07/02/2012 Daily Politics


07/02/2012

Political magazine with Jo Coburn. Lord Lawson and Rachel Reeves on bonuses, Baroness Susan Kramer on rebellious Lib Dem peers, plus a celebration of Charles Dickens's bicentenary.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics.

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Labour's on the war path again over bankers' bonuses. They want

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benefits to be performance related, and they want another bonus tax to

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help get young people back into work. We'll be talking to the

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Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and to a former

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Chancellor. The radical Muslim cleric, Abu

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Qatada, is to be released on bail. Parliament's kicking up a story,

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but what, if anything, can be done? We'll be debating regional public

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sector pay. One MP says the issue will prove more explosive than

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pensions. BELL RINGS. And, what's that noise?

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Quentin will be here with his guide All that in the next half hour.

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With us for the programme today is Max Steinberg from Liverpool Vision,

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the city's economic development company. Welcome.

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First this morning, let's talk about shops. Because a report by

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the Local Data Company has found that one in seven shops in towns

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and cities stood empty last year. It found that vacancy rates were

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above average in the Midlands and the north, including Stockport,

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Nottingham, Grimsby and Stockton on Tees.

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How or are you finding it? In your area, you cover regional

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regeneration. How is Liverpool bearing up? We have just had a very

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good lead-up to Christmas. The new shopping development is proving

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popular. There was a time, in the 80s and 90s, we thought we were

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America, of building it out of town centres. If you create the right

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offer in the town centre, car- parking remains an issue. Create

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the right attractions around shopping, that's what is happening

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in Liverpool. If so you are not experiencing what Grimsby, not a

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them are experiencing, empty shops? We are seeing 2 million people a

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month, lettings and up to 97%. House of Fraser. Taking business

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away from other town centres? do think it is out of town shopping

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centres. I have seen examples across the North, in small towns,

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out-of-town shopping centres have killed the small town centre.

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what Peter will -- what people want. It is causing the death of the High

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Street. Ours has an Odeon cinema, one of the most popular. If you

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create the right attractions which we have done. Liverpool was so

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confident, there is a �200 million development coming.

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What do you think about the Government's mantra that there has

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to be a shift from reliance on public sector to more reliance on

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the public -- private sector. How does that impact on jobs? It is

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having an effect. There is a strong argument that this is going too

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quickly. We have an economy heavily dependent on public sector jobs.

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Our council has had to take �90 million out of the budget this year.

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A huge amount of money. When an economy is so dependent on the

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public sector, we need investment to meet private sector investment.

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It takes the risk it areas, in parts of the nipple, the north east

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and north west where the private sector may not going. The

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government says it wants to see private sector jobs picking up

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public sector jobs. I believe we can do that. We have a global

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entrepreneurship Congress coming to the people next year, recreating

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the spirit of enterprise in the City, getting people to understand,

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50% in this country want to form a business, but only 5% do. The Now

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it's time for our daily quiz. The question for today is: Which of

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these has Ed Miliband been compared A) Wallace from Wallace and Gromit.

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B) A Lizard. C) Bert from Sesame Street.

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D) Ernie from Sesame Street? At the end of the show, we'll give you the

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Let's turn our eyes again to banks and bankers' bonuses. Because this

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afternoon, Labour have forced a Commons debate calling for any

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benefits to be "performance related". And for a new bankers'

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bonus tax which would help young people get back into work. It comes

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after the bosses of Network Rail, and the Royal Bank of Scotland

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chief executive Stephen Hester turned down bonuses following a

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political outcry. Joining us now from Central Lobby is the Shadow

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Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves.

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Thank you for joining us. You must be delighted with the decision by

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Network Rail bosses to waive their bonuses. He made the right decision

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as did Stephen Hester. Because they are not justified at a time when

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ordinary families are struggling, and businesses aren't delivering

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the performers they should, with share price at RBS falling, they

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are laying of ordinary workers. But, we are calling for two things.

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First, a tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people.

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We have more than one million young people out of work. Also, a more

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fundamental reform of how pay and bonuses work. Transparency in terms

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of pay. Workers on remuneration committees to set wages at the top.

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To bring bonuses back down to Planet Earth.

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Would you rather have that the bonus culture didn't exist at all?

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Or do you want bonuses you can tax? I think bonuses should before

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exceptional performance, especially at the top. It should be in

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addition to pay. But at the moment do you want to see all bonuses

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reined in? All banks have relied on an implicit guarantee from the

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government. Those bonuses, as Ed Miliband has said, is part of what

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caused the financial crisis. Bonuses for short-term reward

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rather than adding long-term value encourages excessive risk-taking.

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We want a reform in the way bonuses work because that would be good for

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the economy and business. At the moment, with these bank bonuses

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getting under way again, multi- million pound bonuses being paid,

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we said the priority is to use that money to fund jobs for long-term

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young unemployed people rather than the parity of a tax cut for the

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banks. Are you going to target companies in the wake RBS and net

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work well were. Companies which are state owned or part-owned, like

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Eurostar, like Channel 4? One other things this government says his

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shareholders should take an active interest in the bonuses and pay of

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staff at the top of those organisations. With a RBS, the

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taxpayers are the key shareholders. Would you like the government to

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look specifically at those companies as a starting point?

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David Abrahams got a 123,000 pound bonus last year despite viewers the

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leaving the Channel. Whether government has a role, as a

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shareholder or owner of, those bonuses should be looked at. This

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goes well beyond what is happening in those organisations. But in

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financial services companies which have relied on that implicit

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government guaranteed to continue to pay out bonuses of up to

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millions of pounds. Those bonuses have been damaging to the banking

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sector and wider economy. Unless we take action and get a transparency,

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we risk another financial crisis. Even Alastair Darling said, as far

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as the backbone this tax is concerned, it will be a one-off

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thing. The people you are after will find imaginative ways of

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avoiding it. This year, we are likely to get

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another bumper bonuses. Not as big as you thought. We're still talking

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about billions of pounds of bonuses being paid this year. That could

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bring into million pounds of funding we would use to create

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100,000 jobs for people out of work. Is there a feeling now that what

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you are saying, that this will send a message to the city that you are

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serious? Banks already get very large salaries for doing their job.

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That should be the reward, rather than these bonuses which often

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rewards for failure. That is what we saw leading up to the crisis and

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what we are still seeing today. If Britain is to succeed, we need a

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factor -- banking sector supporting small businesses which are

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desperately trying to get finance and create jobs. It is about reform

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of the wider economy as well to get money is flowing through.

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The emotion is non-committal, you have taught about improving lending

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levels, but you have not set any figures. It doesn't specify what

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you would like? We are in opposition. We wanted to set the

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tone of the debate. We hope people will support us. That is why we are

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calling for the government had to reinstate that backbone this tax

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and looked at transparency and fairness in the culture of bonuses.

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With me is Nigel Lawson, Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher, now a

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member of the Lords. Is it right going after bankers'

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bonuses? There is a problem of which bankers' bonuses are sent

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home. It is a problem with banking. That is what needs to be sorted out.

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These excessive bonuses are a symptom of the two big to fail, too

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important to fail, of which has led to the feeling they don't have to

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be that careful. They can gamble a huge amount because of it goes

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wrong the tax payer will bail them out. They are not risking their own

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money. It is striking, for example, over a period of time, looking at

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figures for five years, bank shareholders have not done

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particularly well at all. Why is it that the pay of exacted bank

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managers has gone up, compared to dividends to shareholders? It maybe

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shareholder failure, but a more fundamental thing. Banking

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legislation. First of all, the government is proposing to put in

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place following recommendations, a ring fence between the investment

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banks and ordinary commercial banks. The purpose of that is to make it

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extremely unlikely that the taxpayer will have to bail out

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commercial banks. They are the ones that matter to the economy. If an

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investment bank goes bust, like a hedge fund, they should be allowed

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to fail. Then there is the question of the complicated but important

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thing of the accountancy rules, the new accounting standards which are

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particularly bad for banks which enables them to pay huge real

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bonuses out of purely paper profits. They don't have the profits in the

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first place. So you have basic legal system which makes this worse.

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And the tax system is wrong. It says, if you find as yourself with

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debt, the debt interest is tax deductible. If you finance yourself

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without short equity, there is no tax deductible. This makes the

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system very unsafe. If the government takes on the

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recommendations from the report, all those things will be sold?

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Particularly the separation of retail investment? Or is there

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still the potential for banks to circumvent those rules, and they

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will still be vulnerable? The only have to look at the banks in Europe.

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Will this recommendation prevent that? The European Bank system is

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extremely vulnerable as a result of the disaster of the eurozone. That

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is a separate issue. I would prefer to see a complete structural

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separation between investment and commercial banking. The ring-fence

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will go some way. These other things are needed, tax changes,

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accountancy rules, and beyond both, something which is across the board,

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Coming back to the political row about bonuses, do think the

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government is right in doing what it is doing, going at the bonuses,

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trying to change the culture? think, as he said in his opening

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remarks, there is genuine concern from the man and woman in the

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street about what is going on. The situation in this country where the

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FTSE chief executive is turning to wonder 19 times the median work it

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is a situation that cannot continue. -- is burning to wonder than 19

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times. The bonus system came here from America. Did it come at the

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time of the Big Bang, when you were Chancellor? Too big to fail, that

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was the start of it. I think it is true that it is one of the

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consequences of the Big Bang, although it did not happen in my

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time, it happened later, that universal banks came into being. In

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the old days, in this country, we had quite separate... They were not

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called investment banks, they were called merchant banks, and they

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were completely separate from the commercial banks. They were

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different cultures, different people. No-one wanted to turn off

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the Taff. Remuneration committee after remuneration committee...

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is impossible to say the word! are letting each other up. I ask

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the question, where are the shareholders, turning up at AGMs

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and arguing the case that it is not right? There is clearly a lot of

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anger and a lot of upset about this in the country. The parties are

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saying that the system is fractured, and whether it cannot be repaired I

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do not know, but the other question is, why do people need bonuses?

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Isn't this about setting the right salary and incentives for people to

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do their job? The system is now at a point in this country where

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people have lost belief in the whole system. There has been talk

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not about bonuses but profit sharing and incentives. The John

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Lewis model. Would that work in banking? The John Lewis model will

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not. The John Lewis model is very old hat, it is a very old company,

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a good company but very old. People have tried this, workers' co-

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operatives, time and again, and it does not provide a suitable model

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for business and industry going ahead. On the Vickers Report,

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Wright, the government has said they are going to introduce it in

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2015. Is that let too late? There is going to be a gap until then

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before the separation is going to take place. I think it is important

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to do it as soon as possible. I think it is very desirable that the

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legislation should be introduced in the next session of Parliament.

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They had said it will be in this Parliament, but I think it should

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be in the next session of Parliament. We cannot go on

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rewarding failure. We cannot go on with a situation where the public

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are completely out of tune with this. We have got to have a

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situation where this is managed in a more effective way, and we are

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the major shareholders, turning up at AGMs, arguing that these are out

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of kilter. Now, to the row that has taken Parliament by storm, beer!

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Over to you, Giles. It has to be said, there are

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certain jobs in journalism I will not do, but this is not all of them.

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Standing outside, discussing beer! The whole problem started with his

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beer that was served in the bar served -- bar frequented by MPs,

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Top Totty. It was banned, somebody said they were offended by it. What

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you make of that? Well, I think it is not just a storm in a teacup,

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the vast majority of voters and the general public, people watching

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this programme will think, have and MPs got something better to talk

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about? It is quite a last place, the House of Commons, two women

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have a point? I think it was an over-reaction, I would rather the

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Top Totty than speckled hen! suspect the name alone might have

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been all right, it was something to do with the marketing around it and

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the label which hopefully people will be able to see in a moment. It

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does have a scantily clad female, barely concealed inside a bikini

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with bunny ears. You can see how some people might have got upset.

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met the aforementioned Lady... is never real! She is a real person.

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It is nothing worse than you would see on a saucy seaside postcard or

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Jessica Rabbit, it is nothing more than that. I think you have got

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done a bit of a sense of humour. There is a long tradition of having

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cheeky names for beers in Britain, real ales with GDA names. Maybe, in

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the interests of quality, we should have a cheeky chappie scantily clad

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and see if any of my male colleagues... I think it would go

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down quite well, maybe more of the female drinkers. Been to have a

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gentleman offended by a beer? of my mature constituents was

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offended by old codger and wanted me to take that up. Look, part of

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the problem is some of the marketing. Top Totty is described

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as a stunning blonde beer, full- bodied with a voluptuous of. It is

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being replaced by his beer, Kangaroo Court, which is not using

:20:55.:21:00.

the same sort of language, and assuming Lehman after the initial

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kick with a tight, dry finish. we judge it by its label? It as a

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kangaroo on it, largely! Is it scantily-clad? Vaguely furry, but

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not naked. Is it in danger of offending Australians first mark

:21:17.:21:23.

possibly, but that is a national sport here. The sales of Top Totty

:21:23.:21:27.

have gone through the roof as a result of this row, it is probably

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the best marketing they have had. You are both beer fans, as a

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connoisseur... Not quite the distance, but pretty good.

:21:41.:21:42.

would you describe the flavours? Quite sweet. Sweet? It is almost

:21:42.:21:46.

like a Belgian beer. I am the chairman of the All Parliamentary

:21:46.:21:50.

beer Group, which is the best job in Parliament, and I would say, as

:21:50.:21:57.

an expert, it is quite hotly. would expect A kangaroo Court to be

:21:57.:22:02.

a bit wobbly. On that note, I think we should get back to the studio

:22:02.:22:06.

while we just clear up here! We will give them away!

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It is a tough job, Giles, but somebody has to do it. I will tell

:22:11.:22:16.

the staff, they will be delighted, we aim to please. Rebellion is in

:22:16.:22:20.

the air among Liberal Democrat MPs of a coalition plans to localise

:22:20.:22:24.

public sector pay. George Osborne is looking at whether public sector

:22:24.:22:26.

workers should be paid different amounts depending on where they

:22:26.:22:30.

live. For example, a fireman in Inverness could earn a different

:22:30.:22:35.

amassed by firemen working in Surrey. Adam Fleming reports. -- a

:22:35.:22:38.

different amount. So South Wales as a big public

:22:38.:22:42.

sector. This village has schools, a library, a hospital, and most of

:22:42.:22:46.

the people who work in them have their wages set nationally. Critics

:22:46.:22:50.

of national pay bargaining say it takes no account of the fact that

:22:50.:22:53.

the cost of living in places like this might be different from other

:22:53.:22:58.

places. They also say their private sector employers struggle to match

:22:58.:23:04.

the same wages. Local solicitor Victoria experience that when she

:23:04.:23:10.

advertised for a legal assistant. What we found is that solicitors or

:23:10.:23:14.

lawyers alike would prefer to work for the public authority, the local

:23:14.:23:18.

authority, and work in private practice. Who can blame them? We

:23:18.:23:23.

cannot offer the salary, we do not have the benefits that you get in

:23:23.:23:25.

the local authority, and therefore this is why lawyers really are

:23:26.:23:29.

going straight to the local authority upon leaving, upon

:23:29.:23:33.

graduating from university. The so- called public sector wage premium

:23:33.:23:38.

varies by gender as well as region. In Wales, men in the public sector

:23:38.:23:42.

earn on average 18% more than their private sector counterparts. In

:23:42.:23:47.

Scotland, women earn on average 20% more. In Northern Ireland, men in

:23:47.:23:52.

the public sector get 15.5% more. But in the East Midlands, it is

:23:52.:23:57.

much less, just 7%. In the south- east, the difference is not

:23:57.:24:00.

statistically significant. In other words, there's hardly any

:24:00.:24:04.

difference at all. To address those variations, last year the

:24:04.:24:08.

Chancellor wrote to the pay review bodies for nurses, teachers, prison

:24:08.:24:12.

workers and some senior staff, asking them to investigate and

:24:12.:24:16.

report back this summer about whether salaries can be made more

:24:16.:24:21.

market phasing in local areas. To the unions, that is code for cuts

:24:21.:24:28.

to pay. This is an agenda of cutting pay in the public sector,

:24:28.:24:32.

and our point of view is that it is a race to the bottom in the regions.

:24:32.:24:36.

The only real driver in terms of regional differences around there

:24:36.:24:40.

it is London and the south-east, and you can deal with that through

:24:40.:24:42.

London weighting or market supplements to retain people. If

:24:42.:24:46.

you are just looking at this as an organisational problem, that is.

:24:46.:24:50.

But this is a backdoor way of driving down pay in the public

:24:50.:24:54.

sector. Some local businesses also worry that it could deflate the

:24:54.:24:58.

local economy. The protests over changes to pensions taught the

:24:58.:25:02.

government it can be tough to tangle with the public sector.

:25:02.:25:06.

Realising their pay is technically tricky and some Lib Dems have

:25:06.:25:10.

already said it is a terrible idea, so there is no guarantee that it

:25:10.:25:16.

will ever actually happen. Joining me now is Liberal Democrat

:25:16.:25:20.

MP Andrew George and conservative anti-David Ruffley, who is on the

:25:20.:25:25.

Treasury Select Committee. Max Steinberg is still with us. --

:25:25.:25:30.

Conservative MP. You think this is a terrible idea. Yes, I come from

:25:30.:25:33.

West Cornwall, the bottom of the earnings league table since records

:25:33.:25:37.

began, and if you want to introduce a measure which is going to drive

:25:37.:25:41.

down wages and actually enshrined an area, a region like Cornwall as

:25:41.:25:46.

a place of endemic low wages, this is a pretty good way of going about

:25:46.:25:53.

it. The national minimum wage, a lot of private sector employers

:25:53.:25:55.

suggested it would cause catastrophe across the country, but

:25:55.:25:59.

it never did. We should be looking at mechanisms to drive wages up,

:25:59.:26:04.

not to push them down. A race to the bottom, why fix something that

:26:04.:26:09.

ain't broke? The IFS, which is independent, says if you are in

:26:09.:26:14.

Wales or the north-east, on average, in a public's after Jock, you are a

:26:14.:26:18.

30% more on average than someone off during the same job in the

:26:18.:26:22.

private sector. -- in a public sector job. The private sector is

:26:22.:26:26.

suffering as a result, and we need to have more than us through a

:26:26.:26:30.

regional, locally determined pay structure. Is it really fair,

:26:30.:26:34.

Andrew George, that a worker living in an area with a low cost of

:26:34.:26:39.

living to end the same as a worker who lives in a more expensive area?

:26:39.:26:45.

No, it is not. That is not what happens. Isn't it? Take for example

:26:45.:26:49.

my own area, I will talk about my own area, we are at the bottom of

:26:49.:26:54.

the earnings league table, but our house prices are anything but. As a

:26:54.:26:58.

result of large numbers of second homes and the pressure of the

:26:58.:27:02.

market, the external market, a desire to move to the area, the

:27:02.:27:05.

cost of living is one of the greatest in the country. So to say

:27:05.:27:10.

that there is any kind of parity between wages and cost of living,

:27:10.:27:14.

it is simply not the case. south-west is an interesting case,

:27:14.:27:17.

because it is traditionally one of the poorest areas, but because it

:27:17.:27:22.

is so popular and fashionable to live there you are suggesting would

:27:22.:27:28.

make it difficult for people. prose medium weight of a public

:27:28.:27:35.

sector employee in the south-west is �541, where I am, East Anglia,

:27:35.:27:40.

it is less than that. All of those factors are public sector wages.

:27:40.:27:45.

They are a lot higher in many parts of the country than the same job in

:27:45.:27:48.

the private sector. Where is the fairness in that? What about

:27:48.:27:56.

pushing up wages? Why try to suppress them in some areas? Well,

:27:56.:27:59.

Labour employment is a market like many other things, and it has to

:27:59.:28:04.

find its own level. The CentreForum, the Lib Dem think-tank, which has

:28:04.:28:08.

lots of good ideas, even they say that the private sector employer is

:28:08.:28:12.

finding it very difficult to compete with inflated public sector

:28:12.:28:17.

wages in the regions. What is your experience? The government is

:28:17.:28:22.

saying that we have to create areas like Liverpool or the north-west

:28:22.:28:25.

where there is too much reliance on the public sector, private sector

:28:25.:28:30.

jobs, but I do not want a system which drives away higher-paid jobs.

:28:30.:28:35.

I want to bring in all sorts of jobs into the North West and

:28:35.:28:38.

Liverpool. Is there a policy which will put pressure on salaries?

:28:38.:28:44.

Where are they go into go? To the south-east, I think. That. The

:28:44.:28:48.

regeneration of cities like Liverpool. -- that will stop the

:28:48.:28:53.

regeneration. I'm against a policy which will put pressure on the

:28:53.:28:55.

drive to bring private sector investment into a city like

:28:55.:29:01.

Liverpool. You would not want to do that either. I am not sure I follow

:29:01.:29:04.

the logic. We are saying to give a boost to private sector employers,

:29:04.:29:10.

the opposite of what I am suggesting. But the economy, David,

:29:10.:29:14.

in places like Liverpool will be dependent on the public sector for

:29:14.:29:17.

years to come, and there's nothing wrong with that. We need to

:29:17.:29:22.

rebalance it, the Chancellor said, this year, I'm going to get work

:29:22.:29:25.

done on realising pay. I cannot understand why you want high public

:29:25.:29:28.

sector pay when you say you are trying to encourage private sector

:29:28.:29:33.

jobs on Merseyside, you should be supporting this. I am encouraging

:29:33.:29:36.

the private sector, but I do not want to discourage salaries going

:29:36.:29:42.

up, because the more disposable income in the economy... You want a

:29:42.:29:47.

fairer deal for private sector employers to pay a decent wage.

:29:47.:29:52.

without public sector wages going down, that is the point. The fact

:29:52.:29:56.

is that it is a market. If you are doing the same job in the public

:29:56.:30:00.

sector, you can have a premium of 30% over the same job in the

:30:00.:30:05.

private sector. How can you justify that? Let me just come in and say

:30:05.:30:11.

that from the point of view of the implications for public finances,

:30:11.:30:14.

one of the hat comes as a result of the establishment of the national

:30:14.:30:19.

minimum wage was that income- support budgets went down. --

:30:19.:30:25.

outcomes. That is because, those employers who were then paying the

:30:25.:30:28.

national minimum wage, employees who were dependent on higher levels

:30:28.:30:33.

of housing benefit to make up their income, the public sector, were in

:30:33.:30:38.

effect subsidising poor employers who were paying below what was an

:30:38.:30:48.
:30:48.:30:53.

I think we should have regional benefit rates as well. Iain Duncan

:30:53.:31:00.

Smith said that is something we should look at. He said it would be

:31:00.:31:05.

difficult to execute. He is saying it is a legitimate question. I

:31:05.:31:09.

think there are plenty of Conservatives on the back bench who

:31:09.:31:16.

have floated that idea well before Labour. That would be localism?

:31:16.:31:21.

Localism is a question of making decisions locally. We need a

:31:21.:31:26.

benchmark against which everyone can have some security. If you are

:31:26.:31:34.

enshrined in areas low wages and their benefits as well... You will

:31:34.:31:41.

be condemning Merseyside in effect. By actually putting a dampener on

:31:41.:31:46.

wages, and benefits as well, the money circulating in that local

:31:46.:31:56.
:31:56.:31:59.

economy in Merseyside. David wants to... Du Liberal Democrat in attack

:31:59.:32:04.

-- think-tank said the idea is to get people into work. They are

:32:04.:32:10.

being crowded out by artificially high public sector wages. I am

:32:10.:32:14.

afraid we have to bring this to an end. Are the Liberal Democrats

:32:14.:32:20.

going to dig their heels in? I am sure we are. We want to stimulate

:32:20.:32:23.

debate. He's been described as a "truly

:32:23.:32:26.

dangerous individual" and a "key UK figure" in al-Qaeda related terror

:32:26.:32:29.

activity. But the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada is to be released

:32:29.:32:33.

on bail, under strict conditions. So how have we reached this

:32:33.:32:37.

position? He was one of the UK's most wanted men when he was taken

:32:37.:32:42.

to Belmarsh prison in 2002. But he was freed in 2005 when the courts

:32:42.:32:46.

ruled his detention was unlawful. Later that year, he was detained

:32:46.:32:52.

again. The UK started trying to deported him back to his native

:32:52.:32:55.

Jordan where he faces terror charges, beginning his six and a

:32:55.:33:01.

half year fight against deportation. At the start of this year, the

:33:01.:33:04.

European Court of Human Rights blocked his deportation, saying

:33:04.:33:07.

that Jordan might use evidence obtained by torture. This led Mr

:33:07.:33:10.

Justice Mitting to rule yesterday that the preacher should now be

:33:10.:33:15.

bailed. But he's under strict bail conditions. He will only be allowed

:33:15.:33:18.

to leave the address for two one- hour periods a day. Anyone visiting

:33:18.:33:22.

his home, bar his wife and children, have to be pre-approved. And he

:33:22.:33:26.

must give notice of all meetings arranged outside his home. He will

:33:26.:33:30.

not be allowed to leave the general area, and will also have no access

:33:30.:33:35.

to the internet or electronic communications devices. The Home

:33:35.:33:39.

Office is up in arms. They've been given three months to show that

:33:39.:33:42.

British diplomats had made progress in negotiations with Jordan, which

:33:42.:33:46.

would satisfy the European Court. Or else see Abu Qatada's stringent

:33:46.:33:50.

bail conditions revoked. I'm joined now by the former counter-terrorism

:33:50.:33:54.

and security minister, Hazel Blears. And with us for the rest of the

:33:54.:34:03.

programme we have the Liberal Democrat peer, Susan Kramer.

:34:03.:34:10.

Human rights, our rights are being made a mockery? We have to hold up

:34:10.:34:16.

to due process. One is very disturbed when someone like this

:34:16.:34:26.
:34:26.:34:28.

announce -- appears to be announced as potentially free. There may well

:34:28.:34:34.

be other solutions I would like to see, there must be answers. He was

:34:34.:34:40.

in jail at the time when you were in government. Why were

:34:40.:34:45.

prosecutions not brought? We all wish every suspected terrorist

:34:45.:34:50.

could be brought before a normal criminal court. Wasn't he

:34:50.:34:59.

different? We have in this country a handful of people for whom the

:34:59.:35:03.

evidence against them is basic intelligence evidence. If you were

:35:03.:35:07.

to bring that to a normal criminal court, you would have to reveal

:35:08.:35:13.

your capability and agents who would be compromised. What we did

:35:13.:35:19.

was we've brought in a system of control orders, very controversial,

:35:19.:35:23.

but within the human rights framework. With Abu Qatada, he was

:35:23.:35:28.

held under deportation provisions, which is why they can put bail

:35:28.:35:32.

conditions on him. My worry is, if we cannot get this issue sorted

:35:32.:35:37.

with Jordan, those strict bail conditions will be relaxed and he

:35:37.:35:44.

will be virtually free. Abu Qatada, walking the streets free. How will

:35:44.:35:49.

the public react? The public will be quite rightly horrified. The

:35:49.:35:56.

pressure on the government now is to make sure that we can get the

:35:56.:36:00.

assurances from Jordan in relation to a possible trial, that the

:36:00.:36:04.

evidence will not be introduced through torture. That way we can

:36:05.:36:09.

get him deported. There is a big issue about the European Court of

:36:09.:36:16.

Human Rights. Showed, is it time to leave the European Court? Leave the

:36:16.:36:21.

jurisdiction? I don't think that is right. We need to change the

:36:21.:36:25.

European Court so it is not in the position of second-guessing our

:36:25.:36:30.

court. The reason we put the legislation into our own system is

:36:30.:36:35.

so we wouldn't need to keep going to Strasbourg. But it has backfired.

:36:35.:36:39.

So the government needs to decide whether to appeal the judgment of

:36:39.:36:44.

the European Court. Or get changes to the court so we don't find

:36:44.:36:49.

ourselves in the same position. they haven't been charged and

:36:49.:36:53.

prosecuted, why should he be held indefinitely in prison? He should

:36:53.:36:59.

be released. We would all argue for due process. Otherwise we would

:36:59.:37:06.

have a chaotic system. The question is, it is due process working

:37:06.:37:11.

properly in this particular case? Or is it illustrating real

:37:11.:37:15.

problems? There are real issues about the European Court of Human

:37:15.:37:19.

Rights. I would personally like to understand why we're not in a

:37:19.:37:26.

position to bring a serious prosecution here. We have had as

:37:26.:37:30.

explained. It is one of the things I hope the government will look at

:37:30.:37:36.

very closely. If there is intelligence evidence which is none

:37:37.:37:46.
:37:47.:37:49.

of dated, we may not have the risks -- long dated. Where I have some

:37:49.:37:54.

comfort is that this man is identified and watch. I would want

:37:54.:37:58.

assurances that will never change. If here is under strict bail

:37:58.:38:03.

conditions, surely that is fine? He is still so well known, there is

:38:03.:38:07.

this process with Jordan. You seem relatively confident that might

:38:07.:38:13.

bring results in terms of seeing him deported. I sincerely hope it

:38:13.:38:17.

does bring results. Otherwise we will see these bail conditions

:38:17.:38:23.

relaxed. Then, this person could have access to the internet, mobile

:38:23.:38:27.

phones, to be back with his associates and to start to do that

:38:27.:38:34.

terrible things he was inspiring. He was an inspirational figure

:38:34.:38:39.

which led people to radical as Asian and terrorism. There is going

:38:39.:38:45.

to be an urgent question this afternoon. Is Britain powerless?

:38:45.:38:52.

These are the tanagers Government's -- challenges a government has to

:38:52.:39:01.

deal with. We are where we are now, this man is at least under a very

:39:01.:39:06.

tough bail conditions. We have three months in which to get it

:39:06.:39:13.

right. They Now to Syria. Because the

:39:13.:39:16.

Syrian army has resumed shelling opposition-held areas in the city

:39:16.:39:19.

of Homs for the fourth day running. The UN says more than 5,500 people

:39:20.:39:23.

have been killed by the Syrian regime since the uprising began.

:39:23.:39:25.

Yesterday, in the Commons, the Foreign Secretary William Hague

:39:25.:39:28.

condemned what he called the "doomed and murdering regime" of

:39:28.:39:38.
:39:38.:39:43.

Are Mr Speaker, the human suffering in so it is already unimaginable

:39:43.:39:47.

and is in grave danger of escalating. The position taken by

:39:47.:39:53.

Russia and China has regrettably made this more likely. But this

:39:53.:39:57.

government will not forget the people of Syria. We will redouble

:39:57.:40:02.

our efforts to put pressure on this appalling regime and to stop this

:40:02.:40:09.

indefensible violence. There is clear agreement across

:40:09.:40:13.

this house and across much of the international community that the

:40:13.:40:18.

regime has no future and President Assad must go. The tragedy is, not

:40:18.:40:23.

withstanding that, of the slaughter continues. For the international

:40:23.:40:28.

community, condemnation is not enough. Diplomatic efforts are

:40:28.:40:31.

required which is why the recent failure of which the Foreign

:40:31.:40:34.

Secretary has just spoken to reach agreement in the secure eye dee

:40:34.:40:44.
:40:44.:40:46.

council is such a stain on the conscience of the world. Isn't the

:40:46.:40:53.

immediate problem the anguish being paid by a those people. Do we not

:40:53.:41:00.

need a broader strategic croaked -- approach? Kenny tell the House what

:41:00.:41:03.

he thinks it is that animates the Chinese government are to support

:41:03.:41:10.

these butchers? Isn't it the case that brochette is rapidly turning

:41:10.:41:16.

itself into a pariah state? -- Russia. Wouldn't it be an

:41:16.:41:24.

opportunity for the Conservative Party to part company with Putin?

:41:24.:41:27.

I'm joined now by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas

:41:27.:41:29.

Alexander. And by the former Liberal Democrat leader, Menzies

:41:29.:41:36.

Campbell. Thank you very much for joining us.

:41:36.:41:41.

The Russian foreign minister is in its area, can he achieve anything?

:41:41.:41:47.

There is a heavy burden of responsibility on him to prove

:41:47.:41:50.

Russia's good faith in ensuring the slaughter is ended and the violence

:41:50.:41:56.

is stopped. Do you believe that? am not hopeful but one has to wait

:41:56.:42:00.

and see, he will be judged from what emerges from those discussions

:42:00.:42:05.

in Damascus. There has been a hopeful sign where the Turkish

:42:05.:42:09.

promise to make clear Turkey will take an initiative in the coming

:42:09.:42:14.

days. The Turkish foreign minister will be visiting Hillary Clinton in

:42:14.:42:18.

Washington. I welcome the fact, not withstanding the setback of the

:42:18.:42:22.

failure to reach agreement on Saturday, that we do see an

:42:22.:42:27.

initiative being taken by one of the regional powers, Turkey. Do you

:42:27.:42:33.

think, the frustration being felt internationally at the fact Russia

:42:33.:42:37.

and China vetoed that resolution, will there be more pressure for

:42:37.:42:42.

momentum on countries like Turkey to find a solution? There will be

:42:42.:42:46.

considerable pressure on Turkey which will want to respond, because

:42:46.:42:52.

of its determination to be much more assertive in foreign affairs.

:42:52.:42:58.

I had the advantage of listening to the Munich secluded conference, and

:42:58.:43:03.

the objections to the resolution of which had not been put to the city

:43:03.:43:08.

council, seemed to me to be pretty flimsy. They didn't stand up to any

:43:08.:43:14.

kind of scrutiny. My cynical approach to this is that perhaps

:43:14.:43:19.

the Russians were keen to portray themselves as the brokers in this

:43:19.:43:24.

business. But of course, in the meantime, as some of us said

:43:24.:43:29.

dramatically yesterday, the people are paying for this, the people of

:43:29.:43:35.

Syria, their children, their parents. Indiscriminate shelling of

:43:35.:43:41.

civilians. More and more are being killed as violence intensified and

:43:41.:43:43.

they think the international community has let them down. Isn't

:43:43.:43:48.

it the truth we in Britain are pretty powerless in this brokering

:43:49.:43:54.

between nations who don't seem to be keen to be involved? I don't

:43:54.:43:58.

condemn or criticise the British government's actions. What we saw

:43:58.:44:03.

at the Security Council is a stain on the conscience of the world. We

:44:03.:44:08.

need to work with our European Union partners. Yesterday alleged

:44:08.:44:10.

that Foreign Secretary to facilitate a meeting with the

:44:10.:44:16.

European Union and Arab League which has a key role to play. I

:44:16.:44:20.

approached him to speak to the Russian foreign minister and urge

:44:20.:44:24.

him not simply to speak for Russia but to communicate the global

:44:24.:44:29.

average at the shelling of Homs. And they urged him to speak

:44:29.:44:35.

directly to Turkey where the Prime Minister, partly for his reasons

:44:35.:44:40.

and for regional reasons, has a strong interest in seeing Turkey

:44:40.:44:46.

bring a resolution to this conflict. What about the option of support

:44:46.:44:52.

for the opposition which William harry read -- William Hague talked

:44:52.:45:00.

about? That is essential. It has to be political support. There is no a

:45:00.:45:04.

authority under the United Nations Security Council resolution for

:45:04.:45:09.

giving arms, or indeed for any kind of military intervention. One

:45:09.:45:13.

Labour backbencher suggested there should be a no-fly zone but there

:45:13.:45:17.

is no authority for that. That underlines the point Douglas

:45:17.:45:22.

Alexander has made, which is we have to be realistic about what we

:45:22.:45:26.

can achieve. The fact this is global is emphasised by William

:45:26.:45:32.

Hague, he had a conversation with the Australian foreign minister.

:45:32.:45:36.

The more we can assemble a coalition of the willing throughout

:45:36.:45:40.

the world to bring pressure on Syria, the better our chances will

:45:40.:45:49.

Do you really think the only solution is for us that to go?

:45:49.:45:54.

Countries do not want to be seen to be advocating regime changed.

:45:54.:45:59.

not think he has any legitimacy it whether within Syria or be on Syria.

:45:59.:46:02.

The first step is the cessation of violence, the second is his

:46:02.:46:10.

departure, but there is a burden of forces in Syria, and this is why I

:46:10.:46:12.

hope the British Army is talking about putting in credible plans for

:46:12.:46:16.

transition. That is a key part of the plan. Thank you very much for

:46:16.:46:22.

joining us. Now, a question, our Liberal Democrat peers naughty?

:46:22.:46:27.

Perish the thought! They are thought of as a quiet bunch, not

:46:27.:46:30.

troublemakers, but 62 have voted against the government at least

:46:30.:46:35.

once in this Parliament. Here is a flavour of them in action. In the

:46:36.:46:39.

past, I have congratulated the noble Lord on the eloquent and

:46:39.:46:44.

ingenious way he has defended the indefensible, but this is Alice In

:46:44.:46:49.

wonderland stuff! I have liked riot my protest to what is going on here

:46:49.:46:54.

this evening. We have just spent several hours on what many people

:46:55.:46:59.

in his house considered to be a completely useless bill and totally

:46:59.:47:08.

unnecessary. The Bill, in its current form, will cause dire

:47:08.:47:12.

consequences for 670,000 households across the United Kingdom. I am

:47:12.:47:16.

very concerned that the evidence base for making this change is

:47:16.:47:20.

incredibly thin and the consequences of implementing it

:47:20.:47:26.

have not been thoroughly researched for properly thought through.

:47:26.:47:30.

hope the minister will listen to our consent and give us some hope

:47:30.:47:34.

of substantial movement in the later stages of the bill. -- our

:47:34.:47:39.

concerns. If he doesn't, let me give in a word of warning. Anyone

:47:39.:47:43.

who mussy Lord Falconer resplendent in his beach shorts directing

:47:43.:47:46.

operations in the village sports which take place in front of our

:47:46.:47:51.

cottage in Seagrove they will know that you cross him at your peril!

:47:51.:47:55.

Yes, an image to remember, Lord Oakeshott ending that these, and we

:47:55.:48:02.

are joined by Quentin Letts. Are you a naughty Lib Dem, Susan?

:48:02.:48:06.

have moments of being naughty, but I think we are quite constructive

:48:06.:48:11.

with our naughtiness. People think very carefully before they make a

:48:11.:48:16.

decision that they might not support the government, and I also

:48:16.:48:19.

suspect that the rebellion is usually exaggerated, quite frankly,

:48:19.:48:25.

in the media. In terms of numbers? Typically, most rebellions have

:48:25.:48:35.
:48:35.:48:36.

been two or three people, and it is not something that... But on key

:48:36.:48:41.

policies, benefit cuts something that peers do not agree with the

:48:41.:48:45.

government on. You will get one or two people who fundamentally

:48:45.:48:50.

disagree. We are not robots. If you want Liberal Democrats in either

:48:50.:48:54.

house, you will not get automatons. A lot of us feel a responsibility

:48:54.:48:56.

to make sure that the coalition works because there are more gains

:48:56.:49:02.

and losses in all of that. A lot of the most constructive people have

:49:02.:49:04.

discussions behind the scenes, because changing bills in the House

:49:04.:49:08.

of Lords should not just be seen as confrontational. It actually is the

:49:08.:49:13.

point where you work on a lot of the detail of legislation, and the

:49:13.:49:16.

government comes forward with amendments, and most of the change

:49:16.:49:20.

does happen behind the scenes. Quentin Letts, they are not robots.

:49:20.:49:26.

I am rather in favour of beers causing trouble! Or at least...

:49:26.:49:30.

you are a naughty sketch writer. Isn't that what Parliament is there

:49:30.:49:35.

for? Where I think it is a little rum is where the Lib Dem ministers

:49:35.:49:39.

plainly relish what is going on, and yet at the same time they

:49:39.:49:43.

accept ministerial cars and salaries. There is a bit of that

:49:43.:49:48.

going on, but the backbench peers... They are doing a good job,

:49:48.:49:53.

scrutinising legislation. That is what they are there for, but they

:49:53.:49:57.

are sometimes useful idiots for the Labour Party, which is glad to see

:49:57.:50:00.

them doing the dirty work. That is what was going on with the dear old

:50:01.:50:04.

bishops, stepping on a landmine with the welfare bill. I think

:50:04.:50:08.

there are times when the Labour Party looks at them and says, thank

:50:08.:50:12.

you for doing it, guys. Isn't there truth in that, that there is a

:50:12.:50:17.

divide between ministers and Labour peers themselves? They signed up to

:50:17.:50:21.

the coalition... Sorry, Liberal Democrat peers! They signed up to

:50:21.:50:25.

the coalition, you are tearing it apart on principle. I actually

:50:25.:50:28.

think if you take a look at the Liberal Democrat peers, you will

:50:29.:50:32.

see that overall it is very supportive of the coalition's

:50:32.:50:36.

underlying goals, certainly the coalition agreement. But they are

:50:36.:50:43.

wrecking bills, welfare and health. The moment one wants to snap once

:50:43.:50:46.

pencilled in heart this when Paddy Ashdown stands up and starts giving

:50:46.:50:56.
:50:56.:50:56.

a moral lecture. -- wants to snap one's pencil in half. He is a

:50:57.:51:01.

classic example or being happy to be rejoicing in the grandeur of the

:51:01.:51:04.

Lib Dems being part of the coalition, but at the same time

:51:04.:51:08.

stepping apart from the collision. He tries to have it both ways. --

:51:09.:51:13.

the coalition. Quite frankly, when I have worked with ministers on

:51:13.:51:15.

bills, there is a lot of appreciation of the work that goes

:51:15.:51:19.

on, because people want good legislation on the end of this.

:51:19.:51:22.

There is often fundamental agreement on the philosophical

:51:22.:51:26.

underpinning of issues it is how you implement it and how it can be

:51:26.:51:30.

done. There are occasions when I did not support them, I do not

:51:30.:51:34.

support those who rebelled along with the bishops, because quite

:51:34.:51:37.

frankly where were we going to find the extra billions in order to

:51:38.:51:43.

achieve that particular policy? I could not see. But in a lot of

:51:43.:51:47.

cases, it is raising issues, ministers look at it and think, you

:51:47.:51:51.

have got a point, so let's make this work, and the give-and-take

:51:51.:51:55.

has really impressed me in the House of Lords. I never saw it and

:51:55.:51:59.

a Labour in the Commons, but in the Lords it really does happen. -- I

:51:59.:52:04.

never saw it under Labour. crossbenchers, the supposedly

:52:04.:52:07.

independent ones, are becoming quite politicised, acting almost as

:52:07.:52:12.

a block at times, and that is interesting to watch. There are a

:52:12.:52:15.

few rumblings about how they are almost being whipped, being

:52:15.:52:20.

encouraged. They are not just being independent? That has been going on,

:52:20.:52:25.

and there is discomfit in concern for the -- Conservative circles

:52:26.:52:31.

about this. Paddy Ashdown may not be a favoured Liberal Democrat peer.

:52:31.:52:35.

You cannot think of another one! That is very nice that he thinks

:52:35.:52:43.

isn't it your favourite. I paid him earlier! -- that you think Susan is

:52:43.:52:47.

your favourite. The danger is that an elected House of Lords would

:52:47.:52:54.

create mayhem. I am very much in favour of an elected House. We are

:52:54.:52:57.

changing legislation in ways that really invites people's lives.

:52:57.:53:01.

think we ought to be accountable. So they should not pipe down.

:53:01.:53:04.

should not pipe down, but they should be elected so they are

:53:04.:53:07.

accountable. They will be a lot of hype about Charles Dickens this

:53:07.:53:12.

week because it is 200 years today since he was born. What you may not

:53:12.:53:16.

know is that one of his first jobs as well as as a parliamentary

:53:16.:53:20.

reporter. He did not like MPs much, he thought they were a bit pompous,

:53:20.:53:23.

and he would probably be shocked to find out that not many of the

:53:23.:53:26.

traditions have changed over the road. Since Quentin Letts is with

:53:26.:53:31.

us, we thought we would return to Parliament to look at another

:53:31.:53:41.
:53:41.:53:42.

ancient tradition, the Division Eight division is the term used for

:53:42.:53:47.

the moment at which the House of Commons splits for a vote. MPs need

:53:47.:53:50.

to be physically on the premises to cast a preference, jolly in

:53:50.:53:55.

considered, they do not want to be there all the time. The division

:53:55.:54:01.

bell will ring when a division is called. You might say why, in this

:54:01.:54:06.

day and age, do they need to be there in person? Having MPs in the

:54:06.:54:11.

voting lobbies in person means that they can, the Secretary of State of

:54:11.:54:15.

the minister and express their concerns. Here she is, this is the

:54:15.:54:18.

division bell. From the moment this rings, they have eight minutes to

:54:18.:54:23.

get to Parliament and cast their vote. You have these things in

:54:23.:54:27.

private homes around Westminster, pubs and clubs, and also in other

:54:27.:54:31.

places you might find MPs. They do not have to take part in a debate

:54:31.:54:34.

in order to be able to vote. They quite often will not have heard a

:54:34.:54:41.

single word, and you can tell, if you're watching on TV, when the

:54:41.:54:47.

Speaker shouts, clear the lobby's! Division, cleared the lobby's!

:54:47.:54:52.

we are in a restaurant four minutes from the House of Commons. If you

:54:52.:54:56.

come for lunch or dinner, you will find MPs eating. There is a

:54:56.:55:01.

division bell on the war, when it rings, it is like the start of the

:55:01.:55:11.
:55:11.:55:25.

It is an offence to impede and MP on his or her way to vote. The

:55:25.:55:28.

result of the division is announced immediately afterwards in the

:55:28.:55:36.

chamber. The ice to the right, 111, the noes to the left, 483, so the

:55:36.:55:42.

noes have it. The key ones to find out how your MP voted, just look at

:55:42.:55:46.

next day's Hansard. -- If you want to find out. It is online these

:55:46.:55:56.
:55:56.:55:56.

And Quentin Letts is still with us. You were very good, I thought. How

:55:56.:56:01.

did you get that bike out so quickly? I am very good with those

:56:01.:56:06.

things! I wonder how many lunches have been left cold. Dickens, I am

:56:06.:56:10.

being told, what you think about Dickens? Do you think he would be

:56:10.:56:14.

thinking, nothing much has changed? He would think very little has

:56:14.:56:17.

changed, but he would not be surprised. He was fully alive to

:56:17.:56:23.

the satire of the House of Commons. Gk Chesterton wrote a biography of

:56:23.:56:27.

him in which he said that Dickens was very little overpowered by the

:56:27.:56:32.

dignity of Parliament. How very crushing! He took the rise out of

:56:32.:56:36.

them, he invented the Office of circumlocution, and it is still

:56:36.:56:41.

operated by the barnacles, the civil servants. Public life has not

:56:41.:56:44.

altered. We have got the same characters pretty much in our

:56:44.:56:49.

Parliament. That is human nature. Isn't it shocking to some extent?

:56:49.:56:54.

Shouldn't it have moved on visibly? I would like some things to move on.

:56:54.:56:57.

It is incredible that we do not get lots of good professional advice

:56:57.:57:02.

and those things that we need, but it would be tremendous to have

:57:02.:57:05.

Dickens do something like examine the media in Parliament. I can

:57:05.:57:10.

imagine him with a Murdoch equivalent character. Trollope did

:57:10.:57:16.

that, much better than Dickens in Parliament. Dickens was a

:57:16.:57:19.

parliamentary reporter at the age of 19, and the only did it for a

:57:19.:57:23.

short time. He worked for a paper called the Mirror, not the same as

:57:23.:57:26.

the Daily Mirror. He would have enjoyed some of the characters.

:57:26.:57:31.

What would he have made of our speaker, John Bercow? Great

:57:31.:57:36.

material! He would have been terrific material. What would he

:57:36.:57:41.

have made up Nick Clegg? He might have been one of his heroes! Well

:57:41.:57:48.

done, Susan. The Prime Minister, so sure in his comforts, I think

:57:48.:57:51.

Dickens would have loved it. might have looked at the sketch

:57:52.:57:56.

writers and deflated them. Would he have sat way you sit, those premium

:57:56.:58:00.

places? They would not have been seated, they had to stand. He had a

:58:00.:58:05.

very good short and, and he would stand there doing it on the palm of

:58:05.:58:09.

his hand. At least he covered it, and today, frankly, other than when

:58:09.:58:13.

people think there's going to be Punch and Judy, there is barely any

:58:13.:58:18.

coverage at all. I will have to leave you, we have got to be the

:58:19.:58:26.

answer to our quiz. Which of these has Ed Miliband been compared to

:58:26.:58:35.

question --? Which one? A oh, my God! Wallace? I think it is all of

:58:35.:58:41.

them, isn't it? I think he has been portrayed... Sorry, thank you, that

:58:41.:58:47.

Presented by Jo Coburn.

Lord Lawson and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves examine the culture of bonuses, and Baroness Susan Kramer learns why many Lib Dem peers have rebelled against the government at least once so far in the current parliament.

Plus, a celebration of Charles Dickens's bicentenary; he worked as a parliamentary reporter, and there's a look at how things have changed since his day.


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