16/06/2011 Daily Politics


16/06/2011

Andrew Neil and Anita Anand talk about calls for a temporary cut in VAT and the government's plans for poorly performing primary schools. Robert Winston discusses IVF on the NHS.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Good afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics. The Education

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

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England to be removed from local authority control and transformed

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into academies under different leadership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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consumer spending for consumers who are feeling the squeeze from rising

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

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

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sovereign debt crisis is reaching the peak, because countries have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that assumption without knowing what the figures involved. Ed Balls

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

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

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

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understand and there would be grateful if you could understand,

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

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

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

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

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will see, this debate is going to go on.

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

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hit 15 year lows because of the political turmoil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:05:25.:05:42.

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

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It is very easy! Regular viewers of this programme,

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

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weather Government's revolutionary drive to organise public services

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

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

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version of three schools. Independent schools that still

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

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Anita has the details. The Government's revolutionary

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

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

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

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

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

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Andrew said. In December the Education Secretary compared

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

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

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a speech to headteachers in Birmingham this morning, he laid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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taken out of local authority control and turned into academies.

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This could involve significant change in terms of staffing and in

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

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

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

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

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good or outstanding schools to support failing schools. Parents in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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tomorrow please take over and neighbouring school which is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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interested in what Andrew and his panel say next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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reflect on these changes, suggest changes and improvements to make

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

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

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

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

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

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

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need to combine with careful consideration with a sense of

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

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

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

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

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

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primary school is have been identified as failing for a long

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

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

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

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

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more independent Academy sector, how does that alleviate the

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desperate need for more primary school places, which this country

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

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

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Government going to do? They are allocating from the devastated

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

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

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waste of money when there were dilapidated schools that needed

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

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

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

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

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

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fragile, making them independent and autonomous without working out

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

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200 schools which have failed repeatedly on a sustained period,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Peckham and elsewhere, they have improved the educational standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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frightened of the competition, you are the Establishment at the

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

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competition from anybody. Primary school has are being tempted into

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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help infertile couples have a child? Government guidelines say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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National Institute for Clinical Excellence, NICE. But those are

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just guidelines. The Primary Care Trusts who administer healthcare in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You always have to choose between funding cancer, maternity services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:18:48.:18:53.

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

:18:53.:19:00.

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

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

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case for proper reproductive medicine within the NHS. But the

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

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

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charging too much. If you centralise these services, you

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

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

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

:19:42.:19:46.

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

:19:46.:19:51.

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

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

:19:55.:20:00.

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

:20:00.:20:05.

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

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

:20:12.:20:16.

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

:20:16.:20:20.

bare IVF cycle without the consultation fee and without

:20:20.:20:23.

investigation and without seeing the consultant and without

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

:20:28.:20:33.

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

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

:20:37.:20:41.

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

:20:41.:20:47.

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

:20:47.:20:52.

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

:20:52.:20:59.

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

:20:59.:21:03.

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

:21:03.:21:10.

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

:21:10.:21:15.

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

:21:15.:21:20.

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

:21:20.:21:24.

like hip-replacement, knee replacements, things which are

:21:24.:21:29.

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

:21:29.:21:34.

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

:21:34.:21:38.

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

:21:38.:21:42.

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

:21:42.:21:46.

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

:21:47.:21:51.

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

:21:51.:21:56.

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

:21:56.:22:03.

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

:22:03.:22:06.

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

:22:06.:22:10.

We touched on that in the stuttering review added of

:22:10.:22:13.

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

:22:13.:22:16.

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

:22:16.:22:21.

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

:22:21.:22:25.

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

:22:25.:22:28.

they have got some academic medicine and evidence that there

:22:28.:22:33.

will be experts in the commissioning process. But DD10 of

:22:33.:22:39.

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

:22:39.:22:43.

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

:22:43.:22:46.

There are situations where the Labour Party will agree with the

:22:46.:22:55.

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

:22:55.:22:59.

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

:22:59.:23:03.

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

:23:03.:23:06.

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

:23:06.:23:12.

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

:23:12.:23:15.

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

:23:15.:23:25.
:23:25.:23:25.

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

:23:25.:23:29.

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

:23:29.:23:32.

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

:23:33.:23:38.

more. Roll up your sleeves, be relaxed.

:23:38.:23:43.

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

:23:43.:23:49.

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

:23:49.:23:53.

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

:23:53.:23:59.

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

:23:59.:24:03.

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

:24:03.:24:06.

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

:24:06.:24:10.

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

:24:10.:24:14.

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

:24:14.:24:19.

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

:24:19.:24:24.

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

:24:24.:24:26.

Democrat parliamentary party, its leaders have also seen the awayday

:24:26.:24:30.

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

:24:30.:24:34.

But does the political awayday served as nothing more than a

:24:34.:24:39.

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

:24:39.:24:43.

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

:24:43.:24:48.

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

:24:48.:24:54.

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

:24:54.:24:57.

day they let you fall flat on your face.

:24:57.:25:01.

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

:25:01.:25:06.

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

:25:06.:25:12.

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

:25:12.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:22.:25:28.

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

:25:28.:25:32.

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

:25:32.:25:41.

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

:25:41.:25:44.

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

:25:44.:25:49.

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

:25:49.:25:52.

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

:25:52.:25:58.

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

:25:58.:26:02.

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

:26:02.:26:06.

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

:26:06.:26:10.

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

:26:10.:26:19.

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

:26:19.:26:24.

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

:26:24.:26:28.

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

:26:28.:26:31.

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

:26:31.:26:36.

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

:26:36.:26:46.
:26:46.:27:08.

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

:27:08.:27:12.

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

:27:12.:27:15.

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

:27:15.:27:21.

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

:27:21.:27:24.

even had a Liberal Democrat celebrity flying the Welsh flag in

:27:24.:27:28.

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

:27:28.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:37.

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

:27:37.:27:41.

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

:27:41.:27:47.

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

:27:47.:27:51.

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

:27:51.:27:58.

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

:27:58.:28:01.

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

:28:01.:28:11.
:28:11.:28:16.

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

:28:16.:28:21.

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

:28:21.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:28.

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

:28:28.:28:31.

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

:28:31.:28:40.

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

:28:40.:28:45.

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

:28:45.:28:52.

Some 200 of the worst performing primary schools in England are to be removed from local authority control and transformed into academies, under the leadership of private sponsors.

Plus news of Ed Balls' calls for a temporary cut in VAT to help boost the economy.

IVF on the NHS is meant to be free for everyone, everywhere - but find out why that's not always the case. We raise that with our guest of the day, the Labour peer and fertility expert Robert Winston.

And roll up your shirt sleeves, get your woolly jumpers out as the Liberal Democrats are having an away day. We'll be finding out just what they get up to with former MP Lembit Opik.


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