06/02/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics. The boss of Network


Rail is on track to get a bonus worth a third of a million pounds.


The Transport Secretary says she will vote against it, but can't


block T Labour says she can, but who is right? The MoD's billions of


pounds in the red. The Government wants to start buying arms off the


peg instead of made to measure, but what does that mean for the


hundreds of thousands employed in our arms industry?


Is too much subsidy being paid to erect wind wur tines. -- wind


turbines? And what can the Cabinet learn from


reading Dickens? We celebrate the buy centenary of the great author's


birth. With us for the first-half of the


programme today is the outgoing of the president of the girl schools


association, Dr Helen Wright. We will begin with education because


over the weekend the new Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael


Wilshaw, a former headteacher has criticised the standard of


leadership in some schools. He said heads in more than 5,000 schools


are not up to standard and and bear responsibility for high high levels


of poor teaching. Do you agree it is down to leadership and that that


leadership flow frs the headteachers? I think leadership is


very important, indeed. Sir Michael Wilshaw isn't talk being my school


where the leadership is outstanding! Nor is he talking


about the leadership in schools, many of the hundreds and thousands


of schools of heads who I meet often... Because he is talking


about the heads of state schools? Heads in state schools as well.


Many are doing exceptional jobs in challenging and difficult


circumstances, underfunded and a lot of bureaucracy. He is right


that leadership in schools is terribly important and that's


leadership at all levels because that is what the of sed figures are


with -- Ofsted figures are about and we need to pull together.


Leaders do need to have ambition for their young people in their


schools. Do you think the headteachers are key? That's all


the rhetoric that we have been getting over the last few years. If


you have a fantastic headteacher, the rest will fall into place?


Partly, that's true. Heads are important, but leadership


throughout the school is important as well. Heads are responsible for


appointing people and without a good governing body and without


people attracted to the schools and without a supportive framework in


the country. Are headteachers in the independent


sector better and more successful than in the State sector? They have


more freedom and that matters. Freedom and and autonomy are


important. If you have children in front of you, you know you


understand their background, their needs, you are able to invest in


them more and that matters significantly.


Does that mean an independent school should play a bigger role in


taking over or helping in the State sector? Well, it is very


interesting that question. I went into education to be able to make a


difference to the country and and to beyond. I can't thing of a


single independent school which doesn't have strong partnerships...


But that's not the same as taking them over. They could do more


successful independent schools to help the State sector and schools


that are struggling? I am not sure they could do a lot more.


From a leadership point of view? There is a lot of pressure from the


Government for Independent schools to sponsor academies. The most


successful partnerships are those built up over time. It is important


to build that up. We have seen before Government funded


initiatives like State school, independent school partnerships.


Would you like to sponsor an academy? We have looked at that. I


am going to be moving on from my school in a while so it is the


wrong time to do that. People need to be at the right stage within


their school and you need to have a need in the area. You don't want to


be turning up at a nearby school saying, "We are here to sponsor


you." How is that going to help anybody.


I presume there would be a two-way street. People feel there is a


reluctance when the opportunity is there, I don't think that would be


a good thing? I don't think there is a reluctance. So many


independent schools are very, very involved in their local communities


and quite right too. Would a headteacher from an


independent school to be able to have the right schools to run or


help run a large inner city mixed comprehensive? I don't see why not.


Leadership is leadership. And children are children. And And as


long as we have a concerted effort to move together, it will work.


For something different. It is time for our daily quiz and the question


for today is what ale has been banned from a House of Commons bar?


It is on the grounds that it is At the end of the show, we will


give you the answer. It is bonus season, but all is not well for


some of Britain's senior managers. Last week Stephen Hester bowed to


pressure and and waived his bonus of nearly �1 million in shares.


Tomorrow, Labour are holding a debate on bank bonuses and are


hoping the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will back a tax


on the payouts. Network rail made changes to the bonus scheme so


bosses would only get 60% of their solicitorry rather than -- salary


rather than 100. This would see their Chief Executive receiving


�340,000. It faces prosecutions over two


fatal accidents. Can ministers stop this privately owned company which


does receive direct and indirect Government subsidy from awarding


bonuses. On the Sunday Politics, the Transport Secretary they


couldn't. I won't be able to stop it going


through. The Government structure means I can go and vote against t


but the problem we have got is that won't necessarily change the result.


The other problem we've got is that the members can vote against the


bonus package, but their vote is only advisory.


Well, Labour say Justine Greening is wrong and the Government can


block the payouts. Joining us now is rail expert,


Christian Wolmar. Who is right? Can the Government block the payout?


is more complicated. Network Rail is a very strange beastie. It is


basically, it doesn't have any owners. It is controlled by 100 so-


called members of which Justine Greening is just one so if Justine


Greening does manage to get everybody to vote against it, all


the members, then possibly they would block it, but on the other


hand the membership is only advisory so it is very complicated.


We have just had copy come down about what the Government is going


to do. It is going to announce proposals to improve Geoff earnance


at Network Rail. Will that improve things? It has been having


discussions for over a year. It was supposed to come out with a paper


about the corporate governors, this was Labour's mistake, when Network


Rail was created back in 2003 I think it was, it should have been


nationalised. It should have just been a Government owned company.


Instead they created this funny company limited by guarantee which


basically is out of control. It has nobody to actually stop it from


doing things. It doesn't have any shareholders and supposedly the


members are supposed to control t but they are a very weak body and


ineffective. It really is a law on to itself.


Except won't it be under political pressure? If the Secretary of State


rocks up on Friday and votes against this package, then surely


that is going to make it difficult for them to go ahead? Now, the


politics is something different. Yes, I suspect that if Justine


Greening turns up to this meeting, although she is one member out of


100, I suspect she will swing a lot of people behind her and also


Network Rail directors are going to look at this and think the last


thing in the world we want to do is make the Government angry which


gives Network Rail around �4 billion a year in subsidy. So


politically, she might manage to have more influence than legally


she has. In terms of putting someone on the


remuneration committee, would that change things? Network Rail put out


a statement saying that wouldn't change things either, the director


wouldn't have a a veto there? would help in terms of influence,


but the key point is that the Government is desperate for Network


Rail debt which is over �20 billion not to come on to its own accounts


and that's why Labour created this strange beast of a company limited


by guarantee so if they tried to influence, if the Government tried


to influence Network Rail too strongly and say determine the


incentive programme then Network Rail would become a Government-


owned company and the �20 billion would add to George Osborne's


problem. They have to influence it behind the scenes without actually


ordering Network Rail to do anything because if they did that,


it would come on to their books and that's not what they want.


Maria Eagle, the Shadow Transport Secretary is here. Influence is the


way to go here. Influence is important. But the articles of


association which I have I have got here are clear. They say clearly


that the Secretary of State has to give prior written consent to any


changes to the incentive arrangements. That means she can


stop this if she wishes to. She can appoint a director to the


remuneration committee and that would give more influence as well.


Let's go back to the original quote. It is any changes to the bonus


scheme or the pay package. At the moment what Network Rail said in


their statement, there are no changes in that. If they were


introducing a new system, then she would be able to veto it? This is


pedantic. They are proposing a change to the annual bonus and and


they are proposing a change to the length of the long-term bonus.


What's the change? They are cutting the bonus to 60% of salary over a


five year period. All their five years salary paid again after five


years. This is a change to the current arrangements and it is


wrong of Justine Greening to say she can't have any influence on


this. She can. Well, she doesn't say she can't


have any influence, by hoping against on Friday, she is hoping to


have influence. She can do more. She has to give prior written


consent for the arrangements to go ahead. It is straightforward. She


needs to use the influence she has, the influence that she has has


there the articles of association. She started out last week, you know,


saying she couldn't do anything. Now, she is saying she can go along


to the meeting and vote, but it won't have any impact, I am


starting to wonder if she wants to have an impact. She can veto the


bonuses and she should. If she could veto, surely, Justine


Greening would. There is no advantage for her not to do that.


If she had the power to do so surely she would use it, it would


be something politically she would gain credit for, the the Department


of Transport are firm saying she can't. If she did order Network


Rail to do and the consequence was they came a company on whose debts


balance sheet that came back to the public finances is that something


you would like to see? She has to give I prior written consent for


the changes. It doesn't pet the debt on the books if she were to do


that. The arrangements are clear in the articles of association. The


question is why doesn't she want to, she wants to talk tough, but not do


anything. She can do something. She will vote against on Friday. If


she decide the bonus payment doesn't go ahead? I will be happy,


but the reality is the Secretary of State has more of an influence than


she is she is letting on and she needs to use.


What about the level? What would you like to see at Network Rail?


Network Rail has been criticised for failing to meet its licence


conditions. Its performance is deteriorating. Passengers are


seeing their fares go up by 11% this year, 13% next year, I don't


think it is appropriate... doesn't have control over the


fares? No, that's the Government. I don't think it is appropriate for


an organisation like Network Rail which has been criticised by its


regulator to take bonus and they should refuse them if they are


offered them, but Justine Greening should take a lead and should stop


this going ahead. Should it be nationalised? Well, we


are having a look at the structure of the rail industry. It is not


just Network Rail, it is the way in way the railways interact and the


way in which the system works. It has a a lot of built in


inefficiency and we will come out with a view of that, but I have


ruled nothing in and I have ruled nothing out.


You said you were in support of a director on the committee. These


are building blocks to ensure politically and technically that


this bonus may not go ahead? don't think that it should go ahead


and if Justine Greening puts a stop to it, I would say well done to her.


We have to ask why is it she is talking tough, but not using the


powers she has got. Do you think now there is a shift


and it is the right right shift as far as people being awarded


bonuses? The Government says it should only be awarded for success,


I think a lot of this discussion is about the size of bonuses, and


whilst we want to be able to take the brightest and best to take


Network Rail out of its difficult situation, we have to accept and it


is right to accept that if people are tasks to do something, they


should perform at be held to account. What lesson otherwise are


we giving how younger generations? Thank you. In a time of austerity,


should we buy the best military equipment or the cheapest? Or


should our priority to beat to protect jobs by pine British? It is


a question the government have been looking at, and they have concluded


that value for the taxpayer for comes first. It could mean more


foreign arms. For years, overspending at the MoD and


disastrous procurement projects, over-budget and years behind


schedule, have dogged ministers. Now the coalition government has


adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the defence industries. In a


white paper on the future of defence spending, ministers have


laid down the law. Peter Luff, the Minister for Defence Support, have


said MoD purchases will be decided through open competition in the


domestic and global market, buying off the shelf where appropriate. We


will look first for products that are proven.


For many, that means buying American, or even French, aircraft


that are already flying, ships and submarines already afloat, and


armoured vehicles already in use in other countries. Latin would be


even without the need to invest in expensive prototypes. More worrying


for those in Britain's arms industry, the white paper states,


the MoD does not consider wider employment, industrial or economic


factors in its value for money assessments. The sector's support


300,000 jobs, many highly skilled, but with a �38 billion black hole


in defence spending, by the most cost-effective materiel has become


not just desirable but a necessity. Last week there was much anguish


amongst MPs that the Indian government had favoured a French


jet over Typhoon, but if we cannot guarantee to buy our own kit in a


future, can we expect other countries to do so? Carole Walker


has got two MPs are concerned about this in Central lobby.


Defence procurement has been a thorny issue for successive


governments with projects inevitably running way over budget


and the way over that time limit, and I'm joined now by Bernard


Jenkin, former Shadow Defence Secretary, and Alison Seabeck, who


speaks on these issues for the Labour Party. Bernard, given the


fact that there is a �38 billion black hole in the defence budget,


surely it makes sense for the government to try to save money by


buying off the shelf. Well, I think this defence white paper has got


much more to do with reforming the whole system of procurement, and


there is a big tussle going on inside the Ministry of Defence


between those who are defending what they have done at justifying


vested interests, and those were trying to reform the system. I do


not think this white paper resolves that complex, but they are


important pointers, particularly the engagement with small and


medium-sized enterprises in the defence sector, because that is


where the gene innovations are. If we are going to do it on 2% of GDP


or less, those are the innovations we need. Do you think it is right


for the government to signal a move much closer towards buying off the


shelf when it is feasible? What does that mean? Certainly, you can


buy body armour off the shelf, but you cannot procure those really big


projects off the shelf, the ones that are vital to our nation's


security, and that is where the overspend is and delays happen. I


do not think this white paper really looks at how you overcome


some of those... Then it is quite right, these are inherited problems


that have gone through successive governments. Your government left a


�38 billion black hole! I would take issue with that figure. Nobody


has explained that. Let's actually have a look at how we take this


forward, how we improve the contracting process to tighten us


up. This document does not do it. We want more, and there is, I


understand, another paper coming. The deputy penance Secretary gave


the Defence Select Committee that figure. -- Permanent Secretary.


Before we get bogged down in that, isn't the big danger here that if


the Government looks to try and save a bit of money by buying more


of defence equipment off the shelf, then there is going to be an impact


on jobs and on long-term skills base in the country? Well, what the


skills base depends upon his investment the government makes in


defence R&D, and they are attempting to halt the decline that


we have seen over recent decades. If the government is going to take


a strategic view about maintaining onshore defence industry capability,


their investment in R&D ensures the long-term competitiveness and


competitive advantages of our industry. But yes, you are right.


If you're going to open up the system to competition, you might


finish up by more foreign kit, and indeed that might not be a bad


thing. Except... The main thing is to get the big Brimes out of the


way, the prime contract has. There are very few, they operate in the


manner of a cartel or oligopoly, not in the legal sense, but they


are so big that they dominate the market, and the government has got


to have the in-house skills to bypass those big integrated systems


people. Isn't there a danger, if we look at what happened with the


Indian spying jets from the French instead of choosing the British,


isn't there a need for the British government at least to show some


faith in its own defence industry by buying British when it can?


These companies are largely global. They can go anywhere. You are right


that the British government does need to show exactly where they


want to go in the future in terms of our equipment procurement.


Industry have not got that certainty, and they need it, at


last they have not got it, they are going to think twice about


investing in the UK, and that is not good for futures bills. Very


briefly on that point, Bernard. key thing is for the government to


invest in R&B and engage with SMEs, not just the big prime contractor


has, and that is the way to maintain our defence industry base,


which is, after all, one of our great national asset. That is it


for now from Westminster. How best to educate our children?


The received wisdom is that boys are better educated in co-


educational schools and girls do better in single-sex establishments,


so do you sacrifice the education of girls to improve outcomes for


boys, or is the received wisdom just wrong? I attended an all-girls


school, make your own judgments about that!


This has won a good schools guide awards, 96% Get good GCSEs, a good


place to send your kids if you live in the Twickenham area and if they


are girls. If you're a parent with children of a certain age, he will


be painfully familiar with the sheer and stop trying to get them


into the best school possible. Now, for some people, that might be a


single-sex school, but the problem is finding one. According to the


Department for Education, there are more than 3,300 state secondary


schools in England, but just 165 are all boys, and only 219 are all


girls. Interestingly, of the schools with the best A-level


results in 2011, 17 out of the top 25 were single-sex. There are many


reasons why single-sex schools work, and why we have positive results


here. They do not have the distractions of boys, and they are


able to grow in confidence. It is OK to be good at academic subjects


here, I know it is in many mixed schools as well, but it is OK here,


and that means girls are happy to get better and progress very well.


Which is why schools like this have a lot of fans. The research that we


did a few years ago looking at a value-added scores showed that


girls who were in comprehensive girls-only schools made more


progress between the ages of 11 and 16 and girls who were in


comprehensive co-educational schools. Particularly interesting


was the fact that the girls at the bottom of the range made the


biggest bully, they make the most progress between 11 and 16. --


biggest league. Or is also made a bit more progress when they were in


single-sex schools. -- always. But it was not that noticeable. So what


is not to like about single-sex schools? Some experts point out


that they tend be raised in affluent areas which might skew the


results are a bit. Also, what if you cannot get in? Parents will


choose girls schools for their daughters but co-educational for


their sons. You just cannot square that circle. So you end up with


individual choices adding up to pay social outcome which is not


desirable. But if you do want to go back to the good old days, you


might have to go back to the good old days of council knows best.


Arguably, if he wants to maintain single-sex schools, he would have


to go back to a system where LEAs had a degree of planning and


oversight are able to say, we have so many girls places, and we have


to match that for boys. Whether that would be popular with parents


of politicians, I do not know. could probably hazard a guess,


though. Parents like single-sex schools, but they also like Joyce.


Giving them both could be the tricky bit.


Her guest of the day, Helen Wright, is president of the Girls' School


Association. Clearly, we know where you stand when it comes to single-


sex education, you are a fan. Absolutely, yes. Nothing has


changed your mind on that. Absolutely not. I have a son as


well as two daughters, and I was single-sex education for him. In


the teenage years, it is most effective, because that is the time


when you are coming to terms with your agenda, and I think you need a


strong space at that point to be able to do that. It is interesting


from one of the contributors to says the research has shown that it


is advantageous for girls, either in the state or independent sector,


but not necessarily for boys. Why do you think that is? Do not think


there is evidence to say that girls have a calming effect even in those


teenage years when they may be a distraction? All of this research


is slightly dubious, actually. It is very hard to say that there is


one single direction that a school should take. What you need to do is


go back to basics and look at schools themselves and go into a


boys' school, of which they are not very many, going two goals schools,


and see the effect that being in that environment is having. -- go


into girls' schools. There is a difficulty in terms of planning and


what sort of system we have. If you have a state system controlled by


local education authorities, parents want girls in single-sex


schools, you cannot square the circle. You can have a choice,


though, and it would be interesting to find out why parents think that


boys should be in co-educational schools, because I think that we


still have a big hangover in our thinking about the past and what


girls' schools and boys' schools used to be like. We really need to


shed that. We need to say that we need a space for girls to the girls,


particularly in those teenage years, when they are learning who they are.


Even if that choice is unevenly distributed, because if you leave


it open, you may not get the choice you want as parents, the schools


may not be available in your area. The more successful boys' schools


are, the more successful girls' schools are, the more parents will


want to choose them. Looking ahead to the future, should there be a


directive which says, let's look at single-sex education in the state


sector? Absolutely, it is exactly the right way to move forward,


because pounds to not often have that choice. As a result, that


leads to compromises for education. These are wonderful places,


fabulous places to be. Girls can grow up and develop that confidence,


the carriage, and take a much wider range of subjects, free of


stereotypes and prejudices, ditto in boys' schools, and we should be


able to see that, place more emphasis on that in our education


system. Do you think it will happen? It will have I had anything


to do with it! We were let you have the last word on that! Goodbye,


thank you for being our guest. Last week we saw a minister quits


the Cabinet after being charged with perverting the course of


justice and a minor reshuffle. What can we look forward to this week?


In a moment I will be joined by two journalists to look into the


crystal ball. First, a summary of what we know is in the political


diary. On Tuesday, Labour will use their opposition date in an attempt


to keep the spotlight on bankers' bonuses. They want to reintroduce


the bank bonus tax and end bonuses based on what they call one-way bet.


One day later, the Health and Social Care Bill faces the report


stage in the Lords. The government has attempted to pre-empt further


criticism by offering concessions. Peers may press for more changes.


And on Friday, as he will have heard on Sunday politics, transport


secretary Justine Greening says she will be attending the Network Rail


AGM to vote against plans to reward their chief executive with a


�340,000 bonus. Well, to talk about those things and what will be a


busy political week, and joined by Andy McSmith on the Independent and


Melissa Kite, contributing editor to the Spectator. Let's picked up


on the Health and Social Care Bill, how dangerous is this what David


Cameron? It is not looking good. It has been a terrible muddle. I do


not know why they got into this in the first place. Were they ambushed


by Andrew Lansley? I think so, he is an old trouper who will have


been senior to Cameron years ago in Tory Central Office, and he


probably said, I have got this great idea that shaking up the


health service, he will have told him that Tony Blair regretted not


doing it straight away, but it is a real dog's breakfast, and hardly


anybody in the NHS is in favour of it. Even politically, some Tory MPs


and said it is a difficult one to sell to constituents, and even Mark


Field MP yesterday said that Andrew Lansley failed to articulate what


the Bill is trying to achieve. Not And then you see in the Daily


Mirror that 6,000 nurse jobs to go. People are thinking why are they


spending �1.8 billion reorganising the place and sacking nurses.


can't stop it now, can you? No, you can't. I think David Cameron must


be thinking how on earth did I get into this? It is one of those


reforms that it is a kind of messy compromise. They really wanted to


do something radical, a lot of Tories want to do something radical


with the Health Service. That is political - a political hot pay


Tayto, they don't dare what they want which is more competition.


They got together this Bill which is a compromise anyway. It is messy


anyway way. They have got loads of amendments


to be made. If it does go, it will be such a


sort of, you know, a hotchpotch that it won't have any effect at


all. So ss, you know -- it is, you know, in a sense a waste of


political energy. What will it mean in term of David


Cameron's claim that the NHS is safe in our hands, you know, he did


a lot of work to convince people that as far as the Conservative


Party was concerned he was a great supporter and is a great supporter


of the NHS? Yes, well it doesn't help, does it? A suspicion is


getting around that perhaps the purpose of this is to get more


competition into the NHS. That's where a lot of the


controversy is. Yes. People fear the idea that the Health Service is


going to be given over to profit motive and end up having to pay for


it. It is an old nightmare. As I say, I find it surprising they ever


walked into this. They must be wishing they left it alone.


Do you think on Friday when Justine Greening votes against this


remuneration that Network Rail will say, "All right, we won't go


ahead"? She is hoping it will shame them into.


A bit like the Stephen Hester bonus when Labour said they were going to


have a vote on it in the House of Commons.


It is talking tough, but can anything be done? In a sense does


David Cameron want to play a double game here? Does he want to talk


tough on bonuses and have Justine Greening go to the meeting and make


it sound like they are cross about it and they don't want it to happen


because they know they can't do anything about it unless he


voluntarily offers not to take it which would be a good compromise.


Does David Cameron really want a massive war on bonuses? Is the


political mileage in this? Is there a danger that in the end, you find


yourself on the wrong side of the argument, the City are getting


worried and suspicious about how much Government interference there


is going to be, but the public mood is very much with this? I can't see


what there is in it for the Government if Justine Greening


doesn't get her way. People think they are able to stop this and


there is an argument going on across the way in the Commons about


whether they can or they they can't and as of the time I left the


building, Labour seemed to be winning the argument. It looks as


if they could stop it if they wanted.


Maybe they were hoping that it would look like they tried. "sorry,


we did try, but we couldn't do anything.". The fact is they are


not on the right side of the argument. Public opinion is very


anti-certain types of bonuses. It is not everybody's bonuses, but


certain people including those whose organisations are heavily


State funded. That's the problem. There we must


leave it. Thank you very much. There has been violence this


morning in the Syrian city of Homs. 25 people have been reported killed


and many more injured as Government troops shelled the town. This This


follows the violence when opposition groups said over 200


civilians were killed in the city. On Saturday China and Russia


blocked a UN resolution calling for President Assad to step down. We


are joined by our correspondent, Jim Muir, because they blocked the


resolution, does that mean there is an end to the diplomatic channels


here in terms of what they can do in terms of putting pressure on


Syria? Well, it hasn't ground to a complete halt. People are looking


for ways at exerting pressure. The Arab League are meeting on Saturday.


William Hague has said that there will be -- they will be working


with the Arab League to push forward the Arab League's peace


plan which was at the centre of that resolution. The Russian


Foreign Minister Foreign Minister was unrepentant about that veto. He


will be seeing President Assad and he is taking with him the


equivalent the head of the CIA, they want to push the political


process forward to get quicker reforms going and and to sponsor


some kind of dialogue. Both those things are not realistic because


the Russians don't have clout with the Syrian opposition. They are a


dirty word with the opposition at the moment along with the Chinese


because of that veto and they are not really in a position now to


talk about dialogue or some kind of talks between the two sides. So it


is very hard at this stage to see a way forward diplomatically. The


West will be trying to squeeze more with sanctions, economic sanctions


by the EU, trying to get the Arabs also to tighten up their sanctions


against the regime. Perhaps working with the Arab League to take


diplomatic moves like throwing Syrian ambassadors out, all of


which ups the pressure, but it is not a breakthrough and it won't


break the ear of President Assad who rejected that peace plan plan


because it requires him to step aside.


On the ground, the violence is intensifying. Is there any hope of


a pause in the fighting in order to allow humanitarian aid to get


through? Well, not at the moment. I mean


they both seem to be going hell for leather. After the veto at the UN


both sides said that the only solution was to crack ahead on the


ground. The Government basically through its Government -- through


its Government newspaper talked about stability. President Assad is


believed to have told visiting allies from Lebanon that the cost


of not doing anything was a lot higher than the cost of being


decisive. So he seems to have decided that that it is time to


wipe out these pockets of resistance where the Free Syrian


Army to try and stifle those pockets of defiance in places like


Hops. The free -- Homs, the Free Syrian Army said the only way to


get rid of this regime was by force and they intended to step up their


activities. There has been a rash of attacks and clashes, not just


Homs, but also a town in the west and a number of places. Both sides


seem to be bent on clashing at the moment.


Jim Muir. Thank you very much. I am joined by four MPs. The


Conservative Conor Burns, and a representative from Plaid Cymru.


Duncan Hames, it has been ruled out military action. Is that something


you agree with? We have been clear of the importance of working


through that through the United Nations under this Government and


that's difficult at the moment and I think a coalition Government was


was doing the right thing in supporting the Arab League backed


resolution, but we must look to other measures we can use to keep


the pressure up on the Syrian regime.


But in the meantime the violence is intensifying, we are going to have


a statement this afternoon from William Hague, the Foreign


Secretary, I mean it just seems there isn't much you can do unless


there is some action taken. Well, you could say that, but I am


disappointed about the resolution failing. The UN process is becoming


a busted flush. I do hope that there are as we speak speak dip


plaitic efforts being -- diplomatic efforts being made, but as you say,


people are being killed, but I have to make make one point and I don't


agree with Russia's veto, but they made it on the basis that regime


change is unlawful at international law. Time was when we respected


international law actually and it is unlawful, but I would hope that


the way forward in this particular way is to support African countries


in the main, support their efforts, support the Moroccan resolution and


see if diplomatic avenues can bear fruit.


Do you think there can be a solution in Syria? We need to go


back to the point about the United Nations. If the international


community is to make sure it has legitimacy, decisions like the one


taken with China and Russia, not supporting it puts the


international community in a very difficult position and what needs


to happen is continued pressure on Russia and China to take a stand...


Are you going to to change their minds? It has been a year. The


first attempt was made by Britain and France and other countries to


have a resolution failed. The sanctions are an important step,


but around 7,000 people have been killed and Russia and China need to


step up and take responsibility and the international community needs


to keep the pressure. The second thing is around avoiding unilateral


action by countries within the Arab League, if the UN doesn't take


concerted action together, there is a greater risk of not having a


common voice voice and regional instability, but military action


should be a last resort and in this situation with Syria strategically


in a position where it can destabilise the region... Isn't


that the difficulty? What we are talk being is a bigger problem and


that is Iran, of course? Seen very much as Syria's sponsor? The whole


situation is depressing and what I find worrying about it, not just in


the case of Syria, but going forward. Here we have China, one of


the emerging great powers and on a simple question like this, where


you have a president murdering his own people under licence, China is


not prepared to step up. There must be an Arab solution to this. We are


talking about our friendships and ties of history with that part of


the world, it is time for the Arab League to step up to this problem.


Because the consequences of Syria going into civil war with Israel


next to them, with the problem of Iran, attempt to go acquire a


nuclear weapon is too frightening to contemplate.


We will hear the statement at 3.30pm


Ed Ed Davey has barely got his feet under his recycled desk. 100 MPs


are written to David Cameron demand that the Government cut subsidies


for for for windfarms. Mr Davey has been on a visit with Nick Clegg


this morning where the two Lib Dems have been making clear, they are


behind green energy. Now, Conor Burns, did you sign that


letter? I didn't. I am a Parliamentary private secretary so


I can't. We have a pro proposal for a windfarm in Bournemouth and it is


ten miles off the coast. Over 100 meters high, red flashing light. We


are concerned about it and because it is over ten miles away from


shore, local authorities, members of Parliament, had no impact on it


at all. I think what the letter is making clear, we are not against


the idea of renewables of course in the insecure world we live in, we


must have a diversity of energy supply. I feel we are in the grip


of a fashionable consensus here and the opportunity of a new Secretary


of State to have a look at it again is one worth taking.


Because you don't think he will be as tough as Chris Huhne? He will be


more pragmatic. You sense there is an opportunity


for you and your colleagues to do a land grab? There is an opportunity.


If you are subsidising something, you think it is the write thing to


do. It is a question of putting them under scrutiny financial and


every other way. Will Ed Davey give in? These


subsidies are important to get costs down so we can benefit from


lower costs. The Government had set out its intentions to look to


reduce these supports and there is a review taking place at the moment


which the Government will be in a position to make a decision on


shortly. Because of the success in expanding this sector, costs are


coming down that nainls the sub -- enables the subsidy to fall, but


gives us a more diverse range of sources of energy for our country


which must be a good thing. But should they be getting a huge


slice of the cake? Can we really afford to give that level of


subsidy to something that only provided 7% of electricity? How big


of the slice of the cake was it? It was �10 on your energy bill that


went towards subsidy for onshore and off shore wind combined. This


is about supporting a small sector starting out, get its costs down,


so it can be a contributor to our energy needs in the future and if


that means we are not stuck on the oil price hook and if if that means


we are not at risk of things going on in the Middle East then that


surely must be a good way to get bills down for energy bill payers


in the future. Does Labour agree that we should be


looking at the level of subsidy? People resent the amount that comes


on their bills that goes because it is not that transparent anyway,


that goes to subsidise green We need innovation, and that is an


important part of the debate. At the beginning of these phases, it


is important to provide support, but they will become more self-


sufficient. These 100 MPs Boro signature signals a broader point


about their attitude towards the green economy. It actually


undermines what David Cameron said before the election. The greenest


government ever. In reality, if you have got 100 MPs who are not


subscribing to these efforts, it shows a lack of commitment to


having a greener economy and, you know, a Green government. I think


it is very much the case that they have taken advantage of Chris


Huhne's resignation, and it is an attempt to undermine Ed Davey


before he has got his feet under the desk. That is not acceptable,


and the Conservatives are basically coming back with a vengeance, the


right of the Conservatives. That is a very predictable accusation. It


is about having a dialogue. That is what it looks like. David Cameron


said it would be the greenest government ever, and you are now


calling on the government to back down. We are calling on the


government to have a think about this. I took a delegation of MPs to


talk to Chris Ruane about a wind farm in Dorset. We talk about


empowering local communities. -- boom-boom. There are quite a lot of


stories about local opinion being overridden by wind farms. They are


10,000 jobs in the sector, and it could be eight times that many. At


the moment, we really need to support industries that are


providing new jobs, and one of the good things announced today was the


intention that more and more of the supply chain for wind power should


be supporting UK jobs and businesses, giving people


livelihoods here in the UK. I can totally agree with that. I saw


German turbines in a British offshore territory in the Falklands.


Ridiculous. We should be getting the manufacture of this into


Britain, we should be innovating and bringing it to market ourselves.


You have always been talking about empowering local communities.


Surely it is wrong that the will of local people, when there is an


inappropriate proposal, can be overridden in the policy planning


framework. I agree with that, and in Wales we have a situation where


if a plant is more than 50 megawatts, it is taken a part of


our hands completely and dealt with at an official level any department


down here. That cannot be right. On the larger point, discussing


renewables, nobody has mentioned the fact that I do not think we are


doing enough with waveband sea power. When you look at the


percentage of energy that New Zealand gathers from the sea,


totally clean, you know, to my way of thinking that is where we should


be doing the research. So the emphasis could be shifted anyway,


but there is also a statistic that says for every job created in the


UK renewable energy sector, 3.7 jobs are lost because of the extra


cost in creating those jobs. What you say to that? I do not recognise


that at all. It was a fairly reputable report which suggested


that it means more jobs are lost elsewhere in order to create the


jobs you have talked about in the renewable energy sector. I have not


seen that report, I do not recognise it. I see new jobs in my


constituency and right across the country because people are being


employed to help improve people's energy efficiency, and the Green


deal is going to do even more on that. On where the subsidies go,


the coalition government has increased subsidies for the


offshore marine renewables, wave and tidal, that we have been


hearing about, because they need that support, because they are


early-stage technologies. Hundreds of jobs in renewables in mid-Wales,


hundreds presently and they are increasing. Nick Clegg, the DPM, on


that visit defending green measures. Acting the future of the British


economy and the world economy has to be a green one. -- I think. It


is the only way we can create jobs for the future in a sustainable way.


You know, I think there is nothing inconsistent about doing the right


thing for the plant at the right thing for jobs and growth today,


and that is what innovations like this, why they are so important,


because they show you can create jobs, create affordable homes and


create affordable homes which are cheaper to heat and the many homes


which people live in right now. Well, Conor Burns, you have got a


battle on your hands, are you going to get anywhere with this?


pragmatism of government will allow a serious conversation on this, and


the other thing to remember, Jo, is that we're all getting e-mails and


letters from people in a very cold spell at the moment, struggling to


pay their heating bills. You can do a lot of this stuff, and you can


pile costs on at the time of great growth. In a time of difficulty,


some of the electorate are struggling, and anything that puts


extra pressure on them, it is probably not the right time to do


it. In view of the subsidy, let's hope they get it right, because in


regard to the solar energy, an absolute start breakfast, defeated


in the courts, a complete mess. They are appealing, I think. Yes,


OK, well, 101 tory MPs wrote to the Prime Minister about wind turbines,


102 have put pen to paper on another issue, this time edging


David Cameron to take back a series of criminal justice powers from


Brussels. The backbenchers do not want to see the European Courts of


Justice being given permanent control over British law and order


when it comes to things like handing over suspects do other EU


states. Duncan Hames, yet again, there are Tory Euro-sceptics who


want to claw back powers, and that was a promise given to them. Are


you worried? I am not worried, but I'm surprised that some of the


targets of this particular letter. The European arrest warrant, which


in some cases is a sledgehammer to crack a nut, in others it is a very


valuable crime-fighting tool for the British police. It was first


used in Britain have to arrest a Portuguese man who murdered his


fiancee. Her family are still among my constituents. Just nine months


later, at he was apprehended in Spain, he was convicted in a


Bristol court and given a life sentence and jailed for the murder.


Now, those people that want to see as being tough on Europe are going


to have to take care to make sure that we do not stop being tough on


crime. Do you support this measure being put forward by these MPs?


spoke before Christmas on this matter in a house. The primary duty


that any government, after defending the country, has to its


citizens is the maintenance of law and order and criminal justice, one


of the few things that only the state can do. We are now in a


situation under the European arrest warrant where British citizens can


be extradited to other European countries to face charges that they


would not face at home for the same offence. I think that is wrong. I


think we should be co-operating inter-governmental the across


Europe, we should be co-operating between police forces, but the idea


that our criminal justice system and police authorities should be


subject to external control other than from the UK citizens, elected


and appointed, to me, this is simply wrong. This is not new in


one sense, so why do you think will make any headway with it? Because a


whole raft of new proposals are coming forward. The debate before


Christmas, there was cross-party senses, even from the left of the


Labour Party, saying we need to look again at the European arrest


warrant. Do you agree with that? We have to focus on my operation is


necessary in an era of organised crime that transcends boundaries


and borders, so it is bizarre that Conservative MPs have decided to go


down this route. We need to look at where there is a need for co-


operation, including on the arrest warrant, and more widely around


policing and security issues. And as I say, once again, there is a


hidden agenda here with Conservative MPs flexing their


muscles, telling David Cameron that he needs to take on board their


anti-European angle, and any excuse to pick on the European Union and


think about how points can be stored and how there could be a


wedge driven between the pro Europeans and the anti-Europeans is


being brought home. This is another example of it. It has very little


to do with crime, and if they are serious about tackling crime, there


would be more co-operation, not less. I went to Brussels a few


weeks ago, and one of the problems we have, when we scrutinise


European regulations, it is too late. We should be getting in at


the very beginning. Isn't that the whole point about David Cameron's


promise? It is difficult to repatriate these things. I am


talking about looking for. There are issues with the European


restaurant, I would accept that, but hitherto it has not been


misused, it seems to me. -- European arrest warrant. But with


regard to current applications, when we get a Westminster, it is


too late, the horse has bought it. We should be getting in at the


beginning so that if changes are necessary, they can be argued for


in good time. OK, thank you. The country may be experiencing hard


times, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has great expectations for


2012. Anybody got the clues yet? Not only is it the next year, it is


the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens. Jeremy Hunt wants to get


his Cabinet colleagues in the mood to celebrate one of our greatest


writers, so when they meet at Downing Street tomorrow, he will be


handling at a carefully chosen not all two, but will it go down well


or cause a dickens of a row? We have got some of the books here.


Nick Clegg might not like his gift, he is going to get a copy of Oliver


Twist, either because Mr Clegg is responsible for social


responsibility or, as I suspect, many are saying that their hero is


constantly asking for more! Chancellor George Osborne gets e-


book, perhaps reflecting rivalries with Paris over the future of the


City of London. -- A Tale Of Two Cities. Justine Greening will get


Dombey And Son, which features the male line which was considered high


speed. Which one would you have? am glad that Nick Clegg is going to


get the opportunity to be as informal, sir, all that was, I


would happily take that from him. - - asking for more. Is this a wise


strategy by Jeremy Hunt? Dickens was very prescient, talking about


corruption within Parliament, corruption within the authorities,


but also he was saying that we are being ruled by Old Etonians.


the class for point in there! The first book by Dickens that I read


was Nicholas Nicol be, and there has been a row about when you


should start reading them. To have any expert as vice? As early as


possible. -- do you have any expert advice? They are so many different


ways of familiarising yourself with the stories, and I have very fond


memories of reading Oliver Twist and watching the different versions,


so I think as early as possible. They will not have any time to read


these books, is this part of their ministerial brief? Or to be done in


their free time crust Mark I hope they do, I think it is a wonderful


initiative, but mine would be David Copperfield. My favourite character


is in that, there is a lesson for modern politics... There seems to


be a lesson for modern politics in all of them! If expenditure exceeds


income, and happiness, misery. He embodied the idea of the last


government that something might turn up. A David Cameron is being


given hard times on Great Expectations, both ends of the


scale. When he refers to David Copperfield, I was met to read


during the summer break at school, and I forgot to start it until the


week before. I never got it going! Just time before we go to find out


the answer to our quiz. What Taylor has been banned from the House of


Commons bar on the ground that it is expensive to women? Was it


dangle very, Cornish Knocker, Top Totty or Kilt Lifter? Top Totty!


You knew that quickly enough, well done! That is all for today. We


know where you spend your time, not reading Charles Dickens's novels!


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