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Afternoon folks and welcome to the Daily Politics on Friday.
Chris Huhne's troubles over alleged driving offences are about to come
to a climax. The Sunday Times say it will hand over to police,
crucial evidence relating to the case. We'll have the latest from
the High Court. Could we be about to give billions
more to the IMF to help shore up countries in the eurozone? Many
Tory MPs aren't too happy about that prospect. Could George Osborne
be facing a rebellion from the backbenches?
Metal theft is on the increase - MPs want new laws to end the cash
trade in scrap metal. But some say this could penalise small
businesses. If we tried to ban cash, this will drive the business
Underground into illegal operation and potentially to encourage growth
of organised crime. Yes, all that in our last ever
half-hour programme! That's right, from Monday the Daily Politics
becomes an hour-long feast of political programming. You lucky
people! Joining me on this historic day are Kevin Maguire of the Mirror
and Melissa Kite. She works for a magazine called the Spectator. Nope,
I haven't heard of it either. Welcome to you both. First this
morning let's go straight over to the High Court. We've got some more
news about the alleged driving offences surrounding the Climate
Change Secretary, Chris Huhne. Ben Geoghan is there for us. Then came
what has been happening this morning?
It came as a surprise to everyone. We turned up at the court,
expecting the Sunday Times would argue the court had to agree with
them they should hand over these e- mails that had been at the centre
of this whole issue. E-mails the Sunday Times had which Essex Police
want to have a look at, as part of their investigation into the
allegations surrounding Chris Huhne. But within a few minutes it became
clear the Times newspaper group had decided not to challenge the
production order which had been issued by Essex Police and as one
lawyer said this morning, the original production order had been
is conceived, the challenge to the Miss -- the challenge to the
original production order had been Miss conceived. So it looks as
though these e-mails will be handed over by the Sunday Times to the
Essex Police, so it will form part of the police investigation. Are we
any nearer knowing when and if the police are going to charge Chris
Huhne, or walk away because they haven't got the case against him?
think this decision will be pivotal. In November, the DPP Keir Starmer
said they were very close to making a decision. He did not spell out
what that decision was likely to be, but he did say what they were
waiting for was a resolution about this issue of evidence, which at
the time the Sunday Times were reluctant to hand over. Now they
have agreed to do that and things are likely to move on quickly. We
should expect a decision from the CPS before too long. Keir Starmer
Sen we wouldn't prosecute if we did not have enough evidence, but he
said we wouldn't shy away from prosecuting a politician if we felt
there was evidence. Thanks for the update. Kevin, what has the Sunday
Times on first? There will be some criticism because this goes to the
heart of journalists sources? protecting your sauce. The police
can apply for a production order way you are required in law to
produce what ever evidence it is. Traditionally newspapers fight it
all the way, otherwise why would people come to you as a journalist
and give you information if they think it will be handed to the
police? I think the Sunday Times performed a public role by putting
these allegations out into the public arena, but it was for the
police to get their own evidence. Chris Huhne has not got a huge
number of allies in the Tories or in his own party. But you do have
to feel for him. The police have to make up their minds. This has been
hanging over him for a long time. They have to make up their minds if
they will take this forward or, if they have not got the evidence,
back off? He has not got any friends because this was a stupid
thing to have got involved with. If he had just been done for speeding,
none of this would have happened. It is assuming he has done anything
wrong, which we don't know? He has maintained his innocence all the
way through. It has gone so long, it started last summer. He could
have driven round the world several times. Maybe he did? Maybe he did!
He has very few friends. But he has a rhino hide, he has the toughest
skin I have come across in politics. It all bounces of him, he will have
to have his fingers prized one by one from a red box if they will get
him out, should he be charged. he is charged, he will have to step
down from the Cabinet and Mr Cameron will be faced with a
reshuffle. The question then, does David Cameron goes for an
Elastoplast reshuffle just to fill the position, limit changes as much
as he can, or will he go for a Big Bang? I am told he wants to go for
a big bang. He hasn't had a reshuffle for a while and wants to
move a few people. This will be the time to do it. There are rumours he
will be even bring back David Laws, who you'll remember was forced to
resign in another scandal. He will either bringing back or move Ed
Davey, who he has talked as a proper -- possible replacement. He
could move Vince Cable out of business and put David Laws into
the business role. Moving Vince Cable over to Chris Huhne's job.
Vince Cable, Ed Davey, three had been smile as? Fall of the joys.
Big Bang or Elastoplast? I think he would get that over and done with
and then have a proper reshuffle later. He is ready for one but had
an Elastoplast went David Laws went. Also Liam Fox, the Defence
Secretary for taking his best friend to work. He has two
reshuffles. A Lib Dem reshuffle with her five posts and the
conservative reshuffle. If the police decide they have no evidence,
there will be no reshuffle at all no doubt. Absolutely.
How much should British taxpayers contribute to rescuing the
eurozone? It was reported this week that the International Monetary
Fund is seeking more than double its lending resources for countries
in trouble to around a trillion dollars. And that means the UK is
in the frame for another huge contribution. As a member of the
IMF, the British government is liable to contribute 4.5% of the
IMF's lending facility. The United Kingdom has already pumped in �30
billion to the IMF's coffers. But now the international body wants
more. It needs more bail-out money. The Chancellor has ruled out any
direct support to the eurozone, but said the UK would be willing to
provide more resources if he felt it was a decent request. That could
mean expanding our contribution by an additional �17 billion, taking
it over the �40 billion limit already approved by Parliament.
That vote, last July, saw 32 MPs rebel and having to go back to the
Commons again will give euro sceptics yet another chance to have
a pop. Here's what one of those rebels said this morning.
We should be putting money into the IMF to bail out the Euro. That is
what is being suggested. So billions of pounds of British
taxpayers' money as a fig-leaf and then be put into the Euro. We did
say we wouldn't bail out the Euro, but we would be it be put it in Mia
the IMF. Enough is enough. But that was to come before Parliament I
think there would be a battle. We're joined now by the
Conservative MP and former adviser to George Osborne, Matthew Hancock,
and by the Shadow Treasury Minister, Chris Leslie. Matthew Hancock, if
we do participate in a 500 billion cash call by the IMF, how much
would we be up for? It depends exactly on the numbers. That is
what I am asking for, a number? you said, there was a leaked IMF
document that suggested the UK's contribution would be in the region
of tens of billions. But the question is, do we want to be a
member of the IMF? As we saw in the clip, it is clear the Government
has said it shouldn't bale-out the eurozone. It is for the eurozone to
do. But the IMF exists to support countries that go bankrupt and not
currencies. It is an important distinction. Are you raising the
issue of our membership of the IMF? If you vote against giving more
resources to the IMF, when the rest of the world gives more resources
to the IMF, he was saying you won't stand up to your international
responsibilities. We were talking about needing to expand trade to
China and Brazil, but you cannot both want to get the benefits of
being part of the international economy, but not have the
responsibilities which is paying your part. Britain's part is a
small proportion. Do we stay in, or get out of the IMF? We absolutely
stay in. I was very clear, I think we should absolutely stay in and
live up to our international responsibilities, but the money
should go to countries and not currencies. Do you think the
British should participate in this cash call from the IMF? I don't
know about this one, but we have to recognise there is a difference
between being supportive of the IMF as an institution and then judge in
every time they ask for more resources, is it necessary? The
things it depends upon art is it going in as a sticking plaster to
help these eurozone countries. Well eurozone countries themselves be
dipping into their own pockets first before asking the rest of the
world? We have to be supportive of the IMF, but we cannot just give a
more and more cash Ann Leslie have a European central bank doing a
proper job and Germany and others of dipping into their own pockets
first. We are talking about conditions that might not be met,
so you might be sceptical about another chunk of cash to the IMF?
We need to see more action on the ECB. They have been doing more
things in the secondary market. A lot of people are asking will they
be a proper lending as a last resort? Where is the diplomatic
pressure on Germany who are giving away tax cuts. It is a very wealthy
eurozone, they should be putting up some of their own resources more
quickly than they come to the rest of the world. It sounds like you
could be facing a vote against by the Labour Party and by a lot of
your own backbenchers? The position of the Labour Party seems to be
extraordinary. I don't understand it. It you could just explain it?
The Labour Party support of the membership of the IMF. The last
increase in contributions to the IMF was knitters it to buy Gordon
Brown. The party voted against it. -- was negotiated. The Labour Party
said it would support the IMF if the money was for individual
countries. That is the proposal on the table, so why don't you say you
will support it? He did not say it was a proposal. It is a leaked
document. Until we know what is out there... We are trying to clarify
the Labour position. You sound as it you would take some convincing?
I'm not going to make any apologies for taking care of taxpayers' money.
This is billions of our resources, and we have to be careful. It it is
the right thing to do and make sense, it there are no other
solutions and the European Union and the Arizona are doing what they
have to do, we will have to look at it. -- eurozone. The implication of
some of your answers where, if we did not participate in this
upcoming cash call, it would lead to questioning are very membership
of the IMF. But as revealed on this programme about three weeks ago,
the Americans were not participating in this. The White
House has made it clear they are not going to put an extra dollar
into the 500 billion the IMF wants. It was confirmed again this week on
the record, by the President Obama White House. Nobody says it takes
away the membership of the Americans from the IMF. If the
Americans don't participate, and they are there because ones who
pony up the cash, the 500 billion It is about living up your global
responsibilities. This is about practice, not principle. If America
doesn't participate, and given that the Europeans don't have any money,
the round probably will not happen. It will only happen if there's a
large number of G20 countries that come on board. But money in even if
the Americans didn't. I would not support us putting money in
different league if we were not supported by a large number of G20.
-- 20 -- different league. Including the Americans or not? If
an let C. Would we still participate without American
participation? Let's find at the final proposals. It is really
important, the Obama administration is trying to put pressure on
Germany. We are saying the same. If you are saying whatever they ask,
we must deliver the cash, that would be childish. I don't think
anybody has to listen to a Labour spokesman on value for money.
political points at this time on a Friday? It is what the viewers were
thinking. I think this is quite a difficult issue for Labour and
Conservative at the moment. There is no appetite to put in billions,
particularly if the Americans have said no, which are then used to go
to eurozone countries. It is a backdoor way of shovelling billions
into the euro. It might be going to the countries rather than the
currencies, it is the same. Using the IMF as a middleman. Matt and
Chris probably agree more than it appears. I believe their line
managers, George Osborne and Ed Balls, do. Particularly if Labour
is not necessarily on board, these rebels could scupper this. Absolute
glee. I can see why Tory MPs want to draw a line in the sand. This is
a moment when Tory MPs who oppose pouring money into euro land say
this is it, this is the line in the sand. If not here, when when you
draw it? When the IMF get this money and uses it for a bail out,
why would Labour want to do it? The conditions it imposes on the
countries, like Greece, are exactly the kind of austerity conditions of
Gough -- cutting government spending, raising taxes, that you
oppose. Why would you at the IMF? Sometimes their policies could
change. Posterity alone is definitely not the answer. -- or
austerity alone. Another party political point! 1-1. We will leave
it there. The IMF do what is right. It's being stolen from church roofs,
schools, motorways and railway lines across the country and now
MPs are pushing for tougher rules to stop metal thefts. A Private
Members Bill on the issue gets its second reading in parliament today.
It comes as a BBC investigation has revealed that �35 million worth of
metal has been stolen in just one region, the West Midlands, over the
past four years. Here's Susana Metal. Crushed in the Black Country,
destined for places like China. And there are huge amounts of money to
be made. A ton of copper, for example, will be worth around
�5,000 on the metals market. Steel would be worth a bit less, �340 a
tonne. But a ton of lead could Wrekin almost �1,300. -- bring in.
No wonder thieves took the lead off the roof of this Birmingham School
while no one was in. It has been replaced with a substitute material,
but staff want to know why scrapyards are not asking more
questions. They seem to be able to strip a building and turn up at a
scrapyard and just presented as something they have got legally
without too many questions. It is a growing problem nationally. In one
region, the West Midlands, figures released after the BBC under the
Freedom of Information Act show they have been almost 30,000 metal
thefts there since 2008, the bulk of those dealt with by West
Midlands police. The West Mercia force saw metal thefts a rise by
95% and the largest theft Staffordshire police reported was
to the tune of �100,000. MPs behind a private member's bill say the
answer is a ban on cash sales. absolute key point is the cashless
system. It is the only industry that has an extension to deal
almost exclusively in cash. I think that is wrong and most of the
industry which is legitimate also thinks it is wrong. It is a few
rogue trained as -- traders handling storing metal.
association representing scrap dealers favour photo ID. That will
produce the answers we want. That will produce the audit trail and a
traceability whereas if we tried to ban cash, this will just drive the
business underground into illegal operation and potentially to
encourage the growth of organised crime. The stakes are high. After
all, this is an industry that Joining us now is the Conservative
MP Chris Kelly - he was in the film there. He founded the parliamentary
group demanding reforms on so called "metal laundering".
Sounds a bit painful! What do you make of the British metals
recycling Association? They said that if you go to a cashless system,
it will be bad for a small businesses and you create a black
market. That is completely false. I have a lot of metal dealers in my
constituency... It is causing huge damage to the economy.
Manufacturers are having metal stolen before they can even fulfil
customer orders. In the constituencies like mine in Dudley
South, it has to be eliminated, cash has to be eliminated from the
system. What about the idea of an ID for metal? I'm not sure how that
would work. Couldn't you just melted down? That is exactly the
point. Most of the metal is melted down within a few miles of where it
is stolen. The traceability is an important issue. As long as you
allow cash to be used for the sale of metal, you will never be able to
trace it. That is the fundamental issue. You seem to think this has
been a problem for some time, but getting worse. As the value of
metal has spiked. Be it has become more valuable to steal. Exactly.
Lead offered church roof is so valuable that people can get
thousands of pounds in cash. That will not be declared to the Revenue.
This could build a lot of schools and hospitals. Has parliament been
slow to act or are you now, having seen the evidence, on-track?
Home Office has a joint task force across departments. What the
Government have said is that the cashless system is on the agenda,
it is now just finding the right legislative vehicle to do that,
whether it is legislation currently going through the Lords or the
private member's bill. The Government wants to outlaw cash
from the system. Parliament doing the right thing? A thing so.
There's public outrage about war memorial sculpture being stolen,
the inconvenience when your train is cancelled because tow it -- some
toe rag has gone off with copper cabling. But that government is not
backing the private member's bill. You have to ban cash payments. If
it is all bank transfers, that is how... Are you can trace it. Have
you had much metal stolen? Not yet, but I'm starting to get worried
about it. It is quite depressing. There's a horrible moral thing
about people stealing metal crosses from churches and so on. I wonder
if it is linked to the downturn as well. People are more desperate.
Yes. Why is the Government not backing this? The at his for the
Government spokesman to answer. Will they make time for you?
have met with Oliver Henley, we are meeting with the deregulation
minister to discuss how the Government can introduce cashless.
If you can come back in six months, will it be on the statute book?
doubt it, but we will be a lot closer by the second half of 2012.
Thank you. Time now for our look back over the
big stories of the last seven days - here's Giles with the week in 60
Capitalism was in the firing line this week as the country played
Spot the difference with leaders calling for a fare economy.
Response until capitalism. Popular capitalism. And there were also
cross-party calls for Sir Fred Goodwin to be stripped. Of his
knighthood. I can promise you now... Ed Miliband angered union
supporters by saying Labour could not promise to reverse cuts. For
Boris Island could become a reality as grand plans to build the new
airport on the Thames estuary gained support from ministers.
Figures this week showed more than 370,000 migrants are claiming work-
related benefits. And what better way to cheer us all up and building
a brand new yacht for the Queen. A leaked letter revealed Michael
Gove's support for the plans although he later said it would be
privately funded. Should we expect easy Britannia? HMS ASDA? Or
There was a time when parts of the Labour Party used to talk about
socialism. Now they talk about capitalism with a cuddly adjective
in front of it. That is a change. get all due regard for the past! I
suppose the big change was in 1994. Using that change is still...
think it is in labour's constitution to support the dynamic
market economy. It is the new battleground, the new sexy thing to
talk but in politics. Everyone wants moral markets, but nobody has
come up with a blueprint to do it. Do you get a sense, I certainly do,
that this view to strip Fred the shred of his night had? They are
building this up with Goldman Sachs announcing �8 billion in bank
bonuses. It is a diversion. It is a side issue. I couldn't care less.
It will not help either way. Shall we get the 45 billion Royal Bank of
Scotland... A couple of hundred 1,000 people would probably like
their jobs back. What about the 7% of GDP we lost? Talking about
taking it back from the Tories, saying... It is a gesture. It is.
It does strike a popular chord. What probably gets me even more is
that if you look at the House of Lords, you have expenses cheats, an
arsonist, they have jobs for life and they pass laws. At least with
Fred the shred, he doesn't get any taxpayers' money. The bank had it.
We shall see. I think his knight had his post. -- nightclub.
That's all for this week - Jo will be back on Monday with more Daily
Politics and she'll be with you for a whole hour, from 12-1. She'll be
Presented by Andrew Neil.
Conservative MP Matthew Hancock and Labour Treasury spokesman Chris Leslie discuss the prospect that the UK may have to give billions more in loans to the IMF to help bail out the eurozone. Political journalists Kevin Maguire and Melissa Kite join Andrew in the studio.