16/06/2011 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics. The Education


Secretary wants to hundred of the worst-performing primary school sin


England to be removed from local authority control and transformed


into academies under different leadership.


Ed Balls has been calling for a temporary cut in VAT to help boost


the economy. IVF on the NHS - it's meant to be


free for everyone, everywhere. But it's not always the case.


Roll up your shirt sleeves, please get your woolly jumpers out because


the Lib Dems are having an awayday than we will find out just what


they get up to. All of that in the next half an


hour. With us for the duration, Robert Winston. Welcome back to the


programme. Let's talk about the economy, because the shadow


chancellor, Ed Balls, has been delivering a speech on the very


subject this morning. He has called for - get this - a tax cut! This is


what he said. My suggestion to George Osborne, whilst he won't


agree to reverse his mistaken VAT rise permanently, he should reverse


its temporarily bed least until the economy is growing strongly again.


By putting more money directly into people's pockets, it would boost


consumer spending for consumers who are feeling the squeeze from rising


prices and taxes, especially pensioners and those on low, fixed


incomes. That was Ed Balls this morning. Just as the European


sovereign debt crisis is reaching the peak, because countries have


borrowed too much. Why would it be sensible for Britain to increase


the size of its deficit? Ed Balls's. It is by reducing that you would


increase retail spending. Retail spending is in a serious crisis at


the moment. You would increase the deficit? You may do, but he is


asking for it temporarily to give a boost to the economy. I think it is


a good idea and it has been asked for in the House of Lords by a few


distinguished economists. We still have a very weak pound. Let's stick


to the deficit at the moment. There is no doubt a cut in VAT would


increase the size of the deficit. A cut in VAT to 17.5% would cost


about �12 billion. We have a deficit which is a percentage of


our GDP, about the same as Greece. At the moment, do you know how much


Greece has to pay in interest to get its debt away? It is a great


deal of money. It has to pay between 16 and 26%. We pay, because


the markets think we are getting our deficit down, we pay less than


4%. Can you argue if we increased our deficit, if we reversed the


deficit reduction plan, we wouldn't be paying a lot more for the debt?


I would have to see the exact figures. It is difficult to make


that assumption without knowing what the figures involved. Ed Balls


is, I think pretty well aware of what that would be. He did not


touch on that in his speech. We have a great size deficit but we


paid German interest rates. We pay less than 4%. I really don't


understand and there would be grateful if you could understand,


if we increased our deficit, we would have to pay more in interest


payments because of the bigger deficit? At the moment, people are


paying vast sums of money we cannot afford. If we increase spending we


would boost the economy and that is what Ed Balls is suggesting.


will see, this debate is going to go on.


Just as you were talking, Greek bank stocks we have been told, have


hit 15 year lows because of the political turmoil.


Because of the Greek banks hold a huge chunk of Greek Government debt.


They were told to buy it. If it has to take a cut, the bank balance


sheets will be shot. 15% interest, extraordinary. Only if you are not


in full control of your senses! return isn't bad. It is time for


the quiz. Since we have a science and fertility expert, we will give


you a bit and an exam. Please don't panic, it won't have an impossible


At the end of the show, Roberts will sort it out. He will answer it.


It is very easy! Regular viewers of this programme,


and I have been told there is at least three of you - will be a


weather Government's revolutionary drive to organise public services


in England has been driven back. Not on education, where Michael


Gove is expanding Tony Blair's academies and introducing his own


version of three schools. Independent schools that still


state funded, depending on the number of pupils you can attract.


Anita has the details. The Government's revolutionary


drive to reform public services in England has been driven back on a


couple of fronts. Just as comrade Lansley about it. But not in


education. The Education Secretary Michael Gove is in fact, expanding


the role... He is expanding the role of Tony Blair's academies and


introducing his own free schools. Independent but state funded, as


Andrew said. In December the Education Secretary compared


himself to Chairman Mao. He said he was embarking on a long march to


freedom of our education system. Promising a cultural revolution. In


a speech to headteachers in Birmingham this morning, he laid


out the latest thinking from his little red book. At the moment


secondary-school so are considered failing if less than 35% of pupils


get five GCSEs at grades A to C. This so called for target will rise


to 50%. Schools unable to meet this target may be taken over by a


neighbouring Academy. 60% of pupils basically reach -- reach basic


levels of English and maths. 200 of the worst primary school as will be


taken out of local authority control and turned into academies.


This could involve significant change in terms of staffing and in


some cases, the headteacher would be removed entirely. The glorious


Revolution continues. David Blok is head of a primary school in south


London. Fans of being with us. Is this a good idea?


I don't think it is a very good idea. I worry about the capacity of


good or outstanding schools to support failing schools. Parents in


the school where I work expect to see me in the playground, expect to


see the leadership team in the playground. Expect us to respond to


their questions, to meet them regularly. I don't see how we can


do this if we were having to look after a second school. I don't


think it is about money, it is about the capacity of schools to


run another school. I think what would happen is standards in the


good or outstanding school would go down. If somebody asked you


tomorrow please take over and neighbouring school which is


struggling, you would say? I would say no, there aren't enough hours


in the day. If we can go back to basics, why does a fine -- primary


school fail? What happens there? think the primary reason why


schools fail is because there aren't enough good teachers around.


It is very, very difficult to find teachers in inner London who can


deliver the goods. There is all sorts of reasons for this. Teachers


can't afford to live in the inner city. I wonder about the standard


of teacher-training. We find it very difficult to find good


teachers. We have good teachers in the school, but at this time of


year when we are looking for teachers for next year, it is hard.


Schools can very, very easily dip into failure if they cannot find


adequate staff. I would love you to stay with us because you might be


interested in what Andrew and his panel say next.


Little gremlins in our electronic script system. I am holding on to


the old fashioned paper! With us now, the Conservative MP,


chairman of the Education Select Committee, Graham Stuart. We tried


to get a minister on, but although we could not get one, we are


delighted we have used. You said when the Academy's Bill was going


through last summer, not long after the coalition formed power, they


may be rushing things. He said he would like to have longer to


reflect on these changes, suggest changes and improvements to make


sure there aren't any problems that have not been considered. Are they


still rushing it? On the question of urgency, it is central. Is this


system in need of small adjustments or does it need shock treatment?


Are we falling behind competitors? What is the answer? We need to move


fast. The Government did move on the passage of the Academy's bill.


They said they would change things like special educational needs. You


need to combine with careful consideration with a sense of


urgency. The warning you gave last July, you wouldn't make? When you


are trying to push the pace of changes, there is a risks that


unforeseen and perverse consequences... I am not sure what


you're saying, are they right to make these changes now or are they


rushing them? Depends which changes you are talking about. These


primary school is have been identified as failing for a long


time. Are we going to continue accepting this? Hopefully we will


get answers to the questions from the Government in the next few days.


Fundamentally, are they right to say these 200 schools need external


support and stimulus - they are. This was Shiv primary school Stiven


more independent Academy sector, how does that alleviate the


desperate need for more primary school places, which this country


has. Financial Times saying we need another 140,000 extra places?


about raising the quality, it is a different issue. What is the


Government going to do? They are allocating from the devastated


capital budget. Too much money was sent on monuments to political


vanity. Huge, new schools were they put an existing schools, was a


waste of money when there were dilapidated schools that needed


repairing. We have a budget which has been overspent and Miss


allocated in its use. Do you want these 200 primary schools to become


academies? To be the praetorian guard of AC change? Do you want to


see a lot more primary schools become academies? I am cautious


about that. Primaries, by their nature tend to be smaller and more


fragile, making them independent and autonomous without working out


there is a whole series of supports around them is risky. Way you have


200 schools which have failed repeatedly on a sustained period,


there is a case of coming in, gathering whoever will be prepared


to contribute... In secondary schools it is no longer just fail


schools becoming academies. 47% of children in academies set up by


Michael Gove, are from the richest 30% of the population. Under Labour,


47 came from the poorest 20%. It is changing now? It is the same vision


Tony Blair had, which is to see every school, independent school,


secondary-school. Personally I am yet to be convinced on the primary


issue. This did start under Tony Blair and the Tories have given it


wings? I have a lot of time for Michael Gove, he is thinking very


hard. There are big issues, valuing teachers more and getting more


teachers in that are better qualified. If you look at the


record of the academies, take south London, the Harris academies in


Peckham and elsewhere, they have improved the educational standards.


People who were underperforming on a performing very well. There is a


strong case for what the Secretary of State is saying. A headteacher,


just listening to Robert Winston, a Labour peer, he seems to think what


Michael Gove is doing is the next logical stage which was started


under the last Government? I am not sure how relevant and Academy is a


four primary schools, it is a red herring. Are you not just


frightened of the competition, you are the Establishment at the


moment? No, my school is very oversubscribed. We're not afraid of


competition from anybody. Primary school has are being tempted into


becoming Academy's because their budget will go up and headteachers


are mindful of budgets. All sorts of issues to do with governments


and employment law which are not clear to me. We haven't decided at


my school which way we will go. The reality is, we don't have enough


information on which to make a Robert Winston, we are coming onto


the issue you know a lot about. Babies, money and the National


Health Service - there are not many issues as emotive as these. What


happens when you roll them together? Should the state paid to


help infertile couples have a child? Government guidelines say


that women between the ages of 23 and 39 should be entitled to three


cycles of IVF for free on the NHS, but it has emerged that in many


areas, that is not being offered. Technicians at a private IVF clinic,


doing some tricky science, but in the middle of an even tougher moral


issue. Couples who are infertile are entitled to up to three cycles


of IVF treatment for free on the NHS. That is the guidelines set out


by the board who advise on the availability of healthcare, the


National Institute for Clinical Excellence, NICE. But those are


just guidelines. The Primary Care Trusts who administer healthcare in


each local area are not obliged to stick to them. Across the country,


almost three-quarters of Primary Care Trusts provide less than the


recommended number of cycles. That is according to recent research by


a Conservative MP. A small handful provide no IVF at all. This doctor


at his private clinic sees some of the couples who end up paying for


the treatment themselves. Some of them actually cry, because they


feel they have been denied what they feel is their right. As


taxpayers, they contribute to the economy. The prime minister waded


into this emotive issue a week ago. The deputy chief executive of the


NHS is writing to all primary care trusts, reminding them of the NICE


guidance. Of course, some PCTs have worst deficits than others and a


more difficult process to follow, but we want to make sure everyone


has access to this treatment. this letter, which was actually


cent in January, does not guarantee that anything will change. These


decisions are delegated to local PCTs. You are almost bound to get


variation between them. We know they will not take the decision not


to fund IVF lightly. It will be because of cost pressures elsewhere.


You always have to choose between funding cancer, maternity services


and mental health services. NICE is revising its guidelines, and new


ones will be issued next year. But for this treatment to be free for


everyone everywhere, that guidance will have to be toughened up and a


lot of money will have to be found to pay for it.


Lord Winston is still with us. What you don't know about this is not


worth knowing. On the question of health budgets, there is so much


pressure. We have an ageing population, you know the arguments.


Can we afford to give people the chance to have a child when that is


not a life-or-death issue? There are several issues here. Firstly,


being infertile of course causes massive pain, and there is a proper


case for proper reproductive medicine within the NHS. But the


real issue is something more subtle. At present, the NHS is not costing


out what it really costs to deliver the service. In my view, they are


charging too much. If you centralise these services, you


could have staff costs per cycle of around �500 to �800 per cycle. If


you add in the drugs, it is still under �1,000. What is it currently?


It is based on the private sector, which charges �3,000, which is


massive profiteering. It is a big issue for the health bill coming


through parliament. The health service is not good at costing a


range of packages. If the PCTs were charged what the economic grade


really was, they could deliver three cycles, and they could do


much better medicine. That is a real issue for the health service.


That is a strong word, profiteering. I mean that. You cannot justify, in


London, most private clinics are charging more than �3,000 for a


bare IVF cycle without the consultation fee and without


investigation and without seeing the consultant and without


ultrasound, simply as the upfront fee, paid in advance by the patient


before they have anything done. What would be the cost to them? To


the provider? I think the cost to the provider is about half that.


Massive salaries are being made. The freezing of embryos, which will


be more important if you are going to reduce multiple birth rates,


people are being charged at �350 a year to destroy an embryo. Liquid


nitrogen costs 50 pence a litre. To do this eight times will still not


cost more than �5. The costs being charged in the private sector, on


which the NHS is based in some of its fees, make this and realistic.


A let us accept your premise that it is an unfair and an real cost


that PCTs are paying. But still, on that price list you have things


like hip-replacement, knee replacements, things which are


fairly cheap. Some will say, do more of those and fewer of the IVF


treatments, because one transforms a life and the other is a choice.


That is not true. Having a child transforms your life more than


anything else. We are living in a society which does not value the


most important thing, the next generation. For people who are


unable to have children, of course nobody has a right to have a child.


But everybody in the UK has the right to get health treatment which


is due to the pain they are suffering. In my view, the pain of


infertility is as serious as the treatments you are talking about.


We touched on that in the stuttering review added of


education policy. Andrew Lansley has been pushed back in some of his


ambition. It is called a watered down blueprint. Are you happy with


what we have? No, because I have not seen the Bill as it comes


through the House of Lords. We know a lot about what is in it. At least


they have got some academic medicine and evidence that there


will be experts in the commissioning process. But DD10 of


that deal, it is still a very big bill. You will have a tough time in


the Lords. I think we probably will have a tough time in the Lords.


There are situations where the Labour Party will agree with the


Government. But I think we will see a considerable extended stage.


There is still a big problem in healthcare, which is what you do


with the people who need support in the community after they leave the


hospital and how you follow them up properly and give them adequate


healthcare. Those are big issues which are not fully worked out yet.


Now, we love a good awayday on the Daily Politics. We have cake


competitions and play petanque. In fact, I came second last year. In


the petanque. I did not do the cakes. The Liberal Democrats have


not one, but two away-days. And they are off on one now. Giles has


more. Roll up your sleeves, be relaxed.


Try to forget to buy and your boss. I want you to think about some


works stuff, but in a relaxed and fun way. You are probably wondering


why I am wearing sunglasses. It is because the future for us is so


bright, I have to wear shades. Oh, dear, oh, dear. Yes, the


awayday, once the preserve of companies keen to try and get their


employees to bond. It was not long before politics had embraced them


as well, taking the reins of the Conservative Party in 1997, William


Hagues or the awayday as key. He also had a secret weapon to pull


over his party's fusty image, the jumper, the dress down look that


says, we are all equals. Despite the bijou nature of the Liberal


Democrat parliamentary party, its leaders have also seen the awayday


as a way of knitting the party together and forging his identity.


But does the political awayday served as nothing more than a


slightly dodgy photo op? Sadly, paintballing has yet to feature on


a political awayday, much favoured by companies. But the politicians


do go in for those team problem- solving exercises - building trust.


The problem is, one day in politics, your colleagues catch you, the next


day they let you fall flat on your face.


Just like the office! You saw him in the film and he


joins us now - former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik. What do


you get up to? It is feel good. Whatever we have said in Parliament,


we are all basically pulling the same way. The only thing we do not


do is sing the Lib Dem national anthem, the Gland. I will not sing


it for you. -- of the Land. would like to keep our viewers! Do


you play bonding games? Sometimes, but they tend to be in the evening.


In the daytime, there are worthy discussions about policy. There is


always the hardy perennial about what went wrong with tuition fees.


In the evenings, we have dinner and a quiz. Then there is a surprise so


tough questions about politics, and everyone gets competitive. Do you


play any other games? Where are you reading with that question? It is


an awayday. We do not do the paintballing stuff. I was not


thinking of that. Are you being a bit naughty? No, I was just asking


if you play any other games. Does anything could come of these


events? Sometimes you get clarity in policy areas which have caused


controversy. That will be an issue with health. Sometimes you can also


get bonding with a leader if he has been controversial. But it is not


guaranteed. Sometimes you come back, and everything is the same as it


was before. You still hope to be your party's mayor for London


candidate. Let's look at your Power to the people! There is


nothing like using an old '70s sitcom opening titles for a


campaign. Mr Clegg does not seem to want you to be his candidate.


he said that? He said it to the Welsh Liberals. He said, we have


even had a Liberal Democrat celebrity flying the Welsh flag in


the depths of the Australian jungle. That is one fresh tree disaster


that we are not responsible for. I would not call that a wholehearted


endorsement. He was using me as cover for the Forestry Commission


disaster of policy. But we picked upon that and said we thought it


was a bit partisan. The leader has withdrawn from that position. I


have had a lot of negative briefing from some mysterious sources in the


party. What are they afraid of, the fact that I have a profile? We have


run out of time. There is just time before we go to


find out the answer to our exam. Robert, what is the correct answer?


I suppose it is sexual reproduction, isn't it? I do not know if they


will be doing that at the Liberal awayday. He is right.


Before we go, we didn't have time to pick a winner to our guess the


year competition, so you get to pick a winner today, Robert Winston.


The answer was 2002. I have two here. End Livingstone guess the


year. From Yeovil in Somerset. I will be back tonight for This Week


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