29/02/2012 Daily Politics


29/02/2012

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn with live coverage of prime minister's questions and the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Morning, folks. This is the Daily Politics. Is the Coalition

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disintegrating before our very eyes? Or is it all political

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posturing to save Nick Clegg's skin? It is said public spats over

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health and House of Lords reform are fuelling mistrust between the

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two Coalition parties. We'll be asking, can the coalition stay the

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course? Employers are expected to urge the Government to alter its

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work experience schemes after complaints that young people are

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being exploited. It's a leap year, it's February 29th. Who will be

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asking who the questions at PMQs? We'll have all the action at midday.

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And, as part of its campaign against government cuts, one of

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Britain's biggest unions calls for civil disobedience during the

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Olympics. All that and more coming up in the next 90 minutes. With us

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for the duration we've bagged ourselves a couple of cheap interns.

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Signing up to the unpaid Daily Politics work experience programme

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this week are Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne and Shadow Cabinet

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Office Minister Michael Dugher. us then! You see we have not opted

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out of any government work programme so far. But then we

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haven't opted into anything either. And if you've been a tad confused

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about the Government's different work programmes, don't worry. So

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are we. The Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, is trying to put

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people straight about the whole thing this morning. Representatives

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from dozens of companies are meeting Mr Grayling to discuss

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concerns about the schemes. Several firms have already withdrawn from

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certain programmes after protests that unemployed young people are

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being exploited. We are joined now by Michael Bradley, from Right to

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Work, who has been campaigning against these schemes. Welcome to

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the Daily Politics. Who pays your salary? I am paid by trade unions

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and campaign groups, who give donations against the Right to Work

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campaign. Are you a full-time employee of the Socialist Workers'

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Party? I get money from them. Socialist Workers' Party, its

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policy is against parliamentary democracy. Is that right? It is for

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a revolutionary, Marxist overthrow of the Government? I would argue we

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are for real democracy. Parliamentary democracy does not

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represent people very well. believe in the revolutionary

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overthrow of the British political system? I believe ordinary working

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people should have the ability to control their lives. That is a

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revolution you would like? The sort of thing that is going on in Egypt

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at the moment. I do not think it went too well for you there. He

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said, given you back rank, let me just get the right quote... Of he

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who does not work does not eat? Probably Lenin. He would have

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supported these work-experience schemes. There are 1 million

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unemployed young people in this country at the moment. It took

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protests outside McDonald's and Tesco's to have a serious debate.

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The sort of thing we saw with claimant after claiming showing

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letters they had received from the DWP to show these schemes are

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corrosive. We need to have a serious debate. That is a serious

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point. It took the protests to get this into the public debate. It was

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not the Labour Party, nor the Lib Dems. It certainly was not the

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Conservatives. It took the demonstrations. The scheme was

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working. People were getting opportunities they would not

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otherwise have got. It has not come into public debate in a way that

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has worked well. It has made a number of big companies to have

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second thoughts about Ted. I find this hugely frustrating. I spend a

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lot of time in Asia as a Foreign Office minister. People are looking

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for real opportunities in life. They are trying to establish

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themselves in working life. These schemes are what young people need.

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What a great opportunity to get work experience and no more about

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it! What is wrong with it? Nothing wrong with training schemes and

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work experience. Do not coerce people on to the schemes. Why can't

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they receive a minimum age for doing a 30 L week? McDonald's has a

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turnover of �15 billion. It is hoped this will lead to a job, at

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least on a minimum wage or better. Companies like Tesco's have decided

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they will allow a minimum wage. Despite government figures of 50%

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success rate, there is no real evidence of this battle. The only

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examples we have are the for 200 people who went on to the scheme

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that Tesco and 300 you got a job. Everybody is in favour of training

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schemes and work experience. Do not coerce people. What would be wrong

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with a bit of coercion? These people are living on benefits that

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the rest of the tax payers pay. Ed Miliband has said we cannot have a

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something for nothing society. It has to be something for something.

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What is wrong with saying, if you're taking benefits, we were not

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take them away but we would like you to do some work experience. We

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think that could lead to a job. are in favour of work experience.

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The New Deal was a tougher scheme. The reason why it is really

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important is it is not just about skills for work, it is about soft

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skills - making sure that people are not losing the habit of getting

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up in the morning and arriving at work. It has to be a proper pathway

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to a real job. Labour keeps on saying mess. You cannot guarantee

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that work experience will lead to a real job. You can say, if it gives

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you some of the softer skills about the work force, then it will help

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you. It is not an apprenticeship. What you can also do is make sure

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there when people are on a placement, they are not locked in

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for too long just doing the placement. They need time to do a

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proper job search as well. cannot Micra manage that! You can.

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You can have an agreement between the JobCentre, the job-seeker and

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the employer. If someone still has time to look for a full-time job,

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if they get offered a job they can come off the placement. No one

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objects to any body campaigning. You do not just campaign or stand

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outside shops you think are behaving badly over work experience.

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You invade them. You tried to close them down. You break the law.

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agree with the statement made by Len McCluskey. If working people

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are not being represented by politicians, they should have the

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right to take industrial action and they should have the right to civil

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disobedience. Do you really think it's right? You have put forward

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your case. You could stand outside McDonald's, Tesco's, or whichever

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shop has attracted your ire and you could speak to people going in. You

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could hand out leaflets. You could shout. You do not do that. You

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intimidate people from going in. Correct? The LEA fitting process it,

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putting placards outside, is what is going on. If there had not been

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an occupation of Tesco's or McDonald's, we would not be sitting

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around this table. The usual political discourse that should go

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on in this country, those of ordinary people have been abandoned.

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You think you are within your rights to disrupt trade and to

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intimidate customers? intimidation at all has gone on.

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There is long tradition in Britain dating back to the suffragettes and

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so on. If politicians do not represent you, you have to take

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industrial action or take action ourselves. Is this the start of a

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revolutionary moment? It is a process in British society with

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health, pensions and taxes, ordinary people were not take it

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anymore. Britain's biggest union has threatened to disrupt the

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London Olympics as part of its battle against cuts to public

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sector pensions. Len McClusky, the General Secretary of Unite, urged

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other unions opposed to the Coalition's pension plans and

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austerity measures to also target the Olympics. He also called on the

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public to back the unions by engaging in all forms of civil

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disobedience within the law during the Games. Well, this is what the

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Conservative Chairman, Baroness Warsi, said - that Len McCluskey's

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comments were appalling. Comments like this have far reaching

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ramifications, not just in relation to the culture they create in the

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country at a time when the Olympics are on time and on budget and

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everyone is preparing for this celebration. We do not want people

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looking at Britain and thinking, well I be said? Will the service's

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work? And to send out these messages in this year are deeply

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irresponsible, hugely selfish. I am delighted that some members from

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the Labour Party are beginning to come out and distance themselves. I

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would like to see it Ed Miliband condemn these comments and distance

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himself from them and ask Len McCluskey to retract them. Are you

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distancing yourself from these comments? Last night, Tessa Jowell,

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the shadow Olympics Minister, made the position absolutely clear. I

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made a comment on Twitter this morning. Ed Miliband has made his

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position clear, that it is totally unacceptable. Len McCluskey is the

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General Secretary of Unite. The policies of Unite are up to the

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union. As Jeremy Brown is implying, the financial links between Labour

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and Unite are clear. They have the biggest financial backer. If you

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think it is so disposal, get him to retract them. People like Jeremy

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says we're in the pockets of the unions where we agree with them. We

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have made it clear, we do not think it is acceptable. It is not in the

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interests of Unite members. We are not going to cut links with people

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who work the factory floors, work in hospitals. Kid you not say, we

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are financed by the union but we do not agree with what it says?

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will say that. Labour Party campaigns relied and healthily on

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funding from the union. We have seen the Labour Party checked with

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the unions before tabling amendments, questions in the House

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of Commons to make sure that the unions approve of what Labour is

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doing in the House of Commons. The idea that there is a distance

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between the union that made Ed Miliband the leader of the Labour

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Party and Ed Miliband being able to act freely from the union, no one

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believes that. Donors do things that political parties do not like.

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The Labour Party have vastly more money than the Liberal Democrats

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because they get huge amounts of tied donations from the unions. It

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comes with votes at Labour conferences, selection of the

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Labour leader. There are tens of thousands of politicians around the

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camp a -- country who have put themselves forward so to help with

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the Olympic Games. The fact that Unite wants to sabotage the games,

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along with the Labour Party... do not think you can say that.

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have an honest relationship with a number of trade unions. I will not

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apologise for the historic links of the Labour Party with working

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people. It is an honest relationship. We can say, we do not

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agree with you. It is not right for the country. Ed Miliband has made

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that clear. We have made our position absolutely clear. What

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will you do as a government with the disobedience and strikes?

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will put contingency measures in place. A lot of people will have

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cause for great alarm. We need to make sure they remain a celebration.

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Millions of people want the Games to be a success. Now, the evenings

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are getting lighter, the weather is getting warmer, spring is in the

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air. So, it's time for the political party spring conferences!

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Even I do not have to go to them. But, as the Conservatives meet this

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weekend, and the Lib Dems get ready to assemble next weekend, the

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tensions between the parties have once again risen. The last few

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weeks have seen coalition waters get ever more choppy. Other parties

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drifting apart? In the latest Lib Dem intervention on a Health Bill,

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Nick Clegg wrote to MPs and peers of principle for more amendments.

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He said we want to see changes made to the Bill. The official spokesman

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of the Prime Minister said, we do not see any need for any further

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significant changes to the Bill. Another story is the House of Lords

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reform. It is a totemic Lib Dem policy. Over 80 Conservative

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backbenchers will try to scupper the introduction of elected peers.

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Lord Matthew Oakeshott said the Conservatives could kiss goodbye to

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propose changes to constituency boundaries that could favour the

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Conservatives. There are other clouds on the horizon. The

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Government is calling for the European our Convention of Human

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Rights to be rewritten. Many Lib Dems are happy with how it operates.

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I am joined by Philip Davies and Andrew George. Should Nick Clegg

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really be conducting, effectively, a campaign against government

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legislation, when he is the Deputy Prime Minister in terms of writing

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to Lib Dem peers and MPs about concessions under members to the

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No, his responsibility is to support the Government. Those of us

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who want to disagree we sit on the back benchers. -- backbenches. He

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can't be part of the Government when he wants and part of the

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opposition. Andrew George, isn't this all posturing? There are no

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real concessions? This was to save his own skin? I think there have

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been some important concessions. It's made the bill less bad, but

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not good enough yet to pass. I disagree with Philip. I think one

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of the great things about this being the first coalition in living

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memory is that we are in unchartered waters and I think it's

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great that we are having debates in open rather than behind closed

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doors of the Cabinet and that in fact it enables the whole country

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to take part in the kind of debates which really - that allow

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Parliament to hold the Government to account. What happens to

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collective responsibility then? Well, is that such an important

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thing, or is it more important to make sure there is genuine debate

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in the country and people can see the process by which political

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decisions are taken? I don't think it damages the coalition or the

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strength of the Government. I think the Government is doing a very good

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job and I think it's doing a doubly good job because it's enabling open

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debate. Collective responsibility isn't that important and on Lords

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reform there are many who won't support those proposals? Well, yeah,

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but we are backbenchers. We are not part of the Government. We are not

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picking and choosing as a minister what we'll support and what we are

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not. That is the job and that is what we intend. Rather than running

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a Government within a government. How important is the reform?

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not sure it's as important as some people make out and I think that,

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my own personal opinion, is that we should approach the opinion of

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Lords reform considering first what we want, if we want, a second

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chamber. It's only after we have answered that question, what do we

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need a second cham ber for, is it for -- chamber for, is it for

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scrutiny, then in which case some of the options under the reform

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proposals coming out of Government I think will actually cause debate

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across the parties. Briefly, in the next election would you like to see

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joint coalition candidates? Philip Davies? Absolutely not, no.

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Gentlemen, thank you. Speaking of unsurprising stories, we just heard

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two there. The Prime Minister has condemned Len McClusky now. That is

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also filed under least surprising story of the day. We are joined by

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:19:16.:19:17.

let's call them the coalition eJanke lists. -- evangelist. The

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Conservative MP, Nick Boles. I was trying to think of that American

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movie, where there was the great evangelist there and he talked in

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tongues. Held snakes. You've not done that. No. Let's see if we can

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help you here. On this Health Bill now, with Nick Clegg and Shirley

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Williams with this posturing letter, it's licence dissident isn't it?

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think what British people want us to do is get on with the bill and

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get it into law and get on the job of improving the NHS and dealing

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with the big challenges that are coming up, integrating social care

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and healthcare to make a real difference. It's licenced dissent,

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isn't it? The House of Lords has to pass legislation and they are

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entitled to put forward amendments and I think the Prime Minister's

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made clear that so long as they are about clarifying the intent that is

:20:07.:20:12.

already in there in the bill, not changing the fundamental measures,

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then that is something - That's undergraded the role of competition.

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We had the health minister telling Nick Robinson on the news last

:20:21.:20:25.

night he's had a complete rethink about the role of competition. That

:20:25.:20:29.

is not clarifying, but rewriting? It's not true. That's what he said.

:20:29.:20:32.

It's always been clear that what works in competition and what works

:20:32.:20:37.

with the reforms that the last Government brought in, was on fixed

:20:37.:20:42.

price and the LSE did research and discovered that helps increase

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standards. What doesn't work is competition on price. The original

:20:47.:20:51.

draft of the bill perhaps wasn't as clear as it could have been on that.

:20:51.:20:53.

What the Lords have done, they've made that clearer. We have accepted

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it in the Commons. If they need slightly different language to make

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it even clearer, than that won't cause any problem. Is there anyone

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who wants to keep this on the road? The coalition is very important for

:21:04.:21:08.

the national interest. This country is teetering on the brink of a

:21:08.:21:11.

disaster. Many European countries have slipped over that brink. We

:21:11.:21:14.

have not, because two parties came together to do some very difficult

:21:14.:21:21.

things. One of the difficult things and you agree in principle, but the

:21:21.:21:24.

coalition agreement doesn't lay down what the proposals would be,

:21:24.:21:30.

House of Lords reform. How many Conservative backbenchers will

:21:30.:21:35.

oppose the reform? I think there will be clearly some rebellions. I

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don't think there will be so many that it threatens our majority. We

:21:39.:21:43.

are hoping that the Labour Party will support the reforms, given

:21:43.:21:50.

they have - Will they support Nick Clegg? Our manifesto commitment was

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for 100% elected House of Lords. I think we need to reserve judgment

:21:54.:22:00.

until we see what the proposals are from the Government. We don't know

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what the Government proposals are. 80% over a period of time will be

:22:06.:22:10.

elected and a chamber of 450. is a massive change. There are

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different views. I know that. What about your views? We are saying

:22:18.:22:22.

it's not unreasonable to wait until the Government puts the proposals

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out there. Would you be in favour of an elected chamber in which -- a

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second chamber in which 80% is elected? Our manifesto commitment.

:22:32.:22:37.

Never mind that. I'm asking you. It's 100%. Your view? I'm saying

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that my view is that we stood on a manifesto and some of us -

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haven't made up your mind? Yes. are the Government. We'll wait to

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see the proposals. Our manifesto is 100%. Depressing, isn't it? Not

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even in favour of democracy. We'll let our viewers pick up on that.

:23:01.:23:06.

Why not talk about your manifesto? It's such a reactionary party.

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puttier manifesto in the bin and broke the promises. You had your

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chance to answer the question. Let me ask you this - was it -- the

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boundary changes that the Conservatives are keen on, was the

:23:22.:23:28.

deal with the Lib Dems, was the AV referendum for the boundary changes

:23:28.:23:33.

or is it the House of Lords for the boundary changes? I haven't been

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involved in any deals. You are getting as bad as him. I support

:23:37.:23:42.

the changes on their own merits. understand that. It's better to

:23:42.:23:49.

have fewer MPs. You see, on the Sunday Politics, we had this debate

:23:49.:23:53.

between Matthew Oakeshott and Philip Davies there and Matthew

:23:53.:23:57.

Oakeshott said if you don't give us reform of the House of Lords we

:23:58.:24:01.

won't give you the boundary changes. He speaks for himself. I understand

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that. What I'm trying to ask was, what was the prid pro quo? I'm in

:24:08.:24:14.

favour of AV referendum. Oh, no. listen. I'm in favour of AV and the

:24:14.:24:18.

boundary changes and Lords reform and I voted for all three. There

:24:18.:24:28.
:24:28.:24:28.

was no deal. There is no trade-off. I support all three independently.

:24:28.:24:33.

The Conservatives I have spoken to -- I just voted for what I believed

:24:33.:24:37.

in. Some have thought that the boundary changes had been in return

:24:37.:24:40.

for the AV referendum and you've had that. Is that true or not?

:24:40.:24:45.

don't know whether they think that or not. I think it's the

:24:45.:24:47.

understanding in the Parliamentary party, but we have a commitment in

:24:47.:24:50.

the programme of Government for the coalition to bring forward a bill

:24:50.:24:53.

on the House of Lords reform. We had a commitment in our manifesto,

:24:53.:25:00.

as did the others, for a democratic chamber. It was not Lords reform,

:25:00.:25:04.

so even if your party can't deliver Lords reform you still think you

:25:04.:25:10.

should get the boundary changes? Yes, because as Jeremy said they

:25:10.:25:14.

are independent in themselves. Matthew Oakeshott is a licenced

:25:14.:25:19.

grenade thrower for the party. They don't make party policy. They are

:25:19.:25:23.

out there to broaden the envelope of debate. I wasn't holding him up

:25:23.:25:30.

as the font of all wisdom. opportunity -- there's only four

:25:30.:25:34.

Prime Ministers alive and I had the opportunity to talk with John Major,

:25:34.:25:38.

which was a privilege and I asked him about the coalition. He thought

:25:38.:25:46.

it was the better than when he was Prime Minister. We'll leave it here

:25:46.:25:50.

and move on. Gentlemen, thank you. We'll move on to something a little

:25:50.:25:55.

lighter. Now, as it's the 29th February, I'm going to read the

:25:55.:25:59.

next link. There's been uproar after it's been reported in the

:25:59.:26:02.

Daily Mail that Woking Borough Council has spent �30,000 on

:26:02.:26:04.

Diamond Jubilee mugs for all their primary schoolchildren, despite

:26:04.:26:09.

being heavily in debt. Mugs indeed! Especially when all they really had

:26:09.:26:13.

to do if they wanted a piece of high-class crockery, that could be

:26:13.:26:16.

passed down from generation to generation to help remember a

:26:16.:26:23.

golden age, was of course... Enter the Guess the Year competition.

:26:23.:26:27.

Someone who I imagine will be quite cross to hear about this is the

:26:27.:26:30.

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles. You may remember after we discussed

:26:30.:26:39.

him last week, he tweeted this, "I claim my tag, cough up at AF Neil."

:26:39.:26:44.

We are pretty strict about giving away mugs. You've all been warned,

:26:44.:26:49.

but just this once. Eric Pickles we got your request, so I'm proud to

:26:49.:26:53.

present you with a mug for your big lunch. I could not be happier. Let

:26:53.:27:00.

us check where it is made. I hope it's a British mug. I could not be

:27:00.:27:05.

happier! I regard this as the pinnical of political success!

:27:05.:27:10.

said he couldn't get a mug unless he came on the programme.

:27:10.:27:13.

Apparently I'm going to be reminding you how to enter, but

:27:13.:27:22.

let's see if you can remember when this happened.

:27:22.:27:32.

# Bad boys, stick together, never sad boys... #

:27:32.:27:38.

# Give me your money just give me your money #. It's like toy money.

:27:38.:27:45.

Not impressed. Too heavy in my purse.

:27:45.:27:55.
:27:55.:28:09.

# I hopped into my car... # MUSIC # What a feeling

:28:09.:28:17.

# I can have it all, now I'm dancing for my life... #

:28:17.:28:26.

# Gold, always believe in your soul # You've got the power to know... #

:28:26.:28:36.
:28:36.:28:41.

So, to be in with a chance of winning the mug send your answer to

:28:41.:28:51.
:28:51.:28:53.

our special quiz e-mail address: You can see all the conditions -

:28:53.:29:03.
:29:03.:29:04.

yawn, yawn - six committees have looked at it. Go to the website! It

:29:04.:29:10.

will be up on the screen somewhere! 23 boxes have been ticked. Let's

:29:10.:29:16.

move on. It's coming up to midday. We'll look at Big Ben. It's Prime

:29:16.:29:20.

Minister's questions. There it is. That's not all. Nick is here after

:29:20.:29:27.

his splin did interview last night with the health -- splendid

:29:27.:29:32.

interview with the health last night. The competition -- the

:29:32.:29:36.

Health Secretary last night. The competition will be there. All MPs

:29:36.:29:40.

will have been told talking about Len McClusky as much and as often

:29:41.:29:44.

as possible. It's a gift to the coalition. I think there will be a

:29:44.:29:49.

contest between two stories. Maybe the gift that keeps on giving.

:29:49.:29:55.

suspect it will. Len likes a turn of phrase. People tell us we

:29:55.:29:58.

shouldn't be like Greece. What's wrong with Greece? The food is

:29:58.:30:05.

great and the weather superb and they have general strikes. Len is a

:30:05.:30:08.

man with a lively turn of phrase, but if you were sitting in Ed

:30:08.:30:13.

Miliband's office at the moment you might think he would have thought

:30:13.:30:17.

more carefully before opening his mouth. I watched the interview on

:30:17.:30:22.

the news with the Health Secretary. He seemed to do and this might be a

:30:22.:30:25.

slight exaggeration, but a U-turn in regard to competition, but just

:30:25.:30:31.

as a viewer, watching him, he seemed to me to be - to say a

:30:31.:30:37.

broken man would be an exaggeration, but he seemed subdued and exhausted

:30:37.:30:41.

and how did I ever get into this? He's weary of it. There has been

:30:41.:30:46.

more scrutiny for this bill. The number of days and amendments. It's

:30:46.:30:51.

a record. They thought they were through and more amendments now.

:30:51.:30:55.

The change on competition, be clear, is over years not days, weeks or

:30:55.:30:58.

months. What he is saying when he became Shadow Health Secretary he

:30:58.:31:02.

thought you could have competition on price and he was persuaded after

:31:02.:31:05.

becoming Health Secretary that that was a bad idea and in theory at

:31:05.:31:09.

least the competition is on quality only. We'll see if it is four times

:31:09.:31:19.
:31:19.:31:28.

According to Revenue and Customs, some families earning just 13,000

:31:28.:31:36.

ear bullies over �1,000 a year in tax credits from April. -- a year

:31:36.:31:44.

will lose over �1,000 a year. Did he mislead the public? What we have

:31:44.:31:48.

done is increase tax credits for the lowest paid people in our

:31:48.:31:53.

country. We have lifted over a million low-paid people out of

:31:53.:31:57.

income tax altogether by raising the personal allowance. If he is

:31:57.:32:02.

worried about taxation issues, he should have a word with Ken

:32:02.:32:11.

Livingstone, and asked if he will pay his taxes. Many Irish people

:32:11.:32:17.

were moved by what the Prime Minister said about Bloody Sunday.

:32:17.:32:22.

Is it becoming increasingly clear that eurozone support for Ireland

:32:22.:32:27.

is conditional on them saying less in their referendum? Will the Prime

:32:27.:32:32.

Minister's support Ireland whatever it decides? We are certainly very

:32:32.:32:35.

good friends of the Republic of Ireland and the people of the

:32:35.:32:40.

Republic of Ireland. It is their choice to sign the treaty and their

:32:40.:32:45.

choice to have a referendum on that treaty. People's views in a

:32:45.:32:55.
:32:55.:32:56.

referendum should be respected. Speaker, before turning to other

:32:56.:33:01.

matters, does the Prime Minister agreed that the allegations by

:33:01.:33:04.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Leveson Inquiry about

:33:04.:33:09.

widespread corrupt behaviour at the heart of the pressure and police a

:33:09.:33:13.

devastating and such behaviour can have no place in the national

:33:13.:33:17.

institution of our country? Does he further agree that this underlines

:33:17.:33:21.

the importance of the police inquiries which should get to the

:33:21.:33:24.

bottom of the allegations without fear or favour and the Leveson

:33:24.:33:28.

Inquiry itself? I completely agree with the right honourable gentleman

:33:28.:33:33.

about this issue. There is all- party support for the Leveson

:33:33.:33:38.

Inquiry, which needs to get on with its work which it is conducting in

:33:38.:33:43.

a thorough way. Also proper support for the police inquiry. Of course

:33:43.:33:48.

there is always a debate about what is right for newspapers to do to

:33:48.:33:52.

get stories in the public interest but it is hard to think of any

:33:53.:33:57.

circumstances in which it is right for police officers to take money.

:33:57.:34:03.

Can I thank him for that answer? On the Leveson Inquiry, can I ask in

:34:03.:34:06.

the weeks and months ahead to ensure that none of his senior

:34:06.:34:11.

ministers do anything to undermine its work? Would he accept that the

:34:11.:34:15.

Education Secretary was billed judge to say last week that the

:34:15.:34:22.

inquiry is hoeing a chilling effect on freedom of expression? -- is

:34:22.:34:25.

having. Will he disassociate himself with these colleagues and

:34:25.:34:31.

urge his colleagues not to undermine the Leveson Inquiry?

:34:31.:34:36.

answered this question last week. The Education Secretary, as the

:34:36.:34:40.

rest of the Cabinet fully support the Leveson Inquiry. They wanted to

:34:40.:34:46.

proceed with the very important work it does. That is the position

:34:46.:34:50.

of the Education Secretary and the position of the entire government.

:34:50.:34:54.

I do thank the Prime Minister for that answer. The Education

:34:54.:34:57.

Secretary said the big picture is there is a chilling atmosphere

:34:57.:35:01.

towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around

:35:01.:35:05.

Levison. I hope the Education Secretary will have heard the words

:35:05.:35:09.

of the Prime Minister of the start let me move on from one area where

:35:09.:35:12.

I hope they can be cross-party agreement to an area where there is

:35:12.:35:19.

not. On Sunday, the man who ran the NHS for six years, said about the

:35:19.:35:24.

prime minister's bill, it is a mess. It is unnecessary. It misses the

:35:24.:35:29.

point. It is confused and confusing and is setting the NHS back. Why

:35:29.:35:33.

does the Prime Minister believes that with every week that goes by,

:35:33.:35:39.

there are more damning indictments of the NHS bill? Let me make one

:35:39.:35:42.

further point Macro about the Leveson Inquiry. What my right

:35:42.:35:47.

honourable friend, the Education Secretary was saying, what is

:35:47.:35:51.

important for all of us in this House to say, while these inquiries

:35:51.:35:56.

are going on, I think it is important for politicians who come

:35:57.:36:01.

on and benefit at times when the press is less hard-hitting than in

:36:01.:36:06.

recent years, it is important for us to say we support a free,

:36:06.:36:11.

vibrant, robust press. That is an important point and that is what he

:36:11.:36:17.

is saying. Turning to the health reforms, the right honourable

:36:17.:36:20.

gentleman did actually say something last week that I agreed

:36:20.:36:26.

with. He said the NHS will have to change because of the rise of the

:36:26.:36:32.

age of the population, to -- because of the rise in long-term

:36:32.:36:36.

conditions and the rise in expectations and cost. He is right

:36:36.:36:39.

it has to reform. The problem for the Labour Party is they are

:36:40.:36:45.

against the money that needs to go into the NHS, which they say is

:36:45.:36:48.

irresponsible. They supported competition and choice in the past

:36:48.:36:54.

but they do not support it any more. Mr Speaker, he seems to have

:36:54.:36:59.

forgotten the question I asked. It was about Nigel Crisp, who ran a

:36:59.:37:03.

health service for six years. He was the chief executive of the

:37:03.:37:07.

National Health Service. He says the bill is a mess and confusing.

:37:07.:37:13.

Let me ask about somebody else who appeared on the Conservative

:37:13.:37:22.

Party's platform of the spring conference in 2010. He hosted a

:37:22.:37:25.

Health Secretary's health speech and he advised the Labour

:37:25.:37:29.

government and he is a GP at the head of the clinical commissioning

:37:29.:37:33.

group in Tower Hamlets. He said, we care deeply about the patients we

:37:33.:37:38.

see every day. We believe the improver we all want to see in the

:37:38.:37:44.

NHS can be achieved without the bureaucracy generated by this Bell.

:37:44.:37:49.

They say no. This man is in charge of a clinical commissioning group.

:37:49.:37:53.

Isn't it time you recognised he has lost the confidence even of the GPs

:37:53.:38:00.

he says wants to be at the heart of his reform? There are 8200 GP

:38:00.:38:04.

practices covering 95% of the country implementing the health

:38:04.:38:11.

reforms. That is what they want to see happen. He asked me if I will

:38:11.:38:17.

be sent to those people who run the NHS over the last decade. -- I will

:38:17.:38:23.

listen. Let me give him a selection of people and what they think of

:38:23.:38:26.

competition. Log das I said, the right competition for the right

:38:26.:38:35.

reasons can drive us to do more. This is what John Hatton said. They

:38:35.:38:41.

do not want to listen to Labour ministers! Competition can make the

:38:41.:38:46.

NHS more equitable. That is the view of a Labour Secretary of State.

:38:46.:38:51.

What about an adviser to the last government whose specific date

:38:51.:38:55.

looked at competition. He said, the measure the effects of competition

:38:55.:38:59.

have not been trivial. The introduction of competition within

:38:59.:39:06.

the NHS could be credited with saving hundreds of lives. The truth

:39:06.:39:11.

is, he does not want to listen to past Labour ministers because he is

:39:11.:39:17.

taking a totally opportunistic position in opposition to their

:39:17.:39:23.

spell. -- this Bill. The reason we think that 95% of GPs are now

:39:23.:39:30.

having to implement part of these changes is that he has imposed them.

:39:30.:39:35.

One doctor the text -- addresses this in the last line of his letter.

:39:35.:39:40.

He says, your government has interpreted our commitment to

:39:40.:39:47.

patients and support for the bill. It is not. 98% of the Royal College

:39:47.:39:52.

of GPs oppose the bill. I have to say, it is hard to keep track of

:39:52.:39:58.

opposition to this Bill. In the last seven days alone, the Royal

:39:58.:40:01.

College of Physicians have caught their first emergency general

:40:01.:40:06.

meeting in their history about the Bill. He has lost the support of

:40:06.:40:10.

the British Geriatrics Society and the Royal College of paediatrics

:40:10.:40:14.

and Child Health. Every week that goes by, more and more health care

:40:14.:40:18.

organisations come out against this Bill. Can the Prime Minister gives

:40:18.:40:23.

that has a list of significant health organisations who are still

:40:23.:40:30.

wholehearted supporters of the Bill? He specifically said... It

:40:30.:40:35.

this is important. The Prime Minister has been asked a question.

:40:35.:40:41.

Let's hear the answer. He said that 98% of GPs oppose the reforms.

:40:41.:40:48.

was the figure. Beth we give him the actual figures. There are

:40:48.:40:54.

44,000 members of the Royal College of GPs. Out of a total of 44,000,

:40:54.:41:02.

just 7% responded opposing the Bill. 7%! What about the Royal College of

:41:02.:41:10.

physiotherapists? 50,000 were College of physiotherapists, 2%.

:41:10.:41:16.

2%! I know that is enough for the unions to elect to leader of the

:41:16.:41:26.
:41:26.:41:28.

Labour Party but that is about as far as it will go. Mr Speaker...

:41:28.:41:36.

They are obviously well trained today, Mr Speaker. Let me tell them,

:41:36.:41:40.

their support for the Health Bill is digging their own burial at the

:41:40.:41:48.

next general election. Now, I did ask him a specific question. I know

:41:48.:41:54.

by now he does not like to answer the questions. I asked him a simple

:41:54.:42:00.

point, who supports this Bill? No answer came from this Prime

:42:00.:42:06.

Minister. Let me refresh his memory as to who opposes the Bill. There

:42:06.:42:11.

is no need for the Deputy Prime Minister to be smacking. He

:42:11.:42:19.

supports the Bill. He supports it, Mr Speaker. There is firm

:42:19.:42:23.

leadership for you. Mr Speaker, let me refresh his memory as to those

:42:23.:42:29.

who want the Bill withdrawn. The Royal College of GPs, the Royal

:42:29.:42:33.

College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal

:42:34.:42:38.

College of radiologists, the Faculty of Public Health, the

:42:38.:42:42.

Chartered Society of physiotherapists, the Community

:42:42.:42:47.

Practitioners and Health Visitors Association and the Patients'

:42:47.:42:57.

Association. Mr Speaker, doesn't it ever occurred to him... Mr Speaker,

:42:57.:43:01.

doesn't it ever occurred to him but just maybe they are right and he is

:43:01.:43:11.

wrong? -- that just may be. didn't mention the National

:43:11.:43:15.

Association of primary care, the Association of Chief executives and

:43:15.:43:18.

voluntary organisations supporting the Bill, the foundation trusts

:43:18.:43:28.
:43:28.:43:31.

network supporting the bill. Lord Darzai, Labour minister. For weeks

:43:31.:43:36.

in a row of the NHS questions but not a single question of substance

:43:36.:43:44.

- not one. All about process -- process and politics. We all know

:43:44.:43:49.

it is leap year. Maybe just this once and get to ask the question.

:43:49.:43:59.
:43:59.:44:00.

We all know what he is against but what is he for? Thank you Mr

:44:00.:44:06.

Speaker. In my area, there are plans for 120 metre high wind

:44:06.:44:13.

turbine is between the beautiful villages just than a mile apart.

:44:13.:44:16.

Does the Prime Minister agree that such giant turbine should not be

:44:16.:44:21.

built so close to residential areas without local people having a say?

:44:21.:44:28.

We do want to see a balanced energy policy. There are two changes we

:44:28.:44:33.

are making which will be welcomed. We are cutting the subsidy to

:44:33.:44:38.

onshore wind. It has been over subsidised and wasteful of public

:44:38.:44:43.

money. When the localism at fully comes into place, it will give

:44:43.:44:47.

local communities a greater say over issues like wind turbines. We

:44:47.:44:51.

try to do that earlier by abolishing the regional special

:44:51.:44:55.

strategies the last government put into place. We lost back case in

:44:55.:45:01.

the court and we need the localism act to come into force. The Prime

:45:01.:45:05.

Minister answered the question to might honourable member for

:45:05.:45:09.

Hammersmith with a little more abuse than we wanted. Does he

:45:09.:45:17.

recognise there are 200 couples in his own constituency who will lose

:45:17.:45:25.

working tax credit, possibly to the level of �3,800 or more? Can he say

:45:25.:45:35.
:45:35.:45:36.

how would he answer those couples We have had to take difficult

:45:36.:45:39.

decisions because of the deficit. In taking those we have protected

:45:40.:45:44.

the poorest families by increasing the child tax credit. We have also

:45:44.:45:49.

held the poorest, who are in work, by lifting one million people out

:45:49.:45:53.

of income tax. The question is back to Labour. You left us with this

:45:53.:46:01.

mess. What would you do about it? This summer, in my constituency as

:46:01.:46:05.

Gloucester, as everywhere around the country, people will be looking

:46:05.:46:09.

forward to the start of the Olympic Games in our country. A great

:46:09.:46:13.

opportunity to celebrate ow well the UK manages the great global

:46:13.:46:17.

events, but not everybody sees it as that sort of an opportunity. The

:46:17.:46:21.

General Secretary of Unite sees it as an opportunity for a general

:46:21.:46:24.

strike. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that nothing could be

:46:24.:46:28.

further from the spirit of the Olympics? Nothing could do more

:46:28.:46:35.

damage to the reputation of our country? Thank you. I think my

:46:35.:46:41.

honourable friend speaks for the whole country when he says what the

:46:41.:46:46.

General Secretary said "I'm calling upon the general public to engage

:46:46.:46:51.

in civil disobedience." Let's remember, it's the biggest, single

:46:51.:46:55.

donor to the party opposite, providing around one third of their

:46:55.:46:58.

money and had more role than anybody else in putting the right

:46:58.:47:02.

honourable gentleman in his place. It's not good for them just to put

:47:02.:47:11.

out a tweet. They need to condemn this utterly and start helping.

:47:11.:47:16.

top-down re-organisation of the NHS, no reduction in front-line police

:47:16.:47:20.

officers, and no cuts to tax credits for low-income families.

:47:20.:47:23.

Why does the Prime Minister find it so hard to keep his promises to the

:47:23.:47:28.

British public? We promised to increase spending on the NHS. We

:47:28.:47:33.

are boosting spending. We promised the cancer drugs fund and it's

:47:33.:47:37.

10,000 people who have had extra drugs through the fund. We promised

:47:37.:47:41.

to have doctors growing faster than the number of brewer cats and since

:47:41.:47:45.

the election the number -- bureaucrats and since the election

:47:45.:47:48.

the number is up. That's what coalition policies are doing for

:47:48.:47:56.

the Health Service. Will the Prime Minister close the loophole for

:47:56.:48:00.

multi-national companies that allows the migrant cap to be

:48:00.:48:06.

flouted using Inter company transfers, or is this another

:48:06.:48:12.

policy that would fall victim to the curse of Nick Clegg? I think on

:48:12.:48:17.

this one my honourable friend is being unfair. We do have a tough

:48:17.:48:22.

migrant cap for migrant workers. Business said how important it was

:48:22.:48:26.

to have intercompany transfers, but only at relatively high salary

:48:26.:48:28.

levels. That is what we have put in place. I think that demonstrates

:48:29.:48:32.

that over time we'll be able to both control immigration, but do so

:48:32.:48:39.

in a way that doesn't damage business. We now know that the

:48:39.:48:43.

Government was made aware of fraud allegations at A4E before the Prime

:48:43.:48:50.

Minister appointed that company's chairman as his family Czar. As the

:48:50.:48:53.

Prime Minister is in danger of requiring a reputation for ill-

:48:53.:48:57.

judged personal appointments, bill he tell the House what independent

:48:58.:49:01.

checks he believes should be carried out before such

:49:01.:49:05.

appointments are made and whether any were carried out in respect of

:49:05.:49:09.

Emma Harrison? Let me be absolutely clear. I was not aware of any

:49:09.:49:13.

allegations of irregularities when she became an adviser to the

:49:13.:49:16.

Government on troubled families. At the time she was appointed there

:49:16.:49:22.

were no formal investigations into A4E, just the company's own probe

:49:22.:49:25.

into irregularities. I do think this issue needs to be properly

:49:25.:49:29.

dealt with. I'm concerned that subsequent to her appointment

:49:29.:49:34.

information needed to be passed up the line more rapid l to ministers.

:49:34.:49:40.

I've asked the Cabinet Secretary -- rapidly to ministers. I've asked

:49:40.:49:44.

the Cabinet Secretary to look into it. He perhaps might want to put

:49:44.:49:49.

into his question that Emma Harrison was given a CBE by the

:49:49.:49:56.

last Government. Of course, all of the allegations that are being made

:49:56.:50:01.

are all intercontracts that the Government handed out. A little

:50:01.:50:06.

more transparency about that might be a good thing. Will the Prime

:50:06.:50:13.

Minister join me in paying tribute to the courage of Paul Conroy who

:50:13.:50:17.

was injured showing the world the horrors of the Syrian regime and

:50:17.:50:20.

thanking all those who helped to secure his safe possessage to

:50:20.:50:24.

Lebanon? I certainly join the honourable lady. It is very

:50:24.:50:29.

important, the role that the media do in being in very difficult

:50:29.:50:34.

places, like in Homs, in Syria, to brick the truth and news to the

:50:34.:50:38.

world -- bring the truth and news to the world. That is what Paul

:50:38.:50:43.

Conroy was doing. I pay tribute to him and above all pay tribute to

:50:43.:50:47.

the very brave people who helped to get him out of Syria, many of whom

:50:47.:50:50.

have paid an incredibly high price. I can tell the House that Paul

:50:51.:50:56.

Conroy is now safe. He's been in our embassy in Beirut in Lebanon.

:50:56.:50:59.

He's been properly looked after and I'm sure that soon he will want to

:50:59.:51:05.

come home. Last October the Chancellor announced a new policy

:51:05.:51:08.

called credit easing. Can he tell us how many businesses have been

:51:08.:51:14.

helped? The Chancellor said at the time of the statement that the

:51:14.:51:18.

policy would be in place at the time of the Budget that is what

:51:18.:51:28.
:51:28.:51:32.

will happen. THE SPEAKER: Order: Thank you, Mr Speaker. High streets

:51:32.:51:37.

across the country, including those in low soft in my constituentcy,

:51:37.:51:40.

are facing tough trading conditions at present, including the prospect

:51:40.:51:45.

of a 5.6% increase in business rates. Can the Prime Minister

:51:45.:51:50.

outline what the Government are doing to support traders, to enable

:51:50.:51:55.

hem to grow their businesses and to create jobs? I think the honourable

:51:56.:51:58.

gentleman is right to raise this. There are real concerns about the

:51:58.:52:01.

hollowing out of some of the high streets and number of empty

:52:01.:52:05.

properties. What we have done is doubled small business rate relieve

:52:05.:52:10.

schemes and that has helped an estimated 330,000 small firms and

:52:10.:52:13.

removing legal red tape requiring rate payers to fill in paperwork to

:52:13.:52:18.

claim that relief, which Labour refused to do in office. Also,

:52:18.:52:24.

working with Mary Portas, we have a whole plan to try to help the high

:52:24.:52:27.

street, and it is vital for towns and cities across the country.

:52:27.:52:30.

Prime Minister may have seen the headlines in the newspapers today

:52:30.:52:40.
:52:40.:52:45.

that the happiest people live in Northern Ireland? As the major

:52:45.:52:48.

party of Government for the last five years, we in the DUP are not

:52:48.:52:53.

surprised by that. One thing that overshadows that happiness of

:52:53.:52:56.

course is the high and escalating price of petrol and diesel, which

:52:56.:53:00.

is the highest, not only in the United Kingdom, but the highest in

:53:00.:53:05.

the European Union. Can the Prime Minister bring happiness to all

:53:05.:53:10.

parts of the United Kingdom by agreeing to do away with the August

:53:10.:53:15.

fuel tax rise and reduce fuel allowances as soon as possible?

:53:15.:53:17.

delighted to hear that the people of Northern Ireland are the

:53:17.:53:21.

happiest in the United Kingdom. I have to say that their

:53:21.:53:29.

representatives in this House don't always give that impression! Maybe

:53:29.:53:33.

I've been missing something! We recognise that families and

:53:33.:53:36.

businesses are continuing to feel the pressure from very high prices.

:53:36.:53:42.

We cut fuel duty and scrapped the automatic stabiliser. That has made

:53:42.:53:45.

prices six pence lower than they would have been under previous

:53:45.:53:52.

plans, but clearly we are impacted here by the high oil price. This

:53:52.:53:55.

week the Government took tough action on unacceptable tax

:53:55.:53:59.

avoidance. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that the principle of

:53:59.:54:03.

paying a fair share of tax should apply to both banks and former

:54:03.:54:09.

mayors of London? I think he makes an important point, whether it is

:54:09.:54:12.

Barclays bank or frankly it is Ken Livingstone, people should pay the

:54:12.:54:17.

proper amount of tax and I hope that HMRC will look carefully at

:54:17.:54:22.

all these cases. Frankly, for Londoners, many of whom live in

:54:22.:54:26.

Labour-controlled areas, with high Labour council taxes, will be

:54:26.:54:33.

pretty angry about what they have seen and probably say that Red Ken

:54:33.:54:38.

has been caught red-handed. The IFS has reported that the Government's

:54:38.:54:41.

tax and benefit changes will hit families with children five times

:54:41.:54:45.

higher than those without. Is this what the Prime Minister means by

:54:45.:54:49.

the most family friendly Government ever? Is it fair or is it just

:54:49.:54:54.

another broken promise? What this Government has done is increase tax

:54:54.:54:58.

credits for the least-well-paid to lift people out of tax and

:54:58.:55:02.

introduce free nursery care for two, three and four-year-olds and expand

:55:02.:55:06.

for those families. All those things have made a difference.

:55:06.:55:10.

Incidentally, she didn't mention she is sponsored by the Unite union

:55:10.:55:16.

and she could have taken this opportunity to condemn their leader.

:55:16.:55:26.
:55:26.:55:30.

Thank you. THE SPEAKER: Order. Let's here Mr Metcalfe. Since it

:55:30.:55:34.

broke over working -- work experience, has the Prime Minister

:55:34.:55:39.

had any businesses and/or organisations come forward to

:55:39.:55:42.

support this very important and publicly popular initiative that

:55:42.:55:48.

will help young people get the skills they need to get into work?

:55:48.:55:52.

I think my honourable friend is entirely right. The whole country

:55:52.:55:55.

wants to see more young people given the opportunity that work

:55:55.:56:00.

experience provides. The good news is since this row has been going on

:56:00.:56:03.

in the pages of our newspapers, we have actually had expressions of

:56:03.:56:08.

interest from 200 small and medium- sized employers who want to get

:56:08.:56:12.

involved in this programme. I think it's time for businesses in Britain

:56:12.:56:16.

and for everyone in Britain who wants to see people have work

:56:16.:56:20.

experience stand up against the Trotskyites of the Right to Work

:56:20.:56:24.

campaign and recognise the deafening silence from the party

:56:24.:56:34.
:56:34.:56:35.

opposite. Happily, Mr Speaker, I am able to welcome the Prime

:56:35.:56:40.

Minister's commitment to the reform of the European Convention on Human

:56:40.:56:44.

Rights and the powers of the European Court on human rights.

:56:44.:56:48.

Will the Prime Minister give a commitment to allow this House a

:56:48.:56:54.

proper debate whenever the declaration is published? Will he

:56:54.:56:58.

ensure that once again the principle of subsiduary is

:56:58.:57:03.

respected and the British courts have a proper say on what goes on

:57:03.:57:07.

in this country? I do want to see it get a fairer hearing. That is

:57:07.:57:10.

what was contained in the speech I made at the Council of Europe,

:57:10.:57:15.

about the reform of the court. So it doesn't become a court of the

:57:15.:57:19.

fourth instance, so someone has been in front of a local court, the

:57:19.:57:22.

Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and then to the ECHR. We have

:57:22.:57:25.

do have proposals for reform. Clearly, what is debated in this

:57:25.:57:29.

House we now have the backbench committee that has a large number

:57:29.:57:33.

of days in this House and perhaps they will give over time - not

:57:33.:57:37.

enough I hear - they've got more than enough and they can make over

:57:37.:57:43.

a day for that. Does the Prime Minister agree that one of the best

:57:43.:57:47.

ways to deliver on our commitment to the fairness agenda is to go

:57:47.:57:50.

ahead as quickly as possible in implementing the coalition

:57:50.:57:56.

agreement to raise the tax threshold to �10,000? What the

:57:56.:58:00.

coalition agreement commitments us to is real increases in that

:58:00.:58:04.

threshold. We have achieved that in budgets over the last two years. In

:58:04.:58:07.

spite of the difficult conditions we face in the economy. I do think

:58:07.:58:12.

it's a good idea to lift people out of tax. It particularly helps low-

:58:12.:58:20.

paid people and low-paid women. MoD is buying tankers from South

:58:20.:58:26.

Korea, when the work could be done here. The MoD says and I quote, "It

:58:26.:58:32.

will not consider wider employment industrial and economic factors in

:58:32.:58:35.

procurement." Why wouldn't this complacent Prime Minister stand up

:58:35.:58:41.

for world-class British industry? do stand up for world-class British

:58:41.:58:47.

industry. As I said, when I travel the globe I'm happy to have Rolls-

:58:47.:58:52.

Royce on an aeroplane with me. It's just a pity when I do so I get

:58:52.:58:58.

attacked by the Labour Party. the Prime Minister aware of the

:58:58.:59:03.

tragic death of my constituent, Penny Heggarty? Her husband

:59:03.:59:09.

believes that his wife's death is just one example of cyst stemmic

:59:09.:59:14.

management failures of the local NHS Trust? Will the Prime Minister

:59:14.:59:18.

assure him and other constituents that recent work to improve the

:59:18.:59:23.

management will continue and that this Trust will be turned around?

:59:23.:59:27.

can certainly give that assurance. Firstly, I'm sure the whole House

:59:27.:59:33.

will want to send the deepest condolences of the family. I know

:59:33.:59:37.

my friend the Minister of State for health has het local MPs. Clearly,

:59:37.:59:41.

patients have got the right to expect far better standards of care.

:59:41.:59:45.

I know that the CQC and Monitor have raised concerns about

:59:45.:59:49.

standards at the Trust. As he says, it is being turned around, but that

:59:49.:59:59.
:59:59.:00:02.

work needs to be undertaken with all speed.... Bedroom tax as

:00:02.:00:06.

grossly unfair and shows the UK Government simply failing to listen

:00:06.:00:11.

to the voice of reason put forward by housing professionals, social

:00:11.:00:16.

landlords and individuals. Does the Prime Minister accept that widows

:00:16.:00:21.

and widowers, left in the family home can lose up to 25% of their

:00:21.:00:24.

housing benefit support if he continues with this? Is it just

:00:25.:00:31.

he's unfeeling or just determined to get his way? The Irish ewe is

:00:31.:00:35.

this - we need to reform housing benefit. If we hadn't done anything

:00:35.:00:44.

about it it was expected to cost over �24 billion a year. As his own

:00:44.:00:49.

welfare spokesman, the member for Birmingham said, they would

:00:49.:00:53.

scarcely believe it is could costing the UK that much. That is

:00:53.:00:57.

too high. I'm getting slightly frustrated with the statements in

:00:57.:01:01.

principle of reform. They said they are in favour of a benefit cap, but

:01:01.:01:05.

they vote against it. They say they are in favour of welfare reform,

:01:05.:01:10.

they oppose it. They recognise housing benefit's out of control,

:01:10.:01:15.

but every attempt to deal with it, they frustrate it. On this Leap Day

:01:15.:01:19.

when men throughout the country will be nervously hoping that their

:01:19.:01:22.

girlfriends might make a commitment to them, can I ask the Prime

:01:22.:01:25.

Minister to give romance a nudge and to remind us and to confirm

:01:25.:01:29.

with us that the reforms through the welfare system will always,

:01:29.:01:35.

always support hard-working families? I was wondering where she

:01:35.:01:41.

was going with that for one moment or two. She is absolutely right. It

:01:41.:01:47.

is a Leap Year, where all things can happen. The absolute thing is

:01:47.:01:50.

both through the tax system and welfare system, we should encourage

:01:50.:01:59.

families to come together and stay together and celebrate commitment.

:01:59.:02:06.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the entry clearance office in Abu

:02:06.:02:15.

Dhabi has rejected an application by Mrs Makood John to come from

:02:15.:02:19.

Pakistan to attend her granddaughter's wedding in

:02:20.:02:24.

Manchester? Would he specify what kind of employment a 72-year-old

:02:24.:02:28.

woman who does not speak English and has never left Pakistan is

:02:28.:02:33.

liable to be obtaining in my constituency, where unemployment is

:02:33.:02:43.

10.6%? Will he overrule this mad decision and allow her the

:02:43.:02:47.

opportunity to attend her granddaughter's wedding? If the

:02:47.:02:57.
:02:57.:02:58.

Home Secretary has said - SPEAKER: I'm sure you are bringing

:02:58.:03:03.

this to an end. You have been very lucid. I'm bringing this to an end.

:03:03.:03:08.

If the Home Secretary has whispered to him that she can appeal, the

:03:08.:03:12.

wedding is on 2nd April and the appeal procedure is too slow to

:03:12.:03:21.

make that possible! To answer the question, I wasn't aware of the

:03:21.:03:27.

individual case. There are hundreds of thousands of people who travel

:03:27.:03:31.

between Pakistan and Britain every year. We do have to have tough

:03:31.:03:34.

controls to prevent the abuse of our immigration system, but I would

:03:34.:03:40.

suggest that he takes up the case individually with the immigration

:03:40.:03:43.

minister, who has a superb grip on these issues and will be able to

:03:43.:03:53.
:03:53.:03:54.

give him some satisfaction. Under Tony Blair's regime we could sleep

:03:54.:03:59.

safely at night, because we knew Lord Prescott could take over if

:03:59.:04:04.

Tony Blair is incapacitated. What would happen if the Prime Minister

:04:04.:04:10.

is so? I've been waiting for some time, because I know that my

:04:10.:04:13.

honourable friend has asked this question to almost every single

:04:13.:04:16.

Cabinet minister, including the Deputy Prime Minister, who I think

:04:16.:04:20.

replied that he seemed to have a more bid fascination with the end

:04:20.:04:27.

of the leader of the party. All I can say is, I have no plans to be

:04:27.:04:34.

incapacitated. Further to the question - to the answer that the

:04:34.:04:41.

Prime Minister gave to my friend on the Leveson Inquiry, he's obviously

:04:41.:04:48.

that we need -- absolutely right that we need a free press. But they

:04:48.:04:52.

will not thank him if he goes along with the chairman of the PCC in his

:04:52.:04:57.

proposal to use the defamation bill to legislate for a new system. That

:04:57.:05:06.

bill is coming forward in September. This would preement -- pre-empt the

:05:06.:05:13.

Leveson Inquiry. I've absolutely no intention of pre-empting the

:05:13.:05:17.

inquiry in anyway at all. I think if we look back to the debate we

:05:17.:05:22.

had, both the leader of the Labour Party and I said it was important

:05:22.:05:28.

to trust Leveson to get on with the job to give every single that we

:05:28.:05:32.

want -- signal to be able to adopt what is recommended. I think there

:05:32.:05:37.

is an understanding, but given that there is that understanding, I

:05:37.:05:39.

repeat, it's important that honourable members on all sides

:05:40.:05:42.

stress the importance of a free press in the health of our

:05:42.:05:52.
:05:52.:05:53.

democracy. Hard-working families in my constituency are absolutely

:05:53.:05:58.

surprised that a benefit cap for some �26,000 is being opposed by

:05:58.:06:05.

the party opposite. Will my right honourable friend agree with me, we

:06:05.:06:09.

will always make work pay and provide benefits for those unable

:06:09.:06:13.

to work? I'm delighted that he caught your eye, because today is

:06:13.:06:17.

the day that the welfare bill becomes an Act. For the first time

:06:17.:06:22.

we will have a proper cap on welfare, supported by this side.

:06:22.:06:27.

Opposed by that side, but backed by the overwhelming majority of people

:06:27.:06:37.
:06:37.:06:46.

Picking up on some remarks the Education Secretary made about

:06:46.:06:54.

saying how Levison was intimidating proper journalism. We moved on for

:06:54.:07:02.

the 4th week in a road to health. A lot of bounding back and forth as

:07:02.:07:07.

to who supports and does not support the Bill. This is what you

:07:07.:07:14.

thought? Or those points were reflected. Ed Miliband totally

:07:14.:07:20.

mastered David Cameron for the 4th successive week. The Prime Minister

:07:20.:07:27.

quote 8000 GP practices in favour of his attempt to privatise the NHS.

:07:27.:07:33.

This is less than 20%. There are 40,000 practices in the country.

:07:33.:07:39.

Just rights, the real problem is that all sides are twisting facts

:07:39.:07:44.

to support themselves. No one is offering proper proof as to whether

:07:44.:07:50.

the bill is good on not. Ed Miliband was elected as a civil

:07:50.:07:55.

libertarian. We have seen attacks on the Government. We see him today

:07:56.:08:02.

eight leading an attack on Michael Gove and compressed freedom. Alan

:08:02.:08:07.

is saying, Ed Miliband is becoming a one-trick pony. He has found the

:08:07.:08:12.

only thing he thinks he can make headway on - that being house.

:08:12.:08:17.

on the logistics, but what is the timetable for the Health Bill?

:08:17.:08:23.

are waiting to see if the House of Lords will reach the amendments

:08:23.:08:27.

tonight. This is what the Liberal Democrats have asked full. It is

:08:27.:08:33.

not sure if they will be reached tonight. If there was a big defeat,

:08:33.:08:37.

and it would have to be a big one, one that the gunmen want to take

:08:37.:08:44.

back to the House of Commons to reverse, we would have to take it

:08:44.:08:49.

right back. If the guerrilla warfare continues but does not blow

:08:49.:08:55.

the built in an important part, when do we expect this to finish

:08:55.:09:00.

its parliamentary Jenny and get the Royal Assent? Essentially, this

:09:00.:09:04.

week and next week but the end of the process provided the Government

:09:04.:09:14.
:09:14.:09:16.

does not suffer a major defeat. Prime Minister could not say what

:09:16.:09:19.

the members the Government would table in response to the pressure

:09:19.:09:25.

from Nick Clegg. Some are uncontroversial and have been

:09:25.:09:31.

agreed. There is a dispute from lawyers. Department of Health

:09:31.:09:37.

lawyers say it is not. Shirley Williams is pushing to say surely

:09:37.:09:40.

there is somewhere we can give ourselves protection. At this stage,

:09:40.:09:44.

we cannot be sure whether the detail is enough to win over the

:09:44.:09:51.

sceptics in the House of Lords. Shirley Williams is in her 50th yet

:09:51.:09:57.

of active politics. People are dancing to the tune of Baroness

:09:57.:10:01.

Williams. If she is on side, Liberal Democrat peers will go with

:10:01.:10:08.

her. If she is not on side, Nick Clegg will lose the vote at his own

:10:08.:10:14.

party conference. She has enormous power. They must be dancing in the

:10:14.:10:20.

aisles on the Tory backbenches. is an interesting theme. Ed

:10:20.:10:28.

Miliband has talked about health for for month -- for weeks running.

:10:28.:10:35.

We had the phrase, cursive Clegg, we had Peter Bone, who usually

:10:35.:10:42.

makes a joke about his wife. This week he said, what happened if the

:10:42.:10:47.

Prime Minister is incapacitated? What Nick Clegg become acting Prime

:10:47.:10:53.

Minister? What is the constitutional answer to that?

:10:53.:10:58.

theory, there was always a debate about whether Margaret Beckett for

:10:58.:11:02.

the acting Prime Minister. She was Acting Leader of the Labour Party

:11:03.:11:08.

for a period. It is effectively up to the Cabinet to agree who they

:11:08.:11:13.

regard as their leader and therefore the Prime Minister. Nick

:11:13.:11:17.

Clegg would be unlikely to get the accent, and less it was for a day

:11:17.:11:24.

or two. It is interesting that is not clear. If, God forbid, there

:11:24.:11:28.

should be a terrible terrorist attack on the Prime Minister and we

:11:28.:11:33.

should lose our Prime Minister, in the United States it is quite clear

:11:33.:11:40.

what would happen. It was less clear when Ronald Reagan was shot.

:11:41.:11:45.

In the French and German constitution's it is quite clear

:11:45.:11:52.

what happens. We do not know what would happen. Isn't that dangerous?

:11:52.:11:57.

Nick Clegg said, the convention is that the Cabinet would elect the

:11:57.:12:03.

person they regarded to be acting Prime Minister. What if the Cabinet

:12:03.:12:08.

could not meet? After 9/11, the Cabinet could not meet in the

:12:09.:12:16.

United States. Nick Clegg is quite skilful in as. When terrible

:12:16.:12:24.

unemployment figures come at, Cameron 12... Nick Clegg will be

:12:24.:12:27.

the Deputy Prime Minister. I am trying to discuss the serious issue

:12:27.:12:32.

of succession in the event of a major national tragedy. You went on

:12:32.:12:38.

to Party politics. I guess I should move on. There is a procedure for

:12:38.:12:42.

who take certain decisions. I was talking to a very senior civil

:12:42.:12:49.

servant the other day about the fact, there was a scene in the last

:12:49.:12:53.

episode of Spooks. It was the decision of a minister about

:12:53.:12:57.

shooting down a plane. Civil servants trained ministers for the

:12:57.:13:03.

tension of that sort of situation. Could you make that decision?

:13:03.:13:08.

Although there is a theoretical chain of hierarchy, the Prime

:13:08.:13:12.

Minister, Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, after the tests it is

:13:12.:13:17.

found that certain people would be unavailable on the phone. They were

:13:17.:13:22.

not all that good in a dry run. the United States it is clear that

:13:23.:13:28.

only the President could take that decision. In the aftermath of 9/11,

:13:28.:13:35.

the President was not available. It became a real issue. If another jet

:13:35.:13:42.

approaches New York, Washington, could we shoot it down? Dick Cheney

:13:42.:13:48.

was incapacitated. Who could take that decision? They are big issues

:13:48.:13:57.

that matter in extra mess. Let's move armfuls DUP the Tory Party

:13:57.:14:04.

would want William Hague to do it. -- let's move on. We did not mean

:14:04.:14:11.

to talk about this. In America and France, you were talking about the

:14:11.:14:17.

succession of the head of state. I think the Deputy Prime Minister

:14:17.:14:22.

deputises for the Prime Minister, as the name would suggest. In time

:14:22.:14:27.

you would expect the leader to be from the larger of the two parties

:14:27.:14:33.

in the coalition. How would you sum up the condition of the coalition?

:14:33.:14:38.

Pretty good. We are governing effectively in the national

:14:38.:14:43.

interest. We have a huge economic clout that is hanging over as the

:14:43.:14:51.

start we have a problem with our deficit. -- over us. Some people

:14:51.:14:55.

come together in the national interest. Do you think it would

:14:55.:15:03.

survive the duration until 2015? read lots of newspaper columns St

:15:03.:15:10.

it might last a few months and then collapse. Some said it would

:15:10.:15:16.

collapse in 2011. Some said it would collapse in 2012. Now it says

:15:16.:15:26.
:15:26.:15:29.

it would collapse in 2013. I will list some commentators if you like.

:15:29.:15:36.

The Telegraph, the Spectator, the recent Spectator. There are a lot

:15:36.:15:41.

of people who have a vested interest in the coalition failing.

:15:41.:15:47.

No party won the last general election. The two parties have come

:15:47.:15:52.

together to govern in the national interest. We do not agree on

:15:52.:15:57.

everything. According to Reuters, the Industry Minister of Argentina

:15:57.:16:03.

has said it is time the country stopped importing UK goods in

:16:03.:16:07.

protest at Britain's position on the Falkland Isles. What is your

:16:07.:16:14.

response to that? I want us to have cordial relations with Argentina. I

:16:14.:16:20.

do not want there to be a tit for tat on-trade. Anyone in a

:16:20.:16:24.

supermarket can see Argentinian wine on the shelves. Many people

:16:24.:16:29.

enjoy buying that. It would be unfortunate if we got into that

:16:29.:16:33.

situation. Do you have your headline for tonight? William Hague

:16:33.:16:38.

is going to be the next acting Prime Minister. We worked it out,

:16:38.:16:44.

didn't we? Should we have an English parliament? It is not top

:16:44.:16:49.

of everyone's agenda, apart from the English Democrats. He ate his

:16:49.:16:59.
:16:59.:17:02.

Robin Tilbrook. -- here is. Back in 1998, Labour began the process of

:17:02.:17:06.

devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since then, the

:17:06.:17:11.

only part of the United Kingdom not to have its own voice is England.

:17:11.:17:15.

Opinion polling now shows that we English are increasingly conscious

:17:15.:17:20.

of being English. Overwhelmingly, we are looking for an All-England

:17:21.:17:25.

solution to the unfairness is of devolution. I say that means an

:17:26.:17:30.

English parliament. Colchester was once the capital of the Roman

:17:30.:17:37.

province of Britain. This is the Roman wall and legend has it this

:17:37.:17:43.

is the very spot on which the Civil War cannon, known as hunted empty,

:17:43.:17:48.

had its great fall. The Government has now set up a modern Humpty damp

:17:48.:17:53.

tea in the shape of its West Lothian coalition. It intends they

:17:53.:18:03.
:18:03.:18:05.

will propose and -- ate vote of English votes for English lords.

:18:05.:18:10.

The fall of English votes for English laws will leave only two

:18:10.:18:13.

workable constitutional options. Either an English parliament and

:18:13.:18:18.

government within the federal UK or independence for England. If the

:18:18.:18:22.

British Unionist establishment does not soon respond to growing English

:18:22.:18:26.

resentment, then the window of opportunity for a federal United

:18:26.:18:31.

Kingdom will close. The only option would beat independence for England.

:18:31.:18:36.

If that happens, then the United Kingdom would be as dead as the

:18:36.:18:42.

die-hard royalist officers who were shot on this spot in 1648 by a

:18:42.:18:52.

firing squad of English Colchester is the fabled come lot

:18:52.:18:55.

of King Arthur and may have been where the original round table was.

:18:55.:18:59.

I say that England now needs a real round table, around which to build

:18:59.:19:03.

a consensus on England's future. Just like the Scots did with their

:19:04.:19:08.

Scottish constitutional convention. The key to that convention was the

:19:08.:19:11.

Scottish claim of right, whichage knowledged the sovereign will of

:19:11.:19:16.

the Scottish people. I agree with that principle. We need to apply it

:19:16.:19:20.

to England. The people of England are the sovereign to any English

:19:20.:19:30.
:19:30.:19:31.

Democrat. Robin is with us now. Has the publicity surrounding Scottish

:19:31.:19:36.

independence helped your cause? think it has. I think it's focused

:19:36.:19:39.

people's attention on the fact that England's left out of the current

:19:40.:19:43.

devolution settlement. Do you think that will increase over - if it

:19:43.:19:47.

goes on for two years, that campaign, there will be more focus

:19:47.:19:53.

and you'll exploit that, if you like? Yes. We wouldn't say exploit,

:19:53.:19:56.

because what we have been campaigning about this is what we

:19:56.:20:01.

want, ten years ago. We are finding that people are more aware of the

:20:01.:20:05.

issues, they've woken up to the fact that there is that difference.

:20:05.:20:11.

For instance, last year, we had the whole business of tuition fees and

:20:11.:20:17.

that is coming into effect now. People are aware that Scotland is

:20:17.:20:24.

still free and not in England. Some will be required to pay �9,000 a

:20:24.:20:29.

year here. You have said in your film the research by the think-tank

:20:29.:20:34.

IPPR and people are feeling perhaps for the reasons you've laid out,

:20:34.:20:39.

being English, but it's not the same as wanting to advocate for an

:20:39.:20:43.

English Parliament? I think that's right, but you have to bear in mind

:20:43.:20:47.

we are a relatively small party and very little resources apart from

:20:47.:20:54.

what we put into it ourselves and what we are arguing is a big issue,

:20:54.:20:57.

with the establishment parties having had much more ability to

:20:57.:21:02.

argue it and more access to the media. I think what is happening as

:21:02.:21:06.

people become aware of the issue, people are becoming more and more

:21:06.:21:10.

that they want something done. necessarily as far as an English

:21:10.:21:13.

Parliament. For instance, the West Lothian question and the Commission

:21:13.:21:17.

has been set up to look at that, would that not be enough to address

:21:17.:21:21.

that issue of Scottish MPs are voting on matters that don't effect

:21:21.:21:24.

their constituents? It's quite an interesting reflection on the way

:21:24.:21:28.

the Commission has been set up. Firstly, if you look at the

:21:28.:21:34.

membership of the Commission, hardly any of them could be

:21:34.:21:39.

characterised as being English. The terms of reference of the

:21:39.:21:44.

Commission itself, it doesn't mention England. By calling it the

:21:44.:21:47.

West Lothian question you are trying to disguise the fact it's

:21:47.:21:51.

actually an English question being looked at, not some sort of

:21:51.:21:55.

Scottish question. Well, Michael Dugher, do you think the wishes, as

:21:55.:21:58.

Robin said, people want something done, though they are not sure what.

:21:58.:22:03.

The issued are missed, looking at this is the wrong angel and lots of

:22:03.:22:08.

people have written in regard -- angle and lots of people have

:22:08.:22:12.

written in about being concerned in England. There are issues in terms

:22:12.:22:16.

of English identity and I think it's income bent on all the

:22:16.:22:19.

mainstream parties to engage with those legitimate concerns and

:22:20.:22:24.

grievances. In terms of the English Democrats, I'm in Barnsley. We have

:22:24.:22:29.

a Labour-led council which is doing very well. The neighbouring council

:22:29.:22:33.

is run by an English Democrat mayor and he's a basket case as a -- and

:22:33.:22:37.

it's a basket case as a local authority. There is a seriousness

:22:37.:22:41.

to this. You have to be careful what you vote for. Because the

:22:41.:22:45.

Labour councillors on the council are making it so. They've been

:22:45.:22:52.

causing difficulties for many years. Some of them went to prison in

:22:52.:22:55.

Donnagate and we have a mayoral system in place. Is it an issue we

:22:55.:23:00.

don't want to look at? Or is this something that is simmering?

:23:00.:23:03.

think it's a legitimate issue and it's a good subject to discuss. The

:23:03.:23:07.

problem the United Kingdom has is there is such a balance, 84% of

:23:07.:23:11.

people live in England. I don't think there is a big appetite for a

:23:11.:23:14.

whole parallel English Parliament, but whether we can look at trying

:23:14.:23:18.

to get the system to work better so it recognises all four component

:23:18.:23:24.

parts of the country, that is a good debate to have. Thank you. If

:23:24.:23:32.

Scotland goes for devo -max then it can't be ignored. We move on,

:23:32.:23:34.

because we are very international. Apparently he's the bookies'

:23:34.:23:39.

favourite to be the next President of France. He's in town meeting Ed

:23:39.:23:43.

Miliband and Mr Miliband won't be the only person Francois Hollande

:23:43.:23:53.
:23:53.:23:56.

will want to shmooze. What Ireland the UK and Latvia all have in

:23:56.:24:00.

common, they are one constituency with a seat in the National

:24:00.:24:04.

Assembly of France. The seat of deputy for northern Europe is up

:24:04.:24:07.

for grabs in June for the first time and any French citizens living

:24:07.:24:13.

in the ten countries are able to vote. Some of you are thinking,

:24:14.:24:18.

good Lord, was Joan of Arc not a sign and Waterloo and Trafalgar not

:24:18.:24:21.

enough? London a constituency in the French National Assembly you'll

:24:21.:24:27.

be telling me they are selling bri, in there next. Throwing that aside,

:24:27.:24:34.

this is probably why the French presidential election candidate,

:24:34.:24:37.

Francois Hollande is in town. He would like them on board, because

:24:37.:24:42.

there are more French living in London than there are in Lille or

:24:42.:24:46.

Bordeaux or Strasbourg. That's important because London's home to

:24:46.:24:52.

half the French in this new constituency. Or maybe Francois

:24:52.:24:58.

Hollande wanted to meet Ed Miliband and as he is, but not the Prime

:24:58.:25:02.

Minister. Where does Nicolas Sarkozy first come? Yep, the UK.

:25:03.:25:12.
:25:13.:25:18.

Perhaps for his rival it seems the UK is an easy does it. He's a man,

:25:18.:25:23.

not a woman! We have Agnes Poirier. He always marks our cards on such

:25:23.:25:28.

matters. London, as it was in the last elections, is a big part of

:25:28.:25:32.

the campaign. Has there been much campaigning? Here. I wouldn't know,

:25:32.:25:40.

because I vote in France. I love the pilgrimage. You just came to

:25:40.:25:43.

see us? I'm based here. Do you know about the candidates? Yes.

:25:43.:25:52.

women? Does the National Front have a candidate too? I don't think so.

:25:52.:25:55.

They probably wouldn't get many votes in London. I know of the two

:25:55.:25:59.

candidates, but it's not only for London. It's for the ten countries.

:25:59.:26:04.

It's Britain by which we mean largely the London area, indeed

:26:04.:26:09.

central London, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltic states,

:26:09.:26:14.

but the overwhelming number are based in London? Yes. It's one seat

:26:15.:26:23.

for northern Europe. Covering half a million people? Yep. Explain why

:26:23.:26:29.

Francois Hollande policy of the top rate of tax of 75% would attract

:26:29.:26:33.

French Londoners who fled France because of the high rate of tax?

:26:33.:26:39.

did surprise quite a few people when he said everyone who earns

:26:39.:26:45.

more than 1 million euro a year will be taxed 75%. He did create a

:26:45.:26:51.

surprise there. Ecalled it the patriotism tax, so we'll see.

:26:51.:26:56.

you are so that you are up the road to Geneva, Monaco and London. It's

:26:56.:27:01.

all good news for London? All the well-educated civilised French

:27:01.:27:06.

people will pour into our capital city? Look, you know, with the

:27:06.:27:11.

recession you might come to such a decision too. It is quite daring to

:27:11.:27:21.
:27:21.:27:22.

say we'll tax the rich by 75%. I just point out, minister, that

:27:22.:27:26.

the socialist Francois Hollande is only proposing this for 150,000

:27:26.:27:32.

euros or 45%, which in practice is 7% less than your coalition

:27:32.:27:41.

Government pree sides over? Bishop presides over? Do you like that.

:27:41.:27:45.

The Budget next month and subconstituent ones will address

:27:45.:27:51.

all tax issues. Agnes, I smts that Nicolas Sarkozy is narrowing the

:27:51.:27:57.

gap with Francois Hollande -- notice that Nicolas Sarkozy is

:27:57.:28:00.

narrowing the gap with Francois Hollande, with the Le Pen vote?

:28:01.:28:04.

They has led a robust and even vicious campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy,

:28:04.:28:10.

in the sense that he's extremely critical and he has asked former

:28:10.:28:17.

enemies from his own party to come and - It's still all to play for?

:28:17.:28:27.
:28:27.:28:27.

It's extremely open. Again, you have got Le Pen and another man.

:28:27.:28:32.

75% from Labour? I don't think so. I got an answer there. I'll quit

:28:32.:28:37.

while I'm ahead. Come back and see us. You are our election

:28:37.:28:42.

correspondent. That's it. Thanks to all the guests. The answer to Guess

:28:42.:28:46.

the Year was 1983. We'll pick the winner tomorrow. So many of you

:28:46.:28:49.

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