08/02/2012 Daily Politics


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Morning, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. Today, we are only


mid- banker bashing season, but the Chancellor thinks it has already


gone too far. Is Britain in danger of becoming the enemy of business?


The Health Secretary is under fire over his NHS reforms. Number 10


insists that Andrew Lansley and his bill will survive.


As the temperature outside goes down, the elderly turn it up inside,


but should more affluent pensioners get extra payments from government?


Ann Widdecombe is here to explain why she is giving her as a way.


And why everyone from the Prime Minister down is going nuts for


everything Nordic. All that in the next 90 minutes of


cockle warming TV this freezing February morning. Are your cockles


suitably warmed? Not yet. It takes a lot to warm her cockles.


Providing the heat on your electronic hearth are Labour's Liz


Kendall, the Shadow Health minister. And the International Development


Minister, who just can't give his money away. He has responsibility


for the Caribbean, among other places. Alan Duncan. Surprised you


are not there. First, is and anti-business culture


developing in the UK? The Chancellor George Osborne warned


last night that the row over bonuses and pay threatened to


undermine jobs and prosperity in a free-market economy, and he


defended the principles of rewards for success. His comments come in


the wake of last week's furore over a proposed bonus payment of almost


�1 million to the chief executive of state-owned RBS bank Stephen


Hester. Mr Hester, who eventually turned down the bonus, was on Radio


4's Today programme this morning. The central question that I am


charged with is how to make a commercial success of RBS. And one


of the central questions for society is not how we divide the


pride but whether we have a prior tour. How do we get economic growth


and how do we be successful? The question is not how we divide the


pie, but whether we have a pie at all.


A last night, George Osborne said he wanted to fight an anti-business


culture. There is a distinction between Steve Goodwin -- Fred


Goodwin and Stephen Hester. This man, Stephen Hester, was not in


banking before. He was taken on to clear up the mess and he should be


rewarded if he is successful. We want RBS to be back in private


hands and put in money back into the coffers. When it comes to


higher earners, 1% of income taxpayers pay 28% of the income tax


intake. So should you have taken his bonus? I think the bonuses


should not be in cash, but in shares, invested over a number of


years so that they are not just a short-term reward for short-term


success. Did you agree that he should not take it on this


occasion? What a good guy. He said, I am not going to take it. One can


hear from the tone of the interview this morning that we should not


underestimate the pressure we put people under when there is a sudden


press attack on them over so many days. This is the good guy who is


trying to put things right. Then why did the Government have not


defend him at the time? As you say, there is a distinction between


Stephen Hester and Fred Goodwin. Why did someone not say, let him


have his bonus? Were did defend him. That is not quite true. David


Cameron said not to take the bonus. We do not want anyone to take a


cash bonus. His bonus was shares. It was never to be a cash bonus.


have to be sensitive at a time of austerity when many are finding it


difficult to pay their bills about how something like this, in the


eyes of the public, can look excessive. In my view, we want to


reward these people over the long term for successfully turning


around a bank that became a disaster. That would be good for


the country and the business image of Britain is important, because if


we do not attract businesses, we will not get the growth we need.


Labour claimed that this was their success and that they persuaded


Stephen Hester to waive his bonus. No one in Labour talked about


bonuses or people waving them when they were in government. I actually


think the issue of bonuses is related to a very pro-business


agenda about how we get our economy growing again. If I think about the


small businesses in my constituency, one of the things they regularly


raised is the fact that banks are not lending. It was interesting


that Robert Jenkins, a member of the Bank of England's financial


policy committee, told the Treasury Select Committee recently that for


every �1 billion less in bonuses, that could translate into �20


billion worth of lending to small businesses. We need to promote and


champion our entrepreneurial businesses to get the country


growing again. This is not an anti- business agenda, but a pro-business


agenda. But do you accept that it is only in difficult times that


people are talking about bonuses? You did not care at the time when


things were going well. We did have a bankers' bonus tax. But before


that, it was all about light touch regulation, according to Ed Balls.


The Conservative Party would have wanted even more of a light touch


regulatory approach. In the future, we need to look at how we have a


system where people are rewarded for success, but bonuses are about


exceptional success. She under Labour, even when RBS had bitten


the dust, the bonus pot approved by the then Labour government was �1.3


billion. They have completely changed their tune. In 2009, the


Walker review looked into bankers' bonuses. It talked about there


being far greater transparency in the remuneration of people working


in banks. The Government have not taken action on that. Do you want


to see chief executives of state- owned and part-owned companies


beyond Network Rail and RBS, do you want the Government to look at


their bonuses and say they cannot take them? A big bonuses should


exist, but the genuinely exceptional performance. But should


we be looking at state-owned companies? We need to look at


bonuses across the board, particularly in backs. What are we


trying to achieve here? We are trying to achieve a banking system


where exceptional success is rewarded. But we have to get them


lending again. How do we move our banking system forward so that it


promotes jobs? Do you think it is helpful to talk about predators and


producers? Does that not sound and the business? Be is important to


talk about how we get responsible businesses. I think Ed has helped


set the agenda here. When he first gave his speech at party conference,


raising these issues about what responsible capitalism looked like,


he was pooh-poohed by the press and others. It does look as if the


coalition government has followed his lead. I think the Ed Miliband


approach to this, in many things he is very rational. And that is good.


But because he has been in a slightly desperate position with


his leadership, he has rather whipped up hatred to garner support


for himself. He has regularly been making this point since he became


leader. If Labour goes on about growth, fair enough. But you have


to have a successful business community.


The coalition came to power determined that it would not make


the same mistakes as the last government by becoming embroiled in


was in the Middle East. But that was before the Arab Spring, and


particularly the rebellion in Libya. Now there are questions about


whether elements of the successful operation in Libya could be


replicated in Syria. Libya provided a template for


successful intervention. Make sure any action has UN backing. Allow


local rebels to take the lead, with foreign air support and equipment.


And limit the involvement of Western military forces. Fighting


in Libya went on longer than some expected, but basically everything


went according to plan. You showed the world you could get rid of a


dictator and choose freedom. worsening situation in Syria has


led to demands for more of the same. It seems as though Nicolas Sarkozy


would like to see a repeat of the success in Libya. The EU has


strengthened Scots' actions. France wants to establish a contact group


of supportive countries, and there is talk of arming rebels. But with


Russia and China vetoing un resolutions, it is not clear what


can be achieved. Then there is Iran. Again, sanctions have been imposed,


including an EU or embargo, which Iran is threatening to respond to


by closing the Straits of Hormuz, a crucial area for oil tankers. With


the prospect of unilateral action from Israel, how should Britain and


the rest of the international community respond?


Alan Duncan, as a result of the apparent success in Libya with our


intervention, are you worried that that has made some people in your


government more interventionist mine did? At do not think so. Even


in Libya, we were cautious. It was a no-fly zone supported by a UN


resolution. Most of the rebellion activity came from within.


Crucially, differently from Syria, everything depended on Gaddafi, the


man. The regime in Syria is more complicated. President Assad, who


has become very nasty, was almost accidental President upon the death


of his father. Behind him is a much more nasty group of people. I think


Syria is different from Libya. Libya was a great success and a


real feather in the cap for the Prime Minister. He stuck his neck


out when others mocked him. Did you agree? Yes, I did. There are a


number of neo- Conservatives in the government who do not agree.


Setting aside that distinction about whether you are Rania


Conservative or not, I am not -- I am not a neo- conservative. But I


do not think the Libyan no-fly zone and conflict can be defined as


being either near a Conservative or not. It was the right thing to do.


And I think the revolution in Libya was generated from within. Now we


see what was going on, thank goodness it was. Syria is more


difficult. Iran is very complicated. You touched on oil sanctions. They


are now beginning to bite in Iran. You mean the not buying of Iranian


oil? Yes. It is not a total blockade of all of their exports,


but it is affecting their revenues and their economy. The more


targeted sanctions on people and money are biting effectively. It is


the right thing to do on a round, whose belligerence and reckless


talk about nuclear weapons is a danger to the world. Is there


anything practical we can do in Syria now? It is extremely


difficult. It is difficult even to work out what the dividing lines


are in terms of who are fighting room and what the differences are.


I accept that the regime is fighting its own people. It is


difficult to do anything when you do not have a UN resolution, as we


had in Libya. If it is blocked by the Russians and Chinese, there is


no framework of law within which we might be able to act. It is the


biggest difficulty in the Near Room at least. Horrid and awkward that


we appear to be helpless, but we can only behave within the


framework of international law. There is no real morality in


depending on the UN, though. There is no morality if you are dependent


in the end on two dictatorships called Russia and China. There is


morality when it permits you to do something. Buff -- but if it does


not reach that collective decision, it can block what might otherwise


be regarded as moral action. That is the problem with the UN. It


requires collective consensual and Dortmund. Which means that


sometimes, you need the support of the bad guys, governments which are


good at redressing their own people, Russia and China. They do not care


if another government is repressing its own people. You are right, it


does sometimes require the support of people who are not entirely


savoury in everything they do. But that is the nature of the United


Nations. I understand that, but I was thinking that perhaps the


moralistic talk of the UN should be downgraded, as there is not much


morality in the UN when you have Saudi Arabia on the human rights


commission and you have our policy determined by China and Russia. It


may be realpolitik and it may be legal, but it is not moral by any


definition I would understand. me question the tone you are


adopting about the UN itself. You are somehow blaming the UN for this,


when it is in fact two members of the Security Council who have


rejected a necessary resolution. By all means blame them. Do not blame


the UN, because that is a different phenomenon. There is bipartisan


support on Syria, isn't there? I want to come back to a question


you raised earlier about the practical action that can be taken.


Alan is right about the difficult circumstances that there are.


William Hague said in the House this week that more needs to be


done working with the various opposition groups within Syria. I


also think that building more support and working closely with


the Arab League so that members in the region are prepared not only to


support proper steps towards democracy, but play a role in that,


that is important, as well as continuing to work with our


European and wider international colleagues. We have discussions


between America and Turkey taking place. It is important to see what


more turkey can do. There are practical steps, though it is


You may have to get the Arab League to become democratic since I don't


think there is a democracy... Yesterday papers were full of


speculation about the future of Andrew Lansley and his Health and


Social Care Bill. There is support from Number Ten today as the Bill


goes back to the House of Lords today where it is it is expected to


face opposition from peers. Andrew Lansley's reforms of the NHS


have under gone major problems. He introduced over 100 amendments to


the Bill last yeebg. The Health Secretary had to broaden the role


of the regulator by replacing its duty to promote competition. Nurses


and other healthcare professionals will be able to take up roles on


commissioning bodies. And the Health Secretary, himself, will


remain responsible for the delivery of healthcare, something which many


peers were concerned about. The trouble is the surgeries failed to


cure the original complaints from many Liberal Democrats, cross-


benchers and Labour peer in the Lords. Now the Bill is coming under


attack from bodies and MPs that previously supported it. They are


claiming the surgeries remove the guts from the Bill. The Financial


Times quotes worried Conservative Thank you, Jo.


We are joined by David Owen. Welcome back to the programme. Alan


Duncan, one of your backbenchers is quoted as saying, "we could end up


as the party that messed up the NHS.". We are doing our best to


shape the NHS for the future needs of the country that we can see with


a greater focus on elderly care and on community community need and to


try and empower GPs to be able to commission what they think is best


needed for their patients is what this Bill is all about. It is


taking out a layer of administration, people so often


complain about there being too many managers and not enough doctors.


You put more layers in. The Bill is so complex, it changed so much.


Over 100 amendments last week, 1,000 in total since it was


presented. It has just become a mess? Well, a lot of Bills have


many, many amendments so that's not exactly unprecedented. The whole


process of amendment is designed to improve legislation and we should


welcome anything that genuinely does improve the legislation and


the House of Lords today will start its report stage and I have to say


the Lords is often, it looks at legislation better than we do in


the Commons. So we have got to look at what they say and take a view


about whether it will improve the legislation.


Even the the few leading clinicians who supported your Bill, they say


as a result of the changes you made, it is a dog's breakfast.


reforming piece of legislation, you know, upsets existing ways of


behaving and therefore, is invariably going to provoke more


opposition than support and that is where we are with this Bill at the


moment. Andrew Lansley should be taken out


and shot, he messed up the communication and substance of the


policy. That's from Downing Street. I don't think that would be from


Downing Street. It is from Downing Street.


And it is it is not a comment comment with which I agree.


I wonder when you fought the last election when you had what was in


store. I interviewed Andrew Lansley and I had no idea this was coming.


The House of Commons and House of Lords is paid to examine the


legislation and try and make it as It has been massively changed.


There is deep unhappy about it, but it looks with the Prime Minister


backing the Health Secretary, it is going to happen? Well, I hope it


doesn't. I only think the Prime Minister can stop it. He did stop


forestry. People thought it would be a big blow. It was forgotten


within days. Actually, I had forgotten it until you mentioned


it! If he did it, the NHS would rally because there are many


reforms which they are committed to under the existing legislation you


could do, Stephen Dorrell said they didn't need this. It is a massive


legislation. Far bigger than the original original Health Service


Act. They promise nod top down reorganisation, this is the mother


and father of a top down reorganisation and now they are


saying this argument that because it has gone so far, they can't stop


it. But it will cause chaos, but they have broken all the


conventions which exist in the House of Commons for many, many


decades. You can implement some of the legislation after second


reading, but you cannot pre-empt the democratic process, what they


have done is pre-empt the democratic process and it is a


profound constitutional issue here. And you believe a number of reforms


which you would be consider to be worthwhile reforms to improve the


NHS could go ahead without this Bill? Well, you are a young man,


but you will remember when I was involved with the Health Service


and then with the SDP, I was the architect of the internal market, I


sometimes regret it now, but the internal market was an attempt to


get the cost effective pressures that every Health Service has to


have. This is a rationed Health Service. But it is a popular


service. It is rationed because most people think it is democratic


and fair. One of the other big issues is pulling out the role of


Government and putting in quangos. This quango, the National Health


Service commissioning board is the biggest quango that has been


created. This was a Government, a lot of people agreed, was going to


get rid of quangos. That was the point I made to you.


You created the biggest quango in an attempt to keep the show on the


road? I see in my own constituency GPs


preparing for this. I don't think certainly in the case I have seen


that they are pre-empting the legislation in the way that David


Owen suggests and I think think their preparedness is enthusiastic


to assume... David Owen's point is that a lot of that could be done


without the Bill? The Royal College of General Practitioners are not


involved in pay or pensions against the Government. They have come out


against it. It is unprecedented for the NHS to be so critical.


We know Labour is against it. We know your leader would like the


Bill could be withdrawn, but does Labour have a policy for reforming


the Health Service? Absolutely, we need as our population increases


and we have more people living with long-term and chronic conditions,


we need to put a greater emphasis on services in the community and in


people's homes and making sure the NHS and local council services for


older people work closely together. That's the subject of the Health


Select Committee's report on social care out today and what is very


interesting that report says some of the best example of integration


have been delivered by organisations that pool the money


and the staff together. They are going to be swept away by this


Health Bill. We are going to see major changes


in hospital services. We have got to have an information that


delivers more with less money. The way to do that is not to set all


the parts of the system against one another and it is not to have a


massive distracting wasteful information reorganisation. Let's


be clear, the Government's plans now include at least five layers of


management in the NHS. That's not what Tory backbenchers supported.


It is going to cost billions of pounds. It is a big distraction and


patient care is already suffering with waiting time going up. That is


why this Bill is such a disast are, not because we are against change,


but because this won't help us make the changes we really need to see.


Five layers of management. They will soon catch up with the BBC!


David Owen, it looks like the Lib Dem peers are swinging into line


behind the Government. Is it a lost cause for you? The House of Lords


doesn't have the right to stop a Bill because they find this


politically disvan tainlgous. They are allowed to reform it. It is a


whipped Bill and there is no doubt when the whips of of Liberal


Democrat peers and Conservatives, they can force it through as they


did in the House of Commons. I think we have to reluctantly say


only the people of this country by writing to the Prime Minister and


saying to him, "You said a very different message to us in the last


election and why have you made this change? Admit it is a mistake." His


own adviser said it was a tactic, this pause which they introduced


into the summer. They nearly got away with it and suddenly the


medical profession which is slow, you know, the non political element


to stir has realised this Bill is a disaster.


We have to leave there. You should come back and see us more often.


Oh, it is me! I'm going to do this!


Now, there is con son nation across middle Britain. Teapot sales have


fallen by 40% over the past five years. I will have more difficulty


pouring the tea. Instead of making a proper cup of tea with tea,


leaves, pot and strainer and milk added after, never before the tea.


Brits are taking to brewing their tea in a mug using a teabag, heaven


forbid! Fret, not it is a storm in the


teapot. The tea can be brewed in a Daily


Politics mug! It transforms builder's tea into something


sublime! At least that's what run of the runners on this programme


told me! If you pay attention, you could win


one! After all that, we remind you how to enter in a moment. Let's see


if you can remember when this # Let's get in the mood


# A real groovy mood # Let's have a party party


# Let's get in the mood # A real groovy mood to have a


# I've got a man crazy for me # I believe that for every drop of


rain that falls, a flower grows # My my worry throughout the assent


was the question of the supply of Everybody in Britain hopes the


Ashes aren't in a hurry to leave I think that was from Half a


sixpence. To be in with a chance to win a mug,


You can see the full terms and conditions for Guess The Year on


It is, ing up to -- it is coming up to midday. Let's look at Big Ben.


I'm told it is bitterly cold across the nation. It can only mean one


thing, it is Wednesday and Prime Minister's Questions question and


it is also Nick Robinson. Nick, is health a big issue? Ed Miliband has


been trying to get this story going. Each week reading out a list of the


bodies opposed to the Health Bill. He will be be able to read out


another, there is another health body against it. The story is


embargoed until 12.15! I can't tell you which body at the moment.


Break the embargo? That would be shocking. Parliament is covered by


embargo rules. It comes a day after, I know you were talking about the


article in the in the Times that suggested someone inside Number Ten


wanted Andrew Lansley to be taken out and shot... Yes, I put that to


Mr Mr Duncan. And presumably not patched by the men and women of the


NHS whom we owe so much. With Andrew Lansley's poor presentation


of the Bill and people looking for a sign that the Bill is going to be


scrapped, always a possibility because even supporters of the


reforms argued that some of it could be done without legislation.


. David Owen was saying that. You get people who are both opposed


to the Bill who say scrap the Bill and you get people in favour of


elements who say scrap the Bill. Yesterday, the firmest, clearest


briefing you could have got that not just David Cameron, but Nick


Clegg after a meeting that the two had with Andrew Lansley know they


want to plough on. They want to stick to the Bill and that given


two opportunities to as it were to politically go out and shoot Andrew


Lansley, the resignation of Chris Huhne and the resignation of Liam


Fox before Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Chris Chris -- Christmas.


The Prime Minister has shunned them all and says, "Plough on.". I get


the impression reading the Times which is clearly a result of


briefing from Downing Street, that the Prime Minister is behind it.


Nick Clegg has been squared. But we will find out. Let's go over to the


I am sure the house would join with me in pay tribute to her Majesty


the Queen in what is an absolutely historic week marking the 60th


anniversary of her accession to the throne. Her Majesty's 60 years of


remarkable leadership and dedicated public service are an inspiration


to us all and something the whole country and Commonwealth can be


proud of. Members will obviously have the opportunity to pay


individual attributes during the humble Address debate on 7th March.


This morning amid ministerial colleagues and others and in


addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings


later today. Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole house, not least myself,


will join the Prime Minister in his warm tribute to her Majesty. Mr


Speaker, last March, the Prime police officers. Can the Prime


Minister now confirm that frontline officer numbers have been cut in 14


out of 43 police forces? proportion of officers on the


frontline is up. I am sure he will want to join me in congratulating


mayor Boris Johnson on his excellent record on crime in our


capital. Total crime is down, violent crime is down on buses and


tubes. 11,000 knives and guns have been taken off our streets. And


there are 1000 more officers on the streets of London at the end of his


term than at the beginning. That, together with his reminder of the


rule of the dangers of tweeting, is a good start to the day. Does my


right honourable friend share my disappointment at the overthrow


yesterday of the first democratically-elected President of


the Maldives in a coup d'etat? Given our historic links with the


islands, will the Government, by way of a message, do all they can


to ensure that no violence results and that the democratic


institutions remain? My honourable friend is right. This country does


have strong links with the Maldives and does has have a good


relationship with the president. But the president has resigned, and


we have a strong interest in the well-being of several thousand


British tourists and in a stable and democratic government in the


Maldives. Our High Commissioner is in the capital meeting all of the


political leaders. We call on the new government to demonstrate its


respect for the rights of all political parties and their members


and to ensure that the constitution is upheld. We advise British


tourists to advise non-essential travel and those using the airport


should exercise caution. Mr Speaker, can I join the Prime


Minister in pay tribute to her Majesty the Queen, as we celebrate


her diamond jubilee. Her dedication to the country and public service


is and inspiration and example to us all. We look forward to the


official celebrations later this year, which will enable us to


celebrate both her Majesty and our country. Mr Speaker, on the day the


Prime Minister completed his NHS listening exercise, he said this.


"some of the people who work in the NHS were sceptical of our changes.


Today, we are taking people with us". And it is in that spirit of


unity that we want to continue. Why does he think he has failed?


today, 95% of the country is covered by general practitioners


who are not only supporting our reforms, they are implementing our


reforms. For order. The house must calm down. There is a long way to


go. Let's hear the answers. There will be plenty of time. Just today,


50 Foundation trusts have written to the newspapers in support of our


reforms and objecting to what Labour proposing. The signature at


the top of the list, which he may not have noticed, is 1 Anne


Campbell, the former Labour MP for Cambridge. She, running her local


Foundation Trust, supports the reforms. That is what happens.


Labour MPs leave this House and start implementing coalition policy.


A Mr Speaker, even he does not believe that nonsense he just came


out with. Last Friday, the Royal College of General Practitioners


said this about his health bill. "it will cause irreparable damage


to patient care and jeopardise the NHS." the Health Secretary is


shouting from a sedentary position. It is nice to see him here. Some


distance away, I notice. The Prime Minister says he wants the voice of


doctors to be heard in the NHS. Why doesn't he listened to them? It is


always good to get a electron happy families from the right honourable


member. -- to get a lecture on Happy families from the right


honourable member. I care passionately about our NHS, not


least because of what it has done for my family and because of the


amazing service I have received. I want to see that excellent service


implemented for everyone. That means two things - we have to put


more money into the NHS, and we are putting the money in. But it also


means we have to reform the NHS. He used to be in favour of the reform.


Let me read him this. "to safeguard the NHS in tougher fiscal times, we


need sustained reform". That was in the Labour manifesto of the last


election. And on the issue of Money, we are committed to �12.5 billion


in this Parliament. And yet his health spokesman said "it would be


irresponsible to spend more money on the NHS". They are not in favour


of the money or of the reform, they are just a bunch of opportunists.


Isn't this interesting? He says this is all about reform. The Tory


Reform Group has come out against these proposals. It comes to


something when even the Tories don't trust the Tories on the NHS.


Listen to what the chair of the Royal College of GPs... Oh, Mr


Speaker! So when the people they want to put at the heart of the NHS


says things about the bill, they just grown. It says it all about


the benches opposite. This is what she said "this bill is a burden. It


makes no sense. It is incoherent. It will not deal with the big


issues, and it will result in a health service that certainly will


never match the health service we had 12 months ago". Mr Speaker,


which part of that doesn't he understand? Let's look at what has


happened to the NHS over the last 18 months. Let's look at the


figures. 100,000 patients treated more every month. 4000 extra


doctors since the NHS. The number of clinical staff up. The level of


hospital acquired infections down. The number of people in mixed sex


wards down by 94%. That is happening because you have a


combination of money going in and reform. We know what happens if you


do not put in the money and do not do the reform, because there is one


part of the NHS that is run by Labour, and that is in Wales. So


let's look at what is happening to the NHS in Wales. They have cut the


money, and one-third of people are waiting longer than 18 months -- 18


weeks. That is happening in Labour's NHS. If he did not have


the money or the reform, it would happen here, too. I am not


surprised that he is getting so agitated, because he thought the


NHS was his way to modernise the Conservative Party. And I'm afraid


it is coming apart. And I will tell him why, because the promises he


made before the election are coming back to haunt him. We all remember


that promised - no more top down reorganisation. And now he says he


knows better than the doctors, better than the nurses, better than


the midwives, better than the patients' associations, people who


day in, day out rely on DA and devote their lives to the health


service. This is a matter of trust in the Prime Minister. Can he


honestly look people in the health service in the eye and say he has


kept his promise of no more top- down reorganisation? We are cutting


the bureaucracy in the NHS. We are taking out for �0.5 billion of


bureaucracy that will be ploughed into patient care. If you do not


support the reform, you will not see that money going to operations,


doctors, nurses, hospitals, healthcare assistants. That is


happening in the NHS. But there is one group of people I will not


listen to, and that is those who ran the NHS under Labour. This is


what they did - �6 billion wasted on the NHS computer. �250 million


spent on private sector operations that were never carried out. We


still have Private Finance Initiative agreements where we pay


�300 each time someone changes a lightbulb. That is what we got from


Labour. We are putting the money and the reform in. The operations


are up, the waiting times are down, the NHS is improving, and that is


the way it is going to stay. I will tell him about our record on the


NHS. The shortest waiting times in NHS history. More doctors and


nurses than ever before. The highest level of patient


satisfaction ever in the health service. But everyone will have


heard a Prime Minister unable to defend the promise he made, the


promise of no more top-down reorganisation, a Prime Minister


who has broken his word. The reality is this. All his attention


is on this point was top-down reorganisation, and the frontline


is suffering. The number of people waiting more than 18 weeks is up


under him. A&E targets being missed, cancelled operations. Why won't he


just give up and stop wasting billions and drop his bill? If the


record was so good, why were they thrown out at the last election?


Order! I am worried about opposition members. They must calm


themselves at straightaway. Let me rind -- remind the honourable


gentleman of the test he said for the reforms and the Government. He


said the test was whether waiting times would come down. Let me give


him the figures. In-patient waiting times - down. Out-patient waiting


times, down. The number of people waiting more than a year, down to


its lowest ever. The number of people waiting for six months, down


to its lowest ever level. And the number of people on the waiting-


list. What he said was the clear test, that is down. Even when this


Labour leader moves the goalposts, he can't put it in the back of the


net. Mr Speaker, the person moving the goalposts is the Prime Minister.


The reality is that the key test that was set for the health service


was the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks. That number is


up 43% since the general election. However much he twists and turns,


that is the reality. He knows in his heart of hearts that this is a


complete disaster, this bill. That is why his aides are say the Health


Secretary should be taken up and shot, because they know it is a


disaster. The reality is that doctors know it is bad for the NHS.


The nurses know it is bad for the NHS, and patients know it is bad


for the NHS. Every day, he fights for this bill. Every day, trust in


him on the NHS ebbs away and every day, it becomes clearer that the


health service is not safe in his I got to tell him the career


prospects for my right honourable friend are a lot better than his!


This is not a campaign to save the NHS. This is a campaign to try and


save his leadership and I make this prediction, the NHS will go on


getting better and his prospects will go on getting worse.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. When the work programme was introduced in


Burnley in October 2010, the people inactive was 76. Would the Prime


Minister congratulate the people of Burnley for that success?


I certainly join my honourable friend in congratulating not only


the people in Burnley, but the people con conducting the work


programme because I think what we are seeing is more people becoming


able to work and therefore, able to enter the workforce and to raise


not only the country's living standards, but raise their own


living standards too. The people of Preston are furious


that the Indian Government selected a French company as the bidder for


the Indian Air Force jet. The Prime Minister goes on about rebalancing


the British economy. This is a major blow to manufacturing in this


country. Other European leaders can go and help their companies get


major contracts, why is this weak Prime Minister not doing that and


why haven't we got this contract? The honourable gentleman ought to


think about the fact that all European leaders are actually


backing the Eurofighter project. It is a German project. It is an


Italian project, a Spanish project and a British project. I am


disappointed by what has happened in India, but euro fight


certificate not out of the con dur euro fight certificate not out of


the contest and we need to reengage to make sure we get the best deal


for those who make Eurofighter. This is something that ought to


unite parties in this House, getting behind our defence


producers. In order that a constituent of mine could access


the drugs and treatment she was entitled to under the NHS


constitution, her GP, her consultant, her specialist


oncologist and the Secretary of State Secretary of State for health


and I had to write letters. honourable lady raises an important


point, since the introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund, 10,000 more


people have been able to get cancer drugs drugs that are essential. Let


me tell you one that would damage cancer drug, that's the proposal


from the party opposite to cap drugs at 5%. In the Royal Marston


they would have to cut by a quarter the services they deliver. What a


crazy left-wing plan that only the right honourable gentleman could


come up with. In three months time, just before


the Olympics, Abu Qatada, a truly dangerous man will be roaming the


streets of London with his mobile phone and internet access, thanks


to the Prime Minister, abolishing control orders and house arrest


provisions. How can the Prime Minister justify putting the


public's right to life at risk in order to give over to the Liberal


Democrats on their plans to demolish control orders?


situation with Abu Qatada is unacceptable. As I said, I when I


went to Strasbourg to make a speech in front of the Council of Europe


about this, it is not acceptable that we end up with a situation, we


have someone in your country, that threatens to do you harm, that you


cannot try, you cannot detain and you cannot deport and that is why


the Government will do everything it can, working with our Jordanian


friends and allies to make sure that he can be deported and again,


instead of sniping about this, the whole House ought to unite to help


sort this out. Recently as last September, only a


tiny handful of the 165 acute mental health, adult inpatient beds


in Hampshire were vacant. Yet the trust concerned proposes to cut


those 165 beds to 107, replacing them with something called a


hospital at home or a virtual ward. Given that I believe that the


statistics on which this is based are inconsistent and unreliable,


will the Prime Minister support my call for independent experts from


the Audit Commission to look at those figures before those beds are


closed? Well, I think the honourable


gentleman makes an important point. We are putting the extra resource


into the NHS, but there need to be a clear series of tests as there


are now under our plans before any facilities are changed or closed


and that is about making sure there is GP back for what is proposed and


making sure that any such changes will improve the health of that air


casmt I will -- area. I will look at the issue he raises and ensure


that the Department of Health engage with him on that.


Four police authorities including one I share with the Chancellor,


have just started buying Hyundai cars imported from Korea, add to


that the Thameslink fiasco and Olympic tickets, when are we going


to see leadership from the Prime Minister about public procurement


in his country? Police forces get together and procure together to


cut their costs. We have all lost count of the times of wandering


through police stations and seeing countless different types of


vehicle all costing a large amount of money. What the public want is


police on the streets, not money spent on unnecessary procurement.


The Prime Minister will have seen this morning's Select Committee


report on Libya. Could my right honourable friend tell the House


what steps he is taking to ensure the UK will be able to evacuate all


UK nationals from conflict zones and reduce our reliance on civil


charter aircraft? My honourable friend raises an important point.


The Libya evacuation have brought home to us the importance of having


transport aircraft in the MoD and in the RAF and I can announce today


that because the Ministry of Defence's finances are better run


and better managed and because we have found savings, we will be able


to purchase an additional C17 for the RAF, this aircraft is becoming


an brilliant work horse for the RAF in terms of bringing men and


material into a war war zone like Afghanistan, but evacuating


civilians in times of need. It is an important investment for the


country and I am glad to announce that we can make it today.


May I first of all associate myself with the tributes to Her Majesty


The Queen. Yesterday, the all party


independent group on stalking published its report. The Prime


Minister knows about my interest in this subject and the Government


consultation concluded yesterday. Will he now please meet meet with


myself and a small group of all party members to discuss this


urgent need for a stalking law? We do take this issue seriously. I


am happy to meet with him and discuss it. I know he conversations


with the Home Office. We want to get this issue right and if there


is a need for legislative changes, there maybe opportunities in the


next session for that criminal justice legislation and I will


happily meet and talk with him about it.


During apprenticeship week, I am proud to announce that a college


has increased the number of apprentices from nine to 160 and


the Government increased the number by 170,000 in the last year. Does


my right honourable friend agree that achievements like these


illustrate the importance to give apprenticeships the attention they


deserve? It is one of the most important investments we can make


in the future industrial base this country and helping young people is


investing in apprenticeships. The number over the last year is up by


60, 457,000 people starting apprenticeships and in


apprenticeship week, it is important to stress what we are


doing to get over the objections in the past that people had, making


sure there are more apprenticeships easily had by small businesses, by


the paper of a simple fee, making sure that we have more high level


apprenticeships so we we show that apprenticeships are every bit as


good as having a university degree and involve a university degree and


cutting the bureaucracy by allowing big businesses to run the tisship


schemes rather than doing it via a training provider.


Why hasn't the Government launched an appeal against the Abu Qatada


judgement? Aren't you being dangerously complacent, Prime


Minister? We are doing everything we can to


get this man out of the country. The absolutely key thing to do is


an agreement with Jordan about the way that he will be treated because


the European Court on Human Rights has made a very clear judgement on


that. I happen to think it is the wrong judgement. I regret that


judgement. This guy should have been deported years ago, but


nevertheless, if we can get that agreement with Jordan, he can be on


his way. Complex employment law makes small


businesses nervous about hiring new staff. Would the Prime Minister


agree we need a simpler alternative for our smallest firms for


dismissal rules? I think my honourable friend is


right to raise this issue. If every small business in the country hired


an additional worker that would go a long way to curing both long-term


and youth and total unemployment at one stroke. We have got to make it


easier for businesses to take people on. One of the key


considerations businesses have, is how difficult it is to let someone


go if it doesn't work out and that's why extending to two years


the amount of of time you have to work before you get access to a


tribunal can make a difference in terms of small small business


employment. We have heard from the Prime


Minister how Italian governments and German governments are out


there fighting for British jobs. Can the Prime Minister tell us


exactly how many phone conversations he had directly with


the Indian Prime Minister about the typhoon bid and when the last


conversation actually took place? raise this issue with the Indian


Prime Minister repeatedly on my visit to India and indeed, at the G


keep 20 in in Cannes. When I loaded an aeroplane up with British goods,


who was it that attacked me? Who put out the press releases? Who was


it that doesn't stand up for British industry, and British jobs?


It is Labour. On Monday, I visited the offices of


the Bucksburry Press. I can tell the Prime Minister that Labour's


leg legacy in my constituents constituents is distrust. The right


way to deliver local accountability in our constituency is clinical


commissioning and foundation trust status? The whole point of the


reforms is to put the power in the hands of local doctors so they make


decisions on behalf of patients and what is good for healthcare in


their local area. We may find that the community hospitals that were


repeatedly undermined by the party opposite will get a boost because


owe lol people and local doctors want to see them succeed. That's


what our reforms are all about. There are 40,000 women sick with


anxiety because of faulty medical products and now they are being


failed by private clinics and by an NHS which is dithering about what


to do. We can see the future of a privatised NHS. So will the Prime


Minister pledge, will the Prime Minister pledge to support those


women in the NHS now and claim against the clinics later and will


he drop the Health and Social Care Bill so we we don't have this


happening across the NHS? I will take the question in two halfs. She


is write about the scandal of the PIP implants. The Government has


made clear that we will offer every one of those women a free


consultation and making sure that on the NHS we do everything we can


to help them. It is a scandal and the private clinics that carried


out the operations, they should feel the maximum pressure to undo


the harm they have done. But let me just say to her about the issue of


greater competition and choice within the NHS, I actually think


she should listen to past Labour politicians who have said


themselves that actually greater greater choice, greater competition,


the involvement of the private sector, that can help raise


standards in our NHS system and that's why we should support it.


Thank you, Mr SPeabg. Speaker. The threat to ship building jobs


threatens 32 jobs in the regional supply chain. Will the Prime


Minister commit to do all he can to protect this site? The honourable


lady is right to speak up for Portsmouth and to speak up for ship


building. BAe Systems Has not approached the Government with any


proposal to rationalise ship building. What I would say in terms


of this Government's commitment to the Royal Navy, better building the


new frig ats, there is the plans for replacing Trident and the plans


for aircraft carriers. Treasury tax rates on North Sea Oil


and gas are putting 1500 jobs at ONG North Tyneside at risk. Can I


ask the Prime Minister not to be complacent about north-east jobs,


but to insent advise off --ent sen ta vice in the Budget and to meet


with me and others about the the jobs situation in the north-east?


The honourable lady raises an important point. I saw for myself


when I went to Aberdeen how vital this industry is and indeed how


much investment is taking place in the North Sea. The reason we put up


the tax on North Sea was actually to cut petrol duty for families up


and down the country, but we will make sure that...


THE SPEAKER: I don't know where members are falling about unable to


contain themselves. I want to hear the Prime Minister's answer.


The Prime Minister. We will make sure there is a good


tax regime for the North Sea, whether that is servicing jobs in


England or indeed in Scotland. Mr Speaker, last Wednesday, the


Commons rejected the Lords attempt to wreck the Reform Bill. On seven


occasion the Commons voted, the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime


Minister voted, but the Children's Minister, the honourable member for


Brent Central, refused to support the Government and has spoken


against the policy. Now Mr Speaker, on occasion, I have spoken against


the Government and then supported them, but I am not a Government


minister. Why is she still a Government minister?.


I thought thought... THE SPEAKER: We want to hear the


Prime Minister's verdict on the honourable member for Brent Central


and we won't if there is too much noise.


I thought he was going to say yet. The honourable lady is a Government


minister. She supports Government policy as all Government ministers


15,000 young disabled people are going to be affected by the changes


to contributory employment support allowance. That's 1500 now


claimants are going to lose �5,900 a year. Is -- �4,900 a year. Is


this the Government of value that the Prime Minister spoke about in


May 2010. We are We are there are two groups. There are the support


group. People who ant able to work. People who deserve to get that


support for as long as they need it without any means-testing. The


second element, are people who need help to get work, but will be able


to work. That's why they are in that group and they are they are


going to get help and support under the work programme to get them into


work. I know the Labour Party has set its face against all of Welfare


Reform. They are making a massive mistake in doing so.


What confidence can we have that universal intervention by Russia


will put an end to the terrible violence in Syria?


I think we can have very well confidence in that. Russia and


China set themselves against Arab opinion and world opinion in


passing what would have been a strong and good UN resolution and I


think the Foreign Secretary was right to push for that resolution.


What we now need to see and Britain will be playing a big part in this


is real engagement with the Opposition groups both inside and


outside Syria, bringing together the strongest possible


international alliance through a contact group so we can co-ordinate


efforts with respect to getting rid of this dreadful regime and making


sure we continue with the sanctions and pressure. The bloodshed in


Syria is appalling. The Russians have to look at their consciences


and realise what they have done, but the rest of the world will will


keep on fighting to give the Syrian people a chance to choose their own


future. Yesterday, I heard an expert, a


health expert, who is visiting the UK say that the NHS remains a


beacon for care and effectiveness in the world. And that it needs to


be improved and perfected, not changed. Will the Prime Minister


accept that advice and abandon the Health Bill?


I will tell you what needs to be abandoned, and that's Labour's


approach to the NHS in Wales. Well, he shakes his head. This is what is


happening in Wales. This is what Labour are doing in Wales. They


have cut health spending in Wales by �400 million. That is a 6.5% cut.


27% of people in Wales wait over six weeks for diagnostic services.


The figure for England is just 1%. As I said earlier, a third of


people waiting over 18 weeks for their operation in Wales. That is


what you get if you get Labour. No money, no reform. No good Health


Service. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Many of my


constituents are among the 337 redundancies announced by Kerry


Foods. The honourable gentleman from Great Grimsby and I have


approached various departments for support. One possibility is the


extension of the enterprise zone. Can the Prime Minister give give


comfort to my constituents by looking at that proposal?


I am grateful for the question. He is right to speak up for his


constituents in this way. The Chancellor is very happy to look at


the idea of expanding ther enterprise zone and -- the


enterprise zone and see what else we can do to help his constituents


That has overrun by six minutes. Clearly, what I sent the Speaker


for Christmas has not worked. Interesting for Prime Minister's


Questions to finish with the Tory backbencher, Peter Bone,


criticising a Lib Dem government minister for not being there for


some of the votes on the welfare benefit cap. But the men exchange


was between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the


all of the questions he is entitled to on that one subject. Before we


discuss that, let's hear your e- mails.


To too much all of the e-mails were in response to the discussion on


health. By Anne says David Cameron may care about the NHS, but he is


allowing Andrew Lansley to destroy it. Liam in witness said, why does


Mr Cameron believe he is right and the health bodies opposing the bill


are wrong? His personal attacks are not befitting of a Prime Minister.


Graeme Knowles says when in a deep hole, David Cameron always gets out


the David Miliband knife. But Geoffrey from Hampshire says


Cameron runs circles behind the Red Ed again. The opposition front


bench is so full of opportunists, they should concentrate on


healthcare and not points-scoring. And Helen says sorry, but Ed still


can't even score with an open goal like the NHS reforms. He still


comes across as stilted and over prepared. His responses are weak


and lack conviction. Anyone who has spent time in NHS hospital knows it


cannot carry on as cities and needs reform. And there were many more


like this, but the majority were critical of David Cameron.


A more confident and assertive Mr Ballam up -- Mr Miliband, I would


suggest. But you would think there was an election around the corner,


in a way, because they were not just arguing about the merits of


health reform, but a kind of you are rubbish, we are great attitude?


In a sense, Ed Miliband made his mirth -- most impact on health a


couple of weeks ago, when he unveiled the list of public bodies


that were turning against it. He revealed another public body today


that is opposed. They are now saying the bill should be scrapped.


It is hard to get the same impact for three weeks running. But he


looked comfortable and the Prime Minister looked pretty


uncomfortable. You can always tell the Prime Minister is uncomfortable,


because he shouts more. Ed Miliband was quieter. David Cameron also


goes for more lines at David Miliband's expense. It is


proportional to how comfortable he feels on the policy. The most


striking thing about the exchanges was the deliberate, planned,


scripted and organised move to support Andrew Lansley as Health


Secretary. He sat forward in his seats. Helpfully, the cameras at


the House of Commons kept taking pictures of him. The Prime Minister


said his career prospects were better than Ed Miliband's. This


followed that flurry of speculation fuelled by the Times yesterday that


he was on his way out. We were told when you were in opposition in the


run-up to the election that the Tory strategy in health was to


sideline it, just to park it. "we are going to ring-fence it, and not


cut funding". Health and your department were to get more. But


defence and police and the Tory litmus tests were not to get


funding. The less we talked about health, the better it was for your


party. There were endless briefings. In some ways, that was the strategy


in the studio. We had lots of debates. Don't rock the boat was


the Tory attitude. But now health is dominated the headlines.


never said we would pocket to one side. We said we would support it.


You wanted to sanitise it. But you cannot fossilise the NHS either. It


takes an enormous amount of money, which we are increasing, in a world


whose demands are changing significantly as the nature of


disease need and age profile changes. If you do not change the


NHS and make it able to respond to the needs of the elderly and the


challenges of obesity and things like that, it will not be an


efficient organisation serving the needs of the people. So within this


increased budget, we want to reform it so that it can. It is not a top-


down, it is actually bottom-up, because we are empowering GPs and


people at that level to be able to offer patients what they need best


by commissioning the resources. it is not a result of a clamour


from GPs to have these reforms. That would be bottom-up. This is


coming from the top, telling GPs that this is how it will be in the


future. But the empowerment is that the lower level. But it comes from


the top. My definition would be different. It will not be an


organisation where people at the top pull all the levers. It will be


an organisation where people who have faced time with patients can


pull the levers. For the moment, health is a Labour issue. You


usually pull back on that than the Conservatives. But there is a


danger for you. Ed Miliband said there are three months to save the


health service. I would suggest that in three months, the health


service will still be around and still treating millions of patients.


If in 18 months' time, these changes have taken place and bedded


down and there is not a material change to the standards of our


health service, it may even be better if the Government is right,


you will be seen to have made a song and dance about not much.


not think people will think we have made a song and dance about not


much. The tough it doesn't get worse? I think there is a chance we


can stop the bill, but even if it goes through, that will not solve


the government's problems. Their problems are going to get worse.


There is a danger for David Cameron. He said his personal priority were


three letters - NHS. At best, he has lost control of the policy. At


worst, these changes are wrong for the future of the NHS. And it will


really start to bite when patients who we are already seeing wait


longer than 18 weeks, the government are say the average wait


is the same, but as people have longer waits, it pulls up the


average. People are waiting longer for their diagnostic tests. That is


frightening. We will see problems with money building up. They have


wasted 20 months. It was going to be tough for the NHS to save �20


billion in efficiency savings. would have had to do that. And it


would have been tough. In Doncaster, we have just heard that they have


spent �3 million on redundancies already. That is a waste and it


should go to patient care. A but this is all about cash. People


forget that even though David Cameron had those posters about


cutting the deficit, but not the NHS, even though the Conservatives


said they would increase spending on the NHS, it would be the


smallest increase in a long period of time since the creation of the


NHS. People often talk about Thatcher's government cutting the


NHS. But the spending on the NHS increased in real terms by 4.3%


every year. Effectively, there is no real terms increase in NHS


spending. It is about flat. There is an argument about numbers, but


it is about flat. The NHS has never done that. Not in one year, let


alone a year after year. It seems to me that tactically, Labour want


to not allow the Tories to say, as you have just done, that would have


happened under you and it is because of the deficit, but to say


that when things get worse in the NHS, which objectively, with less


money, you would think they want -- Wood, to say that it is ideological.


It is because you are fiddling around with it. A much better


argument for the Government would have been, if they had killed the


bill, would have been to say, you are right. We are giving him -- the


best advice possible - drop the bill. But your exact words earlier


in this programme were that in the NHS, we have to make less go


further. I assume you meant was not the budget should be lower but that


given �100, you have to get more out of it. That is always a


challenge with the NHS, because demand is almost infinite.


Resources are finite. David Owen said earlier that things have to be


rationed. So to get efficiency in the NHS is a permanent challenge.


We have to leave it there. They are not going to withdraw the bill, so


we will have plenty of time to talk about it. You said you wanted to


come back on Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat minister. She went


to Sheffield for the vote on the welfare cap. She is known to have


raised worries about the number of families with disabled children who


might be effective. Tory backbenchers sick of compromises


such as the one on Abu Qatada want to have a go at her and the


coalition. Now, it is cold outside, in case


you had not noticed. Many pensioners will be glad of their


annual winter fuel allowance from the Government. But everyone over


60 get offered the money, including the comfortably off and even the


wealthy. So is it to good use of our taxes? Former Conservative


minister Ann Widdecombe does not think so, and she gives her


allowance away to charity. Here, she explains why.


Every winter, pensioners die of cold. As temperatures begin to


plummet, there are people who are having to make the choice between


eating properly and keeping warm. And it is estimated that every year,


inadequate heating contributes to the death of thousands of


pensioners. The �200 winter fuel allowance goes into it any


household where there is a pensioner, irrespective of how much


money is coming in. And the over '80s get a �300. So far, the


campaign has persuaded better-off individuals to give up some �2


million. And that has been enough to help about 20,000 poorer


pensioners. But there are still millionaires getting government


handouts while thousands of pensioners struggle just to keep


warm. David Cameron says he will not touch the winter fuel allowance.


And indeed, that pledge was included in the coalition agreement


with the Liberal Democrats. One might argue that he should break


that pledge, and thereby save part of the �2.1 billion that the


allowance cost the Treasury every year. But I think it would be even


better if the money that now goes to well-off pensioners were instead


to be used to raise the allowances for the pensioners who really need


them. But until that happens, we have to persuade as many people as


possible to donate their run needed allowances.


-- and needed allowances. And Ann Widdecombe joins us now.


Presumably it is not politically power -- palatable for David


You have go to ask what is the common sense thing to do. I am well


aware of all the problems that is caused by means-testing. I am not


proposing full means-testing. You are not? No. Where you have got


pensioners in the 40% or 50% tax band they should not get it. If


they can do with child benefit, why not this? If you can do it with


child benefit, why not this? This is the argument about means-tested


versus universal benefit and they made a straight decision on this


for it to be universal. It was a Labour Party decision and no doubt


at the time there was an element of politics in this that they wanted


to Woo as many people as they could. If you were to have means-testing


it would be more complicated either by clawing it back in the tax


system or picking which people qualified or not.


But do you agree with the principle? I think the outcry of


introducing means-testing, the Labour Party has been against


means-testing and now maybe they are in favour of it.


When this was introduced you had to apply. My mother did not apply for


it even though she was in her 90s and could have done, but once you


put it in bank accounts, it is like the �10 Christmas bonus, it arrives


in your bank account, automatic. I think there are many ways in which


we could ensure that this is properly directed. Some people


would love �400, I don't need �200. There is another side to this which


is Cold Weather Payments, if the temperature for a week or so


doesn't go above freezing there was be an automatic payment and it will


only be to those on benefit. It is the principle of universal benefits.


Why can't this Government in these austere times, they seem to be able


to do it with everything else, break this universal benefit?


that were to happen there would be an outcry and not least the Labour


Party who were against means- testing. Once you have got a a


system, it is difficult to unravel Do you think it should be looked


at? All things should be looked at all the time, you know, I am not


one who says that just because it is there, it has to be there


forever. Alan, there is a simpler, I


hesitate to interrupt you, there is a simpler approach to this. Even if


you don't go for fuls means -- full means-testing, why don't you go for,


you have to ask for it or 40% and 50% bands out. That's That's


relatively easy to do. I undertake to pass on your


suggestion to George Osborne. Why doesn't Labour come forward and


say that too? We are trying to look at the real issue which is the high


costs of bills. With due respect... I know that's what you want to talk


about. There is the underlying issue for many of my constituents,


they are worried about the costs of heating. There is more we can do.


We have come forward with the proposal that the energy companies


should put people who are over 75 on the lowest possible rate. We


need to open up that market to get more competition.


Should I get the winter fuel fuel allowance? There is a real issue


here about the costs of means- testing? But should I be getting


it? Well, you don't you should be getting it. What about people in


the House of Lords, should they receive it? There are a number of


issues that need to be looked at and Ed Miliband said that.


Tas difficult issue, isn't -- it is a difficult difficult issue, isn't


it? We want to be kind to you to you to you Ann! We don't want to be


hard on you! How do you identify yourself,


English, Scottish, or Nordic? The Prime Minister is going to put on


his thermals and head off to Stockholm for the Nordic Baltic


summit. Here is Max Cotton on our new friends friends from the north.


Who are our friends? It is a serious serious question. There


come moments in political life when we need to look out there for


allies! There have been very different


answers to that question from our political leaders over the years.


Churchill was the great Atlantis cyst who believed the future of the


UK lay with our American cousins. Then came along Ted Heath. Suddenly


we were in the EEC and had Continental quilts and cappuccino,


but that's a complicated relationship and in the last few


months, we have been told to get lost by the French and by the


Germans! So what is the answer? Nordic. This


man is our future ally. Norwegian, Scandinavian, Danish, it doesn't


matter. He looks great and we have got him some snow!


Millions of years before the Vikings invaded Norwich and grabbed


all our lands after a good bit of pillaging, Britain was part of


Scandinavia, but the tectonic plates or that maybe tutonic plates


priced us apart and created the North Sea leaving Britain too close


to France for comfort. Look at the culture Scandinavia brought to


Britain's shores. If Stig Larsson hadn't of died so young, WH Smith's


would have lobbied to have him knighted and crucially every home


in Britain is furnish with something that arrived in a flat-


pack. Finns and nor weeg -- Norwegians, are they our new best


Did you debt that Andrew? That's why he was in Bill and Ben!


We are joined by a lover of all things Nordic, Frazer Nelson of the


Spectator, would the Nordics like us to join their little club?


don't think so. They are flattered all this attention they are getting.


We are fascinated by Swedish schools and you name it, we are


trying to nick it? Right now, the Nordic countries are standing in


isolation from the terrible things that are happening in Europe.


Sweden doesn't have a deficit. They don't want the likes of us bringing


the economic IQ down. They would rather we admire them from afar.


The centre left was obsessed with Sweden. That was the role model for


social democracy. It is the centre right that looks to Sweden for


ideas? The left love Sweden's huge tax rates. It is the highest tax in


the whole of Europe, but the right love the fact that their market


orientation means they have private companies running the Tube, running


the hospitals, running the schools. In Finland, almost all the school


system is independently run. Organisationally it is to the right


of Britain. What's Mr Cameron hoping to get out


of the trip? I don't know, perhaps a few more pictures of huskies and


an iceberg. He will be there to learn and with any luck he will


learn that cutting tax for the low paid boosts the economy. And that's


what they are doing and it is working.


What is Swedish for goodbye? Hewa! Here is the answer to Guess the


Year. The end of sweet rationing was the


clue. But did you remember when it happened?


What was the year? I don't know. 1953!


The programme ends in chaos. usual.


That's it. Thanks to our guests. We will be back tomorrow at Noon with


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