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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.