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tv   The Week in Parliament  BBC News  December 19, 2020 2:30am-3:00am GMT

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italy is imposing a nationwide lockdown over christmas and new year as it tries to halt the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. italians will only be allowed to travel for work, health, or emergency reasons on a limited number of days. all but essential shops will remain closed. americans will soon have a second coronavirus vaccine, developed by moderna, after it was approved by the us food and drug administration. distribution of almost six million doses is expected this weekend, with vaccinations possible as early as monday. a damning report has been published by the us senate, saying boeing officials "inappropriately coached" test pilots during re—certification tests after two fatal boeing 737 max crashes. the report also says boeing officials sought to cover up ‘important information‘ that contributed to the crashes. now it's time for a look back
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at the week in parliament. hello there, and welcome to the week in parliament — where labour says borisjohnson shouldn't ignore medical worries about relaxing covid restrictions for christmas. can he tell us what is the assessment, and has it been done of the impact that it will have on infection rates and increased pressure on the nhs? i wish he had the gutsjust to say what he really wants to do, which is to cancel the plans that people have made and cancel christmas. that's really... i think that's what he's driving at. also on this programme: scotland's first minister comes under pressure over a record number of drugs deaths. the government sets out plans to protect children from harmful content online. and the deputy speaker suspends an mp from the commons
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as he protests over a controversial brexit bill. if he wants to be named... does he want to be named? is that what's happening? if that is what is happening, then we can do it. but first — with the brexit talks rumbling on in the background, mps and peers once again got to the end of the westminster week and their christmas recess not knowing exactly what was going to happen next. with no crumbs of news from the talks themselves, the labour leader used the last prime minister's questions of the year to give his verdict on boris johnson's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. sir keir starmer accused the prime minister of repeating the same mistakes and losing public trust. we all know what the tipping point was, the 520 mile round—trip to barnard castle and the humiliating way in which the prime minister and his cabinet chose to defend it. and now we learn, now we learn that while the prime minister and the chancellor are telling the armed forces, police officers, care workers and firefighters that they will get a pay freeze, dominic
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cummings has been handed at least a £40,000 pay rise. how on earth does the prime minister justify that? well, mr speaker, he totally trivialises the efforts of the british people... laughing. ..in getting the virus down. he says, and he says that none of the measures, none of the lockdown measures have worked, it's absolutely untrue, mr speaker! all he wants to do, mr speaker, is to lock the whole country down. he's a one club golfer. that's the only solution he has. and then, mr speaker, all he does is attack the economic consequences of lockdowns! keir starmer said the next big mistake looked to be the easing of restrictions over christmas, and he quoted
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the british medicaljournal. "we believe the government is about to blunder into another "major error that will cost many lives." the prime minister should listen to that advice, notjust ignore it as usual. and if he really is going to press ahead with this, can he tell us what is the assessment, and has it been done of the impact that it will have on infection rates and increased pressure on the nhs? what's the impact? well, mr speaker, iwish he had the guts just to say what he really wants to do, which is to cancel the plans people have made and cancel christmas. that's really what... i think that's what he's driving at, mr speaker. he said the four nations of the uk had agreed to go ahead with the regulations already set out about meeting up at christmas. because we don't want to criminalise people's long made plans, mr speaker, but we do think, we do think it's absolutely vital that people should — at this very, very tricky time — exercise a high degree of personal responsibility, especially when they come into contact with elderly people, and avoid contact with elderly people
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wherever possible. the snp‘s westminster leader turned to the impact of brexit on scotland. people in scotland aren't willing to suffer the consequences of this economic vandalism. 16 consecutive polls have shown a majority for independence, and mrspeaker, it's little wonder. isn't it as clear as day that the only way left to protect scotland's interests and our place in europe is for scotland to become an independent country. the uk currently has the highest youth employment in the g7, a point made, perhaps, to the advantage of the right honourable gentlemen opposite, and lower unemployment than france, italy, spain, the united states and canada. and, of course, there is a threat to the scottish
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economy, sadly, and that is the high tax regime, and the mismanagement of the scottish nationalist party. borisjohnson. the week had begun with the health secretary announcing that london, along with parts of essex and hertfordshire, were to move into the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions. under the tier 3 rules, shops can stay open, but bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants must close, except for delivery and takeaway. indoor entertainment venues such as bowling alleys, theatres, and cinemas will shut. you can't mix indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your household or bubble, and people are advised not to travel to and from tier 3 areas. and, at the end of the week, following a planned review, matt hancock announced that millions more people in the east and south east of england would join tier 3,
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with just two areas where infection rates had fallen moving down a level. he accepted moving into the strictest measures was tough. the vaccine offers us promise of a better year ahead, and until the great endeavour of vaccine deployment reaches enough people to make this country safe, we must keep doing what it takes to protect our nhs and protect those we love. that means all of us doing our bit, following the rules and taking personal responsibility to help contain the spread of the virus, so we can get through this safely together. his labour opposite number said cases and hospital admissions were rising, which should be sounding alarm bells. we saw in canada and in the us, huge spikes and infections following thanksgiving. we will see a spike here. this isn't about cancelling christmas. santa will still deliver his presents. but is he really telling us that allowing indoor mixing of three households across regions and generations for five days is sensible given the virus is raging with such ferocity at the moment? we know that it is safer
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to see older people, especially if they are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable, if you have taken the care to reduce social contact before hand. and we also know that after christmas, being able to reduce social contact will be important for keeping this under control. and i think that aspect of personal responsibility is important. of course personal responsibility matters, but in a pandemic, so does clarity. so, irrespective of the law or the regulations, should we or should we not have indoor social gatherings with elderly and vulnerable family members? we've set out with the rules are, but they are not a limit up to which we should all push. we can all act within those rules to limit the spread. the concerns from medical
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professionals at the christmas covid restriction relaxation will cost lives are not to be dismissed lightly. and would the minister agree with me that if people are to form a bubble, that it should be kept as small as possible? i understand the urge for caution. of course, i understand that from my nhs colleagues and others, but madam deputy speaker, i also understand that people want to see their children, people want to see their loved ones, and christmas is an important time of year, and we have got to find a balance. the secretary of state tells us about personal responsibility, does he recognise that he has a responsibility to be honest with the public about what is happening as well? this week, whipscross hospital had to turn away ambulances because the icu was full, as a direct result of the rising covid infections in our local community, and the hospital had to move to early discharge of patients. so she wanted him to publish real—time data on accident and emergency, intensive care units, and cancellations to planned surgery. so the public can see the truth about why and how we need to protect the nhs and what impact it has on their health outcomes. matt hancock accepted case
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rates in east london were high and said a huge amount of data was already published. and don't forget, if you want to know the tier restrictions for your area, you can find them on the bbc website. now, the education minister in northern ireland has announced that a level students will take fewer exams in the summer. the content of many gcse courses and the number of gcse exams has already been reduced due to the pandemic. now, the number of a level exam papers a pupil will have to take in each subject will also be reduced. at the centre of this reduction is choice. 0ur schools and colleges will choose which unit or units of assessment their pupils will take. 0ur young people will be assessed on topics and content in which they feel most confident and well prepared, allowing them to determine their skills and knowledge to the highest possible level. i believe these changes will relieve much of the stress
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which our young people are experiencing. the approach will allow them to focus on key topics for a small number of examinations whilst enjoying teaching and learning in other areas of the qualifications which will not be examined. this is a flexible and unique solution designed to reflect the different approaches and experiences to teaching and learning across schools and colleges. the welsh government broke away from the four nation consensus on the covid christmas rules, announcing that only two households plus an additional single person who lives alone will be able to meet in wales over christmas. it had previously joined the three other uk nations in agreeing that three households could meet between 23—27 december. speaking at first minister's questions before the rule change, mark dra keford set out the dilemma. the choice is a grim one, isn't it? i have read in my own e—mail account over the last couple
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of days, heart wrenching, heart wrenching pleas from people not to reverse what we have agreed for christmas, people who live entirely alone, who have made their arrangements to be with people for the first time in many months. and who say to me that this is the only thing that they have been able to look forward to in recent weeks. and yet, we know that if people do not use the modest amount of additional freedom available to them over the christmas period responsibly, then we will see an impact of that on our already hugely hard—pressed health service. mark drakeford. meanwhile, scotland stuck to the agreed laws but toughened its christmas guidance, with people being urged not to stay overnight in another house unless it's unavoidable. first minister nicola sturgeon said the safest way to spend christmas was to stay within your own household and your own home. the five—day period over
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christmas is a limited window, not a period of time that we think it is safe to meet for. my recommendation to anyone who considers it essential to form a bubble is to not to meet up with people in it on any more than one day over the christmas period, and to keep the duration as short as possible. people should also limit numbers as far as possible. three households and eight people is a maximum that tries to account for the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes, but the smaller, the better. but let me reiterate that our clear advice is that the safest way to spend christmas this year is to stay within our own homes and households and to keep any interaction with households outdoors. nicola sturgeon. but that session of fmqs was dominated not by coronavirus, but by the figures released in the week showing that more than 1,200 people in scotland died of drug misuse last year. that's the highest total since records began in 1996 — the worst recorded rate in europe — and about 3.5 times the figure for
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england and wales. nicola sturgeon began with an apology. behind every single one of these statistics is a human being whose life mattered — someone‘s son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. and i am sorry to every family who has suffered grief. every person who dies an avoidable death because of drug use is being and has been let down. the trainspotting generation theory has been busted because the number of young people dying has doubled in the last two years. and the thing that is different about scotland, the thing that is entirely devolved, is drug treatment and rehabilitation. and that is what this government has cut to the bone. now, people on the front line, the charities that are working with drug users, they are calling for an immediate extra £20 million in ring—fenced rehab funding just to make up for the last 13 years worth of cuts. so will the first minister commit here today to doing that so that we don't see a repeat
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of these horrendous figures next year or possibly even worse ? in every year since this government took office — apart from two years when funding for drug and alcohol services did decline — funding has increased in every year. that is not to say funding has increased sufficiently or adequately, and i accept that. but this is also about more than money. it is about the approaches that we take, and it's about — at the heart of all of this — everybody accepting that we should not, any of us, accept a situation where people who use drugs are allowed to fall through the cracks and that we see the deaths that we have seen in recent years. the problem that the first minister has got is that, back in 2007, the snp manifesto said, "there are no short—term fixes to the problems of drug misuse in scotland. " and here we are, over 13 years
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on, with the public health minister still defending the government's record, telling this parliament this week, "there is no shortcut." people don't expect shortcuts, but they do expect the government to do itsjob. he described a statement by the public health minister, joe fitzpatrick, to parliament earlier in the week as "woeful". so isn't it time the first minister exercised her power, did sort it out, got a grip, and fired herminister for public health? nicola sturgeon didn't reply to that, but the resignation call was picked up by the liberal democrats. we now need real leadership. it's a huge responsibility. we need a minister who's able to drive change. and, whatever his talents, joe fitzpatrick is not that person. once again, will the first minister appoint a new drugs minister?
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i'm going to work with the drugs minister to make sure we collectively accept this responsibility and take the actions that are required to fix the problem. nicola sturgeon. now, let's take a look at some other westminster news in brief. the uk has been urged to take concrete action against china over allegations that it's used half a million members of the uighur muslim minority as forced labour, mainly to pick cotton. the foreign affairs committee took evidence from a leading uighur activist, who accused china of committing "genocide." the us has already done this, but we haven't seen any such action from the uk side, and the trade measures — cuts on cotton impoted from china, because 85% of all cotton from china is forced labour. the government has confirmed it will give more money to the victims of the windrush scandal, which saw some british citizens — mainly with caribbean backgrounds — deported or threatened with
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deportation, despite having the right to live in the uk. i'm increasing the minimum payments for the impact of life to £10,000, with payments starting this week. i'm raising the bar on the amount someone can claim for the impact on their life to £100,000, with the exceptional cases able to receive more. these changes, mr speaker, under the terms of the scheme, will apply retrospectively and together make a real difference to people's lives. peers have been told that security measures have been taken to protect supplies of the covid—19 vaccine, amid fears that stocks could be targeted by criminals. a professor of nursing said each box contained enough vaccine for 480 people. the value is considerable, and illicit drug dealers and criminals have never been more motivated to intercept or steal legal drugs — as the potential for profit is far larger at the moment than those from heroin and cocaine. mps have accused officials
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from the department of health of presiding over a "shocking situation" in which hospitals suffered desperate shortages of protective equipment in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic. i want to quote you, on what the doctor actually told his committee on thursday. she said, "our absolute pinch point was running out every weekend. we had enough on easter sunday, 12 april, to last until 7pm. and i then had absolutely no gowns to provide to the detriment of my staff. we had a lot of patients with covid, so we were using a fair amount of ppe. i spent the entire bank holiday weekend making phone calls and trying to find private providers, phoning friends and organisations, "can you lend me 20 masks?" this was the senior nurse in a major nhs hospital. "can you lend me 20 masks?" "the hospice down the road put ten masks in a taxi — it was at that level we were
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trying to get our supplies." that's a pretty shocking situation, isn't it? look, i absolutely accept that the availability of ppe right at the front line was not consistently where you would want it to be in order to provide the protection for front line staff and patients in those particularly crunch months of march and april. the measures that we put in place meant that we did not, however, run out of ppe at the national level. according to the woodland trust, 13% of the uk is covered by woodland — compared to an eu average of 37%. the organisation wants to see many more trees planted. a labour mp said the pandemic had highlighted the importance of green spaces. for many, especially those living in flats and those without a garden, the local park has been a lifeline, without which lockdown would've been even more of a struggle. i believe that the natural world should not be a far away, abstract concept, but a part of our everyday lives.
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new laws to protect children and clamp down on fake news, harmful content, and abusive behaviour online will be brought in next year. the government says its aim is to keep youngsters away from harmful content while allowing free speech. under the plans, social media companies will face massive fines and potentially criminal charges against senior managers if they fail to take action. when draughting our proposals, i sought to strike a very important balance between shielding people from harm — particularly children — but also ensuring a proportionate regime, and one that preserves one of the cornerstones of our democracy, freedom of expression. and i am confident that our response strikes this balance. under our proposals, online companies will face a new and binding duty of care to their users overseen by 0fcom. and if those platforms fail in that duty of care, they will face steep fines of up to £18 million, or 10% of annual
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global turnover. he said the government hoped it wouldn't have to use the powers, and that tech companies would "engineer out" the harm. but, if not, the measures were the toughest online safety regime in the world. a 13—year—old should no longer be able to access pornographic images on twitter. youtube will not be able to recommend videos promoting terrorist ideologies. and anti—semitic hate crime will need to be removed without delay. and there was a specific measure to try to stop youngsters self—harming. too many members here today will be aware of cases where children are drawn into watching videos that could encourage self—harm. some find themselves bombarded with that content, ultimately sometimes ending in tragedy. it is unforgivable that this sort of content should be circulating unchecked on social media. and, given the severity of its consequences, i believe there is a strong case for making it illegal. labour welcomed the emphasis
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on children, but argued action was long overdue. the secretary of state has said that the uk will lead the way with this legislation. but i'm afraid that the response today is lacking in ambition. it does feel like a missed opportunity. this is a once—in—a—generation chance to legislate for the kind of internet we want to see that keeps both children and adult citizens safe, and allows people to control what kind of content they see online. instead, the government has been timid. whilst nom de plumes are fine, we believe that users' identities should be known to the social media publishers. they should not be completely anonymous under all circumstances. the reluctance i have had and the government has had to introduce this across the board is how you lift the veil of anonymity, whilst at the same time protecting some very vulnerable
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people who rely upon it. 0liver dowden there. finally: regular viewers will know there's been a parliamentary tussle going on over the uk internal market bill. the legislation has bounced between the lords and commons, with devolution the final sticking point. some powers from the eu are due to return to the uk at the end of the transition period. the bill's opponents feared that meant westminster getting more power at the expense of the devolved bodies. under a compromise brokered in the lords, the bill will now allow limited flexibility for the devolved nations to do things differently. peers finally gave the bill go—ahead late on tuesday night, so it was back in the commons one last time on wednesday. the government is confident that these amendments provide an appropriate way to ensure that market access bids in this bill and an act to ensure certainty and a seamlessly—functioning internal market for all british businesses and citizens. they do this whilst allowing for a degree of flexibility, reflecting different circumstances in particular parts of the uk.
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he will be aware that the welsh government remain deeply dissatisfied, and have actually announced that they intend to take the uk government to court over the provisions in this bill, not least the state aid provisions and the economic intervention proposals? it's still far from ideal, and the government has been dragged to these issues kicking and screaming because of the pressure we have applied, working tirelessly in the other place. but the snp reckoned the bill was still an aberation. westminster ministers will still have the right to impose lower food, environmental, and other devolved standards on scotland regardless of the view of holyrood. this bill is the biggest assault on devolution in the history of the scottish parliament. it undermines devolved policymaking, grabs spending powers, and removes state aid from being a devolved responsibility. and, when mps began to vote on the uk internal market bill, drew hendry protested noisily, shouting "outrageous" and "unacceptable".
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the honourable gentlemen must resume his seat. he must resume his seat... the honourable gentlemen must resume his seat, and he knows that. he'sjust — this isjust showing off. after a telling off from the deputy speaker, dame rosie winterton, he was "named" — meaning he suspended and sent out of the commons chamber. if he wants to be named — does he want to be named? is that what's happening? if that is what is happening, then we can do it. dame rosie winterton, sending one mp out of the chamber. and it's time for me to go now too, but i'll be back with you when parliament returns — whenever that turns out to be! but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello. friday brought us another wet and windy day. the rainfall was particularly heavy and persistent in the west. river levels have been rising across parts of wales, south—west england, scotland, too. this was the picture in ceredigion. we've had plenty of flood warnings around, and there could still be a bit of disruption with flooding as we head into the weekend because there's a bit more rain in the forecast. it won't be persistent. there will be scattered showers and some sunshine in between as well. so, friday's rainfall was courtesy of this cold front, which is going to be clearing away towards the east. low pressure to the north—west of the uk, so showers rotating around that area of low pressure. and the winds coming in from a slightly cooler direction, so the bluer colours returning to the map. still mild for the time of year, but not as mild as it has been. so we start saturday, then, the early hours, some rain across eastern england which slowly pushes out of the way, and then a return to sunnier skies and plenty of scattered, blustery showers blowing in. always most frequent in the west and along the south coast as well.
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gusts of wind around about 30—110 mph for some of us, perhaps touching 50 mph around those exposed coasts in the south—west. a blustery sort of day. again, mild but not as mild as it has been, with temperatures about 10—11 degrees for most of us, could see 12 celsius there down towards the south—east. there could be some hail and some thunder mixed in with some of the scattered, blustery showers as they rattle through on that brisk breeze. they're going to continue overnight, so clear spells and scattered showers moving through into sunday. it is going to be a slightly cooler night than we've seen recently, still frost—free, really, across the board with temperatures getting down to around about 5—7 degrees first thing sunday morning. through the day on sunday, pretty similar to what we'll see on saturday. again, some sunshine, some scattered showers, perhaps fewer showers compared to saturday and it looks like they will tend to fade away later on in the afternoon. a touch cooler as well,
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temperatures around about 8—11 degrees on sunday. the next patch of rain waiting there in the wings. moving on into monday, looks like this area of rain, a low pressure system, will move its way in from the west. some uncertainty about exactly how far north that gets as we head into the middle part of the coming week, but it is looking unsettled to start this coming week, certainly some rain, some blustery conditions to come around about wednesday. headed towards christmas eve and christmas day, things turn a little bit drier and a little bit cooler, too. there could be a bit more flooding for the first part of this coming week, and then cooler and drier conditions by the time we get to christmas. bye— bye.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: italy imposes a nationwide lockdown over christmas and new year as it tries to halt the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. translation: we must intervene — and i assure you, this is not an easy decision. americans are to get a second coronavirus vaccine, after moderna was approved by the us food and drug administration. a us senate report finds that boeing officials "inappropriately coached" test pilots during a review of the 737 max aircraft after two fatal crashes. and we speak to people in different parts of the uk to see how the covid restrictions are affecting

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