31/10/2011 Daily Politics


31/10/2011

Jo Coburn has the top political stories of the day, including adoption cases, fuel prices and the Arab Spring. Guest of the day is former Middle East envoy Lord Levy.


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Transcript


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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. Are councils

:00:23.:00:27.

failing to find children in care a proper home? The Government has

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decided to name and shame the best and worst local authorites which

:00:30.:00:33.

arrange adoption in England, and says will take tough action against

:00:33.:00:38.

authorities that fail to deal swiftly with adoption cases. The

:00:38.:00:41.

fair fuel lobby is still hot under the collar about the price of

:00:41.:00:44.

petrol. Over 100,000 people say they want MPs to debate the issue,

:00:44.:00:47.

but will they get the chance? We'll speak to Quentin Willson from the

:00:47.:00:53.

campaign. And as Syria warns the West not to

:00:53.:01:02.

intervene in the country's uprising, we'll be revisiting the Arab Spring.

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All of that in the next half hour, and with us for the duration, Tony

:01:06.:01:09.

Blair's former envoy to the Middle East, Lord Levy. He also raised a

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lot of money for the Labour Party. Welcome. Thank you. First, let's

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talk about growth, because the Government's keen to announce today

:01:18.:01:20.

which businesses in England will benefit from nearly �1 billion of

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Government support. The money is the second and final instalment

:01:24.:01:27.

from the regional growth fund. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg,

:01:27.:01:35.

says it will safeguard more than 200,000 jobs. Growth is obviously

:01:35.:01:39.

the key word at the moment, Michael Levy. But do you think the

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Government, having talked about cutting the deficit, dealing with

:01:42.:01:47.

the debt crisis, that that is crucial, that politicians from

:01:47.:01:51.

across the spectrum have talked down the economy too much and

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stopped people spending? Obviously there has been a position where you

:01:55.:02:00.

were negative, negative, negative, that message permeates to the fact

:02:00.:02:04.

that people really believe it is so negative, where do we go from here,

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what do I do? On the other hand, I do believe that there has to be a

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realistic approach to where we are at. Many people are being squeezed,

:02:15.:02:20.

particularly in the middle income. They really are being hit hard, and

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therefore they know their own budgets and they know how difficult

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it is for them. It is almost irrelevant what politicians are

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saying. People need to assess their own situation and how they can cope

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and how they can manage with their own budgets. Do you think then and

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do you agree with Ed Miliband and Ed balls that the answer is to

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increase spending mead throw boost the economy? I do -- immediately to

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boost the economy? I do think there has to be a boost to the economy.

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More than the coalition is doing? Probably yes. I believe that our

:02:53.:02:58.

economy compared to a number of countries in the world isn't in

:02:58.:03:04.

such poor shape, and die think it does need a boost. -- I do think it

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guz need a boost, in a managed way and not something that's going to

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be irresponsible, but the economy certainly does need a push at this

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moment. Does Labour have a better plan, do you think, for doing that

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and for forcing the banks to lend more to businesses, which is still

:03:20.:03:24.

one of the biggest problems? know, it is always very difficult

:03:24.:03:28.

when you are in opposition, Jo, because you are really talking, you

:03:28.:03:35.

are coming up with plans, but they are not being act vaited. It's a

:03:35.:03:39.

very frustrating position to be in opposition, because it is the

:03:39.:03:41.

Government that's continually calling the shots. But if we look

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over this last period of time, there has only been one message

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from this Government - look at Labour did badly. There hasn't been

:03:49.:03:55.

the message, look what we are going to do positively to change things.

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It's been negative historically on Labour, not look at what we, the

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Government, are doing to make things better. I think that's where

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the problem arises. Briefly, Ed Miliband has hired this property

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tycoon as Labour's fund-raising adviser, a job that you did. He is

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going to devise new methods of drumming up support through local

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groups across the country. Is that going to work? My even message is,

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good luck. I thought it might be. Now it's time for our daily quiz.

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Today, the United Nations is to announce that the world population

:04:27.:04:37.
:04:37.:04:42.

has reached 7 billion, so our At the end of the show Michael will

:04:42.:04:45.

attempt to give us the right answer. I will trial.

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Today is the start of National Adoption Week, where people are

:04:48.:04:50.

urged to consider the possibility of adopting vulnerable children.

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That all sounds well and good, but with over 65,000 children currently

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in care in England, only 3,050 were adopted last year. This morning,

:04:57.:05:00.

David Cameron said things had to change and he's promised tough

:05:00.:05:03.

action against local authorities which fail to deal swiftly with

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adoption cases. Powers already exist to strip local authorities of

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their adoption responsibilities, but the Prime Minister has said

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he's ready to enforce them, so better-performing councils can take

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over, or the service will be contracted out. According to the

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latest figures, children wait an average of two years and seven

:05:22.:05:28.

months to be adopted. And only 60 babies were adopted last year. The

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Government has today published league tables ranking local

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authorities on how quickly they place children in care for adoption.

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York came top, placing 100% of children with adoptive parents

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within the 12-month time-frame. Hackney Council, who we'll be

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speaking to in a moment, came bottom, placing only 43% of

:05:42.:05:50.

children in the 12 months. Earlier this morning, I spoke to the

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Children's Minister, Tim Loughton, and asked him if he should be

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focusing on getting more people to come forward to adopt children,

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rather than criticising councils. The real problem is the whole

:06:03.:06:06.

system, it is not just local authorities who I think need to up

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their game. It is also the courts, which are taking far too much time

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going through the courts, but it is also a lot of parents are being

:06:13.:06:17.

discouraged from coming forward. Lots of myths are going around.

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What's really important ooct this whole campaign we are doing this

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week is the fact we want to encourage people who think they can

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offer a foster home or be adoptive parents, urging them to knock on

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the Town Hall door and saying we are interested. Why are you saming

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your fire at local councils when you've admitted it is not just

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about them. The courts are the ones who hold up proceedings and make it

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extremely difficult to get a completed adoption order in the

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first year? The whole system is not working properly. You are saying to

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councils they have to up their game, or else. And I'm also saying to

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courts, and we are having the family law review published this

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Thursday, where it will make it very clear that there is too much

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delay in the courts, there is too much bureaucracy and there is too

:07:07.:07:10.

much overlap in the courts. That needs to be got right as well. This

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is a joint effort. The crazy thing here is we are all on the same side,

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whether you are a judge, a social worker or running an adoption

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sfrbgs or whether you are a Government Minister. The thing we

:07:22.:07:27.

all want to see is a better deal for demids care and more kids for

:07:28.:07:31.

whom it is appropriate to be able to to be adopted to give them a

:07:31.:07:37.

safe, stable, loving family placement. Too many kids are

:07:37.:07:41.

missing out on that at the moment. So how should councils up their

:07:41.:07:45.

game? By looking at examples of best practice elsewhere. We are

:07:45.:07:49.

publishing 15 different tables today with different performance

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figures on how children in care are doing, how well authorities are

:07:54.:07:58.

doing at getting kids adopted. Things like that. Parts of the

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country are doing certain parts of the whole adoption process well.

:08:02.:08:06.

The trouble is very few people are doing all of it well together.

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much should the issue of race for example be taken into account? Is

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it no longer important? I have made it clear time and again until I'm

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blue in the face, we issued new guidance in March that ethnic

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matching must not be a deal breaker An ideal world, if we could find

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something approaching an ethnic match it would be nice, but it

:08:28.:08:32.

shouldn't be a deal breaker. The most important consideration is,

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can that perspective adoptive family offer a safe, stable, loving

:08:35.:08:39.

environment for that child? If it can, then let's get on with it

:08:39.:08:43.

rather than all this political correctness about getting some

:08:43.:08:53.
:08:53.:08:53.

idealistic ethnic match, which usually doesn't exist anyway.

:08:53.:08:59.

much would you give before you give powers away? Hackney do well around

:08:59.:09:02.

children in care and keeping families together. You've got to

:09:03.:09:08.

look ti figures carefully to see where certain authorities are doing

:09:08.:09:15.

well... So the figures are misleading. By saying councils have

:09:15.:09:21.

to up their game, you said Hackney is doing well. I said Hackney is

:09:21.:09:25.

doing parts of its care well but the number of kids they are getting

:09:25.:09:28.

into adoption is poor. I want them to do all of that process well.

:09:29.:09:32.

That's story around the country. That's why I'm not producing a raw

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comparison. We are producing all the information so people can drill

:09:36.:09:40.

down into what parts of the whole children in care adoption system

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certain authorities are doing well and where they are not. Let's work

:09:43.:09:48.

on the weak spots. They only need to knock on the door of other

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authorities that are doing it much better toe get advice and help to

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see how they can up their game. For many adoption isn't the priority.

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It is a last resort. We are saying it should be a first resort for

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many kids for whom there is no safe way back to their birth families.

:10:03.:10:10.

Would you take power from councils who do not, as you say, up their

:10:10.:10:15.

game? Local authorities, who do not do this seriously, if they are

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still plateauing if they are poor performers or are trending

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downwards, I'm going be serious questions about are they the right

:10:23.:10:27.

people to continue running an adoption service for children in

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their care. If there are not, -- if they are not, there are other

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agencies who may be a better option. With us now is Alan Wood, Director

:10:39.:10:42.

of Children's Services in Hackney, one of the councils at the bottom

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of the Government's league table for the number of children adopted

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within 12 months. The threat was pretty clear there. Your record is

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poor, you are the bottom of this league table, powers could be taken

:10:52.:10:56.

away. Well, our record is actually very good. How is it very good

:10:56.:11:00.

compared to what Tim Loughton has been saying? The Minister referred

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to a range of data available. The most important piece of data is

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when Hackney makes an adoptive placement it sticks, it doesn't

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break down. You have to consider all of these issues like timescale,

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types of children. We have a deliberate policy of pouring

:11:17.:11:21.

resources into support children in families. Because of that we have

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significantly reduced the number of children loo are in care. Because

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we've reduced the number of children in care the width of need

:11:28.:11:33.

among those children tends to be much more acute and needy. We have

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significant sibling groups for example. We have children with

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foetal alcohol syndrome, children who are disruptive and missed

:11:41.:11:45.

places in schools. We are dealing with a much more complex set of

:11:45.:11:49.

young people. This data is also two years out of date. Authorities'

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performance since that time shows a dramatic improvement on timescales.

:11:54.:11:59.

Timescales a narrow slais of a very complex pie chart of information in

:11:59.:12:04.

and data. We've got data but little intelligence and am sis. If you've

:12:04.:12:07.

been so successful in terms of making the adoptions work for the

:12:07.:12:10.

children you have placed, can't you just speed up that process and

:12:10.:12:17.

place more of them? We areed about timeliness. We are all in this

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together. Our social workers work very hard to get the best

:12:21.:12:25.

placements for our children, but we are not going to make a prospect

:12:25.:12:29.

where there's a prospect of breaking down. Let me give you an

:12:29.:12:34.

example. We made a placement of a large family, including children

:12:34.:12:44.

with a dibble ty. Trialling -- with a disability. We had to extend this

:12:44.:12:50.

because the mother schooled a second place from us. Do you not

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agree more families would come forward if they didn't think it was

:12:54.:12:58.

such a cumbersome, long-winded and painful process? I think there is

:12:58.:13:03.

some sense in that. We don't have a problem of having a number of

:13:03.:13:06.

families forward. We have lots of people who want to adopt in Hackney,

:13:07.:13:10.

lots of people from across the range ofeth in thisities. That's

:13:10.:13:14.

why it is difficult to get the right placement. It is not that we

:13:14.:13:19.

are losing or don't have adoptive parents but we have complex cases.

:13:19.:13:26.

How much children do you have waiting?? Thisier we think there

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are 25 children. Out of how many? We have 230 children in care. A

:13:32.:13:34.

small percentage of those will go into it's adoption world. If you

:13:34.:13:39.

look at last year, we had seven children who were placed for

:13:39.:13:43.

adoption. We are talking of small numbers. One child who is adopted

:13:43.:13:52.

after a year and a week makes a complete hash of the percentages.

:13:52.:13:56.

Michael Levy, are Government tables helpful? I don't think so at all.

:13:56.:14:01.

What I really don't understand, if you have got an area where an

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analysis and a table shows how well they are doing, it is not about

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praising and shaming, it is about how did you get them to help an

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area where on the surface it would appear they are not doing well.

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Because different circumstances, different children, different

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families, different ethnicity groups. There are so many

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differences. Why don't we use an area why York, you are doing well,

:14:27.:14:31.

Hackney, perhaps you are not doing so well, getting them together, how

:14:31.:14:35.

can they learn from each other's experiences? This is too sensitive

:14:35.:14:39.

for naming and shaming. This is much more about how do we help each

:14:39.:14:43.

other to deal with what is a problem that desperately needs

:14:43.:14:48.

dealing with? What would your message be to the Government?

:14:48.:14:52.

are all in this together. If we have all of the data available it

:14:52.:14:55.

is a pity there wasn't much more discussion between local

:14:55.:14:58.

authorities and Government about this information. I think we could

:14:58.:15:02.

have put the panoply of information before people. As Michael says,

:15:02.:15:06.

encouraging local authorities to work together is important. We for

:15:06.:15:09.

example support other authorities around adoption placements. So it

:15:09.:15:19.
:15:19.:15:19.

is not as simple as one slice of a Following the demise of Colonel

:15:19.:15:23.

Gaddafi, many are asking what prospect is there of direct

:15:23.:15:27.

military intervention in Syria? 3000 have been killed in eight

:15:27.:15:31.

months of violence there. This weekend, President Assad warned

:15:31.:15:35.

against such action, saying that foreign intervention would burn the

:15:35.:15:39.

whole of the Middle East. Where does the Arab Spring go from here?

:15:39.:15:43.

If the world watched as a badly injured older man was dragged from

:15:43.:15:48.

a drainage pipe, brutalised and shot dead, you can be sure in

:15:48.:15:55.

Damascus the President of Syria also watched the unseemly demise of

:15:55.:15:59.

Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years of dictatorship. Perhaps as he warned

:15:59.:16:06.

the West not to intervene, in his country, racked with months of

:16:06.:16:09.

unrest and oppression, he is thinking what many are asking,

:16:09.:16:14.

where next? Try to judge what is going to come next is particularly

:16:14.:16:18.

difficult. We do a lot of work on the Yemen and the Yemeni President

:16:18.:16:25.

has defied all predictions on his demise. He was nearly assassinated.

:16:25.:16:30.

People said goodbye to him, and now he is back in Yemen, still rolling.

:16:30.:16:34.

That suggests that President Al Rashad could cling on for much

:16:34.:16:41.

longer than Europeans are expecting. -- President Mashhad. -- President

:16:41.:16:47.

Assad. The third candidate is Bahrain. A country with a deep-

:16:47.:16:52.

seated religious division that goes back further than any spring of

:16:52.:16:58.

this year. Perhaps the West was a little optimistic. We saw the

:16:58.:17:02.

world's media ascend on Bahrain thinking that perhaps this would be

:17:02.:17:07.

the next place for a revolution. Probably, that encouraged the

:17:07.:17:11.

protests, with the protesters thinking they would get Western

:17:11.:17:14.

backing, but the Western governments were not prepared to

:17:14.:17:18.

back them, particularly once Saudi Arabia firmly sided with the ruling

:17:18.:17:22.

family there. The story in Bahrain is not over. And there is no doubt

:17:22.:17:27.

that in a decade, the region has changed out of all recognition. Our

:17:27.:17:32.

response to it has, too. 41 MP collecting the trappings --

:17:32.:17:38.

trappings of dictators from their palaces, the mistakes in Iraq,

:17:38.:17:48.
:17:48.:17:49.

Afghanistan and the response to 9/11 which he felt have encouraged

:17:49.:17:53.

extremism, this is fascinating. What I found interesting was that I

:17:53.:17:57.

found and his smallest -- Islamist commander who have fought in Iraq

:17:57.:18:00.

and Afghanistan. He said to me that this was the first time the West

:18:00.:18:06.

has to do with the ordinary people. "We will not forget it." I thought

:18:06.:18:10.

that was a remarkable comment. It suggests that the actions of

:18:10.:18:14.

Cameron and Sarkozy and President Obama, that they have started to

:18:14.:18:19.

roll back the damage done since 9/11. If so, not only do we need to

:18:19.:18:24.

focus on what to do with Syria, Yemen and Bahrain's regimes fall,

:18:24.:18:27.

but where else the Arab Spring a touch. We have seen reforms

:18:27.:18:31.

promised in Morocco and all man. There are questions hanging over

:18:31.:18:36.

Saudi Arabia and Algeria, which have all the ingredients for bigger

:18:36.:18:42.

protests to come. Lord Levy is still with us. Should do now be

:18:42.:18:46.

foreign intervention in Libya -- Syria? Absolutely not. -- should

:18:46.:18:54.

they are now be foreign intervention. Syria is very complex.

:18:54.:18:59.

There is a situation. I do not know if people lead -- people read the

:18:59.:19:06.

interview that President Assad did in the Telegraph yesterday. So many

:19:06.:19:12.

different factions within Syria, the issue with Turkey and how

:19:12.:19:16.

Turkey is reacting to Syria. You have the Arab League, in terms of

:19:16.:19:24.

how that is reacting, you have the UN, where China and Russia would

:19:24.:19:27.

against sanctions. You are saying it is diplomatically too difficult

:19:27.:19:31.

queue that it is a very difficult situation. Is it good what is going

:19:31.:19:37.

on in Syria? Of course not. Is the tragic loss of life in disaster?

:19:37.:19:46.

Yes, of course it is. I feel that we have to see what will go on,

:19:46.:19:49.

particularly with Turkey. You have the Syrian National Council

:19:49.:19:54.

operating from within Turkey, you have the Arab League, where they

:19:54.:20:00.

are themselves trying to take measures in Syria to solve some of

:20:00.:20:05.

the issues. You have President Assad saying that he is going to

:20:05.:20:13.

make changes. Do you believe that? I think it is going to be a very,

:20:13.:20:20.

very slow process. And in between, the violence continues?

:20:20.:20:24.

violence is continuing but what would happen if there were Western

:20:24.:20:28.

intervention? I think that would be a greater disaster. A greater

:20:29.:20:33.

disaster than what is going on right now. This is not a simple

:20:33.:20:39.

situation. There is not an end game scenario. This is not one of those

:20:39.:20:46.

situations. You can see why people would argue that British foreign

:20:46.:20:53.

policy smacks of hypocrisy. What is new about hypocrisy within most

:20:53.:20:58.

countries' fallen -- foreign-policy. There is not much new about that.

:20:58.:21:04.

Libya and Syria are very, very different situations. To have

:21:04.:21:12.

imposed a no-fly zone in Libya with a UN resolution, with difficulty,

:21:12.:21:18.

and Arab League agreement, that is a very different situation to the

:21:18.:21:24.

situation in Syria. You knew his father, President Assad's father.

:21:24.:21:28.

What you would -- what would you advise David Cameron to do now in

:21:28.:21:32.

dealing with his son? I have also met the sun on a number of

:21:32.:21:39.

occasions. My advice would be worked through the UN, work closely

:21:40.:21:48.

with the Arab League, work closely with Turkey and evaluate the

:21:48.:21:56.

position on a very regular basis. The informant continually. -- be

:21:56.:22:00.

informed continually. The UN, the Arab League and Turkey, working

:22:00.:22:04.

with them and watching those spaces continually, that would be my

:22:04.:22:10.

advice. Will he go voluntarily? No. Do you regret how close the Blair

:22:10.:22:20.
:22:20.:22:20.

Government got to Colonel Gaddafi? There are two issues here. Do I

:22:20.:22:28.

regret the fact that one was able to wean Gaddafi and the regime off

:22:28.:22:36.

WMD or the potential of WMD? No. I do not have crept that at all. -- I

:22:36.:22:40.

do not regret that. Two why feel that the subsequent closeness that

:22:40.:22:45.

manifested as a result of that was wrong? Yes. I think there was an

:22:45.:22:50.

issue, winning him off of WMD. There was an issue, can Britain do

:22:50.:22:57.

business? You have a big difference between Syria and Libya going back

:22:57.:23:01.

to the government issue. One has oil and one has vast reserves. The

:23:01.:23:06.

other does not. You may remember that last week we

:23:06.:23:11.

were talking about Europe. After a backbench MPs called for a

:23:11.:23:17.

discussion in the Commons. A petition attributed to debate on

:23:17.:23:21.

documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster. Although

:23:21.:23:25.

getting 100,000 names on a petition is not a guarantee for a debate, it

:23:25.:23:31.

does help. Why is a cut in fuel duty not on the agenda, which has

:23:31.:23:34.

also gain signatures? The rising cost of fuel has been a long-

:23:34.:23:39.

standing problem. In 2000, fuel protests paralysed parts of Britain

:23:39.:23:43.

for seven days causing a crisis in the NHS, emptying supermarket

:23:43.:23:47.

shelves and even closing schools. The protesters have won concessions

:23:47.:23:52.

from the Government. But then Gordon Brown announced that duty

:23:52.:23:59.

rates would be frozen, up till April 2002. But it was not enough.

:23:59.:24:03.

In the 11 years since we have seen the motorways go-slow,

:24:03.:24:08.

demonstrations at oil depot has had been seen. I am joined by Quentin

:24:08.:24:13.

Willson, the motoring journalist. I'm also joined by Natascha Engel,

:24:13.:24:16.

chair of the Backbench Business Committee, responsible for

:24:16.:24:23.

scheduling the debate. Affair fuelled UK campaign has 100,000

:24:23.:24:27.

signatures, the amount needed to look at the debate. When will it

:24:27.:24:32.

happen? -- the FairFuelUK campaign. I'm glad to be given the

:24:32.:24:35.

opportunity to come and explain this. We meet as a committee once a

:24:35.:24:42.

week and once a week only, on a Tuesday. We are allocated time to

:24:42.:24:46.

schedule debates by the Government. The FairFuelUK campaign came to us

:24:46.:24:50.

in the form of Robert Huth and Fenby, to ask for time to debate

:24:50.:24:57.

the petition. To have a vote, we have to have a debate in the

:24:57.:25:01.

chamber, not Westminster Hall. If we were not allocated time in the

:25:01.:25:04.

chamber which was why we could not have the debate. That is the

:25:04.:25:08.

technical explanation but I suppose, in a way, the Government has raised

:25:08.:25:12.

expectations. The public now expects, as you understand, that if

:25:12.:25:17.

they get 100,000 signatures on an electronic petition, they will have

:25:17.:25:23.

a debate. That's right. You have made the distinction between what

:25:23.:25:27.

is the Government and what is the backbenchers. We do not have time

:25:27.:25:31.

or power, we cannot say that we want to have a debating chamber. We

:25:32.:25:38.

have to wait for the Government to allocate time. -- have a debate in

:25:38.:25:41.

the chamber. The Government have brought in this system, of which is

:25:41.:25:45.

welcome, but we do not have the time for the debate. Quentin will

:25:45.:25:49.

not have this debate? We have not said that. The next time we are

:25:49.:25:53.

allocated a day in the chamber, we will look at it to get -- look at

:25:53.:25:57.

it again. Are you satisfied with that? I understand that Natascha

:25:57.:26:02.

Engel is between a rock and a hard place. We have the expectation of

:26:02.:26:05.

consumers thinking that they will get the debate if they get 100,000

:26:05.:26:09.

signatures. This is sending out the wrong message about government

:26:09.:26:14.

accountability. I know you cannot say this on air, but I need to know

:26:14.:26:20.

that we will get a debate, because there is hardship out there.

:26:20.:26:22.

you do everything you can and assure him that he will get the

:26:23.:26:29.

debate? Actually, tomorrow we meet at 1pm and there is the electronic

:26:29.:26:31.

petition on fair fuel but there are also other debates that have been

:26:31.:26:37.

brought to us. It all depends on what it is that comes before us. I

:26:37.:26:41.

would hate to say that, as the chair, I will decide what gets

:26:41.:26:45.

debated but having said that, this is such an important issue. I

:26:45.:26:50.

represent a rural constituency and this is one of my number one Paul

:26:50.:26:58.

Spike issues. It has a high chance of being debated. You surely have

:26:58.:27:02.

the power to say look, let's do it? We are all very supportive of the

:27:02.:27:06.

process, but it is a committee of seven people. There is a high

:27:06.:27:11.

likelihood we will do this. I want the Government to say Rosslea that

:27:11.:27:14.

we are going to talk about this because it is affecting growth and

:27:14.:27:19.

prosperity. The price of petrol has come down just recently. Only

:27:19.:27:26.

slightly. We have two more duty rises next year, 8p. You have

:27:26.:27:31.

Morrisons, as a, NCP car-parks, Tesco's, all saying that footfall

:27:31.:27:38.

has been affected by higher fuel duty. -- ASDA. You say you are

:27:38.:27:40.

supporting the electronic petition but a picture in a difficult

:27:40.:27:44.

position. Is this the right way to go? I think it is the wrong way to

:27:44.:27:47.

go because this has the potential to destroy what we do on the

:27:47.:27:50.

business committee. Increasingly, we are only looking at debate

:27:50.:27:55.

brought to us that have 100,000 signatures attached. I think we

:27:55.:27:59.

need to separate out what his backbench business and what are

:27:59.:28:04.

electronic petitions. If you have electronic petitions, you do not

:28:04.:28:08.

have direct action. That is the spectre that is facing us. If the

:28:08.:28:12.

committee says no for whatever reason, what is your next step?

:28:12.:28:21.

will go into hiding! Prepare for the worst! A mildly phrased letter

:28:21.:28:24.

was delivered to Downing Street this morning. We will get more

:28:24.:28:30.

rockets. I am not saying direct action. God forbid. Let us do this

:28:30.:28:33.

through the political process and get a statement from the Government

:28:33.:28:36.

that they will look at this. We just want a debate. You could be

:28:36.:28:42.

here again on future issues. But I will have to wind it up. Well, just

:28:42.:28:45.

time before we go to find out the answer to a quiz and the question

:28:45.:28:49.

was, what was the population of the world when Lord Levy was born? What

:28:49.:28:54.

The government is to name and shame the best and worst councils which arrange adoption in England and says it will take tough action against those which fail to deal swiftly with adoption cases. We'll hear from Alan Wood, Director of Children's Services at Hackney Council in London.

The fair fuel lobby's still hot under the collar about the price of petrol as more than 100,000 people say they want MPs to debate the issue, but will they get the chance? We'll speak to Quentin Willson from the Fair Fuel campaign and Labour MP Natascha Engel.

And as Syria warns the West not to intervene in the country's uprising, we'll be revisiting the Arab Spring. Guest of the day is former Middle East envoy Lord Levy.


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