29/06/2011 Daily Politics


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Good morning, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. We have had the


rethink on sentencing, but his Ken Clarke's Bill still too soft on


criminals and too hard on those wanting justice? Protests on the


streets of Athens as Greek MPs prepare to vote on the austerity


package. Are we will bring you the latest, live. The Argentines had


been ramping up the rhetoric of what they call Las Malvinas. We


will be asking a Falklands MP how worried he is. And Blur drummer


David Rowntree is going to be telling us why the Government's


housing changes could do more harm than good. A government argues they


can move into shared properties, but there are not properties


available. For vulnerable people to move into shared accommodation with


All of that coming up in the next hour and a half. And, of course,


Prime Ministers questions. For the duration we have a top team. For


the Conservatives we have police and Justice Minister Nick Herbert.


From Labour, the Shadow Leader of the House, Hilary Benn. Welcome to


you both. There seems little prospect that


tomorrow's strikes by public sector workers can be averted. Just as


well that Tory MP didn't take that better, otherwise he would be out.


Teachers in England and Wales and civil servants across the UK are


due to walk out in a dispute over pensions. Among them, in Grecians


and customs staff, the ones that allowed him the Islamic extremist


who was banned from this country. UK Border Agency has advised


travellers not to fly tomorrow. The Labour leader has spoken out


against the action, calling on both sides to continue to negotiate as


opposition leaders usually do we aim these circumstances. Will you


be crossing a picket line tomorrow? I shall be at work. I think while


negotiations are continuing, the strikes are a mistake. But the


Government has handled this really badly. For tell him how. Pensions


are really important to a lot of people. You've got to negotiate.


It's no good pre-empting Lord Hutton's report. It's absolutely


not clear in relation to teachers' pensions whether what you are sick


-- seeking to do is about deficit- reduction or an issue with the


affordability of the scheme. Ministers have repeatedly refused


to answer the question. Maybe you would like a shot at answering a?


think he is trying to have it both ways. We are certainly not pre-


empting Lord Hutton's report. That is why we asked John Hutton to do


this work, to look at the affordability of pensions. Of


course people are living longer, that a good thing. But as a


consequence, the cost of public sector pensions has risen


substantially. It has increased by a third in the last 10 years to


well over a �30 billion. We've got to strike a fair balance between


the taxpayer and those that are benefiting from schemes. That's why


we are saying that we think across the board, in terms of public


sector pensions, it is important that we achieve that rebalancing.


But the talks continue and that is important. Maybe what Hilary Benn


has in mind, neither Frances Maude on the Today Programme or Justine


Greening was able to answer it this morning. The Hutton Report shows


the cost of public sector pensions as a percentage of GDP going all


the way into the future, it actually falls. It falls from now


until the end of the graph. So, why cannot be unaffordable if it is


falling as a share of national resources? Because people are


living longer. But that is factored into the equation. They are living


longer and the cost has already risen by a third over the last 10


years. You have already seen a situation where there is an


existing imbalance over what the taxpayer is paying him and what


people are paying themselves. That has widened considerably. But it


falls by a third again, just so that there is no confusion, it


falls from just shy of 2% of GDP, down to 1.4%. That's about a third.


But Lord Hutton looked at the figures and said there was an


unfairness that needs to be dealt with. I'm sorry to push she won


this, it's quite important. People are going on strike tomorrow. --


I'm sorry to push you on this. It shows there is a substantial fall,


and there may be other reasons for reforming pensions, even Labour has


said there should be some changes, but on the issue of affordability,


if it is falling substantially as a percentage of GDP, from now until


about 2030, why have you got to do as much as you do? Well, Lord


Patten was clear that we had to. That graph is from the Hutton


Report. You can't partially quoted him, he also said there was a need


to take action. We already have this imbalance. Three-quarters of


the workers are not in the public sector. Their taxes have been


funding the increase in payments that needs to be made because


people are living longer. The tax payer has picked up a bigger share


of the burden. It simply to ensure that we have fairness going forward


across the board. It's also a question of making sure that we


continue to have really good public sector pensions which will be


better than those you get in the private sector, that will still be


a defined benefit. That's why it's important that the unions continue


to sit down and discuss this. I thought there was a general


agreement that it needs reform. got around my question by saying


that you were going to work, but the common security guards are


probably going to go on strike. As you go to the Commons tomorrow,


will you cross the picket line? will be standing in the House of


Commons at 11:30am tomorrow, asking George Young... So you will? The


Labour leader in Wales, the First Minister Carwyn Jones, he has asked


Cabinet ministers in Wales not to cross picket lines. He does go on


to say that ministers will continue their work across Wales. I don't


know how you square that? Well, it's for each individual to take


their own decision. In relation to the strikes taking place tomorrow,


we have been very clear. While negotiations are continuing,


because it is the only way this will be resolved, striking is not


the right thing to do. Now, the snappily named legal aid sentencing


and punishment of offenders Bill for England and Wales will be


debated by MPs this afternoon. It was the scene of a serious road


traffic offence last week, Wensum accused the Justice Secretary of


performing a skidding U-turn. Anyway, the manoeuvre as they did


some, but not all critics. -- placated some.


Ken Clarke has done all of the big jobs in government, but he's never


faced such a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, he is under orders


to reduce the amount of cash we spend on banging people up. But he


also has to reduce the number of prisoners, court costs and


reoffending. The initial plan to allow prisoners to serve half their


sentence if they plead guilty nearly caused a riot on


Conservative backbenchers. It led to a hasty rethink of the situation.


Then it was announced that house holders would have new rights to


defend themselves against intruders. Despite all of that, some of Ken


Clarke's right-wing critics are still unsatisfied, concerned that


he still wants to scrap indeterminate sentences, hold fewer


defendants on remand arm send fewer of those convicted to prison.


Britain's solicitors are also uneasy. They are concerned about


his other cash saving initiative, cutting �350 million from the legal


aid bill, including most civil cases, things like medical


negligence. Here is Desmond's -- Desmond had some of the Law Society.


It will reduce social cohesion, it will make our society a much less


fair place to live. It will close off access to justice for many


hundreds of thousands of citizens. The Law Society has put forward a


package of cuts worth more than Ken Clarke is looking for, yet he will


not engage widows to debate the wisdom, merits or otherwise of


those cuts. By the merest coincidence we have the Justice


Minister here to talk about such matters. A triumph for our planning


department. The first they have had this year! Ken Clarke says it is OK


to hit a burglar with a poker and that the all lady can stab and 18


year-old. -- an old lady. Can I? Why cannot the old lady do it?


old lady cannot stand and 18 year old unless there is reasonable


cause. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and there is a


burglar in her house, there is a knife by the bed, she stabs him.


That is OK now? What we have always said is if a burglar comes into


your house, they cross a line. Across a physical line, but in the


view of most of the British people, they cross another line as well. We


think it is right that people, when they seek to defend themselves,


should know that the law is on their side. That they can use force


to protect themselves will stop in these circumstances, an old lady


can stack and 18 year-old? I'm not sure what circumstances you are


saying. -- Stan at an 18 year-old. The law should be on her side if


she is trying to defend herself. If it is the person whose home was


invaded, when the they were arrested and dealt with idyllic in


credit -- an appropriate manner, we want to send a clear message that


we expect that the law should be on the side of the law-abiding.


these circumstances, can Anita do it? Do what? Stab and 18 year-old


that breaks into her home. You just ask it in that fashion. Excuse me,


Minister. The Justice Secretary is the one that has given the examples.


He's the one that said it's OK to hit a burglar with a poker and for


an old lady to stab at 18 year-old. I defer to the Justice Secretary in


all things. The law should be on your side, you should be allowed to


use force in protecting yourself should somebody coming to your


property and put you in fear of... You should leave it at that?


intend to clarify that, to make sure, beyond doubt, that the legal


position is backing what reasonable people want to see. Can I suggest


that you should leave it at that broad definition, and not going to


old ladies stabbing 18 year-olds all whacking burglars with pokers?


There will be debate as we introduce the measures. There is a


strong view in the country that we need to address the balance. I


think that the people want to see a clarification. That is what we are


seeking to give. Let's move on to another issue with strong views, is


is still the Government intention to cut the prison population


question not no. The Prime Minister was clear. When he gave his speech


and we launched a consultation, the response to the consultation, we


said that it was not the ambition to cut their prison population. We


need to stabilise at. Ken Clarke has said there are too many people


in prison? You can make this point, the rates of reoffending not so


high that if you go into prison, an adult offender leaves after a year,


half of them are likely to reoffend. It's breaking that cycle. Half of


all crime is committed by people that have already been through the


criminal justice system. That a problem with what happens after you


have been to prison. I don't understand how Ken Clarke can save


them are too many people in prison in this country and it is not your


intention to cut that? We want to stabilise it. By definition, that


would still leave too many. If there is too many, you are going to


stabilise it, you will leave too many. The prison population is who


the court sent to prison. The important thing is that we deal


with the cycle of reoffending. We are putting people in prison, they


are not being properly rehabilitated, they are reoffending.


Reoffending rates, in some areas, where rising under the previous


government because the prisons were so full. But you're not going to


cut that? We are looking at purposeful regimes of work in


prison, that a drugs treatment to get people off drugs in prison. We


are looking at a radical system of payment by results. So we pay


people to get prisoners going straight, rather than just walking


out of prison and reoffending. All of these things are the right way


to reduce the prison population and make the population say they are.


Ed Miliband said he was not going to criticise Ken Clarke for being


soft on crime when the Tory backbenchers were. Then he said he


should be sacked for his comment about rape sentences. What is


Labour policy? I think we had just heard it from Nick, about the


complete state of confusion that is the Government policy on Criminal


Justice. Can we get to your confusion? No, there is no


confusion on our part. On the question of reasonable force to


defend our homes, the law has been very clear for a long time. It


seems to me that what Ken Clarke has said this morning has just


created confusion. As your question demonstrated, is the Government's


aim today that it is going to change the existing law? Or was Ken


Clarke just trying to restate the law? It would be helpful to have an


answer. Let's ask the minister. do think Darryl areas where the law


itself may need changing. There have been these attempts in the


past to give greater clarity. We don't think there has been public


confidence that the law is on their side. I think the public do wish to


see a change. So the law will be changed? What is Labour's position


on sentencing? Did you agree with Ken Clarke's original changes?


the 50% reduction, no, we didn't. The Prime Minister forced him to


abandon those. But they were fundamentally about trying to save


money. We don't agree with the changes to demand. We think it


should be left to the courts to decide whether someone should be


Do you think in retrospect that the previous government put too many


people in jail? No, the courts decide who should go into prison.


We made a number of changes including more community penalties.


I do believe, as a former prisons minister, if you can improve public


confidence in community penalties, we do need to tackle the problems


of reoffending. I think when people see people out on community


sentences, doing work in the community, that helps to build the


confidence. The fundamental truth about our record in government is a


crime felled by 43 % after years and years of people saying you can


do nothing about crime. That is a very solid record of achievement.


The worry now is the government is put in its deficit reduction


against protection of the public. We are already seeing signs that


the crime rate in London is rising. I think they are in a state of


utter confusion and I think they have made a mistake in proposing


originally the 50 % reduction and I think they made a mistake on remand


sentencing and the changing public perception. People will not forget


the fact that Labour mismanaged the prisons in failing to provide


enough capacity and you are forced to release 80,000 prisoners early.


18 days early. People went on to commit serious offences during that


time, including the murder. We have got to get some sense back into the


system, the community penalties you talk about have not been rigorous


enough and that is one of the reasons why there is a drift of


people into prison sentences. We have got to reform the system and


do so in a sensible there -- a sensible way which focuses on


reoffending. We have to leave there. Thank you.


There has been some pretty fiery rhetoric coming from the


Argentinians in recent weeks about the status of what they call Las


Malvinas and we call the Falklands. Argentina has always claimed the


islands but this flare-up in the dispute has been -- has prompted


David Cameron to reiterate the British position that the islands'


sovereignty is non-negotiable. Here is the Argentine President last


week. TRANSLATION: Just in the last few hours, the Prime Minister of


the United Kingdom, in what has been defined by the Argentine


foreign ministry, as an arrogant gesture, and what I define as an


expression of mediocrity and almost stupidity, he used the words. To


refer to our islands as if you can put an end to our history. I want


to tell you in the name of all Argentines that the Argentine


people do not believe in. When it comes to the sovereignty of our


islands. We are going to get them back through international rights


and three peas. They should have no doubt. So, have no doubt, we are


going to get them back. With us now is Dick Sawle who has something to


say about this, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the


Falkland Islands. It is pretty fiery at the moment, are you


sleeping comfortably in your beds at night? I think we all sleep


comfortably knowing we have a strong defence in the Falkland


Islands and I do not think there is a likelihood of any military action.


What we saw on the screen just now is the rhetoric we get from


Argentina on a very constant basis. It is coupled with some high brass


concerns in the military as well. I will quote you something that


Admiral -- Admiral Sandy Woodward said, without American support the


Falklands, the reclaiming of which cost 253 brave British lives, are


close to being indefensible. He thinks there is little that can


be done. I do not know, really, but I doubt that Argentina is that


capable of mounting any military action against the Falklands. We


have four typhoons, a type 44 destroyer, a minesweeper and forces


on the ground. We are a lot better defended now that we wearing 1982


and I think that defence is pretty secure. So the man who knows the


lie of the land, Admiral Sandy Woodward is wrong? No, he is


talking from a different perspective. I'm talking of someone


who lives -- I am talking of someone who lives on the islands.


Was he talking about the loss of aircraft carriers? A few others


have been relating it to cuts which have been proposed by the


government. So, you're not worried about military action but are you


worried about diplomatic actions. I know you were in New York recently.


It does seem like the international tide of opinion may be turning on


the future of your islands. I think it is the opposite. I think the


tide is turning in our favour. We are going out into the


international forum, we are speaking more vocally about our own


position and our wishes which are the most important thing. The thing


is, America has been a good ally in these things. On 7th June in New


York, they signed a declaration calling on the UK and Argentina to


begin negotiations about the sovereignty of the Falklands. It


does not sound like a done deal. That message from the United States


has not changed since about 1940. It is the same message they have


been putting out for many years. Let's bring Hillary Benn in on this.


Do you think there is reason to be concerned? The first responsibility


of the government is to make sure the Falkland Islands are properly


protected. We saw what happened when they were not, when a


dictatorship launched the invasion all those years ago. The government


has got that responsibility and they must exercise it because they


are very clear that as long as the Falkland Islanders wished to remain


British, and they do, we will defend them in that right. When you


have military top brass saying it could the indefensible, do you also


wish they would allow you to do the talking and they just did the


fighting? I understand that there is comment about this which is


related to wider defence issues but I agree with Hillary, our duty is


to ensure the Falkland islands can be defended. We need to make clear


that the sovereignty of the islands is not negotiable and have a clear,


firm, consistent government approach to that and make it clear


to all on the international stage, including Argentina, and then to


make clear that we want to engage with Argentina on other issues. I


think that clarity of purpose is also important. For David Cameron


has been clear that the Americans, you say it is a position they have


held for some time, in view of the fact there was an invasion, their -


- they could be clearer? I cannot speak for the Americans but I can


speak for our government. We have sought to give our firm position


which is the sovereignty of the islands is not up for discussion.


Again, the entire country is assigned -- behind us. I used


slightly irked that the country, with which you have stood so


ardently shoulder to shoulder in international adventures, is taking


this line that it is open to negotiation? I think probably we


ought to remember that there was a great deal of help, as we know, in


retrospect, given by the United States when we sought to reclaim


the Falkland Islands so I would not want to characterise my response in


that way. I also visited Washington and met quite a few politicians


there and to a man, they were extremely supportive. Thank you for


coming to see us. Why we have been talking about the


Falklands, there have been more clashes outside the parliament in


Athens where the austerity Bill is being debated. If it is not going


to work outside, we can also report according to the AP wires out of


Athens that a Conservative deputy with the opposition has said she


will break with her party and back the crucial austerity measures.


That gives it a better chance of getting through. It is very close


up the moment with 300 deputies in the Athens parliament. No doubt,


the new leader of the IMF will be watching that. A very impressive


French finance minister. She used to be a synchronised swimmer.


not know that, and drew! Public service broadcasting tells you what


you need to know. Fierce battle is also receiving this afternoon for


the most sought-after of prizes. It is a gladiatorial contest of wills.


We are hoping for a British champion, perhaps that Scottish


track. Quiet please, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to halt the


Daily Politics mark aloft. Keep your eye on the ball. Come on,


Andy! I meant you! Let's see if you Flyovers ensure that no traffic


Fine weather was ideal for this jamboree. It was like watching a


Now, you are showing off if you tried to identify the pianist. He


is a clever boy. To be in with a chance of winning a Daily Politics


mug, send your answer to our e-mail address, [email protected] Full


terms and conditions are on our website, bbc.co.uk/dailypolitics.


Now it is coming up to midday here. We can take a look at Big Ben.


Prime Minister's Questions is on its way. There is also a chap in


the studio I do not quite recognise. I just thought I would pop in! I am


making a documentary, Andrew. did not send flowers. Flowers, did


they not come? I am making a documentary about tax spend on BBC2.


I am surprised he is talking to us! Interesting for Ed Miliband today,


will he go on strike do you think? I do not think he will go on giving


up all his six questions on it, but he does know if he does not mention


them he will be held up by the backbenchers and the Prime Minister.


My guess is he will find a way to say, I am not in favour of these


strikes, but I blame the government for cocking up the negotiations.


Then he will want to move on. He is in a desperately uncomfortable


position. If he did not say what he said, he would be accused by the


Tory media and the Tory party of being a friend of the unions and he


only got his job because of the unions. If he does say what he says,


he risks upsetting the unions. is always difficult, those of us


who remember Neil Kinnock's position, it is always difficult


for a leader of a Labour opposition to position themselves when it


comes to major national strikes. Extraordinarily difficult. You're


talking about the miners' strike. It was agony for a Neil Kinnock.


They used to be a game if you wanted to tell who was really new


Labour, the people who was a Blairite, the people who said in


private we took the wrong side on the miners' dispute. We are nowhere


near that sort of dilemma. It is relatively easy for Ed Miliband to


stand with parents and say, this is difficult for you, but it could get


difficult. The thing that people always have to remember is the


Labour Party was founded by the unions, it is not just some had


drunk, that is how they were founded. It is a profound question


on how they take that position. They will want Ed Miliband and his


advisers to say, just get on and negotiate. What other Low Hanging


fruit would there be for the Labour leader if he did not use all his


questions which are busy and he will not do it all on strikes?


front page of the Times today suggested that burglary rates have


gone up, but the head of the Metropolitan Police in London, that


Ken Clarke the Justice Secretary has said this and the temptation to


say crime going up while police budgets squeezed, pretty tempting I


would have thought, at a time when the Labour Party wants to increase


the discomfort of Ken Clarke on this whole issue of law and order


that you are talking about, without necessarily having an argument


about sentencing. The difficulty with having that argument is some


people would say, I seem to remember you in the leadership


contest saying you would back the government when they took a more


liberal approach to sentencing. If you want to continue encouraging


Tory backbenchers to cause trouble, police and crime. Let's go to the


By two, Mr Speaker. What does my right honourable Friend say to the


teachers at my constituency first school, who are putting the welfare


of parents and children first by not striking to borrow? I would


congratulate them for doing the right thing and keeping the school


open. I don't think there is any case for industrial action tomorrow,


not least because talks are still ongoing. It is only a minority of


unions that have taken the decision to go ahead on strike. What I want


to see tomorrow is as many mums and dads as possible able to take their


children to school. What I would say is this. What we are proposing


is fair. It is fair to taxpayers, but it is also fair to the public


sector. Because we want to continue strong public sector pensions. Ed


There are currently 163 statutory organisations within the National


Health Service. Can the Prime Minister tell us how many there


will be after his top-down reorganisation? All I can tell the


Honourable Gentleman... What I can tell the Honourable Gentleman is


that the health reforms that now have the support of the Health


Minister will see a reduction in bureaucracy because we are getting


rid of Strategic Health Authorities and we are getting rid of primary


care trusts. Let me give him the answer to the question. The number


is going to go up from 163 to 521. Pathfinder consortium, health or


well-being boards, shadow commissioning groups, a authorised


commissioning groups, national commissioning boards, PCT clusters,


clinical networks and clinical senates. Mr Speaker, is this what


he meant by a bonfire of quangos? If he looks at the figures of


savings he will see where savings come from, �5 billion savings


through the reduction of bureaucracy. What we inherited was


a situation where the number of managers was going up four times as


fast as the number of nurses. What has happened since we took over,


the number of doctors has gone up, the number of bureaucrats has gone


down. I'll tell him about our record on the NHS. More doctors and


nurses than ever before. The shortest waiting lists ever. The


highest patient satisfaction ever. Now, he says that it is going to


save money. But he's refused to publish the figures accompanying


the new amendments to the hospital of how much he's going to spend.


Maybe he can tell me this. These figures are available. How much is


he going to be spending on making NHS staff redundant? Let me give


him the figures on the costs and benefits of reducing the


bureaucracy. This is the question he asked. This is the answer he


will get. Changes will have a one- off cost of �1.4 billion over the


next two years. But over �5 billion will be saved in total during this


Parliament. Over a ten-year period there will be net savings of �12.3


billion. Add to that the fact that we are putting �11.5 billion extra


into the NHS and he fought the last election pledging to cut debt.


didn't answer the specific question asked. How much is he spending on


making NHS staff redundant? The answer is �852 million. That is


being spent on making NHS staff redundant. Now, can he guaranteed


his house that none of those staff will be rehired to do their old


jobs at his new quango? What we are steering is implementing... We are


implementing the �20 billion cost savings that were set out by the


party opposite when they were in government. But the difference is


that we are going on with putting more money into the NHS, money that


the party opposite does not support, so that there will be more nurses,


more doctors, more operations and a better NHS compared with cuts from


the party opposite. Mr Speaker, let me and ask the question again


because he didn't answer it. People are very concerned that he is


creating a whole new set of quangos. Will he tell us this simple


question, can he guarantee that none of the people being made


redundant will be rehired tutu their old jobs at his new quangos?


It's a simple question, yes or no. I know that he has this


extraordinary vision of how the NHS is run. It's not the prime minister


who hires every person in any organisation in the NHS. The


difference between this coalition government and the party opposite


is that we are investing in the NHS, putting resources into the NHS,


reforming the NHS in a way that is supported by the Royal College of


Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians, Tony Blair, Lord Dowes


I, most people working in the NHS, but not the party opposite. Order!


The decibel level is far too high. The Prime Minister should not have


to shout to get itself heard. whole country will have heard that


he has admitted they are spending �852 million on making people


redundant. And he can't even promise they won't be rehired to do


their old jobs. Is it the truth that the Prommers note of doubt


reorganisation, he's doing it. He promised a bonfire of the quangos,


is creating more. He promised a better deal for patients and things


are getting worse. What people asking up and down this country is


what is he doing to our NHS? What the whole country will have noticed


is that at a time when people are worried about strikes, he can't ask


about strikes because he's in the pocket of the unions. What the


whole country will have noticed is that, at a time when Greece is


facing huge problems over its deficit, he can't talk about Greece


because his plan is to make Britain like Greece. What the whole country


will have noticed is, at a time when the economy is the key issue,


he can't talk about the economy because of his ludicrous plan for


tax cuts. That is what we say. Week after week. He has to talk about


the micro because they can't talk Order! ORDER! I appeal to the house


to calm down and reflects on what the public thinks of this sort of


Would the Prime Minister agree with made that a Conservative -- may


that it is unusual to see the Conservatives putting money into


the NHS, while Labour would want to cut it? I hope it is in order to


talk about Labour's record in Wales. Because what we are saying, if


anybody wants to know what would happen to the NHS under Labour,


they can look at Wales, where they are smashing the NHS budget and


they actually seeing more people waiting for longer. That is what


happens when you get a Labour Party running the NHS. Ian Lucas.


true, David! The leader of the opposition's tariff helped create


300 more jobs in Wrexham in earlier this year. But today, because of


his government's reversal of policy, the renewable Energy Association


say that solar generation and the jobs and growth linked to it are in


turmoil. Who knows better? Him or British business? I think anyone


looking at what this government is doing in terms of renewable energy


can see a massive investment in renewable energy. The �3 billion


going into the Green Investment Bank, the massive incentives given


under the renewable heat initiative. What we did have to dig or stop the


abuse... We had to stop the abuse of solar power, where clearly the


Ray Shead was not setting the right way. Anybody looking at industry


can see eight huge boost from this Despite the gravity of the


financial situation, against which the Bank of England is preparing


contingency plans, has the Government also got a team working


on the details of a new treaty, if, as seems probable, the European


Union us to be considerably Could I first of all say, on behalf


of the whole house, to the father of the house, what great pleasure


it gives me to refer to him as the right honourable gentleman after


his many years of service in this house. What I would say to the


Honourable Gentleman is that we have quite rightly used the


opportunity of the new treaty change been put forward to protect


Britain's interests and get us out of the bail out mechanism for the


future. If new proposals:, we had used the opportunity again. Right


now, the priority must be to work for stability in the euro-zone, not


least because 40% of exports go to European countries. Britain is


playing a constructive role in making sure that happens. Does the


Prime Minister agree with the Deputy Prime Minister that the idea


of introducing a marriage tax allowance is patronising drivel?


The Deputy Prime Minister and I... We agree about many, many things.


But it is actually set out in the coalition agreement that this is


one area where I do not agree. I had a strong supporter of the


institution of marriage. I think it would be a good idea to recce dies


it in the tax system. -- recognise it in the tax system. Six migrant


workers were arrested in my constituency, all of whom had


national insurance numbers and work paying national insurance. Why


can't we prevent illegal workers from being issued with national


insurance numbers and the first place, or at least flag them so


that the Border Agency knows that these people are not allowed to


wear? By a Honourable Friend makes an extremely good. But grow. As he


knows, or the application process for adults does include an identity


check and the precondition that the individual is entitled to work. But


national insurance number should not be issued to those with no


entitlement to whip. But this is happening and we are looking


closely at the idea of marking national insurance numbers in the


way that he suggests. That you, Mr Speaker. At a time when the NHS is


under financial pressure and people in Wirral are being hit by steep


rises in prices, please will the Prime Minister tell me if he agrees


with his friends on that side of the house who think that costly tax


breaks for those that can choose private health care should be a


priority? The short answer is no, I The Prime Minister will be aware


that core inflation for small business is at its highest level


for three years. Will the Prime Minister recognise that problem,


but especially tell us what else he can do it to increase demand, which


remains, at best, very sluggish. I'll tell my Honourable Friend what


we have done to help the economy. This year, a key problem for


business is the cost of fuel. We've cut fuel duty, abolish the


escalator and put off the RPI increase for next year, making a


difference of about six pence per gallon. With the banks, we have the


Merlins agreement for extra lending to small business. We have also cut


small business corporation tax. We have helped on business rates. This


is a very small business-friendly government. Four years ago the


Prime Minister said that the extremist organisation Hizb ut-


Tahrir should be banned immediately. He promised to do just that in this


house, elsewhere and even in his election manifesto. Why has he not


done what he has promised so many times? Will he go back to Downing


Street and Balham this organisation? We have taken action


against extremist groups. We are looking very carefully at Hizb ut-


Tahrir. In my view, what they have said goes well beyond what a legal


organisations it says. That is has to be done under the law. Given


that Lord Hutton, the former Labour pensions minister has described the


current position on public sector pensions as completely untenable,


would my right honourable friend agree that it is unacceptable for a


small minority of trade unions to be disrupted thousands of people


across this country? -- disrupting. I think my Honourable Friend is


right. This is the issue they don't want to talk about on the other


side of the house. It is a small minority of unions that have gone


ahead with action. I think it is irresponsible, I don't think it's


fair and I think what we are proposing is fair. He makes the


point, quite rightly, that it was Lord Hutton, a former Labour


minister, who has written an extremely good report, Making the


simple point that as we live longer, which is good news, we are going to


have to contribute more to public sector pensions and work for longer.


Let me stress, the reason we are doing this is not in any way to


undermine public sector pensions, but to safeguard good, defined


benefit systems for the future. In my view, there is a contract


between taxpayers and public sector workers saying, you work in the


public sector, will support to an Is the Prime Minister aware of the


concerns that have been expressed about the new arrangement of the


repatriation of the bodies of our servicemen and women killed


overseas on active service, following the transfer to Brize


Norton, and can he tell the House what facilities will be put in


place for the families of the bereaved at Brize Norton, and to


allow the public there if to express their condolences to our


fallen? I'm aware of the issue because Brize Norton is in my own


constituency. A lot of thought has gone into how to do this in the


right way and a lot of care and thought will go into how to look


after the families. I think it is also right that we should mark the


passage from Wootton Bassett, soon to be Royal Wootton Bassett, to


Brize Norton as well. constituency is home to an army


barracks and isn't it the time but we should give service personnel


priority when it comes to housing? I think my honourable friend makes


an important point. We have put the military covenant into law for the


first time. That is important to make sure that military personnel


are not discriminated against but I think it is right that every


council should look at what they do to help those who serve our country


and it is what my local council does in west Oxfordshire, because


of Brize Norton and I would encourage others to do the same. We


have the new policy of first by direct where we are helping first-


time buyers on to the housing ladder and I'm pleased to see the


Housing Minister is making sure this policy is taken round to the


different army and other military bases to make sure military


personnel can take advantage of it. This week is the first anniversary


of the backbench business committee. Over the last year, does the Prime


Minister think that Parliament has become better at holding the


government to account and if he does, can we offer our health to


unlock some of the legislation that has stuck in the legislative


pipeline? Let me congratulate the backbench committee over the last


year. I think it has made a difference in Parliament. I think


it is quite right that the House of Commons can choose to debate a


subject of its choosing, on a motion of its choosing, at a time


of its choosing. He has discussed a range of issues from the very


mundane to be quite obscure. It has, if you like, it has been a year of


bread and circuses. I think it is a good idea, I want to see it go on


working and I would like to take some credit that it was this


government that gave up the power and allowed this to happen.


People in Devon, earned around �2,964 less than the UK average,


yet our average water bill is the highest in the country and well


above the national average of �356. Does the Prime Minister agree with


me at the third option outlined in the recent DEFRA consultation


suggesting a government subsidy of �50 per household for the South


West, would go a long way to writing this unfairness? This issue


of excessive water bills in the south-west has been an issue for


many, many years and I am proud of the fact that within a year it is


this government which has decided to grip it. We are determined to


lower water bills for households in the south-west. We have pledged


that in the Budget. We will publish a White Paper in November.


The crisis at Southern Cross has raised fears of the viability of


the residential care sector. Will the Prime Minister inject some


urgency into his government's review of companies which provide


care services? We need a belt and braces plan to stop the elderly


worrying about the place that they call home. I think the Honourable


Gentleman makes an extremely important point and many of us,


myself included, have care homes in our constituencies run by Southern


Cross and are extremely concerned about what has happened and what is


happening. I can tell him that the health department and the Treasury


and the business department are following this closely. We do have


powers to make sure we regulate these places probably. Local


authorities have the powers to takeover the running of care homes


if necessary. I believe we are planning for contingencies in the


correct way. Given the high cost of petrol which


is crucifying motorists in Harlow across the country, with Mike


honourable friend support the fair fuel UK campaign and urged oil


companies to reduce petrol prices at the pump in line with market


prices and review the three pence increase next January? I want to


see every chance for lower prices do pass on to the consumer. What


the government has done is taken its necessary measures, the 1 p cut


in fuel duty this year, the pudding of of the RPI increase, the


abolition of the fuel escalator that the party opposite put in


place, all of those things will make a difference. Also, we took


part in the release of oil stocks, together with Americans, which has


seen the oil price come down but we need to make sure we have a good


competitive sector that passes on price cuts through the country.


As if the review of the air passage contingency continues, does the


Prime Minister accept there is an urgency in the situation,


especially in my constituency of South Antrim, given that the levy


on a long haul flight whereas our competitors have a levee of just 3


euros. The airlines link between Northern Ireland and New York,


something urgently must be done now. I understand a point the honourable


gentleman necks and I know it is of personal concern to him. I do


understand, when I went to Northern Ireland, people are explained the


importance of maintaining the air link direct between Northern


Ireland and the United States, absolutely vital for the long-term


economic health of this province. The Chancellor has spoken to people


in Northern Ireland about it and we are reviewing the options and we


will clear a path forward. My right honourable friend will be


aware that our colleague, Lord Bates, is currently walking from a


limpet in Greece to London, a journey of 4,000 miles to raise


awareness of the Olympic truce. Will the Prime Minister he ensure


that when the UK government table sits resolution for observance of


the Olympic truce to the United Nations General Assembly later this


year, will add to it specific proposals for peace and


reconciliation so we will maximise this historic opportunity? I'm sure


the whole house would like to congratulate Lord Bates for his


great feat. Sorry about that! Accidental, apologies for that. We


will be promoting a fresh calling for the continuing


observance of the Olympic truce for the 2012 games. We want to make the


most of this historic opportunity and we are considering other


initiatives to promote the spirit of the trees and the Foreign and


Commonwealth Office are engaging with embassies worldwide -- the


trees. A wet parents up-and-down the land


be horrified to know that under their proposals, person convicted


of raping a child will not automatically be put on the Bard


list of working with children in the future? What we have done in


terms of vetting and barring, is removed a huge number of people who


were not a risk to children, but we do want to make sure the system


works well so that anyone who has criminal convictions is barred.


Mr Speaker, does the Prime Minister believe that the drugs policy has


been failing for decades, as he said in 2005, and does he agree


that the government should initiate a way of alternative ways including


tackling the global drugs dilemma? I do not believe we should be


legalising any drugs which are currently criminal, but I do


believe the drugs policy has been a failure over recent years. I think


there has been insufficient attention to two key areas,


education on one hand, but also treatment on the other. One of the


ways to collapse the drugs market is to have a more effective


treatment system and in this country in particular, we have


spent too much time on heroin replacement and methadone, rather


than trying to get people clean and clear up all the things in their


life which caused them to take drugs in the first place.


Has the Prime Minister himself been involved in seeking a solution to


the appalling problems in Sudan, and given the United Nations


concern, about 60,000 people being displaced, as well as other huge


humanitarian problems, will he use his influence on the eve of


independence, to ensure that north and south are seen to work


together? I think as the right honourable gentleman knows, we are


deeply involved in trying to seek a successful outcome to this process.


We find a lot of the talks process which has been ongoing. The Foreign


Secretary has visited the country, as has the Africa Minister. Britain


has done a huge amount to ensure that the CPA is fully implemented


and there is a peaceful settlement between the two countries. Clearly,


there is more work today. What does the Prime Minister think


is more fair and progressive, the coalition government's policy of


safeguarding benefits and the public sector or Labour's �1


billion smash and grab on private pension funds which contributed


directly to the demise of defined benefit schemes in the private


sector? I think my honourable friend makes an extremely good


point. 26 minutes into Question Time, not a squeak from the party


opposite about strikes of pensions or the need for reform. Because


they are all paid for by the trade unions, they cannot talk about this


issue. What that coalition government is doing is right. We


are saying, we want to have a defined benefit system in the


public sector. We want to ensure that all those accrued rights are


kept and those accrued rights you will still be able to take at the


age you were allowed to take them. For those people currently in a


final-salary scheme, when they get those benefits, they will be based


on their final salary, not the final salary now, or when the


reforms go through, but before -- final salary when they retire. They


have been so much myth and misinformation put around by those


in the trade unions, it is important to put on the record in


the house. Compared with the same period last


year, crime overall in London is up, including a 15 % rise in robbery


and an 18 % rise in burglary. At the same time, the mayor for London


is budgeted to cut 1800 police officers. Is this the right time to


do this and will the Prime Minister get a grip in London? First of all,


overall crime is falling. It is according to both the British Crime


Survey and the police recorded crime statistics. We are doing a


huge amount to help people right across the country, including the


London to deal with crime. The publication of crime maps, the


introduction of Police Commissioners, making sure we have


the proper powers necessary and perhaps because he is a London MP,


let me bring him up to date with operation target, which is running


in the Metropolitan Police. On average, 1,200 officers deployed


every day, they have been 4,000 different activities, 2000 arrests


but it is early days but there has been a drop in offences from week


to week from most serious offences, violence, knife crime, street


robbery and residential burglary. That is, they do not like to hear


an answer when it shows the police are doing their job. Prime


Minister's Questions is principally for backbenchers. Mr Graham Evans.


On the eighth of June 1944, a relative of mine was shot down


while dropping notes needed supplies to the French Resistance.


Today he lives in a Normandy Joel jarred with the crew of his Halifax


bomber. Does the Prime Minister agree with me battered his right


and proper that this nation should remember the sacrifice of 55,000


members of Bomber Command who gave their lives to rid Europe of Nazi


tyranny? I think it is absolutely right that we remember those who


served in Bomber Command and I recognise there is a lot of work to


make sure that is done. As someone who has visited one of the


Commonwealth War Graves ceremonies in Normandy recently, it is a


brilliant thing the way they are kept up and the work that is done


to make sure relatives can visit their fallen heroes.


During the last Labour government, millions of pensioners in this


country, including my grandmother who is in the gallery today, saw


the quality of life improved vastly, with measures such as the winter


fuel allowance, pension credits and a free bus pass. What message does


the Prime Minister have for these women in this country who are now


seeing their daughters have to work harder and longer for less money


and some of them having less time to prepare for the state pension?


What I would say to her constituency and all pensioners is


this government is reforming pensions so we are going to be


paying a more generous state retirement pension. Because of the


triple lock, someone retiring today will be �15,000 better off over the


rest of their life than they would be under the plans we inherited. We


have kept for free bus pass, we have kept the free television


licence, we have kept the other benefits and I believe we are being


fed by Britain's pensioners. The Prime Minister eluded earlier


to the contract between taxpayers and Public servants, there is a


contract between tax payers and MPs as well, does he agree that we


should be in the vanguard of reforming our own pensions, so we


can look our public sector constituents in the face?


absolutely agree with the honourable lady. In this house, we


are public sector workers as well and we should be subject to exactly


the same changes we asking others to take on. The increase in


contributions should apply to the MPs' system, even though it is a


system where we already pay in a lot. We are saying across the board,


the increase in pension contributions are right to create a


Well, Prime Ministers questions comes to an end. Not many to go


before the summer recess. The leader of the opposition using the


technique he's used over the past couple of weeks of trying to burrow


into some detail in the hope that the Prime Minister is not across


the detail, which he was not in the past couple of weeks. This time he


was asking about what will happen to the number of quangos in the NHS


after the reform. And the cost of redundancies, which he put at �852


million. Asking if any of those people would be retired. It's a


tactic that he has employed for several weeks. We will be


discussing whether British is effective or not. The Prime


Minister said, you don't want to talk about strikes, but you are


talking about the detail. We'll see what the panel makes of this new


approach by the leader of the opposition. First, we'll see what


you made of it. You can kind of tell when the energy has gone out


of PMQs, people want to talk about anything except the exchange


between the leaders. Today, the actions of the speaker have caught


your imagination. The Speaker stopping the Prime Ministers bd was


rude, says Alex Ross. The speaker needs to realise his position is to


beat neutral, we are fed up by your interruptions, says another viewer.


Then that that was before the rebuke about standing up for the


backbenchers, suggesting that the prime minister's answer was too


long. Ed and the Labour party are on the wrong side of the debates,


says a viewer from Kent. Mr Cameron, people want to know the answer to


the question, not what you think of Ed Miliband. I thought it was the


end of Punch and Judy politics, said Andrew from Manchester. This


one, why does Ed Miliband start every question with committee


hasn't answered the question? -- he hasn't answered the question.


do we make of this tactic? It's a way of unsettling the Prime


Minister, in a way it does work, he didn't know the answer to the


question. That's the tactic, but what is the strategy? Is he trying


to say to the public that the Prime Minister doesn't know how to do his


job? It seems to me that he's not playing with the grain, there isn't


an obvious point to make. Clearly, there is a Labour line of attack,


people will be sympathetic, the idea that the Government is making


things up as it goes along, that you turning is a problem. But I


found myself pretty puzzled by that line of attack. Clearly, it allows


Labour to keep the story of the NHS going. I'd be very surprised if


it's picked up widely in the media. If it is, and a sure the Labour


Party will be given the credit for raising it. It's a frustration for


Ed Miliband, sometimes. He has done quite powerful lines of attack, on


the NHS and the first place. Quite often, people picked it up and the


newspapers and gave him no credit. He left an open goal, in not asking


about the strikes. It was easy for David Cameron to go on and say that,


because he knows that every journalist has to write about the


strikes. Why leave yourself vulnerable to the criticism?


did he talk about them? He spoke about the strikes yesterday, at the


weekend. The idea that we don't want to talk about it, Andy Burnham


has asked that it should question on the strikes. The Government has


made such a mess. Why not use PMQs? A Ed Miliband has made his position


clear, he thinks the strikes at a mistake, he thinks the Government


should be negotiating. What it showed again is that the Prime


Minister doesn't know the detail, and secondly, on the NHS, he gave


an absolutely categorical promise there would be no or top-down


reorganisation. That is exactly what we are getting. Twice he could


not answer the question, can you promise that the people you are


paying off will not be rehired? He knows he can't answer, because that


is what is going to happen with everything that he is bringing in.


Let's take that issue. The leader of the opposition said it is


costing �852 million to make a number of people redundant. Can you


guarantee that these people will not be rehired in some way? If you


had won the election, you would be making people redundant in the


health service. We don't know what the numbers would be, undoubtedly


you would have to do that, given the Alastair Darling plan. You


would not be able to give that commitment either. You would have a


redundancy bill and you could not say that you would not hire any of


these people. It's a kind of non question. I disagree. You would say


that? I disagree with your privates. We would not have had a top-down


reorganisation of the type the Government is engaging in, -- with


your premise. The stop-start, we are not going ahead, we are going


ahead, we are not creating new bodies, we are having to create


shadow bodies, it is one big mess. I you saying your government would


not have made any redundancies? That is by point. David Cameron


embarked on one course of action, then he was forced to screech to a


halt. He is literally making it up as he goes along. All of the bodies


that Ed Miliband listed in action - - asking the question, they are


having to be created or having their lives prolonged because the


Government has made a complete mess of what the Government is doing to


the NHS. Having done a massive U- turn on the NHS, they are having a


proliferation of quangos. This was a government, like every other


government, promising a bonfire of the quangos. On Mr Miliband's


figures, you're doubling or trebling the number of quangos.


What is that about? This double, there you have it. He has just


admitted that they would be able to answer the question that Ed


Miliband was put into the Prime Minister in this tactic of asking


these points of detail. I agree with Nick, I don't think it is


successful. It means he's not addressing the big issues, it is an


instantly forgettable Prime Ministers questions. I think it is


completely the wrong strategy for him. It kind of unsettled the Prime


Minister. I don't think it does. The luck on his face, it was almost


news to him about the number of quangos that will be in the NHS


after these reforms are done. have established that the Labour


Party can dance a written question. -- couldn't answer its own question.


They were looking for an admission from the Labour Party that they got


things wrong, a stance that they are willing to change, that they


are listing to the country, that the leader is willing to take big


decisions. And he is flogging all of that, so I think Ed Miliband is


doing himself a great deal of harm. There is clearly a long-term


objective, to undermine David Cameron's claim to love heat NHS,


or at least to be acting as if he does love the NHS. In that sense,


I'm sure that Ed Miliband is determined to say that we are not


at the end of the NHS story, simply because the Government made a U-


turn. He wants to keep insisting that David Cameron is to blame,


don't blame the doctors or the deficit. In that sense, it's clear


that he wants to keep the NHS running. I still slightly struggle


to see what his hopers, and it might not be his only Test, making


it into the news, because it is not his only Test, but making it into


the news with the questions he asks the Prime Minister. I could be


proved wrong. The we will watch the news tonight and see if he makes it.


Most journalists came in today thinking they had to do something


on the strikes. Let's just have a look, while we have been going on,


events have been unfolding in Athens. I think we can get live


pictures. This is where violence has broken out again. The BBC's


Correspondent Jon Sopel, we spoke to him yesterday on the programme.


I have just been reading his blog. He says it is a much more brutal,


hostile atmosphere than it was yesterday. There was quite a lot of


violence them. There have been some real clashes, tear gas. He has


described it as looking like frozen ice wafting in front of Parliament.


They tried to put up roadblocks to stop MPs or deputies, as they are


called in Athens, getting into Parliament to vote. Some pretty bad


scenes this morning. We don't expect the result for another hour.


It looks like we will, with a majority of five, that the


Socialist government will probably get its way. It's quite clear that


it hasn't got its way with a lot of people in Athens. Whether they will


be able to implement the reforms, the austerity package, that is


another big message. The markets are pretty confident it will go


through. The euro is looking quite strong this morning. European stock


exchanges have risen. I was struck by how the Prime Minister wants to


keep talking about Greece, for domestic political reasons. He


wants to say to the country, that is what it could be like if we were


not doing what we are doing. His opponents will say that is nonsense


on economic grounds and they will claim it is nonsense on political


grounds, that there is a perfectly good way of reducing the deficit


without getting up people's pensions and its legitimate for


people to strike. I was struck by the fact that on the eve of his


protests, he would quite like people to pick his was an


alternative and that he stands against this chaos. The events in


Athens, if they go wrong: Even if they go right, from the


Government's point of view, it could have a contagious effect


across Europe. Is it right that no side of the house bothered to raise


the Greeks situation in Parliament today? Well, it is self evidently


nonsense to try and argue that there is a comparison between what


has happened in Greece and what we are seen in the United Kingdom. --


what we are seeing her in the United Kingdom. We have discussed


the bail out, we had a statement from the Prime Minister after the


EU summit. Sometimes we are a little bit parochial and Prime


Ministers questions? I disagree that it is nonsense. I think if you


look at Dublin, if you look at Lisbon, Athens, if you look at what


those economies are having to go through, what happens if you leave


decisions until too late, you allow public sector spending and debt to


rise unsustainably, what is forced on you is much deeper spending cuts.


What the Greek people are reacting to are things like closing the


numbers of schools, big cuts in health spending, state-owned


employees in Greece that are having 30% cuts in pay. It is a reminder


that choices are inescapable, that we have to deal with the deficit


and keep confidence in our economy. If final brief word from Nick?


think there are some Euro-sceptic backbenchers who think that what is


happening in Rhys could have an effect on Europe, and it is being


ignored. I think the Prime Minister and the Chancellor had agreed it is


not a conversation to have in public, it is one that you have in


private. We will leave it there. We will keep a cross events in Greece.


If we get the vote whilst we are there, we will put it to you.


A survey published this morning shows that more than half of


councillors are worried about the strain on public services caused by


cuts to housing benefit. That before I change takes place in the


new year. From January, many people will have to move into shared


accommodation instead of having their own place because of cuts to


housing benefits. David Rowntree, drummer in the band Blair, no


upturned Labour activist and solicitor, told me why he thinks


it's not a good idea. -- the band Everyone knows how important it is


to have some way you can call home. But the Government are trying to


push through drastic cuts in housing benefit for those between


25 and 35. They are calling it extending the shared accommodation


rate. Around 60,000 people are going to be affected. They are


going to lose about half their benefits, about �40 a week. Of


course, landlords are not going to reduce rent, so people are going to


be forced to move. The Government argues that they can move into


shared properties. But there simply aren't the properties available.


For vulnerable people to move into shared accommodation with strangers


simply isn't suitable. Many will end up homeless and on the streets.


They include people who have been homeless and are trying to get back


on their feet. Dads who are separated and trying to carry on


seeing the children. Pregnant women thrown out by their partners. One-


in-five is disabled and many more All these people have had to


struggle to get the homes they live in. Those homes and the security


they provide are at risk from these cuts. The government says they need


to save money but we will end up spending more if people become


homeless. People at the sharp end will not have a secure place to


rebuild their lives. These people often struggled get their voices


heard and I do not believe the most vulnerable should bear the brunt of


the cuts. The government says we are all in it together but some


people seem to be more in it than others. I believe the government


should think again. Homelessness is already rising and I for one, do


not want to see a return to the David joins us now. At the moment,


there are lots of young people who do not qualify for housing benefit


and they find themselves having to share houses, that is just an


extension of that, isn't it? What the government is proposing that


60,000 of the most vulnerable people are turfed out of their


accommodation. One of five of them are disabled, they often people


made crisis in their lives and they are people who can ill-afford to


move at all, let alone the forced to share low-grade accommodation


with other people they do not know. Are you objecting in general to the


fact that people on low incomes or on housing benefit are having to


share or in particular, this sub- group you talk about, those with


disabilities? I am objecting to the state of housing in the country. We


are in a disgraceful situation. The Tories are planning a change in the


housing benefit rules which were essentially turf 60,000 of the most


vulnerable people and society out of their homes. We will talk about


the specific cases of the disabled, we have Nick here stop you must be


leaving the the charge against this. Let me ask you another question


before you takeover altogether! The fact is, there are lots of people


out there who were not on housing benefit to do not qualify for


housing benefit, who face the same situation. We are talking that


pensioners who have to take cuts, we are in a dire state in this


country, cuts have to be made, what about the young as well as the old?


That is the Conservative Office Central Line. Nick, you must be


leading the charge against these cuts. You are taking over this


interview again, David! Neck, let me ask you another question. David,


it is not nice. On the issue of the most vulnerable, there has been a


piece of research coming out from another charity saying that they


are also worried that those people having to share accommodation.


vulnerable are exempted from this proposal specifically. What we know


is that people who are Carillion showed accommodation, receipt of


housing benefit, two-thirds of those would be entitled to it. They


are exercising a choice to be in shared accommodation. If you are


not in receipt of housing benefit, if you are working and clearly


struggling, and you cannot possibly expect that you can afford


accommodation to be living on your own and you are going into shared


accommodation, as young people do, particularly in places like London


because the prices, why should we expect that the state should be


subsidising people to be in their own accommodation. The whole


housing benefit system has spiralled out of control. We are


paying benefit up to absurd levels, up to �100,000. If it has had a


very inflationary effect and it is simply not fair. You stated that


position clearly but I want you to be categoric on this programme,


that subsection that David is talking about that Shelter is


worried about, that councils are worried about, those who have


disabilities or mental health issues, you are saying in no way


ever, under your stewardship are they going to be forced to share


accommodation? The vulnerable are excluded. We have to look at these


things clearly on a case-by-case basis. The principal stance and


there is a transition fund to assist people when necessary. We do


not believe anybody is going to be made homeless by this policy. This


is a good example of the sort of decisions that were not taken by


the previous government. They have to be taken both to ensure we have


a grip on spending, because the costs are spiralling out of control


but also on the grounds of fairness as well. A lot of people watching


this will say, I might quite like to be in a flat of my own as well


but the state is not paying me to be in a flat of my own. For let me


come back to, David, as well as former -- being formally in Blur


and as a solicitor, you are also a Labour activist, under the Darling


plan, there would be cuts as well, isn't it opportunistic to make this


a political issue because your party would do similar things?


disagree that we would do similar things. Let me take you back to the


answer that nobody would be made homeless, how can you say you are


going to shift 60,000 people out of their accommodation, force them


into shared accommodation which does not exist but nobody would be


made homeless? We do not believe that is the case. We have done the


impact assessments. We have a transition fund to address these


issues. 1.8 billion cups. feedback we have been having is it


is possible to accommodate people in revised accommodation. Of course,


we do not want to make people homeless. Half of the councillors


who were asked said they are concerned that in your emotive


language, they would be turfed out into the streets. We do not


believe... Are the council has not telling the truth? There have been


charities which have said that their definition of homelessness is


not the same one that your eye would be applying. Very, very


briefly, Hilary Benn, your thoughts on this? I think there is genuine


concern about what the impact of this will be. I am not convinced


that the government has thought through the context of this. I


think we should listen very carefully to those who have


expertise, particularly in relation to those who are vulnerable and say,


has the government really thought this through? Are people not going


to end up on the streets because we do not want to go back to what it


was like in the 1980s when we last had a Conservative government.


Now, are you nostalgic for the smoke filled rooms of the past? I


didn't think so. We are not talking at last year's coalition


negotiations either. A cross-party group of MPs want the government to


review the complete ban on smoking in pubs and clubs. They say the ban


has hit licensed premises, 7% of which have closed in the three


years since the ban came in. Whether there is a link is another


matter. I am joined by the Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming. Thanks


for joining us. I am in the hot seat at the moment! If it sets on


fire, and I allowed to stand up? don't think so. Let's get to the


first question. The smoking ban, the Office of National Statistics


brought out a poll in March of this year and they said City 3% of


smokers want to give up smoking, 81 % of smokers want to -- 81 set of


the public agree with smoking ban. Why change it? When I voted for the


smoking ban, I argued there was a logic of having some smoky rooms


with proper ventilation. What we have our ramshackle sheds in


gardens. For me as a non-smoker, it would be nice to go into the garden


of a pub and not breathing smoke. Eight get silly when you have these


ramshackle devices, he did with these very environmentally


unfriendly heating devices. Your visual exercise off the bar full of


smoke is not what is proposed, it is ventilated smoking rooms.


you sure the impact is as wide as you suggest? A Department of Health


report said implementation had gone well, 41 % reported a positive


impact on the company, only 3% negative. Generally, it has been


good. I support the general smoking ban. I think there is an argument


for having ventilated smoking ruins which is sort of what we are


getting but it is a shambolic system at the moment where you have


these lean tos and sheds in gardens and they are heated by heating the


air. There has to be a better way than doing that. Although the


smoking ban has caused problems, it is not just the smoking ban. For


instance, the fact that people get very cheap alcohol from other


places, that has an effect as well. You have to look at the issue of,


do we accept the silly situation we have at the moment with shacks and


strange marquees in gardens or should we say, let's be realistic,


not around the Barca the visual you have got behind me would not be


what we are talking about but why not consider the option of having


ventilated smoking rooms? What about the staff who have to work


there? You would not have the staff at the bar where there is smoke,


they would be popping in and out of the room. For people like me who


are non-smokers it would be nice to go into a pub and not go through a


gaggle of smokers at the entrance. Thank you and thank you for being a


good sport. It did not set on fire so I am quite happy! Green screens


are good things! OK, don't get carried away.


Where are you on this, Hilary Benn? I voted on the smoking ban and I


would leave it as it is. As John has said, there are gardens. People


have made their own arrangements. People have found their way around


it. There are bigger changes affecting people in pubs and clubs,


including the availability of much cheaper alcohol in supermarkets.


There has been a move away from pubs, I'm not sure you can get a


link between pub closures and the smoking ban? I don't think that is


the only factor. It may be a factor in part but the overwhelming


evidence of the benefit of the smoking ban, the damage it has cost


the NHS, I stand by what I did when I voted for it. And you voted for


it as well? No, I did not. My understanding is the government do


not wish to review this. I voted against the smoking ban because and


the end, I was unhappy about telling people what they should do.


One of the things that was an overriding argument for many people


is as Hilary described, the staff and the health of the staff which


is something I had to wrestle a bit. If the opportunity arose again, I


would think hard how I would vote in future. Time to pick you out of


your misery. We can give you the Guess The Year answer. Castro


taking power was a clue, so was the British Collection and the opening


of the M1. It was a 1951 -- the British election. The Tories' won


by a landslide. It is a while since you have won by a landslide, choose


the winner. Who reads it out? read it out. In case you read the


address, we will all be in jail. Chris Sauber from London, you are


the one. He was playing the piano in that clip? Maybe it was Russ


Conway. We can showed pictures from Greece. There is a lot of violence


and tear gas. We are told the vote itself will not come in the


parliament until at least another 20 minutes. The BBC News Channel


and BBC News will give you that result. Tune in for that. Very


nasty scenes of the right place outside the Greek parliament.


That is it for today. Thank you for our guests, Hilary and neck. We


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