07/12/2011 Daily Politics


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Morning, folks - welcome to The Daily Politics. David Cameron says


no to repatriation of powers - saving the euro and protecting the


City of London are his priorities. But has he shown enough steel to


convince his eurosceptic MPs? As the dispute continues over public


sector pensions, is the Government going to act on the taxpayer-funded


union reps that have become known as pilgrims? Hard-playing rugby


player Ben Cohen on why the rough stuff should be confined to the


rugby pitch. It is cruel and unnecessary, and I'm here to do


know some of our hard-working MPs watch Strictly Come Dancing and the


X factor if. How do I know? They All that coming up in the next 90


minutes. Now, we had promised you Iain Duncan Smith today - but after


briefly turning up the volume at the weekend, it appears the self-


styled quiet man has been muted - the official excuse is that he had


a meeting to go to this afternoon. Never mind, because we have one of


IDS's deputies, Pensions Minister Chris Grayling, and Labour's Shadow


Treasury Minister, Rachel Reeves. We like to think of them as


Westminster's cuddlier answer to pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang. We


called the pounds to check on the pronunciation, by the way. Welcome


to the programme. First this morning, it looks like a plan of


sorts is emerging to deal with the eurozone crisis ahead of a summit


of European leaders in Brussels which begins tomorrow - the seventh


such summit this year. The plan being put together by the President


of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, apparently involves a


"fiscal compact" in the shape of either a new treaty or merely a


change in the protocols of existing treaties which would avoid


referendums or votes in the parliaments of member countries -


votes which could be problematic, not least in Britain. You wouldn't


really want to consult the people, would you? A good general chooses


would you? A good general chooses his battles carefully, and David


Cameron must now decide where to plant his standard on Europe. The


Conservative army of eurosceptics want their leader to fight to


repatriate powers over fisheries and employment regulations. But the


Prime Minister has said that this is not the time, despite his


manifesto commitment. Instead he said his mission is to save the


euro. But he warned his EU partners that this didn't mean he lacked


steel. He will stand firm against any measures which harm the single


market or the money men of the City of London. The Prime Minister's


stance will find favour with his allies and lieutenants, such as


Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke, who has said today that this was not the


time to extract concessions. But will Cameron be able to placate his


own mutinous footsoldiers? A full- blown treaty change - of all 27


states, rather than a change of protocol - would require a change


in the law and a vote in the House of Commons. And that could see a


peasants' revolt. Remember the Battle of Maastricht? Let's speak


to eurosceptic Conservative MP Chris Heaton Harris. He's in the


Chris Heaton Harris. He's in the central lobby of Parliament. What I


your demands from the Prime Minister? Actually, I do not hear


many Conservative MPs asking for specifics at this moment. We just


want assurances. Should there be a change to the treaty of the 27,


then there will be two or three months where the treaty is lined up,


and we must be allowed to get involved in that negotiation, to


work out whether we one some powers coming back to us. So, you would


like to see some repatriation of powers? David Cameron has just


spoken about safeguards for the City - would that be enough I have


got to wait till Friday, because I'm not convinced that it is going


to be as bad as lots of the media commentators are making out.


think actually there is a very good chance that the French and Germans


will be helping us to help them. I do not want to get in the way of


them sorting out the eurozone crisis. But equally, I do think


there is a general understanding that politics in Britain is


demanding that we get much more involved. But you have to be much


more so for terrific - what would you like to see in terms of


repatriation? Struggling much more specific. It sounds from what


you're saying that safeguarding the City would be enough. You and I


both do not know what will be decided on Friday. At the moment,


it could be a protocol, as Mr Van Rompuy might like. Would you be


happy about that? Protocols can have a huge amount of influence. I


have been a member of parliament for 10 years. I would be up for


that. It could be a treaty of the 17, it could be a treaty of the 27,


it could be something just involving two or three states, no-


one knows. I'm not hedging, but everybody is speculating until


Friday. On the protocol issue, are you saying you do not mind if


Parliament does not have a say in terms of approving whatever is


agreed? No, I'm saying that protocols have been very useful to


Britain in the past. We have had protocols on the currency, for


example. That is exactly where I would like to see more business


than, protocols can be very helpful Joining us now from Brussels is the


Lib Dem chief whip in the European parliament, Chris Davies, and


Rachel and Chris are still here. Chris Davies, you're at the heart


of things, in Brussels, what do you think is going to happen? Is it


going to be treated changes, a new treaty, or simply is everything


going to be done by protocols? must remember, most importantly, it


is going to be done by consensus. That leaves David Cameron playing a


bit of a week and, frankly. Can we come on to this in a minute? I


would appreciate it, even if only out of courtesy, if you answered my


question. Very simply, I think it is going to be done by protocol. I


think Chris Heaton Harris was correct. If you read what Mr Van


Rompuy has said in the papers today, it is all about a protocol which


will affect basically the 17 countries within the eurozone, and


not those outside. So, David Cameron would be on perfectly good


ground to say that this would not require a referendum in the UK. If


it does require approval, and I assume it will, then it can be done


by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Are you saying that


it will only affect the 17 in the eurozone, that the other 10 will


not be involved? I have read the paper this morning, and all the


talk is of a protocol. I think that steers around the issue of whether


there is going to be a transfer of sovereignty from the UK. It is not,


the whole point is to strengthen the eurozone, not to try and


transfer powers either way. Why are you placing so much emphasis on


what Mr Van Rompuy thinks, as opposed to the Germans, who, so far,


have not talk about a protocol? First of all, I suppose, because


van Rompuy represents all the smaller nations. We hear a lot


about Angela Merkel and Sarkozy, but there's 15 other countries,


many of them very small, within the eurozone, and the President of the


council has to stand up for them. When they all finally get around


the table, then I suspect the small countries will want a say. I'm sure


they will. Chris Grayling, so, we're going to have major changes


in Europe, they are going to be done through the back door, which


is basically what the Protocol system is, and once again, no


referendum - happy with that? see what happens on Friday. I have


been very clear, as was David Cameron this morning, that we have


got to defend the British national interest. What is the British


national interest in all of this? Well, practical example - it looks


as if we're going to see steps towards a fiscal union. What we


cannot have as a result of that is a situation where, if you take our


financial services industry, for example, that can somehow be


squashed at the dictats of other member states. We have got to


protect our national interest. is a strong thing which the


Conservatives are setting up - there are no plans to do things


which will squash the City of London. There are two very


practical things. First of all, there is the transactions plan.


That's a plan that Europe would like to see introduced, it is not


part of saving the eurozone. but if you have a more integrated


eurozone, which commands power in the European council, we have to


make sure that those states are in a position to turn around and say,


that is what we're going to do, it affects you and you do not have a


say on it. So, the key task for David Cameron on Friday, is those


negotiations, is to make short... We have also got 49 directives


which will impact upon the City of London. But that is not part of


treaty changes or protocol changes to save the eurozone, it is nothing


to do with it, they're separate issues We have had over the past 30


years, a number of different protocols giving Britain opt in


rights, and opt out rights, giving us protection. What David Cameron


was talking about this morning, he said he was going to go in with


steel to defend the British interest. I think we need a bit of


the spirit of the Thatcher handbag. You would expect any Prime Minister


to stand up for Britain's interests, that is what they are supposed to


do. What is your position on this? I think what needs to happen in


terms of the eurozone crisis is that you need the ECB to stand


behind the countries which are in difficulty, but you need Chancellor


Merkel to stand behind that. you in favour of fiscal union for


the eurozone countries? I don't think that is a solution. It is up


to them, it is not Britain's decision. But in terms of what they


need to do to get through this crisis, they need a central bank


which stands behind these things, in the same way that the Bank of


England does in the UK. But that is not going to be one of the changes.


But I think there is a chance... want to get this clear - Labour is


not in favour, because it does not think it is one of and, of the


eurozone becoming a fiscal union? think what Chancellor Merkel is


saying is that if you have some kind of "fiscal compact", which is


some kind of integration, then the ECB might be allowed to come in and


support countries in difficulty. So, if "fiscal compact" is getting the


ECB to play a proper role, then, yes, I would support that. If it is


going to get a solution to the problem. You just told me you were


not in favour of it. I don't think it is fiscal union which will get


through this crisis. But if it leads to the ECB becoming the


lender of last resort, you're in favour of it. Yes, but on its own,


I don't think it will solve the problems. That's the opposite of


what you told me two minutes ago. You told me that fiscal union is


not the answer. It isn't. But if a "fiscal compact" means that the


other countries in the eurozone will allow the ECB to do its job,


then that is part of the answer, but not on its own. Chris Davies,


do you think it is very democratic that setting up a eurozone which


will impinge on the tax-and-spend policies of all the peoples of the


eurozone is done through the back door by a protocol change? I assume


that protocol change will be put to national parliaments. So where is


the democracy element? So, it would be put to national parliaments just


like a treaty change? unassuming, and at do not know the


answer to this yet, that what will be required is a change to the


protocol. That would not mean a transfer of sovereignty from the UK


to the European Union. And therefore, it can go to the


Parliament at Westminster, and can be voted on without the need for a


referendum. But that might not be the case in Ireland, for example. A


treaty change, as I understand it, would require a referendum there.


Is there are substantive difference between a treaty change and a


protocol change? Does it demand the same democratic procedures?


protocol change is a treaty change. It seems to me that as far as the


UK is concerned, the difference is simply, does it now require, under


the new Act of Parliament, us to go to a referendum? I think not.


the eurozone becomes a fiscal union, whether it is by a treaty change or


protocol change, friendly, and lost now, but let's just say it happens,


doesn't that fundamentally change Britain's relationship with Europe,


since we are not part of it? Clearly, what that requires is some


form of protection in whatever those negotiations deliver for the


UK. But it is also a fundamental change, and your boss, IDS, said


that the Prime Minister has always said that if there was a major


treaty change, we would have a We have got to make sure that what


comes out of this is something that properly protects Britain's


interests. Chris Davis who was it that said


"the public are being denied a proper debate on the EU. Nobody


under the age of 50 has been able to have their say on this crucial


issue." Who said that? I suspect you are going to say that it is


Nick Clegg. You got it in one. He is not saying


that now, is he? No, he is not saying it now because


it is the wrong time to have a referendum. That would be


ridiculous. It is like shooting yourself in the foot. No one wants


to say we should lose millions of of collapse for the sake of this


argument. There is an argument about whether or not the UK should


be in the European Union. This is not the time for it.


So the simple question he said in or out, that's where I will


continue to lead the argument for a referendum on our membership. That


ain't party policy anymore? As far as I know it is still party


policy. So So why aren't we having it?


Because of what we just said. Would you recommend that? Would you


honestly recommend at a time when the... I didn't say it Mr Davis,


your leader said it, not me. This is very much a question of


could have dense. Do -- confidence. Do the financial markets have


confidence about the direction which the European leaders are


taking us? To have a referendum on the table would destroy the hopes


of that confidence. Mr Davis, thank you.


Forgive me for being stupid, does it mean the Parliament would still


have to vote its approval? As far as I'm aware any change to the


arrangements have to come before Parliament.


Good. I was confused. I'm still confused.


This time last week, many schools were closed and bins left


uncollected and NHS operations cancelled. The Prime Minister


called it a damp squib, but there could be further strikes in the


coming months. Union reps came to prominence


earlier in the year. The trade unionist journey is not


an impoverished one according to by research by the taxpayers alliance


pressure group. Trade unions received �113 million of funding


from taxpayers in 2010/11. This includes �80 million in paid staff


time. The taxpayers alliance is extrapolate this means 2,840 full-


time equivalent public sector staff worked on trade union activities.


It found the organisation with the highest number of employees working


on trade union activities was the Department for Work and Pensions


with 308 equivalent full-time staff. Birmingham City Council had nearly


62 full-time equivalent staff and the top police force was the


Metropolitan Police force with 16 full-time equivalent staff


undertaking union duties. Aidan Burly heads the trade union reform


campaign? Over 130 million pounds a year of of taxpayers money not


going on front-line services like doctors and nurses, but funding


those organising the strikes and the chaos we saw last week. I agree


with the Prime Minister, this can't be sustained and that's why I'm


campaigning to end this Spanish practise.


Rachel Reeves, picking up on that, in the times of austerity, you


could be forgiven for thinking the public might say, "Let's not cut


police officers, nurses and libraries, why don't we put


taxpayer funded union officials.". I worked in the public and private


sector before becoming an MP. When I worked in the private secretaryor,


I was a manager, we negotiated over pay and the rest of it and that was


valuable, it is not just something that happens in the public sector.


It happens in the private sector as well where employers... You think


we are not getting value for money at the moment looking at the


numbers of people that are... way it works an employer and


employees come together and decide the number of seconded people. They


are not union staff, they are staff that work for the organisation,


whether it police or the Health Service who are second to represent


the employees in that organisation and that's what happens in the


private sector. Why don't the unions pay for the


posts? Bearing in mind these people are doing trade union work, why


don't they pay for it? They are representing people in the


workplace, representing the employees and in the same way you


have big HR function ins any large o, the -- organisation, the


employees always need someone to to stand up for them and represent


their work. You are doing trade union work. We


have some of those in the BBC, why don't the unions pay for the posts?


Because they are representing people in the workplace and it is


not that they are doing trade union work, they are doing work of


supporting the people, the nurses, the doctors, the BBC staff or


whoever it is and actually it helps those organisations because you


have somebody to negotiate with whether it is on pay conditions,


change and the rest of it. 2,840 full-time staff working on


trade union activities, do you think that's too many? That's


across Government, including all local authorities.


It is a lot of people, isn't it? Including the quangos and the rest


of it. You will find that in the private sector as well, you will


have people in all levels of the organisations in different


departments representing the people who have worked there.


In these times of austerity and you said it is about value for money,


who would you rather cut, one of the taxpayer funded officials or a


police officer? Labour have said we wouldn't cut at


the speeds that the Government... know, but you still admit you were


going to cut particularly in the police force. Who would you rather


cut if you had to make a choice, who would you rather see cut. Could


we lose a number of the taxpayer funded officials? Labour said we


would cut by 12% compared to 20% and the police representatives said


that wouldn't mean a reduction in front-line support so we think we


could do it in a different way. As the size of the public sector, as


there are cuts, there has to be proportionate across the whole


whole organisation and it is up to the employers and the employees to


negotiate that as it is in the private sector as well.


Do you think it is difficult because Labour and because yourself,


are so closely linked and dependant on the unions? Does that make it


difficult for you to criticise it? I am a member of a trade union and


I was in a trade union when I worked in the public sector and the


private sector and was represented by my union. I am proud thoot


Labour Party was -- that the Labour Party was formed... Does it make it


difficult for you to criticise that link? The main members of the


Labour Party are members. How much do you get from Unite?


don't get any money from a trade union, my constituency party have


an agreement with Unite and we get, I think, the constituency party


gets money towards the campaigning activities for the local elections


and for the the general election as well, but I don't get money from a


trade union. What about the law on pilgrims? Is


it going to change? It is now under review. I would be surprised if it


didn't change. Clearly we sitting in the WDP... It has the most


That's because we have 100,000 staff.


How many would you like to see cut? I don't believe there should be


full-time officials. I am happy to see members of staff with union


responsibilities being able to take time off from their jobs to do


their union jobs. You heard from Rachel Reeves they


do a valuable jobs. That smoothed industrial relations with their


employees? We are spending �80 million a year that could be spent


on extra add viresers in -- advisers in Jobcentre Plus centres


and that money is going to the union movement which is, whatever


Rachel says, it is the principle funder of the Labour Party and we


have situations where there is evidence that Labour politicians


are asking questions and tabling amendments in the House of Commons


specifically at the request of trade unions.


If you talk to manager in the DWP who negotiate on pay and conditions,


I'm sure they will tell you that it is helpful to have people there


representing the employees in the workplace and it reduces the number


of disciplinaries. The full-time activities that Chris


Grayling - it is the end of full- time taxpayer funded officials?


That's what I would like to see. You are happy to have two part-time


rather than one full-time? My view is within the DWP we would like to


see us making time available for members of staff to represent union


interests, but not for them to be just doing that. We should be


talking about people who have got other responsibilities given time


to do their representative work. Well, if they are seconded for a


year to represent people, a nurse se conned for a -- se seconded for


a year, I don't see a problem. It can avoid disciplinaries and for 13


years we had less industrial action than we had ever before. So I don't


think it is necessarily a bad thing. It is going to be a cut price


Christmas for many this year... hope you got my present.


I sent it back. We have had a warning from


Government today not to be buying cheap counterfeit foods. That's


what I got you, I forgot! Fake UGG boots, I like that word,


hair straighteners and iPhones and iPads. That's a real iPad.


It is difficult to say. It fell off the back of a lorry. Designer


clothes and Hello Kitty products, what's that? It is for children.


They are among the tens of thousands of counterfeit items


seized by Border Agency officials in reen months. I am prized they


have had the time. -- surprised they have had the time. This may


look like a genuine Daily Politics mug, but if you look carefully, you


can see the letters on the mug have been reversed! I'm sure you don't


spell politics like that! The differences might not just be


cosmetic. A genuine Daily Politics mug contains hazardous substance,


scalding hot water! If you're lucky. Fake mugs is a potential deathtrap.


Don't risk it. Enter our competition. After that health and


safety exercise, we will remind you how you can enter, but let's see if


you can remember when this Sir Michael called me a Puppet and


kangaroo. The majority of the British people


I think they will wear my pockets To be in with a chance of winning a


Daily Politics mug, the genuine article that is, send your answer


You can see the full terms and conditions for Guess The Year on


our website. It is coming up to midday. Let's


look at Big Ben. It is a glorious, cold, sunny day in London. It can


only mean one thing. Prime Minister's Questions are on their


way and Nick Robinson is here. Welcome. I guess you don't have to


be a rocket rocket scientist to work that the frontbench exchanges


will have have something to do with Europe and the economy? The Labour


Party is inclined to say, "Let the Conservatives have their own


difficulties on Europe. Let the coalition have their difficulties,


we, the Labour Party, don't want to have much of a say. He is not


calling for a referendum. Ed Miliband, he is not calling for a


renegotiation. So why not let The Daily Mail and The Sun and the


Telegraph fall out with the Conservative Prime Minister. What


he might be tempted to do, you will remember again and again he


criticised previous Labour figures criticised the Conservative Party


for for pulling out of this organisation, the E EPP, it won't


look so obscure today to the Prime Minister, meeting in Marseille


today for the EPP, which is the European People's Party, it it


brings together the centre right party, and no fewer are the leader


of Germany and France and the president of the European


Commission, the current president of the European Parliament and all


because... Haven't we got Slovakia? We will not be there!


I just think it is possible that Ed Miliband might be tempted to say,


"How much influence have you really got when these guys are getting


together and you are not there?". There is a gulf developing between


Mr Cameron and a section of his his backbenchers? The first question


being asked by a Euro-sceptic, will he raise it? Who knows, he often


raises Gibraltar, but I suspect someone might. They want a moment


of decision. They think this is a once in a generation opportunity


for Britain to redefine its relationship. Some because they


want to get out, others, no, they want to have a new sort of


relationship, but David Cameron is determined that this will not be


the moment Britain says, "Look, we know the world economy is going to


hell." But he thinks that's a mistake.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. This morning I had meetings with ministerial


colleagues and others. Mr Speaker, the British people want to see two


things from this week's European summit - firstly a resolute and


uncompromising defence of Britain's national interests, and secondly,


it in the end to the disastrous Euro crisis, a currency the party


opposite still wants us to join. Will the Prime Minister do us proud


on Friday and show some bulldog spirit in Brussels? I can guarantee


to my Honourable Friend that that is exactly what I will do. The


British national interest absolutely means that we need to


At the same time, we must seek safeguards for Britain, that is the


right thing to do. It is something the Right Honourable Gentleman


opposite takes a different view about. The the six weeks ago, the


Prime Minister said, and I quote, the idea of some limited treaty


change in the future might give us the opportunity to repatriate


powers back to Britain. At the European summit, what powers will


he be arguing to repatriate? As I have just explained, at the


summit... Let be explained. -- let me explain. Order. We're all


interested to hear the answer. will have the key aim of helping to


resolve the eurozone crisis, and we believe that means European,


eurozone countries coming together and doing more things together. If


they choose to do that through a treaty at 27 that we are involved


in, we will insist on some safeguards for Britain. And yes,


that means making sure we are stronger and better able to do


things in the UK to protect our own national interests. Now, let me


explain. Obviously, do more the countries in the eurozone ask for,


the more we will ask for in return. But we will judge it on the basis


of what matters most to Britain. The more he talks, the more


confusing his position gets, quite frankly. Let me remind him, on the


eve of the biggest post-war rebellion against a Prime Minister


on Europe, he was telling his Prime Minister's -- he was telling his


backbenchers that the opportunity of treaty change would mean in the


future the repatriation of powers. That was his position six weeks ago.


Today he writes an article in the Times, 1,000 words, not one mention


of the phrase of repatriation of powers. Why does the Prime Minister


think it is in the national interest to tell his backbenchers


one thing to quell a rebellion on Europe, and tell his European


partners another? I do not take back a single word I said in that


debate. Yes, what we want to do, specifically and particularly in


the area of financial services, where this country has a Mashud


national interest... Let me remind him, it is 10% of GDP, it is 3% of


our trade surplus, it is 7% of UK employment. I want to make sure we


have more power and control here in the UK to determine these things.


And that is in complete contrast to the party opposite, which gave away


power after power. They gave up our power, and they made us join the


bail-out fund. We have had to get out of the bail-out fund! They gave


up our rebate and got nothing in return. We have managed to freeze


the European budget. We have got one party which defends Britain's


interests, and another that always so renders it. -- surrenders. Mr


Speaker, I think the short answer is... I say to the usual,


predictable, noisy tendency, people must be heard, that's what will


happen, however long it takes. Speaker, I think the short answer


is that six weeks ago, he was promising his backbenchers a hand


begging for Europe, now he's just reduced to hand-wringing. That is


the reality of this.. And the problem for Britain is that at the


most important European summit for a generation, which matters usually


for families and businesses up and down the country, the Prime


Minister is simply left on the sidelines. Is it not the truth that


we have a Prime Minister caught between his promises in opposition


and the reality of government? That is why Britain is losing out in


Europe. I'm afraid even the best scripted joke on handbags is not


going to save his leadership. He talks about being isolated. Let me


just explain to him where we would be if we adopted Labour's policy.


If we adopted you're spending and your deficit policies, and if we


were in the euro, what we would find is, I would not be going to


Brussels to fight for Britain, I would be going to Brussels to get a


bail-out. Under the proposals being put forward, Labour would put


Britain in such a bad position that the tax changes would not be


written by the Shadow Chancellor, they would be written by the German


Chancellor! There is a wide spectrum of views on Europe


throughout this House, and one can sense it from the responses even to


that remark. Will the Prime Minister take the straightforward


message with him to the European council that the one thing most


likely to unite the House of Commons would be the perception of


a calculated assault from Brussels, not even in their interests, on the


well-being of the UK financial services industry, and on the 1.3


million people, in all of our constituencies, who worked in it?


The Honourable Gentleman is entirely right. Of course we want


to see a greater rebalancing of our economy, and we want to see more


jobs in manufacturing, in aerospace and in technology. But the economy


that we inherited is very dependent on financial services, and I do


think we should at least celebrate the fact that it is a world-class


industry, a world-class industry not just for Britain but for Europe.


It is absolutely vital that we safeguard it. We do seek it under


continued regulatory attack from Brussels, and I think there is an


opportunity, particularly if there was a treaty at 27, to get some


safeguards, not just for that industry, but to give us greater


power and control in terms of regulation gear in this House of


Commons. I think that is in the interests of the entire country,


and it is something I will be fighting for on Friday. Does the


Prime Minister agreed that the recent escalation of industrial


action in the public sector, which incidentally, in my part of the


world, was not a damp squib, is a result of genuine anger about the


sheer unfairness of government action to deal with pension


contributions, unfair action which is making people on low and middle


incomes pay for the horrendous mistakes at the top? Sewers and


afraid I think the Honourable Lady is just plain wrong. The lowest-


paid workers are not being asked to contribute more to their pensions.


In terms of Furnace, let me just make his point. Under what we're


offering, a primary school teacher earning �32,000 a year could


receive a pension worth �20,000 a year. A private sector worker,


remember, the people who are putting their money into these


pensions, a private sector worker would have to pay 38% of their


salary, almost half of their salary, to get an equivalent pension. Of


course there is an issue of fairness. We must play fair by


public sector workers. But we also must be fair to the private sector,


who are putting their money into these pensions. Mr Speaker, does my


Right Honourable Friend agree with me that it is time for this country


to even Europe, in the hope of a new, post-bureaucratic age? I do


think there are opportunities for Britain in Europe. I think we


should start from the premise that it is in Britain's interest to be


in the single market. We are trading nation, we need those


markets open, we need to be able to determine the rules of those


markets. But as Europe changes, yes, of course there are opportunities.


But the first priority, at the end of this week, must be to make sure


that the eurozone crisis, which is having such a bad effect on our


economy, is resolved. But at the same time we should be very clear


about the British national interest - safeguarding the single market,


safeguarding the financial services, looking out for the interests of UK


plc. Can the Prime Minister tell us if he will be having his usual


Christmas bash with Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson? If so, will


they be talking about just how out of touch they all are with British


public opinion? I seem to remember the annual sleepover was with the


former Labour Prime Minister. So, no, I will be having a quiet family


Christmas. Can I offer him my full support as he promises to stand up


for the British national interest at the EU summit on Friday? But is


it not the case that bail out after bail out of the eurozone will not


save Europe, but making Europe more competitive, reducing its high unit


costs, and cutting regulation and red tape on business will do so?


is entirely right. I can quite understand why leading members of


the eurozone, like Germany, for instance, want to see tougher


fiscal rules about budget deficits for euros a members. But it is


right to point out that the heart of the crisis is actually caused by


current account deficits in some countries, and large current


account surpluses in others. Unless we solve the competitiveness


problem at the heart of the euro crisis, this crisis will keep


recurring. Our argument has been thrown out, yes, you need tough


rules on deficits, yes, you need the institutions of the euro acting


in concert and acting strongly, but you have got to resolve the


competitiveness problem at the heart of the single currency in


order to deal with this crisis. I will continue to make those points


on Thursday and Friday. Mr Speaker, can the Prime Minister confirmed


that next year, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, as a


result of his economic policy, the poorest third of families will lose


three times as much as the richest third? No, his figures are wrong.


If you take all the things that the Government has done, which is the


right way to measure this, what you find is that the top 10% see losses


nearly 10 times greater than the bottom 10%. And I believe that is


fair. I believe the point which has not been properly understood, but


is important, is, if you take the richest 10% in our country, they


not only see the biggest reduction in their income in cash terms, they


also see the biggest reduction of their income proportionately. So,


we are being fair. It is incredibly difficult to deal with the debts


and a deficit which the Honourable Gentleman and his party left behind,


but we are determined to do it in a way which is fair. He's simply


wrong again, the figures are there.. The figures are there. And the


poorest third are losing far more than the richest third. Of course,


he used to say, I am not going to balance the budget on the backs of


the poor. He's not balancing the budget, he's right, he's not


balancing the budget, Mr Speaker. �158 billion more borrowing! But he


is hitting the poor. But cash and one group to give him credit, that


he is easing the pain for, and I don't think this has got the


publicity it deserves - he's delaying for a year the tax on


private jets, Mr Speaker. This is at the same time as hitting the


poorest families in this country. Can he confirm that a working


mother earning �300 a week is seeing VAT going up, her tax


credits cut, child benefit frozen and her maternity grant cut? He had


13 years to tax private jets! And now, former Labour leaders are


jetting around in them! We will tax them in two years. He quotes the


Institute for Fiscal Studies - that me remind him what they said about


Labour's plans specifically. Labour's policies would lead to,


and I quote, even higher debt levels over this Parliament... I


know, Mr Speaker, they do not like to hear it when their own policies


are taken apart. Calm down. They do THE SPEAKER: I want to get down the


order paper. If the Prime Minister wants to give a brief answer, let


it be brief. Let's hear it. Let me just explain what the IFS


said. His plans imply even debt levels over this Parliament than we


will see. If you want the stimulus we are giving the economy by low


low interest rates, you have to stick to the plans we've set out.


There is no a party in Europe, apart from the moll doveian


communists that back his plans. He is talking about a stimulus, he


doesn't understand he is cutting too far and too fast. And that's


why we have got problems in our economy. He doesn't want to tell us


what the IFS said about his plans. He is the Prime Minister, the new


tax on benefit measures, the new tax on benefit measures are a take


away from lower income families with children. The figures speak


for themselves. His changes are hitting women twice as hard as men.


Isn't truth that he is the first Prime Minister in modern times to


say "it is the women and children first.". His soundbites get weaker


and weaker as his leadership gets weaker and weaker, that's the truth


of it. If you look at what we have done, lifting 1.1 million people


out of tax, that is mostly women that benefit. If you look at the


increase in the pension, �5.35 starting next next April, that will


benefit mostly women. If you take the issue of public sector pensions,


well we're helping the lowest paid in the public sector, that will


help women. Yes, we are giving the economy a stimulus by keeping our


interest rates low. We have interest rates at 2% while they are


at 5% in Italy and 5% in Spain and 30% in Greece. If we followed his


his advice, we would have interest rates rocket and more people out of


work. That's what Labour offer and that's why they will never be


trusted with our economy again. Can I tell the Prime Minister that


small and medium enterprises in my constituency are still having grave


difficulty accessing reasonable finance?


A major contributors of that is lack of competition. Will the


Government consider breaking up the nationalised banks in order to be


able to create more competition on the high street?


I think we have opportunities to increase the competition on the


high street and obviously as we look to return the State banks back


into the private sector, we will have further opportunities. We have


managed to take one important step forward which is to get Northern


Rock back out there lending to businesses and to households


properly established in the north- east of England.


THE SPEAKER: Closed question, Jeremy Corbin.


Not here. Mr Speaker, our history at repatriating powers back from


the EU is not a happy one. May I therefore suggest a fundamental


renegotiation of our relationship with the EU based on free trade,


growth and competitiveness which other countries enjoy and not


political union and dead weight regulation? This EU Summit is a


defining moment. A once-in-a- lifetime opportunity. Will the


Prime Minister seize the moment? I am a little bit more optimistic


than the honourable gentleman. The bail out power that the last


Government gave away, we are returning to the United Kingdom via


the treaty is we have returned a power Arrecently we have won


exception from EU legislation to make sure that from January 2012


microenterprises will not face any EU regulation at all. Are we going


to go in there and fight for British interests on Thursday and


Friday? Yes, we will, but let's be clear. There is the option of a


treaty at 27, where we have the ability to say yes or no and as a


result get a price for that. But there is always the possibility


that the eurozone members at 17 will go ahead and form a treaty of


their own. Again, we have some leverage in that situation because


they need the use of EU institutions, but we should


recognise what our leaverages are and make the most of it.


Last year the Prime Minister's manifesto promised to repatriate


legal rights, criminal justice and employment and social legislation.


His article in the Times this morning is silent on all these


issues and the Justice Secretary has said this agenda is not


realistic anyway. Does the Prime Minister regret leading his party


up the garden path and forcing himself into a choice between


ditching his manifesto or potentially vote owing a treaty --


vetoing a treaty? What I regret is the party opposite gave away so


many powers. It will take a while to get some of them back, but we're


making progress. When he was in Government, when he was in


Government, there were repeated increase in the EU budget. This


year we have achieved an EU EU budget freeze. When he was in


Government, he gave away the bail out power and with had to pour


billions of pounds into other countries. We got that power back


and I believe with strong negotiation, standing up for


Britain, we can clear up the mess that Labour left us.


Over the last decade-and-a-half there has been an explosion of


personal debt levels in our country, yet we let our young people leave


school without the power to make informed decisions. Will the Prime


Minister read the report and meet with a small Group of MPs to ensure


that young people are more financially literate? My honourable


friend knows a great deal about this having been a supply teacher


for many years in the constituency that he represents. And a permanent


teacher as well. Excuse me. I'm happy to meet financial education


is important for our young people and I look forward to seeing his


all party report. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister said


he wanted to lead the most family- friendly Government ever. Isn't it


a disgrace that nearly �19 billion of cuts his Government announced so


far, �13 billion have fallen on women?


What I say, it was this Government that introduced 15 hours of free


nursery care for three-year-olds and four-year-olds, something that


the Labour Party never managed to do in Government and in spite of


the mess that we were left in this Autumn Statement, we put in an


extra �380 million to double the number of disadvantaged two-year-


olds whose parents will get free nursery care. That is real progress.


Real help for families. Something they never delivered.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. What would the Prime Minister say to a council


like Redcar in Cleveland who are considering rejecting Government


funding for a council tax council tax freeze next year and instead


charging my hard-pressed constituents 3.5% more? I very much


hope that that all councils will take up the offer of a council tax


freeze. In this year when people face economic hardship it is


important we help where we can. That's why we have cut the petrol


tax and allowed the council tax freeze to go ahead. My advice would


be to support parties that back a council tax freeze.


Thank you plrks speaker. -- Mr Speaker. Since the Education Act


1944 successive governments have supported subsidised travel for


students who live three miles or more from the faith school of their


choice. Some local authorities are beginning to cut back on that


support, that financial support, I don't think any member in this


House wants to see that happen. Can the Prime Minister encourage local


authorities to embrace the spirit of the 1944 Education Act on this


particular issue? I think the honourable gentleman


asks an important question. I support school choice, parents


having the ability to choose between schools and I also support


Faith schools indeed, I have chosen a faith school for my my children,


so I will look carefully at what he says and what local authorities are


doing and discuss it with the Education Secretary to see what we


can do to enhance choice and the faith based education that many of


our constituents choose. Does the Prime Minister agree with


me that in exchange for us supporting the Euro countries in


dealing with their crisis, we should be seeking changes on the


law on immigration, employment, and fishing rights in order to support


our economy? What I would say to the honourable gentleman is, as


I've said, if they choose a treaty at 27, that treaty requires our


consent and so we should therefore think of what other things most in


our national interests and I've talked about keeping the single


market market open, I have talked about the importance of financial


services, but the more that eurozone countries want to do in a


treaty of 27, the more changes they want to make, the greater ability


we have to to ask for sensible things that make sense for Britain.


I am keen that we exercise the leverage that we have to do a good


deal for Britain and that's what I'll be doing in Brussels this


Thursday and Friday. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister


promised, "I will cut the deficit, not the NHS." Why is his Government


closing the accident and emergency and maternity services at King


George Hospital, shouldn't he have said, "I will cut the NHS, not the


deficit?". The deficit is coming down and the NHS spending is going


up throughout this Parliament and I note his own health spokesman says


that it is irresponsible to increase spending on the NHS. We


don't think it is irresponsible. We think it is the right thing to do


as he knows, the Health Secretary set out the criteria for all local


changes shoulding in his constituency, there has to be


proper public and patient engagement, there has to be sound


clinical evidence, there has to be support from GP commissioners and


proper support for patient choice. The Prime Minister has taken a


strong interest in the incredible work of the Oxford Parent Infant


Project in helping families who are struggling to form a strong


attachment with their babies. Two months ago I started a charity in


Northamptonshire and with the Prime Minister's interest in


strengthening families, will he commit to looking at the incredible


work that can be done in early intervention that saves a fortune


in the criminal and care services later on? The honourable lady is


right. I know about the project that she speaks about and I'm


delighted she is expanding it into her constituency, all the evidence


shows that the more we can do to help children and their parents


between the age of naught and two, it is the key time when so much


disadvantage can set in that could have a bad impact later on in life.


Her work and the work of members across this House in prioritising


early invention is so important for our country.


The Prime Minister was asked by his constituent Philip Hall to cut VAT


on home repairs and improvement. Mr Hall runs his own construction


company. This has the support of over 50 business organisations


including the Federation of Small Businesses. Will he support that


cut in VAT which would help jobs, growth and business?


Well, look, the problem, the hon honourable gentleman has, they have


a long list of extra spending and extra tax cuts they want. As we


have heard today at Question Time again, they oppose every spending


reduction that we're making. They impose every reform to get better


value for money. So you can only conclude that spending would go up,


that borrowing would rocket, that interest rates would increase and


the economy would be left in very, very dire straights.


-- dire straits. Why is my right honourable friend


supporting a policy of fiscal unification of the eurozone States,


which if it happens, will lead to the creation of a dangerously


undemocratic single Government for those countries?


Look, the point I make to my honourable friend is this, I don't


want Britain to join the euro. Britain is better off outside the


euro. Those countries that have chose tonne join the euro, they


have got to make that system work and they don't just need stronger


fiscal rules, which I think is clear, they need to have greater


competitiveness. It is for them to decide how to go ahead and do those


things. What we should do is maintain Britain's position outside


the euro and make sure we safeguard our interests at the same time.


That's what I will be doing in Brussels.


10,000 service personnel will have heard of their real terms cut in


pay whilst serving on the front- line in Afghanistan. What does the


Prime Minister think that morale for those risking their


lives for us? What we have done is doubled the


operational allowance that people in Afghanistan receive and they are


extremely brave people and we should be doing right by them and


that's why we doubled that allowance and we have increased the


council tax disregard. We have made sure that the pupil premium is not


just available to children on free school meals, but is available to


all service children and we have put the military covenant into the


law of our land and we will go on defending, promoting and protecting


our brilliant armed service personnel and their families.


The windfarm application spans three local authorities, each of


whom assessed it against their local plans and rejected it.


Subsequently a distant unelected planning inspector inspector


overruled and moved forward his decision so it could be made the


day before the localism Bill got Royal Assent. The Prime Minister


will understand my constituents anger, can he look into what


appears to be a slap in the face He makes an important point. As he


knows, as a result of the changes we are making, it will not be


possible in future to overrule such decisions, because we have now got


rid of those regional targets. We're giving much more authority


and many more decision-making powers to those local bodies. Our


planning reforms will make sure that local people and their


councils decide what it is that people need, and how we meet that


need. Mr Speaker, is the Prime Minister worried that the scandal


of misselling in this country has just got a lot worse? Even the


previous broken guarantees to the public, the Prime Minister is now


rejecting a vote on these latest European changes. He has miss sold


the issue to the public at large. Will the Prime Minister give a


guarantee to this House that there will be the opportunity for the


British people to deliver its verdict on the changes which are


happening in Europe? What this government has given is something


which no previous government has done in this country, which is, we


passed a law which means that if ever this government or any future


government or any future House of Commons tries to pass powers from


Westminster to Brussels, it has to ask the British people in a


referendum first. There would have had to have been a referendum on


Lisburn or Amsterdam or any of the other treaties. So, the fact that


people feel so betrayed by what happened under the last government,


that cannot happen again. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the


engine of the economy in my constituency and will play an


important part in our economic recovery. Will the Prime Minister


acknowledge that a key factor in achieving growth is to take action


in Britain's interest to tackle and reduce the huge regulatory burdens


on small companies, so many of which come from Europe? I think the


Honourable Lady makes an important point. We have got to start in our


own back yard to stop this over regulation. That is why we have the


red tape challenge, with every rule being put on the Internet, so that


people can show how little we need to keep. We have got a one in, one


out rule for every minister, they cannot introduce a regulation


without getting rid of the regulation. But we have got a major


breakthrough, that businesses employing less than 10 people will


not be subject to a European regulation from 2010 onwards. It


shows that if you make the arguments, you can win them.


Prime Minister today has refused to accept that women and children will


bear the brunt of his failed economic policy. No wonder he


continues to turn off women. Will he accept the Treasury's own


figures, that 100,000 more children will be living in poverty as a


result of his policies? What I would say to the Honourable Lady is,


how on earth does it advantage women and children to pile them up


with debt after debt after debt, that they then have to pay back? We


have been standing here for 33 minutes, all we have heard his


proposals for tax reductions, for spending increases, for reforms


they would not go ahead with, for scrapping the changes to public


sector pensions... They would take those women and children that we


are concerned about, pile them high with debt and let them live under


that burden for the rest of their days. May I hark back a month, to


7th November, when I put forward some suggestions to my Right


Honourable Friend for containing the euro crisis, with which he


appeared to agree, but none of them, as he will have noticed, have been


acted upon by the European Central Bank? May I now expressed to him my


belief, therefore, that the alternative policy, of a fiscal


union, will, as my Honourable Friend the member for the New


Forest has already said, pose a great threat to the whole of the


liberty of Europe? It will inevitably make Germany still more


dominant. Can the Germans be persuaded to study the reason for


the Boston tea Party? Because... Because no taxation, without


representation, is the bastion of freedom. As ever... We have heard


the question. We now want to hear the Prime Minister's answer.


ever, the leader of the House speaks with great knowledge and


wisdom and foresight. What I would say to him is, the reason that he


and I do not want to join the single currency is that we would


not be prepared to put up with being told what our debt and our


deficit and everything else should be, that's why we do not want to


join. The point I would make is that if the countries of the


eurozone want to make their system work, then it is clear that fiscal


rules are one thing they may need, but that will not be enough without


proper competitiveness, and the full-hearted intervention and


support of the institutions of the eurozone, including the European


Central Bank. But it is a decision which those eurozone countries have


. The frontbench bench exchanges were on Europe and the economy. Mr


Miliband split his questions in half. Half on Europe and half on


the economy. He didn't get far on the economy, but he did get quite a


way on Europe putting the Prime Minister on the back foot by asking


a question which was what powers he would repatriate or attempt to get


back from the Brussels summit. The Prime Minister never really


recovered from that. On the economy, one thing that wasn't mentioned was


the figures today, industrial production for the UK out for


That's quite a big decline in production. Looks like


manufacturing is in recession. viewers picked up on your first


point, dissatisfied with David Cameron's answers on Britain's


position, as far as the EU is concerned. This one says, very


clever questions on the euro from Ed Miliband, and the Prime


Minister's answers were weak. He simply did not have any answers,


because he cannot defend his own policies. Good luck to Chris


Grayling, having to defend him, says this one. This one says,


predictable that Ed Miliband would bang his drum about Brussels. I


think this will be continued in the coming days, to divide the Liberals


and Conservatives. Cameron looked really rattled, this one says. This


one says, from Birmingham, David Cameron says there is one party,


one government, protecting Britain's interests - I thought it


was a coalition. Does Nick Clegg agree? Colin says, once again,


David Cameron is not answering the questions, he is at the mercy of


the eurozone 17, and he knows he is between a rock and hard place. This


one from Highgate says, a fairly even tussle this week, a confident


performance from David Cameron, who was not caught out as he was by


Miliband's questions on youth unemployment. And this one says,


the opposition front bench are duplicitous lot. They have the


affront to criticise this government, it says. I get the


sense that the Prime Minister is in some trouble over Europe, and


that's the reason why he thought he had to wait in the Times this


morning, sounding tough, setting up a few straw men to knock down. But


as Ed Miliband shows, it does not get him around this major problem,


that he used to talk about repatriation, and now he does not


even use the word. There is no doubt that there was a gulf between


what he thinks is the right think to do at this summit, and what many


of his own party think. He believes that trying to help the eurozone


countries save the euro is primarily in Britain's interest,


and that he might just be able to get the odd safeguard inserted in


as the price of being co-operative, and that's about it. Many of his


backbenchers, many in his party, think this is a once-in-a-lifetime


moment to say, the euro has failed, the project has failed, Britain


should pull back from it, not necessarily leave, but renegotiate


its entire position. Yes, the reason he was frankly long-winded


in his first answer today, the reason, when I did a clip with him


yesterday, frankly, I could not make head or tail of it at the end


of the first answer, was because the Prime Minister is trying to


cover that base at one minute, and another base at a different minute.


What is he trying to do? He is trying to not look weak before


European countries, trying not to look weak before his own


backbenchers, while simultaneously trying not to upset his coalition


partners. You can just say, that's life, every Prime Minister has had


this. Many Tory backbenchers say, why does he not behave like


Margaret Thatcher? To get our money back, to use the phrase, but that


would be fertility forgetting that she signed away the British veto in


order to create the single market. -- that would be utterly forgetting.


The idea that there is some model of a Prime Minister who has never


made compromises in Europe is nonsense. Here's a prediction - Mr


Cameron will go to the European summit, the French and Germans will


get some version of what they want, in which the British will have


close to zero input, there will be largely spectators, and Mr Cameron


will come back without a single repatriated power. We will find out


next week. But my view is that David Cameron is going into a


treaty, like a poker player. The last thing you do before poker is


lay your cards on the table. Anybody who was expecting him to


say in fine detail today, this is precisely what I aim to achieve,


would have been wrong. But he gave a very clear message, not just


about safeguarding the financial services industry, but about his


intent to bring back to the House of Commons powers of regulation


over what is one of our crucial industries. That was a clear


statement of intent. Mr Cameron is going in to this summit to bring


back powers over financial regulation? That is what he said in


the House of Commons. Or is it just that he does not want to transfer


more powers? The Times article did not talk about repatriation at all.


You talk about the poker player, but six weeks ago, when Parliament


debated whether we should have a referendum on Europe, David Cameron


was very clear that he wanted to repatriate certain powers. So, he


has changed position in those six weeks. The words were clear,


bringing back powers from Brussels to Westminster, all three remain


Conservative Party policy, and all three are in the national interest.


Six weeks is a long time in politics. But I will not take


lessons from the Labour Party. They promised a referendum, they did not


give it to us. And you signed up to Maastricht. But I am not trying to


give your lessons. I'm just saying, that six weeks ago, the Prime


Minister said one thing, but now, it is a different story. You're


saying that the Prime Minister want to repatriate powers about


financial services, but he did not say that today. Is this news to


you? I heard him talking about a greater role for the House of


Commons in regulating financial services. The it is something which


none of us know. Chris Grayling is saying something I did not know.


The question is, what does he mean by talking about greater regulation


of the financial industry? We have heard about the Robin Hood tax and


things like that. We know that. This is much more to do with the


rules of the European single market being used potentially by the 17


members of the euro club, in a way that is either not consciously or


deliberately designed to damage the City of London. There is an example


recently, I forget the exact financial instrument, but there was


a new regulation saying that this particular transaction could only


take place within the eurozone, and it so happened that 80% of the


existing transactions happened in London. It is that kind of rather


detailed thing, but which involves important jobs going from here to


abroad. It would seem to me that the Labour Party would agree with


the Prime Minister on that kind of thing. The Prime Minister said that


in the area of financial services, he said, I want to make sure we


have more power and control in the UK to determine these things. Does


that mean repatriation of powers? It is exactly what he said.


understand that that is is in general government policy, or at


least, Conservative Party policy, because they are worried that the


French and Germans are out to put regulations on financial services


which would, above all, affect the City. I can understand that. But I


did not take it that he's going to this summit to do that, that he's


going to say, if I do not get this, I will not let you former fiscal


union in the eurozone. Do you think that is what he's going to do?


don't know how the negotiations will pan out. But I interpreted


what he said as a statement of clear intent about control of the


financial services industry. this summit... As I said, when you


going to a poker game, you do not put all of your cards on the table


up front. But the problem, I would suggest, is that in a sense, the


British Prime Minister, wants to play a different poker game from


all of the other poker games which are being played. The rest of


Europe, including those outside the eurozone, do not see this as a


summit about changing financial regulation, or repatriating powers,


the rest of Europe sees this as probably the last chance to save


the eurozone and stop Europe going That's right. But there are some


allies for the Prime Minister in wanting to be a desession of all 27


countries and not just the 17. Britain is one of ten countries


that are not in. Most of the others are what are called irritateingly


in Europe pre-ins. Countries that are legally bound, have said they


will one day... Like Poland. Like Poland and Sweden, indeed, but who


are not yet in. Some of those countries do want to make sure that


what doesn't happen today or tomorrow and the next day that the


17 go off on their own, can take decisions that affect everybody


else which no one else has any say on. What David Cameron will think


he can win allies for is ensuring that it stays at the level of the


27 and he might be able to say, "My price for putting my signature on


that document is some generalised protection for the financial


services industry." One mechanism, but there is something call an


emergency brake mechanism, the French have used it, the British


haven't where any leader can say, "This actually goes to the heart of


my strategic national interests, I need to stop this process going


on." Now even if something is under qualified majority, in other words,


you can get outvoted. This is one of the techniques which might be


used to protect the City. FT Dutch Land quotes that the


demands of David Cameron are unachievable and the Governmentan


Government considers the idea that the City should be exempt from


financial regulation is unaccomplishable. So we shall see.


We have got to fight, David Cameron has got to fight to keep the


national interests m It is making sure that the eurozone


crisis doesn't implode. It will keep us busy this weekend.


We have to leave it there. I wish you were there instead of me,


Andrew. That's heartfelt.


I will be in Brussels for the next two days.


We can arrange it for you. I'm off to Strasbourg next week.


Last night Hillary Clinton told the UN had should never be a crime to


be gay and while it is illegal to discriminate against anyone because


of of their sexuality, it seems in sport, being gay is something to


keep quiet about. Ben Cohen is xalging that. -- challenging that.


He set up the world's first organisation to highlight bullying


with focus on the gay community. Ben will be with us shortly. Here


is why he says people need to stand It is fact that we hear and see


bullying in every day of our children's lives, especially at


school. We We know and understand the devastating effects it has on


young children today. We hear about it every day in the media, and we


have to act now and do something to stop it.


These day, it is not just about a note around the classroom anymore,


like it was when I was at school. We know that cyber bullying is


getting more and more widespread. There are thousands of days of


education being missed each year as young people are too afraid to go


to school. Health suffers and long- term emotional damage is caused. It


is cruel and unnecessary and I'm here to do something about it.


I created the Stand Up Foundation to combat bullying across-the-board,


but I want to ask everyone - children, parents and teachers to


stand up against these bullies. I understand how bull young can tear


families apart. It happened to my family when my father was killed


eleven years ago. We all need to be aware when


bullying is taking place, but more importantly, feel that the


necessary support is there to make it stop. Try and notice those


people around you who are struggling with being perceived to


be different every day. Are they suffering at the hands of bullies?


You can do something about it. Do something today - stand up and make


Well, Ben Cohen is here now. You cut short your rugby career, to


start up this foundation? In 2005 my dad got killed when he stood up


to protect someone and he got attacked and lost his life. My


family are an accepting family and for me it was about being in a


privileged position to make a difference, and being a successful


sportsman that I could bridge that gap between the gay and the


straight community and bring awareness as to what bullying does.


Do you think the fear of it actually stops gay sports people


coming into top level sport? At an early stage, most definitely. It is


the same within school. Bullying in school too, that people don't want


to go to school. It is easier not to go to school. And find ways of


not going to PE lessons or your junior club rugby or football. It


deters them not to do that and it is easier not to do that. There are


thousands of days that are missed through people playing truancy


because it is easier to get told off than getting bullied.


What more can be done to encourage people to come out and feel feeltry


and to stop the bullying? I would like to see support and I would


like to see youngsters, young people, whether in lower school,


upper middle school or university actually understand what bullying


does. There is a support mechanism, in schools, do they know the route


to go down if someone is getting buddied or if they are -- bullied


or if they are getting bullied themselves. Sometimes it leads to


them being on the mental health register, the fact they have been


bullied so bad that they can't get jobs because they have mental


health issues. Schools are supposed to take this


seriously, and are making in roads on this. You are working with the


Government on this? I am working with the Government and to


highlight bullying. There is a lot of sportsmen and women around the


world, specifically in the UK and in the US that actually sportsmen


and women are role models, whether they like it or don't like it, you


know, people follow their actions and it is important, as I know,


being a rugby player and having been successful, people look up to


me and that's why I started the Stand Up Foundation, people can


follow my actions and stand up for the people who are getting picked


on at school and I have got twin girls and I want to bring my kids


into a safer place and a kinder world especially within education.


Chris Grayling, Hillary Clinton said last night it shouldn't be a


crime to be gay. Aren't It sad that we are still talking about this in


2011? Bullying is about more than that. In sport, it is unacceptable.


There is a culture in the sporting world that picks and discriminates


the gay. If you look at bullying in the workplace more generally, I


have had a number of cases over the years of people saying, "I have


been bullied in the workplace." That's a challenge. I praise Ben


for what he is doing. The more we can raise awareness of bullying,


the better. I have got shock news for you.


Politicians may come across as remote, humourless, yes they do.


They are fully formed human beings who curl up on the sofa on a


Saturday night and watch The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing.


How do I know this? Because they don't just watch these


programmes, they use Twitter to let the rest of us know they are they


are watching, like we care. Why would they do that? Here is Adam.


Welcome to Strictly Come Tweeting. MPs cannot get enough of tweeting


about their favourite Saturday night reality TV shows. Take these


messages from Harriet Harman. My favourite on Strictly Come


Dancing, is Harry. Minutes later she switched to the


other side to choose her favourites in another programme.


But some MPs are less enthusiastic about their tweeting. To To make


sure they have the right balance of zaniness and seriousness like


Labour's Stella Creasy. 268 pieces of case work, The X


Factor and some food. There are those who question why


these MPs want to quote themselves in the stardust like Tim Montgomery.


Some wondering if Ed Balls is genuine in his X Factor tweets.


So MPs, keep tweeting! LAUGHTER


You have got your paddles there from Strictly. We're going to ask


you to vote. How convinced are you are you these tweeters are genuine


fans. Let's play Strictly Come Treating.


-- Tweeting. Sorry to see MishaB go out.


How convinced were you? I know that he genuinely does like


I know that he genuinely does like He loves it. He loves it.


David Miliband has been talking about his favourite band on The X


Factor. I have no idea whether these people


watch it. Here is the third tweet from Louise


She used to be in the record business!


True. . She was political enough not to


say who that band were. Doesn't it always end in tears when


politicians try to show they are in politicians try to show they are in


touch with popular culture? I do tweet.


Your Your tweets are the most boring!


I'm going to a meeting of Local Government finance. Why do you


think we want to know that you are going to a meeting on Local


Government finance? That's what I was doing!


We have run out of time. It is time to give you the answer to Guess The


Year. Rupert Murdoch buying the News of the World, do you remember


the year? It was 1979. That's it for today. Thanks to our guests.


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