17/06/2011 Daily Politics


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Welcome to the Daily Politics. Public-sector workers are told you


will work until you are 66 and most will have to pay more into your


pension. Will it be music to their ears? With the number of strikes


over pensions looming, the TUC accuses the Government of an


inflammatory intervention. The Greek Prime Minister wants to


steer through a new period of austerity measures.


Would you tie the knot in London Zoo or maybe your local football


club? We will be talking about the marriage Act of 1994.


All that's coming up in the next half-an-hour, and with me his


Philip Collins and Sue Cameron. This morning, let's turn our eyes


to Greece, because the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou has


carried out a Government reshuffle in his latest attempt to tackle


financial crisis. Rehoused replace the finance minister who drew up


the austerity measures. Changing the finance minister and having a


cabinet reshuffle, will it do it in terms of persuading the public they


must take on board these measures? I doubt it, it is a desperate


measure. Not many other things are available to him. The Greek


Government needs to put through an austerity package, it is hard to


see what they can do other than that. They have been spending too


much for too long. They have to find a way to get these cuts, or


some cuts of that magnitude through. Whether there are any politicians


in the Greek governing party who will sufficiently persuade the


public this is something that needs to happen, is open to doubt.


they don't, which you could argue seems likely, a have just been


talking there has been a press conference with Nicolas Sarkozy and


Angela Merkel from Germany, and it looks like an 80% false of


defaulting -- 80% chance of defaulting on their debts, will


there be another banking crisis? That is ultimately at risk.


Everybody has a different view of it. The great public, I do not


think they will accept this. They have been on the streets and it is


the middle classes, not just the usual suspects and the lefties.


Even within Europe, there are very different views as to what should


happen. The German public are deeply suspicious of handing over


lots more money to Greece. Yet, the head of the ECB seems to be saying,


if you'd taken over all view, it's not quite so bad! Which seems


incredible, unless there is an over-reaction. One of the issues is


about the exposure of other banks in other countries who are already


under pressure like Portugal, Ireland and Spain. If their


exposure is so great and Greece defaults, it is logical to think


the banks will be under threat? They will, and the French and


German banks in the worst-case scenario, and through them, the


British banks as well. This comes back to the European Central Bank


which has committed a substantial sum to Greece. If it defaults, it


is in trouble. The European Central Bank would be in trouble with the


default on the great debt. Becomes back to the IMF who have given a


lot of money and it comes back to Germany who are the principal


driver of the single currency and the single beneficiary of the


single currency. German public opinion is as every bit important


as Greek opinion. Also it comes back to the survival of the Euro


and whether Greece can stay in it? A lot of people are saying, quite


rightly I think, you can sometimes give them 10 billion to get them


through to the middle of next week, but in the end their economy, the


Greece economy isn't as competitive as places like Germany. It is not


in the same league. Can you keep on giving them a bit more, doing a


sticking-plaster? In the end wouldn't it be better to take a


really tough line one way or another? We will find out what


happens in the next few weeks. Let's turn to public sector


pensions because it has been a source of some dispute between the


Government and the unions. Last year the Government asked Lord


Hutton to conduct a review of public sector pensions. Recommended


employee contributions should be increased, that the pension age


should rise and final salary schemes should be replaced with a


career average schemes. George Osborne announce plans to raise


pension contributions by 3% in the Budget. But unions have complained


it amounts to a pay cut. This week, teachers and civil servants voted


for strike action. Today, Danny Alexander will confirm details of


the Government's proposals. Final salary deals will go under pension


age for public sector workers will rise to 66 in line with the state


pension age. He will criticise union bosses who have called


strikes. He will also say the lowest paid workers won't have to


pay higher contributions, but some on higher salaries could see their


contributions rising by more than 3%. With Nick positions in progress,


unions have complain he is jumping the gun. Mr Alexander says he is


offering a fair deal, but many in the public sector don't see it that


way. We want a good pension for people who work in the public


sector, who devote their lives for teaching our children, looking


after us when we are sick or policing our community. But we also


want something that is fair for the taxpayer. It is a good thing people


are living longer, but it has made it more expensive to provide


pensions. It is also the case the amount the taxpayer, the rest of


the population who are not working in the public sector, pays for


these pensions has increased. was the Chancellor, George Osborne.


I am joined by a fit assistant general sector of Unison and


Matthew Hancock, MP. The Government is expecting public sector workers


to pay increased contributions at a time in the middle of a two year


pay fees, inflation is at just under 4%, how can they afford that


increased contribution? We know these times are difficult and there


is a combination of the short-term problem in the public finances


where we are paying �120 million of interest every day. Also a longer


term problem, which we have to deal with, thankfully, good news we are


living longer. So pensions are more expensive. You have made the


distinction, the longer term issue of affordable pensions and the


current problem with the deficit. Low-paid workers and the unions


articulating the argument, why are you making low-paid workers bear


the brunt of paying off the deficit, as they see it as a result of the


banking crisis now, when things are difficult? Under these proposals,


as you saw in the package, the lowest paid... Only under 18,000.


The lowest paid wouldn't be asked to contribute more and there is


progress city built into this precursor -- proposal. It is worth


explaining to review its -- viewers, ending a final-salary scheme and


moving it to career average, means those who are less well paid 10 to


get better pensions on average. We are still talking about retaining


the defined benefit system, which is among stab vest in the world. So,


public sector workers who work hard and contribute will still be able


to get among the best pensions available in the country. But they


will have to work six years longer, increase their pension


contributions up to something like three and 5%, it is quite a


dramatic increase. You're talking about people in the public sector


and the Government has talked about them, as if history has not played


any part, historically they have had lower wages. They have made a


decision to take public sector jobs because they wanted to do public


service and the pensions were good. But now they will be cut? It is


still going to be the best pension in the country available in the


public sector. But I come back to the central point, we are living


longer. Pensions are more expensive. As you said, public sector workers


may have to work longer, but we're all going to have to do that,


because we are all living longer and that is a good thing. These are


changes proposed to deal with what is essentially a good thing, living


longer. Do you accept that point, they will still be the best


pensions, the public sector pensions? Times have changed,


people are living longer and pensions have to adapt? If is a


shame this is happening on the airwaves when we had negotiated


process going on, and it would have been nice if we could have had


those discussions in a negotiation. The unions have been out there


saying we are balloting our members before the decisions have taken


place, it is the same thing? few look at some of the discussions,


we want some principles that take us into central discussions, such


as the health service and the local Government scheme, both of which


are schemes include surplus. 130 billion in the local Government


scheme, 2 billion in the Government's scheme. The


contribution members are being asked to make to their pension


won't go into their pensions, it is going straight to the Treasury.


This is taxing our members. Importantly, if they are going to


reduce the contribution rate for low-paid workers, the vast majority


of low-paid workers are contracted out and in the discussions we are


having at the moment, those people won't be allowed to have access to


the pension scheme. That is almost a quarter of all local Government


staff. These are things you're bringing up the negotiations.


George Osborne has said they are extremely close to a deal, is that


how you see it? We are not close to a deal. What we are trying to do is


have some principles that we can take into the central discussions.


It will be those discussions that has the deal. We cannot agree in


principle for low-paid workers who have been outsourced to the private


sector, not to have admissibility to those pensions. It is a red line,


so there is more talks to have around that. There is an acceptance


final-salary schemes have to go, is that accepted by your union? It is


not accepted by our union, it is a matter for the health trade unions


to discuss in their pension the decisions with the Civil Service.


It is not something we have agreed. We are not there and we hope our


talks can go one throughout June and into July. What I would like to


see the Treasury do, and this is such an important point, his take


some advice. I am sure they have taken actuarially advice? I don't


think they have, they are being advised by economists. If those


services that have been opted-out or privatise are not allowed to


contribute to the pensions, the pension schemes themselves will


fail. And that is very, very important. The other important


elements of this area of discussion, which is the average wage earner in


the public sector is able to contribute, they won't be able to


afford to. These schemes will fail and if they were taking actuarial


advice they would know that. that position realistic? I think


perhaps despite today come and there have been a few trade unions


clearly upset at what the Chancellor and Daniel exam there


have been saying, but I do think behind the scenes there has been a


lot more closeness in any decisions. -- Daniel Alexander. I think the


Government is right, I have heard it from trade union people, too. As


long as they can keep the talks going and there is room to


discussion. I don't think, some of the things clearly have got to


happen, they have got to pay more, they cannot have that much


difference between the private and public sector, it is not real life.


But the speed in which they do it, there is a lot of things that could


be negotiated. My guess would be behind the scenes they will keep


the lid decisions going. Nobody is going to go on strike in the


summer! What would beep the point of a teacher going on strike in the


summer? The point is, there are certain things they have not


accepted, but the union's new about increasing the pension age for


public-sector workers, they knew contributions would go up. Throwing


hands in the air, is it going to wash? There is a certain amount of


both sides bouncing each other. The knitter see Asians have been evenly


tempered, it has been cut from what I hear of it. It is a shame some


unions have said they will strike, and it is a shame the Government


had responded by bringing forward some of the knitters emissions.


That hasn't helped, Matthew Hancock, in terms of process and how you


handle these things. Why has the Government, why have ministers set


out their position before it has been styled and sealed with the


unions? I am not part of them goes emissions, but they know the


Government takes them seriously. Most unions are participating in


negotiations in good faith will stop there is a couple of unions


who have unfortunately, called for strike action whilst the


negotiations are still on. I don't see how that helps. For instance,


Unison and the Government have been negotiating in good faith and it is


important they continue. I come back to the big picture point,


which is we have a difficult, challenging me to overcome and


continuing with those knitters emissions can be nothing but a good


thing. On one of the points, if you do extend the working age to 66,


there is a knock on effect, an implication for young people


getting into the job market. Bearing in mind the high youth


unemployment. If people keep in their jobs or those years, what


Are you saying that we should not live longer?! I really have to say,


we have got nurses, ambulance staff, people who are using their brains,


but also their muscle to work with patients. What will we do with


these staff? It is not stopping at 66. It is open-ended. It will move


to 67 and then 68. Imagine working at 68 years of age, turning up to


an emergency situation. We are living longer, but we are still


suffering with our eyesight, away hearing. We are not as fit as you


would like to portray. For example, we have obesity, diabetes... Public


sector workers would argue that they are still working. There is no


private sector pension scheme which is open-ended. This is an open-


ended element that is unacceptable. I have to stop you there. Thank you


very much. Now, once upon a time, long, long ago - and some of you


may even remember - you could only get married in a church or registry


office. But now you can tie the knot in some pretty obscure places,


ranging from HMS Belfast on the Thames to your favourite football


club or museum. That's all down to one man's work. Gyles has been to


I could tell you that the man we are featuring today has changed the


rules to give wild animals the vote, but that is not true. He actually


changed the rules so that those who wanted to could get married not in


a church or a registry office, but anywhere they light, like London


Zoo. In there, you could have about 90 guests. You would come on to


this patio and have drinks and canapes. Then you have this


fabulous outback experience. Gyles Brandreth, when you came up with


this plan, was this what you had in mind? I always want to get married


myself in the Sahara desert, and this is almost as good. You can get


married and find that you have emus and Wallabies as witnesses. What a


way to start married life. I emus aside, what first got you involved


in changing the Marriage Act? constituent of mine came to see me


one day. She told me that she and a castle, and she had wedding


receptions there. Why couldn't she have weddings there? She said, not


everybody is religious. We have this beautiful constituency. You


can get married in Chester Cathedral, but not in Chester


Castle. It does not seem fair. And I thought my goodness, this


constituent has got it right. And I was determined to do something


about it. How did you get it through? With difficulty. I put it


in at a private member's bill, and did not get my way. So I put it in


as a private member's bill, but not one that would be given government


time. I had to persuade people that this was necessary. The Government


thought, maybe it is not a bad idea. Mr Major, then prime minister,


liked what he called bite-size chunks of policy. And I gave the


impression to the opposition that they should support it because the


Government was really against it. I am not sure if that was a


respectable thing to do, but I got everybody on board. So you drove


this through pretty much alone? Totally alone. In some of the


debates, I was the only person in the chamber. It was me, the


Government whip on the front bench, and the Speaker. That was it. The


problem with a private member's bill that does not have the support


of the Government and everybody is that one person crying object can


scupper your chances. On one of those days, I was thinking the


chamber was empty, but an enemy was lurking between the benches. When I


came to propose it, I would hear a voice going "object!". And then it


would be put -- postponed to another day. But eventually, I


succeeded in passing the 1994 Marriage Act. As many as are of


that opinion, say aye. To the contrary, no. It is fun to think


that in years to come, people getting married, that has been made


possible by my little piece of legislation. I am hoping that all


over the land, they will be raising their champagne glasses after they


have tested one another and the mother of the bride and the


bridesmaids, and eventually they will get round to me.


This is all I have ever done. I am the person who gave the world the


1994 Marriage Act. That is my achievement, and I am proud of it.


It has she changed the shape and face of marriage. It has made


weddings better and happier and brighter for people. In the early


days, people did raise a glass to me. Occasionally, they would even


sent me a piece of wedding cake. Feel free to revive that tradition.


He is very proud, Gyles Brandreth. And told that was the emu enclosure


they were standing in. Was this just frippery, despite


that explanation about it having an impact, or did it matter?


matters to the quality of people's lives. A lot of people do not


necessarily want to get married in a church. And some people think the


registry office is a bit scruffy, as they often were and still are.


So you have much more choice. Your wedding day is, for most people,


one of the most important days of your life. Being able to choose


where you have it makes a real difference. In a way, so many laws


that are endlessly passed through Parliament better day, churning out


this stuff, and it does not have any impact. Either it doesn't make


a difference or it has a bad effect. The last Labour government passed a


new criminal offence for every day they were in office from 1997 to


last year. I will not ask you to name them all. Did you get married


anywhere interesting? I got married twice, actually. Although only to


one person. My wife is from an Indian family, so we set up a


reception in a garden square and had an Indian wedding first. I


don't know if that was possible prior to Gyles Brandreth. Probably


not. I may have had to thank all to blame for my marriage, depending on


your point of view. Then we trooped round the corner to have an


Anglican ceremony in the Church nearby. So we did it twice. If I


have Gyles Brandreth to thank for that, let's raise a glass. Raise a


cup of tea to Gyles Brandreth. And the fact that it was a private


member's bill, that does not happen often, does it? Quite a lot of them


just get dropped, unless the government goes a long and says,


perhaps you would like to shove this through for us. There are a


few things that stand out which are less happy. But it did make a huge


difference. David Steel's abortion Bill killed off backstreet


abortions overnight. It has been a busy week. Royal


Ascot, or should that be bashcot? Andy Murray won something.


Christine Billy Kee and Frank Lampard got engaged, but what has


been happening in politics? Let's look back.


The Government binned its plans to offer financial incentives to


councils in England to reinstate weekly rubbish collections, an


issue close to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles's heart. The


NHS Future Forum delivered its findings, which though embraced by


the Prime Minister and his deputy, did not win them immediate plaudits


from everyone. Why is it that we are told to walk


like this? The unions flexed their muscles,


threatening to bring up to 750,000 public sector workers out on strike


over pension changes. Also throwing his weight around,


education Secretary Michael Gove announced the takeover of 200 pre-


schools. These are schools where young people are leaving without a


secure foundation in reading, writing and maths for as a feeling


the heat, but staying in the kitchen - Labour leader Ed Miliband


sought to silence his critics with a speech positioning himself and


his party. We will never encourage a sense of


responsibility if society is becoming more and more unfair and


more divided. Let's stay with Ed Miliband, the


Labour leader. Rumbles of discontent, reports of a rift with


his brother David. Is he in trouble? He is in less trouble


after this week. He has had a good week. Are you talking about Prime


Minister's questions? Yes. I think he made a good speech, his best


speech as leader on Monday. It had a real argument to it. It is


important that he makes the same speech another ten times, because


that needs to become his story. Responsibility is a good story, and


he needs to become associated with it. He should drop the idea of the


squeezed middle -- he should drop in the idea of the squeezed middle.


He has something interesting to say, and that is crucial. If Labour


backbenchers think their leader has something interesting to say which


is a good critic of the Government, which this is, he will be fine.


he got a narrative now? There has been a lot of talk in Labour


circles, with MPs been divided about whether they should do a


mayor car park on the deficit and say we overspent. Would that help


further, or is it a -- irrelevant? So of the angst against him, he had


a bad week last week, but some of it is overdone. The guy has only


been in the job eight months. If you think back to the Tories after


they lost in 1997, they have William Hague, who was a brilliant


speaker. Brilliant performance after brilliant performers, but did


they do well at the following election? No. It would also be


absolutely loopy for them, even Labour at its balmiest, the longest


suicide note in history under Michael Foot, to change leaders now.


To an extent, it is a storm in a teacup. I agree. He has done a much


better job this week, and he needs to still discontent. Is it helpful


that the former Prime Minister Tony Blair comes out a couple of times


this week to attack the direction that Mr Miliband is taking the


party? They don't agree, there is no doubt about that. Tony Blair has


something to teach the Labour Party as the only one to win three


elections for it. So his council is worth listening to. The crucial


question is the economic one. My view is that they should take some


responsibility for what happened, but they are not going to it.


thought that was some people's view. But it is not the leadership's view.


Ed Balls made that clear in his lecture. Ed Miliband is clear that


he does not think Labour spent too much. He does not think that was a


contributory factor to the deficit. They will not change their policy


on that. It is all very well for people like me to demand that they


do, but they are not going to for us but usually on a Friday, we like


to end the programme with our favourite pictures of the week.


Today we couldn't resist showing you what happened when a news


presenter in Australia tried to crack a joke with the Dalai Lama


ahead of his appearance on Channel 9's Today programme.


So are the Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop. Pizza? Pizza shop.


pizza shop, and says "Can you make me one with everything?" What is


that? I am sorry. Do you know what I mean? "Can you make me one with


everything?" theoretically possible. He knew it wouldn't work, so why


did he do it? A salutary warning to anyone trying to be funny. That is


why we don't do jokes on this programme. That is all for this


week. I will be back on Sunday with The Politics Show at midday on BBC


One. Amongst my guests will be former Labour minister Lord Hutton,


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