17/06/2011 Daily Politics


17/06/2011

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

:00:32.:00:35.

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

:00:35.:00:40.

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

:00:40.:00:44.

over pensions looming, the TUC accuses the Government of an

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inflammatory intervention. The Greek Prime Minister wants to

:00:48.:00:52.

steer through a new period of austerity measures.

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

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

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

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

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

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carried out a Government reshuffle in his latest attempt to tackle

:01:24.:01:29.

financial crisis. Rehoused replace the finance minister who drew up

:01:29.:01:34.

the austerity measures. Changing the finance minister and having a

:01:34.:01:37.

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

:01:37.:01:41.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:02:03.:02:07.

in the Greek governing party who will sufficiently persuade the

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

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

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talking there has been a press conference with Nicolas Sarkozy and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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happen. The German public are deeply suspicious of handing over

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

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

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

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

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under pressure like Portugal, Ireland and Spain. If their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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driver of the single currency and the single beneficiary of the

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single currency. German public opinion is as every bit important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Government and the unions. Last year the Government asked Lord

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Hutton to conduct a review of public sector pensions. Recommended

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employee contributions should be increased, that the pension age

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should rise and final salary schemes should be replaced with a

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career average schemes. George Osborne announce plans to raise

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

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

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

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

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

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pension age. He will criticise union bosses who have called

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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increased contribution? We know these times are difficult and there

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

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

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

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

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distinction, the longer term issue of affordable pensions and the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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will have to work six years longer, increase their pension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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pensions, the public sector pensions? Times have changed,

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

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shame this is happening on the airwaves when we had negotiated

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

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

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saying we are balloting our members before the decisions have taken

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

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

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

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are schemes include surplus. 130 billion in the local Government

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

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contribution members are being asked to make to their pension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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contribute to the pensions, the pension schemes themselves will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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clearly upset at what the Chancellor and Daniel exam there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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had responded by bringing forward some of the knitters emissions.

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

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

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

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

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Government takes them seriously. Most unions are participating in

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

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who have unfortunately, called for strike action whilst the

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

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

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

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

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continuing with those knitters emissions can be nothing but a good

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

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

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

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

:15:31.:15:41.
:15:41.:15:46.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ranging from HMS Belfast on the Thames to your favourite football

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:17:48.:17:54.

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

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

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

:18:06.:18:10.

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

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everybody is religious. We have this beautiful constituency. You

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can get married in Chester Cathedral, but not in Chester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:18:48.:18:52.

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

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impression to the opposition that they should support it because the

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

:18:58.:19:02.

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

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

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

:19:11.:19:16.

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

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

:19:21.:19:28.

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

:19:28.:19:33.

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

:19:33.:19:37.

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

:19:37.:19:42.

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

:19:42.:19:47.

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

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

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

:19:57.:20:02.

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

:20:02.:20:06.

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

:20:06.:20:10.

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

:20:10.:20:13.

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

:20:13.:20:17.

bridesmaids, and eventually they will get round to me.

:20:17.:20:22.

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

:20:22.:20:26.

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

:20:26.:20:31.

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

:20:31.:20:33.

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

:20:34.:20:37.

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

:20:37.:20:42.

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

:20:42.:20:50.

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

:20:50.:20:54.

they were standing in. Was this just frippery, despite

:20:54.:20:59.

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

:20:59.:21:04.

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

:21:04.:21:08.

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

:21:08.:21:12.

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

:21:12.:21:18.

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

:21:18.:21:21.

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

:21:21.:21:28.

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

:21:28.:21:32.

that are endlessly passed through Parliament better day, churning out

:21:32.:21:35.

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

:21:35.:21:39.

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

:21:39.:21:45.

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

:21:45.:21:49.

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

:21:49.:21:54.

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

:21:54.:22:02.

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

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

:22:04.:22:09.

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

:22:09.:22:13.

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

:22:13.:22:17.

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

:22:17.:22:22.

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

:22:22.:22:27.

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

:22:28.:22:32.

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

:22:32.:22:36.

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

:22:37.:22:43.

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

:22:43.:22:46.

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

:22:46.:22:52.

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

:22:52.:22:56.

difference. David Steel's abortion Bill killed off backstreet

:22:57.:23:02.

abortions overnight. It has been a busy week. Royal

:23:02.:23:06.

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

:23:06.:23:10.

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

:23:10.:23:17.

been happening in politics? Let's look back.

:23:18.:23:21.

The Government binned its plans to offer financial incentives to

:23:21.:23:25.

councils in England to reinstate weekly rubbish collections, an

:23:25.:23:28.

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

:23:28.:23:32.

NHS Future Forum delivered its findings, which though embraced by

:23:32.:23:35.

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

:23:35.:23:40.

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

:23:40.:23:43.

like this? The unions flexed their muscles,

:23:43.:23:48.

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

:23:48.:23:52.

over pension changes. Also throwing his weight around,

:23:52.:23:55.

education Secretary Michael Gove announced the takeover of 200 pre-

:23:55.:23:59.

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

:23:59.:24:03.

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

:24:03.:24:06.

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

:24:06.:24:09.

sought to silence his critics with a speech positioning himself and

:24:09.:24:15.

his party. We will never encourage a sense of

:24:15.:24:18.

responsibility if society is becoming more and more unfair and

:24:18.:24:23.

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

:24:23.:24:27.

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

:24:27.:24:31.

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

:24:32.:24:36.

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

:24:36.:24:43.

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

:24:43.:24:47.

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

:24:47.:24:51.

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

:24:51.:24:55.

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

:24:55.:25:00.

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

:25:00.:25:07.

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

:25:07.:25:12.

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

:25:12.:25:15.

backbenchers think their leader has something interesting to say which

:25:15.:25:20.

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

:25:20.:25:25.

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

:25:25.:25:29.

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

:25:29.:25:35.

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

:25:35.:25:41.

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

:25:41.:25:46.

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

:25:46.:25:51.

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

:25:51.:25:56.

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

:25:57.:26:00.

speaker. Brilliant performance after brilliant performers, but did

:26:00.:26:08.

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

:26:08.:26:11.

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

:26:12.:26:16.

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

:26:16.:26:21.

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

:26:21.:26:30.

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

:26:30.:26:34.

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

:26:34.:26:37.

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

:26:37.:26:43.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:47.:26:53.

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

:26:53.:26:57.

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

:26:57.:27:05.

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

:27:05.:27:10.

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

:27:10.:27:14.

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

:27:14.:27:18.

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

:27:18.:27:22.

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

:27:22.:27:26.

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

:27:26.:27:30.

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

:27:30.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:35.

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

:27:35.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:43.

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

:27:43.:27:51.

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

:27:51.:27:58.

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

:27:58.:28:08.

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

:28:08.:28:18.
:28:18.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:29.

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

:28:29.:28:32.

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

:28:32.:28:37.

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

:28:37.:28:40.

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

:28:40.:28:44.

Public sector workers are told to work till they are 66, and most will have to pay more into their pension pot. With a number of strikes over pensions already looming, the TUC accuses the government of a 'deeply inflammatory public intervention'. Jo Coburn talks to Assistant General Secretary of Unison, Karen Jennings, and the Conservative MP Matthew Hancock about this.

There has been more violence in Greece and the Greek prime minister wants to steer through a new series of austerity measures.

And where would you tie the knot? London Zoo or your local football club? Gyles Brandreth is on film about the Marriage Act of 1994.

With Jo through the show is Philip Collins from The Times and the Whitehall editor of the Financial Times, Sue Cameron.


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