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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  May 23, 2021 5:30am-6:01am BST

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thousands of congolese have fled into rwanda after the volcano mount nyiragongo erupted, threatening the city of goma. residents say there's a strong smell of sulphur as flames leap from the mountain. lava has reached goma's airport, but there are no reports of casualties so far. a picture's been posted on social media that appears to show princess latifa for the first time since the daughter of the ruler of dubai said she was being held hostage by herfather. the photo shows the missing princess apparently sitting with two friends in a mall in dubai. the former bbc journalist who is at the centre of a scandal about an interview with the princess of wales has rejected suggestions his actions were ultimately responsible for her death.
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now on bbc news, the week in parliament. hello again, and welcome to the week in parliament. going anywhere nice for your holidays this year? a health minister has some travel tips. travelling is dangerous, and that is why we tell people, "don't travel." also in this programme: angry exchanges as labour accuse borisjohnson of breaking the rules. time and again, ministers act like the rules are for other people — none more so than the prime minister himself. a charge rejected by ministers. it is based not on fact, but on speculation, . innuendo and smear. and social care reform mps are warned it's not only needed
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for older people. you can fall down the stairs tomorrow and have a serious brain injury at 30 and need lots of care. all that to come, and more. but first, the battle against covid. the health secretary portrays it as a race between the virus and the vaccine. and, with the spread of what's known as the indian variant, it's not always been clear who's winning. the lifting of some covid restrictions in england, wales, and most of scotland prompted celebrations. but the introduction of a traffic light system for foreign travel led to growing confusion. and the return of indoor pubs and hugging saw matt hancock strike a cautious tone. we must be humble in the face of this virus. we've all learned over the past year that in a pandemic, we must look notjust at where we are today, but where the evidence shows we may be in weeks and months down the track. the spread of the indian variant in bolton prompted alarm and appeals for people to get vaccinated. to anyone who feels hesitant
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about getting the vaccine right across the country, just look at what's happening in bolton hospital, where the majority of people in hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but have chosen not yet to have the jab and have ended up in hospital, some of them in intensive care. that led to allegations of a blame game. labour focused on the source of the latest variant. our borders have been about as secure as a sieve. the delay in adding india to the red list surely now stands as a catastrophic misstep. covid cases in india began i to soar at the start of april, so why were pakistan _ and bangladesh added to the red list at that time but not india? i was it because of the prime . minister's planned trade visit? the new traffic lights system rated countries like france and spain as "amber" requiring people to quarantine on their return. there were calls for clarity.
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should my constituents or all of our constituents go on holiday to countries on that amber list, even when it is no longer illegal? mr speaker, the answer is no. the official government advice is very clear, that people should not travel to amber or red list countries or territories. people should not travel to amber list countries for a holiday. a day later, in the lords, another health minister appeared to widen that advice. travelling is dangerous. and that is why we tell people, "don't travel." and that is why when people do travel, we tell them to isolate. travelling is dangerous. we do ask people, particularly as we go into the summer, travelling is not for this year. please stay in this country.
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but not every minister appeared to have got the same memo. at prime minister's questions, the labour leader, sir keir starmer, highlighted the confusion. yesterday morning, the environment secretary said people could fly to amber list countries if they wanted to visit family or friends. by the afternoon, a government health minister said "nobody should travel outside britain this year, and travelling is dangerous." the prime minister said that travel to amber countries should only be where it's essential. by the evening, the welsh secretary suggested some people might think a holiday is essential. the government's lost control of the messaging, so can the prime minister answer a really simple question that goes to the heart of this? if he doesn't want people to travel to amber list countries, if that's his position — he doesn't want them to travel to amber list countries — why has he made it easier for them to do so? we're trying to move away from endlessly legislating
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for everything and to rely on guidance and asking people to do the right thing. and it is very, very clear, mr speaker, you should not be going to an amber list country except for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member. you should not be going to an amber list country on holiday, mr speaker. i can imagine he wants to take a holiday, but you should not be going to an amber list country on holiday, mr speaker. and if you do go to an amber list country, then as i say, we will enforce the 10—day quarantine period, and if you break the rules, you face very substantial fines. the messaging is confused and contradictory, and as a result, prime minister, this week, many people are now travelling to amber list countries, but the government can't say how many or when. mr speaker, we're an island nation. we have the power to stop this.
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why doesn't the prime minister drop this hopeless system, get control of our borders and introduce a proper system that can protect against the threat of future variants of the virus? when you look at the labour position on borders, it's hopelessly confused. last night, i think the shadow home secretary said that they wanted to cut this country off from the rest of the world, mr speaker — pause all travel, pause all travel, even though 75% of our medicines and 50% of our food actually come from abroad, mr speaker. borisjohnson. when it came to summer holidays, the labour first minister of wales was on the same page as lord bethell. we will follow the same red, amber, green traffic light system in use in england and scotland, but with some extra safeguards to do all we can to prevent coronavirus from being reimported into wales from overseas. and because something is allowed, it certainly doesn't mean it's compulsory,
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and it doesn't even necessarily mean that it is advisable. i repeat the view of the welsh government, that this is the year to holiday at home and to enjoy everything that wales has to offer. although flights to the sun are still available from the welsh government—owned cardiff airport. but in wales, too, there is concern about the growing number of confirmed cases of the indian variant. is there a risk that further easing of restrictions without continuing or non—pharmaceutical interventions could actually lead to higher hospitalisations and even higher deaths? we are watching very carefully at what is happening in bolton in particular, and the system is already talking and - preparing, should we find . ourselves with more people needing hospital carel because of the impact of the indian variant.
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at stormont, northern ireland's first minister gave a relatively upbeat assessment ahead of the lifting of covid restrictions to allow travel to the rest of the uk and ireland. i am pleased to say that we continue to to make good progress in our pathways out of restriction. at the executive meeting on the 13th of may we made decisions on the further reopening of the economy and society as part of our formal review of the pathway. we had good news for those with marriage and civil partnerships planned, the hospitality sector and for those looking forward to visiting with their friends and families in private homes. and for those needing a hug. given the disproportionate impact on the pandemic is most vulnerable in society, does the minister agree that the recovery strategy should focus on addressing social inequalities as we emerge from the pandemic? i thank the member for her
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question, and as she is probably aware the task force is looking at economic recovery but also looking at societal recovery. and we've always said that if we can do things better after the covid—i9 pandemic then we should take the opportunity to do that. arlene foster, the outgoing first minister. ministers at westminster have been warned that a proposed trade deal with australia could put british farmers out of business, even if it means cheaper prices for shoppers. there are fears that huge australian cow and sheep farms could undercut uk rivals if tariffs on imports are scrapped. a farming union has warned of "irreversible damage" from a bad deal and there's talk of a cabinet split. at prime minister's questions, the snp's westminster leader was on the case. as a member of scotland's crofting community, i understand just how disastrous a brexit trade deal with australia, as proposed by this tory government, will be for scotland's farm and crofting sectors.
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if reports of this tory deal are true, farmers will lose their livelihoods. rural businesses will collapse and ultimately, families will be driven off the land. and let's be very clear, if that happens, this uk tory government will be solely responsible. so, just for once, prime minister, give a straight answer to these farming and crofting families who are living with this threat. can the prime minister categorically rule out that his government is prepared to sign up to a trade deal that will at any future point guarantee tariff—free access to australian lamb and beef, yes or no? prime minister. mr speaker, i know that the right honourable member — i'm delighted to see the shots of his croft, by the way — the humble representative of the crofting community. may i say that i don't think he does justice to crofters, to farmers across the country, and across scotland as well, mr speaker, because i think
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he grossly underestimates their ability to do great things with our free trade deals, to export scottish beef around the world, mr speaker. hear, hear! why doesn't he believe in what the people of scotland can do, mrspeaker?! why is he so frightened of free—trade? i think it's a massive opportunity for scotland and for the whole of the uk, and he should seize it and be proud of it. hear, hear! in 2019, before visiting wales, the prime minister said, "i will always back britain's great farmers." now it looks as if he's backing australia's farmers instead. so, will he today keep to his word? will he back welsh farmers and permanently rule out tariff free access for australian lamb and beef imports? mr speaker, i will back britain's farmers and welsh farmers in exporting their fantastic lamb around the world. mr speaker, is it not a disgrace that not a single morsel of welsh lamb has so passed the lips of americans in the last 20 years, or more, mr speaker? what about china, mr speaker?
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has he no ambition for the people of this country or for the people of wales, or for welsh farmers? ido! this government does, mr speaker! that's why we're getting on with our agenda. the negotiations on the trade deal with australia are being led by the international trade secretary, liz truss, who was grilled by a committee of mps. as traffic lights are the main chatter of the time, - if you were to use a traffic- light metaphor, which colour do you think best represents the cabinet's view in - proceeding with the - uk—australia trade deal, especially the effects as can be felt on the agricultural. sector? this deal, which we are working on with australia — we're currently in a sprint with a view to getting to agreement in principle by earlyjune — will have benefits for all nations and regions of the united kingdom and all industries, including the agricultural industry. do you think the nfu agrees with you? - well, i have had discussions with the national farmers' union.
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i've been very clear with them that, of course, i'm always looking to make sure — as i have committed to — that british farmers will not be undercut by unfair practices from elsewhere, and we will make sure in all the deals we do, that british farming thrives. and i'm absolutely confident that will be achieved through the australia deal. liz truss. the transport secretary has unveiled what he says is the biggest shake—up in britain's railways for three decades. passengers are being offered flexible season tickets, which will offer savings on certain routes for people who don't travel to work every day. grant shapps told mps a new state—owned body would replace an "overcomplicated and fragmented" system. mr speaker, the new public body, great british railways, will own the infrastructure, run and plan the network, organise the timetable and set most fares. one organisation accountable to ministers to get trains running on time, to make
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the customer experience as hassle—free as possible, and to bring the railway into the 21st century — a single, familiar brand with united, accountable leadership. although great british railways would manage the network, grant shapps said it would not be re—nationalisation. labour were disappointed. mr speaker, while i welcome steps to increase public ownership and control of the railways, as you would expect, it doesn't go far enough in this current plan. i believe there is ample proof that demonstrates that full public ownership, rather than a concession model, would better serve the state, the public and long—term investment and i fear the government have really not understood the scale of the challenge in front of them. and in doing so, while we may well see a change of name on the side, fundamentally, it will be the passengers who are still left short—changed. there is very little - specifically about scotland. and given the functions - of network rail have not been devolved, can he tell us how
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the operational relationshipl between the scotrail alliance and transport scotland greatl british railways will work? the extension of ministerial. control over gbr/network rail means this is likely to become far more complicated. - look, i know that he approaches the subject with tremendous dogma, as if our railway lines don't interconnect, but they do. or as if the only way through this is, in the case of scotrail, to nationalise it. and we just take a much more open view about the best way to run the railway. grant shapps. now, the question of how we care for people with dementia and who pays for that care? john o'doherty used to be a senior financial officer for a local authority. five years ago, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. over a crackly line, he told mps how, as his condition got worse, he was unable to handle even small amounts of money.
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it got to the stage where i changed from the person to go to to a person to avoid. mps on the health and social care committee also heard from a carer about the challenges he faced getting funding for his mother's nursing care. after delays and errors, a panel of health and council officials decided that she didn't qualify. the way in which they handled that was appalling, they wouldn't tell me the reasons for that, they didn't even tell me there was that panel so when i appealed, because i thought it was an admin mistake, it transpires it wasn't. and just an utter catalogue of errors. so we were back in the same position of, you know, my mum's hard—won savings being used to fund her care. life progresses, her illness progressed. i didn't want to have to go through that process of arguing with this awful bureaucracy — and as i said, i was a senior civil servant, i understand bureaucracies. but this was kafka—esque, is the only way i can describe it. his appeal against the decision was rejected.
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no support was provided whatsoever for mum. i had no choice but to sell her home to make sure that we could continue to pay those fees. and, less than six — i think it was about 3—4 months after that appeal — actually, no, forgive me — two months before they rejected the appeal, so injanuary, mum died. listening to that powerful testimony were organisations that help individuals living with dementia. the stories told byjonathan and john are so powerful, and something that we hear outside of society day in and day out. and absolutely heartbreaking, particularly through this pandemic. it's been the toughest year for people affected by dementia. you know, there are issues and things that we can tackle around prevention and risk reduction because we know that through the lancet commission work, 40% of dementia in the future could be reduced in terms of the risk by taking
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steps, particularly in midlife, but the most important and the most urgent and pressing need is for social care reform because we know whilst at the moment the diseases that cause dementia are not curable yet, we know that there are things that can be done by the government to really ensure that the stories that we're hearing from jonathan and john are not everyday occurrences. but where would the money for social care reform come from? we're all going to have to pay more if we're going to have a decent social care system, and i think that's ok. i think it's something for everybody. this is often just viewed as an older people's issue, but it's not. obviously, there are younger people with disabilities. you can fall down the stairs tomorrow and have a serious brain injury at 30 and need long—term care. so this is something that we should have in our society, and we all need to pay. caroline abrahams. time now for a round—up of some other news in brief from around westminster. the independent inquiry into the post office computer scandal, led by sir wyn williams, will be given more powers, enabling it to compel witnesses to testify. last month, a ruling at the court of appeal
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exonerated 39 of the hundreds of sub—postmasters and sub—postmistresses prosecuted by the post office for stealing money — cases based on faulty it evidence. some even went to prison. the landmark court of appeal judgement changed the context for the inquiry. following it, the government did not hesitate to act to give the inquiry more teeth and to equip sir wyn with more powers. to affected postmasters and their families, madame deputy speaker, my message is this — we are listening, and we will get to the bottom of this appalling affair. but less than a month ago, in this chamber, four days after the court of appeals appealed the decision, the minister rejected calls for a statutory inquiry on the grounds that it would take three, four or five years. so can he tell us what actually has happened in this period to change his mind? paul scully didn't answer that point, but said the inquiry would report in autumn next year.
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labour has called on the government to set a deadline ofjune 2022 to ensure buildings in england with dangerous cladding are made safe. nextjune will be the fifth anniversary of the grenfell towerfire, in which 72 people died. ministers are under pressure to protect leaseholders in the forthcoming building safety bill. but we're not giving up, and there's a growing number of members in this house, including on the government benches, who are determined to do right by our constituents because they've run out of patience and they're running out of time. as their lives remain on hold, their flats remain worthless, they face monthly bills for waking watches and insurance premiums, and the demands are starting to arrive for sums of money that they simply do not have. as members are aware, leaseholders in high—rise, high—risk buildings over 18 metres will pay nothing, with their costs either being paid by the developers, the insurers, the warranty providers or by the taxpayer
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through our £5 billion government fund — the largest—ever government investment in building safety. the prime minister has publicly apologised to the families of the ten people killed in ballymurphy in 1971. earlier this month, an inquest found that the victims, who were shot during an army operation in belfast, were "entirely innocent". borisjohnson had written to the families to apologise, but they rejected that and called on him to meet them. on behalf of successive governments, and to put on the record in this house, i would like to say sorry to their families for how the investigations were handled and for the pain they've endured since their campaign began almost five decades ago. no apology, mr speaker, can lessen their lasting pain. i hope they may take some comfort in the answers they've secured and in knowing that this has renewed the government's determination to ensure in future that other families can find answers with less distress and delay. and a conservative mp has
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delivered his first, or maiden, speech in the commons 18 months after he was elected. robin millar was the last of the 140 mps elected at the last general election in december 2019 to deliver his maiden. he shared with mps a word from the language of heaven. in wales, we have a word, �*cynefin�*, which loosely translates as �*habitat�*. but it means much more than that, and it carries a sense of belonging and being in the right place. so although i left family and home for education, a career and for love, it was perhaps inevitable that i should return to wales and end up in politics. robin millar. now, labour's deputy leader angela rayner made waves when she emerged from the recent shadow cabinet reshuffle with a new 2a—word job title. her first outing in one of her new roles, shadowing the cabinet office, saw some feisty exchanges over boris johnson's fitness to govern. angela rayner asked about the supply of covid contracts, the refurbishment of the downing street flat, and who paid for the prime minister's holiday to mustique. but the cabinet office minister
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penny mordaunt rejected calls for further investigations. the ministerial code is clear — there must be no misuse of taxpayers' money, nor actual or perceived conflicts of interest. but time and again, ministers act like the rules are for other people — none more so than the prime minister himself. last year, he declared £15,000 from a tory donor for his sleazyjet trip to a private island. this weekend, mr speaker, we read that the real cost was double that, and paid by someone else entirely. now, people might ask "why is this important?", mr speaker? it's important because it goes to the very heart of our democracy. who does our government answer to — the public or private interests?
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she thought the independent adviser on ministers' interests should investigate their involvement in ppe contracts. when the home secretary lobbied on behalf of a former adviser flogging substandard face masks, who lands a £100 million contract without tender and double the going rate, who cannot perceive this as a conflict of interest? penny mordaunt said priti patel had been perfectly entitled to forward an offer of help from her local chamber of commerce. the charge she makes is that the people she names are somehow on the take. that's the charge she's making here today on the floor of the house — that they have been focused not, over the last 16 months, on working their socks off to save lives, to get a vaccination programme up and running, to do the things that the public need us to do, but they have unbelievably entered into politics, made sacrifices, overcome the obstacles that she will be aware of to get into this place, not to serve in public life, but to do a mate —
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or, more accurately, a tory mate, or someone that they vaguely know, or met in a lift once or perhaps don't know at all — a favour. that is the accusation that she is making today. and i'm afraid this is why the labour line of attack is not getting traction, well—rehearsed though it is. it's not getting traction with the public because it is not plausible. it is based not on fact, but on speculation, innuendo, and smear. penny mordaunt. and that was the week in parliament. thank you for keeping us on your green list. i do hope you canjoin me on bbc parliament at 11pm on monday evening for the latest from the commons and the lords. until then, from me, david cornock, bye for now.
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a bit of a lull in the weather at the moment. the skies are clear and the morning's not looking bad at all across most of the uk. don't hold your breath, it's not going to last for very long because we are expecting rain and gales through the afternoon, particularly across western areas of the uk. and if we have a look at the satellite picture you can see this swirl across the atlantic, another big low pressure and the weather front�*s already approaching ireland. you can see the low pressure, rather autumnal looking and that will be sweeping across us over the next couple of days. it's pushed by a strong jet stream, you can see here at 30,000 feet. the forecast for the early hours shows the rain pushing into ireland but many parts of the uk are clear and calm. in fact we are expecting a touch of frost in the glens of scotland and even cities further south than birmingham, about three degrees in the morning. the forecast, from the morning onwards that weather front sweeps into western part of the uk, gale force winds develop around western coasts and for a time, an hour or two, the rain really could be quite heavy, particularly around south—western england, wales and also southwest of
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scotland. notice that at this stage, from norwich all the way to aberdeen the weather is dry and the rain may not reach you until a lot later on in the day and probably during the evening hours. then out towards the west, the weather should calm down. here's monday's weather map, a low pressure sitting on top of the uk and typically, when we're in the centre of the low pressure, we get big shower clouds, so it's a day of storm clouds building, perhaps thunder and lightning across some parts of wales and england. perhaps a little bit of sunshine the across the north of england. however, northern and eastern scotland likely to be quite wet on monday as this weather front wraps around into the centre of this low pressure. here's tuesday's weather forecast — the low pressure is moving towards the east butjust in the wake of it, further showers are expected from scotland and also along the eastern side of the country. out towards the west, the weather should start to improve. all in all, the rest
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of the weekend and into next week, looking fairly unsettled. but here's the good news — as we head towards the end of the week ahead, there are signs that the weather finally will be settling down. something to look forward to.
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good morning, welcome to breakfast with ben thompson and sally nugent. our headlines today: two doses of the main covid rack scenes used in the uk are found to be highly effective against the indian variant of the virus. the former bbc journalist martin bashir defends his panorama interview with princess diana, but apologises to princes william and harry. frustration for the organisers of glastonbury festival, as technical problems stop fans from watching a special online concert. zero points.

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