23/01/2012 Daily Politics


23/01/2012

Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Transcript


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Afternoon folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.

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Let battle commence - again Over welfare reform. The Government's

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facing another tough day in the House of Lords. This time over its

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plan to cap welfare benefits. The minister in charge insists no one

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will be plunged into poverty over his proposals. But many peers

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disagree. Do councils have a moral duty to freeze council tax? The

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Government thinks so. But surprise, surprise, not all councils agree.

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Power to the people. We'll be looking at one scheme designed to

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put the energy companies in their place. And we'll be asking why MPs

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seem to be so grumpy about their grub.

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All that in the next 60 minutes of public sector broadcasting at its

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finest. Yes, I hope you're sitting comfortably with a cup of tea and a

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sarnie, because from now on we're on air for a whole hour! And with

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us for the first half of the programme today we have the money

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saving expert, Martin Lewis. Welcome. Now first today let's talk

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about bankers' bonuses and Stephen Hester's in particular. Because

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yesterday the Labour leader, Ed Milliband, said the boss of RBS

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should not receive a bonus this year. It's been reported that a

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bonus of �1.5 million is on the cards. Shouldn't he get his bonus

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this year? It is in his contract. And the problem with bonuses, we

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need to be talking about long term, entrepreneurial equivalent seat. It

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is not the billions of pounds that is giving it out, it is what we are

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rewarding. At what I would like to see from Stephen Hester, once he

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has the Bank shipshape and back to the stock market, he can have a big

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bonus as a reward for performance. But while it is still publicly

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owned, it is distasteful. But when you are looking at many issues all

:02:43.:02:53.
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the time, we have pay-day lenders PPI, �9 billion being paid out and

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Ed Miliband chooses to talk about this �1 million. There are lot of

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bigger things to be focusing on than this man's salary. You don't

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think it is symbolic and for the public, because it does not have as

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many zeros as you talk about? symbolic. If he is doing a good job,

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and they don't look at the corporate positioning of RBS, but

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if he is doing a good job, to punish him because he is running a

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public bank is wrong. But the bigger picture isn't about his

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bonus but the entire structure of bonuses in the city and what we are

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rewarding them for. It is probably distasteful he is getting his bonus,

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but there is a lot more worse things going on in the financial

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sector that I would like to see Ed Miliband and David Cameron talking

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about. We will hear more from the Government on that and executive

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pay. Now it's time for our daily quiz.

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The question for today is which of these is NOT a complaint made by

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MPs and their aides about the quality of the food in Parliament.

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Is it: a) That the chips haven't been arranged in a tower formation?

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B) That the caviar is too rich? C) That the scrambled eggs are too

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watery? D) That the salami is too thick?

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We'll give you the answer at the end of the show. It's been a bit of

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a roller-coaster of a ride for the Welfare Reform Bill which is

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currently under scrutiny in the Lords. Later today peers will

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debate controversial proposals to introduce a �26,000 cap on

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household benefits. Opponents of the plan, an alliance of Church of

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England bishops and Liberal Democrat peers, are hoping to win

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some concessions from ministers. This is what the Work and Pensions

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Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, had to say earlier this morning.

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These families are dependent on benefits. What we are saying if you

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are dependent on the state, the state has a right to say on behalf

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of taxpayers, there is a limit to the amount of money you are able to

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receive. Most people out there working that �35,000 a year before

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tax is a reasonable amount to live on because many of them have to do

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the same. They live in houses they can afford and sometimes travel

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long distances to work. I do make this offer to the Lords clearly, we

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are not about punishing people. We have said we would have

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discretionary measures to make sure this does not punish but we will

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these people into this. We have a year before the cap will hit. They

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need to trust us on this, as Paddy Ashdown has said, he has supported

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us so far and I hope he will support us again. We are determined

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not to punish people, but get this benefit system back on kilter to

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help people get back into work. am joined by the employment

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minister, Chris Grayling and the Labour Baroness. He will accept

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people will have to move because of the cap, that is the whole idea,

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moving to more for double accommodation. How can you be sure

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it won't cause homelessness? We are talking about the level of income

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which is equivalent to a salary of �35,000. Homelessness is a very

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evocative word. But the reality is, we are talking about people in

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poverty who are homeless on the streets and not people getting the

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equivalent of a �35,000 a year salary. We are asking people on

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relatively low incomes, doing the right thing, working hard and

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paying taxes to support a welfare- state. We don't think we should

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expect those people to support those people supporting people on a

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salary of �35,000 when most of them aren't getting that. The Government

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has made that very clear as to what is acceptable to tax payers. But is

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it acceptable to taxpayers to have people literally put out on to the

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streets, and that is what the Children's Society and some of the

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bishops are saying, is that acceptable? You say out on the

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streets, people in work and earning and on salaries a less than �35,000,

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they are making decisions on where they can afford to live. I don't

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see why people on benefit should be in a different position to those

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working. There could be a level of homelessness were some, less well-

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off families, either in work or not in work, but claiming benefits

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could be without a home? I don't accept that principle of

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homelessness. People haven't got a place to live, they cannot afford

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the place they are living in in central London and cannot get into

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a home in an outlying Borough, they will be classified as homeless?

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we had people bringing in from the state be governed of a �35,000 a

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year salary. That is the same as many people working on much lower

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incomes than that, who find housing options and saw themselves are. Why

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should somebody on benefits be any different to that? Why should they,

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Patricia Hollis? I'm not against a benefit cap if it is fair. But this

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is not fair because it does not compare like with like, as the

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Lords Government minister acknowledged. Although it may be an

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average wage of �500 a week, as Mr grayling said, it excludes from

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that other forms of income like child benefit. So a family man with

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three or four children may have another 50 to �60 a week on top of

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that 500. And the Bishop's amendment would compare like with

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like and take the child benefit out of the benefit cap which would

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protect something I 100,000 children from the risk of being

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made homeless. Do you accept that, the measurement does not include

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other areas of income and average family might get? The Bill does not

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set the level of the cap, it requires the Bill to make reference

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to average earnings. We have formed a view that the captured be set as

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a level of �26,000 a year, which is equivalent to the average earnings

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in this country. Do you not accept in the words of David Freud, your

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Tory minister in the Lords, when he said on 23rd November, I

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acknowledge we are not comparing like with like. If you were, you

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would accept the Bishop's amendment and you would have much more

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support for the cap? As a non politician, this is obvious. Some

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way you have to work out should it be set at average earnings or

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average income? Average income takes into account the family size.

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The point about the benefit cap is it hurts those families would a

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large number of children. If you are going to compare, you have to

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compare like with like, take into account the family income with

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somebody in work, with the family income of somebody on benefits.

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is according to the Children's Society, the Bill will penalise

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people with larger families, that is true isn't it? We are setting A-

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level for the cat that is the equivalent of �26,000. You think

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that is fair but we have now established you are talking about

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one particular set of figures and you are talking about a different

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set. On that basis, people with larger families will be penalised

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more? Self-evidently, if you have more children, your life costs more.

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But we have taken the decision in principle it should be capped at

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�35,000 a year. Should child benefit come out? We have said we

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will look as we did with the housing benefits, putting in

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transitional arrangements. We have provided local authorities with the

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money to do with transitional arrangements in the benefit system.

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But we have set a clear point of principle and we will stick by that.

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An arbitrary figure of 500 is not a point of principle. I don't object

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to a benefit cap, but I want the playing field to be level and your

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colleague has said it is not level. If you accept the amendments today,

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and make the playing field levelled you will have support. Labour

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appears, you will support it? supporting the Bishop's amendment.

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He will support the Government's cabbage that amendment is set?

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will support it if the amendments to date, because bed and breakfast

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for homeless people can be �100 a night. If the Government makes a

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benefit Catfirth, I am happy to support it. It is the right thing

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to do. -- benefit cap Firth. Christopher grayling has just set

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out, everybody has to move, defending on your definition of

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homelessness. -- BEA 10 -- depending. You cannot support it on

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the basis people will move house because that is what is going to

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happen. It brings high rents. It is difficult to get A3 bedroomed house

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in the private sector for less than �300 a week. You have Labour

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support if you take on those amendments, what will the position

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be? As Nick Clegg said yesterday, if you include child benefit in the

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cap, it becomes potentially thousands of pounds higher.

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does not. How can it not? A family with four children will get an

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additional �59 a week whether they are in work or out of work. All we

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are asking on the Child Benefit Amendment, it is to compare like

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with like. Your minister is a good man and has acknowledged we are not

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comparing like with like. Can I come to one issue, in terms of

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public support, it is overwhelmingly in favour of the cap,

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as suggested by the Government. Labour could find itself on the

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wrong side of this argument. Labour supporters are in favour of it.

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Outside London, there is less of a problem. Private sector rents in

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London of three times higher than my city of Norwich. People outside

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London won't appreciate the pressures of housing costs in

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London. Most people on housing benefit are not those affected by

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the cat. They are pensioners, or they are in work and getting

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housing benefit. In terms of regional variation, it is quite a

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critical issue when you are talking of caps of any side? One of the

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problems is this policy and the media coverage tends to be eight or

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London getting �100,000 of benefits the year. My concern about this,

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the people we want to help of those families who are in work, lose

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their job and we don't want to tell them to move house after five or

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six weeks because they can no longer afford it. When you look at

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all financial issues, the biggest problems are about change,

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transition and that is what we have to protect. Rather than make policy

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for those eight or 10 families who are anomalies in the system. It is

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how we deal with the change for people when they lose their job and

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it does worry me. This has been costed by the Government and it is

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their attempt to bring down a huge bill in the welfare, where would

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you get the money from? The two big amendments today, the homelessness

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amendment and the Child Benefit Amendment come to about �270

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million. Eric Pickles has been throwing nearly 250 million at

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local authorities urging them to restore a weekly bin collection. It

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is all about political and moral choices. Might do believe Chris

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Grayling is making the wrong I don't believe we should be

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providing two people more than an income of �35,000 a year.

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should make that cap fare so you don't penalise families with

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children and make vulnerable children bear the cost of your on

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fairness. Do you expect to lose tonight? I certainly hope not.

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hope not, but do you think you will? I can't anticipate the vote.

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If we do lose, we will come back and seek to overturn the defeat in

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the Lords. If there is one thing we get hot

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under the collar about, it is fuel bills. The Big Six energy companies

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receive more than 4 million complaints last year alone, so, if

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so many of us are on have become what can be done? -- so many are

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unhappy. We done to it be great if we could tell the power companies

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how much we want to spend on electricity and gas?

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Believe it or not, that day could be coming, but only if we all stick

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together and embrace the concept called collective switching.

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collective switching would work is a group of consumers would come

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together, we don't know how many, using the tools of social media to

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do so cheaply, they would decide what sort of offer they want from

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their energy company, that would be displayed through the social media

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organisation, and then it is up to the companies to meet their demands.

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It is a simple way consumers could gain power over the energy

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companies and set the terms they want. How easy would it be? If

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people power can make a foul mouth American rock band Britain's

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Christmas number one, then getting some money knocked off your

:17:46.:17:56.
:17:56.:17:57.

electric bill should be a piece of cake. John was so fed up with X-

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factor music hogging the charts, he used social media to catapult Rage

:18:03.:18:08.

Against the Machine into the top slot. He sees no reason the power

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companies shouldn't get the same treatment. It worked because we had

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one solid thing that we all agreed with, and one reason we wanted to

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come together to get something done using Twitter and Facebook, so can

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this be applied to switching? Yes, I think it can. For this particular

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subject, there are people who will want better deals from what they

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are getting so there is no reason why not. That is a great reason for

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people to get on board and want it happen. It is not just consumer

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activist interested, the government is also taking a closer look and is

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broadly supportive, but have the power companies really been having

:18:54.:19:01.

a laugh at our expense? I would debate that, because we have to

:19:01.:19:11.
:19:11.:19:12.

remember the energy costs only count for about 50% of Babel. The -

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- the bill. Like Heaton not, they might have to put up with it.

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enough consumers come together and make these demands, they will have

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to respond. Maybe, but if this is to become a reality, it looks like

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people might have to seize the power.

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Joining me now is not grow Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet, and a

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member of the Energy Select Committee. Is this a viable option?

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I think so, but to be frank I think this is in many ways a tactic. We

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have got to have a fundamental reform of an industry that looks

:20:03.:20:08.

very 1970s. It is geared up to the producer and none of it is

:20:08.:20:13.

orientated around the consumer. These mechanisms are important but

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I hope Ofgem and the government make some fundamental reforms and

:20:17.:20:22.

bring them into the 21st century. We will come back to the collective

:20:22.:20:26.

switch in a moment, but on the broader issue we have spoken

:20:26.:20:30.

endlessly on this programme about reforming energy companies, if that

:20:30.:20:40.
:20:40.:20:43.

is possible, trying to bring prices down, so why hasn't it been done?

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the government is in the middle of doing it. Ofgem is in the middle of

:20:48.:20:57.

the pricing policy. Gosh, again! Why don't we have a light bulb

:20:57.:21:07.
:21:07.:21:14.

moment? -- hour. We have one of those, a kilowatt version. It is

:21:14.:21:18.

not about the name of the measure, it is about the fact that comparing

:21:19.:21:22.

it is a nightmare. The most important thing to understand is

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that the big problem is nobody mentioned pricing until I put my

:21:29.:21:34.

hand up when we were sitting with David Cameron. The big energy

:21:34.:21:38.

companies didn't, everybody wanted to talk about encouraging people to

:21:38.:21:46.

switch. We have seen prices come down from the Big Six on gas or

:21:46.:21:51.

electricity, not on both. Currently, typical standard tariff, after the

:21:51.:21:59.

price drops, �1,320 a year for the typical home. 1020 is the cheapest

:21:59.:22:07.

on the market, that is for nothing. Old people penalty. Aren't the

:22:07.:22:12.

government trying to say let's do the simplest things first? I agree

:22:12.:22:16.

pricing is crucial. We are not really giving the consumer the

:22:16.:22:20.

tools to make those pricing decisions because it is opaque. We

:22:20.:22:26.

are not putting enough pressure on the Big Six, not introducing enough

:22:26.:22:30.

new companies into the market to bring competition. This is where

:22:31.:22:36.

the reform comes in, and I hope it delivers. I don't agree it is

:22:37.:22:44.

opaque. Go on a comparison site and put in your details - but this is

:22:44.:22:49.

what I was about to say - we have a savvy internet generation who are

:22:49.:22:56.

able to do this. For there are barred Messaging problems, such as

:22:57.:23:01.

they say you will save �300, whereas you are preventing your

:23:01.:23:10.

bill from rising �300. There are some people we are penalising, and

:23:11.:23:15.

that is where collective pricing would be useful. We sold these

:23:15.:23:19.

companies to the stock market. Their job is to make money for

:23:19.:23:23.

shareholders and it is politicians and regulators who need to put the

:23:23.:23:27.

prices down. Companies are not clear where they are making their

:23:27.:23:33.

profit. What were need is in many ways greater liquidity in the

:23:33.:23:37.

market, more companies, companies that want to work with consumers

:23:37.:23:43.

rather than working for producers. Let's come back to the tactic, will

:23:43.:23:48.

it work? How many people would be needed for it to work? I don't

:23:48.:23:53.

think you would get cheaper tariffs by using collective purchasing, but

:23:53.:23:58.

I think you would get a long-term relatively cheap tariff, whereas

:23:58.:24:04.

you would still win by moving to the cheapest tariffs regularly. My

:24:04.:24:09.

eyesight is used by 12.3 million people each month. I'm sure we have

:24:09.:24:14.

talked about doing this, but I don't want to be liable. If the

:24:14.:24:22.

energy companies do something wrong, who is liable? Me or them? All so,

:24:22.:24:27.

the energy companies then follow each other on pricing survey will

:24:27.:24:33.

start to move with that crowd pricing as such. The structure of

:24:33.:24:38.

the industry is so 1970s, it needs to make sure it is working on

:24:38.:24:43.

behalf of the customer. If this crowd sourcing could make the

:24:43.:24:47.

company's wake up, and understand there is a different world out

:24:47.:24:52.

there, that would be helpful. have seen, even in terms of

:24:52.:24:57.

restricting freedom of the internet, it can work. How many people would

:24:57.:25:04.

you need? I think you could get this working with 10, 20,000 people,

:25:04.:25:09.

but the concept that someone goes on Twitter and says let's do this,

:25:09.:25:15.

that will not work with mass. You have age Concern doing it, websites

:25:16.:25:23.

like mine, we would try to provide it if the opportunity was there.

:25:23.:25:32.

This is coming from Chris Huhne, not the other way round. Ed Davey

:25:32.:25:35.

is salivating over collective purchasing on a lot of issues but

:25:35.:25:41.

we must not confuse that with group buying. This works with heating oil,

:25:41.:25:47.

the forgotten on regulated sector, people living in rural areas bulk-

:25:47.:25:53.

buying their heating oil, but there is a long way for this to work on a

:25:53.:25:58.

mass scale. The good start to look at communities having their own

:25:58.:26:04.

distribution companies and that is really exciting. Thank you. A

:26:04.:26:10.

heated debate! There is a busy week in store, and

:26:11.:26:18.

who better to look ahead to it than Polly Toynbee and Ben Brogan. Can I

:26:18.:26:22.

start with you, Polly. Will Labour find itself on the wrong side of

:26:22.:26:30.

the argument on welfare reform if the Peers don't back the cap this

:26:30.:26:35.

evening? Popular opinion says 26,000 is definitely enough for

:26:35.:26:40.

anyone on benefits, especially if they are out of work. It sounds

:26:40.:26:43.

reasonable but with these things often written on the back of an

:26:43.:26:48.

envelope, what plays well with the public may end up working badly.

:26:48.:26:51.

People will be horrified by stories of large numbers of families who

:26:51.:26:56.

have been thrown onto the street, having to move miles, their

:26:56.:27:01.

children repeatedly taken out of schools as they are moved on. I

:27:01.:27:05.

think the public is more generous spirited than this Government gives

:27:05.:27:11.

them credit for. It is easy to stir their mum with Daily Mail type

:27:11.:27:16.

anecdotes of scrounging families, but when the reality hits home were

:27:17.:27:21.

very worthy family is being thrown out of schools and jobs, public

:27:21.:27:26.

attitudes may change. Even though the polling has consistently said

:27:26.:27:30.

not, there is not that sort of sympathy out there that the

:27:30.:27:34.

government's argument, that they should be on the equivalent of a

:27:34.:27:39.

working family, �35,000 a year, has been pretty effective. If Labour is

:27:39.:27:45.

not clear run where it is, as far as welfare is concerned, it looks

:27:46.:27:50.

like it is trying to face both ways. In the long run what matters is

:27:50.:27:53.

government policy and the government getting it right. If

:27:53.:28:00.

they get it wrong this time, I think they will find, and this has

:28:00.:28:05.

been shown time and time again, when people see the effect they

:28:05.:28:09.

usually get shocked and appalled and start swinging back to a more

:28:09.:28:15.

generous attitude, towards people who have fallen down on their luck.

:28:15.:28:23.

Who is right? Is Iain Duncan-Smith right, saying not many people will

:28:23.:28:29.

be thrown out of their homes? Or is it true that many children will be

:28:29.:28:33.

made poorer and a lot of people will be evicted from their homes?

:28:33.:28:39.

At the moment it doesn't look like the public is wobbling at all, but

:28:39.:28:45.

some Liberal Democrats are clearly wobbling. How much irritation is

:28:45.:28:52.

there among senior Conservatives? There is something terribly

:28:52.:28:55.

synthetic about this debate within the coalition. One gets the

:28:55.:29:03.

impression that Nick Clegg's reservations are really about

:29:03.:29:07.

giving Nick Clegg something to show to his troops. We will get

:29:07.:29:10.

concessions at some point, there will be a sweetener thrown out by

:29:10.:29:16.

the government, and Nick Clegg will be able to say "once again the Lib

:29:16.:29:21.

Dems have been able to take off the rough corners". The politics are

:29:21.:29:26.

straightforward - this policy is not designed to please people like

:29:26.:29:31.

Polly or me, it is really about millions of families who earned

:29:31.:29:36.

�26,000 a year, and look at people who don't and get benefits

:29:36.:29:40.

equivalent to that. Two-thirds of Labour members are keen on this

:29:40.:29:48.

policy, and so is the public. The politics at the moment effect David

:29:48.:29:52.

Cameron and Nick Clegg more than Ed Miliband. Iain Duncan-Smith and

:29:52.:29:55.

Chris Grayling made it clear they will force this through so what

:29:55.:30:05.
:30:05.:30:05.

will it do for relations between The House of Lords is a tricky

:30:05.:30:10.

place at the moment, it is overcrowded and not reformed. It

:30:10.:30:14.

would be a foolhardy minister whether it be Chris Grayling or

:30:14.:30:18.

Iain Duncan-Smith, with a bit of blustering they can get stuffed

:30:18.:30:22.

past appears at the bottom of the corridor. In the end, the

:30:22.:30:25.

Government will find a way of making this legislation palatable

:30:25.:30:29.

and it will get through. But the House of Lords will continue to be

:30:29.:30:32.

a problem between now and the end of the session in spring, there

:30:32.:30:36.

will be more rows with the House of Lords and the Government may have

:30:36.:30:42.

to jettison some of its legislation. Ed Miliband has had a personal

:30:42.:30:47.

relaunch and a relaunch on economic policy. He has had no impact on the

:30:47.:30:52.

pulse. One poll indicated they had fallen behind the Conservatives. It

:30:52.:30:57.

does not bode well does it? He is not doing as well as Labour would

:30:57.:31:02.

like to be doing. It is worse than that isn't it? He is not doing any

:31:02.:31:07.

worse than David Cameron was doing when he was first elected leader of

:31:07.:31:12.

his party at about the same time. Labour crashed out at the last

:31:12.:31:16.

General Election, 29%. Now they are almost level-pegging with the

:31:16.:31:22.

Tories. They are ahead enough to make it clear the Tories could not,

:31:22.:31:27.

as things stand, be sure of winning a majority. We wouldn't know which

:31:27.:31:33.

would be the biggest party, it is too close to call. Not too bad 18

:31:33.:31:40.

months after such a disaster. Yvette Cooper becoming woman?

:31:40.:31:49.

hard to say? One of Ed Miliband's strands says that there is not

:31:49.:31:54.

another clear contender. Yvette Cooper has been around, she is

:31:54.:31:58.

experienced. There is no devastating, obvious person waiting

:31:58.:32:04.

in the wings. What about you Ben Brogan? The difficulty for Labour

:32:04.:32:08.

is there is no one rushing forward to volunteer to take over from Ed

:32:08.:32:12.

Miliband. Yvette Cooper is doing well and is the favourite at the

:32:12.:32:16.

moment. But I think we have a long way to go and Polly is right, the

:32:16.:32:22.

polls at the moment help Ed Miliband. Things aren't as bad for

:32:22.:32:27.

Labour as they appear at judging by Ed Miliband's performances. It will

:32:27.:32:34.

be a while before Ed Miliband screws up its courage to do

:32:34.:32:38.

something about him. And as if by magic I've been joined by the

:32:38.:32:41.

Conservative MP, Pritti Patel, the Labour MP, Lisa Nandy and by the

:32:41.:32:51.

Liberal Democrat MP, Tessa Munt. Then Brogan St the opposition on

:32:51.:32:55.

welfare is synthetic and the Liberal Democrats are only doing

:32:55.:33:02.

this to please their own supporters. Is that how you see it? I think it

:33:02.:33:05.

is absolutely essential that something is done about the welfare

:33:05.:33:12.

system. Do you agree with the cap? I do broadly. There are many of my

:33:12.:33:17.

constituents, the majority of my constituents would love to have

:33:17.:33:22.

�35,000 a year income. Are you annoyed with Lord Ashdown? No, he

:33:22.:33:27.

is making a good point. We need a safety net for those who find

:33:27.:33:31.

themselves perhaps a less mobile and six. We also need to make sure

:33:31.:33:35.

the people who have a problem in their life, and it is not a

:33:35.:33:45.

systemic problem in their lives. You lose your job, we shouldn't...

:33:45.:33:52.

We need a shoulder. Deal agreed with these beers tonight? They can

:33:52.:33:57.

do what they like. If we can make changes, it is going to happen.

:33:57.:34:01.

have heard these arguments being set out, and there is every chance

:34:01.:34:05.

the Government loses tonight because of what appears to. Do you

:34:05.:34:10.

think there should be concessions? I was on the Welfare Reform Bill

:34:10.:34:14.

Committee in the House of Commons last year. I have clear views of

:34:14.:34:17.

the direction of travel when it comes to reforming the welfare

:34:17.:34:22.

state. It is inevitable when legislation goads to the Lords it

:34:22.:34:30.

is going to be shaken about and there will be a debate. I don't

:34:30.:34:36.

think, what concerns me is the artificial tone in terms of, let's

:34:36.:34:40.

pick a row here and seek concessions, which I think has been

:34:40.:34:46.

as predictable as Ben Brogan said. But at the same time, it is very

:34:46.:34:49.

valid to have the debate to make sure the right safeguards are in

:34:49.:34:53.

place. It is the biggest reform in 60 years, so we have to make sure

:34:53.:34:58.

the welfare state is a safety net and people don't fall through it.

:34:58.:35:02.

Labour's position, Patricia Hollis saying they agree with the cap, you

:35:02.:35:09.

agree with the cap at �26,000. If their work some other concessions

:35:09.:35:14.

made for vulnerable families as you see it? The real danger is whether

:35:14.:35:19.

it will work in practice. And like many other policies that have come

:35:19.:35:23.

out of this coalition, those on the front line dealing with

:35:23.:35:26.

homelessness and welfare and getting people into work has been

:35:26.:35:33.

part of it. It will do nothing but push people... They have been doing

:35:33.:35:39.

her masses of work on this. They're not at the end of the phone when

:35:39.:35:43.

the family is being made homeless. And under this crude attempt to cap

:35:43.:35:48.

benefits, more people will be pushed into poverty, children will

:35:48.:35:55.

go into poverty. Extra households will be added to the homelessness

:35:55.:35:58.

waiting list. It will cost more in the long run than the cost to do

:35:58.:36:05.

nothing. Labour has said it won't be cost-effective. But the bishops,

:36:05.:36:08.

the Children's Society and other charities are saying there will be

:36:09.:36:15.

thousands of children pushed into poverty. Is it acceptable? It is a

:36:15.:36:23.

sweeping generalisation. It is what they say. There are children living

:36:23.:36:29.

in poverty were there is acute worthlessness. Chris Grayling is

:36:29.:36:32.

trying to get rid of the issue of worthlessness and change the

:36:32.:36:38.

culture of welfare and around the benefit system. No children in this

:36:38.:36:44.

country should be living in poverty. The benefit system and the system

:36:44.:36:50.

needs changing, there is no doubt about that. Some of those families

:36:50.:36:53.

are in work, so what is the Government doing to help people who

:36:53.:37:02.

are in work, out of poverty? People believe work should pay and your

:37:02.:37:06.

Government has no solution to that problem. This system will enable

:37:06.:37:11.

VAT. Alongside reforms of benefit and welfare, we had the work

:37:11.:37:15.

programme which has focused on getting individuals back into work

:37:15.:37:20.

and training programmes as well. will have to move on.

:37:20.:37:23.

Well, welfare isn't the only sticking point for the Coalition.

:37:23.:37:26.

There are plenty of other flash points coming up over the next few

:37:26.:37:29.

weeks which are going to provide some big tests. Tomorrow the Health

:37:29.:37:31.

Select committee, which has a majority of Conservative and

:37:31.:37:34.

Liberal Democrat members, will publish a report which will be

:37:34.:37:36.

highly critical of the Governments plans. The Committee says NHS

:37:36.:37:39.

trusts are resorting to cutting services to meet their budget

:37:39.:37:41.

targets, even though the Health Secretary had pledged that would

:37:41.:37:45.

not happen. There could be further wrangling when the bill returns to

:37:45.:37:49.

the Lords next month. On Wednesday the Prime Minister visits

:37:49.:37:52.

Strasbourg to give a speech at the Council of Europe, where he'll tell

:37:52.:37:55.

European human rights judges to stop interfering in British law.

:37:55.:37:59.

But the Lib Dems warn a 'nuclear option' pulling out of the court's

:37:59.:38:01.

jurisdiction on a temporary basis unless changes are agreed, could

:38:01.:38:06.

fracture the Coalition. Last week's announcement that a consultation

:38:06.:38:09.

over a possible Thames Estuary airport will go ahead angered lots

:38:09.:38:13.

of Lib Dems. The Lib Dem Transport Minister, Norman Baker, said any

:38:13.:38:18.

expansion would be "irresponsible environmentally". And the Liberal

:38:18.:38:21.

Democrats are also pushing for a mansion tax on properties worth

:38:21.:38:23.

more than �2 million, which the Conservatives are fiercely opposed

:38:23.:38:33.
:38:33.:38:40.

to. Let's go back to health. Viewers might be forgiven for

:38:40.:38:46.

thinking this is almost done and dusted. Here we are coming back to

:38:46.:38:51.

criticisms from and into the -- influential select committee. This

:38:51.:38:57.

cutting of services, is it what you envisage? No, but I think we did

:38:57.:39:01.

stop the whole process last year. We make quite a lot of changes at

:39:01.:39:06.

that point. And what happened in the Lords, it is another set of

:39:06.:39:11.

questions. Shirley Williams has some technical questions about how

:39:11.:39:16.

various bits and pieces will work. It is quite right. The

:39:16.:39:19.

responsibilities of the Secretary of State have to be clarified and

:39:19.:39:24.

various other technical things we would like to change. The House of

:39:24.:39:27.

Lords are not limited on the amount of time they can spend on these

:39:27.:39:32.

things. How worried are you hospitals are cutting services? In

:39:32.:39:36.

order to meet the savings required of them to make over the next four

:39:36.:39:44.

years, efficiencies of �20 billion, pocketing services? Is that what

:39:44.:39:48.

Liberal Democrat voted for? there is always a conflict between

:39:48.:39:53.

localism, letting people locally do it, which is what we feel should

:39:53.:39:58.

happen. We feel strongly people should have a say in the services

:39:58.:40:02.

offered locally and the GP is the person he knows what I might need

:40:02.:40:06.

and what anybody else might need. But there is a conflict. Nationally

:40:06.:40:10.

we might want to say don't cut services, you have to do this and

:40:10.:40:15.

have to do that. That is interfering. But we cannot sit

:40:15.:40:19.

where we are because changes are happening already. The NHS

:40:19.:40:24.

shouldn't stay static in the way it was 10 and 20 years ago. It is

:40:24.:40:30.

never perfect. But we need to get the best for the patients. No one

:40:30.:40:34.

would disagree with that. Do you agree with Stephen Dorrell, the

:40:34.:40:38.

former Conservative health secretary. His committee have come

:40:38.:40:43.

back and said, you cannot manage those savings and carry out a huge

:40:43.:40:48.

overhaul of how the NHS is run at the same time? I am appalled by the

:40:48.:40:53.

suggestion. I'm not sure if it is right. I don't have a hospital in

:40:53.:40:58.

my constituency, but I have plenty of examples of lack of patient care.

:40:58.:41:02.

Central to these reforms, and I think this is important, it is

:41:02.:41:06.

about the modernisation of the health service to make the change

:41:06.:41:10.

in the population and meet the needs of the individuals. From my

:41:11.:41:15.

experience, as Ice Edge don't have a hospital, my local health service

:41:15.:41:19.

has been dominated by bureaucracy, by management and red tape, as

:41:19.:41:23.

opposed to frontline care. Stephen Dorrell wrong? He is wrong

:41:23.:41:27.

and the Government shouldn't take any notice of him? You cannot apply

:41:27.:41:32.

that across the board. He is that share of the health select

:41:32.:41:36.

committee and will have done research. Sweeping generalisations

:41:36.:41:39.

from someone who has a relative expert and has listened to the

:41:39.:41:44.

concerns, the pause we have had and the concerns raised by Lady --

:41:44.:41:50.

Labour, is now saying fundamentally it won't work? I don't know the

:41:50.:41:55.

details of that. From the experience but I have had, and they

:41:55.:41:59.

know what I need from the NHS for my local area, I want the money to

:41:59.:42:04.

go to the front line. Even if hospitals are saying they have to

:42:04.:42:08.

cut services to make their savings? The shouldn't be cutting their

:42:08.:42:14.

services. The select committee's job is to hold Government to

:42:14.:42:19.

account. They should test what they see is inadequacies in the system.

:42:19.:42:25.

If that makes hospital stand up and say, no we shouldn't. It is time

:42:25.:42:29.

for the management to reassess what they're doing. Andy Burnham came on

:42:29.:42:33.

the programme and said they are supporting this idea of changing to

:42:33.:42:38.

GP commissioning. So, Labour is backing these proposals. Are you

:42:38.:42:41.

surprised that this late in the day they are coming back to an argument

:42:42.:42:47.

saying that actually perhaps it cannot be done? The risk is the

:42:47.:42:52.

Bill makes the situation you have just described, worse. Hospital

:42:52.:42:56.

having to cut services to find efficiency savings. Some hospitals

:42:56.:43:01.

have managed to find those savings haven't they? The Bill, potentially

:43:01.:43:06.

makes the situation worse, that is why the Royal Collinge Best Royal

:43:06.:43:09.

College of Nursing has come out and said they are against it. It is

:43:09.:43:15.

hard to find anybody who isn't. The risk is, what to do under the model

:43:15.:43:19.

proposed by the coalition is to add another layer of bureaucracy and

:43:19.:43:23.

bring in private companies who can cherry-pick the services they want

:43:23.:43:28.

to deliver and leave the state to pick up the rest. That's why there

:43:28.:43:33.

are so many expert voices united in opposition to it. It is why there

:43:33.:43:36.

has been such a row about it in the Commons and the Lords. The

:43:37.:43:40.

Government shouldn't be pushing through such fundamental change so

:43:40.:43:45.

quickly. Although Labour does support the idea of GP

:43:45.:43:50.

commissioning? We support the idea GPs are the best place to

:43:50.:43:56.

understand... GPs are private. are self-employed. It is the

:43:56.:44:01.

private sector at work. We have accepted that GPs are the right

:44:01.:44:06.

people to be choosing services for their patients. The their private

:44:06.:44:13.

business already. We are going to do more about health tomorrow.

:44:13.:44:20.

Let's move on to the European Court of Human Rights. Is there any

:44:20.:44:24.

realistic chance David Cameron can reform that called? I see no reason

:44:24.:44:30.

why not. The MEPs think he would be difficult? It is difficult because

:44:30.:44:34.

of the voting model. But the point is, the Prime Minister is going

:44:34.:44:39.

there on Wednesday. It is a line in the sand moment. We have the

:44:39.:44:43.

chairmanship of the Council of Europe for the first time in 25

:44:43.:44:46.

years, it would be missed opportunity for our Prime Minister

:44:46.:44:51.

not to go out there and say, we have to look at, not just our

:44:51.:44:54.

relationship, but set the tone of whether relationship needs to go in

:44:54.:44:59.

terms of judgment and safety Europe, stop meddling on a lot of our legal

:44:59.:45:04.

decisions in the courts over here. David Cameron's position is clear,

:45:04.:45:08.

if he does not get his way, would you back the idea of Britain

:45:09.:45:12.

withdrawing from the court's jurisdiction? I don't think it is

:45:12.:45:17.

going to happen. Would you back it, because there is debate whether he

:45:17.:45:22.

would get reform? I would contribute to the bait. It would be

:45:22.:45:27.

making the case as to why we need the reform. -- debate. We all

:45:27.:45:31.

supportive of human rights legislation. Nobody is talking

:45:31.:45:35.

about ultimate withdrawal. But we are talking about making sure

:45:35.:45:39.

British Parliament is sovereign in terms of many of his decisions and

:45:39.:45:42.

Europe stops a Medellin. And the Council of Europe and the Human

:45:42.:45:46.

Rights Court are more transparent in their own decision-making as

:45:46.:45:56.
:45:56.:46:02.

Will the Liberal Democrats be backing this line of attack?

:46:02.:46:07.

essence, we would support the Court of Human Rights and we would not

:46:07.:46:12.

want to go to the point where we would be withdrawing. But people

:46:12.:46:18.

have suggested you would be... That would be a problem for us. A what

:46:18.:46:24.

about Labour? Labour did a lot for this in government so there is a

:46:24.:46:28.

level of democracy here that is quite often lost. It is important

:46:28.:46:32.

we remember that when we go around the world, whether it is a

:46:32.:46:36.

Conservative-led government or not, and we tell other countries that

:46:36.:46:40.

they should adhere to a human rights standards, we can do that at

:46:40.:46:45.

the same time as arguing that somehow we should be exempt.

:46:45.:46:49.

can understand that people would be frustrated that courts made the

:46:50.:46:54.

decision here and then it was overruled. Politicians don't do

:46:54.:47:01.

enough to go out and explain what is behind those rulings. It is

:47:01.:47:06.

right that we don't send people to countries where they will be

:47:06.:47:11.

tortured or killed, and that is a do the other parties largely share.

:47:11.:47:15.

This weekend Eric Pickles told councils they have a moral duty not

:47:15.:47:21.

to raise council tax this year. However, a number of authorities

:47:21.:47:26.

are choosing to reject the government offer and opt for a rate

:47:26.:47:31.

increase. Brighton and Hove is looking to raise rates, and Jason

:47:31.:47:37.

Kitcat from the council joins us now. Make your case - why should

:47:37.:47:41.

people from Brighton and Hove have to pay more? The government are

:47:41.:47:47.

reducing our funding by 33% over four years so we are trying to

:47:47.:47:52.

protect services, proposing 57p a week more for the average household

:47:52.:47:58.

in this city. We think that is a small contribution. But what about

:47:58.:48:05.

the central government money - you say it is less. There is an offer

:48:05.:48:09.

for this year and next year. there is a one year only offer and

:48:09.:48:14.

it is a gimmick because you end up worse off than if you didn't take

:48:14.:48:20.

it. We would be �5.4 million worse off over two years and the grant is

:48:20.:48:25.

only worth �3 million so it is not a good deal. That is why many

:48:26.:48:29.

authorities have now stopped and said to Eric Pickles this is

:48:29.:48:37.

another attack on the freedom and financing of local authorities.

:48:37.:48:43.

are you setting the rate at 3.5%, is it because anything beyond that

:48:43.:48:47.

and there would be a referendum? Were reset our rate last year, it

:48:47.:48:51.

was the understanding that there would still be capping powers, and

:48:51.:48:55.

only the last minute did Eric Pickles changed that to the

:48:55.:48:59.

referendum option. Now the electoral commission have so there

:48:59.:49:02.

are not the correct regulations in place so we couldn't hold a

:49:02.:49:07.

referendum even if we wanted to. not because you are frightened you

:49:07.:49:11.

would lose? It wasn't even on the cards when we were making that

:49:11.:49:17.

decision. Giles is in the Central Lobby. Over to you. It to his

:49:17.:49:22.

interesting but not only did Eric Pickles used the phrase moral duty,

:49:22.:49:26.

he also said raising council tax would be a kick in the teeth to

:49:26.:49:36.

hard-working households. What is the point of alleviating

:49:36.:49:40.

the burden on households for one year when the next year they may

:49:40.:49:45.

have to pay even more if they took your grant? That is not necessarily

:49:45.:49:53.

the case. 140 councils will be taking the freeze so the

:49:54.:49:56.

overwhelming majority get the message, they know that they can

:49:57.:50:03.

make sense of it. The assumption that Jason Kitcat wrongly made was

:50:03.:50:06.

that the council does nothing in that year to make further

:50:06.:50:10.

efficiencies. He is assuming it simply stands still, that

:50:10.:50:16.

everything is frozen for the years ahead. So you are saying to freeze

:50:16.:50:21.

council tax, and the next year when you have this larger short fall,

:50:21.:50:26.

don't do it by increasing, but cut out. Many councils have been saying

:50:26.:50:33.

for ages they are cut to the bone. We are giving �27 billion in

:50:33.:50:37.

support to councils for other local services. The average council get

:50:37.:50:44.

something like �2,100 per household for funding services. Brighton and

:50:44.:50:50.

Hove, a unitary authority, it gets significantly more because it has

:50:50.:50:56.

more demand on its services. We are targeting the money to where it is

:50:56.:51:00.

most needed, but equally there is an obligation on households to

:51:00.:51:04.

continue pressing for savings and have a look at the money that

:51:04.:51:08.

councils have got in their bank balances in reserves. The there is

:51:08.:51:13.

no doubt that some local authorities could cut waste without

:51:13.:51:16.

affecting frontline services, and focusing their mind some that is

:51:16.:51:23.

not a bad thing. Councils have been doing that not least because of the

:51:23.:51:26.

cuts in funding the government has imposed upon them. This year

:51:26.:51:31.

councils will do their level best to avoid an increase in council tax,

:51:31.:51:38.

but the so-called offer of help is only for one year. That is why

:51:38.:51:40.

Conservative-run Surrey County Council are saying you might have

:51:40.:51:45.

short-term gain but it will be long-term pain. There are some Tory

:51:45.:51:49.

authorities as well as Labour ones that are saying that in the end we

:51:49.:51:55.

have the balance of what we want to provide for people. It is a cheek

:51:55.:52:00.

of Eric Pickles who has done this unfairly so bigger cuts on the

:52:00.:52:05.

deprived authorities. At the same time the government put up VAT, so

:52:05.:52:10.

people need to take what he is saying with a pinch of salt. It is

:52:10.:52:14.

interesting that it is not just opponents of the government in

:52:14.:52:22.

local authority doing this. You mentioned sorry, Southend, this is

:52:22.:52:31.

difficult stuff is what they are saying, and they are asking if you

:52:31.:52:41.

could change your minds about it and they are councils of your party.

:52:41.:52:46.

We talk annually to the councils, we consort with them on the

:52:46.:52:50.

settlements and there is nothing you on that. I am happy to talk to

:52:50.:52:55.

anyone. There are only about three Tory councils talking about that.

:52:55.:53:01.

We have worked hard to find money to assist council tax payers. The

:53:01.:53:10.

council tax doubled under Hilary's government. I don't think that the

:53:10.:53:15.

ordinary voter will thank any Council for turning away money

:53:15.:53:21.

which could save them �75 a year. You would have been under the same

:53:21.:53:30.

sorts of pressures. Yes, but we would not have allocated them out

:53:30.:53:35.

in the unfair way the government has done. If Bob is saying that he

:53:35.:53:39.

will not make it a one-off that would be great, but it is not clear

:53:39.:53:48.

what the government stance is. have said so far we can do the

:53:48.:53:58.

funding of this for one year. Many councils are well able to cope.

:53:58.:54:04.

will be coming back to this. Now, importantly the big topic of

:54:04.:54:14.
:54:14.:54:30.

the day - let's find out the answer Which one of these was a complaint

:54:30.:54:37.

made by MPs about the food in their parliament? The answer is that the

:54:37.:54:42.

caviar is too rich. That is the right answer, so the others are

:54:42.:54:48.

complaints logged in the catering sub-committee about the quality of

:54:48.:54:56.

food in the 19th eating and drinking establishments. Can I just

:54:56.:55:02.

say, that complaint is not about me. What is most bizarre is not about

:55:02.:55:05.

how they found the time to complain, it is what they are complaining

:55:05.:55:11.

about because the food is very nice. You yes, and it is also subsidised,

:55:11.:55:17.

isn't it? Not as much as it might be. I sit on the Administration

:55:17.:55:27.
:55:27.:55:27.

Committee. I will discover who did the chips! We have to recognise

:55:27.:55:33.

that in Parliament, and I'm sure you covered it last week, we are

:55:33.:55:38.

paid generously but my team, I have three-and a-half staff and a budget,

:55:38.:55:43.

and they are not paid very well... At but they are not complaining

:55:43.:55:49.

about the food either. The do have to make sure the people who work in

:55:49.:55:53.

London for far below the celery outside of Parliament are able to

:55:53.:56:01.

feed themselves. We have made your point. Do you like the food? I eat

:56:01.:56:07.

there all the time. And I eat the chips! I on that note, may I bring

:56:07.:56:13.

my glamorous assistant in. Where going to ask how you like to read

:56:13.:56:20.

your chips, Pritti Patel. Because we are all starving at the end of

:56:20.:56:25.

the show. That is the tower formation, and that is what one

:56:25.:56:30.

particular MP would like to see on his plate. We also have a little

:56:30.:56:37.

posh holder for the chips. I just like mine in a reasonable sized

:56:37.:56:43.

bolts. Can't you tell by my size?! The what is the best meal you have

:56:43.:56:47.

had in the Commons? You wouldn't get away with serving that portion

:56:47.:56:55.

of chips in Wigan at a fish-and- chip shop! The what would you say?

:56:55.:57:00.

That there aren't enough? Nobody in the right mind would serve chips

:57:00.:57:04.

like that. The quality in the House of Commons is absolutely fine.

:57:04.:57:14.
:57:14.:57:16.

would you recommend we try? soup is out of this world. I have

:57:16.:57:21.

never heard any complaints about the cake. No, they haven't

:57:21.:57:27.

complained. I'm surprised they raised a lot of complaints about

:57:27.:57:32.

the food. He should always have the ability to complain. We don't want

:57:32.:57:38.

you to leave unhappy - please, have a chip. Don't be shy. You are

:57:39.:57:45.

obviously dying to have won. We didn't think about ketchup. We are

:57:45.:57:55.
:57:55.:57:57.

going to have our complaint book on the programme. Chips and gravy.

:57:57.:58:02.

do you have that? If you complain too much, they will take the

:58:02.:58:06.

subsidy away and that would be a shame. The to is not a problem for

:58:06.:58:12.

us. I have always thought that the passes we have, I have always

:58:12.:58:17.

thought this should be graded and we should be paying a full price

:58:17.:58:23.

and those on a lower salary should be paying less. That is reasonable,

:58:23.:58:28.

particularly for staff. I have been around during the summer recess. My

:58:28.:58:33.

constituency is not that far from London. What, getting your meals?

:58:33.:58:39.

No, because I can pop in or out, but a lot of staff tend to go

:58:39.:58:48.

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