02/11/2011 Daily Politics


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Morning folks. This is the Daily Politics. The Government has made


an improved, possibly last, offer to union leaders on its proposed


changes to public sector pensions. to be announced, but they are


largely technical. We'll bring them to you as soon as we can. Union


leaders are discussing the proposals right now. They're angry


about plans to raise workers' contributions and the pension age.


We'll be asking, will the latest offer be enough to avert another


strike planned for later this month?


Carry on camping - we take the mood box to St Paul's. The reason for


this demonstration is why I came to London for my holiday. You came


here on holiday because of this? Yes. The Greek Government is


teetering on the brink of collapse, but we'll be talking to one former


union chief who believes Britain should still think about signing up


to the euro. And Cheggers will be here putting


the Government's new happiness test to the test.


All that and more, including Prime Minister's Questions, coming up in


the next 90 minutes. And with us for the duration we have the Mr


Happy and the Mr Grumpy of political thought, International


Development Minister, Alan Duncan, and Shadow Leader of the Commons,


Hilary Benn. I really have no idea which is which. I just read the


autocue and get paid a modest amount for doing it. Welcome.


you. Now, let's turn our attention again to events at St Paul's, where


it appears protesters will not be moving in the forseeable future.


Today the Archbishop of Canterbury waded in on the debate, backing


calls for a new tax on financial transactions. I doesn't know he was


an expert in international finance. I should consult him more on


religious matters. He said it would advance the protesters' moral


agenda. So should they stay or should they go? We sent Adam down


with the mood box. We've brought the balls to St Paul's. Do people


here think it's time for the protesters to go home or should


they carry on protesting? I think we'll hear from a few protesters as


well. Are awe visitor or a protester? A protesting visitor.


Why are you going to carry on? Because this corrupt system of


banking has cast a blight on the whole world. I'm a visiting


protester. Does a bunch of tents make much of a difference? It does


when they are on a global scale, with 2,300 tented cities like this


one around the world. Does this should not have a big impact on


your job or your study? No, I've gone to all my lectures and


seminars as usual. Grab a ball... would rather grab a man. Especially


you, I fancy you, dear. Why is that? I've come back to my country


after 40 years and I'm horrified that England has sunk into the


sewer. In if this is a peaceful demonstration, you should go in


peace. How long are you going to carry on for? I have to be back in


Cornwall in January. I used to be a trader, so I know the greed and


avarice and envy that runs the City. The reason for this demonstration


is why I came to London for my holiday. You actually came here on


holiday because of this? Yes, I wanted to see it. I can't go to New


York to see the protesters on Wall Street, because I come from Belgium,


because it is too expensive. This is an extra holiday treat. Thank


you! Is this racist? How can it be racist? Are awe racist? Not to my


knowledge. Do you work for a racist organisation? No. Who did you work


for? The BBC. The BBC! Hardly anyone is saying it is time to go


home. That may be a product of the fact that a lot of people who feel


this don't feel comfortable showing this in this environment. Put a


ball in. I can't. It is not my job. So I went round to the other side


of the Cathedral, where views were definitely more mixed. Ultimately


this is a place of worship. I think they have made their point, around


the world. The genuine protesters are great, but according to the


paper and various things, and also I go past it every day at the


moment, there seem to be more and more unsavoury elements there and


they are spoiling the protest. Thank you very much. I never


understood why Guy Fawkes was Guy Fawkes. It had nothing to do with


capitalism. How do you think this is going to end? Hopefully they'll


get burnt and moved on! Well, after equal time spent in two locations


let's see the final result. It looks like a majority are still


supporting the protest carrying on. You could say that's for whom the


ball tolls. He's paid by the cliche. Adam there


proving his balls around St Paul's. Well, we're joined now by Ian


Chamberlain who's hot-footed it from the protest at St Paul's.


Welcome. I know the group there doesn't necessarily have a united


front on what you want to achieve, but can we get a flavour of what


you stand for? For example, do you want to nationalise the banks?


think we are united by growing concern at the increasing economic


inequality. That bit I get. I understand that. I'm trying to work


out what you would like to do about it. I've heard a lot of people are


worried about inequality, I understand that, and it's been made


worse in recent years. I'm trying to work out how you would address


it as opposed to other groups. Would you nationalise the banks?


Would you take them into state control? I think it is important to


explain what's happening at St Paul's. This isn't about a group of


people with predetermined ideas about how to improve the economic


crisis. It's a space where people with articulate alternatives to the


austerity of the Government. It is a democratic process. We are


releasing statements. We started off with an initial statement which


set out our basic values and with ongoing debate and discussion we


want to get to a stage where we can start forming policy. So, you talk


about inequality, would you for example have a much higher tax on


those who earn big salaries than the current top rate of 50 %?


things that I can talk about, because they have been discussed at


the camp, because I'm not here to represent myself but to capture the


spirit of what's going on at the camp. People are talking about


things like the Tobin tax and better regulation of the banks.


Everybody is talking about better regulation of the banks. They are,


but we've always realised that there are a lot of good ideas out


there already but there isn't the political imp tulings us to


implement them. We believe that -- impetus to implement them. In the


end, I've lived through many movements. I remember the movement


of the '60s. In the end that's all they were - movements. I'm just


trying to work out what you, not as a firm manifesto, I understand


that's not the purpose, but just as a general mood, the kind of changes


that you would like to see. So, what would you do, if inequality is


your major concern, what would your single biggest step be to narrow


that inequality? Well, again I say, if you look at the civil rights


movement in America, it was about people meeting in public spaces, in


churches and things, and discussing, they had obviously aims in common.


And out of that process... civil rights movement had a clear


agenda, and that agenda was equality between black and white,


it was to end seg gaigs in the South, it was to pass major civil


rights Acts through Congress and to make sure that voter Reg station


was fair. They were all specific policies. That's what I'm trying to


do fu. Don't want to go down this road I will stop now. The civil


rights movement didn't last two weeks. We've only been there a


short time. We see this as the beginning of a movement. We see


this going on not necessarily in term of the occupation but as a


movement going on many years, developing and articulating


policies. After two weeks I don't think we can be expected to have a


full manifesto of things for you. lot of people have been there for


agitation and agitprop before. Does it concern you that in a protest,


which as I understand it is basically to challenge capitalism


and to change capitalism in unspecified ways that the main


victim so far has been the Church of England? Well, I personally


believe that what's happened is that we've identified people within


the Church who really support our aims and values. That's been a


really empowering thing for us, because it demonstrates this


rainbow coalition within our movement. It is not just anti-


capitalist or people on the hard left. It is people within the


Church. We had on Sunday all different faith and community


leaders come down to speak to us and articulate very similar views.


As a party of the centre left, should your strategy be to coopt


these people to bring them into a left-wing party? Or to distance


yourself from them? I don't think it's either of those, Andrew. The


first thing I would say is that movements can change minds. You


referred back to movements that you've seen throughout your


political life. They can have an impact. People have an absolute


right to protest. Whether it is the same as the right to camp in the


front of St Paul's is a different point. I think the Cathedral has


been put in some difficulty in trying to respond to people who


turned up who they hadn't anticipated. It is a difficulty of


its own making at times as well. fairness yes, because closing the


Opening it again Hard to see what the health and safety issue was. I


agree with you. What is being articulated and what you said today


is a concern about the way things have been run, and a feeling, as


yet not fully expressed, that things need to change. So why don't


you coopt them, if this is an unformed feeling to which you are


sympathetic, here is your chance to bring it on board and give this


feeling, since you are the professional party, some policy


shape? Well, let me give you two examples of how we are doing


precisely that. One is, on international financial transaction


fax, we were proposing that in 2009. We wanted it to cover as many


countries as possible. It should be on the agenda of the G20 this week.


The second is the bankers' bonus tax, to give young people a job and


build 25,000 homes. But the Government doesn't agree with it.


The European Union, you don't need to be camped out St Paul's to be in


favour of the Tobin tax. Should they be moved? I'm not in favour of


tented cities moving around the country, be it from Dale form to


Parliament Square to the edge of St Paul's. When they are blocking a


pavement, yes, there's a problem. Ian and I were having an


programme Many respects she not probably what people were expecting


as a representative of the St Paul's protesters. There are some


massive problems with people who've moved money around and then the


House of Cards collapses. Some of the best brains in the world are


working thon and they can't work out how to solve the problem, along


with the euro crisis. We have to leave it there. Ian Chamberlain,


thank you for being with us. Now, should a woman have the right


to know if a new partner has a history of domestic abuse? Should


someone under 18 receive a mandatory prison sentence if they


use or threaten with a knife? Both proposals are up for debate this


afternoon. And we have two of the people behind the amendments in


Central Lobby, Labour MP Hazel Blears, and the Conservative MP,


Nick de Bois. Hazel, you want people to be able to find out


information in about their partners, did you know or think that people


want to do that? Is there a demand There was some polling done, and I


think it was 91% of people thought they ought to know the history of


their partner. This followed a case where some body was stalked,


harassed and murdered by their partner. It turned out later that


he had a whole history of such offences. And that poor young woman


had no idea about his history. If she had known, she could have


decided that she would have nothing to do with him. Does that mean


you're in favour of the right to know, or it is up to them to ask?


I'm going to be saying that somebody should be able to ask the


Chief Constable, that there should be a presumption in favour of


disclosure. At the moment, that information will be shared amongst


all the agencies, and yet the person involved in the relationship


does not have that information. That seems to me to be a ridiculous


state of affairs, and there are two women every week murdered at the


hands of their partners. If we could just save a few lives through


this, it would be worthwhile. advice would you give to Hazel


Blears on this one? I would say persistence and stubbornness, if


you think your cause is right and can build a coalition around it,


which I think Hazel Blears is doing, that is probably the best advice.


In terms of your cause, up to 1,400 extra teenagers could get custodial


sentences because of your amendment, that's a lot of young people with a


criminal record. We should be looking at it from the other end of


the telescope. It is absolutely vital that what I call the early


stages of getting into the cycle of knife crime violence, which can


lead to serious or fatal stabbings, that we need an effective deterrent,


as well as a range of other measures to help discourage people


from brandishing a knife in a threatening this is. We are not


talking about carrying a knife, we're talking about pointing


something and using it in that fashion. So, I'm optimistic, I


think part of the strong message which will come out from creating


this law, that will act as a way of keeping people out of prison.


you both of you. Alan Duncan, this amendment being put forward by Nick


de Bois, it is not going to be cheap, is it? If you're thinking


about cutting is prison places, then this will not help. When I was


Shadow Prisons Minister, we went through a lot of calculations about


reforming people, rehabilitating them, as opposed to putting them in


prison. But crimes of violence are the ones on which we ought to be


the toughest. When a teenager has no respect for authority of any


sort, and is wielding a knife in a threatening way, that is the sort


of crime on which we ought to be tough. So you would support the


extra cost. It is wrong just to look at cost on these things.


Government has been saying that cost is a big issue. Of course,


particularly in the warm third or so of prisoners who are very poorly


educated, they have got no job, no savings, no family life, the merry-


go-round of those, and those are the ones who need to be


rehabilitated, is where the greatest cost hits the country.


think we should do all we can to discourage people from carrying


knives and retain people. But you have to be quite careful with


mandatory sentences, because the courts in the end need to be able


to take account of circumstances. On Hazel Blears' amendment, it


would seem to me she has a strong case, because if other people get


the information but a prospective partner does not, then you have got


some difficulties. The Government has been coming up with some new


proposals to try and appease the unions who are planning to strike


on 30th November. In the last hour both sides came out of a special


meeting in the Cabinet Office to try to safeguard a deal. Jo has the


latest on this story. Yes, in 2010 the Government said it was


the Government said it was committed to saving � 2.3 billion.


This means pension schemes will need to find huge savings. Unions


are currently balloting members about a nationwide day of action on


30th November. The results are due out over the next couple of weeks.


Earlier I spoke to the general secretary of the Association of


Teachers and Lecturers union, and asked her if she would accept the


asked her if she would accept the Government's proposal for more


generous rates. It is a very interesting position


that the Government is taking. It is their first serious change from


their previous position, which was, that's your offer, take it or leave


it. So it is worthy of consideration. What it will mean in


each scheme will be different things, so it needs to be looked at


closely. You're going to be meeting with your union colleagues - this


is being painted as the Government's final offer, so in a


sense, it is make up your mind time, isn't it? We will have to see. The


Government told us nine months ago that they had given us their final


offer, and now they have listened to the weight of argument and made


a change. The accrual rate is one issue. But there are also lots of


other issues which this does not address - the retirement age, the


increase in pension contributions, for example. So we have to look at


this in the round, and for each scheme, to see what it actually


means. You must accept now that in the current economic climate,


particularly when you look at the deal that private sector workers


get, paying more into their pensions and getting less out...


There is a real problem with private sector pensions. They lack


transparency and the fees are very high. But let's are just scotch the


myth that private sector pensions get no help from the taxpayer. In


the last year for which figures are available, private sector pensions


got �37.5 billion in indirect tax relief, which was �12.5 billion


more than was paid out in public sector pensions. So, private sector


pensions are very expensive, they lack transparency and they need to


be reformed. We have looked after public sector pensions better.


you do admit that private sector workers will pay in more and get


out less. Absolutely, but that is an issue with the way their


pensions are run. It does not have to happen. In other countries, they


do much better, Denmark for example. What about the negotiating position


- do you see yourself on strike at the end of the month? I hope not.


We went on strike for the first time in more than 100 years in June,


and we do not want to have to do it again. We will look at the offer


seriously. What about Labour's position, are you expecting more


support from Ed Miliband? I have given up a bit on that, really. I'm


not relying on the Labour Party to come to our aid or even to talk


much sense about pensions at the moment. Hillary Benn, she has given


up on the Labour Party. I think that was a trifle unfair, given


that we have been saying from the beginning of this that the


Government had to negotiate seriously. Why has it taken to this


late stage for the Government to come forward and make an offer? We


have not seen the details yet, obviously. I think we have given


every support in arguing for a negotiated settlement and a serious


offer on the part of the Government, which they have failed to do up


until now, because they have just imposed changes. And now, at this


late stage they have come forward with something. Why have you taken


so long to come up with an improved offer? It is a process of


negotiation. Getting this right has been an essential component in our


international reputation. If we were not tackling this problem in


the way that we are, we would have enormous pain for people up and


down the country, with higher interest rates. I hope this will be


a sensible, grown-up negotiation between both sides. I thought the


demeanour of Brendan Barber coming out of the Cabinet Office was very


encouraging. I know there will be a statement later this afternoon


which I hope can avoid confrontation. We do not want to be


like Greece, Italy and France, full of strikes all the time. We want


people to know where they are. On the pensions side, no-one within 10


years of retirement will be affected. All the very poorest will


be protected. And those are two very important principles. So you


do not see it as the final offer? There's a process of announcing if


the trade unions are happy with it or not. I'm not doing the


negotiations. What I think we have seen this morning are what looked


like some very fruitful encounters, which is encouraging. We are facing


enormous economic dangers in Europe. Fortunately, we are in a better


position than most European mainland countries, and we want to


keep it that way. We had growth figures yesterday which were better


than expected, but let's keeps steadily going forward and not risk


collapsing in the way that our neighbour countries are. But there


comes a stage when Labour, having seen the Government's offer, has to


tell us, that's the best we are going to get, we should accept it,


or you back the unions going on strike. We have not got to that


point yet. It depends on how the negotiations go. Either there will


be agreement or not, and you will have to take a judgment on which


side to support. And we will do that on the basis of what we know


at the time. But negotiations have not been completed. We have always


urged that there should be serious negotiations, and the Government


has got round to it very, very late in the day, having tried to dictate


to the unions what should happen to the pension schemes. The feeling I


was given was that the changes are quite technical and marginal, the


main principles of the reforms are still in place, so, are you ready


for a confrontation with the unions? We do not want a


confrontation, that is not a question I want to answer. That's


why I asked it. I would rather see no confrontation. It is hardly an


unreasonable question, even by my standards. Final-salary pensions


have all but disappeared in the private sector. We are seeing very


difficult numbers in the public sector, where costs have gone up by


50% over the last few years. You have got people possibly on �34,000


a year getting pensions of �20,000 - you do not get that in the


private sector. We want to see a sustainable system for the decades


ahead. We want a system which will last, rather than Labour, who made


tons of promises and left us in a state of financial collapse.


for something completely different. The lights in the studios come up.


The producer is waiting at his microphone to speak his last word


to the artist. The controllers are ready on vision and sound. The


vision and sound are on, the station goes on the air. Yes, dog,


television is 75 years old today. Don't adjust your sets. I like it


black-and-white. Back then, the BBC had an audience of 20,000. We can


only dream of figures like that on The Daily Politics. There have been


some great TV moments over the last 75 years, but The Daily Politics


has given the world perhaps the greatest prize in television


history, yes, The Daily Politics Mug. To get your hands in on one,


you will have to or enter our Guess the Year competition. Let's see if


# No-one to talk with, all by myself. These are the first of the


Hungry silkworms are eating heartily, producing silk which will


# Poetry in motion... We do not want the book to fall into the


hands of unsuspecting people, who # Gone with the cold wind that


swept into my heart... # Gong with the lovers who let


Everybody is guessing here in the studio. Send your answer to our


special quiz e-mail address. You can see the full terms and


conditions for the competition on It is coming up to midday. Let's


take a look cap Big Ben, that can only mean one thing, Prime


Minister's Questions is on its way. And by absolutely no public demand


a tall, Nick Robinson, the BBC political editor. A we have been


talking about the G20. What a fine mess they have got us into. We are


about to have a Question Time in which the Prime Minister will look,


I fear, like a spectator at world events, rather than central to them.


There is an argument that that is in fact better, because you could


be Greece or Italy. But I think there is a sense that huge events


are going on, the French are effectively trying to put pressure


on the Greeks, with regard to this referendum. And also being told, we


will take IMF money off the table if you dared to vote no. That is


all happening as we speak, as the leaders had to Cabinet. On the


economy, it feels to me like it is almost a holding session. Is it


getting so serious in Europe that Britain may be asked to contribute


directly? Again and again, they say, in the Treasury and in Number Ten,


we are not doing that, we will not contribute in that way. We are a


shareholder in the IMF, about 4.5% of that fund its so we contribute


in that way, but when it comes to direct help via the EU, the message


from the Treasury and Number Ten is absolutely unequivocal, no, we will


not do it. I suggest that the Government has no better idea what


is going to happen now than we do. I gather they learned about the


Greek decision on the television. And when they called the Greek


ambassador, he was not there. Indeed, the Prime Minister clearly


thought the deal was done, when it This morning I had meetings with


ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in the


House I shall have further such meetings later today.


With the average of-year-old living ten years longer than in the 1970s


reform of the pensions is essential. Will he ensure that it is fair to


my constituents in temporarys of the taxpayer and public sector


workers? My honourable friend makes an important point and the Chief


Secretary to the Treasury will be making a full statement to the


House. It is vital that we do something that is fair to taxpayers


and also fair to public sector workers. The costs of our public


sector pensions system is up by a third in the last decade. It is not


fair to go on as we are. But the new arrangements must be fair to


people who work hard in the public sector and on whom we are all


relying. Can I tell the House that low and middle income earners will


get more from their public sector pensions. Everyone will keep what


they've built up so far. Anyone within ten years of retirement will


see no change in their pension arrangements. At the end of this


people in the public sector will still get far, far better pensions


than people in the private sector. Ill really it is time that the


party opposite was clear they do not support strikes later this


month. THE SPEAKER: Ed Miliband.


Mr Speaker, does the Prime Minister believe that growth of 0.5% over


the last year and unemployment at a 17-year high point to the success


or failure of his economic plan? Obviously everybody wants the


British economy to grow faster. That's what everybody wants. But I


have to, I have to, I have to say to the honourable gentleman,


yesterday's figure of 0.5%, which was better than many people


expected, isn't it noticeable that he cannot even bring himself to


welcome news like that! The key issue, I think we all have to


address, is this. There's a global storm in the world economy today.


And it is in our interests to help others confront that global storm,


but we have also got to keep the British economy safe. We won't keep


it safe if we add to our deficit, add to our debt and put interest


rates at risk. Mr Speaker, first he blamed the Labour Government, then


he blamed CHEERING


First he blamed the Labour Government then he blamed Europe.


Yesterday he was apparently blaming his Cabinet colleagues for the lack


of growth in our economy. The truth with this Prime Minister is when


things go wrong it is never anything to do with him. Now, let's


ask about another one of his flagship policies. The business


growth fund. Launched nine months ago with the banks. Can he tell us


the number of businesses that the business growth fund have made


investment in? First of all the problem, the problem, the problem


with, the problem with pre-scripted questions is he doesn't listen to


the first answer. I didn't actually in my first answer blame the last


Labour Government. But if he would like me to I can start right now,


because it was the last Labour Government that left us record


debts, the record deficit. And it is this Government that is having


to deal with that. He asked about the business growth fund. This is


one of the schemes to ensure that banks are lending alongside the


Merlin scheme, which is actually seeing an increase in lending to


small businesses. That is the record we can be proud of and


something he didn't achieve. THE SPEAKER: Ed Miliband.


Mr Speaker, we all know by now with this Prime Minister that when he


blusters like that at the dispatch box, he is either too embarrassed


to answer or he doesn't know the answer.


So let me help him. The business growth fund was announced nine


months ago. It has five offices, 50 staff, how many investments a grand


total of two. And, Mr Speaker, it's becoming a pattern with this Prime


Minister, fanfare announcement then radio silence. He said in March,


I'm going to watch those banks like a hawk. And make sure they deliver.


So what is he going to do to get the business growth fund moving?


These are if banks he completely failed to regulate year after year.


Yes, yes, and these... (Interruption) THE SPEAKER: Order!


The House is getting... Order! Mr Campbell, calm yourself. The House


is getting far too excited. It is onlyle 6 minutes past. Order! Both


the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition must be heard. It


is called democracy and free expression. Prime Minister.


Speaker, let me give him the figures forewhat's happened under


the bank lending schemes of this Government. We have �190 billion of


new credit this year, up from 179 billion last year. That is a huge


increase. There is 76 billion of this for small and medium-sized


enterprises. That is up 15% on last year. We are seeing more bank


lending under this Government, but we are also seeing the bank levy so


that people in the banks are helping to pay to deal with the


deficit that his Government created. Mr Speaker, a totally hopeless


answer, one of his own schemes, one of his own schemes, the business


growth fund. They trumpeted the announcement and have not got a


clue what is happening to their own scheme. Business is struggling but


one group is doing very well indeed. Over the last year, when many


people have seen their wages frozen, directors' pay rose by 49%. The


Prime Minister expressed concern about this last Friday. But the


public want to know what is he going to do about it? Let me tell


you exactly what we are doing about it and will do about it. It is this


Government that introduced the bank levy. More raised in one year than


the bonus tax that they created. It is this Government that has


increased the fees that non-Doms have to pay. It is this Government


that has had an agreement with Switzerland and with Liechtenstein


to get hold of people with money overseas. This Government has seen


lower bank bonuses. I think the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks for


the whole country when he says statistics unacceptable in a time


of difficulty when people at the top of our society are not showing


signs of responsibility. It is this Government that is now consulting...


It is this Government that is consulting about proper measures to


make sure we get transparency in terms of boardroom pay, proper


accountability, more power for shareholders, all of those things


we are doing. I have to ask him, if he is so keen on this agenda, got


he do for the last 13 years? I will tell you what we did, Mr Speaker,


we introduced the 50p rate of income tax that he and chiz


Chancellor want to abolish! I'm glad we agree something needs to be


done about top pay. Last... Conservative members should calm


down, follow the Prime Minister's advice, just calm down. Last March,


last March, his fair pay review, which he set up, recommended that


the Government should require by January of 2012, next year, that


every top company should publish how much the highest earners get


compared to the average earner that. Type of transparency is the least


we can expect. Can he confirm that this will happen from January 2012,


yes or no? Unlike the last Government, we are consulting on a


series of steps to bring responsibility to the boardroom.


But very to say, Mr Speaker, we are a little bit, we are a little bit


wary about accepting lectures from a party that told us they were


intensely relaxed about everyone getting filthy rich, a party that


had a capital gains tax system so people in the City paid less tax


than their cleaner. I know he's forgotten these things but we


remember them and we've done something about it. Mr Speaker,


another report to Government, another failure to act. The truth


is, he has sat on Will Hutton's review upon the 9 months and done


nothing about it. That's why the recommendation isn't going to be


implemented. Mr Speaker, that's the truth about this Prime Minister. He


says we are all in it together but he lets the top 1% get away with it


while the other 99% see their living standards squeezed and lose


their jobs. That's why people are increasingly saying this is a Prime


Minister totally out of touch with their lives.


I to say, in the week when the Labour Party has hired a former tax


exile to run their election campaign he's got a bit of nerve to


lecture us on that. 13 years they had to regulate the banks. They did


nothing. 13 years they had to deal with bank bonuses. They did nothing.


And now in opposition their message to business is, give us some money,


you can run our election. THE SPEAKER: Jason McCartney.


Thank you Mr Speaker. Cable theft that cost the rail industry �43


million over the last three years. And they've even drafted in Gurkhas


to patrol the network. Homes and churchs are being pilfered of their


lead and copper. In the past month one church yard in Huddersfield has


had 169 memorial plaques stolen. Will the Prime Minister join me in


saying now is the time to legislate to stop these stolen metals going


to merchants? My honourable friend makes an extremely important point.


The theft of metal, particularly from war memorials, is a sickening


and disgusting crime. We are workering with the Association of


Chief Police Officers to put in place an action plan to deal with


this. It does involve looking again at the regulation of scrap metal


dealers. We are determined to do that to put a stop to this


appalling crime. People in my constituency in north


Belfast and right across the country are desperately worried


about the increasing costs of gas, electricity, home heating oil, how


they are going to keep their homes warm this winter. What can the


Prime Minister tell the country he is going to do to help people in


this situation? In particular, will he reverse the cuts to winter fuel


allowance, which hits senior citizens, it is not good enough


surely to say he's following the plans of the opposition. He's done


so many things differently from the opposition. Why isn't he going to


do something different with the winter fuel allowance? On the issue


of winter fuel allowance we've kept the plans set out by the last


Government. I think that's the right thing to do. On the cold


weather payments we've taken the increase ma was meant for one year


and we've maintained that, so if there is a particularly cold


weather they'll get that help. We are making sure that energy


companies give people proper information in about the lowest


tariffs they can get, and yes have proper reform of the energy market.


Again, something that the party opposite has suddenly started to


talk about but did absolutely nothing about in Government.


Speaker, public sector pension reform should be achieved through


negotiation and compromise. Does the Prime Minister agree that it is


wholly irresponsible and down right destructive for senior politicians


of any political party to support strike action while negotiations


are ongoing? My honourable friend is right. This


I think is a very fair offer to hard-working public servants to say


that this is a strong set of pension reforms that will give you


pensions that are still better than anything available in the private


sector. To have a Labour frontbench that is silent on this issue, with


their education spokesman encouraging teachers to strike is


the height of irresponsibility. Speaker, my constituents Alan and


Linda Eastwood have a son who has been serving in our nation's armed


forces in Afghanistan. In common with with Royal British Legion Mr


and Mrs Easton regard the Prime Minister's decision to abolish the


post to be a betrayal. This is a very important issue and I have


discussions with the British Legion about it it as I know the Lord


Chancellor has as well. The point about the Royal British Legion,


this issue, is that the current proposal for the chief crone tore


the establish wood involve spending that we think the money would be


better spent on improving all coroners service across the country.


We are listening carefully to concerns expressed in both houses


of Parliament about this issue. Are we going to improve the performance


of our coroners? That is what service families want. That is what


I want and that is what we will Public sector workers in my


Public sector workers in my constituency work extremely hard to


deliver essential public services, and I know that my Right Honourable


Friend will agree with me that we value these services tremendously.


Can my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister reassure these


workers and confirm that the Government's reforms, very


necessary that they are, are sustainable and remain among the


very, very best? I would certainly do that. He makes an important


point. The cost of supporting public sector pensions has gone up


by a third in the last decade. We are now spending something like �32


billion, it is a major item of public spending. And we're taking


taxes off people, including in the private sector, to pay for that


pension provision. But I believe it is a fair scheme. For instance, a


teacher retiring on a salary of �37,000 would actually retire on a


pension of �25,000 in future, more than the �19,000 that they would


currently get. This is a fair set- up changes. The low paid in the


public sector will not have to pay increased contributions. I think


the whole House of Commons should get behind it. Mr Speaker, when the


Prime Minister goes to the G20 meeting, will he try and persuade


his colleagues of the urgency of coming up with some detail on the


eurozone settlement reached last week? It is not at all clear how on


earth Greece will get out of its difficulties, even if this


referendum passes. The European banks will lead shoring up well


before next summer. And as for the rescue fund, it does not actually


exist. The G20 need to show the same urgency that it showed two


years ago when it met in London. think the Right Honourable


Gentleman is absolutely right in what he says about the urgency of


this G20 meeting, and the necessity of its agenda. I think some


progress was made at the European council meeting a week ago when


actually, for the first time, they did accept a proper write-down of


Greek debt, which has to be part of the solution, also, a proper


recapitalisation of Europe's banks, done to a credible test, rather


than the incredible tests which we have had in months gone by. The


final element he refers to, rightly, needs to have more substance added,


and that is to make sure there is a proper firewall to stop contagion


in the eurozone. The need has got even greater. We cannot involve


ourselves in Greek domestic politics, but it has become even


more urgent to put meat on the bones of these plans, to show that


we are removing one of the key obstacles to global growth, which


is the failure to find a proper plan to deal with the problems in


the eurozone. According to the Government's own projections,


Britain's population is set to increase from 62 million to 70


million by 2027, with two thirds of this being driven by immigration.


Will the Prime Minister commit to stem this increase by breaking the


almost automatic link between foreign nationals who come to work


here subsequently been granted citizenship? We are committed to


doing exactly that. He is right to raise this issue. I think proper


immigration control and welfare reform are to sides of the same


coin, and this government is committed to controlling


immigration properly but also putting British people back to work.


I can tell him that today, we have announced, in terms of the illegal


immigration coming through the student route, that more than 450


colleges will no longer be able to sponsor a new international


students because they were not actually properly established to do


that. These, just could have brought in more than 11,000


students to the UK to study each year. That is just one example of


how this government is living up to its promise to get a grip on


immigration. Does the Prime Minister agree with the vast


majority of people that smoking should be banned in vehicles where


there are children present? I do think it is right, I have to admit,


as a former smoker, and someone who believes strongly in Liberty,


someone who did not support it at the time, it has worked, I think


the smoking ban is successful. I'm much more nervous about going into


what people do inside a vehicle. I will look carefully at what he says,


but we have just think seriously about it. The Prime Minister will


be aware of a report issued yesterday on green energy


investment in Scotland. Does he agree with me that this report ably


demonstrates that the benefits of green energy in the UK are only


unlocked by combining Scotland's renewable potential with large-


scale investment made possible by the UK? Does he agree that a drawn


out independence referendum would be a serious distraction from that?


He makes an important point. A major financial institution warned


yesterday of the dangers of investing in Scotland while there


is this uncertainty about the future of the constitution. It is


important that we keep our United Kingdom together, and stressed that


when it comes to vital industries, like green technology, the


combination of a green investment bank, sponsored by the United


Kingdom government, and the many natural advantages in Scotland, can


make this a great industry, but we will only do it if we keep the


country together. The Prime Minister said that his government


would be the greenest ever, does he still take that statement


seriously? If so, will he personally intervene to sort out


the appalling chaos which is resulting from the slashing of


feeding tariffs in six weeks' time, leading to substantial job losses


and chaos in the industry? It is this government that has set aside


�3 billion for a green investment bank, much talk about in the past,


never done. This government has put in place a carbon price floor, one


of the first governments anywhere in the world to do that. We have


put aside �1 billion for carbon capture and storage. This is a very


green government, living up to our promises. It would the Prime


Minister join me in congratulating the pupils and staff at Whitchurch


High School, a foundation status comprehensive school in my


constituency, the former school of Sam Warburton, of Gareth Bale, both


outstanding sports people, and also Geraint Thomas, the gold medallist,


who will be receiving the award as state school of the year? It is a


very impressive list of sports personalities who have attended


this School, I don't know what they put in the water! But I would join


My Honourable Friend in congratulating such an excellent


school. In the past four years, six children and two adults have been


killed in dog attacks, and some 6,000 postal workers are attacked


each year. We need to tighten up the law in this area. Would the


Prime Minister take a personal interest and make sure that


legislation is brought forward? Honourable Lady makes an important


point. Legislative attempts at this in the past have not always been


successful at capturing the breeds that need to be captured. I will


certainly take a personal interest in this. Following the Prime


Minister's answers a moment ago, and given the huge anger about the


pay for the top 100 directors, can he give me a personal assurance


that he is committed to the transfer of power overpay from the


boardroom to the shareholders of our companies? I want to see that


happen. I think the answer to this is much more transparency about the


levels of pay, much more accountability and strengthening


the hand of shareholders. And there is something else we need to do, to


make sure that non-executive directors on boards are not the


usual rotating list of men patting each other's backs and increasing


the level of remuneration. I want to see more women in Britain's


boardrooms. Order! The House must come down, I want to hear


MrDavidLammy. The Prime Minister has described his work programme as


the biggest such programme since the 1930s. But there are 6,500


people unemployed in Tottenham, 28,000 on out-of-work benefits, and


only 150 vacancies - what is his work programme going to do about


that? As the Right Honourable Gentleman says, this programme


plays a key role in preparing people for work, which is


absolutely vital. It also brings employers in to offer jobs to those


people. I have looked specifically at the issue of Tottenham. When I


visited his constituency with him, I know that there is a shortage of


vacancies in the borough of Tottenham itself. But we have got


to encourage people living in London to be prepared to travel


more widely to look for work. I think that is absolutely vital. Pot


of the work programme should be aimed at addressing exactly that.


Rural fire services attend more primary fires and more road traffic


accidents than those in urban areas, and yet receive less funding. This


is typical of rural services across the piece, where residents pay more


and receive less. Will the Prime Minister meet with me and other MPs


representing rural areas to get a fairer deal for those in rural


areas? I'm happy to meet with My Honourable Friend. It is important


that we have a fair deal for rural areas. There are very big


difference is particularly in the use of Retained firefighters.


nine months, the Government's Business Growth fund has invested


in precisely two companies. At a time when the economy is flatline


ing, is that good enough? This Government has cut corporation tax


for every business in the country, has introduced enterprise zones to


help employment, has actually increased the number of


apprenticeships by 250,000 over the life of this Parliament. They


criticised the Regional Growth Fund - there was no Regional Growth Fund


under Labour, that's the point. We inherited an economy with the


biggest budget deficit in Europe, and it is this government which is


helping our economy through the international storms to make sure


we remain safe in the UK. This week marks national Adoption Week. We


must continue to do all we can to support children in the care system,


and also to encourage prospective adoptive parents to come forward.


My Honourable Friend makes an extremely important point. We need


more parents to come forward as potential adopters, and also has


potential foster carers, because there was a huge build up of


children in the care system who will not get that help unless


people come forward. But it is important that government makes the


pledge that we will make the process of adoption and fostering


simpler. It has become too bureaucratic and too difficult, and


as a result, that is putting people off. I am determined that we crack


this. It is a sense of national shame that while there are 3,600


children under the age of one in the care system, there were only 60


adoptions last year. We are publishing information on every


single council, so people can see how we are doing in terms of


driving this vital agenda. This week, yet another military academic


has called for the reopening of the defence review, and a leading


military think-tank has said that Britain is now cutting military


equipment which might prove vital in the future. Will the Prime


Minister finally listen to the voices of the defence community and


reopen the deeply flawed defence review? We had no defence review


for 10 years, and now they want two in one go. It is typical of the


opportunism of the party opposite. I think this is a day, as


hostilities in Libya are coming to an end, that we should be praising


our brave armed services. Schools in rural Northumberland were


largely ignored by the previous government. With the school's


budget rising from �35 billion to �39 billion in 2015, will the Prime


Minister welcome the progression in my constituency? I will. It is


important to note that as we are protecting the per pupil funding,


even at a difficult time, it means the education budget is going to be


rising and not falling. As ever, the Shadow Chancellor is wrong even


when he is sitting down. He talks even more rubbish when he stands up.


I digress. As well as the extra investment in the school's budget,


there is also the opportunity for free schools, which I think will be


a major reform in our country to bring more school places. Perhaps


when the Shadow Chancellor attends one of the schools he will then a


few manners. Some people are going to burst, they're getting so


excited. Will the Prime Minister listen to the campaigners outside


Parliament today, and the 80,000 people who have written to him in


recent weeks, regarding the introduction of a Robin Hood tax at


the G20 summit, and make sure the Revenue is earmarked for


sustainable development and the growing climate crisis? I think


there is widespread support for the principles behind such a tax, but


it has to be adopted on a global basis. We must be careful that we


do not allow other countries, including some European countries,


to use a campaign for this tax, which they know is unlikely to be


adopted in the short term, as an excuse for getting off their aid


commitments. We can be proud of the fact that we are meeting our aid


commitments - don't let others use this tax as a way of getting out of


things they had promised. The world population went past 7 billion


people this week. The UN predicts that over the next 40 years, world


demand for food will increase by a 70%. That should be good news for


farmers. But since 1990, Britain's capacity to feed itself has fallen


by a fifth. Will the Prime Minister bring forward a credible strategy


to grow Britain's farming industry to feed us all in the future?


Honourable Friend makes an important point. It is true that we


have seen our own food security declining, as well as food


production being severely challenged. It is important to


remember that farmers are businesses, and they need things


done, as other businesses do, in terms of the regulation, a


predictable income, and all of those things. This government is


committed to making that happen. September 2010, when asked if this


government would be building more homes per year, the Housing


Minister replied, yes, building more homes is the gold standard


upon which we shall be judged. In which year it does the Prime


Minister expect his gold standard to be achieved? We have said that


we are going to expand the building of homes for social rent by


actually increasing and reintroducing the right to buy,


which the last government so scandalously ran down. We're also


going to make available government land so that builders can get on


and build without having to buy that land, and only have to pay


when they have actually delivered the House. So, we want to see an


extra 200,000 homes built in that way. That will give us a far better


record than the government which he A couple of developments have been


happening in the outside world. We are told that the Government's new


offer to the unions on pension reforms includes a proposal that 1


million public sector workers due to retire in the ten years from


April next year will not be affected by any of the changes


currently being discussed. I think Danny Alexander is making a


statement in the Commons about that. We'll come back to that.


While on air, a technical matter, but it could be a harbinger to come.


There's been a spike in the yields bonds pay. This is a sign perhaps


of the fear of the contagion coming out of Greece, first of all hitting


Italian bonds this week and now French bodies. There's a real worry


in France that it would lose its AAA credit rating. Prime Minister's


Questions didn't get into much of that at all. It was only when


Alistair Darling got to his feet that the matter of the eurozone and


Greece and the referendum and if bail-out plan, which Mr Darling was


not convinced by, only did did the Commons turn itself to the main


matter of the day, the week, the month, the year. Until then there


had been no discussion of it. Let's hear what you had to say about


Prime Minister's Questions. Viewers I think are reflecting their


frustration that the seriousness of the global situation which you've


been talking about should be dealt with in what they see is a partisan


way. They want solutions. And there was quite a lot of criticism of


David Cameron. Many viewers think he is not answering the questions.


Ellis King, when David Cameron was new to power, blaming Labour was


effective and true. However with the problems we face abroad and in


our country, to merely blame the previous Government appears weak


and holds the nation back. Anne says Cameron is blaming


everyone but the himself. When will he take responsibility for his


Government's policies? And Ed says Ed Miliband totally smashed David


Cameron. Damien from Manchester says Ed Miliband, who was in power


for 13 years, who spent every penny we didn't have, so before he plays


the cheap opportunist card maybe he should look at his own record.


Martin says Labour are returning to type. Their attack has moved on to


the them and us opportunism. Miliband's pathetic attempt to talk


about the 99% versus 1% is old- style jealousy and spite, not a


credible policy agenda. Alistair Darling's question, the former


Chancellor. James says the first sensible question from the other


side. Careful, this may catch on. Nick, there's a sense in which


British politics is on hold at the moment. Until events outside our


control unravel, develop, come to some kind of finality? I think what


Ed Miliband was trying to do as Labour leader is say look, there


are problems in the British economy that are due to British policies


not the eurozone. I know he believes that, in the short term,


this eurozone crisis is politically, and I stress the word politically,


is convenient for the Government. Of course it is not welcome to what


it does to our economy. In the short term, what Labour want to say


is snow, a lot of the poor figures we are seeing now predated the


eurozone. It may make it harder, it may mean there are headwinds.


That's the argument he was trying to get going I think at Prime


Minister's Questions. But it had the slight feel until Alistair


Darling stood up of feeling irrelevant compared to what's going


on. Other than urging and cajoling, but get any impression from the


background briefings about the G20 coming up in the south of friend


tomorrow, and Friday, the two days, 3rd and 4th November, do we have a


strategy? Do we matter? Well, the answer I think to most of that is


no. Of course we matter. Remember the G20, we are a member of the G20.


But in a sense what's happening is that a summit that was planned to


begin tomorrow lunchtime and go through to Friday is starting this


afternoon. Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy of France have


summoned the Greek Prime Minister to come. He's not a member of the


G20. No, Greece shouldn't be at this event, but as a result of his


call to the referendum he's been summoned. There is going to be a


meeting involving the President of the commission, Jose Manuel Barroso,


the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, and others, trying to


strengthen the eurozone package that looks like unravelling,


despite the fact it is only a few days old, so that the whole of the


G20 meeting isn't taken over with a panic about what to do in the face


of the Greek decision which could mean the eurozone bail-out deal is


torn to shreds in January when a referendum is held. It is quite


clear, Hilary Benn, that Alistair Darling, who knows a thing or two


about these matters, isn't convinced that the bail-out deal as


it stands is a winner. Everyone is very anxious about it. Clearly the


decision of the Greek Prime Minister ratified by his Cabinet in


the early hours to hold this referendum has created a lot of


uncertainty The end the broke have to determine their own way of


deciding whether to support it or not. But, this is a very dangerous


time for everybody. I think Nick is also right. There are two things


going on. There is the eurozone crisis. If that goes wrong is going


to affect every economy. And there is the crisis of domestic economic


policy, which is the failure of the Government's economic plan to work.


That's why the economy's grown by 0.5% in a year. There are things


the Government could do but they are refusing to do them. Of course


it's the opposition's job to point out how the Government could be


running the economy doctor, from its own point of view. But when the


OECD as it did this week predicts that the eurozone will grow by only


0.3% next year, including Germany, the whole of the eurozone, which


frankly means it could go into recession, because economists use


decimal points to show they have a sense of humour. They have no idea


if it is going to grow by 0.3 or minus 0.3, then the British


economy's performance looks par for the course. So in that sense we are


all in it together! Clearly the British economy, as every economy


in Europe, is going to be affected if the eurozone crisis gets worse


and that comes to pass. But you have to look at what the Government


is doing in terms of the plan they put forward when they came into


office. If it simply in not working. It inherited a growing economy and


growth is now flat lining. LAUGHTER You may laugh, Alan, but it is the


case, as you know. And therefore it could take action to stimulate


demand, because in the end we know already that the Government is


going to have to borrow more than they were planning and they are


going to have to downgrade their forecast. I think Alistair


Darling's one question outshone Ed Miliband's six. He is a serious guy


asking a serious question. It is astonishing that a day before G20


the leader of the Labour Party doesn't ask a serious question on


the global economy. We were talking about this earlier, Britain is in a


different position from the European mainland. Thank goodness


we are in the in the euro that. Vindicates what we've been arguing


for over a decade. We also have low interest rates and are urgeing


forward. We are not on the brink of collapse, like agreements The


danger is that if Greece on the back of this referendum were to end


up having a total default, that would smack the French very hard,


which is why their bond yields have suddenly spiked this morning. And


the European mainland would be in a very difficult position. Hillary,


one of the reasons we keep on saying look, Labour governments


always run out of money and they made a mess, is the effect of doing


so lasts for the very long term. You can't flick a finger and go


back to growth. You can't flick a finger and employ people just like


that. The pain that we are suffering are labour pains because


you spent too much money, said vote for me, I'm going to spend lots of


money, and, as we are seeing with the pensions challenges, then of


course the Government always lets people down. Let me try and bring


you back to the exact moment. I'm genuinely puzzled at the Labour


policy position at the moment. I would be grateful if you could


explain it. At a time when too much debt is clear through real problem


for Greece at the moment. It can't service it. When worries about


servicing Italian debt have taken bond yields to over 6%, when


worries about financing Spanish debt have taken it to over 6%. And


worries about French debt are now producing these kind of spikes in


bonds, how can you credibly argue that you would increase by an even


faster rate British debt? Well, the Government is going to have to


borrow more anyway because its economic plan isn't working. That


is already very clear. That is the case. But you want more?


borrowed less... Let him finish. The Government is going to have to


borrow more, and therefore it is how you strike the balance. What's


happening at the moment is unemployment is rising. When people


lose their jobs they stop paying tax, you start paying out JSA, it


costs the Government money. We were told a year and a bit ago a this


plan was going to work. Private sector jobs would be created to


outweigh the jobs in the punt sector. If the plan doesn't seem to


be working then Government should be revisiting their approach. I


think that's very sensible advice. I think the time has come for the


Chancellor to do precisely that. Your sentence, the Government is


having to borrow more, is not a logical sentence. It's a fact.


we are having to finance and fund the deficit which we were left. But


you can only do that as best you can. Yes we put up VAT, we are


trying to maximise revenues. If there's a hole you have to full the


hole. You want to add to that by paying out of a mortgage with a


bigger mortgage. That's lunacy. immediate question David Cameron


will face is what does he say to what President Sarkozy is saying to


the Greeks? It is pretty tough. Hef said how shocked he was and how


shocked Europe was. I understand he's effectively said to the Greeks,


you should treat there referendum like an in-out referendum about


membership of Europe. If you vote to get out, bang goes all the IMF


loans. This will be seen as quite a threatening stance. The question


then, at the moment Downing Street have had nothing to say about those


comments. They are tending to say that's a matter for eurozone


countries not us, but there'll be pressure on the Prime Minister to


express a view. It have to be an inout referendum, because there is


no bail-out deal formulated to put to the Greek people. Alistair


Darling would be the first person to tell up. There are too many


unknowns to put it to a vote. You are off to the G20 now, are new


this second. The Prime Minister goes tomorrow morning. I'm going as


well. The south of France? I've checked the temperature, 18 degrees.


It's a hard life. Bring us back a stick of rock. I don't think they


do rock in Cannes! Sit different from Blackpool? I will talk about


it later with you. Now, here's a radical idea for you - Britain


should consider joining the euro. That's what the former leader of


the TUC, John Monks, thinks. Given the state of the eurozone, you'd be


forgiven for thinking he's gone mad. But does he have a point? Here's


I favoured joining the euro at the start. In the hope that it would


better shape. It might seem crazy to many, particularly at the moment,


but I think it's important that Britain is prepared to reconsider


its attitude to joining the euro, provided the present crisis is


resolved satisfactorily. If the eurozone survives the current


crisis it is inevitable that the 17 members will have to work more


closely to get on a range of economic issues. If Britain stays


outside, then it risks losing influence both in Europe and in the


I know that many of my compatriots want to reduce the role of Britain


in the EU, not to enhance it. But I believe it is important to keep up


Britain's influence on the single market, and on trade and relations


with our neighbours across the North Sea. Except that now is not


the time to join the euro currency. But at some stage in the future, if


the euro comes through the present crisis, then I want to see the


debate reignited, that Britain should consider whether or not it


joins that currency. John Monks, who now sits in the House of Lords,


is with us. It has probably an understatement to say that this is


a minority view, particularly at the moment. Timing is not too good,


yes. Admittedly, you gave a caveat, saying, this is not the time. But


while on earth are you talking about this now? It is partly


because various people I think have been saying that perhaps it was a


good thing we did not cut will the euro. Before, perhaps they were


concentrating on the fundamental reasons why we might consider


fixing our currency into the euro system. The key ones for me are


that the British economy, since the war, has rested on devaluations


against neighbours across the North Sea, Germany, the Netherlands and


some others. It seems to me to be crucial that we remember all the


time, inside or outside the euro, that we have got to remain


competitive with them. We have had two bonanzas, the North Sea and


financial services, there is not going to be a third one. The


competitiveness of our economy, with those neighbouring economies,


is crucial. You're not advocating it now, so what kind of timing are


you thinking of? In the immediate crisis, it is not desirable, but we


would be in the bottom half of the league, we would be with the


Mediterranean countries, I fear, at the present time. Our fundamental


problem is that we're not in the first division of European


countries, with Germany, the Netherlands, even Denmark, which is


not in the euro but pegs its currency to the euro. I want to see


Britain in that particular league, not in the Second Division. There


are fears that if there is closer fiscal integration amongst the


eurozone countries, that Britain will be to some extent left out


checks do you see that happening? It is inevitably likely to be the


case. The Prime Minister and George Osborne are urging the eurozone to


move in certain directions, and so I think it is inevitable that


Britain will be pushed towards the margins, reduced to comments from


the touchline, and I don't think that is a particularly good


position for Britain and the long- term. What do you say to that? It


is a fear that has been expressed, the worry that Britain will be left


on the sidelines? He has a good argument, in one sense, when we


have a budget deficit, we escaped that deficit through devaluation.


The solution is not to join the euro, it is not to have that budget


deficit. Everyone said join - if you meet the convergence criteria,


we are all the same and we can swim together. But nobody asked what the


criteria for divergence were. People have not shown a united


budget discipline, fiscal discipline, and that is why the


system is never going to work, because you have got sovereign


countries not following the rules, and the whole thing comes apart,


and thank goodness that we are out of it. We should stay out of it,


but have the sort of discipline which you rightly say we need.


Labour Party's policy seems to be slightly unclear at the moment. At


one time Tony Blair advocated joining the euro, but it did not


happen. But Major, have you ruled it out forever? We were right not


to have joined, and that was a decision we took when we were in


government. I cannot see in the foreseeable future circumstances in


which it would be the right thing to do. We are pragmatic Europeans,


as opposed to ideological Europeans, and the argument has always been


about what is in our national self- interest, and that's a perfectly


proper way to look at it. Nobody can argue that it is in our


interests at the moment. For the euro as a member states, they have


got to find a way of making the eurozone work. It is true that the


absence of that has created some of the difficulties. I want to get you


to comment on something else. While we have been on air, the Chief


Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has been speaking to the


Commons on public sector pensions. This is what he had to say. This


generous offer should be more than sufficient to allow agreement to be


reached with the unions, but it is an offer that is conditional upon


reaching agreement. I hope on the basis of this offer, the trade


unions will devote their energy to reaching agreement and not to


unnecessary and damaging strike action. You have been through many


negotiations - do you get a sense that we're heading for


confrontation on this one? I thought these concessions were


going to be mainly technical, but one of them is quite big, taking


one million workers out of the reforms altogether. Will it be


enough? There has been a lot of work going on. I know that Brendan


Barber has been in the middle of all sorts of things. I very much


hope they have got something, but I do not know the details. Nobody has


rushed to the microphones. People are thinking about it, I'm sure.


has cost �2 million, it has taken a team of researchers months and


months to devise, many of us are not even sure what the point of it


is. What am I talking about? The coalition's new happiness test.


Here's what the Prime Minister said about it. From April next year we


will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our


economy is growing, but by how our lives or improving, not just by


standard of living, but by a quality of life. I think this is


something which is important to our goal of trying to create a more


family friendly country. It is something I have been calling for


for a long time. The Office for National Statistics has come up


with a list of 10 indicators of well-being. I wonder how long that


took them. They're launching a consultation before publishing a


finalist in three months' time. That will keep them in a job. We


thought it was our public duty to put it to the test first. Who


better to help us than a man who has always had a smile on his face,


take it away, Cheggers! We have done a snapshot of some of the


questions. For both of you, I want a score from one to 10, and short,


succinct answers, otherwise I will just throw you off the show. For


you first of all, here's the question... 10 out of 10 for my


question... 10 out of 10 for my husband! 10 out of 10, too. Oh, no,


husband! 10 out of 10, too. Oh, no, hang on. Do you have a job and are


you happy with it? We have not got you happy with it? We have not got


the graphic for that one. Yes, I do, and 10 again, if we're allowed.


what about yourself? Definitely 10, I'm a happy Minister. They're such


liars! Next question - are you satisfied with your income? I would


be mad if I said no, so, 10 out of 10, yes! Ditto, I'm not complaining.


And finally, do you trust politicians and your local council?


Yes, I do. We need our politicians to deal with the problems of the


world. The politicians I work with, not everybody, but the colleagues


on my side, yes, I do, and I would give them a 10. Funnily enough, I


would have exactly the same view, but equal and opposite. And my


local Conservative councils are local Conservative councils are


great. Four tough questions for you. I don't think that was honest.


think it shows the problem of trying to measure happiness, it is


really quite difficult. Have you not just hauled below the waterline


the Government's happiness index? By not answering truthfully?


you not actually try and do this under Tony Blair in 1995? I could


be wrong. I do not know, to tell you the truth, but I think it is


quite a hard thing to measure, in the way that they are seeking to do.


At the moment, facing economic difficulties, a lot of people will


be very anxious. That will affect their happiness. They might not


feel secure in their job. Why is the Government spending our hard-


earned cash to find out whether you're satisfied with your husband


or wife? What has that got to do with you? Not an enormous amount, I


suppose. Can you turn it the other way around and look at it from the


public's point of view? As a member of the public, I do not want to be


rude, but I think politicians become slightly cocooned when they


are in power. Also it is quite nice for them to feel what the nation is


feeling. It would not be a good idea to find out what the public


really do think about education, health, the economy. There is a


value in this. This is a new technique to get to some of the


underlying feelings about what people really think about their


life, their country, their circumstances, which


straightforward polling does not really get. And so, I'm unhappy


with my partner, unhappy with my job, with my income, and I do not


trust politicians - what are you going to do about it? Not me!


you do that and still stay in the government? I don't think so.


People contact politicians all the time, and we get not a bad sense of


how people are feeling. The task for us is, what are we going to do


about it? How do we make sure the people get jobs? You could be


marriage guidance councillors, in your next job. Well, having got


absolutely nowhere with that... you happy, Andrew? I'm happy this


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