08/09/2011 Daily Politics


08/09/2011

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn have the top political stories. There's more gloomy news on the UK economy as it's revealed that one in seven shops have been empty for the past year.


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Transcript


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Good afternoon and welcome to The Daily Politics. More gloomy news on

:00:27.:00:31.

the UK economy as it is revealed one in seven shops have been empty

:00:31.:00:37.

for a year. How can Greg be promoted? Lord Heseltine joins us.

:00:37.:00:42.

Is it time to change our relationship with Europe? Many on

:00:42.:00:45.

the Conservative backbenches thinks so, but will this coalition

:00:45.:00:48.

Government clawback powers from Brussels?

:00:48.:00:52.

They lost out in the recent Welsh Assembly elections, but we are not

:00:52.:00:57.

ignoring them. Plaid Cymru has set out their stall as their party

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conference begins. All that in the next half hour and

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with us for the programme today is businesswoman, entrepreneur and

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star of Dragons Den, Deborah Meaden. Welcome. Thank you.

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Government's Banking Commission, headed by Sir John Vickers, will

:01:17.:01:21.

call for the swift introduction of legislation to enact its

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recommendations, followed by a phasing in of the reforms. It will

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propose firewalls be erected between the High Street and

:01:28.:01:32.

investment arms of the big banks, protecting taxpayers from their

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riskier operations. The banks and some business groups had been

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lobbying for a protracted delay to these changes. Politically, voters

:01:41.:01:44.

will say a system that is set up to avoid a repeat of the banking

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crisis, having this firewall, is desirable. What about from a

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business point of view? completely get the emotion of it.

:01:54.:02:00.

It's sounds like it makes perfect sense. I issue is that businesses

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need to banks to lend and we do not need to introduce change that will

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inhibit back in any way. You think it well. I worry it well. It could

:02:10.:02:16.

make the retail banks more cautious. Also we go back to the root of it.

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Lehmann Brothers was an investment bank and that got into trouble and

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Northern Rock was a retail bank and that got into trouble. I think it

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is about the way it is regulated as opposed to changing the structure.

:02:29.:02:34.

If you do not support the idea, and it is a radical change, how worried

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are you that the banks, even if they do not enact these

:02:38.:02:42.

recommendations, how worried are you that they will start to

:02:42.:02:46.

transfers increase costs on to business and people like you and me.

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I am worried. I think the reform if it is too big a change, change

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means costs and that will definitely be passed on to me, the

:02:55.:03:00.

businesses. The simplest way of doing it is going to mean that the

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lowest cost to me as a business. The key is to find a mechanism to

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get the bank's lending again. are still not lending. Worse than

:03:09.:03:13.

that, good businesses that are doing very well, and they should

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not lend to businesses that are not good, but businesses doing very

:03:19.:03:23.

well are finding their covenants are being changed and if they

:03:23.:03:27.

dispose of assets, that money is being sucked into the bank and the

:03:27.:03:32.

bank is not releasing it again. should the banks be protected, why

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should they be bailed out by the taxpayer? Businesses like yours are

:03:36.:03:42.

not. It is not the banks that are being protected. It is ultimately

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the businesses that are being protected. They are the mechanism

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by which we get our cash. If the banks are allowed to fail, I fail

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as well. I think that protection is through the banks, but it is about

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protecting the individual and those businesses. That is the only reason

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those banks will sell. More gloomy economic news this morning as a

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survey reveals one in seven shops in the UK have been empty for a

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year. In some parts of the country as many as a third of retail units

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are empty. On Tuesday the Chancellor admitted growth would be

:04:20.:04:23.

sluggish for this foreseeable future, while some warn of a

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double-dip recession. How can we left ourselves out of the worst

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economic slowdown in living memory? First, here is Giles Dilnot.

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It is what a fired-up economy does, it is the process by which recovery

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comes, it is growth, the expansion of businesses and services that

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make money. Ever since it came to power, the coalition Government has

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peddled the idea that if you concentrated on fiscal repair,

:04:53.:04:55.

deficit-reduction and monetary stability, then growth happened as

:04:55.:05:00.

a result. But increasingly businesses and economists are

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suggesting that is different from having the measures to promote

:05:04.:05:09.

growth. This perceived lack of a growth strategy is starting to

:05:09.:05:15.

cause a bit of frustration. Intense frustration at what is going on. I

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see a lot of people wanting reforms and a lot of disappointment. Growth

:05:19.:05:24.

has slowed quite substantially. There has been a change of mood.

:05:24.:05:29.

What is needed according to the City and business is a more

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strategic growth plan. Government can do that, since many businesses,

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especially small ones, are necessarily to focus on getting

:05:38.:05:44.

through the next month than looking at how it grows in uncertain times.

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We have had atrocious recession. Anyone still alive now has done

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well to fair the storm. But my belief is there are loads of

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businesses out there that have far more potential than they are

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fulfilling. I wonder whether there is an opportunity for us or the

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Government as a whole to try and a support them and bring them forward

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and say, we will give you some guidance. Not necessarily cash, but

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good advice. Does that mean the Government being more directly

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involved, intervening, in helping companies to grow? Does that mean

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more use of the regional growth fund? I am sceptical about the

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Government tried to Micra manage or determine the shape of the recovery.

:06:30.:06:36.

This does not work. You cannot do that. You need a cultural

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revolution, a different attitude in embracing growth. The Government

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has to say we want businesses to grow and they have to do something

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about it. That means a rowing back of employment regulations and tax

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breaks, thing as the Chancellor could do. Where confidence is

:06:57.:07:01.

turned upside down, like euro debt, he has less control of it. But in

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the end is building breath about changing mood? What we have seen is

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unpredictable. Tackling uncertainty is a far less exact science. I am

:07:17.:07:20.

joined by Lord Heseltine, an adviser to the Government's

:07:20.:07:24.

regional growth fund. Deborah Meaden is still with me. The Bank

:07:24.:07:30.

of England has kept interest rates at a record historic low. It is the

:07:30.:07:36.

32nd month. No real surprise. Since September 2010, the economy has

:07:37.:07:43.

only grown by 0.2%. How worried I knew about growth? Well, we are all

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worried, but that does not mean to say there are simple solutions. If

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I was the Chancellor today, I would realise that I am living in an

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extremely uncertain world where there are very serious downside

:07:56.:08:01.

risks. The thing people want most from the Chancellor is he keeps his

:08:01.:08:07.

nerve, pursues policies that keep us out of the crisis world of

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southern Europe, and recognises there is relatively little that a

:08:12.:08:18.

Government can do. That is the key. The Government has no real money to

:08:18.:08:22.

spend. Interest rates are at an historic low, so you cannot go much

:08:22.:08:27.

further down. The Government is leading the 50 pence top rate of

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tax for the moment. What levers are there at George Osborne's disposal

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to kick-start the economy? regional fund I have is an example

:08:37.:08:42.

of what you can do and it has some effect. We have a �1.4 billion to

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spend. Less than the regional development agencies. It is not

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comparable because ours is a challenge fund. If we have �1.4

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billion of taxpayers' money, we are probably getting six times as much

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private money on top of that. You will find yourself it is �8 million

:09:04.:09:09.

over three years. Particularly in the more regional outlying areas

:09:10.:09:15.

which we are targeting. What are you doing with it? We heard from

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the businesses that the biggest problem is uncertainty. Does they

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need to be more targeting by the Government and by the fund you are

:09:23.:09:30.

advising on? Our fund is already effectively closed because we have

:09:30.:09:34.

had so many bits and we are oversubscribed and we are now

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allocating the cash. That is a piece of done business, but the

:09:38.:09:43.

money will flow. There are very limited things Government can do,

:09:43.:09:49.

but I will suggest two. First is to look through the filing cabinets of

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Whitehall for all the decisions that are sitting in ministers'

:09:53.:09:59.

offices that have not been taken and a wartime attitude that says we

:09:59.:10:04.

have got to get every decision taken, either to end uncertainty,

:10:04.:10:08.

or to let something go ahead. If the planning authorities did the

:10:08.:10:13.

same thing, that would release a certain amount of opportunity. The

:10:13.:10:16.

second thing is they can look at all the capital programmes they

:10:16.:10:21.

have got and use them for a challenge purposes, competitive

:10:21.:10:27.

purposes. Instead of saying, we will use a �1 building a public

:10:27.:10:32.

sector has come at they would say, we have got one pound of public

:10:32.:10:36.

money, what are we offered if we put it up for competition in terms

:10:36.:10:41.

of additional Gearing? Does then need to be more pushing growth in

:10:41.:10:46.

terms of the Government tried to spend more money, so it is not

:10:46.:10:52.

focusing so much on posterity? It is trying to booze consumer demand.

:10:52.:10:55.

That is using the existing levels of public expenditure to create

:10:55.:11:01.

bigger demand and to loosen up money that the private sector is

:11:01.:11:06.

prepared to add to what the Government has got. Do you agree

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with his perceived lack of a growth strategy? No, I think there are all

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sorts of politicians and commentators who have said we need

:11:15.:11:20.

growth. Of course we would like to have growth. But if you are sitting

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in a business, you know there is a massive uncertainty out there. When

:11:25.:11:29.

someone says, would you like to spend money on this or that? There

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is not the confidence to take that decision. If you are a banker, you

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are worried about the next banking crisis. You are trying to get your

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debts under control. All of us are holding back and until the mood

:11:44.:11:49.

changes, you will not see expansion. That to me is the issue. It is

:11:49.:11:57.

about perception. I have talked to a lot of small businesses and I

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have got a nice basket of people to talk to. There was this big mood

:12:03.:12:06.

when the Government first came in and we had an emergency budget and

:12:06.:12:12.

it was galvanising, we have got to take some medicine. I think there

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is a gap because now when I talk to people they feel, what now? They

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feel like they are not being spoken to and they are not being brought

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along. We are going to have tough times, but there is not a

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communications. Do you think the Government's plan A is wrong? The

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idea it is all about austerity and cuts and wage freezes, the public

:12:38.:12:44.

sector losing jobs, pensions losing money. Has that got to slow down?

:12:44.:12:48.

certainly do not think it was wrong when it was brought in. We had a

:12:48.:12:52.

job to do and we had to do it quickly and I felt like, let's get

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on with it. I think we have to review it, as if the country was a

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big business. In any business you have to review what is happening.

:13:05.:13:10.

Do you agree with that? Do you think George Osborne needs to look

:13:10.:13:15.

at slowing down the pace of that austerity? No, what I think is what

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I have said. They could use elements of the existing plan to

:13:19.:13:25.

get bigger expenditure consequences. However, I think there is a

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political problem. George Osborne knows that he is on the most

:13:30.:13:35.

fragile of economic territory. He has to be highly irresponsible in

:13:35.:13:40.

handling that. What he cannot do is give an impression that it is all

:13:40.:13:43.

going to be wonderful tomorrow, because it is not going to be

:13:43.:13:48.

wonderful, and he would get found out. On the other hand, if he goes

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around saying, it is going to be rough, he would be accused of

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undermining what little confidence there is. I agree, but when you set

:13:58.:14:03.

out a business plan and things do not go according to that plan, I

:14:03.:14:07.

believe you have to address that. You have to communicate that. The

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truth is it has not gone according to plan. I am now left feeling, now

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what? You cannot shoot off in this direction or at that direction, but

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it is that type of communication. Most of it was right, but these are

:14:25.:14:30.

the bits we need to change. A group of economists have claimed the 50

:14:30.:14:34.

pence top rate of tax makes Britain a less attractive place to invest

:14:35.:14:40.

in. Do you agree with that? Yes, but I do not think it is a

:14:40.:14:43.

determining factor in how the economy would respond in the next

:14:43.:14:48.

six months. It was a political trap by the Labour Party to try to get

:14:48.:14:52.

the Tories to fight on the electoral ground. Is he right to

:14:52.:14:56.

retain it? Politically at the moment, but it has got to go as

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soon as possible. Is it making Britain less attractive? I think

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the facts need to ascertain whether or not it is right. We can sit here

:15:06.:15:11.

and guess. If we make a decision now, it is a political decision,

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It looks like Europe is going to become a hot issue in government

:15:19.:15:24.

again. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have so far managed to keep a lid

:15:24.:15:27.

on the simmering tensions in the coalition. That could be about to

:15:27.:15:32.

change. Next week, up to 80 Euro- sceptic MPs are planning to meet to

:15:32.:15:36.

press the Government used the crisis in the eurozone to change

:15:36.:15:40.

Britain's relationship with Europe. Many want to seek a referendum.

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There's pressure from outside with independent MEP Nikki Sinclair due

:15:45.:15:50.

to hand in a 100,000 name petition to Downing Street, calling for a

:15:50.:15:54.

straight in or out of vote. Lord Lawson has called for David Cameron

:15:54.:15:58.

to use the current crisis as an opportunity to terror at the Lisbon

:15:58.:16:02.

Treaty. He argues, enough is enough. This is worrying the Liberal

:16:02.:16:06.

Democrat side of the coalition. Speaking to the New Statesman,

:16:06.:16:09.

Danny Alexander called for further involvement in Europe, saying we

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should be redoubling our effort, not looking at this as an excuse to

:16:13.:16:18.

further run agenda of weakening our times. David Cameron has repeatedly

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said this is not the time for renegotiation and stated that we

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must have a eurozone that works. That's not exactly music to

:16:25.:16:29.

Conservative backbench ears. Conservative MP Mark Reckless had

:16:29.:16:35.

this to put the Prime Minister. Prime Minister has listened to

:16:35.:16:38.

Liberal Democrat colleagues by delaying the police elections until

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November next year. Will he now listen to Conservative colleagues

:16:42.:16:49.

and take that opportunity to hold a referendum on Europe? A genius way

:16:49.:16:55.

of putting the question. As I explained yesterday, I want us to

:16:55.:16:58.

be influential in Europe about the things that matter to our national

:16:58.:17:03.

interests. David Cameron. With us now is Conservative MP and Co

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author of the book Masters of Nothing, Masters of Nothing. And

:17:08.:17:12.

the chairman of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary committee on

:17:12.:17:16.

parliamentary affairs, Martin Hall. Can I start with you? There is

:17:16.:17:19.

clearly an happiness on the Tory backbenchers that more is not being

:17:19.:17:22.

done to crawl back powers from Brussels. It's something that was

:17:22.:17:25.

certainly suggested by the Government at the beginning. There

:17:25.:17:28.

is growing demand for them to use the eurozone crisis to renegotiate

:17:29.:17:34.

their position. Which powers do you want clawed back? Well, you know

:17:34.:17:37.

that a number of a has signed a letter to the Financial Times. What

:17:37.:17:44.

we are calling for is essentially to use the opportunity of the

:17:44.:17:47.

current integration that Europe may have to go through, to claw back

:17:47.:17:52.

the powers around employment and social legislation. It is the

:17:52.:17:56.

social chapter? David Cameron has made clear there is not going to be

:17:56.:17:59.

any in or out referendum. He didn't seem to answer questions yesterday.

:17:59.:18:04.

What pressure can you bring to bear on him? I think the idea of the

:18:04.:18:08.

referendum is a distraction. We would agree that the meeting that

:18:08.:18:11.

is going to take place on Monday is not about if we are to have a

:18:11.:18:15.

referendum now. I think that would be wrong and divisive. What we are

:18:15.:18:19.

talking about his 80 or so Conservative Members of Parliament

:18:19.:18:22.

coming-together to begin to think through what are the things that,

:18:22.:18:26.

when the time is right, in six months, a year, two years time,

:18:26.:18:29.

when Europe does physically consolidate, which it looks like

:18:29.:18:33.

they will have to, the Chancellor has said they will probably have to,

:18:33.:18:37.

and we want to be supportive, but, due to use that opportunity to

:18:37.:18:43.

actually bring back powers? Alan Lib Dem coalition partners are

:18:43.:18:46.

passionate about the localism agenda. The more power that we can

:18:47.:18:51.

bring back locally, the better we are going forward as part of Europe,

:18:51.:18:54.

supporting the European project in a healthy way. But there is no

:18:54.:18:57.

signal from David Cameron that you are going to get your way or this

:18:57.:19:01.

or that they will go down that path? That's not true, David

:19:01.:19:05.

Cameron is on record as saying that when the opportunity arises...

:19:05.:19:10.

he hasn't given a time, nothing on record to say when it will be. He's

:19:10.:19:14.

effectively kicked it into the long grass? Our duty as backbenchers is

:19:14.:19:18.

to do the thinking ahead of that. We don't want to be negotiating...

:19:18.:19:23.

That's very good of you! Provide Liberal Democrat perspective, we

:19:23.:19:28.

heard Nick Clegg giving a speech saying it's the wrong time to start

:19:28.:19:31.

renegotiating, we have to support Europe. How big an issue is it

:19:32.:19:35.

going to be in terms of dividing with your Tory colleagues? I don't

:19:35.:19:39.

think it's a dividing line, we agree with Conservative ministers.

:19:39.:19:43.

To try and inject an argument about British status within the European

:19:43.:19:46.

Union, at a time when European governments are trying to

:19:46.:19:49.

delicately renegotiate their way and find a path way through the

:19:49.:19:52.

crisis, it's the governmental equivalent of antisocial behaviour.

:19:52.:19:56.

But that is what they want to do, look at that position fairly soon?

:19:56.:20:01.

Yes, backbenchers. It's not the view of Conservative ministers or

:20:01.:20:04.

Liberal Democrat in the house. We've always been in favour of an

:20:04.:20:08.

in or out referendum at a time of fundamental shift. We spent an

:20:08.:20:12.

inordinate amount of parliamentary time creating the EU Act, which

:20:12.:20:18.

creates a tough regime saying that anything changing beat relationship

:20:18.:20:22.

will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and possibly a referendum

:20:22.:20:25.

in many circumstances. That should be good enough for Conservative

:20:25.:20:30.

colleagues. Good enough? I would say we are in violent agreement. We

:20:30.:20:33.

are just saying that we are doing a bit of thinking. If you are going

:20:33.:20:37.

to negotiate with someone, there's no point back to doing it on the

:20:37.:20:40.

spur of the moment. The duty of backbenchers is to do a bit of

:20:40.:20:47.

brainstorming, coming up with ideas that we can present to government

:20:47.:20:49.

to say they are some of the ideas for a healthy relationship and

:20:49.:20:53.

settlement with Europe. Lord Heseltine, do you welcome the

:20:53.:20:57.

Liberal Democrat input on this issue in the coalition? I strongly

:20:57.:21:01.

support the Prime Minister's position. His position is that of

:21:01.:21:05.

every Prime Minister I'd worked for, from Harold Macmillan to Lord Hulme,

:21:05.:21:11.

Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major. They have all presided over

:21:11.:21:15.

a close relationship with Britain and Europe. That's for one reason,

:21:15.:21:19.

it is in British interests. There has always been a group of people

:21:20.:21:24.

in the Labour Party, and they were against the European Common Market,

:21:24.:21:28.

in the Conservative Party, there has always been a group trying to

:21:28.:21:34.

frustrate the European concept. It is still there. Very well known to

:21:34.:21:39.

you, obviously, because of the times during the 80s and 90s. Is it

:21:39.:21:46.

different now cost and Mark --? The group of MPs that of boys and is

:21:46.:21:49.

content and new MPs. They put David Cameron there. We are not talking

:21:49.:21:52.

about some veteran MPs. Does that change the game and put more

:21:52.:21:56.

pressure on him? It depends on how many there are and what the

:21:56.:22:00.

circumstances are. Certainly when Lady Thatcher ran the Conservative

:22:01.:22:05.

Party and John Major, they had a very substantial group of Euro-

:22:05.:22:12.

sceptics on their backbenchers. I would say one thing, in what is an

:22:12.:22:16.

extremely fragile world situation, if you want to life the tinderbox,

:22:16.:22:20.

just start saying that Britain is going to start to try and

:22:20.:22:23.

renegotiate their position in Europe. It's about the last thing

:22:23.:22:29.

anyone wants. Day you go? I think this whole argument of Barbara you

:22:29.:22:37.

Nobody is saying that we want to pull out of Europe. Even by going

:22:38.:22:42.

at this issue, are you threatening the coalition's and the

:22:42.:22:47.

Government's position? To be quite honest, you are saying that nobody

:22:47.:22:50.

wants to pull out. All of the people that want a referendum want

:22:50.:22:53.

to pull out. They think with the help of Euro-sceptic press they

:22:53.:22:57.

could win a referendum. That is what it's about. They never wanted

:22:57.:23:01.

a referendum when they could not win it. It's pure opportunism.

:23:01.:23:07.

can't deny that, can you? I don't believe, if you take top of the

:23:07.:23:11.

head reaction, some of the polling day have been bandied about, that

:23:11.:23:15.

is the true picture. But that is the aim. George Eustace, one of

:23:15.:23:20.

your Tory backbench colleagues, said today that David Cameron is

:23:20.:23:22.

the more -- most Euro-sceptic Prime Minister they have had in a long

:23:23.:23:27.

time. They think they have a way in. He also said the referendum is a

:23:27.:23:31.

distraction. We're talking about using an opportunity to think

:23:31.:23:37.

through what sort of relationship we want with in a healthy European

:23:37.:23:40.

Union that delivers for the UK. I was a businessman before I became a

:23:40.:23:44.

politician. 40% of our exports are to this market, we wanted to

:23:44.:23:49.

succeed. He does have a point, people are looking at the eurozone

:23:49.:23:52.

and saying it's a basket case. Isn't this the ideal opportunity?

:23:52.:23:57.

Why shouldn't we look at the British position, because we are

:23:57.:24:02.

being destabilised by it? If we loosened some of the ties,

:24:02.:24:07.

especially as you would see it, harmful labour laws, it's the time

:24:07.:24:11.

to loosen our ties with the EU? It's the worst possible time to

:24:11.:24:15.

throw spanners in the works and complicate the already complicated

:24:15.:24:19.

situation. The best time is when we have fundamental changes, like the

:24:19.:24:22.

Lisbon Treaty or the Maastricht treaty. That is when we might have

:24:22.:24:26.

missed the opportunity to have the referendum. If we want one, maybe

:24:26.:24:31.

we should have one in the future at a similar time? Are you glad we

:24:31.:24:35.

didn't join the euro? It's difficult in hindsight. But yes, I

:24:35.:24:39.

think so. But I agree with the Prime Minister's position on the EU.

:24:39.:24:44.

I'm very supportive of that. still think we should join? Given

:24:44.:24:48.

the lack of fiscal discipline in the eurozone, which we can now see

:24:48.:24:52.

causing enormous problems, with hindsight, I'm glad we are not in

:24:52.:24:56.

there at the moment. You would like to join in the future? It if the

:24:56.:24:58.

euros and sorts out its problems and applies the fiscal discipline

:24:58.:25:02.

we are replying in this country now, quite rightly, which they said they

:25:02.:25:06.

would apply in the eurozone, I think the debate is open-ended

:25:06.:25:11.

future. Thank you very much. A poor showing for The Party for Wales and

:25:11.:25:16.

the Welsh Assembly elections in May. Plaid Cymru lost four seats, coming

:25:16.:25:20.

third place after the Conservatives. Ben Needham is standing down. This

:25:20.:25:25.

weekend they have decamped to Llandudno to lick their wounds at

:25:25.:25:31.

the party conference. I am joined by the party president. You came

:25:31.:25:34.

third behind the Tories in the Welsh Assembly elections. Isn't it

:25:35.:25:38.

obvious now that the Welsh have no interest at all in independence?

:25:38.:25:45.

Well, we've had a very interesting year. In March, we had a tremendous

:25:45.:25:48.

success in the referendum for law- making powers. In effect, that

:25:48.:25:51.

makes our assembly into a parliament. That was on the

:25:51.:25:56.

condition of... Up sorry, that is not about your party. The party

:25:56.:26:02.

hasn't done well? A well, the party achieved that. If it wasn't for

:26:02.:26:06.

Plaid Cymru, that wouldn't have happened. The results in May were

:26:07.:26:10.

disappointing. We are carrying out a review and we are looking at the

:26:10.:26:14.

situation. We are also entering a totally new, exciting period for

:26:14.:26:18.

the party. We will be electing a new leader, as you said.

:26:18.:26:24.

Politically, the situation in the UK is changing. Independence is now

:26:24.:26:29.

firmly on the agenda with the SNP government in Scotland moving

:26:29.:26:32.

towards a referendum. Our priority will be to ensure that Wales is not

:26:32.:26:36.

left behind. That it is part of the debate and part of the process.

:26:36.:26:40.

isn't it actually the difference between the SNP in Scotland and

:26:40.:26:45.

Plaid Cymru in Wales, the fact that the SNP have been very successful

:26:45.:26:49.

recently and Plaid Cymru had, there is no appetite for it in Wales? Are

:26:49.:26:52.

you saying you are going to create an appetite for independence now?

:26:52.:26:57.

Well, we are starting the debate on independence in terms of our party.

:26:57.:27:01.

We want independence rather than dependence. That is the situation

:27:01.:27:06.

we are in now. Particularly in a time of economic crisis, we have to

:27:06.:27:10.

look at how best to build up Wales's economy, create more jobs,

:27:10.:27:15.

create a sustainable economy. In the European context, this debate

:27:15.:27:18.

is taking place in several countries across Europe. There are

:27:19.:27:23.

other nations moving towards independence. We have to have this

:27:23.:27:27.

debate with the people of Wales, the people of Wales will decide

:27:27.:27:32.

which direction we take in future. But this is what we believe is best,

:27:32.:27:35.

in the best interests of Wales and all of the people that live there.

:27:36.:27:40.

In terms of the economy, difficult times, what distinguishes you and

:27:40.:27:46.

Plaid Cymru to Labour in terms of the views towards the economy?

:27:46.:27:52.

what we want to do is to look at, for example, our natural assets,

:27:52.:27:57.

all of the ways in which we can develop industries based on

:27:57.:28:01.

alternative energy sources and so on. We have just commissioned a

:28:01.:28:07.

report which shows that, actually, in this worldwide economic crisis,

:28:07.:28:11.

the small countries, small, independent countries, are working

:28:11.:28:15.

together and can actually fare better than larger countries. We

:28:15.:28:19.

are looking seriously at the ways in which we can develop within the

:28:19.:28:25.

European Union context, if we were a member state and our own right in

:28:25.:28:28.

Europe. Then we would be able to get a lot more benefits within that

:28:28.:28:33.

context because the UK government is not fighting for what is in

:28:33.:28:38.

Wales's interests. Gil Evans, thank you very much. Enjoy the party

:28:38.:28:42.

conference. That is all for today, thanks to all of our guests,

:28:42.:28:45.

There's more gloomy news on the UK economy as it's revealed that one in seven shops have been empty for the past year - so how can growth be promoted? Government growth advisor Lord Heseltine joins the programme to give his thoughts.

Is it time to change the UK's relationship with Europe? Many on the Conservative backbenches think so, but will the coalition government really claw back powers from Brussels?

The programme talks to Plaid Cymru, which lost out in the recent Welsh Assembly elections, as its party conference begins.

Plus Jo Coburn is joined by television Dragon Deborah Meaden.


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