14/12/2011 Daily Politics


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Morning, folks, this is the Daily Politics. Is the deal to save the


Eurozone coming apart at the seams already? Cracks are emerging all


over the 26 who signed up to last week's EU summit deal. David


Cameron decided not to sign that treaty. Now several other European


governments are starting to pick holes in it, so maybe it is not 26-


1 after all. Meanwhile, the euro has hit another low against the


dollar. He was notable by his absence on


Monday, so will Nick Clegg cuddle up to Dave at PMQs today, and what


is the state of the coalition? Apparently, there is "snow"


Christmas spirit in Westminster this year. We will be asking why.


And is the 50 pence tax rate sending the economy down the


Swanee? We will be talking to one plumber who thinks it is. With this


50 pence tax rate, we are close to the tipping point. That is why I


believe the Chancellor should ignore his coalition partners and


listen to us entrepreneurs and flush it down the drain.


Public service broadcasting at its best. With us for the duration, we


have a couple of Christmas fairies. At least, it says so here. Housing


Minister Grant Shapps and the shadow energy secretary Caroline


Flint. Now, without more ado, let's talk about the Christmas spirit in


your own land, or should I say lack of, because appetite for a new


European treaty to create a Eurozone fiscal union appears to be


waning before the ink is dry on last year's agreement. Add to that


fears over the European markets, the future of France's credit


rating, some countries' ability to service their debts not looking


good, the bond markets not looking good and the state of the actual


banking system not booking could. They deposited EUR350 billion on


Monday with the European Central Bank because they don't trust


lending to each other. All looking rosy. It is all aboard


the Trans Euro Express. All except the British, citing health and


safety concerns for the City. But this could trip is already turning


into a bumpy ride. Some passengers are refusing to pay their fare.


Romania has said that they and other countries like Ireland,


Greece, Latvia, Hungary and Portugal should write for free and


not contribute to a new 200 billion euro bail-out fund. Others are


getting restless about being relegated to the back seats while


the Germans and French do all the driving. The Austrians look set to


hold a referendum. The Irish might have won as well, and there have


been calls for a vote in the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere.


Now some of the passengers are threatening to stop the bus and get


off altogether, with the Czech prime minister say he thought they


should not take part. The Finnish premier told his parliament he


could not agree to a transfer of national budget sovereignty, and


most seriously, the French opposition Socialists have said the


treaty will not be ratified by France if they win the election


next year. I am joined now by our European Correspondent in Brussels.


It sounds like the whole thing is unravelling? It has never been a


straightforward process. The Thursday night into Friday morning


was a process of pushing through an agreement to please the markets,


but there was no question that there were differences of opinion


behind the scenes. The treaty does not exist at the moment. It is a


blank sheet of paper. They hope to have a first legal draft of it


before the Christmas holiday so that people can take it home and


then choke on their turkey or whatever meat they decide to have


been he'd respective countries. But until they have seen the piece of


paper and the specifics in it, people are standing on the


sidelines. I still think it could be 26-1, because there is enormous


pressure on people to take part. But it will be difficult,


particularly if we get into the realm of referenda in places like


the Netherlands and Ireland. It will be very sticky. A lot of fire


is being directed at David Cameron in the European Parliament. Can you


give us a flavour of that? It was good knockabout stuff for panto


season, with people saying, if you are not going to be here, don't


bother turning up at all. One person said maybe we should


renegotiate the British rebate. There was a lot of anger. Part of


that is built out of a sense of frustration that the impact on the


markets of the agreement in principle to have a treaty was


definitely diluted by the fact that Britain decided not to take part.


There was a feeling that this summit was supposed to be about the


Eurozone, not about you and your determination to safeguard elements


for the City of London. They felt that he hijacked the process in a


selfish way. That is why a lot of ire was directed towards Mr Cameron


and Britain in general. There have been plenty of calls for the


Liberal Democrat MEP who chairs the economic affairs committee in the


European Parliament, many are saying she should now step down


because you should not have a bit running a committee which is to do


with the economy. -- a Brit.


So as this debate takes place, has Ed Miliband decide whether he would


have Sandip? We would not have been in that position, or we would have


had a different debate. In some ways, the discussions now going on


and the differences of opinion among the 26 reinforce our view


that we have lost a chance to be at that table, joining others about


our concerns on issues that are important to us as a country and


losing the support of our traditional allies. But on Labour's


position on the economy, which is for a bigger fiscal Keynesian


stimulus, you are isolated. Nobody agrees with you. We are isolated


because we never got down to talking about things, for example


the European Central Bank being a lender of last resort. It was not


even discussed. Our Prime Minister put down a protocol he had not


discussed with others before the summit and then walked away. Is it


seriously Labour's position that the Labour Party as a Labour


government would be able to talk Mrs Merkel into agreeing with the


ECB becoming a lender of last resort? If we were in government,


opposition would be the same as when we were last in government, to


look at the ways we can have allies. But do you really think you could


convince the Germans? I said we would have a different approach in


tax ticks to this summit, which would have involved months of


discussion. If you are going to put a protocol down, we would not have


drafted it that week. We would have discussed it before and not just


with France and Germany, but our allies like Poland and the new


entrants. That has been vital for putting the French and German power


base into perspective. In walking away, David Cameron denied us the


chance to influence further and be at the heart of discussions. Your


leader can't even get a peace treaty with his brother. What makes


you think he could do better in Brussels? It is better to be at the


table. Chris Huhne, this week, during one of our encounters on


energy in Durban said, if you are not on the table, you are on the


menu. Michael Heseltine had concerns about us walking away.


Margaret Thatcher never walked away, for all her views about the


European Union. And if you are on the Titanic, you don't drown. The


coalition is a joke now, isn't it? It is the hokey croaky coalition.


You put one foot in, one foot out. It is a Christmas panto. Everyone


knows that the coalition has different views on these issues.


There is no point hiding it. We are two different parties with views


that are different on these issues. You don't have the majority in the


house for your position. Labour are against your position. The Lib Dems


are against your position. You have taken a position at this summit for


which you do not have a democratic mandate from the House of Commons.


We do have a mandate from the House of Commons. There was a vote last


night. This is becoming a habit, the Lib Dems not turning up. I will


not say there is no division of opinion between us and the Lib Dems.


But your point about whether the House of Commons supports the Prime


Minister has been proving last -- proven last night, because there


was a vote on the issue where the House of Commons supported the


Government. Could you say, in a sentence, or even two sentences,


what was it that David Cameron vetoed? The idea that Europe would


put upon itself some type of additional tax on financial


services. This should not just be an opt-out for Britain, it should


be an opt-out for Europe. vetoed that the 26? The European


Act was part of the agreement. There is a straight forward


principle here that if you have an industry like financial services,


which has 10% of our GDP, you should not do things, even Europe-


wide, which impacts badly on financial services here or anywhere


else. The Prime Minister was not able to get a reassurance that the


new treaty would not impact on financial services. Because we have


a bigger financial services industry than anywhere else, it was


going to have a negative impact on us disproportionately. You skirted


around the question of whether Ed Miliband, if he was Prime Minister,


would have signed. Of course he would. You were the guys who signed


the working-time directive. You signed us after the general


election into the European We have to move on. You had eight


sentences there. I still don't know why it was vetoed. As we have just


been hearing from Grant Shapps, Harmony has not exactly broken out


in the coalition, so where does this leave it?


Last night, Liberal Democrat MPs refused to vote on a Commons motion


praising the prime minister's handling of the European summit.


The party instead abstained. I am joined now from Westminster by the


Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George and the Conservative MP Peter Bone,


who has never been a fan of the coalition. But they are standing


quite close together. Peter Bone, do you like your friend Andrew


George? I liked him enormously. We agree on nothing except that the


Labour left is in a mess. So the end of the coalition before 2015?


You know I have always shared that view. Last night, we had the DUP


with us and the Liberal Democrats against us. Maybe we need to change


coalition partners. Andrew George, it will all be over soon, according


to Peter Bone. Before you answer that, can you confirm that Nick


Clegg will be in the house for PMQs today? Yes, he will. And of course,


we are entitled to express a view on the outcome, as we did last


night, of last week's summit. Whether it is Mr or Mrs Bone that


we are in coalition with, we are very happy to be there. Are you?


Absolutely. We signed up for a five-year deal. We are committed to


doing that. We will see this through. Of course we are two


political parties at opposite ends of the political spectrum, mortal


enemies in many ways. But we came together in the national interest


and we are delivering on the things of which we agree and seeking


compromise in the areas where we don't. What crumbs of comfort are


there for Lib-Dem voters when you have lost on electoral reform,


tuition fees and now Europe, or critical issues to the Liberal


Democrats? You said yourself you are perhaps mortal enemies with the


Conservatives. It is important that we worked together in the national


interest to restore the country's finances. Whether it be the pupil


premium, which is helping disadvantaged children, whether it


is taking the lowest paid million out of tax, we have seen the


biggest increase in the state pension for decades. We are


delivering Liberal Democrat policy. In his heart, whether it is missed


from us as bone, I am sure they agree with that. Peter Bone, in


your heart, is that how you feel? Andrew sums it up in saying we have


come together to solve the economic crisis. That is the only reason for


us to be in a coalition. As soon as that is solved, we should go our


separate ways. I have a problem with collective responsibility.


When government ministers like the deputy prime minister signed up to


a policy that the Prime Minister then implements in Europe, and then


the deputy prime minister says it is a good idea, and then when his


party kicks up a fuss, changes his position, he is not abiding by


collective responsibility. Thank you.


I go away for two days, and it all falls apart. Am I not allowed to


leave the country? Clearly not. I am going away again next week.


Anyway, it has been quite a week for Liberal Democrat fury. On


Monday during the parliamentary post-mortem, the usually coalition


friendly Joe's Winson, MP, voiced a few thoughts on Mr Cameron's


Against the odds, an excellent deal on climate change was agreed in


Durban this weekend, with the UK playing a leading role alongside


our EU counterparts. Will the Prime Minister reflect whether that kind


of constructive and positive diplomacy might be a better


approach to securing British interest, and Russian for the exit?


That was Jo Swinson in the Commons. She is there now. When Nick Clegg


said to his MPs and peers, I don't want to be the last leader of the


Liberal Democrats by provoking a general election today, what did he


mean? I think we are in a situation where we want to work in the


national interest. It is not in the national interest in any way for us


to have a general election at the moment. We have a job to do to sort


out the nation's economy and that is what the Liberal Democrats in


the coalition are committed to doing. Why did he say he would be


the last leader of the Liberal Democrats if he provoked an


election? I am not sure where that quote is from. It is in today's


Guardian and he told it to his MPs and peers. I would not believe


everything you read in the papers, Andrew. Clearly, there are


differences between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on


the issue of Europe, and that is hardly astonishing. What we are


united about is the importance of getting the economy back on track.


We feel very strongly that playing a positive role in Europe is part


of that. 3.5 million British jobs depend on the EU, half of British


trade is with the EU. The cabinet has decided, and this has been


reported also, that there is a re- engagement strategy, to make sure


we get what we need to liberalise the markets further within the EU,


on digital services, green technologies and so on, to help


British Benefit and create jobs. will ignore the attack on the


Guardian, which we think said to vote for your party in the last


election. Is re-engagement David Cameron's latest joke? Nobody in


Strasbourg want to re-engage with the Brits. We don't want to mince


our words. It is not going to be straightforward, it is a challenge,


we have heard about the different negotiations going on between the


countries. That is something which is important. What should Mr


Cameron have done it last week, in the middle of the night? I made


clear in the Commons on Monday that I think a constructive and positive


approach... If we look at what we manage to do on the climate change


negotiations... You made that point, what should he have done? Should he


have signed up with the other 26? We didn't start from a great


position, as has been reported. In terms of the planning that had gone


in, the position paper being very late in the day. Diplomats often


require time to build alliances. Should he have signed up or


shouldn't he? In it your view, should he have signed up with the


other 26, or shouldn't he? It is important to remember that on


Friday, we were not being asked to give away any powers for the UK.


There would have been the opportunity at a later date. That


said, clearly the Prime Minister is in a very difficult situation. Not


only were France and Germany intransigent, but there is a large


part of David Cameron's party that don't recognise the economic


benefits. I did not ask about his party, I asked about what you would


do. Let's ask Grant Shapps. Did David Cameron have Nick Clegg's


consent to use this veto? negotiating position was set out in


advance. I have got that bit. Did he have the position -- the


permission, if it all goes belly-up, to use the veto? The person doing


the negotiating is the prime minister, ultimately. He is the one


who is there and the only one who can take the decision, on the


ground. Did he or didn't he? Yes. He had Nick Clegg's permission?


negotiating position... understand that. I think we have to


assume there was never a position where an agreement was made in


advance, saying you can do anything, but don't do this. Have we still


got Jo Swinson there? She has had to go. I am quite sad about that. I


was going to ask her if that is what Nick Clegg was saying. It is


an interesting point, that the Labour point is -- the Labour Party


is in at the moment. We are clearly heading for recession, if we are


not already in one. Mr Cameron, isolated in Europe, your favourite


phrase, yet he is up in the polls, he has pleased his own party. Your


party is even slipping in the polls, and so is your leader? Clearly, in


terms of the polls of the public and the stand-off with the European


Union, that goes down well a number of quarters. I have always said, it


-- if it was our task to make people love the European Union, it


would be a hiding to nothing. What ever the hit his short term, what


are the consequences when the smoke clears? Our concern is we are not


in the discussions. The 26 are not unified, and that is not a bad


thing, for a start. We have had a number of summits where, getting to


grips with what is happening in Greece, in terms of the EU, in


terms of jobs and growth -- in terms of the euro. We have had yet


another summit in which we have not been able to be that at the heart


of pressing those issues, and instead we are talking about...


Hang on. We are talking about a week in which he got a hard time at


PMQs, a slapping from his backbenchers. Whatever was the


agreed position with the Nick Clegg, he went there and could not pick up


the phone in 10 hours of negotiations to Nick Clegg. Why is


a party doing so badly? The polls suggest that when it comes to this


issue, Mr Cameron speaks for Britain and you don't. People are


concerned about jobs and opportunities. We know that Europe


is important, we agreed on that. The issue is that if the euro


countries are not doing well, we will not do well either. I was not


asking about the economy but your party's position in the polls, but


we have to move on. Unemployment figures showed yet


another rise in the jobless total, now up to 2.6 4 million, the


highest level since 1994. Youth unemployment was also on the Rise


Again, topping the 1 million mark to the highest level since records


began in 1992. The Prince's Trust said there was a real risk of young


lives being wasted in the dole queue. Can you reassure them


otherwise? Anyone who loses their job, particularly young people, it


is a very difficult position for them. We have launched a �1 billion


fund to fund 160,000 placements, where companies will be able to


take people on without the national picture has been paid, effectively.


We are taking direct action -- without the National Insurance


It is difficult to see any good news. However you paint it. With


the best will in the world, they There isn't any evidence yet that


any of these are working. You have not got figures to say, we have


managed to create this many jobs. It is the early days of the Youth


Contract that was announced last month. I think there is evidence


coming through that some of the approach is starting to work. There


have been nearly 600,000 jobs created in the private sector since


the last election. That's more than the jobs that have been lost in the


public sector. As I mentioned a moment ago, there are 40,000 people


more in employment now than there were on the previous set of figures.


Can I interrupt? Sorry to interrupt. On those figures, in the last


quarter, 67,000 job losses in the public sector and only 5,000 jobs


created in the private sector. That's a huge gap. Is that proof in


your mind that the government's policy would move in, hasn't


happened. The overall figure is 580,000 created. If you take a


small period, I accept what you are saying. I think it shows times are


incredibly tough. If you look at the chilling effect of what has


been going on in the eurozone, that is bound to have an impact. That is


why we need to have an open and free market across Europe. That is


why we think the single market is so important, why we think we need


to be able to export and protect industries, to make sure they are


able to compete on a level playing field. Which is why things like the


veto are so important. One could argue the other way. We hear that


for every 13 jobs lost in the public sector, only one is being


created in the private sector. We are seeing unemployment going up.


What would you do? We would look at reducing VAT for a temporary period.


We would give a National Insurance break. You would borrow more, spend


more and increased debt, it is not a plan for recovery. You haven't


got a plan for recovery because more and more people find


themselves out of work. On the Youth Contract, we did have the


Future Jobs Fund for young people. It may be that the government might


have wanted to change that and improve it, but they chopped it.


Now they are coming back with another programme called his


contract, 18 months down the line. It is not good enough. This is


really important. Last year, our exports to Europe actually went up.


That was a good sign. Domestic be, it is dire in terms of our economy,


because people are not spending... We want exports to rise. That is


the idea. We have to end there. I was quite enjoying that.


Tis the season to be jolly, at a time of season -- good will to all


mankind, except the coalition. It is our final guest of the


competition of 2011. In the spirit of Christmas, we are not just


giving away one mug this we, we are giving away 12. The 12 mugs of


Christmas. They have been on our show all year. Park, I hear you say,


there are only 11 marks there. You could be right. That is because one


lucky winner will be getting this, a brand new Daily Politics mug.


That's right, in 2012, it is out with the old and in with the new.


We might be living in hard times but there are some things that you


cannot scrimp on. And here it is. A thing of beauty. British, or


Taiwanese craftsmanship at its finest.


Yes, they looked very smart. The first name we draw out of the hat


will get the new mug, and we will draw the other names for the rest


of those mugs. We will put the details on the Facebook page and


remind you how to enter in a few minutes. First, can you remember


# We are never going to be respectable.


# But you never change us. # We are never going to be


# Give a little bit of heart and soul. I therefore proclaim that


they are husband and wife. Everything seemed to go so smoothly.


It didn't matter if it was a woman or a man doing it.


To begin with a chance of winning one of those Daily Politics mug,


send your answer to SEN e-mail address -- to be in with a chance.


Send your answer to our special e- mail address.


Coming up to midday, let's take a look at Big Ben for the last time


in 2011. Today's prime minister's question should be worth the price


of admittance, if there was a price, it is on its way. Nick Robinson has


a price, a very high price. He has got the new mark, he is a very


happy man, it is the best Christmas present he will ever get. You want


it back afterwards! He says one thing on camera and another off!


is called television! He may have a go about unemployment, because that


is an easy wicket, given the bad figures. Hard for him to avoid


Europe, where it is not such an easy wicket. He will connect the


two, I would have thought. The instinct will be to say, jobs are


being lost because you are taking the wrong view on Europe and you


are isolated. I always say this about Prime Minister's Questions,


it is a team sport, it is about morale, and never more so than


before MPs go off on their holidays. Ed Miliband has a big problem. The


government has just admitted its economic policies are of course, --


of course. We have a government that is split on the issue of


Europe and his allegedly isolated, and yet it has gone up in the polls.


And they go into Christmas ahead on one or two polls. If you are Leader


of the Opposition, that is extraordinarily bad news. We used


to have a name for this period of the parliament, mid-term blues. The


Blues are rather chuffed and the reds are not. Mr Clegg is going to


be sitting beside him, maybe we should get an extra camera on Mr


Clegg's head and put it in the corner of the screen. These are not


BBC cameras, we don't control them. In recent years, the directors of


parliamentary television have got a bit bold or at doing cutaway shots.


There is stuff that I do on a television news package, I have no


control over those pictures. Let's see if they do it. When Mr Clegg


told his party he couldn't call an election because he would be the


last Lib Dem leader, it emphasised that he was between a rock and a


hard place. Absolutely, emphasised his weakness. There is always a


danger in doing well if you dismiss your partners. The danger for David


Cameron and George Osborne is that The house will go any in paying


tribute to sapper Elijah bond. He died at the Queen Elizabeth


Hospital in Birmingham last Thursday as a result of wounds he


sustained in Afghanistan. He was a dedicated and professional soldier.


At this tragic time, we send our condolences to his loved ones, his


friends and colleagues. This morning, I had meetings with


ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this


house, I shall have further meetings today. Mr Speaker, may I


associate myself and all members of the house with the Prime Minister's


words about sapper Elijah Bond. People will be disappointed that


this week's report into the financial crisis at the Royal Bank


of Scotland contained no provision for the criminal prosecution of the


executives, directors, regulators and ministers for their failures.


Can the Prime Minister assure me that unlike the last government,


his ministers will reinforce financial regulations and not


undermine them like the shadow Chancellor did when in office?


honourable friend is right. He will know that we are looking at


specific extra measures and sanctions in terms of what people


not just a damning report about the board of RBS, it was also a damning


of the politicians responsible for regulating RBS. It did not just


name politicians no longer serving, it also named the Shadow Chancellor.


Ed Miliband! Mr Speaker, can I join the Prime Minister in pay tribute


to Sapper Elijah Bond. He bravely gave his life trying to improve the


lives of others. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. As we


approach Christmas, our thoughts are also with all of our troops


serving bravely and Afghanistan and elsewhere. Many will spend


Christmas away from their families and friends to ensure a peaceful


Christmas for us. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Mr Speaker,


in this, the last Prime Minister's Questions of the year, let me


remind the Prime Minister of what he had to say in his new year


message of 2011. He said at "uppermost in my mind as we enter


the new year is jobs. In light of today's unemployment figures, can


he explain what has gone wrong? Firstly, let me join the honourable


gentleman in his fitting tribute to our forces at Christmas time,


serving in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. One of the


things that most strikes you in this job is that they are the best


of the best - brave, dedicated, and the families give up a huge amount


at the same time. About the unemployment figures, any increase


in unemployment is bad news and a tragedy for those involved. That is


why we will do all we can to help people back into work. That is why


we have the work programme to help 2.5 million people, and the massive


increase in apprenticeships that will help 400,000 people and will


particularly help young people through the work-experience places.


We will do all we can to help people back into work. But the


figures show that his economic strategy is failing. The Chancellor


said at the time of the spending review last year"private sector job


creation will far outweigh the reduction in public sector


employment". Will he confirm that over the last three months, for


every job being created in the private sector, 13 are being lost


in the public sector? Let me give him the figures since the election.


Since then, in the private sector, there have been 581,000 extra jobs.


In the public sector, he is right, we have lost 336,000 jobs. So we


need private sector employment to grow faster. But whoever was in


government right now would have to be making reductions in public


spending. The only way you can keep people in work in the public sector


while doing that is to cut welfare, something we are doing and he


opposes, and to freeze public sector pay, something we are doing


and he opposes, and to reform public sector pensions, something


we are doing and he opposes. It is all very well complaining about the


rise in unemployment. If you don't take those steps, you would lose


more jobs in the public sector. whole House will have heard that he


cannot deny that the central economic claim that he made that


the private sector would fill the gap left by the public sector has


not been met. He has broken his promise. Today's figures also


confirm that youth unemployment not only remains over a million, it is


still rising. And long-term youth unemployment has gone up by 93%


since he made his new year pledge on jobs. Isn't the reality that he


is betraying a generation of young people? We will not take lectures


from a party that put up youth unemployment by 40%. Even his


brother admitted the other day that youth unemployment was not a


problem invented by this government. It has been going up since 2004.


Here is what we are doing to help young people get a job. Through the


youth contract, we are providing 160,000 new jobs with private


sector subsidies. With 250,000 work-experience places, half of


those people are getting jobs and off benefit within two months. But


is 20 times more effective than the future jobs fund. But the key to


this is getting our economy moving. We need a private sector jobs. It


is this government that has got interest rates down to 2%. That is


why we have the prospect of growth, whereas his plans are for more


spending, more borrowing, more debt, more of the mess we started with.


The truth is that his promises to young people for next year are as


worthless as the promises he made in 2011. Let's turn from his broken


promise on jobs to his broken promise on the coalition. It is


good to see the deputy prime minister back. This is what he said.


Calm down. This is what he said in his new year message for 2011. I


will place a copy in the library of the house so everyone can


see."coalition politics is not always straightforward, but I


believe we are bringing in a whole new style of government". There is


more."a more collegiate approach". I am bound to ask, what has gone


wrong? I will answer. Look, no one in this house is going to be


surprised that Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do not always


agree about Europe. But he should not believe everything he reads in


the papers. It is not that bad. It is not like we are brothers or


He certainly walked into that one! Mr Speaker... I think our sympathy


is with the Deputy Prime Minister. His partner goes on a business trip,


his left waiting by the phone and he hears nothing until a rambling


phone call at 4am confessing to a terrible mistake. How is he going


to pick up the pieces? How will he picked up the pieces of the bad


deal he delivered for Britain? The council came to conclusions on


Friday morning, but the treaty will not be signed until March. In the


cold light of day,... Order! Some very, very foolish person shouted


out" Bob". The person who did that will stop, because people in this


place must be heard. If there is a member here who does not think so,


I invite that member to leave the chamber. In the cold light of day,


with other countries and in the weeks and months ahead try to see


if they can get a better deal for themselves, isn't the sensible


thing to do to re-enter the negotiations and try and get a


better deal for Britain? For I make no apologies for standing up for


Britain. In the last two days, we have read a lot about my opinions


and the Deputy Prime Minister's opinions. The one thing we don't


know is what the right honourable gentleman would have done. While he


was here on Monday, his aides were running around the press gallery,


briefing them that he would not have signed up to the treaty. What


is your answer? I have no answer on this matter whatsoever for the


benefit of the Prime Minister. I am glad the Minister of State has


returned from his troubles. We wish him a merry Christmas, but in his


case it should be a quiet one. Speaker, there was a better deal


for Britain that he should have got, and that is what the Deputy Prime


Minister himself says. Last week, he made a catastrophic mistake.


This week, we discover unemployment at its highest level for 17 years.


This prime minister thinks he is born to rule. The truth is, he is


not very good at it. Even the soundbite was recycled from a


previous PMQs. On Wednesday, the answer was No. Today, I think the


answer is maybe. This leader of the Labour Party next weakness and


indecision an art form. He was giving me at my end-of-year report.


Let me give him his. He told us at the start of the Year"the fightback


started in Scotland". That went well(!). He told us he had plans to


cut the deficit. We still have not seen them. He said he would stand


up to vested interests, and yet backed the biggest shrike for years.


We all know he has achieved one thing. He has completely united his


party. Each one of them has asked Santa for the same thing - a new


leader for Christmas. Order! Order! I am sure government backbenchers


will want to hear their own college. Mr Martin Vickers. Yesterday's


announcement about local television was good news for my constituency,


where Channel 7, the sole survivor from the original batch, is based.


Does the Prime Minister agree that local broadcasting strengthens


local communities and advances the Big Society? If he is in north


Lincolnshire in the near future, would he find time to pay them a


visit? I would be delighted to do that. I have no immediate plans to


visit North Lincolnshire, but I support local television and North


Lincolnshire had some good news with the plant going into Hull.


David Blunkett. In the early new year, the Government intended to


announce a wholesale revision of the national curriculum. Can I put


it to the Prime Minister that it would be perverse to be requiring


those coming from abroad to settle in Britain, to learn about our


democracy, to take citizenship courses, whilst we are drawing them


for the teaching of citizenship and democracy to our own children in


our own schools? I will listen to what the right honourable gentleman


says, because I agree with some of the proposals he put forward when


Home Secretary about citizenship. Many in this house will have been


to the citizenship ceremonies he was responsible for. It has been a


good addition to our country and our democracy. I pay tribute to him


for that. We will look at what he says about the curriculum, but the


aim is to make sure we teach the basics properly and well, and we


test on them. If you can't read and write properly, no lessons in


91% of people who get into financial difficulty believe they


would have avoided doing so had they been better informed. Ahead of


tomorrow's debate on financial education, would the Prime


Minister's support our calls for compulsory education for young


people? It very much links in with the last question. I strongly


support teaching young children about the importance of financial


education, but the point of having a proper review of the curriculum


is to make sure what is absolutely essential and call, and what can be


included as extra lessons. Unemployment is going up, and


living standards are being squeezed. Many more people are being forced


into the hand of the pay-day lenders and the debt management


companies. Will the Prime Minister act to protect ordinary people who


are being preyed on and ripped off? The honourable lady speaks with


great experience because she worked for Citizens Advice Bureau before


coming to this house, and stands up for Citizens Advice Bureau and his


right to do so. All of us know what a brilliant job they do. The last


government wrestled with this question about how you best


regulate doorstep lenders and other lenders. The danger of driving


people into the loan sharks, if you get rid of the regulated sector. I


am very happy to discuss this further with interested colleagues,


it is a very difficult subject to get right but this government is


working at it. Does the Prime Minister share my concern over the


impact of pocket-money price alcohol on the state of our


nation's health, the anti-social behaviour in town centres and the


damage it does to community pubs. think the honourable gentleman


makes an important point. There is no doubt in my mind that the very


low cost alcohol is part of the problem in our town centres. One of


the answers the government has already come up with is to ban a


deeply discounted selling of alcohol, but we need to look at the


broader question of low-cost Al Gore. I note the letter that is in


the papers this morning from a whole set of people with great


expertise about this, and we are looking very carefully at that


issue. This morning we learned that Teesside Airport is up for sale,


and it seems as though, as unemployment is skyrocketing in the


north-east, our planes may be grounded. Isn't this yet further


evidence that the loss of infrastructure and jobs in the


North East, that this government's economic plan is a catastrophic


failure? The key thing about the future of Durham TVs airport, which


is a vital airport, is not necessarily so who owns it but is


it being invested in, is it being expanded and working well. That is


the key question and the question that I know at the Transport


Has the Prime Minister seen the OECD and the National Institute of


Economic and Social Research findings this week, showing that


soaring immigration was not caused by the prospect of prosperity, but


just by the open door policies of the last government? And will he


stop it happening again? honourable lady is absolutely right.


The report said specifically, the increase in net immigration to the


UK was not driven primarily by the economic performance of the UK, or


other countries, instead it points to other policies. The answer is to


deal with the bogus colleges, and we are doing that. To put a limit


on economic migration outside the EU and to have proper border


controls, and we are doing that as well. The Autumn Statement saw


400,000 Scottish children lose over �40 million due to changes in the


tax system. In my constituency, that meant �600,000 taken from


children. Why is the Prime Minister taking money out of children's


pockets, while being in the pockets of the bankers? I am afraid to say


to the honourable gentleman, he is plain wrong. The child tax credit


is going up by �135. He talks about the bankers, this government has


put in place a bank levy that is going to raise more every year than


Labour's one of bonus tax raised in As a York MP, I am extremely proud


of our City's vibrant tourism sector. Does my right honourable


friend agree that tourism plays a key role in our local economies,


and will he ensure that Northern tourist attractions in particular


are promoted in the run-up to the Olympic Games? My honourable friend


makes a very important point. Millions of people will come to


this country to the Olympic Games, we need to encourage them not just


to go to the Olympic Games but visit other parts of the country


and return to Britain for his subsequent visit. There will be all


sorts of promotions and schemes that we will be running to


encourage just that. If we can encourage people more generally to


visit places other than London, and York as many great tourist


attractions and things of historical importance, we would


drive a huge amount of growth and grub -- growth and jobs in our


regions. On 16th December, Bangladesh will markets 40 is


anniversary as an independent nation, following a war that cost 3


million lives. I want to pay tribute to the contribution made by


this parliament in supporting the fight for self-determination. As


the second most vulnerable country to climate change, does the Prime


Minister agree with me that it is now more important than ever before


to support developing countries from the devastating effects of


climate change. I agree with the honourable lady and I think the


whole how should recognise what she has done in raising this issue at


the time, as Bangladesh approaches this important anniversary. Britain


can be proud of the back that we have very good relations with


Bangladesh, and our aid programme in Bangladesh is one of the leading


ones from anywhere in the world into that country. We are spending


specific money on helping them with climate change, meeting all the


promises we have. I met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. One


of the issues we have to raise, there are human rights issues in


Bangladesh and we shouldn't be scared of raising them in the


proper way. An EU wide agreement on prisoner transfers comes into force


this month, which will enable the UK to repatriate to jails in their


own country, any EU nationals imprisoned here. Given some 13% of


our prison population is made up of foreign nationals, will the Prime


Minister ensure that our EU partners stick to these new rules


and take their criminals back? my honourable friend and his strong


views asking a question about a successful EU skin, it merely --


really must be Christmas. He is absolutely right. We have 13% of


our prison space is taken by foreign nationals. This is hugely


expensive and this EU wide agreement gives us great


opportunity to return people to their national prisons and save


money at the same time. Is freezing the pay of young private and


corporals, while they are fighting in Afghanistan, without reference


to the armed forces Pay Review Body, a breach of the military covenant?


It is this government which doubled the operational allowance, which I


think is the best way to get money to the privates and the corporals


in Afghanistan, who are doing such a good job. The operational Lowndes,


being a flat cash amount of money, is of disproportionate benefit to


relatively low-paid people in the armed forces -- operational


allowance. The percentage increase would mean more money for the


colonels and generals and brigadiers, rather than for the


people on the front line. Looking at the operation allowance is


crucial, but this government has an just done that, we have extended


the pupil premium to force his children, we have increased the


council tax rebates for those who are serving, and for the first time,


we have written the military government into the law of our land.


I commend my right honourable friend for protecting our national


interest by exercising the be towed, the people of Dudley South thank


him for it. The deal he vetoed commits eurozone members to


struggle deficits of below half a per cent of GDP. But the planners


to appreciate this is 16 times the UK struggled deficit left by the


party opposite? My honourable friend makes a good point, which is


perhaps why the leader of the Labour Party is struggling so much


to tell us what his view is about this proposed treaty. On the one


hand, he wants to join the euro, if he is Prime Minister for long


enough but but but that's rubbish? He doesn't want to be prime


minister for long enough. Oh, right. He wants to join the euro, he wants


a deal with very tough budget deficit limits, and he wants to


increase spending, borrowing and debt. He tells us he has got a five


point plan. I can sum it up in five words. Let's bankrupt Britain again.


Perhaps the Prime Minister could tell us why the Deputy Prime


Minister did not support his position on Europe on Monday, and


why not one single and a Democrat MP voted with the Prime Minister


last night. -- not one single Liberal Democrat MP. Last night,


there was something of a parliamentary rarity, a motion put


down by an opposition party, praising the Prime Minister. I am


very grateful to colleagues in the Democratic Unionists. I suspect


that many people concluded that Labour simply wouldn't get their


act together, it wasn't worth voting and as a result, we won very


easily. I am sure the whole house will join me in thanking a


remarkable man, who has served this country and this place with courage


and distinction, for nearly 50 years. Eddie Mackay, who is in the


gallery right now, has been a doorkeeper here for 23 years and


retires on Tuesday. Before coming to this place, he served with


distinction with the Scots Guards, leaving after 23 years' service as


a senior Warrant Officer. The Household Division, you're not


promoted to drill sergeant unless you are exceptional. On a


tumbledown mountain he saw action during the Falklands War in 1982.


His company, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, led that successful and


audacious night assault. Can I ask the Prime Minister, on behalf of us


all, to wish drill sergeant Andy Mackay a happy retirement and a


happy Christmas. On behalf of the whole house, can I thank the


honourable gentleman for raising this issue and question, and thank


anti for his incredible service. I sometimes think in this house we


can take for granted, the people who work so hard to keep it working,


keep it going, and I sometimes wonder what they think of the


antics we get up to in this house, but we are incredibly grateful of


the service he gave to our nation, to come here and work so hard for


so many years. We are all in his debt and sent him good wishes for


his retirement. The publication of youth unemployment figures this


morning show that in the last quarter, 22% of 16 to 24-year-old


economically active citizens are unemployed. An increase of 1.2% on


the previous quarter. The Prime Minister's rant earlier today at


Question Time about what this government is doing for youth


unemployment in this country, could he tell us why it is increasing?


Every increase is unacceptable and I will tell you exactly why. In


terms of 16 to 18-year-old Young unemployment -- young people, that


is going down. The problem is people over 18, under 24, who are


finding the job market extremely difficult. The reason on it when it


is going up is because we are losing jobs in the public sector


and we are not growing them fast enough in the private sector. We


need to do everything we can to get our economy moving. The absolute


key to that is keeping interest rates low. We have interest rates


down at 2%, and if we followed his party's policy of extra spending,


borrowing, debt, interest rates would go up, more businesses would


go under and we wouldn't get our economy moving. Many members of


this House will have encountered examples of banks using the threat


of receivership to extract higher interest rates from its business


customers. Does the Prime Minister agree it is wrong for banks to use


what is effectively an extortion but -- extortion at bargaining


position, and what he agreed to meet with me to examine procedures


I have outlined? I am happy to meet with my honourable friend about


this issue. It is not only vital that we get banks lending properly


and to small businesses, but that we made sure they behave in a


proper and ethical way as they do so. We are addressing the first


issue through the National Loan Guarantee Scheme and the other


credit easing measures that the Chancellor set out in the Autumn


Statement, but we also need to make sure that the practices that the


banks followed are fair, and seen to be fair. They have an interest


in making sure that small businesses are in good health, and


they need to follow procedures to make sure that happens. Youth


unemployment in Dumfries and Galloway has risen by 65% over the


last 12 months. With the British Retail Consortium indicating that


one in three jobs are filled by under 25s, does he recognise that


the predicted squeeze on the retail sector will only increase the


chances of youth unemployment, increasing across the entire


country? The thing that will put the biggest squeeze sector is if


interest rates went up. Just one percentage point increase in


interest rates would see the typical family lose �1,000 a year


through extra mortgage payments. Everybody knows we are in a


difficult economic situation, and we have to take difficult decisions,


as there is effectively a freeze across the eurozone. The most


important thing is to keep interest rates low, so people have money in


their pockets and we can see good retail recovery. East Cheshire


Hospice and many other hospices across the country run Christmas-


tree collection services that help many families recycle their


Christmas trees in an environmentally sensitive way. Can


the Prime Minister join me in supporting the great work that


these charities do, in collecting these trees, to raise hundreds of


thousands of pounds for the important work of art was this is?


I certainly join my honourable friend. -- of our hospices. I


praise him -- join him in praising the important work that hospices do.


They have to be ingenious about how they raise money up and down the


country, and collecting and recycling Christmas trees so that


we don't just leave them outside the house, I think is an excellent


idea and I am sure the whole house want to praise meet in the work --


join me in praising the work that Will he give us a publication date


for a consultation paper, leading to legislation, or he could take on


my ten-minute rule, which is already published. I am a generous


sort of bloke, he can have it now, and get it on the statute book.


am a generous sort of bloke, too. I can tell them that the lobbying


proposals will be published within the next month. This government


will have moved faster in 18 months than the last government did in 13


The Prime Minister will have seen the news this morning of the study


in the excess deaths of people with diabetes, unnecessary deaths it


that condition is treating -- treated properly. The framework


comes to an end in 2013. Will the Prime Minister look at the


frameworks as a way of meeting the challenges that there will be on


the health service budget, and helping people with diabetes in the


future? I am very happy to look at the national service frameworks, as


he says. I think the key issue with diabetes is that we need to raise


the profile of this condition, because many people have it and


don't know they have it. The key thing, as well, is to look at the


public health issues. The explosion in diabetes is coming partly from


bad diet and obesity in childhood, and we need to address those issues,


otherwise we are always going to be dealing with the disease, rather


than trying to look for the prevention. It is always a delight


to listen to my colleagues, so we will have a little more. Thank you


very much. Earlier this week, in the Other Place, the coalition


government voted down a proposal to protect the benefits of disabled


children, by a majority of two. Can I ask the Prime Minister that by


reducing benefits for disabled children by ever �1,300 a year, is


something that identifies his often repeated mantra that we are all in


this together? We are not cutting benefits to disabled children.


Actually, we are upgrading, operating by 5.2%, all of those


benefits so that people will see an increase in the benefits that they


receive next year. Last, but never forgotten, Mr Brian Binley.


Speaker, the Prime Minister will be aware that capacity levels on the


West Coast Main Line are intolerable, and getting worse.


Does he share the concerns of rail users that delays to High Speed 2


will only make their journeys more unpleasant. And will be provide the


assurance they seek about the future he promised them? I am


grateful to my honourable friend for raising this question. The


country has a choice, because the West Coast Main Line is as


congested as it is, we need either to replace it with a traditional


line, or a high-speed line. It is well known, the government's view


is that a high-speed line is the right answer. That is why this


consultation has been conducted, and I think it is not just good for


people who want to use the West Coast Main Line, but it will be a


success for regional policy in linking up our cities, shrinking


the size of our country and making sure all parts of our country can


enjoy economic prosperity and That is the final Prime Minister's


Questions of 2011. An historic event. There will be no more until


20th January 12. The leader of the opposition did go on unemployment


to begin with, as we predicted. Comfortable territory for him, but


when he moved on to Europe, as we also predicted, the going got more


rough. Indeed, most of you, from your e-mails and tweets, seemed to


think it was game, set and match for Mr Cameron. Some thought Mr


Miliband had done well, but the overwhelming view was but it was


not Mr Miliband's finest day, and therefore he has ended the year on


a low note. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, tweeted while this


was going on, and said why the EU is crumbling, today we are voting


in the European Parliament on the sugar content in orange juice. It


is good to know the important things in life are still being


looked after in Strasbourg. I was day yesterday. What do our viewers


make of it? You are right. The reflection was


that it was a poor performance from Ed Miliband. He did not do well in


general according to you, the viewer. Gareth says Miliband sounds


out of his depth and out of touch with the sentiment of the country.


Colin in rugby - I find the position taken by a Ed Miliband and


Labour about the economy, unemployment and Europe staggering


and the reason why they are behind in the opinion polls. John in Essex


- oh, dear, poor Ed Miliband. No matter how well his script is


written, he does not have the skills to deliver it. But Joe says


of the com -- of the negotiations, if Cameron really cared, he would


still be at the top table in Brussels where he could be positive


business for Britain. There were a lot of e-mails about unemployment.


Diane said Cameron can't spin his way out of the figures on


unemployment. It is going up and his designating millions to the


scrapheap without pity. A few statistics will not hide that.


Robert in Oxford said when it comes to the economy, couldn't all


politicians admit there is little governments can do? And then on the


Speaker, Damian said, can someone please tell him that the public do


not like his interruptions? It is not good for democracy and the


public cannot hear a word that is being said. This is Prime


Minister's Questions and not speaker's interruptions.


I am sure the Speaker will take notice of that e-mail from a member


of the great British public. What is the impact on the Labour


backbenchers when the leader performs sub-standard? The feeling


on the back bench at the moment is that we are united about wanting to


get things going in this country and get people back to work.


Whether it is today or on other occasions, David Cameron always


refuses to answer questions about if the economic policies are going


so well and the deficit reduction is working, why aren't we seeing


people going back into work? I take your point on the substance of that,


but Prime Minister's Questions is a theatrical event. People can take


their own views on how important it is in the grand scheme of things.


But when Conservatives were in opposition, if their leaders did


badly, it affected morale and that percolated through the party itself,


not just for the few minutes which we cover live. Is that a problem


for Labour? Ed Miliband's job is to ask the questions that reflect


concerns in the country. That is what our backbenchers want to see.


Why do people think he did so badly? Some people have suggested


that. Most of them. We believe it is his job to keep asking the


questions. From one week to the next, David Cameron refuses to


answer. Beyond the theatricals of Westminster, it is about what is


really happening out there. People are worried about job security,


their kids and the cost of living. If everything is going so well for


the Government, and there has been a hit in the polls over this EU


matter, but it is about the medium and long-term about the prospects.


Is there a lesson for Labour, though, on this hit in the polls


over Europe? Is there a lesson for your own popularity, that you


should not be seen to be too pro- Europe? Are we have always thought


our relationship with Europe should be a proper -- pragmatic one. It is


not about popularity. Where does the summit leave us outside the


negotiating table and in terms of the big issues around the Eurozone?


I was asking about the impact on the Labour Party. There are a lot


of questions left to be answered about how the European Union will


work to get people back to work. And we walked away from that


discussion with this Prime Minister. Prime Minister's Questions, which


are a bit of an acquired taste for the aficionados to watch it, but it


is also important. It is hugely important. I said before that


politics is a team sport. When you are in opposition, you can't do


anything. You can only say things. And if your team captain seems not


to be performing, if the results are not good and the only results


you have got our opinion polls, changeable although they are and


not the real thing, of course heads drop and morale goes down. That


matters in opposition because when you are not getting paid extra to


do it, when you are not getting the rewards of doing things, of course


team morale matters. I did think it was one of those moments where you


want to say ouch. You really thought he was taking a pasting.


Not on the substance. But there were three or four questions on


unemployment. He was making a substantial point. A lot of viewers


would have been saying, quite right. Conservative ministers did say


private sector job creation would outweigh public sector cuts. There


was no answer on that. But on Europe, he said nothing of any


substance. He chose instead to effectively dragged out the


coalition's expense, and it was turned back on him in a pretty


devastating way. These things are not the big substance of politics,


but they are very corrosive before a holiday. That sounds odd, but


people go away feeling a bit low, and then they call their friends


and say, it is not going well. That makes it harder for Ed Miliband. We


used to talk about mid-term blues, and at the moment, that is how it


is. Grant Shapps, maybe you should enjoy it while it lasts, because it


might not last long. Most private sector forecasts think we will be


back in recession next year. Unemployment will continue to rise.


Growth will be elusive. Living standards will continue to be


squeezed, and those on below- average incomes will suffer more


than ever. It is not a great prospectus for the Government.


are not living in a great world. As Nick has just said, you would not


want any of this and you would not to be -- want to be in a position


where your export markets are in turmoil over the Eurozone. You


would not want to be here. I am cautious about some of those


projections in as much as we would not have thought at the beginning


of the year that things would have been like this at the end. I would


not want to project forward the next year and talk ourselves into a


recession but accept that it is likely to be tough for the


Government. But you have to show leadership. Cameron has scored here


because he has shown leadership on the economy and in Europe. With 13


years of being in opposition... are you showing leadership? We are


not being forced by the Eurozone to cut budgets, as is happening in


Italy, Greece, Spain and many other countries. We did it on our own


terms. You got nothing from Europe. If you are not saying what you


would do on the economy... We have. If you don't do those things, you


do not get confidence. You are borrowing more. But people agree


that this is because the world is experiencing a huge slow down.


our domestic situation is worse than our export situation, isn't


it? You need a plan of your own. have. We have to stop you there.


More spending and more borrowing. Getting people into work. You are


borrowing more. She is still going on. It is true!


In the words of Homer Simpson, give me your thought for the year.


last thought on that. If you are the Government, you will go away


for Christmas feeling pretty chirpy about the polls and the politics,


but here is a potential danger. Nick Clegg told his party yesterday,


I am not going to produce an election and bring this coalition


down, because I might be the last Lib Dem leader ever in government.


There is a danger of being so dominant in politics that you


humiliate people who sit around your Cabinet table. If, and it is a


big if, because the truth is that the relationship between Cameron


and Clegg is still strong and they did agree on the negotiating


position, I know for a fact, before that summit. But if Nick Clegg


fails, I have to be here because otherwise I will be destroyed, if


his party feels more and more humiliated, that has dangers for a


government because as Geoffrey Howe found, and if you have seen the new


film about the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, you see the eyes of the


men around the Cabinet table feeling daily more humiliated, and


boy, they get you back eventually. It is not dull, is it? My reel for


the 2012 is, keep watching. Has politics be in this interesting for


a long time? Merry Christmas and happy Hogmanay. Your present is in


the Azerbaijan post. Taxes have been hiked across the


board in response to the financial crisis, but have we reached the


point where they are now so high that they are harming growth? One


of the most controversial changes recently was an increase in the top


rate of income tax to 50 pence in the pound. Introduced by Labour,


kept by the coalition, it is not popular among the highest earners.


One of those is Charlie Mullins, owner of his own business and


probably Britain's richest plumber. He explains why the 50 pence rate


should go. Nobody likes it. We would all


rather see a lot less of it, but if we want to live in a society that


is fair and not just looking after the fittest that survive, we really


all need to pay taxes. The more economic growth we create, the


richer we become, but that does not necessarily mean that we have to


tax people more, especially in if it is a disincentive to create


wealth. At the end of the day, we paid enough tax as it is, and at


the moment it is 50 pence in the pound. I believe it is a bad tax.


If entrepreneurs were to go abroad and take with them their spanners,


not only would we stop paying taxes, but thousands of jobs would follow


and the country would sink. The tax burden at the moment is excessive.


By the time you add national insurance to the 50 pence tax rate


I have already paying, it is well into the summer before I am working


for myself rather than paying taxes. So, how am I going to relocate my


business to India or Bangladesh? We all know the answer to that - of


course not. But I get a feeling many people may, or maybe they will


pack it all in. I have worked hard and done well. I don't need to


carry on working to live well. Of course, if you tax a man nothing,


we can't pay for schools, hospitals, rubbish collection. But if you


attacked a man too much, there will come a point where he will say


enough is enough and chuck down his tools. With this 50 pence tax rate,


we are close to the tipping point, and that is why I believe the


Chancellor should ignore his coalition partners, listened to us


entrepreneurs and flush it down the Very appropriate ending, of course.


It is a busy time of year for plumbers but Charlie Mullins is


here. What tax rate do you think would be fair? Anything less than


the 50p one. We need an incentive, rather than being penalised. If we


brought it down to... 40 it? come on. The -- 48? How much lower


would you like to see it? 40p, maybe. You said yourself, that you


would not relocate. Do think it is that much of a disincentive?


course it is. You can't be penalising people that are


successful. You need to encourage them, give them incentives. I don't


particularly need to work any more, but I am sure that other people


that may need to work will continue to work, or even packet all in.


have a government minister here, when are you going to scrap the 50p


tax rate? I don't think there is any point in the tax rate if it


doesn't collect more money than not having it there. What is the


estimate? 2.7 5 billion? The Chancellor is doing some work on


that and we will look at it. There is an important message. In a time


when we are in economic difficulty and people are being asked to


contribute more, there is an order of sequence. I don't think it would


be right to go abolishing that tax rate whilst people at the bottom of


the pile pay more. We have to tackle this at both ends. 1 million


people are being taken out of tax at the bottom, with the bottom tax


rate rising higher and higher. First of the day, I am inclined to


agree, there is no point having a tax rate that is punitive and when


you are paying over half your increased -- income in tax, that


may be the case. There are lots of tax is I don't like, this is one of


them, but I wouldn't support getting rid of its it tomorrow.


think you are going around in circles. If you do that, how do you


know you're not going to collect more money if people are doing the


work? That is an important point and the Chancellor is looking at it.


It is fair enough to have a review, we have said the OBR should do a


review on this. 2.4 billion a year comes in from this, that is not


insignificant. We would say, if you are going to give a tax break, to a


temporary one on the VAT. You benefit from that, everybody


benefits from that. The last time we did that, it's got the economy


going again. Charlie's point is Is why an independent review is


important. The last time we reduced the VAT for a temporary period, it


had an impact. People started spending and we went out of


precision, back into a growth recession -- position and that is


what we are asking for. That is great, but we are talking about the


50p tax. You have got to think about other people also. At the


moment, that is a burden for people like us. Have you taken on people


recently? Yeah. We are trying to expand. It is not stopping your


business, is it? No, but what is the point of working... There is


for a cervical point. Should the state be taking away over half? --


there is a bizarre vocal point. -- a philosophical point. Danny


Alexander said it was cloud cuckoo land. I totally disagree with you.


I had worked that out myself. Five- year Italian bond yields have hit a


record high and this crisis is not over. I think time for a seasonal


spirit full but it seems to have crept into The Daily Politics


office this week, against all of my clear demand and instructions. A


foot high Christmas-tree has been spotted on one of our producers


desks, I will bring that down. They must be excited about the upcoming


Christmas lunch and karaoke party. Jo likes the karaoke! It is self-


funding, in case you want to tweet and say we are spending your


licence fee on this. We have already spent it, there is nothing


left. If our Christmas giveaway is not enough to get you into the


seasonal spirit, Adam has taken a look at how Westminster has been


gearing up for this season of Christmas is coming to Parliament,


our MPs are getting fat. In reality, it hasn't snowed, and in the


Commons, there is a deficit of Christmas spirit. In the members'


tea room, a week ago, they had a lot of Christmas decorations up,


they had paper Christmas napkins out, and a lot of those have


disappeared. Whether this is because the management decided that


it was the wrong image, or whether as one of my more cynical


colleagues thought, that some MPs had decided when everybody had gone


to borrow them. Some are getting into the festive mood, like George


Osborne, having actual fund with his sworn enemy, Santa. Well, Ed


Balls dressed as Santa for a kids' party. It is all about belittle and


Swanwick comes to the leaders Christmas cards our as it is all


about the little ones when it comes to the leaders Christmas cards.


There are only 11 shopping days to Christmas but that does not worry


MPs and peers, because they have got their own good shop. The queue


will be out the door by the end of the week. I am told that the


bestseller is chocolates, closely followed by, surprise surprise,


bruise. -- boos. I also managed to pick up a house of Lords baby grow.


But there are a few Scrooges around. The Christmas box in the members'


tea room comes out, with a great deal of perhaps on subtlety by the


staff, who worked very hard to look We have embarrassing scenes as


colleagues are queuing up to get their meals, of what somebody calls


the soft trouble, and people say, I would love to put �5 in but I don't


have money at present our as the People you can rely on for genuine


Christmas people, the parliamentary choir. Sadly, I missed their


concert, so what after back as I will have to make do with their


podcast instead. -- so I will have to make do with their podcast


instead. He is like that most of the time.


Who better to talk about all things Christmas than the Lib Dem MP in


our By Rick -- and party conference favourite, Don Foster. Since you


have been bemoaning the fact you have not got a Christmas tree, a


present for you. It is a real one. I thought Caroline was going to


nick it! I have heard the rumours that your Christmas ukulele single


isn't going ahead? It is staggering, every year I send out a spoof press


raised about something daft, as a way of inviting local journalists


and councillors to drinks. So many paper -- people fail to read to the


bottom line and realise that it is a spiv, that they got all sorts of


coverage, that we had to report it was not true. I am told that Little


Mix took a contract out on you in case they got knocked off the


Christmas number one spot! There is real concern! Are referred to Chris


Pringle from ukelele maestro magazine, it should have given the


clear -- I referred to pull up I Quote about the get that keeps on


giving, to suggest that you give as a gift, membership to the Labour


Party. That's very nice. How many gift memberships are you going to


give this year? I am always actively looking to encourage


people to join the Labour Party. I have to say, that's for life, not


just for Christmas. I will take that, it is only 15 quid, you can't


buy life for 15 quid? Not bad, a good deal. Is it going to be an


austerity Christmas, or a goose as fat as ever? Our Christmas


tradition is going to feed some elderly people lunches in Welwyn


Garden City, for anyone who is watching. I will be there! Did you


bring your ukulele with you? didn't, very deliberately, because


I would have had to play it and you would have been very upset. We have


only got a few seconds, there is a Christmas decoration thief loose in


Westminster, haven't you seen it? No, I have one in my office, I am


worried about this. I am going to give you the answer to the guess


the year competition, it was 1987. You could probably tell by the


terrible music. We are knocking down Christmas trees to print out


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