister needs to focus on — geta grip? he wants three—word slogans, mr speaker, i'll give him a three—word slogan. we are — our three—word slogan is "get a jab". also in this programme, the government pays france £54 million to stop migrants crossing the channel. this is an evolving situation.
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the numbers of migrants. attempting these crossings from france has - increased considerably. but first, boris johnson has defended the government's covid isolation rules from his own isolation at the prime minister's country residence, chequers. he's one of many people who've been pinged by the nhs app, forced to self—isolate after coming into contact with someone who has the virus — in his case, the health secretary, sajid javid. but with legal covid restrictions lifting in england, ministers have given conflicting advice about what to do when the app pings. and with a million children missing school last week, many of them self—isolating, at prime minister's questions, there was plenty of ammunition for the labour leader, sir keir starmer. i can't believe that the prime minister doesn't see the irony of him spending freedom day
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locked in isolation and...and... ..and announcing plans for a vaccine id card. i remember when he used to say he'd eat an id card if he ever had to produce one, but now he's introducing them. so, mr speaker, when it comes to creating confusion, the prime minister is a super—spreader. he wondered why anyone could go clubbing now in england, but from september, you'd need a vaccine id card to get in. everybody can see that we have to wait until the end of september, by which time it's only fair to the younger generation, when they will all have been offered two jabs, before we consider something like asking people to be double—jabbed before they go into a nightclub. that's blindingly obvious to everybody. it's common sense. earlier this week, dominic cummings, the prime minister's former adviser, revealed messages borisjohnson had sent him in autumn last year.
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keir starmer had seen the interview. we've all now seen the prime minister's text message. i quote, "the median age for covid fatalities is 82. that is above life expectancy." and we have the prime minister's conclusion in the same text. "so get covid and live longer." remind the prime minister, over 83,000 people aged 80 or over lost their lives to this virus, every one leaving behind a grieving family and loved ones. so, will the prime minister now apologise for using those words?
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there will of course be a public inquiry into what has happened, but i would just remind the right honourable gentleman when he goes back over the decision—making processes that we had in those very, very difficult and dark times that these are incredibly tough balancing decisions that you have to take. again, you have to balance the catastrophe of the disease against the suffering that is caused by lockdowns, the impacts on mental health, the loss of life chances for young people, mr speaker. keir starmer widened his line of attack. the trouble is, mr speaker, nobody believes a word the prime minister says any more. he promised he had a plan for social care, but he's ducked it for two years. he promised not to raise tax, now he's planning a jobs tax. he promised he wouldn't cut the army or the aid budget, he's cut both. and, mr speaker, he also promised that monday would be freedom day. he said 18 times from that despatch box that it'd be irreversible. but the truth is he's let a new variant into the country, he's let cases soar and he's left us... ..he's left us with the highest death toll in europe and one of the worst—hit economies of any major economy. last week, a million kids were off school, businesses are closing and millions will spend their summer self—isolating. but don't worry, mr speaker, the prime minister's got it
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all under control. because this morning we read he's got a new three—word slogan — keep life moving. you couldn't make it up. mr speaker, isn't it clear there's only three words, three words this prime minister needs to focus on — geta grip? mr speaker, let's look at the position now as it was at the end of last year. and as we come to the end of this parliamentary term, let's be absolutely clear that it is thanks to the vaccine roll—out, which by the way i never tire of repeating would've been impossible if we'd followed his advice, that 9 million people have now come off furlough, unemployment is 2 million lower than predicted, job vacancies, mr speaker, are 10% higher than they were before the pandemic began, business insolvencies are lower than before the pandemic began. he wants three—word slogans, mr speaker, i'll give him a three—word slogan. our three—word slogan is "get a jab", and get a jab, and by the way what we're also doing is helping people to get a job. we're turning jabs, jabs, jabs intojobs, jobs, jobs. and after those exchanges, it was announced that one of keir starmer�*s children had tested positive for coronavirus.
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the labour leader is now also self—isolating. the snp�*s westminster leader returned to the prime minister's words in text messages sent to dominic cummings. the reality is that the prime minister wrote| these words himself. the over—80s were expendable. a prime minister is charged with protecting society, - not putting folk at risk of an early death. - such a glib attitude towards human life is indefensible. i the prime minister is simply, simply not fit for office. - he said the only way to get at the truth was to bring forward the public inquiry into the pandemic that's due to begin next year. i don't think that right now, in the middle of a third wave, when we're seeing many of the key people involved in fighting the pandemic very, very heavily occupied, i don't think it's right to ask them to devote a lot of their time to a public inquiry of the kind that
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i think we would all want to see. borisjohnson. the government has said it needs "significant" changes to the agreement covering trade in northern ireland. the so—called northern ireland protocol helps prevent the need for checks on the border on the island of ireland. ministers are particularly concerned that chilled meats will not be able to move from great britain to northern ireland when a grace period expires at the end of september. during prime minister's questions, borisjohnson said he wanted to sort out issues with the protocol through practical steps. immediately afterwards, the northern ireland secretary was at the despatch box to outline those very steps. the difficulties we have in operating the northern ireland protocol are now the main obstacle to building a relationship with the eu that reflects our strong common interests and values.
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instead of that, we're seeing a relationship that is being punctuated with legal challenges and characterised by disagreement and mistrust. we do not want that pattern to be set, not least of all because it does not support stability in northern ireland. it is now the time to work to establish a new balance, which both the uk and eu can invest in, to provide a platform for peace and prosperity in northern ireland and allow us to set out on a new path of partnership with the eu. we have today set out an approach which we believe can do just that. we urge the eu to look at it with fresh eyes and work with us to seize this opportunity and put our relations on a better footing. today, businesses and communities needed reassurance. they needed to see the secretary of state announce to this house an agreement on a sustainable way forward that will fix the problems the prime minister created. instead, they have more political brinkmanship, more threats to tear up
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the protocol with nothing to take its place. communities are tired of these games from a government they have totally lost trust in. reaction among the northern ireland parties was mixed. the statement today- is a welcome and significant and important first step. to be clear, mr speaker, l tinkering around the edges simply doesn't work. and i trust that the eu - will approach new negotiations in good faith and recognise the need to enter into- new arrangements that remove the irish sea border. _ this statement, mr speaker, is the second attempt in one week that this government has made to distance itself from agreements that they have negotiated. why does he think that any other country or any person in northern ireland would trust anything that this government says from this day forward? the only legally sustainable way forward to achieve the necessary flexibilities and mitigations is through agreement with the european union, either within the protocol or building
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on the trade and cooperation agreement. so, does the secretary of state recognise that achieving that requires trust to be built and sustained, but all of the government's actions around the protocol this year have undermined that, including today the empty threats around article 16? article 16 of the protocol allows the suspension of the brexit deal. the government says it won't trigger that now, but all options are still on the table. brandon lewis laid the blame firmly at the door of brussels. it's the eu who have said they would at work at pace to resolve these issues seven months ago. it's the eu who sought to trigger article 16 that caused so many issues for the unionist community in northern ireland and who have not yet come to agreement on a range of issues that we need to resolve for the people of northern ireland. i think it is right therefore that we take this opportunity to outline a way we think to move forward in a positive
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way that can rebuild the relationship with the eu and fundamentally resolve the core issues and the detrimental effects to so many of his constituents and people across northern ireland. over in the lords, the brexit minister was telling peers much the same thing. lord frost batted away suggestions that it was unusual to renegotiate agreements, but one peer felt it was shaming. this is serious- business, my lords. our queen's name is on this treaty that we now - want to change. the minister correctly points to precedents for changes i to treaties, but i can't recall any precedent. for our condoning, still less ourselves proposing, - unilateral action if we don't get a negotiated change, . if the other side don't agree. we want new arrangements that are workable, coherent and long—lasting and will bring the stability that businesses and consumers in northern ireland urgently need. we believe the right thing is to work with the grain, use the concepts, but use them to make sure that the arrangements work in a significantly different fashion. another peer had an altogether more radical solution.
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wouldn't the best way- of resolving the trust problems to which he referred, the first step be for the minister- to resign for a gross failure of government policy- for which he is - personally responsible? lord frost responded that the agreement needed improving and there was nothing wrong with trying to improve it. you're watching wednesday in parliament with me, david cornock, but not for much longer. after this week, we'll no longer be producing a daily highlights programme. the good news is that if you're suffering withdrawal symptoms, you can still catch up via the bbc iplayer. the home secretary, priti patel, has defended a new deal in which the uk will pay france £54 million to stem the rising number of migrants crossing the english channel. the number of people crossing the channel this year has now passed the total for
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the whole of 2020. the latest deal follows a payment of £28 million to the french last november. mps on the home affairs committee were sceptical about this week's announcement. international maritime lawyers gave us evidence to say that the french authorities are entitled and within international maritime law to intercept boats in the water and returned the passengers to french territory or to allow border force to return the migrants to french territory if they're picked up in british territorial waters. yesterday, we had a french military naval vessel escorting one of the boats into british territorial waters and then trying to hand over the occupants to a boat full of journalists. this is ridiculous and it makes a mockery of it, so just giving the french more money to carry on doing what they're doing badly is not going to solve the problem. when are you going to get the french to admit they can intercept and get them to intercept? and that is the only thing that is going to cut off that supply of people coming to calais thinking they can get across the channel, when,
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in fact, they shouldn't be able to get across the channel if the french did what they're entitled to do under international law? rant over. isn't that correct? now, you've specifically spoken about tactics at sea. and i have absolutely discussed this directly with my french counterpart, and i've made it abundantly clear — and this isn't new news for the committee, i've raised this previously, and paul lincoln will want to come in on this as well — that we have absolutely been looking at what we can do at sea in terms of maritime tactics, all within the legal framework, absolutely within the legal framework of saving lives at sea and international maritime law. and the french are aware of that as well. they absolutely know exactly what their responsibilities are, and we... but they're ignoring it! do you accept that the french
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have the power under international maritime law to intercept boats in the water, in french territorial waters, and return them to french territory? absolutely. you do accept that? right, so what has your french counterpart told you when you said...? they absolutely recognise that, and they would argue that they are doing their bit, but what they will not do... and i think there is an important point to differentiate here. in terms of tactics at sea, that's different to actually pushing boats back or the saving life at sea. they have different applications. and paul has spent a lot of time and his team has spent a lot of time having those operational discussions with the french. they have a different interpretation of saving lives at sea and the way in which the solas principle actually applies. and as i have said, we are looking at all aspects in terms of pushback and how we can absolutely... ok, but home secretary, that is an excuse from the french. a labour mp also got frustrated with what he saw as a lack of answers.
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with respect, home secretary, you haven't answered my- questions and you have had the 11 years to do all of thatj as well, so how many additional people do you estimate - the home office will need i to accommodate as a result? you can't tell us what you're i doing with the people you can't deport, so they will have to be accommodated. i what assessment have you made of the numbers of people that. you will need to _ accommodate as a result? well, ithink, first of all, off the basis of the nationality and borders bill, the numbers will go down in terms of people to accommodate. and i think, actually, we should go back to the first principles around what this bill will do. this is a comprehensive reform — the first reform in decades, if i may say, and i haven't had 11 years to look at this... the government has. no, if i may, all my predecessors as well, they have worked vigorously, actually, through agreements, through charter flights, through deportations, much of which have been
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thwarted by last—minute appeals that i think all members of the committee are very familiar with, but also a lot of campaigning by parliamentarians as well that try to stop our removal flights and deportation flights, so we will continue, absolutely continue. but off the back of the reforms that we are looking to bring in, we want to create a deterrent. priti patel on the government's new borders bill, which is currently going through parliament. a top police officer will be put in charge of tackling violence against women and girls in england and wales. the creation of the role was recommended in a report after 33—year—old sarah everard was murdered in march. her death at the hands of a serving police officer sparked a public debate about women's safety. the new national policing lead comes amid concern about record low rape conviction rates and a culture of sexual harassment in schools. the publication of this
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new strategy marks an important moment in our mission to crack down on violence against women and girls, but we will not stop there. later this year, we also plan to publish three further documents — the domestic abuse strategy, a revised national statement of expectations covering all forms of violence against women and girls and a revised male victims position statement. these crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls are despicable. it is high time we sent a message — enough is enough. ending violence against women and girls is a crossparty issue. on all sides of this house, there is a profound concern and desire for an ambitious strategy that would deliver. mr speaker, the strategy today is not ambitious enough. there are things to welcome. a policing lead on violence against women is certainly one of them. but we already have one for domestic abuse, one
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for rape and sex offences, another for historic sexual abuse and one for child sex abuse. so why will this one succeed where others have struggled without the resources to properly tackle the issue? the housing secretary, robertjenrick, has said that mortgage lenders should no longer require safety information on external walls for properties in low and medium—rise blocks. in the wake of the grenfell towerfire in 2017, banks had been asking for so—called "cladding" forms and refusing mortgages if buildings failed safety assessments. robertjenrick said he hoped the change would lead to a "market correction". some mps doubted it would make a big difference to leaseholders and were irritated at how the announcement was made. today, i'll set out the key measures in the bill and update the house on the progress of our plan, including providing further detail on a written ministerial statement that i have just published representing a significant intervention by the government and lenders in response to expert advice
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on building safety in medium and low—rise blocks of flats and the use of ewsi forms that i commissioned earlier in the year. remarks which caused a flurry of activity. is it normal practice that moments before an important debate, with dozens of members down to speak, the minister lays a ministerial statement — which is not yet online, so none of us are able to see it, about a matter before us, therefore avoiding any scrutiny of such said ministerial statement? a conservative wasn't impressed either. all of the documents that l are relevant to this debate on second reading of this bill are on the table here, - except the written ministerial statement that the secretaryl of state has just referred to. for some of us that have beenj in the chamber for some hours now, i'm sorry, secretary of| state, that's not acceptable. would the secretary of state care to clarify this matter? i'd be delighted to, madam deputy speaker. a written ministerial statement
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will be laid shortly which is market—sensitive. and it's difficult to suggest that there's scrutiny because i'm here before the house to explain that statement in the context of the wider debate. about 20 minutes later, all was revealed. we cannot and should not presume systemic risk of fire in blocks of flats. i've quoted some of the statistics earlier, but let me repeat them. dwelling fires are at the lowest point they've been since we started to collect comparable statistics in 1981. this is despite the fact in 2020 that people spent significantly greater amounts of time in their homes, as a result of covid restrictions. on this basis, expert advice includes five significant recommendations to correct the disproportionate reaction that we've seen in some parts of the market. firstly, ewsi forms should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres. this market is shaped not only by government but by lenders,
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by rics, the fire and rescue service and by fire experts. all of us need to act to achieve a market correction and relieve the pressure upon homeowners. but labour said the cost of remedial work on buildings under 18 metres would still fall on leaseholders. this has now become a building safety crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people. young, first—time buyers have gone bankrupt, couples have put having children on hold, marriages have broken down, life savings and assets have gone, retirements ruined. the mental health and financial toll is incalculable. fundamentally, this bill betrays leaseholders, who will still face life—changing costs for problems they did not create and who are trapped in unsellable, uninsurable, unmortgageable old homes, notwithstanding some of his announcements today,
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which i fear will do little to resolve it. a conservative urged robertjenrick to get rid of previous building safety advice. leaseholders have done nothing wrong, but in january 2020, - the minister created - a market failure and we have a responsibility to clean it up. i i believe the written. ministerial statement the secretary of state has made today could repair some - of the damage he did, i but it will need to be put into legislation, as speakers have already suggested, - to provide real, practicalj support to leaseholders, not just rhetoric. this could be a huge victoryl for leaseholders in buildings under 18 metres today, but only if it means - the secretary of state - is withdrawing the january 2020 consolidated advice note for building owners - of multistory, multi—occupied residential buildings. - otherwise, it'sjust weasel words. - stephen mcpartland. and the bill now goes for more detailed scrutiny by mps. now, they do like an anniversary here at westminster. and 60 years ago this
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week, onjuly18, 1961, prime minister's questions began in the house of commons. on that day, the speaker at the time was sir harry hylton—foster, who was the last speaker to die in post. i hope not to reintroduce that! laughter he introduced pmqs by informing the house - that the prime minister harold macmillan "was willing to try this experiment for the remainder of the session, if that be the wish of the house." after 60 years, 12 prime ministers, pmqs has become one of the most high—profile events of the parliamentary week and is watched by constituents across the country and followers of uk politics around the world. i think we can say that the experiment has been a success! this week's was the first in which the prime minister took questions by videolink from chequers, his retreat in buckinghamshire. what could possibly go wrong? hang on a minute. is it this thing here?
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prime minister... people were trying to be quite rowdy, but i can hear you now. continue... can you hear me, mr speaker? mr speaker, can you hear me? i can hear you loud and clear, prime minister! do you want me to give that answer again? no, don't worry! just complete the end bit. borisjohnson at the last prime minister's questions before mps leave for their summer break, although he'll still be in isolation until next monday. that was wednesday in parliament. thank you for watching. i do hope you canjoin me at the same time tomorrow for the very last edition of the week in parliament. i'd hate you to miss it. until then, from me, david cornock, bye for now. we're still in the middle of this heatwave, or actually
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just past it. some thunderstorms on the way too in the coming days, which should break the heat. but it certainly has been hot in northern ireland. it was wednesday's hot spot in county tyrone — 31.3 degrees — a provisional record for northern ireland, only beating saturday's value byjust 0.1 degree. on the satellite picture, we can see some clouds to the west of our neighbourhood. that is a developing area of low pressure, and it will be nearing us over the next few days, pushing the high pressure away, and this is going to bring some slow—moving thunderstorms. we will talk about that in just a second. i still have to mention the met office warning of extreme heat for the south—west of the uk and for northern ireland lasting into friday, and this is to highlight also the high temperatures overnight, notjust by day. in fact, you can see how warm it is still through the middle of the night on thursday — it will have been around 18—20 celsius across some parts of the country. through the night,
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into the early hours of the morning, it is clear skies, may be a bit of cloud first thing across northern and eastern scotland, perhaps the north—east of england. that should mostly clear through the afternoon, but the temperatures will be skyrocketing, in fact hot enough for some local downpours and thunderstorms to develop across some central parts of the country. notice the wind is mostly an easterly, a very light easterly, so it's pushing the heat further towards the east, so that means the highest temperatures, again, on thursday could well be in northern ireland — we could well beat another record, that remains to be seen. possibly up to 32 but for most of us it will be in the mid to high 20s. here's friday, still a very warm day. wouldn't necessarily class it as a very hot day, but warm enough. temperatures into the mid—or high 20s. notice some blue, some rain here, some thunderstorms brewing just to the south—west of us. this is an area of low pressure that will drag in fresher atlantic air, and push the hot
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air towards more eastern parts of europe. these could be very slow—moving thunderstorms, and slow moving thunderstorms can bring an awful lot of rainfall in a short space of time, and that's to come this weekend — saturday and sunday — especially across the southern half of the uk. something to bear in mind.
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hello. this is bbc news. i am ben boulos with the headlines. flooding in china kills at least 25 people in henan province. commuters have had to force their way out of the subway train. translation: we broke half a windows so air could get i in otherwise we would have choked. america's senior general acknowledges the taliban now controls half the districts in afghanistan as us forces prepared to complete their withdrawal. a shock defeat for the us women's football team as action starts in tokyo ahead of the official

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