20/02/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. Half term is over


and it's back to work we go. The Prime Minister and his Health


Secretary, Andrew Lansley, are heading to Downing Street. In an


hour's time, they are hosting a health summit. So why haven't they


invited the main doctors and nurses groups?


What about British manufacturing? We have heard it's been on its


uppers for so long you'd be forgiven for thinking there is


hardly any of it left! But is it actually doing rather well?


Should head-teachers allow kids to go off on holiday during term-time?


At the moment they have got some discretion. But the government


doesn't like the effect it has on overall attendance rates.


And a new Sun rises over Wapping. But will Rupert Murdoch's new paper


receive a warm welcome here at Westminster?


All that in the next hour. With us this afternoon is Nikki


King, managing director of Isuzu Trucks. Welcome. If you have any


thoughts or comments on anything we are discussing, you can send them


Let's start with Ed Balls and yesterday's call from Labour for


big tax cuts in next month's Budget. We are imposing an austerity which


is self-defeating. There is a big problem in growth in jobs. The


government has borrowed 158 million more than they planned. George


Osborne says there is nothing he can do. I say it is complacent and


irresponsible and he should act. Let's debate how we can act. I have


proposed a temporary VAT Act. The Lib Dems say raise personal


allowance. David Davies says cut personal gains tax. We need


stimulus to get jobs back. It is the only way to get the deficit


down. Nikki King, do you agree? Is it time for tax cuts? Is a good


time to raise the tax threshold at the bottom end? If this was wartime,


the media and the opposition would be shot because there is a lot of


good news. Why is it not coming through them? You said you have had


a good deal and that business is booming for you but why is that not


filtering through? The trucks industry is the first industry to


go into recession and normally the first to start coming out because


when the high street is quiet, nobody buys trucks any more. We are


in the middle of February and we have done 60% of our sales target


for the year already! Everybody I talked to is having a reasonably


good time. Why is that not see it should be no national figures that


show that growth is flat lining -- why is that not coming up in


national figures? Why it is the economy not showing that those


times? Retail was 0.9% up in January. There are signs of growth


in the market. Why are we not celebrating that. There are green


shoots of stock do you think -- green shoots. Do you think that you


need to stimulate the economy, do you not think it would boost


consumer demand? No, confidence will boost consumer demand.


Confidence will boost businesses to grow and employed people. We need


to know green shoots are coming, there is light at the end of the


tunnel, and it is not coming out in the media. Would any tax cuts help


your business? No. Sorry. Fair enough!


David Cameron and Andrew Lansley are holding a summit today at


Downing Street in a bid to get the Health and Social Care Bill off


It's a select meeting. The chairs of the emerging GP-led


commissioning groups have been invited. But organisations like the


BMA and Royal College of Nursing won't be there. And critics say


there is not much point having a health summit without the doctors


and nurses. But groups like the BMA oppose the plans to give GPs and


other clinicians more responsibility for spending the


budget in England and increasing competition, saying the bill still


presents unacceptable risks to the NHS.


But are they too late? The 151 Primary Care Trusts, which are


losing control of the NHS budget to GPs under the plans, have already


been merged. And the ten Strategic Health Authorities, which


effectively kept an eye on the system, have also joined forces to


create four super-hubs. However, research published this morning by


the London School of Economics suggests that forcing NHS hospitals


to compete with one another can A little earlier this morning,


before he headed off towards today's summit, the Health Minister


Simon Burns explained why some groups have been invited and some


have not. This is an ongoing series of meetings that the Prime Minister


and the Department of Health have had across the last 20 months with


interest groups, with people who work in the health service, and to


have a meeting with those who are constructively taking part and


helping to implement the modernisation programme.


Norman Smith joins us now from Downing Street. Are we hearing


there are not any plans to meet the groups that have not been invited


today? Apparently nothing has been pencilled into the Prime Minister's


diary in terms of possible meetings with those health groups that are


critical in terms of reform. Number 10 seems to think these groups are


by no means representative of all doctors and nurses and that their


influence is perhaps exaggerated. Secondly, there is perhaps a view


that the time for whether to go ahead with reviews his past. The


aim now is to speak to the groups who will carry out the


implementation of the reforms. It looks a bit like slamming the door


in the bunker and waiting for the storm to pass but my sense is, the


government hoped to convey the idea that a sizable number of health


professionals do support the reforms and thereby get the public


on board, because if we are honest, most people do not understand the


nitty-gritty of all of the different health boards, clinical


senatess, etc, and most people will probably form their views by seeing


what they GP does and there are no stars, so the health professionals


in that context are critical to winning the argument -- what then


nurses do. The debate really just need to get this through in


whatever form and moved on? reminds me of polar explorers


heading south. They have gone so far that it doesn't matter how


bleak the way ahead is, they have to press on. It is to late to go


back and push Andrew Lansley down a crevasse. They have to soldier on


with him. The light at the end of the tunnel for them is that they


hope once the reforms are in place, by and large life will continue as


normal, people will not notice the NHS having radically changed and


people will forget. The danger is, if things do go wrong, if there are


difficulties because perhaps of reduced funding, people will say,


that is all because of government reforms. Although the hope is


people with and it is OK, it is possible things will go wrong and


they will blame it on these government reforms. Norman Smith,


thank you. With us now is Dr Jacky Davis, a


consultant radiologist, who is a founder member of Keep Our NHS


Public. And the Conservative MP for Ipswich, Dr Dan Poulter, who still


works as a medical practitioner from time to time. Will come to


both of you. Do you know how many clinical commissioning groups are


supposed to have replaced PC TVs and are up and running? -- PCTs.


Three-quarters of the country will be putting doctors and health care


professionals in charge of running the NHS, which is a good thing.


There is good evidence from Cumbria that this works, that it improves


patient care, and that is what these reforms are about. Do you


think it was a cock-up? Not inviting the main groups that


represent doctors, midwives and nurses? The people that engage with


reforms... What about the BMA and Royal College of Nursing? The BMA


opposed the formation of the NHS in the first place and every


consecutive government... I am a member of the BMA. What about the


PR aspect of having a health summit and not inviting health


professionals? They were consulted over an 18 month period. Some of


those groups have come out in outright opposition to the Health


Bill, that is their right, but the vast majority of doctors, all the


people engaged in these reforms and wanting to improve patient care and


work with the government are represented today. You have heard


the case there and also from Simon Burns. We are such a long way down


the line. The process is almost complete in terms of commissioning


groups being set up. It is time to go along with it, isn't it?


argument that GPs have formed commissioning groups and therefore


support the Health Bill is like saying that people going into a


lifeboat is supporting a ship sinking. Most people did not have


any choice. To interpret that as if they support it. And to argue that


you are in a mess and to justify going further with that mess is


nonsensical. This can be stopped. This can be reconfigured. It is


important that it is stopped. To argue that we have to go on because


we are in a mess is inappropriate. Do you think Bickleigh Nichols


groups should be stopped or GP commissioning? -- do you think the


clinical groups? A lot of GPs are already doing commissioning. I know


GPs in Cumbria and they do that very well. The legislation has to


be stopped because it does not do what it says on the 10th.


Cumbria, GPs are running services and it is that model that the


government wants to run out and that does not happen elsewhere in


the country. We need to put the best people who could act in the


best interest of the patients in charge of the service. That will


free up �5 billion that is listed in bureaucracy. I think it is


disingenuous to say the reforms are a mess. The principles... A be


legislation is a mess. I am not sure people are saying all of the


reforms are a mess but you must accept that there difficulty,


because the government even cannot get people to agree to it -- there


is difficulties. We need a service that puts money into patient care,


that reduces bureaucracy, that have doctors and nurses running the


services, and that we have a health service commission from the


community and focuses on preventive health care, and the focus of


funding is on delivering... Do you agree with the principles as they


are being set out? Which the legislation aside. -- put the


legislation as side. His Cumbria a good role model? This Bill does not


do what it says it is going to do. This argument will put power in the


hands of GPs. 90% of doctors are against this because they see their


GPs are being set up to fail. 20 billion in cuts will be made. The


other reason they are being set up to fail is that in London the


commissioning process has already been handed over to private


companies in London, for example to a company who has put in put into


this Health Bill. GPs have not been consulted about this, bringing in


private companies to support them doing commissioning and that


support will constitute an awful lot of the commissioning process so


the idea GPs will be doing this is simply wrong. The use of private


companies in the NHS is actually under legislation by the previous


Labour government that has allowed this to happen. We are in a


situation where the Labour Party has accepted that private


healthcare companies, where they can been added to improve patient


care, actually can bring value to the NHS... Just one more point.


What the real discussion, one minute you are saying Cumbria is a


good thing, the next you say it is a bad thing, and it is


fundamentally a good thing because doctors and nurses are the best


people placed to actually understand the needs of their


patients and the best people to provide quality patient care.


are looking at this from the outside. Does it sound like it is


something the government should be embarking on? As a Lehmanns, all I


can say is procrastination is a dangerous thing -- Lehman. We all


know the NHS has to change. Treatment is getting more expensive,


we are living longer and something has to be done. Anything that makes


it carers start to run the NHS is good. My experience of the NHS is


that the worst thing is government interference and it has lost its


humanity. Top-down. It is time we brought humanity down back into the


NHS. Their two. I will have to leave it there. -- thank you.


Relations between the West and Iran seem to be getting worse and worse.


Last week President Ahmadinejad showed off the latest developments


in Iran's nuclear programme, and yesterday the country's oil


ministry announced it was stopping shipments to Britain and France


ahead of new sanctions which were scheduled to come into force in


July. But today in the Commons, MPs will discuss a motion calling for


the government to rule out the use of force against Iran and reduce


tensions by redoubling diplomatic Our correspondent is in the House


of Commons, with two MPs who will be taking part in the debate.


That's right. That debate kicks off in a few hours' time. I'm joined by


two of the protagonists. First of all, John Baron, can I just ask you,


can you give me an example of a time when sanctions without the


threat of military force actually work? What we do know with regards


to Iran is that the policy of the West, of sanctions and sabre-


rattling, has clearly failed. These are yesterday's policies. Iran is


not going to give up its nuclear programme, it is about time we


accepted that. What my motion does is actually to say, let's take off


the table the use of force, which everybody says would be a disaster,


let's reduce tensions, bring us back from the brink of war, and


redouble our diplomatic efforts. Military intervention should always


be the last resort, and we have not reached all other avenues yet.


your time as Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, what is it that makes


you believe that the threat of military action is even credible?


agree with the overwhelming majority of what John Baron said,


we really do need to avoid a military outcome to this crisis. It


is how you do that. The naive notion that some kind of CND-minded


approach, dealing with someone like Iran, actually helps, I think is


exactly wrong. What is naive is pursuing a policy which is clearly


failing. What women -- what we must do is to realise that we must


better engage with Iran. We are keeping on the table the option of


force, and this is illogical. We are pursuing a policy which


everybody accepts would be a disaster, against a country that


chooses to ignore it, and yet the policy Haydn's tensions and reduces


the chances of a diplomatic, peaceful outcome. It is a complete


nonsense. Isn't it really all about Israel, you want sanctions to be


given time to work so that Israel does not act unilaterally, and you


want them to know that Britain and America will actually support them,


so they will not have to go it alone - is that fair? Well, I


believe we should offer Iran implicit recognition of its


regional superpower status, we should do what Nixon did in the


1960s and 1970s, with China, and actually accept the might of China.


We should accept that we created this regional superpower in Iran,


through our misguided war in Iraq, which fundamentally altered the


balance of power in the region. We need to accept that it is a


regional superpower, offer this new relationship and try to reduce


tensions that way, which, at the end of the day, would be in


Israel's best interests. Ainsworth, do you accept that one


day Iran will have nuclear weapons? An awful lot of people have tried


to do exactly what John says, Jack Straw had real initiatives with


Iran, Barack Obama has reached out the open hand. We are dealing with


a religious dictatorship there. It is more worried about its own


people than anything else, and it is behaving in very strange ways.


They are not ready to assume the role that we all know they are


capable of assuming, and we all want them to assume, which is as a


very important part of the international community. But with


the kind of regime they have got in place, they are never going to do


that. This is a paranoid police state, with the panoply of


religious Islam as a disguise to that basic fact. Thank you both


very much indeed for that. As you can see, a very complex question,


for which there would seem to be no easy answers, and no consensus in


the House of Commons, for the moment. That debate taking place


later this afternoon. Recent statistics about British


manufacturing show that some parts have been hit by the recession, but


other areas, such as car production, are growing well. Are government


efforts to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing what


businesses actually need? We visited a company and Rochdale.


There is an idea that British manufacturing is somehow in


terminal decline, from world leader to life-support in 30 years. Like


all legends, there is a spark of truth, some firms have gone to the


wall, people have lost jobs, certain products we once made and


sold to the world are now made to the rest of the world, and we buy.


But it is not the whole story. Parts of UK manufacturing are very


far from ready to lie down and expire. Granada Material Handling


have been building lifting equipment for about 30 years, but


whilst everyone was going through a recession, they branched out,


taking something of a risk, into the niche market of making lifting


equipment for offshore wind farms. And it seems that British


manufacturing is not really dying, but those that are small, able to


adapt, are the best equipped to survive. The figures tend to hide


this evolution, but signs of improvement are there. According to


the Office of National Statistics, manufacturing output fell by. Take


coffee in the last quarter of last year, however, it bounced back in


December, increasing by a 1%. -- fell by 0.8% in the last quarter.


The key to rebalancing the economy would seem to be exports. The worst


part was October, November, when businesses really battened down the


hatches, mainly because they were worried about the eurozone. Now,


there are tentative signs that the storm cloud is moving away. Granada,


and companies like them, are keen to explore new markets, design new


products, and above all, feel positive. They are the best hope


for UK manufacturing. Can the state help foster that? There's a lot of


businesses out there which are looking to government to help them


get over the hurdle of diversifying, getting into new industries. There


is also an area of lethargy in British manufacturing - you have to


get out there and, to a certain extent, do-it-yourself. There is


plenty of work out there, you have just got to go and get it, it is


out there. The question that should be rattling politicians is, is the


help they are actually offering what firms actually need? Is the


government responding quickly enough in a rapidly changing


economic landscape? So, is the Government doing the right thing


for British business, to rebalance the economy? We are joined by the


head of Isuzu Trucks UK, Nikki King, and we are also joined by a former


science minister, from the last Labour government, Lord Drayson,


who now runs his own company. How much help should the Government


give to manufacturing? The state needs to recognise that


manufacturing has to go a lot faster, to compensate for the


shrinking public sector, and the shrinking financial sector. We


already have a strong manufacturing sector, but it needs to do even


better. Should it be doing so more on its own, that's the point? Does


it come back to the question about picking winners, which has always


been dangerous, for the Government, to say, we're going to invest in


this car manufacturer, it is going to create such and such a number of


jobs. No government should pick winners, but the Government should


be identifying, what other things which are stopping growth, and what


can government do to remove those? One of the most important right now


is the need for investment. We have an opportunity to capitalise on the


strong growth which we are seeing in certain sectors, but it is being


held back by a lack of finance. That finance is needed to invest in


reedack, to invest in plants, which the companies need. The banks are


not providing enough financed a manufacturing business. This needs


to be addressed quite urgently. Do you agree with that, that the


investment should come in some form or another from the government, if


the banks are not going to provide it? Yes, absolutely, I think the


government ought to be offering guarantees at least to businesses.


It is a big issue not just in manufacturing, but overall call for


-- but overall. It is a fact of life that the banks are not lending


money. But how do you pick those businesses? It is such a dangerous


game, isn't it, for governments? think we should have a balanced


economy, we should be helping everybody. There's strong signs of


lots of people starting small businesses, it is an overall


situation, but the Government has to grasp. But should we go for the


export-led recovery? Absolutely, we know where the growth opportunities


are, we know that countries like Brazil and China are growing fast,


and we have a good idea of what those countries want, so we can


look at the sectors which the UK has real competitive advantage in,


and say, if we invest in those sectors, provide the investment


that is needed, those sectors can win for us. I agree with the


principle, but having dealt for many years with the country 6,000


miles away, I know that to grow businesses overseas takes a long


time. It is a long-term strategy. You do not just suddenly get up one


morning and say, I'm going to sell to Brazil. You have to develop


links, partnerships, trust, all of these things. It takes a bit longer


than just having a weak pound for a while. But the Government can also


do things in small ways, which make a big difference. In my sector,


high-performance engineering, motor sport, the UK leads the world, but


we have a real shortage in skilled engineers, particularly systems


engineers. Where do you get them from? So, we need more people


studying these subjects at university. Frankly, the


universities need to be directed by the Government to put on the


courses that industry needs. We have this tragedy of youth


unemployment at the moment. I graduated during a recession in the


1980s, I know what it is like. I was lucky enough to study advanced


manufacturing, and I have had a successful career. We do not train


enough people in Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, and not


enough young people know that there are really good job opportunities


for them in these areas. But it comes back to the issue of


investment, doesn't it? Yes, and again, it is long-term investment.


So, is it still the key to the recovery? It is not necessarily


about spending more money, it is sometimes about shifting resources


from one area to another. For example, that could mean


identifying those courses, in pharmaceuticals, another great


success story for UK manufacturing, there is a shortage of


pharmacologists. So, universities need to train more, there are jobs


for those people. Thank you both very much. So, we're back from


recess, and we have got a packed week ahead. In a moment I will be


joined by two of the brightest and best from Fleet Street. First, we


can take a look at what we can expect this week. European finance


ministers are meeting today to discuss the bail-out Greece needs


to stave off bankruptcy. Some have doubted whether the deal will be


enough to keep the country in the euro. On Wednesday, Labour are


holding an opposition day debate on the NHS reforms. The debate will


centre on the publication of the NHS Risk Register & Report. And


following the news that News International will be publishing a


Sun on Sunday, we have found out that it will be published this


Sunday. I think you can just see the sun over their shoulder. Let's


get a little response to the news, first of all, from Craig Woodhouse.


The timing is interesting, for the launch of this new newspaper?


it was only Friday when Rupert Murdoch said there would be a Sun


on Sunday very soon, I don't think anybody thought that would mean a


week on Sunday. But it has certainly centre bars around Fleet


Street, at a time when we're feeling battered and bruised. -- it


has certainly sent a buzz around Fleet Street. I have to say, I


thought it was a bit cheeky on the part of Rupert Murdoch, just when


some senior journalists are being investigated by the police, he


comes in and announces, Right, far from hiding away, we're going to


come up with something special, which we were not expecting. You


have to hand it to him, amazing. is not holding back. Let's talk


about the health reforms. You have written today, Jackie Ashley, that


the bill is no longer really functioning, because it has had the


guts ripped out of it. But we have heard that there are more than 200


new commissioning groups in England, these reforms are happening anyway,


aren't they? They are, but I would argue it is not too late to stop it.


There is a sense of, we have made a mess of it, but we're going to


carry on and make a worse mess of it. That is a great pity, I think.


There are too many doctors, and lots of other people, who should be


coming to this summit today, one not. If it is going to work, you


have to carry the medical profession with you. That's not to


mention the patients, who do not seem to have a voice in this.


They spent so long in opposition trying to convince people that the


NHS would be safe in Tory hands and Labour have quite rightly jumped on


this and every day with a negative headline is another day the voters


will think, can we trust the Tories with the NHS? That could be fatal


for the next election. Labour think they're on top of this issue and


gaining ground but there are problems from the Liberal Democrats


still. Simon Hughes effectively said that Andrew Lansley should go


and the Lib Dems have their conference coming up where there


will be calls to vote against part of the bill. Last year's Liberal


Democrats' spring conference was dominated by this issue, it would


surely Williams leading the charge, and I think we will get even more


on this issue, but it seems to beat the All wrong way round to


reshuffle Andrew Lansley after the Bill has been passed. Andrew


Lansley should be reshuffled right now and somebody else can at least


explain it better and except some of the amendments passed in the


Lords and make this Bill a lot better. Moving on to their health


of Ed Miliband's leadership. This seems to be Ed Balls's pre-Budget


salvo on tax cuts. Economics aside, is this a clever wheeze in terms of


trying to allow himself to the Tory Right and Lib Dems of raising the


tax threshold at the same time? thought Ed Balls's intervention was


fascinating. A lot of what he has already been saying he freshened up,


and then allied with the Lib Dem call for the �10,000 income tax


threshold. The question is, with people see him already have such a


political animal and say, this is Ed Balls using politics but would


it be good for the economy? What do you think? With heat and George


Osborne to go for these tax cuts -- will he tempt George Osborne?


will be difficult for George Osborne to do nothing because the


argument everybody has put to him is without tax cuts, there will be


no growth. Growth is the big worry. The Tory Right are calling for the


50 pence tax rate to come down well made that and the Lib Dems are


calling for more help from the bottom but I would be surprised if


he did not do something. Thank you. Joining us for the next half hour


or so to look forward to the political week is our panel of MPs,


the Liberal Democrat, John Pugh. Labour's Theresa Pearce and the


Conservative, Gavin Barwell. Welcome. On this call for early tax


cuts, what do you think? The Tory party have always called for tax


cuts. Unfunded tax cuts are not the right way to go. If we were to put


Borodin up even further, that could have serious consequences for


interest rates but I think there is a case if we can find a way of


making changes to the tax system or other savings or a tax cut to help


the economy and personally, my opinion is the priority should be


those in work on middle and low incomes. Which bit of good balls's


proposals -- Ed Balls? Would you target it directly? The coalition


agreement has a clear commitment... Not now. The problem is Ed Balls is


making these suggestions were that any idea of how they will be paid


for. -- without any idea. Yes, tax cuts are not desirable if you have


to borrow more. Labour's five point plan has been set out a number of


times. We should be looking at VAT and collecting tax that is due.


Rangers Football Club 040 it million pounds in tax. That is what


we should be doing -- �48 million. Would you be happy to increase


borrowing in order to have tax cuts? No, I don't think we should


be increasing borrowing. You have a Labour MP who does not think there


should be increased borrowing. Where would you make the cut


squares that the Chancellor would have to look at how to arrange


things. Whether there are changes to make him the tax system to make


it their wrath. I want to see people on low to middle income has


given a helping hand -- make it Sarah. We don't know if George


Osborne has the head room to make any of these changes. It is


certainly highly desirable that he does because it will boost consumer


demand. Because you think all austerity measures have gone too


far? Economics is an art and George Osborne is good at that. He needs


to make the relevant adjustments in the right way. We don't need to be


too bothered about loss of face, we need to get it right. But you agree


with Nick Clegg that raising threshold now...? That is crucial.


It is the one lever you can push which will have a definite effect


on demand and will feed through into growth. What about mansion


tax? I think we should look at that. The research on that is very poor.


I think it would be highly desirable, to. Let's move to Greece.


Eurozone finance ministers are meeting today and the big question


is whether or not to authorise a second bailout for Greece worth 130


billion euros. The deal follows months of wrangling, with the Greek


parliament agreeing to ever tougher austerity measures and private


holders of Greek debt effectively being forced to accept a 70% write-


down. On the Sunday Politics yesterday, the Greek Minister for


International Economic Relations, Constantine Papadopoulos, told


Andrew Neil that Greece was committed to achieving its debt


targets but it involved making major sacrifices. It has come to


the crunch and don't underestimate what we did under the first


memorandum. A lot of things were done but a lot more needs to be


done. There is so much to do, it would be unrealistic to expect


things to happen in a matter of two years. If it wasn't for the


pressure from the financial markets, what we are aiming for would


normally take something like five or ten years. That is how ambitious


the programme Mears. But we are forced to do it in a much shorter


space of time. The pain on the Greek economy. Do you trust the


Greeks to make these reforms? sceptical about happy endings. I


think it is quite likely that Greece will drop out of the


eurozone and there needs to be a mechanism for doing that without


damaging the other members. Greece is a drama between austerity and


democracy. Austerity being demanded by the world and the people not


have the with what they need to do. Because they don't think they will


ever be competitive again? Because they are in between a rock and hard


place. Should they stay or go? is a really difficult question and


it needs to be a problem for the whole of the eurozone. There needs


to be collective responsibility. I don't think the Germans are playing


a long as they should do. My concern, it is like a giant game of


gender. You pull one bit out and everything falls down. The eurozone


is totally important to the UK recovery so it is something we need


to look at carefully. It is a single currency. We have collective


responsibility. It sounds like you would rather Greece stays in the


eurozone. I don't think there is a simple answer, that is the problem.


The least worst option is what we are looking at now. Is it in terms


of Britain? George Osborne has made a lot of the fact that our fortunes


have been as a result of what has gone on in the eurozone? Labour


disagrees with that to some extent. Would it make a big difference if


Greece went? The best option for the UK is a resolution.


resolution is the bail-out. seems to me that the other members


of the eurozone have dragged their feet about whether they are willing


to provide the money because they are not convinced about the Greek's


government's ability to repay. I was not in favour of Britain


joining the single currency. I think the there is a problem with


people having different interest rates with the same currency but it


has to stop dragging on. There are elections coming up in April and


that is the problem. Are you happy that Britain has contributed to the


bail-out? We don't know that yet. The IMF is there to help countries,


not the currency. But there is a grey area. Are you in principle


happy with that? I think it is right for the IMF to help countries


that are in need of assistance. The first responsibility has to be with


the eurozone, the he's ECB, I think -- and the ECB. You are looking at


potentially a 20% fall in living standards for degrees, twice what


this country went through in the Great Depression -- in Greece. I


think Parliament will want to look at... This is politically


unbelievable in the UK context. Ruling out joining the euro ever?


don't think it is on the distant horizon at the moment. I think that


eurozone needs to spend a fair amount of time sorting itself out.


The ground rules are not there. Or working effectively. Time to move


Now according to at least one newspaper this weekend, the


Education Secretary Michael Gove is planning to ban parents in England


from taking their children out of school during term time to go on


holiday. At the moment, head- teachers have some discretion in


this area and often let families sneak off for a couple of weeks.


But ministers don't like the effect this all has on overall attendance


rates. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National


Association of Head Teachers, joins us now from Brighton. What do you


think of the idea from Michael Gove? Although I sympathise with


people in a holiday crisis, education is more precious so I do


think we need to do something serious to limit term-time holidays.


A child has about 10 days a year off sick leave. If they take


another 10 days off on holiday they have lost another 10 days of


education and that is very hard to get back. Should it be that Dick


tapped? Should it be up to head teachers themselves to make that


decision was map we need to be very clear that it is not acceptable and


I think it is a social issue rather than the choice of head teachers.


There are what occasions where for important reasons, such as service


personnel coming back, where you might want to grant that but there


needs to be a general realisation that you take holidays in the


holiday period. Parents would argue that we know that costs rocket in


the school holidays and it seems to be extremely unfair and you may be


talking about depriving some families off a break of any sort


for the sake of a few days. Does it really have that much impact on


their learning? Not two days but when it becomes a persistent habit


and there of families that persistently take their holidays


during term-time, including skiing trips and that sort of thing. Then


I think we need to stop that. you not think it is ironic when the


government is advocating free schools, free to put forward their


own curriculum, so shouldn't they be free to decide whether they


allow children to go on holiday in term time? They should be free to


decide when their holiday periods should be and there is a lot to be


done in terms of looking at the structure of our holidays. It's


different areas had holidays at different times, that would even it


out. If we had more holidays for shorter durations, that would take


the pressure off the summer holiday, and I think that is what we should


do. Russell Hobby, stay with us. That is interesting. Is it time to


shake up the system and say, let's have holidays at different times?


Parents want holidays at predictable times. I used to be a


teacher and head teachers put downward pressure on parents who


want to take holidays when the schools do not want them to. This


has happened for a long time. But there are extenuating circumstances


and there is the schizophrenia in Michael's attitude. At one stage he


says head teachers need discretion, and then he is ending discretion in


a sense. That seems wholly inconsistent. You can't just into


be when you want to. That is the point. We have to see the detail.


There is an inconsistency here, isn't there? As Russell said, there


is a problem with some families persistently taking children out of


school. I imagine the Secretary of State is trying to send a clear


message that it is not acceptable. We have already got the clear


message, it has been around for generations. The effect on


education is marginal, to be absolutely frank. The discretion of


Head Teachers is an important aspect of the education system.


am a parent, so I have sympathy, in terms of the cost of holidays. Just


a couple of days is marginal, but you will know, if you look at the


figures, within a families, there are some families for whom it is


much more than a couple of days. you agree with the idea of a ban?


No, I think it should be up to individual schools and head


teachers. Although educationally it may not have a huge effect, I think


it has a subliminal effect on children, about respecting the


rules of the school. I think it is important for them to learn to


respect teachers. This is why head teachers in general are very severe


on this. But they do allow it, don't they? Well, they have to, in


certain circumstances. I do not know how much effect it might have


on lessons, on making sure that everybody is keeping up... If there


were an absolute ban, do we expect that the attendance officer will be


going round to people's houses? I don't think these things have been


thought through. Do you think he should drop the idea? I want to see


the detail first, but I think we are not talking about a ban, we're


talking about headteachers... I think we are. Well, my


understanding was that it would actually be unauthorised absence.


Well, that is a ban, effectively. think there is an issue in terms of


pupil attendance at schools, so I think Secretary of State is right


to look at the issue. What about this issue of changing the holidays,


this idea that we have so many weeks over the summer, is that


practical, should the holidays be rearranged? I think if holidays


were shorter, more spread out, it would be better, but what I would


not want to see is different schools having different holiday


periods, because some families have children at different schools, and


that would be a nightmare. Yes, would it not be very difficult to


administrate that idea of having a whole range of holidays, it would


have to be consistent across the country, wouldn't it? It would have


to become law within a local authority area. That would be the


main thing, particularly if you have got one child at primary, and


another at secondary. Beyond that, there is room for some variation


across the country, I think. Members of parliament have just had


a recess which is timed to fit in with the school holidays, for those


who have got children. So, the News Of The World is dead, long live the


Sun on Sunday. But with police investigations and golfing the


operations of the newspaper, can the new publication restore


fortunes and reputations? Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former


Director of Communications, thinks the new Sun on Sunday might


struggle. I think it is fair to make the case that the closure of


the News Of The World came at a moment of panic. I don't know the


extent to which the proper preparation for the launch of a new


Sunday title has been done. If it has been put together in a rush,


then I suspect it will not be a success. In any event, they cannot


assume that the daily Sun readers will automatically by the paper on


a Sunday, and nor can they assume that former News of the World


readers will automatically buy this one. I am joined now by the


spokesman for the Hacked Off campaign. I think the question is


not whether there is another Sunday paper, good luck to any new entrant


into the Sunday market, it is a free market, and Mr Murdoch is


entitled to publish a paper in this country, the question is whether


the standards will be improved, whether or not News International,


and the Sun in particular, has understood what is acceptable and


what is not. It is not clear that that's the case, judging from


recent events. Saying that, we have had all the revelations, it has


been extremely expensive and embarrassing, the News Of The World


closed, we have got the Leveson Inquiry - do you not have the faith


that they will have learnt lessons from it? I'm fairly confident that


they will not hack phones, but there is more to it than that. News


International titles, not just the News of the World, were mentioned


in the evidence of industrial scale data mining by many of the national


newspapers, which was uncovered around 2002. News International, in


their evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, have not accepted what the


Information Commissioner says, that that was unlawful activity, the


procuring of that information - mobile phone numbers, friends and


family numbers, accessing vehicle registration numbers at the DVLA -


they have not accepted that it was unlawful. So it is not clear that


News International have yet understood the difference between


lawful and ethical conduct as journalists and unlawful or


unethical conduct. And it is the same with the police inquiry.


Nobody is arguing that sources should be protected when they're


whistle blowers, but there was a huge difference between a public


official who was a whistleblower, and someone in the police force


who's paid a retainer of �10,000 a year to systematically give


information to a newspaper. Surely the test will be public opinion,


whether people buy the paper or not. At has never been an effective test


of whether the secret news- gathering methods used by


newspapers are lawful, because of the News Of The World -- because we


now know what was going on at the News of the World. I don't think


anybody is arguing that if people buy it, anything goes. No, we need


to make sure that not only the content, which I'm sure will be as


edgy as the Sun, and there is nothing wrong with that, complies


with the code, but at the same time, that News International


demonstrates that it has understood what being ethical means. Will you


buy the paper? Actually, I do buy papers which are personally


disagree with, to educate myself. So, yes, I will see what it is like.


What about in your area, John Pugh, will people be buying it? I am from


the Lancashire area, and very few people by the Sun at all. But I


would like to see Merga producing a newspaper which is a heck of a lot


better than the Sun has been. you think people will buy it in


your area? There is very little chance, given the history of the


Sun and Hillsborough. Do you welcome this new publication?


scandal we have had, and the Leveson Inquiry, have opened up


some very important issues, but the tabloid newspapers are a very


important part of the political process, in terms of holding the


politicians to account, and I think at its best, the Sun can be a


strong voice for hard-working people. Incidentally, this is not


just an issue for News International. But the point is,


there will be no great test of whether or not they have learned


those lessons. That's right. It is not a new newspaper we need, it is


a new culture. The culture of any newspaper comes from the top, and


it remains to be seen whether that has changed. So, has it come too


early, do you think? I think it has, and this is not a new newspaper,


really, it is just an extra edition of the Sun, on a Sunday. Alastair


Campbell alluded to the fact that newspapers running six days a week


are not always successful, so, why launch it now? That is a commercial


decision for News International, it is a free market. But the test is


whether or not we see an improvement in journalistic


standards. I think it is important, this cannot be just about News


International producing another version of the News Of The World. I


think there would be deep distaste from the public if that happens. If,


on the other hand, it emerges as something completely different, a


better newspaper, then I think people will appreciate that. Do you


have faith that the Press Complaints commission, with its new


head, will be more effective? particularly, no. We will have to


see. I think there is a widespread cynicism on this, about self-


regulation in general. I think we will just have to see what happens.


But the ball is in the newspapers' court. People said the Press


Complaints commission did not do the job it was supposed to do


effectively - will it be any different this time? I am cynical


about that, I think we need something completely independent of


the press. As the public, we are regulators, if you do not like a


newspaper, do not buy it. We all have a part to play in this.


Whitney Houston died, how many extra editions were put on that


morning. We buy things which are salacious and unpleasant, and we


have to look to ourselves, we get the press we deserve some times.


The press are now in the media spotlight themselves, and it is the


media who will keep them honest. Are you going to buy it on Sunday?


No, I will probably look at their online content. That's cheating! I


do not know how much it will cost. Will you buy it? I doubt it, it


will probably be behind a firewall. I do not buy Sunday newspapers,


life is too short. Why not? They fill the house, and I never get


round to reading them. You said you hoped it would be a success - do


you think it will be? I think the Sun and the News Of The World, at


their best, performed a very important role. They broke some


important stories, as well as the very and six -- as well as the


unacceptable things which went on. So in that sense, I hope it is a


success, yes. But do you think with the Leveson Inquiry going on, has


the whole story moved on, will people forget about this? You would


hope that the Leveson Inquiry will set a new standard for journalism.


It might not be for another year or so. It needs to be a change in


culture, and that culture comes from the top. But a new newspaper,


something which keeps journalists in work, I welcome it. Thank you


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