Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn have the latest political news, interviews and debate.
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Good afternoon, folks bs welcome to the Daily Politics. In a few
minutes, we expect to hear that interest rates are on hold yet
again for the 36th month in a row and that the Bank of England is
going to print yet more money to buy up Government debt, all in the
hope of stimulating growth. If or when it happens, you will be the
first to know. Fabio Capello resigns as England
football manager, the Football Association is holding a press
conference right now. Should his replacement be an
Englishman? Ken Livingstone is no stranger to
controversy but now he's gone and said the Tory party is or was
riddled with gays. There's outrage. Yes, there is
outrage! Is any of it genuine?
And politicians love their bikes and now there's news from France
that cyclers there will be allowed to jump red lights. What's new? Is
that the sort of thing you would like to see her?
-- see here? Drivers jump red lights in Paris,
why shouldn't cyclists. cyclists do here anyway. All that
in the next hour of public service broadcasting at its finest.
With us for the duration, the leader of the UK Independence Party,
Nigel Farage. Welcome to back to the programme. Thank you.
comments or thoughts or just got nothing else to do and you want to
say something about what we are going to discuss, you can tweet
your comments. # DP. Most of you watching yesterday will
remember that the Prime Minister is currently wrapped up at a Nordic
summit in Sweden. Now what he said there this morning is that he was
looking for measures to accelerate the number of women working for top
British firms, saying he wants a target of around 30%. He's also
said he won't rule out quotas as a way of getting there. But not just
yet. A good idea, Nigel Farage? It's not his idea, of course. The
yarpblt voted for this in principle and legislation, we are told, will
be brought forward shortly. The 30% quota won't be a Government
decision but something imposed on us from Brussels. Is it a good idea
though? No, I don't believe in quotas. While it may seem unfair
that fewer women reach FTSE company, the fact is that there are not as
many women who want to do the very demanding sfen day a week jobs. A
lot of women have children and it's difficult in the corporate jungle
to get to the top if you have to take time off two or three times in
your career. If you look at parental leave and flexible working
hours and flexible pay in other countries, that would make it
easier? Yes, they have a different approach and the state is very
happy to kfr all of the Cos for maternity believe and things like
this -- cover. The point is, I talk about the corporate jungle. The
people that get to the top utterly dedicate themselves to these jobs
year after year after year and if you take six months off, you are
disadvantaged. It's just as simple as that. So the status quo would
change if there weren't these quotas and you say that would be
fine because it's too difficult? Not because it's difficult but lots
of women make other life choices. How many female UKIP MEPs are there
in your party? We have two. The party director is female. Indeed on
our assembly list for London for the elections in May we have got
female barristers and brokers, but I don't believe in quotas and
certainly in UKIP, if people get on, they do so on ability. The Prime
Minister says it would help the economy, there is an economic
reason to have the quotas? I don't know where he gets that from.
say the Government figures that say... He's spouting the EU line.
This is what the recommendation in the European Parliament that we
voted for. I didn't vote for it, but that is what it said.
Now, while Jo was doing that, we have discovered the Bank of England
has frozen interest rates. They are still at 0.5%, that's not
surprising. It's also extending its programme of what is called
technically quantitive easing, basically the creating of the new
money. It will be �50 billion. A little less than the City thought.
They were thinking maybe up to �75 billion. It began with �75 billion,
it got up to �200 billion, then did another �75 billion, it's now added
another �50 billion, that takes total printing of money up to �3 25
billion. We've never had that before, Jo.
No. Thank you for setting out the No. Thank you for setting out the
firs. The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee cut
interest rates to 0.5% in March 2009, a record low. Since then they
haven't shift ford almost three years. The bank began its programme
of quantitive easing at the same time, creating new money to buy
financials a setss with the - QE has been increased at several
stages to �275 billion in October last year and now with a further
�50blt announced today, creating new money and keeping interest
rates down would be expected to cause inflation.
At a time when the Consumer Prices Index is well above target at 4.2%,
you might wonder why the bank is sticking with the programme.
The reason is the continuing problem facing the economy. It
shrank by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of last year. But whilst
low interest rates might help the economy and people with big
mortgages, they're bad for savers. In one recent poll, just 23% of
people said low rates are good for their personal finances compared to
36% who said they are bad. Thanks Jo. We are joined by the
Conservative MP, Matthew Hancock, he's a former economist at the Bank
of England so maybe he can tell us why out of the last 68 forecasts of
inflation they got 59 wrong. He was the adviser to Chancellor George
Osborne and then became an MP. We are joined also by the Shadow
economic secretary to the Treasury, Chris Lesley who I don't think has
made any forecasts on inflation. Matthew Hancock, do you accept that
one of the main consequences of QE is to transfer wealth from savers
is to transfer wealth from savers to borrowers?
No, I don't think that's one of the main points. It keeps interest
rates low? Yes, but we manage our macro economy by altering interest
rates and of course it has different impacts on different
people. The most important impact of QE is to try to make sure this
de-leveraging in the banking system goes at a pace that doesn't damage
the wider economy more than the difficulties that we are trying to
get through. We've always had this position. We've got these debts,
we've talked about them around this programme a lot, and our argument's
always been, you want fiscal responsibility and monetary
activism where the monetary side keeps the economy going once you do
the difficult stuff. But it's difficult to finance the debt?
the Bank of England is, well it's not technically printing money but
it's carrying out quantitive easing. Hold on. The Government issued �17
billion worth of gilts in October last year, the bank bought �17
billion worth of gilts in November the government issued �12 billion
worth of gilts and the bank bought �24 billion worth of gilts. In 2012
so far, the Government's issued �16 worth of debt, the bank's bought
�24 billion. You are monetising the debt? What was wrong with what I
said there? The key point in that is that the Bank of England is
independent and what's crucial is that in these very difficult
economic times when we have got the debt deficit we need to deal with -
some people don't agree with that - we do, we have also got to keep the
economy going and when rates get close to 0p%, the way you help the
economy is more quantitive easing. It's difficult, I understand that,
but the consequence of this is to help keep the economy going. As we
saw, inflation is still above target but it's coming down.
Manufacturing figures this morning 1% growth in December, that's good.
Our trade deficit is at its smallest since 2003. So there is
some good news. You say the Bank of England is independent. George
Osborne cheerleads the bank in doing this, he's invented this
phrase dtion monetary activism". -- "monetary activism". I come back to
the point that you are monetising the debt. You are borrowing money
paid for by money printed by the bank? Absolutely not. The bank is
independent. Monetary activism. Doesn't matter whether they are
independent or not, they are buying the debt. Of course it matters, you
don't want politicians setting interest rates. What monetary
activism means is you give the Bank of England the space to manage the
economy by having a credible fiscal plan so everybody knows that we
have the political will to deal with our debts as a country. Chris,
I suspect if Labour was in power, you would be doing the same?
not sure that we'd be in this particular hole. We are following
the system set out by Alistair Darling. You have had a fair run
now, Matthew. Do you support this? Anything that can support the
economy. So you do? My point is, I don't think there's an ability to
continue printing your way out of this particular hole. It's pretty
desperate stuff when you end up having to have the Bank of England
bailing out the Chancellor for his failure on growth and the key thing
I think is this, Matthew says well printing money has a small effect
on interest rates. As you said, it's absolutely the determinate of
the low interest rates you've got printing your way to low interest
rates is not a sustainable way forward. The difficulty with this
point about saying the Bank of England are independent, well yes,
they choose the amount of quantitive easing, but the
Chancellor has to sign off the policy as well. Expecting the Bank
of England to do all the heavy lifting on saving our economy and
getting growth done, it's t not going to work. You are pushing on a
string. Mr Hancock? I have o to respond to the partisan point. The
system for ensuring that the Bank of England has the independence to
take these decisions was set up by independence by Gordon Brown and
then the independence over QE by Alistair Darling and that hasn't
been changed. But that's been signed off by the Chancellor?
Chancellor's always, whether Alistair Darling or George Osborne,
has always signed off... A very important point. I'm not saying
there isn't a place from time to time for quantitive easing, but the
key they think is this. When we first had to do this back in 2009,
George Osborne said that printing money was "the last resort of a
desperate government". You were his Chief of Staff at the time. Did you
advise him to stay that? We were in a desperate situation. Nobody
really cares what he said then. was quite important. I don't care
and I ask the questions. OK, well I care. As a Conservative,
meant to encourage people to save, to build up their own property, a
party that aspouzs a property- owning democracy, are you
comfortable as a Conservative with a policy which is effectively
state-imposed negative real interest rates? -- aspouses.
state always has a role in the level of interest rates... Are you
comfortable? The rates are not imposed by the state but the bond
market, whether we like it or not. This is all level economics we are
trying to teach you. Hardly. Do I think it's good that we have long-
term interest rates at record lows? Yes I do because it's the biggest
stimulus our economy could get and it would be under threat if we gave
our... It's not stimulating the economy, we had �75 billion in
October and our economy went into reverse in that quarter. You left
us in a great big hole. Let me bring in Nigel Farage. Where are
you on this? I understood why back in 08-08 09, QE was used because
there was a real serious scare about the banks which has now gone.
The savers are getting a rotten deal and the real problem is we are
not dealing with the size of the debt. I know it's difficult, but we
are not having any serious groth in the UK economy. They are the real
problems that need to be addressed -- growth. You have some people
saying we are cutting too fast, some people saying we are stum
lating the economy. We are not cutting. -- stimulating. Some say
you are not cutting enough, some say you are cutting too much. If
you are criticised from both sides, you are normally in the right place.
We are borrowing more than we are earning every year. Which must mean
you are all wrong. We have an extreme over here, one over there
and we are broadly down the middle and I feel comfortable in that
place. Are you comfortable? Are you comfortable with Government
spending, yes or no? No, no Government spending. Can I just
point out that the several months ago, the Bank of England snuck out
in small print of six point type that the effect of its quantitive
easing so far had been to raise inflation by anything between 1 and
2.6%. I think we can take it that it's closer to the 2.6 because the
bank wanted to downplay the real effect. Are you comfortable with
that? Inflation hits the poorest so you are squeezing savers in Middle
England and hitting the poorest by putting that up? That's not what
the Bank of England report said. I don't know whether you have read
the report. Of course I have. showed that it boosted the economy.
It also said it put up inflation by up to 2.5%, the same as the
increase in VAT? So do you want the Bank of England not to manage the
economy or do you want the Bank of England to manage the economy?
want you to answer my question. These are difficult trade-offs. You
can't ignore the debt. The same report was instructive because all
the claims about low interest rates being caused by George Osborne was
blown out of the water when the Bank of England said that around 1%
of that low interest rate was caused by the printing of money.
Printing of money, does it sound sustainable to you? We'll leave it
there. The distinguished economic Editor of the Scotsman says this
morning that the bank may end up I am going to leave with you now
because Jo is about to do a story of which I have no interest! I am
glad you stated your position there, Andrew. Was the England football
managerks Fabio Capello right to rescission? I am an -- resign. I am
an expert on this. This morning David Cameron said he was sorry to
see Mr Capello Go, but the Sports Minister sounded less optimistic.
The FA had no option, but to strip John Terry of the captaincy, not to
prejudge the court case, but because it would have been
impossible for him to discharge his responsibilities as captain of the
England team with that hanging over him. It is a great shame that Fabio
Capello has acted in the way that he has. If a player in his team had
behaved in the way that he has behaved to the FA, he would have
taken the toughest possible action and I'm delighted that the FA
agreed with him that he should no longer be manager.
David Thompson is in the House of Commons. David.
Well, look forget about deficit reduction, what MPs want to talk
about, who should be the next England manager and I am joined by
Damien Collins, and Sir Bob Russell, Lib Dem and keen football fan.
Damien, in a sense you have been part of this process and you were
one of the first people to say that you thought that John Terry should
be stripped of the captaincy while the court case was pending, are you
happy with where we are now? Well, it was Fabio Capello's decision to
resign. If he couldn't accept that John Terry's position had become
untenable, it was right for him to go. Footballers and football, they
are part of society. It is not just a sport. The England manager, just
like the England captain is a public figure and we expect things
of them and where we are maybe regrettable to many fans, but it
has become inevitable and it was Capello's decision.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of that case, we are four months away
from a major European tournament without a manager. Have the FA
handled this well? The FA don't handle anything well. The Football
Association in this country is pretty useless and the way they
have handled the last two England managers and this affair in
particular, establish and confirms that the FA are a useless bunch.
What should they do? They should never have had a foreign manager in
the first place. The FA are not up to the job.
OK. Do you think now that given we have had Svens and Fabios, do you
think it is time for the manager to be if not English, from the British
Isles? Their job is to a coach who has developed his career through
the English coaching system. That would be a good thing. Someone who
should understand the culture of football in our country maybe
better than a coach brought inside particularly one that has never had
any managerial experience in the UK. We need an English manager, we have
got coalition consensus on something at least. Over to you.
Consensus, I don't know, I'm moving on. Is that good or bad? I don't
know. Consensus, what about you, do you think it should be an
Englishman? I was astonished when this chap Capello was appointed. He
earnt �24 million quid and he couldn't speak the English. Why
don't we have somebody English running the English football team?
Nobody could have done a worse job. I think Redknapp will be the next
man, and good. OK, we have consensus. Everyone
wants Harry, I think! Our guest of the day, Nigel Farage
is the leader of the UK Independence Party still. He gave
up the job for a bit when he stood against the Speaker John better cue
at the -- Bercow at the last election. His successor wasn't seen
as a runaway suck success. Who could we send to investigate, Giles,
of course, our own Nigel looky Even before Nigel Farage first
became leader of UKIP in 2006, a party he was involved in founding
in the early 90s, people whispered the party was something of a one
man show. As they built themselves to a regular feature of the
political landscape, they, he would argue however flattering it is not
true. A one time party candidate, now a Conservative MP disagrees.
There is a cult around Nigel Farage and always has been for the last
ten years. They follow him. They think he is a charismatic leader
and his approach and manner is something that appeals to them.
It is a reality, UKIP have become an electoral thorn in other parties
sides. Nigel Farage led them and UKIP got the highest share of the
vote. His attacks are praised and damned. You have the charisma of a
damp rag and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk. The question
I want to ask - who are you? I never heard of you. Nobody in
Europe heard of you. He stood down as leader to fight
the general election in John Bercow's seat. The leadership
election show cased five candidates no one heard of and who Nigel
wanted, Nigel gets. Only one of of them is a serious credible
candidate and that's Lord Pearson. A year later he failed to win the
Parliamentary seat and by enough to make some question his judgement.
He was involved in an accident that shook him and fired him up for
taking the leadership back. I have survived an aeroplane crash and if
before that you thought I was bold, well I'm fearless now. I'm up for
it, I want the job again. He won. His job will be to keep
UKIP a political force in the face of growing Conservative scepticism.
In the 90s they had serious thinking people on board who were
trying to get an issue on the agenda in a sensible way and didn't
see UKIP as a long-term project, saw it as a short-term thing.
Their opponents may snigger, but there are people in UKIP who are
smart and people who are charismatic and people who know how
to stay on the right side of being a professional politician. The fact
that Nigel Farage can do all three at a time when the party might be
under pressure means they probably need him more than ever.
No, thank you. I'm always told I Come to think of it, you don't.
So you are a one-man band? Absolute nonsense.
No one heard of anyone else in the party? Last week one of your guests
is in UKIP. I was looking this morning...
not a politician. He bankrolls you. He used to bankroll the Tories.
He bankrolled William Hague. When people like that take on senior
roles, it says we are far more than a one-man band. We have women and
women, barristers, shipbrokers, professional and competent people.
There has been a change in UKIP. How many are standing in the
elections? 25 in all. I'm confident that on our message,
jobs and growth interestingly, we are so ham strung by EU law that we
are not able to go out there and create jobs that we will do well.
Giles said, "A party under pressure." Look in 2011 we made a
lot of progress in the opinion polls. We started off at 2.5% to 3%,
we finished at 7% to 7.5%. Public sees and you rate quite well
in the polls as a leader, but the public sees you as a one-man band
leading a one issue party? Well, that's unfair. I think... That's
how they see you? There are people like my deputy who is only 34, a a
Scouser who is is beginning to appear on more and more BBC
programmes. There is three our four names.
But not the younger ones in the party? Well, you know, get him on
and we will get people elected to that London Assembly who are bright
and young. You said in 2011 that had been
amazing year and you went through your successes. What's the target
for 2012? What will be another amazing year for you if you achieve
what? Well, the thing we have to do this year, we have to win seats in
the London Assembly. If we fail to do that, then 2012 will have been a
failure. That's the big objective is to get people elected there. We
will be continuing to fight by- elections, local elections, and you
know, in Barnsley last year, we came second in the by-election in
in Barnsley and I would look for that trend in the opinion polls to
continue. We were up until the summit, where Cameron was thought
to have vetoed something, we were running neck in neck with the Lib
Dems and I I expect that trend to continue and I think we will get
past them. Even The Greens have their MP in
Brighton, you haven't managed that? Our support is is spread across the
country. We don't have... Aren't the Greens spread across the
country thinly? Absolutely not. The Greens do well in three or four
big cities and poorly everywhere else. We tend to do respectively
everywhere. We have got to built up -- build up a local base. There are
areas where we have district and county councillors and those are
the areas we have to work on. Like the Greens and the Lib Dems,
you have to build that up from the ground up, that's more difficult?
It is a heck of a job and I'm not pretending it is easy, but we are
making progress. Let's look at the policy and beyond
the one that you are famous for. What of an English Parliament? The
Scots have a Parliament. The Welsh have a Parliament, what about an
English assembly? Absolutely. We said we as a party believe in an
English Parliament and I believe in a federal structure for the United
Kingdom. Where would you put the English
Parliament? It should be in the House of Commons. That's the
British Parliament? I don't see any need for Scottish or Welsh or
Northern Irish MPs to debate things that are English only issues and
most of the business that is conducted there, tends to be on
Irish only issues. We need to have a separate Parliament and the
country if it stays a United Kingdom after the Scottish
referendum, comes together in Westminster which will be the
imperial Parliament for the UK? proposal that we are debating, it
is not party policy is the House of Commons would be the English
Parliament and the House of Lords which is in need of reform would
become a union Parliament. That's the way we're going.
Wouldn't it be good for regional policy if you put it in York?
don't think there is there is appetite for yet more buildings and
more MPs. What about High Speed Two, are you
in favour of that? I am opposed to T it is a ridiculous price and it
is the wrong route and it is astonishing that all three parties
support it. I know this was agreed to in Brussels many, many years ago.
I would have thought we could spend a fraction of the money upgrading
the existing lines. Come the Scottish referendum if the
question is along the the lines of do you think Scotland should be
independent, how will you advice advice your supporters to vote?
There has to be a debate in Scotland. Alex Salmond got away
with murder. This idea that Scotland could be independent and
part of a European Union, let's have that debate.
How are you going to vote? I don't want the United Kingdom to break up,
but I want it to change. Right, but you are the United
Kingdom independence party, so you must be in favour of the United
Kingdom? I am in favour of devolved powers. I don't see any
inconsistency with that. The geny is is out of the bottle.
We have more to discuss including Ken Livingstone and gays.
We welcome viewers to BBC Scotland, they have been watching First
Minister's Questions and they join the Daily Politics and we can bring
you the news that in London, Ken Livingstone caused outrage. In an
interview New Statesman magazine. He has been talk being the
Conservative Party's attitude to Great English! The best English, Mr
Livingstone. We get your drift. Well, it's caused a row, as many
things Mr Livingstone says. We are joined by Labour's Chris Bryant and
the Conservative Mike Freer. Mike Freer, you first, he says it was a
joke, he's known for shooting from the hip, you maybe make a mistake
if you take him too seriously? Let's hope London doesn't make that
mistake twice. On BBC this morning, he was asked did he use the wrong
word. The local London talk station? Yes. Other than "riddled"?
Yes. People always said "riddled with what". But on LBC he said no,
he wouldn't change the word, he stood by the word so he didn't
misspeak, he wasn't shooting from the hip, I think he knew exactly
what he was saying. Chris Bryant, what's your take on it? The word
"riddled" is pretty daft. I've read the full interview and it reads
oddly. I'm not sure whether he's talking about hypocrisy riddling
the Conservative Party in relation to... Or If you read it, he does
mean gay. He actually says when people came out, they became
ministers and that was great. He says that. I'm not a fan of this
word "riddled" at all. It's unpleasant. However, I would say
there is a bit of Fawkes outrage here because Mike was banging on
yesterday about how terrible this was. I remember when Boris Johnson
said that if two men should be allowed the marry, why not three
men or for that matter three men and a dog. Mike Tweeted to said
that was Ken that said that, it wasn't, it was Boris. I didn't say
that's what condition said, I said it didn't sound like Boris --
that's what when said. We are talking about Boris. What Boris
said is that he said he doesn't care that the state determines what
marriage is, basically he said two men, three men, one man and a dog,
he doesn't care. How offensive is that. Homosexuality is the same as
beastiality. He's saying he doesn't care. If Boris made these remarks
of Ken, there would be a lot more outrage? Mike, you are a hypocrite
because you are not prepared to own up to the fact you got this wrong
yesterday. But what about this point? Boris said the Tory party
used to be riddled with gays in the closet, if he said that, what would
you feel? I dislike the word "riddled", however it's true that
there were, I think it was horrible for many years in the Conservative
Party as a gay man, we know that there are several men who've now
come out who weren't able to do so, had to pretend to be something
different and some of those have subsequently said they had to vote
the wrong way against what they wanted to. Is that true? That was
hypocrisy. The difficulty is, if you are a gai MP, previously as a
Conservative, it was difficult. The Conservative Party couldn't run
apart from gay men, it practically ran for Central Office, so there's
a bit of let's balance the books. That's a bit suggestive. Chris is
very good at standing up and accusing other people of homophobia.
I want him to stand up to the home Phoebes in his own party, starting
with Ken Livingstone. Livingstone is not a home Phoebe. I
disagree with Ken using the word requests riddled" but he's not a
home Phoebe. He's battled for LGTB rights for years, even when it was
- he's been there all the way through. Can I put a wider point to
you that, almost every time a politician on the left or the right
now goes kind of off piste in their language, they get slapped down.
They get dragged on to this programme by you. We haven't got
any of them on. Riddled or dragged, not too sure, just be careful. The
point I'm making is if we carry on like this on the left and the right,
we'll end up with politicss who sound like I speak your weight
machines. You have heard that from either of us this morning have you?
I'm tired of, if one of my party says something stupid, I'll stand
up and shout them down, but the Labour Party expect them to be
sacked, you know. That's a lie, that's a direct lie. Yesterday, you
were saying that can't have been Boris that said about the equating
homosexuality with beastiality. But you didn't then reply, did you?
me bring in... I wonder whether voters in London are having this
furious debate. They'll say, it's Ken Livingstone, he's been saying
silly inoffensive things since the '70s. I think Ken likes to shock,
offend, there's no need phone an argument. Isn't the truth that Ken
Livingstone is wrong on both accounts, that just because you
came out as lesbian or gay, you did not automatically get a job. That's
definitely wrong as you will know. And although undoubtedly there were
gay MPs in the Conservative Party who felt that they couldn't be
openly gay, the party, to use his unfortunate word, wasn't "riddled"
which implies 80-90% were gay, there were a minority and times
were difficult for them so he's factually wrong on both. It's the
contagion of riddled. We all don't like riddled. Shall we end on that
agreement then? I don't think he was intending to shock anybody.
Listen, he's looking at... going to give Mike Freer the final
word because he's been the quitest. When the world is looking at London
for the Olympics, the Paralympics, world pride, do we need
Sanctimonious. I'm not, I've let you speak. Do we give a stuff what
Ken Livingstone says outside London? I don't. Boris is the real
homophobic one. Thanks for joining us and I think we should move on.
Do you think that row would drag on, to use that unfortunate phrase?
I don't think that got us anywhere, but it was good. Pretty much every
local authority in the country is having to tighten the purse strings
and find savings. But the BBC's found that many of them are also
forking out millions in fines because they've missed their
European targets on recycling. It's bin day on this estate in
Worcester. Last week, it was recycling. This week, there's only
one place the city's rubbish is heading. The landfill site on the
edge of town is home to 180,000 tonnes a year.
But growing mountains of rubbish like these are costing the councils
dear. All local authorities have to pay landfill taxes, essentially a
Government fine to encourage them to hit European recycling rates.
The problem is, despite the fact our councils are throwing less to
landfill, the fines are rising. Even though more and more of us are
recycling our rubbish, it's not enough to keep Brussels happy.
you just look at the headline figure, you will see we are paying
more tax there so we must be failing, but we are not, we are
actually on track, we are managing to wean ourselves off it. The waste,
it's a long-term plan, you can't change the system overnight but
need to have a clear and positive strategy which we are working to
year on year. And with budgets under more and more pressure, the
landfill tax is proving a real headache. In the financial year
2005-0106, Worcestershire County Council sent 262,000 tonnes to
landfill and paid �3.4 million in tax.
In 2010-2011, that waste fell to 127,000 tonnes, but the fine shot
up to �5.8 million. At the same time, Shropshire paid �4.2 million
and Gloucestershire, �7 million. The figures have caught the eye of
MEPs on the continue net. It should be a matter for the Westminster
Government and not for Brussels. We should be able to spend our money
in a meaningful way and not be fined by the EU.
But the reality is, if we are going to reduce our carbon emission and
catch up with your European neighbours, the answer doesn't lie
with holes in the ground. If people had understood earlier
the drivers behind sustainability and taken on the Green Party
message a bit more, then we could have avoided a lot of the pain of
landfill tax. Whilst most agree landfill isn't
the way forward, unless our councils stop burying rub Nish the
ground, then they'll continue to throw away good money after bad.
Natalie Bennett is a Green Party member and a journalist and she
joins us now. It's the fines isn't it, in a time like this when there
are massive cuts, should councils be paying fines if they miss their
targets? The massive cuts are absolutely dreadful, that's hitting
social services and those issues. So they shouldn't be fined? But the
issue of waste is a separate issue that simply has to be dealt with.
The situation is, it's the UK Government that decided what level
these fines should be at and it's the UK Government that has to deal
with this problem on a national level. We are going to run out of
landfill spaces in eight years' time, there's nowhere to put it, we
are using an area the size of Warwick to dump waste on which is
great for seagulls but not humans. What we have also got to do is, the
councils have to do better. they've made big improvements,
they've been successful at reducing landfill which begs the question
should they face fines of �64 a tonne, rising to �80 a tonne in
2014. Worcestershire County Council faced a fine of almost �6 million
last year, people will say at a time when libraries are closing,
that is not a good use of money? But that council and the others
with it have a chance to do much better. The councils being fined
are the ones doing very poorly generally. There is a huge Sarah
yoution between the council doing best with 66% and the worst at 14%,
so the councils have a lot of this in their hand -- huge variation.
What is the point of it all? This legislation was brought in to deal
with the landfill question in areas like Belgium and the Netherlands
which were in many cases below the water table. That's why the
legislation? Brussels was put into place. It was never relevant or
popt for the UK. -- appropriate. When we are going to run out in
eight years? There are plenty of landfill sites out there, no
mistake about that. What's happened is, because of the threat of fines,
we have put people on to fortnightly bin collections across
most of the UK and if we don't use landfill, we move towards
incinerators which people will object to even more strongly.
to your point that there isn't a need for it in the UK. Does this
mean that there is? We can argue about how much landfill sites there
are. Even if they came from Europe or the UK, surely they have to do
something to reduce the amount of waste? The point is, this
legislation was designed to deal with water table problems in the
low countries, we are applying it to the enth degree, it isn't
relevant to the UK, we should say to hell with it. We have a picture
behind us at the moment, not sure viewers can see what a landfill
looks like. It's an unpleasant nasty place good for seagulls, not
humans. We want to reduce waste, that is a good target to have, it
will improve our lives, no reason why we shouldn't be saying improve
things. Fines are the way? We have to look also at a plastic bag tax.
More taxs? And forcing the supermarkets to reduce the
wonderful packages, where you get a piece of meet with plastic and
container and more wrapping. You have to change the way we do those
sorts of things and reduce to a lower waste. Thank you very much.
I'm presuming you wouldn't support that either? No, I wouldn't. Funny.
The Government Bill to reform the NHS in England is still causing
ministers sleepless nights. For the lazier ones, it's causing them
sleepless afternoons. Yesterday there was another defeat in the
Lord's and if you were watching Prime Minister's Questions, you
THE SPEAKER: Ed pland Miliband. Speaker, isn't this interesting
because he says this is all about reform. The Tory reform group has
come out against these proposals. I have to say, Mr Speaker, it comes
to something when even the Tories don't trust the Tories on the NHS.
Let's look at the figures. 100,000 patients treated more every month,
4,000 extra doctors since the NHS, the number of clinical staff up,
the level of hospital acquired infections down, the number of
people who are in mixed sex wards down by 94%. That is what is
happening because you have got a combination of money going in and
reform. He knows in his heart of hearts
this is a complete disaster this Bill. That's why his aides are
saying the Health Secretary should be taken out and shot because they
know it's a disaster. I've got to tell him, the career prospects for
my right honourable friend are a Nik Darlington speaks for the Tory
reform group and he joins us now. Mr Lansley seems like a man
clinging to a timebomb that he can only not hear ticking? I didn't
publish the article. The article was written by an independent
contributor to the blog which I edit.
You published it this then? Miliband miss represent that had
article, -- misrepresent that had article. The article which was
written by Craig Barratt is is pro reform.
It said it was a timebomb where Mr Lansley couldn't hear ticking?
believe in debate. Any party will have different opinions and it was
right to put it on the blog. We have a disclaimer over the blog
saying that the opinions of the individual contributors are not
those of the Tory reform group. We released a statement saying we are
pro reform. We want to introduce more competition to the NHS and
Labour had 18 years to reform the NHS and did nothing. Ed Miliband
misrepresented the article and misrepresented the Tory reform
group's position. So you can say anything you want on
the blog and it is not anything to do with the tOrm or the re-- Tory
Party or the reform group? They are not the opinions of the Tory reform
group. We want it there for a forum for debate. That happens in any
party. I want people to have their opinion. I think that opinion
deserved to be heard. Did you really flag it up as this,
"Was not the view of the Tory reform group.". Yes.
Where can I find out where the views of the Tory reform group?
TRG is in favour of reforms. We support David Cameron and the
coalition coalition and we were the first group to express support.
I was looking on your website and I couldn't find it. I could find the
attack, but not the support? attack was made by an individual
contributor. . Where is the support bit? We we
haven't had any reason to run anything on it in the month leading
up to it. How many members has the Tory
reform group got? I don't have that information with me.
I thought that's who you represented? I am the editor of the
Tory reform group blog. You don't know if it is thousands
of people or a man and a dog in a back room in Battersea.? I can
assure you it is not a man and a dog.
Two dogs. It is a sizable organisation.
I would suggest you send Mr Miliband a crate of champagne
because you have had publicity? has been an interesting day. It
shows the power of plit political blogs. I can't say it was
comfortable to see it used in that forum, but I defend the right to
publish it and I think that people have a right to be heard in a free
debate. If other people in the Conservative Party don't want
debate then they shouldn't criticise people like like Ken
Clarke. Maybe you will get more members.
There has been speculation about whether Andrew Lansley will end up
paying for this with his job. Mehdi Hasan joins us now. Is it wise to
misrepresent in that way on a subject that Labour Labour seems to
be doing well in? Not at all. It led to a great line about the
Tories not believing the Tories on health. Let's talk about NHS
misrepresentation in debates. David Cameron misrepresented Labour's
position on private income for hospitals. He said waiting lists
were down when they are up. It is fair game? It is understandable
game. What about looking at Andrew
Lansley, the Government gets its Hillary Clinton Bill through,
patched -- Health Bill through, patched up and with its amendments
and there is a reshovel. Is there - - reshuffle. Is there any point of
getting rid of Andrew Lansley? there is a point.
If your argument is that Lansley has done badly because he hasn't
communicated this is the line in the briefings take him out and
shoot him, you could argue it doesn't make sense because the Bill
is through. But if you think the problem is the Bill and the chaos
that it is going to bring to the NHS, the only way you can try and
have some fresh start when the problems start kicking in from
increased bureaucracy, from closing hospitals and people complaining
about postcode Lottery, the thing is to get rid of the man who
authorised the Bill. If it is about a lack of
communication, that doesn't mean that the Prime Minister doesn't
support the essence of the Bill and the essence of reform. I put to you
again, I know what you think, but it is not worth David Cameron
sacrificing his Health Secretary when he agrees with the essence of
reform? If this Bill creates chaos as some suspect it will, in the NHS,
then the Prime Minister, he is at his most ruthless and decisive when
he is saving his own skin. I think he will get rid of Lansley. Health
secretaries don't have long life expectancy.
Nigel Farage, let's go back to the Bill. Is there there going to be a
U-turn. Everyone says we have gone too far, do you agree? I think they
will continue with this reform, whether it is good or bad, I'm not
sure. I think we need a bigger debate about the NHS, about the
fact that since Labour came to power and made the increases in the
increase in money, we put more money, we haven't got an increased
service and I wonder whether the real debate we need is whether it
is time for us to move towards an insurance based system.
The real terms increase is eroded and whether it will be a real terms
increase is yet to be seen over the years... We don't know that yet. It
is about money in the sense that we are trying to squeeze �20 billion
in efficiency between now and 2015 and at that time, you are carrying
out a costly �3 billion reorganisation which you said you
wouldn't. On the point about U- turns, the Health Service Journal
editor who came out against this, says he hears from senior civil
servants they are considering a Plan B, something that has not been
written down. If there is a Plan B, the man who identified Plan A,
condition be the -- can't be the one who pushed it out. I can't see
Andrew Lansley being the man carrying out Plan B.
The European Central Bank kept interest rates at 1% too. So no
change there either. The same with the Bank of England keeping ours at
0.5%. What is it about politicians and their bikes? It is a beautiful
day for a bike ride. So was yesterday, I thought.
# I'm going to ride my bike until I get home
# I'm going to ride my bike until I get home #
Yes, there is not much that stops the Prime Minister as he whizzes
down Whitehall, pedestrians diving for cover. Every politician wants
to enhance their fitness and green credentials by being at least
photographed with one! There is news from Paris that cyclists are
going to have freedom that none of this lot dreamed of. They will be
allowed to skip red lights completely. Well, with me now Tony
Armstrong from Living Street a charity that stands up for
pedestrian rights. And the London editor of the Telegraph, a keen
cyclist, Andrew Gilligan. Given most schoolists I see, what's
the change? It is recognising reality, isn't it? Cyclists go
through red lights. I go through them. I went through a couple on
the way here. I I hope you crawled through.
zoom through a couple, but only when there is no pedestrians.
How did you know there wasn't a car coming? Well, because you can see.
You look before you cross. Many said that and ended up in the
hospital. It is safer in lots of cases to go through red lights if
you are a cyclist because you don't get caught up in the crossing
traffic. Isn't there a danger of hitting a
pedestrian stood on the road and across me comes a cyclist through
the red light. And that's wrong. I wouldn't do that if it was a
pedestrian. You don't always know when they are
stepping out. What do you think Just because it
exists at the moment, doesn't make it right to officialise it and
institutionalise it. The fear for pedestrians is something that is a
major concern. Lots of our supporters get in touch and say
they feel fearful about crossing the streets because cyclists just
zoom. On the way into work this morning, I was cycling and a
cyclist went past three through a pedestrian green man phase. It is
not in the name of safety, but purely because they can't be
bothered to stop. I dispute that. If you are caught
up in traffic from a red light and you are a cyclist and you are small
and vulnerable. If you go ahead of the light then you are not caught
up in that traffic. So you would like to see a trial... I would love
to see a trial of what happens in Paris and what the reason the par
Parisan authorities, they recognise the safety arguments of cyclist
outweigh the dangers to pedestrians. You describe people being afraid.
There is little data on cyclist being hit by pedestrians who go
through red lights. Cyclists are more menaced by other vehicles than
we menace pedestrians. You are shaking your head.
I have to say, I'm irritated with cyclists. I live in a small country
lane on the North Downs it used to be lovely on Sundays, now we have
people wearing a colourful kit cycling around the place which is
fine, but they go two abreast in the road and think they own the
place and when you try and overtake them, they abuse you. I get a
feeling that cyclist in the country and in the town think they have a
different set of laws that apply to them and this would be the wrong
signal to send out. I think they should be tougher on cyclists and
the way they behave. You would be against a trial?
would be against a trial. Lots of things can be put in place to
improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists and this won't do this. We
need to bring manners and civil yilt on to our streets and people
just feel as if everyone is in it for themselves. What about
pedestrians going through the red man? If you are on a vehicle, if
you are on a car, you have more responsibility if you are moving at
speed. What about going through a red man?
It is about respect. Everyone should look where they are going.
Should people be prevented from doing that? People on foot aren't
travelling at speed, whereas people on vehicles are. We need to re-
educate people on cycles and motor vehicles as well.
Where would you dot best? I would have a rule if a pedestrian
crossing was red and there were no no pedestrians crossing and you
could do it. The prench did in -- the French did it in Strasbourg and
Nante. What is it about these capital cities, "not many, dead, we
shall try it.". On a road near me, some of the of the traffic lights
shouldn't be there. There are pedestrian crossings when there are
no pedestrians crossing. Time to put you out of your misery and pick
a winner for yesterday's Guess the Year competition. 1953 was the
answer. Nigel, make somebody's day, they will win a mug.
Lucky them. Lucky, lucky, lucky. It is Richard Batstone from
Warrington. . You win a Daily Politics mug!
That can't be bad, can it? We thank all our guests. Thank you to Nigel