17/10/2011 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics.


As we all turn our central heating on, the Government's meeting the


big six energy companies in an effort to bring prices down. But


will it work? The Wall Street protest has spread to Europe and


the City of London and they say they're not leaving until


something's done about Coroporate greed.


Mum or Dad should be able to share maternity leave - that's what the


government's promised - but with the economy in dire straits are


they about to change their mind? And has reality TV created a


generation of idle, unemployable layabouts. We'll ask the man who


brought Big Brother to Britain. All that in the next half hour. And


with us for the whole programme today is the television


entrepreneur, Peter Bazalgette. Welcome. First today, the protests


that started on Wall Street a few weeks ago have spread across Europe


and to the city of London. Anti- capitalist protestors have been


camped outside St Paul's Cathedral all weekend and as City workers


arrive this morning they're still there, and they say they'll stay


until the Government takes action on corporate greed. We were hoping


to be joined by one of the protesters, but they are too busy.


These protesters don't have much chance of achieving anything do


they? I suspect not. But it is an interesting phenomenon. Just before


we saw the riot spread across Britain on Twitter and social Media,


I see this, I have a media angle on this predictably. You would have,


but in numbers terms they need to have thousands out there before you


can achieve anything? You mentioned corporate greed, there are some


serious issues about executive pay and senior executive pay shouldn't


be more 20 times than the lowest paid person in the country, and all


sorts of things under discussion. There are some things the


Government could do about corporate pay if they wanted to. I don't know


how specific the protesters are and it looks like we won't find out.


Our corporate people greedy? We are all greedy. But can you harness it


for the public good? Senior executive pay in large


organisations has gone out of control, compared to the medium


pace in organisations over the last 20 years. He would say it is the


private sector, not just the public sector? The BBC have had to reform


its pay structures, so it is all sectors. But it will Hutton has had


some proposals, and his proposals are, you should bring a matrix in


Between the ratio of senior pay to median pay and the lowest paid in


organisations. Do you think protests a like these, even though


there is a global element to it and they say they will stay until


something is done. Unless you are affiliated politically or have any


bearing on governance, nothing will change will it? The biggest


significance of the protest outside St Paul's Cathedral is it will be


disruptive to people going to communion. And they say they will


put up with that? The vicar who said that on the radio this morning


may come to regret that. The if it gets a bit colder, let's see how


long they stay! And, Andrew Neil may not be here in


person this morning. But he's with us spiritually. He's blogged on the


eurozone crisis for us and you can read what he's got to say at the


web address on screen at the moment. Now David Cameron's being told by


pollsters that he's got a problem with women. Will the Prime Minister


turn on the Number Ten heating? It is �1,334 a year. That is following


recent price rises from the suppliers. The regulator, Ofcom


said last week the profit margin for energy firms had risen up to


�125 per customer per year. From �15 in jeans. As energy prices have


risen they have gone up the political agenda. Ed Miliband


targeted the energy companies in his speech last month, saying it is


a mid-market and argue it the squeeze Middle feel the brunt of


the price increases. The Government had made similar noises with the


Energy Secretary promising he will get tough with the firms, was the


Prime Minister has said the Government needs to work harder and


faster to bring down energy bills. Chris Huhne plans to highlight two


ways consumers can cut bills. The Government will write to thousands


of consumers who are entitled to insulation which will cut bills by


�100 a year. Switching to direct debit payments, according to the


Government, can also save �100 a year. I am joined by the energy


spokesman for Labour and a representative from the energy


companies attending the summit. Christine, in terms of what the


energy companies are prepared to do, why don't they give the cheapest


tariffs to customers who call them? A lot of them are getting in touch


with customers to do that. The advice today will be make sure you


on the right tariff, or switch to another supplier because we have a


competitive market. Insulate, because that can save hundreds of


pounds. And all of that could help people save money. It may not make


sexy headlines, this insulating, energy switching, it is hassle.


Poor people can make a difference. It is all very well to talk about


the market, but these can make a difference to people now. It is the


consumer that has to find the cheapest tariff, the consumer that


will have to find out about insulating their home and switching


companies. The energy companies won't bring their prices down?


will be sending out messages, letters to customers urging them to


shop around because you can save money. Saving money yes, but you


cannot bring the prices down. You won't bring the prices down. That


is what those companies are meant to do, maximise their profits?


Ofgem said in their document last week, why are energy prices rising?


It said quite clearly, wholesale gas prices which have gone up 40%


this year of the driver between energy bills rising. There is


nothing anyone can do, there is no escaping it, even the small


companies, it is not just the big ones. So you profits have gone up,


too? Ofgem says it has gone up by a �100, is that justifiable? Those


figures don't paint and realistic figure? Are they wrong? We would


dispute those figures. How much have they gone up? Profit margins


have gone up because wholesale prices have gone up. They are very


volatile. It was �15 before the summer and it did look like it had


gone up by �100. If you look at it over five years which off gendered,


they are warm 0.6%. -- Ofgem did. Profit margins are there to stay,


what are you proposing with his breaking up of the dominance of


this market, there is nothing you can do? The first thing to say,


profits have gone up by �110. profit margin yes. Ofgem says they


have gone up to 125. The challenge for the consumer is trying to


navigate all the different tariffs. We are calling for a unit standing


charge and a set additional cost so people can understand what is going


on. According to the report last week, 80% of consumers are not


offered the best deal by their energy company. Why aren't they


offer that? Engage consumers have benefited a lot. Ask that dance --


answer that, why aren't they offered the best? They are going to


get letters offering them. So that is going to change? The Government


has said they are going to call on energy companies so consumers can


go to it energy companies asking for the best prices, but not


stating what is the best tariff for those individual customers? Some


people once based -- fixed tariff, some people want a green tariff. It


is not as simple as that. Most people will do now, fuel poverty is


becoming a problem. Companies will be getting touch with customers


offering them a tariff. Energy companies are there to make profits,


they are be holding to their shareholders, you cannot stop that.


There needs to be an admission from politicians and the Government, you


cannot force companies to bring their prices down? The public to


expect and deserve... Can you do it? There are some things the


Government can do. Scottish and Southern Energy said they will sell


their electricity on an open market. All the other electricity companies


that generate electricity, they only sell it to themselves. Just


six companies provide energy to 99% of the market, it is closed and


transfer not very transparent. of that is going to happen in the


near future and people are facing fuel poverty now. Do you accept


during 13 years of Labour Government there was a failure for


companies to invest in infrastructure? You could have done


it early on but you didn't. People are contesting whether we should


put that Investment... There is now, prices have gone up and we are


paying for that. But in 1997 you did not make those companies invest.


There were loads of things that needed to be done first and it took


time. But it was put in place and the challenge now is, we have to


ensure security of supply and we are not seeing that. On security of


supply you did not think about energy supply. It took Labour many


years before any decisions were made about nuclear power stations?


We put that opportunity in place but energy companies to invest in


renewables and look at other ways of supplying. The Labour Government


put that in place. How much money is going to be invested by the


energy companies in new infrastructure? The figure Ofgem


says is necessary is 200 billion over the next 10 years. It is a


huge sum and the companies have to make some money so they can attract


the investment that will allow them to do that. How realistic is it to


break up the dominance, have other people supplying the energy? We are


in favour of a competitive market, we have one of the most competitive


markets anywhere in the world for the cheapest price per unit of gas


and there have been a lot of benefits. Is the No 1 agenda for


the public? You cannot have low prices and high investment. Green


energy, tremendously expensive. The greener we want to be, the more


pricey it is. Shale Gas, which is being developed could absolutely


turn around the prices in the energy sector if we develop it


properly, but it will require investment. In vestment is the key.


David Cameron is being told by pollsters he has a problem with


women. He has been in trouble for saying things like this.


Calm down there, calm down. Listen to the doctor. What David Cameron


saw as a bit of banter was interpreted as underlying sexism, a


misunderstanding which led to this apology.


I obviously said some things in the House of Commons that came out


wrong. It caused the wrong impression and I deeply regret that.


I was asked about it in an interview with the Sunday Times and


I said what I think. It sounds terrible, I apologise for that. It


is not what I'm like, it is not what I am. I must do better.


The apology is apparently part of the Prime Minister's attempt to


show he is a decent person but he is looking at concrete policies.


The Government is committed to making maternity and paternity


leave more flexible so it can be shared between partners. But a


review of red tape has recommended the plans are dropped. Joining me


is a Conservative MP and the Labour MP has stayed with me. Why should


the Government dropped its extension of its flagship policies?


I have not seen the report and they did not realise a report has been


that -- published if you are referring to the one by Adam


Beecroft. No single legislated for a measure will have a major impact


on employment or business growth. We have to be careful about adding


several extra layers which may make it more difficult for employers to


employ people. You are basically saying they shouldn't be any more


legislation that will add to what employers have to deal with?


would seek to avoid adding any more at this time. It is a flagship


policy and part of the Government's commitment to extend flexible


working and the sharing of parental leave? If you look at it on the


whole, as trying to help support families. You look at a range of


fiscal measures that have been introduced, but the biggest way is


to help people get back into work. There is some very good protected


rights in place at the moment. Think very carefully before we move


to make more burdens and difficulties for businesses. Some


of the shared parental Leeds, I can see why it is a good idea. But I


also question how you regulate that. But it has to be thought through


and I hope that is what will be looked at. Do you think the


Government will drop any of this? The Government should be looking at


how they can create jobs and growth and looking at parental leave, in


the grand scheme of things, it's quite irrelevant. They should go


ahead with those policies even if it's an extra burden? Yes, simply,


they should. The chances of it being dropped Arslan from the


evidence and what the other problem the Government, particularly David


Cameron, have that with women voters? If we're going to address


the question of perception with voters, we are in danger of missing


the point. Is it perception? Even David Cameron himself wants to have


policies that demonstrate the Conservatives are thinking about


women. Yes, if you look at the policies put forward, easing the


burden on families through the measures introduced, next year the


tax allowance up to 8,000, child tax credits being increased, that


is all good stuff but ultimately, what we are depending on for growth


is jobs. My argument is we should not tighten the straitjacket on


employers, and actually help women and all people back into work by


not increasing the regulation. truth is there is a 10 point capo


with women's and men's support for the Conservative Party. Will that


change by extending rights for parental leave? Reeves in the


highest unemployment for women since the 1980s. The Government has


taken a nursery care, support, and women are very upset with what the


Government is doing. It's another nail in the coffin if they pursue


it. You need to change that perception. We are based in reality,


we have increased child tax allowances. We have extended


nursery rights, as well for the what about child benefit for higher


tax payers? Should that be kept? would be keen that that we look at


the whole range of fiscal measures which do the job so my argument


would say, it would benefit more people by the extending the tax


allowance rather than focus on one area. I'll be going to add another


layer of regulatory burden when, over and above, some very good


employment protection rights that exists at the moment, my argument


is we should not be doing that and we should be cautious about doing


it at this particularly difficult time. Would you allow the sacking


of that pregnant women in this climate? No, of course not. Rogue


employers should be dealt with with the legislation in place and that's


what we do at the moment. All employers should be treated fairly


and equally but the protection is existing. I haven't a company for


25 years. One I left, we employed 100 people. Do you accept the


Tories have a problem with women voters? You have to believe the


polls. The important thing is, if there are issues out there, people


will never just focus on one single individual issue but look at what


you're doing, for them and their families for the high important


would this be, as an employer yourself, extending parental leave?


Are they important? The most important issue today is


unemployment, I think. If the most important issue is that, everything


must enable companies to employ more people, and that means that,


if you put any additional burdens on businesses, however good they


may sound, please take away another burden. Everybody talks about


removing red tape but they put the red tape on companies. What are you


going to take away? What would you take away? There's lots of things


Labour has come up with which we do government should do to stimulate


employment. Do you think, by putting an extra regulation, will


have a detrimental effect in terms of employment? The Business I speak


to see value having parents working for them, actually. I would say


exactly that's what we've got at the moment, very good protection


rights. The main point is, it accounts for over half the jobs in


the private sector, let's encourage them and not impose more burdens


for the Yes, let's encourage small and medium enterprises to take on


more employees by having a National Insurance holiday. Politically, of


course, there is a split with various people in the Cabinet on


either side of the argument. Do you think it is going to become one of


those defining roles? I suspect not. Most splits, what I would say,


there have been some strong words said about it at the moment. What I


think the Government should remain focused on is their commitment to


help create the conditions for small businesses to thrive, which


is about reducing the burden of regulation, not just in this area


but other areas as well. Thank you. Is there a generation of young


people out there that lacks the energy or get-up-and-go to make a


fist of things in Britain's increasingly tough job market? The


unemployment rate amongst 16-24 year olds is nudging the one


million mark with evidence that employers prefer older or immigrant


workers to British youth. Some are suggesting that reality shows like


Big Brother introduced to Britain by my guest of the day Peter


Bazalgette are to blame for the fact some young people just don't


feel like working. Adam's been Day 22,000, the House of parliament,


and a politician who knows a thing or two about Big Brother has taken


to the airways to criticise a certain reality TV show. The idea


the way you succeed is by being famous, just making an appearance


on Big Brother, if you get that, you can't succeed. Actually, we


need to show this different ways of succeeding for young people and


what I worry about deeply is giving people a sense that there something


for something. That has got the vote of this columnist. You don't


have to have learned anything to appear on a reality show. You don't


have to be good at anything. Once you have appeared on it, you become


famous, as ever did, make money, and are successful, without trying.


That the values they are imparting. According to his employment expert,


those attitudes are being felt in the world of work. Evidence shows a


third of employers are not happy with young people's skills and work


attitude, so that shows there might be an issue, and it's a little bit


alarming considering the economy and labour market and youth


unemployment more generally. But, this academic, who has looked of


thousands of survey responses from young people across Europe, thinks


the picture is more complicated. the moment, we are high levels of


unemployment, it could lead to people to think that taking a quick


route to celebrities is a good option for them, but the vast


majority of young people are quite sensible, and they just won't take


that route. They know that they have to work hard, and that's the


only way they will achieve things. The fact is, cutting the record


levels of youth unemployment is one of the big issues in politics at


the moment and the contestant who succeeds in that task is likely to


be crowned at the whim of the reality show that his Westminster.


Prime minister, this is Big Brother, get out of the Jacuzzi!


Ed Miliband said reality TV shows like Big Brother have contributed


to a general malaise, a generation of young people who have a feeling


of entitlement for nothing. It's a good cheaper slogan on a wet


afternoon when you can't think of what else to put in a conference


speech in the autumn. No, it's always been a teenage desire to be


famous, going back to the coffee shops are Denmark Street, in the


1950s when Cliff Richard wanted to be a start, or go back to the


celebrity collectors of the 1920s, it's a desire. -- cultures.


Television gives people 50 minutes of fame but as nothing to do with


what that piece was about. It's about young people's skills of they


depend on the education system and that is the proper issue that that


report was raising. Television entertainment is not the beginning,


the end or the middle. Maybe not, but has it contributed? There is a


strong feeling that, although you argue people are always wanted to


be famous, now there are many, many young people who think it is


achievable. It's not just for the chosen few but it's an achievable


aim in life to be famous, for doing very little. No, it's a perfectly


legitimate dream as a teenager, to think of yourself in that way.


have up TV shows, the X Factor, Britain's got talent, it's all


about on stage performing to be paid a lot of money, not to have


role models of doctors, nurses, teachers, but that has diminished


and the celebrity has increased. There are more celebrity shows on


television and there is more television and more channels, so,


in that sense, it's true, but I don't think the sentiments of that


age group has changed at all. Everybody has this fantasy about


being famous when they are a teenager. What we have to do in the


education system is have more jobs will be good to go into an that's


basic, and hasn't got a lot to do with reality television. In terms


of young people employment, what do you see out there? Young British


workers are not employable? That's putting it too strongly, but if you


take the large employers in Britain, they don't always get the levels of


skills, particularly in a literacy and IT they need, and sometimes


they have had remedial courses when they employ them and that's not


good enough. We need to put that right in school. How have you found


attitudes about people turning up on time, looking smug, playing the


game? I think it would be a gross generalisation to say there was a


problem with attitude. I think it one was going to allege that, you


would have to come up with evidence, not anecdotal observations, a quick


line-out from a speech of a politician. Seeing it in the round,


though, you have celebrity reality television on the one hand, the new


media on the other, the obsession with mobile phones, and the rest of


very different way than employers would like them to be in the world


of work. In the sense that they are not focused on getting the jobs,


they are more focused on a social celebrity level? No, young people's


dexterity with a new media is a positive we should build on going


forward, and those that are really media-literate, they may not be


wise, and put far too much of their private lives on Facebook, but that


a separate issue, but they are much more employable and that's a good


thing. You argued forcibly there. tried! While three have been on air,


James Landale joins me, what is the news? Over the weekend to be a good


impression the Government was going to shake up its policies towards


lobbying as a result of the Dr Fox effect when William Hague yesterday


said ministers would take stock of its policy well the Prime


Minister's spokesman said this morning these are two separate


issues pulled up Liam Fox on one hand and the Government plans to


reform of lobbying. There's an existing process under way and the


Government is consulting on a statutory register of lobbyists for


the that process will be ongoing, nothing will change. Yes, if there


are any elements of the Dr Fox affair that are relevant, it will


be taking into account, but the Government will not speed up the


policy in any way. They are two separate issues so tomorrow when


Gus O'Donnell reports on the whole affair, we shouldn't expect much


policy recommendations, just the facts. James, thank you for joining


us today. That's all for today. Thanks to our


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