15/06/2011 Daily Politics


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Good morning and welcome to the Daily Politics. Coming up in


today's programme: The Chancellor orders a big shake-up of the banks.


But has he done enough to avoid a taxpayers' bailout in future?


Teachers vote to strike over pensions, and now civil servants


look certain to go out too. How should the government respond?


It's a big day for Ed Miliband - after a week of bad headlines, can


he prove the doubters wrong in PMQs?


And have pensioners never had it so good? Turns 60 in Britain today,


and it suddenly feels like life is a beach. Free bus passes, eye tests


and massive winter fuel payments are all made available to you,


regardless of where the work or if you are very rich indeed. But I


don't think we can afford it. All that coming up. 90 minutes of


public broadcasting service at its finest. And with us for the


duration, former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and former


Conservative Cabinet Minister Cecil Parkinson. Welcome to you both.


First today, the Chancellor has decided that there should be a


separation of the retail and investment operations of the big


banks. Banks won't have to sell off their investment arms, but they


will have to ringfence their retail divisions to protect depositors.


He'll use his annual mansion house speech in the City of London


tonight to make the announcement which follows the recommendations


of the independent banking commission headed by Sir John


Vickers. There had been some doubt about whether George Osborne would


go as far as Vickers, though there was pressure from within the


coalition and notably from Vince Cable to do so. Cecil Parkinson,


has he made the right decision? think he has. You certainly have to


separate those two aspects of banking. In fact, I sometimes think


the word banking is one of the most over-used words in Britain. A lot


of the stuff that has happened was nothing to do with Pang Qing. It


was pure speculation. -- it was nothing to do with banking. We


dignify the speculation by allowing people to call it investment


banking. So I do not think, for many people who invested money with


the big banks, had no idea their money was being used by packages of


duff mortgages. So separating those two so that people know their money


will not be used in that hugely speculative, dangerous fashion, is


vital. But are you satisfied that this degree of separation, because


he is not going the whole hog and saying that retail banking cannot


be in investment banking, he is saying they have to be separate


companies. Are you saying that if an investment bank goes bust again,


that the taxpayer will not have to bail it out? De at is the object of


the exercise. We will have to see how these Chinese walls are built


and how strong they are. We have had experience of Chinese walls in


the past, where banks were supposed to own shares and sell them and


advise on them. They were pretty poor. The strength of the wall will


be vital. Should you have gone the whole hog and said if you are in


retail banking, you can't be in investment banking? And vice versa?


This is broadly the right package. It has been recommended. There has


been a study about it. I am keen that we retain our pre-eminence in


financial services in this country. It is important to the economy. So


separating it completely to look good, if it would have harmed our


standing as a financial services centre, I would not have supported.


But I am concerned about enforcement. We have seen that


regulation was not tough enough when we got into this global crisis.


I want to see not just the Chinese walls, but somebody following it up


and making sure it is an forced. Banks are dangerous creatures and


will slip back to their old habits unless someone keeps an eye on them.


The danger would have been if he had gone further and done a total


separation, some of the big investment banks could have gone to


New York. Meyer Bloomberg is already asking them to come. That


is true, so you have this conflict of interests. We want British


banking to be strong and successful. But we do not want depositors'


funds used to buy packages of dud American mortgages. So striking a


balance was key. Thumbs up for the Chancellor from Cecil.


Could we be heading for a summer of disappointing weather? Probably.


And there could be a few strikes too. This afternoon, we'll learn


whether thousands of civil servants will join teachers on the picket


line at the end of the month. So how will the government react to


unruliness in the classroom and elsewhere? Here's Anita.


Yes, Andrew, co-ordinated strikes do look more likely after the two


biggest teaching unions, the NUT and ATL, voted in favour of


industrial action on June 30th over changes to their pension plans. And


today, the PCS union that represents civil service workers is


expected to overwhelmingly back striking on the same day. Their top


dog Mark Serwotka says up to 750,000 public sector workers could


also strike over pension changes. This all comes after the Business


Secretary Vince Cable was booed and heckled at the GMB union's


conference last week. He suggested that co-ordinated action may lead


to tougher union laws. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the CBI


are amongst those who have called for firmer legislation - they want


the law changed to prevent a strike taking place unless at least half


of the union members in a workplace take part in a ballot. This morning,


the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the government has no


plans to change union laws at the moment, but did not rule out doing


so in the future. Well, we're joined now by Iain McNicol of the


GMB union. Hazel Blears and Lord Parkinson are still here. I


understand that pensions are one of the main reasons that people are


voting to strike. But given that 90% of people in the public sector


have defined pensions, the nice kind of pension, and only 10% in


the private sector, will there be much public sympathy? I think there


will. If you look at local government workers now, the average


pension that a local government member gets is �3,500. That is no


gold-plated pensions scheme. Yes, there are a few at the top. Quite a


few, actually. But the vast majority of our members, when they


retire, have a pension scheme of up to �4,000 a year. But those at the


lower end, those earning under �21,000, that is not wear these


changes will really hit? government are looking at putting a


3% tax on pensions, and that will affect all members of the scheme.


In local government, that 3% that they have been asked to contribute


will not go back into the pensions. I am sure there could be a fair


discussion if they were going back into pension funds. But it is going


straight back into central government coffers. So it is a tax


on those who have their pensions now. So some public sector workers


are only contributing 1.5% at the moment? Yes, but that is the


minority. How big a minority? not sure. Neither am I. But the


local government workers that Unison and the GMB represent pay 6%


into their funded schemes. These are funded schemes with the money


within them to pay for the retirement. We renegotiated the


scheme two years ago, where extra contribution was made by those


paying into the scheme, with a reduction of some of the benefits.


A lot of people used to take the view that those in the public


sector, this was at a time when private sector pensions were good,


too. But it was thought that it was OK that public sector workers had a


decent pension scheme, because they were not as well paid. But that has


changed. On average, public sector workers are now paid �2,000 more


than the average private sector workers. Do you want a race to the


bottom? Should we be damning everything down? Or should we work


to try and increase the money and pay and terms of conditions of


those in the private sector? That is what the trade unions have tried


to do. I understand that and I know you do not represent teachers, but


if you look at some of these figures, between 2000 and 2010, a


teachers' pay increased by 13% in real terms. They have an average of


13 wicks' holiday a year in state schools, 18 weeks in the private


schools. And they are going on strike, too. That compares to 28


days' average in the private sector. Most people would think in these


tough times, we are all suffering. There is an incredible squeeze on


living standards going on which is hurting the poorest most. Something


has to give? In the public sector, there has been no pay rise for the


last two years. With inflation running at 5%, that is a 10% pay


cut over the last two years for those working in the public sector.


So there has been no pay rise in the public sector for two years? Or


are we into the second year now? are through the second year now.


There has been no pay rise in the LAUGHTER Sets of pay negotiations.


There was meant to be a payment of two and �50 for the people who were


earning less than that -- there was meant to be a payment of �250. That


has been raised with the Government. This is a difficult one for the


Labour Party, Hazel? On the one hand, you are sympathetic to what


the GMB is saying here. On the other hand, you do not want a


reputation again for supporting public sector strikes. Not at all.


Ed Miliband has been very direct about this. He said last year that


he would not support irresponsible strikes. Having said that, I can


understand why people are worried about their pensions. People feel


insecure about the squeeze on living standards. In the public


sector, they often did take lower- paid, thinking they would have job


security and a decent pension. this an irresponsible strike?


not think anybody supports strikes. People themselves will not want to


lose the money. But the government has a responsibility to see if they


can go into more talks and negotiate. But if it is not


irresponsible, why wouldn't they Labour leader and a Labour


opposition support the GMB? would be sent to government, is


there a way of talking this through? Is there a fair settlement


that could be reached? Every avenue has to be explored before people go


on strike. Your union colleague, Mark Serwotka, has been on this


programme many times. He said he thought negotiations were not going


anywhere. Do you agree? We are still party to the negotiations.


Has he gone out of them? No. There is always hope as long as people


are talking. This morning on the radio, you heard Francis Maude,


when he was asked about whether he would look to change the parameters


he had set, he never answered that question. The government are -- if


the Government refused to negotiate, you are in a difficult situation.


If you sit around the table and explore, as we have done with


private companies, if you can thrash out a deal both sides are


happy with, strikes are not inevitable. But the ones coming up


are. Cecil Parkinson, you were in government at a time when Britain


was synonymous with strikes. You have been through quite a few. Do


you sense a return to these days, or is it not been the same league?


First of all, the public sector was hugely reduced when we were in


power. When I went to DDT eye on behalf of the taxpayer -- when I


went to the Department of Trade and Industry on behalf of British


Airways, it could go on and on. And they were all closed shops. They


all had heavily unionised workforces. They are now in the


private sector, so the scope for the disruption we had at that time


is much less. There are still a lot of key industries. The tubes in


London, the hospitals, the schools. But there are many areas which


previously would have been unionised which now are not. Are we


heading for a summer of discontent? I think commonsense will prevail.


But one has to accept that the country is in a very difficult


situation. I am made director of a number of private companies. We


have all had to close the final salary schemes, because they were a


threat to the existence of the company. The deficits grew and grew,


and you were never in control of them. In the public sector, behind


all these funds is the public sector. The country is in a


difficult situation, no one denies that. But we are now in a country


where the average pay of a FTSE 100 chief-executive is now nearly �3.8


million. When you were in business, the ratio was 40-1. Chief


executives earned 40 times more than the average worker. Today it


is 150 times. In that situation, why would you make people earning


less pay? You are not going to get me defending big City salaries. I


cannot imagine what Mrs Thatcher would have said about some of the


salaries that are being taken. you get my point. I do, and it


seems to me that the capitalists seem determined to destroy


capitalism. It is a most peculiar attitude. And the politicians have


Let me ask Ian before we go, had you see it panning out in the next


couple of months? There are still negotiations Turk be had and they


will be difficult, tough negotiations -- negotiations to be


had. But if local government understands that they are fully


funded, and yes, they're always difficulties with the stock market


because of the investments in shares, but I do think there is an


opportunity to get round the table and sort this out. I do worry that


the government are unwilling to get the settlement that everyone will


be happy with. Iain McNicol, come back and see us. He is not going


anywhere. Why is he stain? There is a very interesting bit coming up.


Well, it's a big Wednesday for Ed Miliband. His performance at last


week's Prime Minister's questions was widely criticised. And since


then it's seemingly gone from bad to worse. We've had the 'we're-not-


plotting-against-Tony-Blair really' files, and worse - accusations that


he didn't get drunk at university. What a weirdo! He spent most of his


time - apparently - deciding which chocolate bar to buy from the


college tuck shop. Well, he's got an equally difficult decision to


make today. What to go on at PMQs. But we're kind people here at the


Daily Politics. We have made this. Hold this. Is this all for me?


have glued a number of category to a number of chocolate bars, and


since we do not have Ed Miliband, we have is representative on earth,


Hazel. Will he go on it welfare? Will he go on family-friendly


policies? Will he go on strike? Inflation? Will he go on the


plodding? Leadership? The economy. I am glad we rehearsed this.


Deficit? So, hazel, which one? Quickly. Pick a bar. I will go for


those too. The NHS and the economy. A we will discuss this a bit more


seriously. Because he has had a turbulent time with his leadership,


Ian McNicol, and the GMB really worked hard for him to be installed,


but they have really gone off him. When asked if they approve of his


style of leadership, they could not even bring themselves to raise


their hand at the conference. think it was bad state of could do


better. That was put to the audience, and everyone thought he


could do better. Are you going off him? No, the media story is about


David Cameron and Nick Clegg and he is in a difficult position to break


through. What he needs to do is pick two or three issues and get


out and about round the country and talk to people on the doorstep and


in their constituencies and in their workplaces. When all the


talking is said and done, is he up to the job? I think so. He is


really up to the job. We have this book being serialised in one of the


national newspapers which talks of the way the party responded and


await his brother responded to him to declare his attention to stand.


How much damage does it do when you hear that people are smacking their


heads on the table, saying, David, go and hit him. I was told that


book was sent back by the newspaper because it wasn't sexy enough and


they were told to get more gossip in it, so that is the level of this


debate. But you will acknowledge there was deep discomfort at the


time, and there is a different kind of discomfort because people are


saying he's not landing punches. Everybody wants to rake over the


entrails of last year's events. I think it is time we moved on.


rage over last week's entrails. His performance at PMQs was lacklustre.


We to acknowledge that? A I think everyone would acknowledge that he


not -- had not given a great performance. A if you go over last


week, you had a fine speech on Monday when he set out the centre


ground and the fact we needed people to take responsibility at


the top and bottom. That was a very good speech and he did break


Putting partisan politics to one side, does it matter if he is not


good at PMQs, if he can deliver that kind of speech? There is a


danger that new leaders always have difficulties establishing


themselves. I remember one party chairman when Edward Heath was


Prime Minister, every year at the party conference it was make or


break for Ted Heath. And Lord Hailsham said, look, if you plant a


tree or a shrub and you pull it up every week to see if the roots are


striking, they never strike. So having chosen him, you have to get


behind him. And he won those three elections out of four. You would


maybe not be surprised to know that I was delighted it was him, because


I think there is a gap between him and the public. They find him at a


mysterious figure. And the second thing is, it is very difficult to


lead 8 parliamentary party where the parliamentary party did not


want to. So he has his own peculiar problems. You say PMQs is not as


important, but it is the window into his leadership. For most


people watching at home, they will see that on the news and hear bits


of that on the driving to work. And if he is not effective there, how


will they bridge the gulf? It is important because it is what most


ordinary people see on their televisions on a Wednesday. He has


had some really good PMQs. You will have some occasions when it is not


perfect, and he really did score against David Cameron on the NHS.


He got David Cameron to lose his temper at PMQs. I thought that was


a fantastic performance. So he is comfortable then? How long has he


got to settle into the job? How long will he be the new boy? It is


less than a year since he became the leader. Difficult circumstances,


the worst election result since 1983. He has to rebuild the party


and show we have changed. It is a big job and I think he deserves


support. What you want him to go on today at PMQs? I think he needs to


get stuck into the NHS, have a go at Cameron and Clegg. Even the


water down blueprint of Andrew Lansley? Yes, I think it is an


opportunity. You have people standing back and saying that they


have listened, but that does not resonate with people. I am not


convinced that the party has really listened anyway. We will leave it


there. Are you saying that too loyal Labour journalist sexed up


their book to please the Mail on Sunday? Loyal Labour journalist? Do


those words computer? There might be the odd one. -- to those words


Now - it's time for a health warning. In fact you're health and


safety is our first priority. Unlike some in the profession, they


followed the Prime Minister and deputy PM onto a hospital ward


yesterday and got this ticking off from a consultant. Just a minute. I


am a senior consultant in the department. While we told to walk


around like this -- Why are we told to walk around like this? I am not


That photo-shoot went pretty well! Cecil, this is not going to hurt at


all. Well, we take no such risks here so you are quite safe


competing for one of our completely sterile Daily Politics mugs.


will remind you how to enter, but less see if you can remember when


# "Just A Little Bit" - Liberty X but sometimes I feel like I want to


crawl away and hide, but I won't. just don't think I'm as good at it


as I was at my other job. prosecutor verses Slobodan


Milosevic. No one is above the law or above the reach of international


My mother always said, are you eating pretzels? Chew them before


So, if you want to be within a chance of winning one of these


beautiful things, send your answer to the e-mail address. For terms


and conditions, they are on our website. Did you notice they took


all the chocolate away? That was in a nanosecond. I am worried that you


have touched the glove -- the market without your gloves on.


is coming up to midday, so let's take a look at Big Ben, as we


always do. Not a great deal out there, but it is looking clear. It


can only mean one thing, Prime Minister's questions in a few


minutes. And we also have some Let's play a part of the build up.


It is all on a Ed Miliband. Absolutely. The reason last week


was so important is that the government is in a bit of a mess.


There are you turns on dustbins, health, sentencing. And there was


an expectation ahead of last Wednesday that Ed Miliband would


bring these things together and land a punch, but he didn't. It was


the fact he underperformed to expectations. There was an audible


deflation from his own side and he failed to really pin up the story


on the Prime Minister and let himself become a target of media


criticism and sniping from backbenchers. So today, what he has


to do, his land a punch. Pick a subject, possibly the NHS although


dustbins is a great subject. And try to explain to the public, who


don't like Prime Minister's Questions that much, why the


government is not functioning as it should. The public like PMQs and


they do not like it when it is quite. Every time the Speaker says


they should be quiet, we get e-mail saying they like the argy-bargy.


But from a party leader point of view, it has to be professional.


What line would you take on the NHS? There is a general sense in


the country that the government has been all over the place on it and


the coalition's divided on it. But all of this talk of GP


commissioning and abolition of primary care trusts and that there


will be health senates and we are getting rid of strategic health


authorities, I would suggest that for most people, including me...


There is a line I would and wouldn't take. I wouldn't take the


line of privatising the NHS, because David Cameron will say that


they are implementing the rules that your government starting. The


line I would take is waiting lists. You have to have some retail


politics'. That is about patients. In his speech the Prime Minister


gave an unspecific pledge that waiting lists might rise, so that


will resonate with people at home. We may be going over win a second.


What would you advise Mr Miliband to do? I would advise him to be


passionate and angry on behalf of the British people. They want to


hear him standing up and pinning the blame on the Prime Minister and


also asked him why it costs �800 million for the NHS reorganisation.


The that is the price ticket. complete waste of money. It is


unbelievable. You have been part of a big reforming government, Cecil.


They want to reform the education system big time, cut the deficit as


it has never been cut before, so was it wise to also come with a


major reform of the NHS? The NHS is something where each party has


identified the same answer. When I was in the Cabinet we talked about


the internal market. Labour or abolish it then brought it back.


Tony Blair said it was conservative and got rid of it, but then seven


years later he goes back to where we were. The question was whether


it was wise to go in for radical reform on top of all the other


things, especially since we were not prepared for it? I think it is


necessary. It is a huge burden, but a necessary burden, but a colossal


burden for the taxpayer. And there is huge waste. In the manifesto you


said there would be no more top down reorganisation of the NHS and


you are doing all of this. It is unusual to be criticised for


getting on with the policy that you didn't promise. Most of the


criticism comes from not implementing policies that you did.


There was a bit of tap dancing know. This looks pretty much like top


down reorganisation, if he walks and talks like that. There is a


massive centralisation of the power they would give away. On the one


hand the public say they do not want reorganisation because they


don't trust politicians, but we had some polling this week that


suggested that the public for their big problems with the NHS. We are


This morning I had a meeting with colleagues and others. Initial to


know why duties, I shall have further meetings later.


Thousands of people in my constituency work hard at for less


than �26,000 a year. Does my right honourable friend agree with me


that everybody who believes in the necessity of capping benefits must


vote for the Welfare Reform Bill tonight? My honourable friend is


right. We are right to reform welfare. Welfare costs have got out


of control in our country. We want to make sure that work always pays.


We want to make sure that if people do the right thing, we are on their


side. It cannot be right for some families to get over �26,000 a year


in benefits that is paid for by people who are working hard and pay


their taxes. Everyone in the House should support the welfare bill


tonight. It is disappointing that Labour talk about welfare, but will


not vote for welfare reform. THE SPEAKER: Ed Miliband.


Mr Speaker, when the Prime Minister signed off his welfare bill, did he


know that it would make 7000 cancer patients worse off by as much as


�94 a week? That is not the case. We are using the same definition of


people who are suffering and are terminally ill as the last


government. We want to make sure those people are helped and


protected. If you are in favour of welfare reform, you want to


encourage people to do the right thing, it is no good talking about


it, you have to vote for it. usual, he does not know what is in


his own bill. Listen to Macmillan Cancer Support. On 13th June 2011 -


cancer patients to lose up to �94 a week. These are people who have


worked hard all their lives, who have done the right thing, who have


paid their taxes. And when they are indeed, the Prime Minister is


taking money away from him. I ask him again, how can it be right that


people with cancer, 7000 of them, are losing �94 a week? We are using


the same test as the last government supported. All we see


here is a Labour Party desperate not to support welfare reform, and


try to find an excuse to get off supporting welfare reform. Anyone


who is terminally ill get immediate access to the higher level of


support. We will provide that to all people who are unable to work.


That is the guarantee we make. He has to stop reading of his


responsibilities and back the welfare reform he talks about.


Speaker, he doesn't know the detail of his own bill. Let me explain it


to him. Because the Government is stopping contributory employment


support allowance after one year for those in work-related activity,


cancer patients, 7000 of them, are losing �94 a week. I ask him again,


how can that be right? Order. The question has been asked. Order.


Order. The answer will be heard. is wrong on the specific point.


First of all, our definition of terminally ill is the same one used


by the last government. Anyone out of work will be given the extra


support that comes from employment support allowance, irrespective of


a person's income or assets. That will last for 12 months. He is


wrong, and he should admit it. On a means-tested basis, this additional


support can last indefinitely. That is the truth. He should check his


facts before he comes to the house and chickens out of welfare reform.


Let's be clear about this. In the first answer, he said his policy


was the same as the last government. Now he has admitted that they are


ending contributory best employment support allowance after one year.


Let me tell him what Macmillan Cancer Support says. I think they


should listen. This is what they are saying. I think it is a


disgrace that Conservative members are shouting while we are talking


about people with cancer. This is what they say. Many people will


lose this benefit simply because they have not recovered quickly


enough. Mr Speaker, asking the question again, will he now admit


that 7000 cancer patients are losing up to �94 a week? Let me


explain it again to him. I do not think he has got the point. Order.


Order. I think it is a disgrace that members on both sides of the


house are shouting their heads off when matters of the most serious


concern are being debated. I repeat what I have said before. The public


despise this sort of behaviour. Let's have a bit of order. This is


important, and I want to explain to the honourable gentleman why he has


got it wrong and what we are proposing is right. The definition


of who is terminally ill, these are horrible things to discuss, but let


me explain. It is the same definition, six months. Anyone out


of work who lives longer than that will be given the extra support


that comes from employment support allowance. That is irrespective of


a person's income or their assets, and will last for 12 months, not


the six months that the Leader of the Opposition said. On a means-


tested basis, this additional support can last indefinitely. It


is the same test as the last government. It is put in place


fairly. We have listened to Macmillan Cancer Support, and we


have made sure someone is reviewing all the medical tests that take


place under the system. I know he wants to create a distraction from


the fact that he will not support welfare reform, but I have answered


his question. He should now answer mind - why will you not back the


bill? In case he had forgotten, I asked the questions, and he fails


to answer them. Let me try and explain it to him. Listen to


professor Jane Mayer, chief medical officer or of Macmillan Cancer


Support. "in my experience, one year is simply not long enough for


many people to recover from cancer. The serious physical and


psychological side-effects can last for many months, even years after


treatment has finished. It is crucial that patients are not


forced to return to work before they are ready". Macmillan Cancer


Support and Britain's cancer charities have been making this


argument for months. I am amazed that the Prime Minister does not


know about this argument. Why doesn't he know about these


arguments? The House of Commons is voting on this bill tonight. He


should know about these arguments. I ask him again, will he now admit


that 7000 cancer patients are losing up to �94 a week? I have


answered his question three times. With a full explanation. The whole


point about our benefit reforms is that there are proper medical tests.


So we support those who cannot work as a generous and compassionate


country should, but we make sure those who can work have to go out


to work so that we do not reward bad behaviour. He is attempting to


put up a smokescreen, because he has been found out. He made a


speech this week about the importance of welfare reform, but


he cannot take his divided party with him. That is what this is


about, weak leadership of a divided party. Mr Speaker, what an absolute


disgrace to describe cancer patients in this country as a


smokescreen. This is about cancer charities who are concerned on


their behalf, and he does not know his own policy. It is not about


those who are terminally ill, it is about those recovering from cancer


who are losing support as a result of this government. We know he does


not think his policies through. Isn't this one occasion when if


ever there was a case to pause, listen and reflect, this is it. Why


doesn't he do so? This week, we have seen the honourable gentleman


get on the wrong side of every issue. If it is cutting the deficit,


we now have these CBI, the IMF, his brother, Tony Blair, all on our


side and only he is on his own. On welfare reform, we have everyone


recognises that welfare needs to be reformed, apart from the right


honourable gentleman. On the health service, yes, we now have the Royal


College of GPs, the Royal College of Nurses, the Royal College of


Physicians, the former Labour Health Minister and Tony Blair all


on the side of reform. And on his own, the right honourable gentleman,


a weak leader of a divided party. That is what we have learned this


Prime Minister, Mike constituent's mother, a British national, on a


recent visit to India, was kidnapped and then beheaded in a


horrendous murder incident. Can I ask the British Government to urge


the Indian authorities to carry out a fall and transparent and thorough


investigation and bring to account those responsible for this


horrendous murder so that my constituents and his family can get


justice for their mother? understand why my honourable friend


wants to raise this case. On behalf of the house, we send our


condolences to the family. I understand their wish for justice


to be brought to bear on the perpetrators. The Foreign Office


has been providing the family with consular support, and they will


arrange to meet my right honourable friend and the family to see what


further assistance we can give. However, responsibility for


investigating crime committed overseas has to rest with the


police and judicial authorities in that country. We cannot interfere


in the processes, but I take to heart the points he makes.


Speaker, we know that the deficit was the price paid to avoid a


depression caused by... Are caught by the bankers. But in March, the


forecast for the budget deficit was increased by �46 billion, �1,000


per person. Will he now at last accept that cuts are choking growth,


that that is stoking inflation, and both are increasing the deficit? He


is going too far, too fast, hindering and not helping the


recovery. Yes or no? The deficit is the price paid for Labour's


profligacy in office. Tony Blair in his memoirs, I know they do not


want to hear about Tony Blair any more, funny, that. He was a Labour


leader who used to win elections. He said that by 2007, spending was


out of control. We have to get on top of debt and spending and the


deficit. I understand that the Labour leader is trying to persuade


the shadow Chancellor of that. Good The Prime Minister will be aware


that yesterday was the anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland


Sees the United States will he remind the President that they will


never be acceptable to her Majesty's government, and if the


special relationship means anything, it means that they defend British


sovereign treat -- sovereignty over our own territory. He makes an


excellent point and I'm sure everybody will want to remember the


anniversary of the successful retaking of the Falkland Islands


and the superb bravery and courage of all our armed forces who took


part in that action. We should also remember those that fell in terms


of taking back the Falklands. The point he makes is a good one. What


I would say is this, as long as the Falkland Islands want to be a


sovereign British territory, they should remain so. End of story.


This week we have seen the government changed its mind on the


NHS, and sentencing, student visas and dustbin collection, so will the


Prime Minister tell us now whether the Prime Minister will change his


mind on a government plans to force women to wait up to two years


longer before they qualify for their state pensions? All parties


supported the equalisation of the pension age between men and women.


That needed to happen. It also needs to happen that we raise


pension ages to make sure the pension system is affordable.


Appoint a would make is because we have been able to do that, we have


really into pensions back to earnings, and pensioners are


�15,000 better off in their retirement than they would have


been under Labour. I think that is a good deal and the right thing to


do. If anyone in the party opposite wants to be serious about pension


reform and dealing with the deficit, I agree with the government's


timetable for increasing the men's state pension age to 66, because it


happens gradually. But I would ask the Prime Minister to think again


about women's state pension age. The timetable has women's state


pension age going up too quickly and leaves women of my age, born in


1954, without enough time to plan for what could be two years extra


work. Will the Government please look at this again? I understand


the concerns about this. But I said in the House last week that over 80


% of those affected will only see their pension age come in one year


later. So it is actually a very relatively small number. But the


key thing is making sure that the pension system is sustainable so we


can pay out higher pensions. There is a similar argument that the


house was having in the previous set of questions about the


sustainability of public sector pensions. We have to take these


difficult decisions. They are right for the long term and they mean a


better pension system for those who are retiring. Does the Prime


Minister agree with the Institute for Fiscal Studies that with


inflation at 4.5 %, more than twice the government target, it is


hitting pensioners and lower income families the hardest? The point


about pensions is there is the triple guarantee that they will go


up by earnings or 2.5 %, or whichever is higher, so it won't


affect them in that way. We clearly want to see inflation come down.


There is a shared agreement across the House that it is right for the


Bank of England to have the responsibility. I notice he does


not raise today the welcome news that we have seen the biggest fall


in unemployment in one month figures than we have seen at any


time in a decade. I think it is time the party opposite started


welcoming that good news. There is increasing concern within the house


and across the country about the hidden suffering of traffic to


children and re- trafficked children. Does the Prime Minister


agree that it is essential that a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach


across the country from borders to local authorities and local police


forces, including the excellent charitable organisations involved


in the work, is promoted urgently? My Honourable Friend makes


extremely good point and I know how hard the party works on this group.


I listen very carefully on what they have to say. One thing that I


hope will make a difference is the formation of the National crime


agency which should bring a greater co-ordination to vital issues such


as this. The SNP won a landslide in the


recent elections and the mandate to improve the powers of the Scottish


parliament. So will the Prime Minister respect the Scottish


electorate and accept the six proposals for improvement in the


Scotland Bill by the Scottish government? For we listened very


carefully to what people have to say and week of course respect that


the SNP won the mandate in Scotland and we are responding positively.


But the first point I would make is that the Scotland Bill before the


house is a massive extension of devolution. He shakes his head, but


is an extra �12 billion of spending power. We will go ahead with that


and look at the proposals that Alex Salmond has had. I take the respect


agenda seriously, but it is a two- way street. A street in which I


respect the views of the Scottish people, but they also have to


respect we are still part of, and will always be part of, I believe,


a United Kingdom. Last Friday was the 9th anniversary of the British


Legion, and on Tuesday, 120 soldiers from the Air assault


Brigade will march into Parliament to welcome them back from


Afghanistan. Can have a Prime Minister repeat his assurance that


the armed forces covenant will be rewritten for the first time in


history and written into law? give that assurance and I'm


delighted that the Royal British Legion have agreed an approach we


will take in the Armed forces Bill and that is being passed through


the house. I am glad that the forced -- House of Commons will be


welcoming the soldiers from the Brigade as the rest of the armed


forces, the bravest of the brave, the best of the best, there isn't


too much we can do for the people, which is why the armed forces


covenant matters and why we kept our promise Stoop double the


operational allowance to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Millions of


our constituents are once more facing big increases in their gas


and electricity bills. Many will find it very difficult to make ends


meet. What action will the government take to help them?


are taking a range of actions. Obviously, the fact we have or oil


costing $115 per barrel and gas prices rising by 15 % over a year,


that has an impact, but we are putting �250 million into the warm


home discount and funding a more targeted warm front scheme that


will help 47,000 families this year. We are legislating so social


tariffs have to offer the best prices available. We are keeping a


promise to say that Post Office card account holders should get a


discount. We are keeping the winter fuel payment. And we have


permanently increase the cold weather payments. We didn't just


allow him to be increased in an election year. We are keeping the


higher payments that are very valuable to his constituents.


week my Honourable Friend the Member for Stoke visited a school


near Stafford. In meetings, parents expressed the excellent teaching --


gratitude for the excellent teaching but also of a provision of


their children after the age of 19. Knowing his deep concern in the


area, what encouragement can my right honourable friend give them?


We have to support special schools. The pendulum again special


education swung too far against inclusion, and it is important we


give parents and carers proper choices to make sure they can


choose between mainstream and special education. He raises the


important point that many parents of disabled children when they


become young adults want them to go on studying in further education


colleges and elsewhere, but the current rules seem to suggest that


once they have finished the course, that is it. Parents asked what we


will do now and we have to find a better answer for parents who are


finding their much-loved children living for much longer and want


them to have a purposeful and complete life. In the face of what


are crippling energy price rises, driving pensioners and one off


family into fuel poverty by the thousands every day under the


coalition, can I ask him, he's heat struggling with his energy bill or


are any others of the 21 millionairess in his Cabinet


struggling with the energy bills? And when is he going to take a


personal grip of this situation? From reading the papers this week


the people who seem to be coining it are the ones who worked for the


last government, but there we are. Clearly fuel prices have gone up


because of what has happened to World War -- world gas and oil


prices, but we are serious about helping families. That is why we


have frozen the council tax and a lifting one million people out of


tax and a taken a set of measures to help with energy bills which I


describe. We have also managed to cut petrol tax this year, paid for


by the additional tax on the North Sea oil industry. I notice that


while the party opposite wants to support the petrol price tax, they


don't support the fuel -- increase in the North Sea oil tax.


Absolutely typical of an opportunistic opposition. The Prime


Minister will be aware that this week is National diabetes wheat and


the theme this year is let's talk diabetes to encourage people with


the condition to speak out and not feel stigmatised all worried about


being discriminated against, or joked against in school or in the


workplace. Would the Prime Minister please support the campaign?


certainly will. And my Honourable Friend makes extremely good point,


that many people with diabetes find it an embarrassingly honest and


something they don't want to talk about, yet it is affecting more and


more people. We have to find a way to encourage people to say that


there is nothing abnormal or wrong, but we need to help people manage


their diabetes, particularly because you want to see them have


control over health care and spend less time in hospital if at all


possible. I fully support the campaign and we have to look at the


long-term cost of people getting diabetes and recognise there is a


big public health agenda, particularly about exercise, that


we need to get hold of. The Prime Minister will know that this is the


first opportunity I have had to ask him a question. I stand here fresh


and full of hope, so why would give the Prime Minister one more chance


to answer the question. People in my constituency and up and down the


country faced enormous increases in their energy bills announced by


Scottish Power. They need help now. When is the Prime Minister going to


keep his promise, made in opposition, to take tough action on


it excessive energy prices? As I said in answer some moments ago, we


are taking action. There is only a certain amount you can do when you


see fuel prices go up by as much as they have over the last year, a 50


% increase in oil and gas, but we do have the warm home in Kuyt --


Discount, the warm front scheme, and making sure that where there


are special tariffs, companies have to offer them to their users. That


makes a difference and there is the point about the Post Office card


account holders who currently don't get all the discounts available to


people who paid by direct debit. We are making sure they get the


discount. She shakes her head, but in one year that's a lot more than


Would my Right Honourable friend congratulate the ladies in Ilkeston


who made part of the lace on the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding


dress. This is the last traditional lace factory here, and that town


centre has declined in the recent years over those losses. Would my


Right Honourable Friend agree with me that the review into


revitalising our town centres has come at a perfect time and time by


the Prime Minister to attend our constituents as part of this.


would be delighted to come to the constituency. I didn't know that


their constituents were responsible for the lace on the Duchess's


incredible dress, but I feel I leave today's session enriched by


the knowledge. We do want to see the growth in manufacturing and


production in Britain, and what we are seeing in the economy,


difficult as the months ahead will inevitably be, a growth of things


made in Britain, whether that is cars, vans or lace for people


stresses. Mr Speaker, the United States secretary of state, Robert


Gates, has said - I beg your pardon, Secretary of Defence - has said


that the NATO operation in Libya has exposed serious security gaps.


A first -- but First Sea Lord, Admiral Mark Stanhope, has said


that the operation in Libya cannot be sustained for longer than three


months without serious cuts elsewhere. Given those problems...


Isn't it time that the Prime Minister reopened at the defence


review and did another U-turn on his failed policies? He is called


Mark Stanhope, that is his name. I had a meeting of the First Sea Lord


yesterday, and he agreed we could sustain the mission as long as we


need to, and that is exactly the words that the chief of defence


staff used yesterday, because we are doing the right thing. I want


one simple message to go out from every part of this government and


every part of this House of Commons, that time is on our side. We have


got NATO, the United Nations, the Arab League and we have right on


our side. The pressure is building, militarily, diplomatically,


politically and time is running out for Colonel Gaddafi. On the issue


of the defence review, I would say this. For 10 years they haven't had


a defence review, now they want to win a row. At the end of this


review we have the 4th highest defence budget for any country in


the world. We have superb armed forces, superbly equipped and they


are doing a great job in the skies By the time PMQs have finished, 450


children will have died from preventable disease and famine. Is


it not the case that increasing Britain's aid budget is very much


the right thing to do and will save millions of lives across the world.


I very much welcome the support from the Honourable Gentleman for


the policy of increasing our aid budget and reaching the 0.7 %


target of gross national income. I think there are good reasons for


doing this. First of all, we are keeping a promise to the poorest


people in the poorest countries of the world and we are saving lives.


Yes, of course, things are difficult at home but I think we


should keep the promise even in the midst of difficulties. The second


point I would make is that we are making sure our aid budget is spent


very specifically on things like that she Nations for children that


will save lives. -- vaccinations. That will mean a child vaccinated


every two seconds and a life saved every two minutes. The last point I


would make to anyone who has doubts about this issue, is I really do


think that as well as saving lives, it is also about Britain's standing


for something in the world and standing up for something in the


world, the importance of having a strong aid budget, mending broken


countries, as well as having an issue as well. In that this carer's


week when we celebrate the contribution of Birmingham's care


assistants and the loving families who look after their loved ones,


will the Prime Minister join with me in condemning Birmingham City


Council for cutting care to 4,100 of the most vulnerable in our city,


branded unlawful by the High Court. Bank and I asked the Prime Minister


what he intends to do to make sure that never again does Birmingham


City Council fail the elderly and disabled? I think everybody in the


House should welcome that it is Careys week, and I will have a


reception in Number Ten tonight to celebrate that with many people who


take part and are carers. This government is putting in �400


million to give carers more breaks and specifically putting in �800


million to make sure those looking after disabled children get regular


breaks. What we have in Birmingham is an excellent Conservative and


Liberal Democrat alliance doing a very good job recovering from a


complete mess Labour made of the Last night on Channel 4 television


there was documentary called the killing fields, showing the


atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan government to the Tamil


people which resulted in over 40,000 people being killed. Would


the Prime Minister join me in calling for justice for the Tamil


people and the people who have lost their lives? I didn't see the


documentary, but I understand it was an extremely powerful programme


and it refers to some very worrying events that are alleged to have


taken place towards the end of that campaign. And what the government


has said, along with other governments, is that there should


Lankan government does need this to be investigated and the UN needs


this to be investigated and we need to make sure we get to the bottom


of what happened. The Prime Minister will be aware of the


shambles of corporate governance which is the duration at Natural


Resources Corporation. I would not expect him to give specific comment


on it, but would he agree on behalf of millions of pension holders and


small shareholders across the country that high standards of


corporate governance at the City of London is critical, as is the role


of the Financial Reporting Council? I am aware of this problem and the


Honourable Gentleman makes important point. We have caused


want companies to come to London to access capital to float on the main


market, and that is one of the attractions of Britain, that we are


an open economy, but when the companies come they have to


understand we have rules of corporate governance that are there


for a reason and we need to obey the rules, and I'm sure the


Chancellor will be addressing this not only in his speech tonight, but


also in the papers we will publish in subsequent days. Mr Speaker,


does the Prime Minister agree with me that if the coalition government


had not adopted the economic policy that it has rather than listen to


the advice of the Shadow Chancellor mortgage interest rates could be 5%


higher than what they are now? Honourable Friend makes important


point. In this country today, tragically, we have agreed levels


of government debt that German interest rates. That is an enormous


monetary boost to our economy and we should all welcome the cut in


unemployment today. If we had not taken action on the deficit and


proved to the markets that we had a way of paying back the debt and


deficit, we would be straight in Prime Minister's Questions finishes


five minutes later than normal. It started two minutes later than it


should have done. I think the Speaker was a lull in extra time,


or maybe he needs a new watch. The Leader of the Opposition went on a


specific issue of cancer patients who are under treatment and whether


they continue to get a particular welfare payment or not. All six


questions were taken up by that. It is a technical matter. We will


speak to a representative of Macmillan Cancer Care In a moment,


who originally raised this issue. And we will have a briefing on what


the Government reply is. But before we go into whether Mr Mellor brand


was right to go on something so specific because all eyes were on


him, let's see what you thought of PMQs. John says Cameron was on the


back foot. How can he say Miliband is on the wrong side of the


argument when questioning the withdrawal of help from cancer


patients? Another e-mail says Cameron avoided


the issue today. It was a decent, if not great performance from Ed.


Ivan in Cambridge seems to have written -- says we seem to have


written Ed Miliband's Obituary too early. Cameron was trounced and


looked flustered and foolish at the dispatch box. Some of you are


getting annoyed with Ed Miliband on the cancer theme. Ed's use of


cancer patients is appalling in his attempt to avoid voting on welfare


reform. But hey, what did he do to his own brother? Another says I


wonder what people feel about people using them as an excuse to


back out of supporting much-needed welfare reform. That might be a


good point to talk to Macmillan Cancer Research about, because we


have the head of their campaigns here. Were you misquoted by Ed


Miliband? No. We think it was a really important issue for Ed


Miliband to raise. It is clear that the government had not realised


that their welfare reforms will have such a big impact on cancer


patients who want to work, but are not quite yet fully ready to do so.


We did get in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions


while all this was going on, and this was what they had to say.


"people deemed too ill to work will be placed in a support group for


employment support allowance. There are no requirements for these


people to seek work, and the rate of the allowance they receive will


not go down after a year. The Macmillan claimed would only apply


to people in the Work Related Activity Book, those assessed as


capable of at least some work". So it does seem as if when you are


really ill, you will not be expected to work and you will not


lose benefits. The at is a very technical answer from the


Government, which means there are 7000 who this will apply to. There


are cancer patients who will be hit under the proposals unless the


Government is able to rethink them. It will be those who are recovering


from cancer treatment. The people who want to work and will be able


to work in the future, but not yet, because of the treatment they have


had. I can't believe for a moment that the Government really


understands that these people, who want to work, will be penalised to


the tune of nearly �100 a week. No doubt this argument will


continue as the day goes on as people try to get to grips with the


issues on both sides. It seems to apply to a small number of people,


although in their thousands, who are recovering from a or under


treatment for cancer, but deemed still to be able to do some kind of


work. The argument is what amount of welfare payment they should


continue to get. Was Mr Miliband right to go on that specific issue


for all six questions? I think that today will no doubt be claimed as a


victory for Ed Miliband. He was passionate. The issue he picked was


retail politics'. People care about this issue hugely. It is hard to


argue against somebody defending cancer patients. There are very few


people, David Cameron included, who would support people who are


seriously ill seeing a cut in their benefit. But it was interesting


that Ed Miliband did this through the whole of his entire six


question stretch. And it ended up with him in a difficult place. By


the end of Ed Miliband's exchanges, he was suggesting, astonishingly,


that we should have a pause on the entire welfare plans. That is


extraordinary. I am sure Hazelwood agree that one of Labour's problems


is that people think Labour were too soft on scroungers and people


who kept hold of benefits and claimed things they should not have


done. And here is Ed Miliband putting himself on the other


argument -- the other side of the argument on reform, calling for a


pause in the week that his party is divided. So you have Ed Miliband no


doubt having a victory within the Commons, but I am curious at the


decision to go on that as an issue and end up calling for a rethink,


given where his party is. I think he has had a good day. It was a big


test, and he was passionate and angry. It was a real issue that


affects people's lives, so it was right. In terms of the welfare


issue, people do want us to reform welfare. They want it to be a fair


system, and Ed told on Monday about taking responsibility at the top


and bottom. But there are things in the welfare bill which are pretty


punitive, and that is why there is a debate. But I think he did well


today. Being broadly in favour of welfare reform, but disliking some


of the things in the bill, is a respectable position for any a


position to take. But doesn't that mean you support the principle and


argue for changes at committee stage, whereas Mr Miliband has been


giving the impression that he would like not to proceed with the


welfare reform at all. You don't agree with that? As the committee


develops, I think you will see the provisions being tested, and


rightly. But I think the people of the country want us to reform


welfare. But they also wanted to be fair. If you have groups like


cancer sufferers who will lose �100 a week, that is not fair. On the


general point of welfare reform, the arguments include people that


the press called scroungers and people taking benefits they are not


in part two. The more fundamental point about welfare reform is


surely to remove the existing perverse incentives, where many


people are better off taking welfare than going to work. That


was exactly our policy, to say that in any circumstances, you will


always be better off in work. We were talking about �40 a week if


you were prepared to take a job. If you have a system that is so


complicated, and it is, that at the margins you will lose 95p out of


every pound you earn, that is not an incentives. So I support making


work pay. Was welfare reform an issue too hot for Mrs Thatcher to


handle at the time? I do not think so. Then why didn't the Thatcher


government go with it? Well, we did. There is this myth that we did not


do anything on the health service and just focused on the economy. It


is untrue. You put millions on incapacity benefit instead of on


unemployment benefit. That was one of our big problems. Incapacity


benefit shrank alongside your record. Why didn't the Thatcher


government tackle welfare reform? Not long afterwards, Bill Clinton


did in the US. We had a lot of things to do when we came to power.


People forget what a state the country was in. When I went to


Russia as the trade minister in 1979, the Russian minister said to


me, we are not going to buy any more from you. You are on strike.


Your goods are never delivered on time. They are inadequate. In fact,


I must tell you that we are going to buy less from you. We regard you


as the sick man of Europe. Ten years later, I went to Moscow again


as the Energy Secretary, and the members of the Politburo were


queuing up in the hope of getting a meeting, because they saw Britain


as a country that had turned itself around. But you can't do everything.


Final Word From Sam. Where does this leave Mr Miliband now? Where


he was before, which is still having to tackle the two big


problems with Labour's reputation, firstly to repair it on the deficit


and public finances, and secondly to repair their reputation on


welfare reform and not being tough enough. I do not think he achieved


anything on those today, although he did look competent in front of


his troops. As always during Prime Minister's Questions, it is not


just David Cameron and Ed Miliband who are in the spotlight. John


Bercow was a controversial choice when he was elected as Speaker


almost two years ago now. First, a reminder of some of his more ill-


tempered interventions. Order. The Government Chief Whip has


absolutely no business whatsoever shouting from a sedentary position.


Order! The honourable gentleman will remain in the chamber. The


right honourable gentleman has absolutely no business scurrying


out of the chamber. Order! Order! The Chief Whip has no business...


Order! The right honourable gentleman has known business


behaving in that way. A bad example is being said by some


senior members to newcomers. Order. There are far too many private


conversations taking place. The public is not impressed. They want


Order! The minister will resume his seat. The answers have been


excessively long winded and repetitive and must not happen


again. I have made the position clear and I hope the minister will


learn from that. So, an ill- tempered exchange with the health


minister Simon Burns who was heard calling the Speaker eight stupid


sanctimonious dwarf. He later issued an apology, but did he mean


it? Who knows? We are joined by Bobby Friedman who has published a


biography of John Bercow. Welcome to the Daily Politics. We have seen


you can get angry at times and really does polarise people -- he


can get angry. But he does survive through to the next election, or


does he? Are I think he will survive. But as anything in


politics it comes with a proviso. Because of the way John was elected,


he does polarise people. When I was speaking to people for the book,


they work some people who said there he was the best thing I ever


met, but on the other side you have people who hate him with the real


venom and a real personal venom, actually. I think John's position


is a little more vulnerable than your average speaker, but only if


there is a big event, and who knows what it might be. But if some event


were to come up we have the kind of a powder keg building up that


people would not step in to save him like they would with other


speakers. But at the moment, people think, as a speaker, he is doing a


good job. There is no immediate sign that people are trying to get


rid of him. What is the general view of him on the Conservative


backbenches? A lot of the Conservative backbenches do not


like him and a lot would get rid of him tomorrow if they could. But


there are others, more moderate, who were changing their view. When


John was elected, one minister said to me that he had never seen


anything quite so tribal within the Conservative Party as the feeling


against John. Nothing has united as much as the Conservative benches


have against John Bercow. But as people see how he is doing and


getting more urgent questions in and getting through the order paper


quicker, I think they realise he is doing quite a good job. I think


that is helping. You have to remember that John Major and the


government at times and I got eight text from a special adviser saying


that the subject of the book was palest of expletives, but that


special adviser was preparing for an urgent question that had been


granted. That is what you want the Speaker to be doing and you want to


hold them to account. Do we know what David Cameron thinks of John


Bercow? He has never forgiven John Bercow for the attack when he was


standing to be leader of the Conservative Party, he attacked his


background as liking hunting and been from Eton College. It was very


personal, and it was a necessary, because he was a Ken Clarke


supporter, and Ken Clarke said he did not know why he did it. Cameron


has stepped in to save him. He backed him in Buckingham at the


last election, the constituency where he was honourable. And he


also made sure that Conservative MPs did not try and get rid of him


when they came back to the Commons after the election. But who knows


whether Cameron would step in another time? I think there is a


lasting scar, and juicy with a lot of senior Conservatives, he has


stepped out of line once too often and Cameron will never forget that.


But he has made quite a political journey. We have a clip from an


issue of Question Time -- an edition of Question Time, from 1981.


Let's see what he was like then. One more common from the audience.


For Mrs Castle to describe what Mr Whitelaw said about financial


assistance as economic nonsense is utterly absurd. Mrs Castle recalls


in her recent book that Mr Callaghan once said that if you


were a young man, he would emigrate because he did not have any answers


to Britain's economic problems or any others. I would suggest took


Mrs Castle that the region she sought to join the European


Parliament was precisely the same. Mr Whitelaw was talking economic


common sense. A very good point. that the same that man who is now


the speed of the house? I think his views have changed a lot since then


-- speak of the house. And his hairstyle. Be it has certainly


changed for the better. But you can see that kind of energy, and when


he gets his teeth into something, he will not let it go. Back in the


1980s, he was very right wing and in favour of repatriating


immigrants and things like that. He has done a genuine conversion over


issues such as that. Now he has the same fervour over gay rights and


things like that. What our guest is saying, Cecil Parkinson, is that he


is the marmite speaker. You seem to love him or hate him. Is that a


healthy thing for the Speaker to be? It is a fact, whether it is


healthy or unhealthy, that is the situation is. Where do you come


down on this? I have known John for a long time. He personally staged a


riot at Essex University that I was involved in. He did not plan to


stage a riot, but by the time he had finished what he was doing, we


had a riot. I have kept an eye on John over many years. Tell us what


happened. The week before, Teddy Taylor had been attacked by a


student who smashed and it a kick into his face and cut him and the


student was arrested. I was going the next week -- smashed and it


paid into his face. John announced it would be a ticket only, no


Labour members meeting. All the other students decided we would not


getting to the room, so there were hundreds of people blocking the


entrance. And we subsequently had the meeting, and we had 1,200


people there. It was not a right. Do you like Marmite or not, Hazel


Blears? I love the Speaker. loved the speaker? You loved the


speaker? I think he is a breath of fresh air. He welcomes the new


members, he gets through the business, he is about my size and


we see eye-to-eye. On that shock news going across the wires of the


world, that Hazel Blears is in love with the Speaker, we say goodbye to


Bobby Friedman. Before we go on, we need to point out that Mike Hobday


from Macmillan who spoke to us from PMQs was a Labour candidate in the


last election. Just as we find these things out, we tell you them.


With the country's finances still in a pretty dire Strait, should we


still be paying for eye tests, bus passes? Peter Stringfellow, and


even Mark not for, dire Straits, you see. It thinks that the


taxpayer is already paying far too much to subsidise the over-sixties


and that any increase in state funding for long-term care for the


elderly which might come out in the review next month might be the


Turn that 60 in Britain today, and it suddenly feels like life is a


beach. Free bus passes, eye tests, and winter fuel payments are all


made available to you regardless of whether you are working unemployed


will very rich indeed. But I don't think Britain can avoid it --


afford it. Last year the old as members of the baby-boom generation


began to retire. There are 17 million of them and they have


better pensions, more savings and own more homes than any other age


group in society, but we continue to subsidise them. A few years ago


a parliamentary report found that winter fuel payments cost Britain


�3 billion every year. But only 12 % of the people who get them


actually need them. To me, that sounds like a terrible waste of


Since taking office, the coalition have cut university funding, the


education maintenance allowance and even housing benefit for young


people. But more than one million of them are unemployed and 25 % are


still living with their parents. It sounds to me like they are the ones


that need the help, especially when you consider that over the course


of their tax Payne lives the younger generation will have to pay


for all of those juicy benefits for the older, richer generation. Next


month the deal not commission will present the Government with plans


for the provision of elderly care in Britain. We do not know what


they will say, but the man in charge is already indicating that


he thinks that care for the elderly is the poor relation of Britain's


welfare state. With so many people worried about how they will pay for


care and the quality of care they receive in their old age, I


understand something must be done, but my point is simple. Britain


can't continue to hand out benefits to the elderly without a thought of


the younger, poorer people who will have to pay for it. It is like


giving one generation a big long holiday and not inviting the rest


So Ed Howker, what have you got against the old? I have got nothing


against the old. OK. Fine, good. Isn't the reason politicians pay


attention to this is that they are very involved in society?


Absolutely right. So, what is wrong with that. If they are willing to


pay an active part in society and those in the voting age are not, so


be it? We have this thing called representative democracy, and the


whole idea is that you try and govern on behalf of all people


whether they voted for you or not or whether you have curried favour


with them or not. My problem with this agenda which seeks to give


huge swathes of benefits, often completely unnecessary ones, to an


older generation, is that we have a huge quantity of young people in


Britain hurting very badly and not enough is being done to address


their needs. But also we talk about this all the time. There are many


people in the older bracket who are hurting as well who have paid their


dues, possibly 14 wars, and they have done their bit for this


country. -- possibly fault in a war. Let's be polemic. You have a young


generation who may be could do without this attitude that


everything will come on a plate, but you have to scrimp and save


like their grandparents did. course, there are complex things


about how the Government approach is the idea of debt with younger


people. There is a lot of talk about making them save by also


making them get into debt if they want to be educated, so that is a


mixed message. But there is a practical issue that young people


face in the last 20 or 30 years of their working lives, a huge fiscal


pressure that comes from underfunded pensions, a doubling of


health care costs in the next 10 or 20 years, and there is no way


whatsoever that we have thought seriously about the mechanisms that


will be needed for them to pay for that whilst maintaining a good


quality of a welfare system throughout the generations, and


that is my problem. So perhaps they make rise up in anger and change


the political system? Isn't that what democracy is about? I don't


think we necessarily need a revolution. It is a very 1960s way


of looking at how the young people engage in politics. It is just


making sure that the basic polities address their needs. A such an


interesting subject, but very squeezed because of the time. Do


come back again and talk to worse. While we have been on air, the


Greek banks and possibly three French banks are exposed to that


debt from Greece and they could be another sovereign bank crisis.


Thank you to Hazel and Cecil. No time to pick the winner for guess


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