15/11/2011 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon, welcome. At last, some good news on the economy. Or


is it? Inflation fell last month, but not so much that you will have


noticed. Supermarket discounts helped push prices down, but prices


are still rising more than wages. We will talk to a Treasury minister


as well as the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls.


Will the Government halt the planned increases in fuel duty? We


will talk to the Conservative MP leading the campaign.


The man at the centre of the row with Theresa May over border


control speaks out. Brodie Clark has been facing questions from MPs


added further revelations about the state of our borders.


I am an admiral. And, what is it like being in the


Navy? The former First Sea Lord All of that and more coming up.


Public service broadcasting at its finest! With this, former Labour


security minister Alan West. He is a lord and an admiral. Anyway,


first, the latest figures for inflation, the CPI, the


government's preferred measure for October, 5%, down from 5.2% in


September. As promised, the shadow chancellor is with us. Has


inflation now peaked? I do not know, possibly. There was a big blip


because of the rise in VAT in January, which hit the budgets of


households and pushed prices up. But it seems to be stubbornly high.


To come down from 5.2% to 5%, not much of a change. You have talked


about the misery index, the combination of inflation and


unemployment now rising, this is a toxic combination. As how big a


stimulus would you give the economy at the moment? Put a figure on it.


We need a stimulus. It is hard when you or not in government and you do


not know the scale of the projects you can get in quickly to put a


figure on. I will give you one figure, a temporary cut in VAT, 12


billion. How much more? We would also do a temporary cut in VAT for


repairs and maintenance, which would help small businesses, which


would give you half a billion. The bank bonus tax, �2 billion, we


could raise that. That �2 billion is more likely to be spent if it is


going to the pockets of people building houses and young people.


Then, the small business tax cut, that would pay for itself. Roughly


what, 15 billion? The Tories like to say it is over 20 billion.


20 billion closer than 15? other number is how much public


investment you could bring forward. You would need billions of pounds.


The more you can do which is reasonable and quick, the better.


You want a stimulus that will have a real effect. Let's say between 15


and 20 billion. The equivalent of a 1% cut in interest rates in a


normal economy. We are agreed he would add to borrowing this year?


George Osborne will Barrow �46 billion more than he planned.


is over several years. Your response to a debt crisis is more


debt? It is a grave crisis. It is not a debt crisis? The fundamental


problem, if the growth is flat lining and unemployment is rising,


that will mean fewer people paying tax, more people on benefit, it


will be hard to get the deficit down. You have got to have a


reduction plan, it has got to work, and if you say, it is a debt crisis,


and therefore, the faster we cut, the better, you make the exact


mistake that David Cameron and George Osborne are making. We are


already borrowing �122 billion this year. Why would borrowing 130


billion in a 1.5 trillion pound economy make more than the most


marginal of differences? David Cameron likes to say, you cannot


borrow yourself out of a debt crisis. The Government is borrowing


�120 billion this year. borrowing a bit more? Why would it


make a difference? What is a sensible pace to get the deficit


down? It might order that has been, if you try to get it down too


quickly, it backfires, it blows up in-your-face. You end up borrowing


more than you planned. Right now, with the world in such a dangerous


place, and with an economy have installed, the right thing to do is


to get some stimulus to get the economy moving. If that is right,


it follows that what the Prime Minister is to link in Italy is


wrong, because he has got an even smaller deficit and we have, but he


is still cutting it. He is wrong but by what you just said. There is


a fundamental difference between Italy and Britain. They are in the


euro, and we are not. What has that got to do with borrowing? If you


are a single country with your own currency, and you have a central


bank which is effective, you can serve as your debts. Will the


markets believe that you will get your deficit down in a balanced way


without inflation? That depends on growth. He has got no growth. But


he is still cutting the deficit. Take France, which has got the same


national debt as we have. They have got a smaller deficit. It follows


that Nicolas Sarkozy is wrong, as by what you say. Personally, I


think the right-of-centre governments in the eurozone


believing that faster deficit reduction will lead to more


credibility on their deficit, they are making it a big mistake. Let's


take a left-of-centre government, the outgoing its government in


Spain. They have a national debt roughly equivalent to ours, but it


has got a smaller deficit, but it cut its deficit. Under your view of


the world, that was wrong as well? They have a non-functioning central


bank. They have no lender of last resort. Contagion is spreading


across the eurozone. In those circumstances, they are thinking


that they have got to show a signal. I think it is the wrong signal.


it they are all wrong? And you all right? The IMF have said countries


not in crisis in the eurozone, who have room for manoeuvre, like


Germany and Britain and America, should slow their pace to get


growth and jobs moving. I agree with them. I am so thankful that we


are not in the contagion crisis of Spain and Italy. The IMF has backed


the Spanish, Italian and French cuts. They have not backed you.


am worried about you resent believing that austerity is going


to deliver them credibility -- I am worried about the eurozone


believing. This could be every PC for turmoil and disaster. -- this


could be a recipe. Your plan would increase borrowing and our deficit.


You said that. I said there should be a stimulus. Otherwise, it is not


a stimulus. I pointed out to you that George Osborne's plans will


lead to higher borrowing that he planned, because he will have to


downgrade his growth forecast and upgrade his borrowing forecast.


This morning, Italian bond yields went above 7% again. They do not


have confidence in the deficit reduction plan. I do not agree.


German/French bond spread, the French are having to pay higher,


because they do not think Nicolas Sarkozy is cutting the deficit by


enough. How could you increase our borrowing and deficit and not


increase and a bond yields? It is impossible. You know enough about


economics, and the lessons of the 20s and 30s, what you just said,


economically, is nonsense. In August, when the American debt was


downgraded by the credit agencies, their interest rates went down. The


succession of short rates and people are thinking that they will


stay low, because our economy has stagnated... Of you think we could


borrow more and bond yields would not rise? I think they will come


under pressure in the end because of a lack of growth in the economy.


Do I think that the markets are saying about Britain, the problem


is they are not cutting fast enough? They are saying the


opposite. You know enough about economics to know that it is much


more complicated than that. will have to come back to answer a


question. I want to take another mug! Is this not a new one?!


One area where consumers are feeling the pinch is the cost of


filling up their car. MPs will debate a motion on fuel prices and


taxes this afternoon. After 100,000 people signed an e-petition column


for the issue to be discussed in the House of Commons. Any vote will


not be binding, but the strength of feeling, especially amongst


Conservative backbenches, might lead David Cameron and George


Osborne to act. Filling up has become a costly business, but high


prices are also causing a headache for the Chancellor. At the budget,


he cut duty by one pence per litre. He scrapped the duty escalator,


which meant above-inflation increases every year. But another


increase of 3p is scheduled for January. Then, there will be a


further rise in line with inflation in August, which some people have


claimed could be up to five pence. The VAT increase last January


pushed costs up as well. The persistently high global prices


have meant more pain for motorists. David Cameron and George Osborne


know any further rises will be unpopular. But the Office for


budget responsibility estimates that scrapping the increase in


January would cost the Treasury �1.5 billion. Their determination


to cut the budget deficit means they have got little room for


manoeuvre. This MP has secured the debate this afternoon. What exactly


did you want the government to do? Not implement the plant due to


raise his next January. I say, cut taxes for millions of ordinary


hard-working Britons, rather than for millionaires. Secondly, we need


a long-term commission to be set up to look at the price of petrol,


because it is unsustainable, it has been going up all the time, the oil


companies should bear responsibility. The international


oil prize has gone down by 20% since April. Also, we need to


introduce a fair feel stabiliser, to ensure that, when prices -- when


revenues are high, prices go down. How big an issue is this? It is a


much bigger issue than some politicians really understand it.


They have misjudged it in the past, and they are doing so again. This


will have a huge impact. I think it will resonate. Politically, it is


dynamite. I do not think politicians have grasped it


properly. They do in the States, they understand that fuel prices


are important. We have just heard that the government is not going to


impose a three-line whip on this, they are worried about a rebellion.


But can the country afforded? They have already taken action, they


have already cut the duty by 1p earlier this year. They have also


scrapped the escalator that was Porton in 2009. Vince Cable says


there are ideas, and the government is not in a position to do things.


Can the country not afford it? Figures from the AA showed that the


Treasury has been getting less revenue from petrol and diesel tax


this year compared to 2008, so the government have been getting less


revenue, because people cannot afford to drive their cars. Looking


at the average person in my constituency, they spent 17 --


�1,700 a year. That is disputed by the ONS, they said it was 600 and


so it is �7. If you take the average earnings, the RAC estimate


they are paying a 10th of their income on the price of petrol or


diesel. Some estimates put it higher. The government to find fuel


poverty as somebody spending a 10th Can you give them any comfort?


are listening to the arguments. This is a good opportunity for


parliamentarians to make the case, parliamentarians to make the case,


all of us as MPs are talking to our constituents. The challenge we face


is that if we don't go ahead with the January increased, it will cost


�1.5 billion in revenue forgone. That is fairly substantial. But we


have already demonstrated we are sensitive to these motorists, that


is why the budget George Osborne announced... Is that a yes or no to


my question? We will listen to the arguments. You said that. We will


not make policy announcements today. This is a day for listening to the


arguments. Have you listened to Vince Cable? He says our budget


position is not in a position where we can make a lot of freebies


available. Do you think not incurious sing -- increasing fuel...


We don't have an option or foregoing lots of tax increases or


cutting spending or taking risks. Is it a freebie? Not raising our


tax is a freebie? This is something that has been scheduled, something


we postponed from last spring. At a cost of �1.9 billion. So it would


be a freebie? Whether we call it a freebie or not, it is an impact on


the public finances. Let me ask you this. Same question I asked Ed


Balls. In the Treasury's few has inflation peaked? What we do in the


Treasury is used the forecast made by the Bank of England and the


Office of budget responsibility and the OBR will update their forecasts


in the Autumn Statement. The view of the Bank of England... We know


that. The Treasury hasn't got its own view on the course of


inflation? The Treasury uses the inflation projections made by the


Bank of England and the Office of budget responsibility. It doesn't


have its own view? It doesn't do its own separate estimate, is that


correct? Be it is correct because it uses the estimates used by the


Bank of England. When you have got the economy flatlining, you have


got inflation still above 5%, unemployment very high and rising,


living standards being squeezed more than at any time since the


1920s, you can't be proud of your economic record, can you?


inherited the biggest deficit in our peacetime history. We are going


through a period where we see a crisis in the eurozone and gross


struggling in all developed countries. You can't be proud of


that record. Of course we would like more growth, but we are proud


of having the courage to deal with his big issue we inherited, the


deficit, making difficult decisions, to when sure the UK is not in the


front line. We have seen countries caught up in a real mess because


the markets did not have faith in the credibility of their plans.


don't think one can go one constantly saying this was left in


a mess. When I had captains of ships, if they said the last


captain was awful, there came a stage when I said I wanted a ship


to be better and if it didn't improve I got rid of them. People


need to think of that. This ship was not below the waterline! We


have to leave it there. Thank you. The former head of the UK border


force Brodie Clark has been appearing before a committee of MPs.


Last week he resigned saying Mrs Major had made his position


untenable by blaming him for relaxing passport checks are like


that beyond the limits of a pilot scheme he organised. -- she


organised. This is what he had to say earlier. I never went broke. I


never extended without the Home Secretary's authority that initial


trial for a further period of September through to November. It


was the Home Secretary who clearly at request and on advice from me


agreed that the trial could continue for a longer period in


order to evidence the benefits it was delivering. Do your understand


what you're saying? You're saying you had authority to do what you


were doing and that the Home Secretary knew what you were doing


and that is completely in contradiction to what she said to


the house and his committee. I do not understand why she has said


that. The continuation or extension of the trial was something we


reported on, not in the same weekly basis we had previously been, but


we had incorporated into the chief executive's weekly note to the


immigration minister as an update on how things were going. With us


now in the Conservative MP and former Home Office adviser David


Ruffley. And Admiral Lord West. David Ruffley, has she committed


the worst political sin of going to war with her civil servants? He is


fighting back hard. I don't think he is fighting back terribly well.


She was justified in following what Rob Whiteman did. He suspended him,


it was not Theresa May. But was she right in publicly blaming Brodie


Clark before having any of the investigations and before he had


time to respond to? Up yes. In the House of Commons, all MPs who went


to that debate wanted dancers, their constituents wanted answers.


Theresa May had to tell it how it was. She was entirely justified in


making her statement. Does she have a killer piece of evidence? Does


she have a written piece of paper that says this is what I am


authorised you to do and you have gone beyond it. We have got the


exchange. Mrs May told MPs that officials will not be up --


supposed to go on beyond the pilot. Is it possible Theresa May did not


know what the pilot involved? Brodie Clark says he finds that


difficult to imagine. If you listen to some of his earlier evidence, it


shows that he was relaxing fingerprint controls on non-EU


nationals well before the pilot. He said that several times this


morning. He has to answer why he was doing this before the September


pilot. Who do you believe? It is a real mess. I don't think I have


seen such a mess. It is a dangerous thing to start picking on yours


senior civil servants. You have to be very careful of your facts. I am


very surprised we haven't seen anything of Damian Green, who is


the minister who should be close upon this the entire time. That was


his job, to do that for the Home Secretary. This is very disturbing.


I'm sure the full truth will finally come out. I know Brodie


Clark. It is extraordinary to think he would do that. It doesn't fit in


with what I know of him. He is not a maverick, he doesn't go running


wild. He ran a very taut prison, he was a very good prison governor.


With respect... With respect, before the pilot there were three


MPs on the Select Committee asking the question were you doing it


before the pilot and he said yes. There were relaxations in 2008.


That is under the last Labour government. Do you know what checks


was suspended then? I am yet to see those guidelines. I don't know off


the top of my head. For example, they have mentioned coaches. The


Passenger Shipping Association said surely if you have a coach for of


St Matthew's primary school children coming into the country,


do we need to get every single one of them off and do all of the


checks and it made sense not to do that. There was flexibility. Non EU


nationals who should have had a fingerprint check, those were


suspended. Brodie Clark said that this morning. I think the position


is quite clear. He wasn't quite clear what he was going. He denies


it. Have you seen the evidence? think we ought to be careful.


admitted it for. Normally there is a discussion between ministers and


senior people about exactly what is going on, particularly a pilot


scheme. If Brodie Clark wins his case for destructive --


constructive dismissal, as looks likely, can she keep her job?


don't know what will happen. she keep her job? Of course she can.


She has been let down by the Civil Service. I think the Home Secretary


is toast. I think she has had it. It is a shame because I like her,


but I think this has been a mess. He will be run on that as he is on


the whole recollection of his regime. The Prime Minister has


given his full support so she is probably doomed! She will be there.


That is sometimes the death knell. Agreement breaking out everywhere!


30 years ago a lot of small boys wanted to be done sailors. That is


what is written here! It appears now that many youngsters don't even


know what the Navy is. They don't even know what the Navy is. We sent


our guest of the day back to school. Some weeks ago I was travelling on


the Tube and I was appalled when a youngster in a school party asked


me what I did and then when I told him and said I was in the Navy, he


said what is the navy? It was a shock. I had to spend some time


telling them about the Navy, which caused a certain amount of


amusement in the carriage, and some applause. One man said, you ought


to do this all the time on the District line. Today I've come to


St Matthew's Primary School in Westminster because I want to talk


to the youngsters and tell them a bit about the Navy. Good morning.


Good morning. I will sit over here. You have been told a little bit


about me, have you? You will ask me some questions. Fantastic, I look


forward to it. Who wants to start? Do you have lots of medals? I was


awarded a distinguished Service Cross. This is a gallantry award.


What it really represented was how well my sailors fought, but I got a


distinguished Service Cross. I have a campaign medal, I have a couple


of other metals. And then I have some grand things called a Knight


Grand Cross for the order of Bath. A big star and a big thing around


my neck and a big sash. It all looks like a big Christmas tree can


actually! Is it a good idea to join the Navy? You have very close bond


between all the people you serve with on a ship, and that is really


good fun. It is like being at school, you have a lot of close


mates. A lot of opportunities for sport. You can go skiing,


parachuting, sailing, gliding. You travel all round the world. It is a


fantastic thing to do. Did you lose any men in the war? I was captain


of a ship called the frigate which had about 200 men. It was involved


in the war in the Falkland Islands. My ship was bombed and sunk. It was


hit by about seven bombs and sunk at the end of the day. Sadly in


there fighting I lost 22 of my boys, who why remember very often at


times. Everyone you lose, they are brothers and sisters, they have


parents, they have children, it is really quite sad, but they were


doing something very special for the nation. We succeeded in what we


did and there was very important. You had them captivated! No


question. You were the last to leave the ship as well. Let me ask


you the big question of the day. How often do you travel by Tube in


full ceremonial dress? Not very often! Do people talk to you when


they do? One Tube journey from Westminster to Bond Street and one


chap said, are you in the Navy? He did vaguely know and was interested.


I don't do it very often and you do get looked at quite a bit! If


you're on a train station, people want to buy tickets from you.


one of the kids ask you about your time on the Titanic? He did. He


said what was it like on the Titanic? Do what was it like? Good


question. All right, admiral, thank you very much. That's it for today.


No more Daily Politics for the rest of the week. We are ready to go,


but hard-working MPs have decided to give themselves a mid-term break.


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