21/02/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics. And on today's


lunchtime menu, economic bail-outs and political bust ups.


Greece gets its bail-out after hours of midnight wrangling. They


get 130 billion euros which will get them through the next couple of


months. But is this just prolonging the agony?


We'll look back at yesterday's bitter Commons row over the failure


of the UK's Border Agency. Proper checks were not made on hundreds of


thousands of people coming to these shores. Who is to blame?


Last year British business lost more days to strike action than any


time since the 1980s. So is it time to change the law and make it


harder to down tools? And what should Andrew Lansley have


done when confronted by an angry pensioner? We will ask some former


spin doctors how to avoid the photo opportunity from hell.


With us for the whole programme today are Graham Leach from the


Institute of Directors and Frances O'Grady from the TUC. Welcome. If


you have any thoughts or comments, you can tweeted them.


Let's start with Nick Clegg's latest initiative to try to get


young people back to work. The Deputy Prime Minister was in South


London this morning to promote his new �126 million scheme that will


enable businesses and charities to bid for contracts of up to �2,200


for a teenager who can be kept in work, education or training for 12


months. At the moment almost one in five people aged between 16 and 24


are classified as so-called NEETs. Not in education, employment or


training. Mr Clegg says the plan is about getting them out of the


living room, away from the telly and into the world of work. Will it


work? Clearly there is a political imperative to do something because


we have 1 million young people unemployed. Spain has a 50% youth


unemployment rate, so it is not that bad, and this will deal with


50,000 out of 1 million, so it is fiddling, politically it has to be


done, but it will not change things. Are you saying it is not worth it


because businesses will not be attracted by the incentive of


�2,200? It will help but there are probably more direct ways you could


help in terms of boosting education and training elsewhere. What we


need to do is boost the quality of the applicants. Trying to subsidise


employment will not change things. Isn't the problem now that if we


don't tackle the issue, a ticking timebomb Nick Clegg calls it, it


will store up huge problems down the line. Absolutely. We are going


to need more ambitious action and we are seeing at the moment. More


money? We have a million people unemployed. We have no education


maintenance allowance, tuition fees tripled, lots of young people


finding themselves on unpaid internships and work-experience.


This has to be welcomed but it is such a small step. �126 million


does not sound like a huge amount of money for that many young people


but they are targeting those at the very bottom. I would like to see


the government to rethink the scrapping of the Future Jobs Fund


that the previous government had in place, which was making a


difference, quality work that paid at least minimum wage and that very


often lead to a full-time job. payment by results work? In


principle? Francis said you need to pay people a reasonable wage for


them to leave and then get a proper permanent job, but for businesses


does payment by results work? Business wants to see somebody


well-trained, with the basic skills they need, and then the company can


recruit them. What they are seeing at the moment his concern for the


quality of recruits. The problem goes much further back. It goes


back to the basics in school. you say they want people fully


trained. Businesses cannot expect people with reasonable


qualifications even to be fully trained. The idea is that they do


it. I am talking about the basics, having job skills. Is there the


suspicion that business just once cheap labour. -- wants. The Future


of Business his people. Businesses do not want to squeeze the workers.


They know their future is dependent on the people that work for them


and they want to maintain and improve the skills base for their


own company. The problem is the government promised it could cut


nearly three-quarters of a million jobs in the public sector and that


the private sector would step up to the mark. Instead we have five


people chasing every job vacancy in Britain and more jobs being lost in


the public sector, jobs that could give many of our young people a


diesel and star out. Except that then -- young people a good start.


Except that these jobs are not needed. They are needed. Health,


education, the Border Agency. We meet real people do in real jobs.


We could be doing a nationwide energy efficiency programme and


getting him people into decent apprenticeship, making homes more


energy efficient and cutting carbon emissions. Instead we have a


piecemeal approach that will not tackle youth unemployment.


private sector creates jobs, that is the lesson in history. Not at


the pace we need. Because we have a weak economy. We surely learnt the


mistake in the 1970s of the public sector creating jobs, and surely we


have moved on from that. Not when you are in hard economic times.


you think you are in hard economic times here, let's go to Greece.


After 14 hours of negotiations, not to mention the months of to-ing and


fro-ing, eurozone finance ministers finally agreed a second huge bail-


out for Greece last night. Greece will have to accept years of


austerity and will be closely monitored by EU officials to make


sure they don't overspend. Greece will receive a bail-out of 130


billion euros which will allow it to meet its immediate cash needs


and avoid bankruptcy. Private holders of Greek bonds will also


have to accept a write-down on their investments, which is


expected to cut debt by 100 billion. The aim is that Greece will reduce


its debt level from 160% of GDP now to about 120% by 2020. Still high


by international standards but thought to be manageable. Some


would question whether that is manageable. Some economists worry


that hacking back spending will mean it is years before growth


returns. But George Osborne says the deal is good for Europe and


good for Britain. Last night's developments were very encouraging


for the European economy. Greece took some very difficult decisions


to face up to its own debts, as other countries like Britain are.


We have the eurozone collectively standing behind their currency. Of


course, resolving the Greece situation is only part of the


eurozone crisis but I think we took a significant step towards that


last night and that is good for Britain, because resolving the


eurozone crisis could be the biggest boost that Britain can get.


George Osborne thinks this is a good thing for Britain and Greece.


Are they breathing a sigh of relief? Yes. But I think the


biggest size of relief are coming from eurozone officials rather than


Greece itself. This does take some of the pressure off from Europe and


it means that a messy default in the short term will be avoided as


far as the eurozone is concerned. It enables the eurozone to buy time


in order to strengthen the defences around the banks in some of the


weaker countries. But as regards Greece, they have got to implement


some pretty tough measures and this is already an economy in free-for-


all. It contracted by 7% in the last quarter of last year.


Unemployment is 21%. This is a country that is having to take on


further cuts. What does Greece have to look forward to? Where will


growth come from? Or are they going to look forward to a decade of


hardship? Thank you. With us to answer those questions is John


Redwood and Rachel Reeves. George Osborne sounding relatively upbeat,


saying this is good for Britain and will be good for Greece. George


Osborne has to say that. He needs to be pro-European. Said he does


not feel that. I can give a different views. My view is that


this is not a success. This is a deal they will come to regret


because I don't think it can work and I don't believe the numbers


they have signed up to for the next eight years on meaningful. I don't


think Greece will meet their deficit targets. Have they delayed


the targets...? Isn't this about covering your own back? Cutting


Greece adrift when the fire walls aren't that sure of the rest of


Europe and contagion might be not contained, that could be worse?


am in favour of an orderly exit of Greece from the euro. They have had


a couple of these two planet and they have not taken an advantage of


that -- couple of years to plan it. If they were sensible, they would


have it plan be worked out in secret. 80s seven countries have


left single currency schemes quite successfully since 1945 -- 87.


Coming out of the report was not an easy thing to do in the communist


era and when the former communist countries got out of the Russian


rouble, they started to do well. The successful, the entrepreneurial


path leading Greece in large numbers and I don't think this will


stop the flood of money -- are leaving Greece. Should Greece come


out of the eurozone? I agree that the plan that has been put in place


overnight will not do what is needed... Because they need more


money? They need different policies and a different approach. Greece


has been in recession for four years. The economy shrunk by 7% at


the end of last year going into the fifth year of recession. They meet


to try something different. The policies of austerity are not


working. More businesses are failing. They will not be able to


get down the deficit and meet the targets that will be set. But not


coming out of the euro. Not coming out? No. I think it will inevitably


be disorderly and will result in contagion for Spain, Portugal, and


that will have a huge impact on the UK economy. We need a different


approach. Although you say it could be an orderly exit, the risk of


contagion is still great. It is not a risk that Britain wants to take.


What does that mean? It means people will lose money on the money


they have led to Greece. They have lost it already. Absolutely. Some


of those bonds are owned by pensioners and poor people, it is


not all rich bankers that will suffer in this. Lots of other


not paying their bills. But it is the exposure to countries like


Italy and Spain and that will affect us. I don't agree that Spain


and Italy will become the next victim. It is already happening.


Those contagion effects will get worse in terms of the interest


rates or Italian debt and the speculation that Spain and Portugal


will be the next country to fall out and I think the impact that


would have on the UK economy for people with pensions, for


businesses here, would be immense. I think we should try to keep


Greece in the euro but we need a different approach. Keep throwing


good money after bad? That is effectively what is happening.


silly's numbers are not nearly as bad as Portugal and Greece -- Italy.


Greece should definitely leave, Portugal should probably leave.


They should tidy it up, get rid of the worst cases and then defend the


rest. Do you agree? I think it is absolutely certain that Greece will


leave the euro eventually. I have written a report saying the ship is


going down and I think it might be in time for some cheap summer


holidays. Exploiting the misery of the Greeks! That is the key point.


The markets know this is not politically sustainable. You cannot


impose this level of austerity. Except the markets have rallied.


They do this but then they catch up later. There will not be some


combined euro fiscal bail-out on the scale required to push this


problem away. There will not be the Monetary bail-out, the Germans will


not let the ECB to quantitative easing. All we have is backdoor


quantitative easing. The ECB is desperately hoping these eurozone


banks will then buy public debt but they are not going to do it. Their


balance sheets are shot to pieces of this is bespoke in the


inevitable. -- because this is postponing the inevitable. What we


see on the streets of Greece is extreme hardship, people are


starving apparently in parts of the country, they are homeless and have


lost their business. That will not And this is what people forget. It


seems to me the EU and the IMF are acting like the worst kind of


doorstep loan shark, imposing conditions which Greece cannot


possibly meet. We have had a cut in the minimum wage by a fifth, wage


cuts, pension cuts, ordinary people being made homeless. Actually,


would it be better for them to come out and reinstate the drachma?


extreme austerity approach is simply not working. You need


investment and jobs and industry to get the economy back on its feet.


It is Greece today, who will it be tomorrow? If you reintroduce the


drachma, the Governor of the bank of Greece can print money. At the


moment, he cannot do that, and that is a big, big difference. At the


weekend, Ed Balls, was setting out alternatives for the budget next


month. Rachel Reeves has been explaining today that Labour would


also be tough on public spending. In a speech this morning, she said


that for Labour, deficit reduction that for Labour, deficit reduction


Of course, you have only just given that speech - there is no


difference between you and the Government, then, you are going to


complete that job of deficit complete that job of deficit


reduction, and you are just as committed to it. We are committed


to deficit reduction, but we also believe that the Government's plans


have failed, because, of course you need tax increases and spending


cuts, but unless you have got people in work paying taxes, then


you will not get the deficit down, because you end up paying more out


in benefits and getting less in in tax revenue. So we want to get the


economy moving again, to get more people into work, paying taxes. But


also, we would have to make tough decisions, cutting down on waste,


looking at every area of government. Everybody talks about waste, let's


go back to the idea of cutting the deficit, because if you are as


committed to this as you have said, and they are pretty strong quotes,


why are you advocating more borrowing to fund tax cuts? This


Government is borrowing more than �150 billion more than they had


planned. But that's what you're saying, advocating more borrowing.


What we're saying is that the Government are borrowing this extra


�150 billion because their plan has failed, because there are more


people out of work, and more businesses failing. We are saying,


let's have a targeted, temporary stimulus, a tax on bank bonuses, to


find jobs for young people, and as a result, we will have the economy


growing, more people paying taxes, and paying less out in benefits.


But you would then break your own statement, which is that you would


be putting up the deficit and the level of borrowing. The Government


has failed its own test of balancing the books, that is now


accepted by them, as well as everybody else. They have had to


report that they have not met their original target, because the Office


for Budget Responsibility's forecasts were wrong. I am


delighted that Labour are now in agreement that we need to take this


seriously. But as Conservatives, we did not come into politics to cut


the deficit, we came into politics because we want people to be


prosperous, and we happen to believe, and I think we now agree,


that if you get the deficit get out of control, it gets in the way of


those very important aims. adding �150 billion to that deficit


will stop your aims. Yes, I have made it very clear that I would


have liked them to have frozen public spending in the first year,


rather than increasing it by 5% in cash terms in the first year.


Because they did that, and then the growth did not come through, we


have got slippage in the numbers. And they have now got to address


that. I think the Chancellor will tackle the problem raised by Rachel,


that we want more jobs and more growth. That's common ground. Of


course we want growth and jobs, it is obvious. Do you agree that we


would have had growth, and things would have been better, if,


actually, there had been more fiscal discipline, in terms of


freezing pay, for example? Everybody agrees that we want to


reduce the deficit, the big question is how? Is it going to


come out of ordinary people's pay and pensions and public services,


or are we going to do something about the frankly obscene levels of


tax avoidance and evasion at the top. All parties are committed to


that, aren't they? Or certainly, that's what they say. Frankly, this


is a big problem, and it can be tackled. We could see more support,


I would like to see support for the Robin Hood tax, which would raise


�20 billion, by cracking down on financial transactions. But Labour


would have done pretty well the same, when it came to cutting


public sector jobs, to shrink the public sector, because it was too


bloated? When you look at the NHS, for example, the Government are


going ahead with a we organisation which is costing �1.8 billion. Half


of that money could be used to protect 6,000 nurses over the next


six months. -- a re-organisation. That's not going to promote growth,


is it? Different choices are being made. Coming back to the issue of


growth, that will not actually create growth, the private sector


coming through with more jobs would do that. But Ed Balls has said that


he wants a cut of 3p in income tax - would that be for higher earners,


too? What he has said is that the most targeted way to do this would


be to cut VAT back to 17.5%. If the Chancellor does not want to do that,


he could cut income tax, he could raise the personal allowance, all


of those things would get money into the economy. In terms of


businesses, a national insurance holiday for small businesses would


help them, at a time when they are struggling to get bank lending.


Would any of those things be the magic pill, if you like, in terms


of stimulating growth, from a business point of view? Let's just


take VAT. I would not think it would be that easy. We do not


believe this is going to be a game- changer. Even if it is not a game-


changer, do you think it should be done, would it help? I don't think


it should. I think at the present time, you need to be convincing the


financial markets, were struggling with the fiscal squeeze. I'm saying


that if the Government made a different choice, if it was not


cutting so far and so fast, we would not have choked off the


economic recovery. I think there is a fundamental problem here, this


analysis is basically saying, interest rates have got 20, we have


got no more options to stimulate the economy, therefore we should


use fiscal policy. I think the lesson of the last 30 years is that


you do not use fiscal policy to try to fine-tune the economy. The


fiscal stimulus you're arguing about is merely a potato gun,


whereas the Bank of England has got a bazooka. We are saying, targeted,


temporary action, a temporary cut in VAT, a national insurance


holiday for small businesses. had had quantitative easing the


first time around, -- if we had not had it, the level of GDP would have


been 2% the war. You're a tax cutter, so do you have some


sympathy with Ed Balls' policy of trying to do exactly that in the


budget? No, I am not in favour of borrowing yet more to make a really


big tax cut. I would cut the tax rates which I think are now


collecting us less revenue, it would seem to be foolish to have


moral outrage against people, so much so that you actually collect


less money from them, and you drive them away, that would be rather


silly. But I think this is a budget for reviewing all public spending


once again, and didn't glad that we agree that there are things that


can be done to get better value in public spending, but what I think


they need to do is to fix the banks. The number one priority I have got


is to go in and sort out RBS. We cannot carry on with this


Meadowbank pretending it is going to come right. It keeps on losing


us money, and it offends people in the process, it seems, as well. --


mega-bank. I think we should get three decent working banks, out in


the private sector, lending people money. We have effectively got an


investment strike going on, big businesses are sitting on huge cash


reserves, equivalent to six% of GDP. They are not investing because they


are worried about the bigger economic output. We have got small


businesses who are still starved of credit, even from the banks that


the taxpayer owns, and we need to get in there. I would keep them as


nationalised banks, and actually use them to invest in new jobs and


industry. It is an interesting discussion, but not the one we


started out on. Now, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, came under


fire in the House of Commons yesterday over his decision to give


the job of university access tsar to Professor Les Ebdon. Some MPs


are concerned that Professor Ebdon want to see universities admitting


more students on the basis of what they might achieve in the future,


rather than what they have actually achieved at the time of their


application. Does the Secretary of State accept the overwhelming


evidence set out in the report today, that shows skewed access to


our top universities is not a failure of admissions policy, but a


lack of adequate preparation in our secondary schools? To get down to


some facts, more than 20 Oxford colleges made no offers to black


students for undergraduate courses in 2009, we in one particular


college not having admitted a single black student for five years.


Meanwhile, four independent schools have sent more pupils to Oxbridge


than 2000 state schools. How can the Secretary of State say that he


believes in the principles of university autonomy and admissions


on merit, when his appointee says he is prepared to threaten


universities with what he chose to describe as the nuclear option of


fines and reduced funding if they do not meet agreed targets? I know


that the Honourable Gentleman has been very eloquent on this subject,


and is anxious that we do not introduce prescriptive quotas for


admissions to universities, that is his primary concern. And let me be


very clear that that is not government policy, it is not the


policy on offer. It is the independence of universities in


respect of admissions, and that is enshrined in law. And Professor


Ebdon has gone firmly on the record in saying that he will respect the


diversity of the sector, and institutional autonomy. We can get


more on this from our correspondent, in the central lobby. Yes, you get


a real sense from that montage of the debate which has surrounded the


appointment of Professor Ebdon, not just the pros and cons of the man


himself, but the underlying issues. With me here, a Conservative MP and


a Labour MP. You're the chair of the Education Select Committee -


give me some sense of what you make of the appointment of Professor


Ebdon, Graham Stuart? Well, I was disappointed, because I think the


Secretary of State overruled Parliament on his appointment. And


that was unwelcome. But going forward, we have got to make sure


we focus on the issues which do block access certainly to our top


universities for children from the poorest homes, and that is not


going to be about some social engineering exercise at the


University gate, it is going to be about raising standards, making


sure you have the right subject choices and the right support, so


that every child with the attitude can get on in life. Katy Clark, you


sat on the committee which was scrutinising the appointment of


Professor Ebdon, what did you make of it? I supported his appointment.


There were four Conservative members who voted in favour of


opposing this particular appointment, but the Labour members


were supportive. I think he is a strong candidate. I think some of


the issues that he has been taking forward are what are required. For


example, if you look at what he is doing at his own institution, he is


prioritising things like generous bursaries, the kind of action we


need to encourage people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get to


university. You're a member of this new Conservative group on fair


access - tell us in short what you hope that group can achieve. What I


think everybody across Parliament agrees is that we want to do more


to support bright kids, from poor backgrounds, to get into university.


What we see the last government having done, and this government


having done, is to focus on universities as if they are the


problem, as if there is some kind of snobbish selection process going


on at the University gate - we do not believe that is the problem.


The universities have no incentive other than to attract the brightest


and best, from wherever they come. But we need to address the lack of


social mobility on the real issues, which is about looking at issues


like subject choices, like the support which is available, and


making sure we have the right financial support. We must focus on


the real barriers, not artificial, politically created ones. Are the


Some of the policies that this government is coming up with,


getting rid of the educational maintenance allowance and troubling


tuition fees, on not the solutions. We need to get support so we can


get disadvantaged students into a more prestigious universities.


seems you on the same page but from different perspectives? The results


of A-level from people in comprehensive schools have been


improving but not as quickly as those from selective state and


independent schools. Our schools are not delivering in the way we


would like them too. Pupils with worse grades from state schools do


just as well at university as those from private school who have


managed to get higher grades because of their paid education.


Not at Cambridge... Thank you. Plenty more on this debate from the


Select Committee in the coming months.


Thank you. Last year saw mass protests by public sector workers


over their pensions. We lost more days to strike action as a result


of the demos in November than at any time since the early '80s. Some


people think that heralds a new age of industrial unrest, with even


more stoppages on the way. And yet union membership is declining. So


just what is the state of industrial relations in this


country? Do we need tougher anti- strike laws? Or do the unions need


to reform in order to stay relevant in the 21st Century?


Old core union power, when the weather always seemed that and the


situations were fuzzy. These days, the struggle goes on. We should now


rapidly moved to a position for a strike ballot if there is not for


the movement. This is a meeting of senior officials from the Fire


Brigades Union. They are deciding whether to ballot members for


strike action over changes to pensions. That issue has already


caused industrial unrest so is this the dawning of a new era of union


militancy? A quarter of the working population are members of the Union


and in the public sector it is more than 50%, but numbers are falling.


In the 80s, there were more than 30 million members. It is half that.


But 2011 saw the highest number of days lost to strikes since the poll


tax. We are seeing an unprecedented wave of industrial action and I


think it is time we looked at serious reform to separate the


moderate union leaders who tried to represent their members responsibly


and the hardline militants, for whom there is no compromises.


official government position is that while strike law is under


review, it is not on the cards at the moment. If you take public


sector pensions out of the equation, it is debatable how militant we


have become. In 2009, France lost 100 days to strikes. We lost 19th.


The we are not seeing a huge rise of militancy. That is not to say


there are no concerns but it shows how responsible trade unions are in


this country. If you believe in free trade unionism, you except


there will occasionally be industrial disputes and trying to


make it more difficult for a union to ballot their members is asking


for more strikes without ballots and that is no good for anyone.


despite real conflict with the government over public sector


pensions, union membership continues to fall from its


historical highs in the 1980s. In the private sector, just 14% of


workers are in a union. So how does the movement make itself relevant?


We haven't yet found a way to give workers a true voice in the


workplace. I think that is an important thing. People feel


frustrated that their voice is not heard. The unions are not doing


enough there. Four unions, times may have changed but values haven't


-- for the unions. Defending those beliefs however? That may need a


whole new set of tools. Graham Leach, let's pick up on what


Alan Johnson said. Not a huge rise in militancy. He is right in the


sense that this is a public sector issue, not a private sector issued,


and companies do not have a big issue. The problems we saw with


unions hit in the private sector in the 70s and 80s has basically


disappeared so there is a huge change there. What I think as well


with change in the future is the volumes in the public sector


because we have already seen the Chancellor has embarked on an


investigation for the potential of decentralising public sector pay.


What has happened in the private sector in terms of union activity


will ultimately have been in the public sector. Are you saying we


don't need tougher and destroyed laws? -- and he strike. I think


this is fundamentally a public sector problem, not a private


sector problem. The government has talked about the idea of tougher


strike laws for the reason that the ball is still pretty low, they feel,


in order to get a ballot to go on strike. I disagree. Funnily enough!


In fact the public as you well know, even the lowest opinion polls after


the November public service strikes, showed that 60% or more of the


public supported the strike against having to pay more, work longer and


get less pensions. I don't think that the government can drive a


wedge between the unions and the public on this one. When it comes


to strike ballots, let's remember, this is a human right, to withdraw


your labour. It is recognised in international law. People never


take strike action likely. Why should this ballot have a threshold


that politicians do not apply to themselves? Let's remember because


-- Conservatives won 23% of all of those entitled to vote at the last


election. I don't think anybody would suggest they should not be in


the coalition government today. would unions react if the


government made it harder? I think we would be looking for public


support to fight a very big campaign on this because it would


be profoundly anti-democratic and actually it would be bad for


business and bad for the economy in the long run. Remember all the good


work that unions do. We create healthier and safer workplaces, we


help workers get learning and skills, we resolve issues, we


resolve grievances in the workplace and keep employees out of


employment tribunals and that has to be good. There is a risk of


further intensification of union activity in the public sector in


the face of the pensions argument and that leads to a backlash from


the electorate and ultimately it could be self-defeating from the


unions because if they decentralise public sector pay, it fundamentally


transforms the role of unions in the public sector. I think you are


misreading public opinion. People believe that the balance of power


has swung far too far in favour of the banks and big business and


ordinary people need to be protected. Membership is on the


slide. But it has been rising since the strike. But generally it has


been coming down. We have a membership application forms coming


in! I will take your word for it. Theresa May has announced that the


UK Border Agency will be breaking up. The move comes over Brodie


Clark -- after Brodie Clark resigned last year over claims he


had relaxed checks. The Home Secretary set up the findings of an


investigation into border security The report reveals that security


checks carried out at the border have been suspended regularly and


applied inconsistently since at least 2007. In June of that year,


ministers accepted a policy that allowed the suspension of all index


checks on certain health and safety grounds but the report found that


those cheques were suspended on many occasions for other reasons.


It is time for her to stop hiding, to take responsibility for things


that have happened on her watch, for the unclear instructions from


her office, for the policy decisions to downgrade border


controls, to the failure to monitor what was going on and for her


failure to take responsibility now. This mess got worse on her watch


every month that went by. Isn't what the country wants is not a lot


of huff and puff from the opposition and the front bench and


point-scoring, what they want to know is that ministers are now


taking action to make the Borders more secure. That is the important


point. The Home Secretary have set out what regular performers


assessment there will be to ensure they do not fall back into an at


hoc events driven approach to board as security that was so prevalent


under the previous government. occasions where backbench members


on the opposition benches have not seen a report that is subject to


the statement, we depend on a comprehensive and non-partisan


presentation of the report by the minister responsible. The Home


Secretary has given us the impression that the report is in no


way critical of ministers, yet we have heard suggestions that the


report does contain criticism of a lack of clarity in the language


used by ministers in their instructions to the Border Agency.


Will she tell the House, is there criticism and if so, what she


apologise for the Department's failings? In a number of aspects,


the report does indeed refer to the issue of the necessity of greater


clarity of communications of all sorts that were taking place in


relation to what was happening at the border.


John Vine wrote the report. He joins us now. Welcome to the


programme. Was this a ministerial or managerial cock-up? It was a


combination of both. What I have found is that the decision making


by ministers in relation to the suspension of the Czechs going back


to 2007 was variable -- checks. Sometimes people were notified


about what was happening. Sometimes suspensions took place without


notification from ministers. There was a lack of clarity in


submissions to ministers and a lack of clarity in language coming from


the ministers, and there was also a lack of clarity in the way that was


communicated down to the work force so that there was an inconsistency


of application cheques that most -- at most of the courts I visited.


was more than inconsistency. I read some of your reports and it sounds


chaotic in parts over that period. Basically the lack of communication


and clarity, people carrying out orders they had not been asked to


do, it sounds chaotic. Yes. There were a number of important checks.


The warnings index check is the most important and identify whether


somebody is wanted by the police. That was suspended on over 350


occasions. Far more occasions than ministers and senior agencies


realised. That was mainly through health and safety grounds. What I


identified in the report is that health and safety itself was not


properly defined. For example, coaches backing onto a French


motorway to try to get through the juxtaposed controls were often


designated by immigration officers as the health and safety risks.


There were other examples where the criteria for suspension of CQ at


identification checks was not properly defined and there was not


operating policy for that -- suspension of clear identification


checks. So we will never know what risks posed? No. The risk must be


in perspective. When the identification checks were


suspended, warnings index checks were generally carried out, so the


risk for the border must be put into perspective, but a very


important check that was considered by ministers and officials to be


mandatory, there was no operating policy. The record-keeping of


border officials' reports was very poor indeed. This came from 2007,


so the previous government as well as. The minister's' decision-making


giving back to that period, yes. I mention both the previous


government and the current government and I outlined where


ministers were involved and where they were not involved but there


seems to be a lack of clarity about the operational autonomy of the


agency with regard to ministers and I have recommended that ministers


decide the level of authority required for a suspension of any


cheque. How much pressure did you find from ministers for the queues


to be reduced? Managing the queues is very important and what


immigration officers are trying to do is manage that as well as


perform their function in checking The government decided for 100 %


checking in 2007. Since that time, there were other requests for


suspension of cheques, in particular circumstances. Over a


period of time, what has happened is that the authority levels for


those suspensions had become muddled and unclear. There needs to


be a new minimum standard for border checks, a new framework, and


if the 12 recommendations I have made in the report are carried out,


then didn't confident it will improve the level of border


security. And the former Home Secretary David? Is with me now. I


should point out, you were not Home Secretary in the period that was


being talk about, but that does not let you off completely. The Home


Office is a poisoned chalice, isn't it? These things can always


happen... Yes, I have a great deal of sympathy with Damian Green and


Theresa May, or I would have, if the Conservative government had not


been so venomous against ministers in the last government, because


these are difficult issues. Politicians need to be clear that


they are in charge of the policies, but there was a bigger issue here,


which is even more important in the long term, and that is getting a


clarification as to how responsible ministers are for management.


Because in government, I fear to say that very often, they're told


not to be, and then they blame officials, then officials say,


you're blaming us, and we go round in circles. The public want to know,


who's responsible, who's accountable? But the row between


Brodie Clark and Theresa May came to the fore, but that has been


played out from time immemorial in the Home Office, hasn't it? Is it


not the case that the UK Border Agency was unfit for purpose, and


it was set up in Labour's time? was set up in 2007, suspensions did


not take place until 2009. But the number has risen every year since


then. We ended up with a staggering 350, most of them unauthorised. In


January last year, the Immigration Minister, Damian Green, actually


did authorise changes. But they were misunderstood. I think that's


correct. I think they were not clear enough, the policy directives


were not care enough, and the information was not clear enough,


but when I ask Theresa May last November in the House of Commons


about other ministers having authorised these suspensions, she


did not answer my question. Well, Jon Leyne has now answered the


question, and the answer was, yes, ministers did. Do you think it is a


good idea to do this just before the Olympics? No, I do not think


any structural change is a good idea just before the Olympics. It


interrupt what is already in place. I think things have already started


to be put right, and they need to get on with that. I have no


objection in the long term to them splitting it, the real issue is


what we do between now and August. I think the public would understand


that in July and early August, we are going to have the most enormous


flows through our airports. And we are not good at change. In terms of


the risk posed, when the public hears that possibly hundreds of


thousands of people coming through the borders, whether they be


students who had not had proper clearance, or people in the wider


European economic Area, coming in without any checks, is that a wise


thing for ministers ever to have advocated, even in a pilot form?


No,, but if you're going to cut by more than 5,000 the number of


people working in the agency, you're going to end up with these


crises. I would appeal to the Government, think again, our


borders are so important, the immigration policy is so critical


to the public, that continuing with these massive reductions is


inevitably going to end up with managers having to manage, and if


they have to do that by suspending what were critical checks, then we


are all at risk. Except that there were similar pilots put into place


by Labour. Yes, there were six in 2009. I would like to believe that


ministers now know what's going on, I'm not holding my breath.


Certainly, in the case of Theresa May, she seems to have got away


without being mortally wounded, although Scott on this occasion. It


is something I am familiar with, because every single Home Secretary


in recent history has hit the buffers at one point or another.


have to leave it there, thank you very much. The short walk from


Andrew Lansley's office to Downing Street yesterday turned into


something of an ordeal. It is every spin doctor's worst nightmare, what


to do when you're minister gets confronted by a member of the


public. It can be even worse when they are in a scrum of angry


protesters. Andrew Lansley tried politeness, but that did not seem


to work. He is not the First Minister to have this problem.


Here's a reminder of some other politicians getting into trouble


with members of the public. Would you like to tell me what you're


going to do to provide those people with better facilities? That's


exactly what we're going to do. is appalling, if you would just


like to go and have a look at it. am very sorry about it. No, you're


not very sorry, if you work, you would do something about it. You're


saying that, but all these eastern Europeans which are coming in,


where are they coming from? What your manifesto says is that you


want to reverse the bias towards the inclusion of children in


mainstream schools, that's what your manifesto says. I could not


feel more passionate about the subject. I understand that. But I'm


telling you, it is the wrong way to go about it, you're not


representing the needs of children in mainstream education. You're a


Well, we have three guests to discuss what should have been done,


Penny Mordaunt, Mark Littlewood and Paul Richards. What was Andrew


Lansley trying to achieve by walking into that scrum? In those


kind of situations, there is a very limited amount you can do. You can


go in through the back door. But that is not what you want to do.


you were a spin doctor, let's visualise, Number Ten Downing


Street is here, OFFA House is pretty well opposite, you can see


what's going on, would you not decide, you know what, Andrew


Lansley, let's go in the quiet way? I would not, actually, because that


becomes a story in itself. I think you can spend a lot of time


worrying about these sorts of things. I think it is very complex,


the types of situation you might find yourself in. Somebody who has


got a story to tell, who's genuinely upset, and you can engage


with them, or it might be somebody who's just there to make trouble.


It was a public relations disaster, wasn't it? Yes, pretty much, I


think he handled it pretty well in the end, but she he should not have


been in that situation. You would not have let him be in that


situation? Correct, I would have said, this would be about the worst


sort of coverage he could get for his reforms. What is interesting is


that he has been off the air waves. You have to make sure that you are


the spokesman going to all of the Sunday programmes, but in fact, he


ran for cover. He could get his ideas across much better by doing


that, by taking to the airwaves, but not being hijacked by


protesters. What would you have done? I would not have allowed it


to happen, I have stood in that window, in OFFA House, advising the


Secretary of State not to go anywhere near the protesters, there


is a perfectly good back door. You do not go and get hijacked like


this. It looks terrible. Let's have a little look at those pictures


again, and talk about what he should have done. What was he able


to do once he was in that situation. A lot -- I am not letting you go,


no. She is having a real go at him. You said he handled it rather well,


once he was there? Yes, otherwise he would be there for an hour or so.


I think you can say, I'm terribly sorry, I have got to go to a


meeting, I will meet you afterwards. But she said, I am not letting you


go. She is a good Unison union member, she knows what she's doing.


But it just looks awful that the public are now haranguing Cabinet


ministers over this health issue. But it can happen. We saw the


pictures of Tony Blair. Tony was desperate to get off camera, he was


saying to her time and again, step inside. But she did not, she said,


I want to discuss it right here, knowing full well that it was on-


camera. Coming back to your point, is there a case that actually they


should never come into contact with the public and those who oppose


what they're doing, is it a risk worth taking? I think it is, I


think people feel less of politicians who are not prepared to


go and meet them where the rubber hits the road. Shooting in the back


door is not the way to go. I think Andrew handled it well, he tried to


engage with the person. Clearly she was not up for having a


conversation. Do you rehearse it with ministers? If they are going


into these sorts of situations, do you do little role plays and


things? I think as a politician, you have either got it or you


haven't, no amount of preparation... Who has got it? Cameron is very


good at defusing the situation. The problem is that the television


pictures make it look like these are ordinary members of the public,


they are not, these are almost professional protesters. Not always,


but... If Andrew Lansley want to walk around the high street in his


town, meeting people, that's one thing, but you have no -- but you


know you have got organised opponents in this case. Which shows


a bit of naivety. She was not haranguing him, she was putting


forward some sensible views. One strategy is the masochism strategy


which Blair used to adopt, you confront your worst opponents,


someone whose daughter has been killed in the war, and you so cut


the anger, engage with them at that level. But that is very different


from what has been happening with the scrum of reporters, the front


page of the Daily Mirror showing an old lady haranguing a Minister, who


looks out of touch, it is a disaster. Do you think it will be


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