Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn with the latest political news, interviews and debate.
Browse content similar to 01/03/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has withdrawn all diplomatic
staff from its embassy in Syria and suspended its services. The move
comes amid esculating violence in the country. -- escalating. UN
diplomats have backed a resolution condemning the Syrian government
for human rights violations. We'll be talking to the former Foreign
Secretary, Lord Owen. We'll be talking to the son of
businessman Christopher Tappin, who was extradited from the UK to the
US over arms dealing charges. Is Nick Clegg getting into deeper
water over the Government's health reforms? Liberal Democrat activists
say they'll propose a motion at next week's spring conference
calling for them to be scrapped. And to tax or not to tax. 500
business leaders call for the 50 p rate to be scrapped, claiming it's
damaging the economy. Are they All that in the next half hour, and
with us for the whole programme today is the businessman and doctor,
Chai Patel. Welcome to the programme. Nice to be here.
First today, let's talk about welfare because the Government's
Welfare Reform Bill, which introduces an annual cap on
benefits and overhauls many welfare payments, has passed its final
hurdle in Parliament. It has been hailed as an historic moment. But
do you agree with the Government that this is one step towards a
revolution in welfare? They have been trying to do this for a long
time so in that sense it is historic. They have been trying to
get the people abusing the system to not be doing it and that is the
right thing. We are capping this so that is the right thing. We are in
centre rising and motivating people to work to earn more whilst taking
away some of the disincentives. All of those are very positive.
agree that it will lead to a reduction in workless nurse in that
sense? And it will be an incentive for people to work? Looking at some
of the areas of complaint around the changes to disability
allowances, and housing benefit, those fears are still there. Those
are my two caveats. It is great to incentive vies for jobs, but this
is coming at a time when jobs are very hard. We will have to see how
that is managed and how these people train. Otherwise it will
take something away without putting something in. I am particularly
concerned with where people have disabilities. They can't be
penalised by an arbitrary cap. you think there should be more
allowances made for people either making the transition or should be
getting more money than 26,000? it to work effectively, that is
what is needed to happen otherwise we will have an outcry M we will
once again be discussing the bits that did not work rather than the
broad stream of this change, which is obviously the right way to go.
It is all in the execution. If we executed in the right way -- if we
don't execute it in the right way, we will be discussing the failures.
The Leveson Inquiry has been back in the spotlight this week and it's
been the relationship between the police and the media that has taken
centre stage. On Monday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers
gave a damning account of illegal payments at the Sun newspaper.
There also appears to have been a culture at the Sun of illegal
payments and systems have been created to facilitate those
payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the
money. The e-mails indicate that payments to sources were openly
referred to within the Sun. In which case, the source is not named,
but rather the category public official is identified rather than
her name. Also on Monday, the former Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott waded into the debate. He argued there was more than enough
evidence in the original hacking investigation to show that it was
more than just one or two people involved. There's all sorts of
evidence we know about. There's a blue book with all the names. It
wasn't just one rogue reporter, it was more. They have all this
information, now they are saying we only got it through another source.
That is having told the courts, basically, and misleading the first
inquiry. The information was there, whether it is payments to be made,
names to be used. How much evidence do you want unless you don't want
to look for it? The inquiry also heard a personal account from
Jacqui Hames, who's a former police officer and Crimewatch presenter.
She explained on Tuesday how her family were put under surveillance
by the News of the World after her then husband, also a police officer,
reopened a murder inquiry that had connections to a detective agency
that itself had connections to the paper. In some ways, by coming here,
you stick your head above the parapet because you are angry and
distressed about what has happened. The impact on us, I think, is
important. It is very easy to compartmentalise people in as much
as celebrities have clearly suffered in this whole process, as
have many others. Sometimes it is easy to dismiss certain people
because they should be able to put up with it. But I don't think
anybody from any walk of life should have to put up with it. I
would hate to think of any other person in the future having to go
through what we have had 10 years off. Peter Clark was a deputy
assistant commissioner at the Met during the first investigation. He
was the officer who decided not to continue with the inquiry into
hacking and he said he would do the same again. He said the
investigation was stopped because of pressure on resources due to
ongoing terrorism operations and a lack of co-operation from News
International. The minute she died of whether there was circumstantial
evidence against the certain journalist is a minor consideration
in comparison with the consideration of what poses a
threat to the lives of the British public. Invasions of privacy are
odious, obviously, they can be very distressing and at times they can
be illegal. But to put it bluntly, they don't kill you, terrorists do.
Brian Paddick is with me now, and joining me from Cambridge, the
director of the Society of Editors and a former News of the World
journalist. Do you by Mr Clarke's reason why it was right not to
continue the investigation? afraid not. Whilst he might have
been under pressure and the officers in the anti-terrorist
branch might have been under pressure, there are 45,000 police
officers in the Metropolitan Police, I'm sure they could have rounded up
a couple of dozen. One of the reasons they did not proceed was
because News International did not co-operate. That means if you catch
me with a bag of swag coming out of someone's house and I said yeah,
well, you caught me but are not co- operating, you will let me off.
That is not a good excuse, I don't think. Are you confident now, under
Sue Akers, that there's a proper independent inquiry determined to
get the truth? I have got the advantage over most people in that
I know Sue Akers personally. She is of the highest integrity, I would
not doubt her for a minute. Unfortunately a lot of members of
the public don't know her that well. To have a combination of a
committee set up by NewsCorp, the parent company of News
International, the investigating themselves, working with the Met
Police against whom all sorts of allegations have been made, corrupt
payments, not investigating it properly first time round, I don't
see how the ordinary member of the public can have confidence that
that combination will get to the bottom of things. Perception is
important, but from what you've said, and you said you know Sue
Akers, that perception may be understandable but is wrong. Well...
The difficulty is everybody has bosses. Sue Akers has bosses. What
does -- what do her bosses say if she were to come up with something
absolutely horrible that was very detrimental to the Met Police and
News International? Would she be allowed to say it? She is welcome
to come on this programme and say it! One of the benefits of a free
society is if your bosses don't let you say it, there's other ways of
getting it out. You heard in the evidence on Monday that you gave.
You said you had a working relationship with journalists. We
have to be careful not to stray into a necessary territory. Having
policeman on a retainer, clearly wrong. Paying police for stories,
Ron. Speaking to police to get a story, not wrong. No. What I said
did Lord Leveson was an acid test of whether the police officer or
public official was giving the right thing in the public interest
was whether they were prepared to put their jobs at risk and not be
paid for that information. As soon as you get into a situation where I
will only tell you if you pay me for it, fantastic cast doubt on
whether the story is in the public interest. You had lunch with the
Guardian and with the Daily Mirror and the Financial Times. You said
the Mirror was more an audience with Piers Morgan. I'm grateful you
should have been for it as well, many of us would like an audience!
You only dealt with left-wing papers. No. That is the three you
named. The right-wing papers didn't like me so I never got invited.
They wouldn't even pay you. Absolute Lee not. Let's speak to
Bob Thatcher will. Didst journalism in some trouble? Are we in danger,
as Sue Akers rightly get to the bottom of wrongdoing that seems to
have happened at News International, that we are going to interfere with
what can also be a healthy relationship between police and
journalists? I think that is obviously the danger. What we have
to do is try to let Sue Akers do her job and get the evidence out.
What we are hearing all the time at the moment are allegations,
suggestions, what it may seem like. In the end, we need to know the
full scale of what has gone on before we can make final decisions.
But already, my fear is that we will have police officers at all
levels saying they can never speak to a journalist again or at least
be frightened off, having a chilling effect on those kinds of
relationships, which are vitally important. After all, the
relationship between the police and the media is not just for the two
of them, it is on behalf of the public because the media is simply
a conduit. We already have a situation where I believe the
police tell the public far too little and the press, in fact, the
media generally, reveals far too little. That is the thing we have
to avoid. Let me put that to Brian Paddick. That is absolutely right.
There's not enough openness or transparency. Don't you want Aironi
to be formal relations in meetings between journalists and police? You
testified it to be on a formal basis. You will not tell us
anything on a formal basis. That is about what is going on at the most
senior levels way you have senior police officers were there to
investigate a newspaper or not and meetings with newspaper editors. I
had always spoken openly and freely with journalist when I was in the
police, it is very important to do so. Sometimes you might have to say
things that your boss was not too happy about. That is healthy, but
when it gets into corrupt payments, when it gets into newspaper editors
and senior police officers being so close that went unlawful activity
is discovered, the police are reluctant to investigate it, it has
gone too far. We all know that journalists speak to the police and
quite often the police use journalists. That is partly the
basis of the Crimewatch programme. Every local newspaper... A lot of
local newspapers of bunging the local police station to be tipped
off about things that happens. That is the way of the world. Were you
not surprised at the industrial scale of the Sun's relationship
with the Met? You say surprised at the industrial scale. We haven't
seen the evidence yet. Sue Akers said that was happening.
understand. She was giving a briefing on the record, whereas
often it is the kind of briefing which are given to journalists of
the record. Suppose she's right. She does carry some authority. I
take your point that this is only the police investigation. Any of
that evidence has yet to be tested in court. Supposing she was right,
what would you make of it? Quite frankly, I think most journalists
would be astonished if it is of that sort of scale. Relationships
were there. As she mentioned, and it is perfectly reasonable for
journalists to by coppers a pie and a pint, was her phrase. Those
things have happened. I can remember many years ago when I was
at the News of the World, long before we had mobile phones I
hasten to add, I had very good relationships with very senior
officers at Scotland Yard, but at the same time, with other officers,
I was threatened with prosecution when we had uncovered the drugs
ring. I happened to have the drugs in my possession in order to take
them to an analyst and I was told the next time... Her a likely
story! For the idea about the relationships, just because you
have a relationship with senior officers... I don't believe they
would be so unprofessional not to prosecute someone if they saw
evidence, real evidence, of We had meetings between senior
people at News International and senior police officers at Scotland
Yard, whilst News International was under investigation.
Let me bring in Chai. I I think the more you look at this, the more you
begin to conclude, but you begin to feel there was an incredibly close,
almost incest uous relationship between News International and the
Metropolitan Police on the other that went up to some of the highest
levels? It doesn't meet the smell test. The facts are whatever they
are, but you clearly feel that this was way up and it wasn't just
happening - we are making the distinction here, it is not about
the relationships, we need more media input all of those are valid
points and the use of techniques and the cosiness.
It went to the extent of horse trading.
Horse trading now as well! It was reported that the horse was handed
back in worse shape than it had been given out. But that's another
matter! We are going to have to leave it there. Bob, I am surprised
you got away with that that story, but at least you are still out. I
am surprised that you got away with a pie and a pint!
It is one of the most difficult aisles on the political agenda, how
do we pay for the non medical needs of the elderly. It means things
like washing and eating a and a solution has I will lewded
politicians of all -- eluded politicians of all parties. We sent
David Thompson to fin out more. This is what social care looks like
in action. Music therapy for the residents of this elderly person's
home in North London. Mind you, here they call it a bit of a sing
song. The three main political parties
recognise that social care shouldn't be about politics, it is
about people and they have been talking to one another in an
attempt to find consensus. The only problem is, they tried that before
and it didn't end well. Before the last election, Labour
tried to get cross party agreement on this issue and this was the
result. So what's different this time? I think trying to get cross
party agreement three months before a general election is always more
difficult for obvious reasons than trying to get cross party long-term
agreement in the middle of a Parliament as we are now. I think
at this this stage it's better, these talks are better timed than
the talks just before the last general election.
As it happens, there is a plan on the table which has broad cross
party support. The the economist Andrew Dilnot put forward a set of
proposals on how social care should be funded.
He wants to see a cap of around �35,000 on the amount individuals
are expected to contribute with the Government meeting the rest. And he
wants the amount of savings someone can have before they have to pay
for help with washing, dressing and eating raised from over �23,000 to
�100,000. We should know in a few weeks
whether the Government will adopt these proposals. If they do, it
will cost �1.7 billion a year and money is tight. Which is something
that makes some people in the care sector nervous. The Government must
resist any temptation to go for a stop gap solution on care. We're
united in our belief and they say they are too that care is in crisis
and it needs reform. A sticking plaster won work. That's why --
won't work, that's why we need need them to be bold and radical.
Some Conservatives think that tinkering at the edges is not an
option. In individual parts of the country
as experienced by individual families, there are documents of it
failing and it is failing often. That doesn't mean it fails
everywhere, it done, but it fails often and if we put in place
structures that work, we can reduce the number of failures.
But who wouldn't want that? The question is, is it affordable?
can't afford to support people in their own homes with eating, with
feeding, with toileting, with basic exercise and support. We would have
to think really strongly about whether that is a country we would
be proud to live in. We have to reframe and re-think about our
ageing population and how we support and provide care.
Individuals will need to pay more. And that's the thing. It is not
just politicians who have to face up to the problems of paying for a
Well, Chai Patel is here. You agree, everyone agrees, that social care
is in crisis. That it is an urgent issue. Is that how you see it?
is in crisis. The funding and with the new cuts that are coming, we
are going to go back to the spending levels of of 2001, but
that's a separate matter to what Dilnot is about. For �1.7 billion
which is what we heard last night, the cost of changing the structures
in the NHS for the new healthcare Bill to throw this into the long
grass, to kick this into the long grass would be a travesty. People
have waited. We have had commissions and and white papers
and Green papers and people are waiting for a solution and the
Government needs to create a consensus. One of my key pleas here
is this is not a party political matter. This should be a cross
party matter. We have had the politicians on say,
"Yes, we're going to move towards consensus." They always say that on
big issues like this. Is it less about party politics now as it was
before the election and more about affordability? Can the country
afford it? We heard from the lady who said we can't afford not to do
anything. Can we afford to to put the costs in? We are at a
particular point in our cycle economically, had is a long-term
solution. We are talking about a new arrangement. Social care
happened by slight of care. The older people today used to think
the care was going to be free at the point of delivery, at some
point somebody called it social care and and started means-testing
it. You don't know if you will have to pay for it and how do you
provide for T the money issue is a small issue. Andrew Dilnot shows a
chart on what we spend and �1.7 billion is not the issue. The issue
is do we want to find a new settlement that's fair?
consensus has got to be around a cap, if you like, that people have
to save to pay for themselves because it is not going to be free
anymore. You run a whole set of care homes. You took over Southern
Cross when it failed last year. part of scrost.
-- -- -- -- Southern Cross. Do you think that's a reasonable
cap? The average length of stay in a care home is 18 months and that
amount of money would mean the majority of people who are means-
tested would be paying for themselves if they could afford it.
The overall cost to the Treasury is not very high. That captures the
current people. What it would do however, is tell people that if
they needed care for a longer period of time, then the State
would step in so they wouldn't be left to worry about what is going
to happen when I run out of money. Would I be moved to a different
home? Would I not be able to afford the care? It would mean the
Government wroont wouldn't be crippled by the number of people?
You are only funding the people who could afford to pay, but not
increasing the pot. What I'm concerned about, what we should get
is to get Dilnot as as a way of having an open discussion and
discuss the cap, but more importantly alongside this, there
has to be a discussion of how we shift the budget from the health
budget into social care because it is the interface of social care and
healthcare where the problems are lying right now and there is a huge
waste in the system that could pay for this and I'm happy to talk
about either now or either because this could be self-funded. This
isn't about the size of the pot actually, it is about how we use it.
The story around care homes is they ran into financial difficulty. In
your case, how is HC 1 going now? We are in the middle of 120 days at
the moment. We have had a lot of change. We have absorbed a lot of
issues, but we are making progress. A lot of what we stand for which is
the whole issue of kindness does not cost actually, it is about
culture and values really. You are being monitored by the
Department of Health? Well, one of the things I have been saying today
at a conference is that's a sideshow, but you can do the
financial monitoring, we have bigger issues than financial
monitoring. I wondered who the two large guys
were outside! Monitoring them! I took you seriously there!
LAUGHTER I'm very trusting.
She is. She will never learn! Businessman, Christopher Tappin,
who has been extradited from the UK to the US over arms dealing charges
faces a bail hearing tomorrow in the United States. It comes in a
week that the Home Affairs Select Committee heard from Mr Tappin's
wife and son as part of their inquiry into this extradition. We
will hear from Neil Tappin in a moment. But first here is what his
mother had to say about the lead-up of her husband's extradition to
America. In the end, we had nine days notice.
We stared into a wholy uncertain future for us both. How did we
feel? Incredulity, frustration, heart-rendering sadness, despair
and utter disbelief. Chris solicitor injured on, trying to --
soldiered on trying to sort out the necessary practical issues, selling
his car, our house, etcetera while saying farewell to his friends and
colleagues. Not knowing when or if he would see
them again. Early morning on... Clearly a difficult time for the
Tappin family. Joining me now is the son of
Christopher Tappin, Neil Tappin and David Bermingham.
Let me start with you, Mr Tappin. Have you heard from your father
since arrival in the US and what do you know of his treatment?
mother heard from him on, I think, it was Wednesday evening. She was
calling his American lawyer and he was sat opposite his lawyer so she
spoke to him, the conversation got cut off ten seconds, he said he was
What conditions is he enduring? Well, this is the thing that's
upsetting us at the moment. He is in a cell on his own which in some
ways you might think is a good thing, but he is left in the cell
for 23 hours a day. One hour a day outside. He has no reading material
at all and... He is not allowed to have anything in the cell? It was
reported in the Press he took his two books with him, a Seve
Ballesteros biography and a Jeremy Clarkson biography. One of the
distressing things is the light is being left on 24 hours a day. He
has nothing to keep him occupied. It is just him and his thoughts.
Are you surprised that he has to endure that, given that he is still
innocent until proved guilty. I mean, these seem harsh conditions
for someone who has yet to be found guilty? Well, you said. Innocent
until proven guilty. He has never once had the opportunity to show
any of the evidence on his side of the argument. So in the hearings in
this country, the US put across their side of the story, as it were.
Then our lawyers had to argue a few points of technical points of
extradition which to be honest with you were pointless. He goes out
there. He is in a cell on his own. No contact with us, 5,000 miles
away from home. It It really, really feels as if his presumption
of innocence has been lost. Can you explain what it is he has
been accused of? He has been accused of conspiring to export
cell missile batteries to Iran. Which fell foul of the sanctions
regime against Iran? I suspect so, yes.
Happens now? He has a bail hearing on Friday evening. The US
Government are opposing bail based on him being a flight risk. Again,
I need to underline, he is 65 years old. He is in the US and he has
surrendered himself to Heathrow Airport last Friday. He has has
$250. He never committed a crime in this country and yet, there is a
case to be said that he should be kept in prison without the prospect
of release in the near future. Is his lawyer giving you
encouragement that he may get bail? They are taking a cautious approach
on that. They are trying not to get anyone's hopes up about bail. It is
in the balance, we don't know. If he got bail, he wouldn't be
allowed to leave the United States or the State of Texas, he would
have to get accommodation nearby the court until it was time to be
in court? Exactly, right. He would stay out there and they
would build their defence case outside of the prison. If he
doesn't get bail, he has to build that defence case in prison with
only limited access to his lawyers which obviously makes that harder
for him to do. And hard for your mother as we saw,
for all of you. Really hard for mum. She has been dragged through just
hell on all of this and then, you know, last night to find out that
he had, that the light has been left on 24 hours a day, it is
sending her, you know, into a bad place.
It is like when you see in some movies when a terrorist has been
caught? That's how it feels. He is very British. He has done his
business, a small businessman in this country, he lived his life
here and never left the UK in these dealings, I don't know why we feel
as if the judiciary can't deal with By we have Neil Tappin with us, and
also David Birmingham, who had gone through this process in America and
is now back here. Explain to us, what were you extradited for and
then put in jail for? We were accused by the United States
government of defrauding NatWest Bank in London. It was in a
transaction connected to Enron. played guilty? We did. The
statistics on this are truly terrifying, if anyone analyses them.
98% of people in the federal system in America who are indicted will
enter into a plea bargain rather than going to trial. They will do
that for a variety of circumstances, but the system is almost set up to
guarantee you will get a plea bargain as soon as somebody is
indicted rather than going to trial. You were sentenced to 37 months.
Correct. You served seven in the US and tent in the UK. That's right.
In the US, what conditions both when you were on remand and after
the sentence did you endure? remand, our position was all but
unique. Because of the furore surrounding our extradition in 2006,
Tony Blair intervened with the US government to get them to allow us
to have failed. We were the first people ever to have been extradited
to America to have been granted bail and are not aware of anybody
else who has contested extradition since has enjoyed that luxury.
Prior to entering into a plea agreement, which took two years, we
did want to fight this case. We eventually found ourselves unable
to do so. We were therefore out on bail, we were electronically
monitored, we were living in Houston, we were unable to be
together as defendants other than in the presence of attorney's.
least you were out. Exactly. Once you had played guilty and was
sentenced, what were the conditions for the seven months? You were in a
federal penitentiary? That's right. Over those seven months I was in
five different places. I spent most time in California. Part of our
deal, one of the reasons we agree to enter into a plea agreement, was
the prosecutor said if you sign this paper, we will ensure you get
sent home quickly. If you go to trial and lose, we will make sure
you never go home. Quite a strong motivation. A gun to your head.
is how business is done over there. It is not just a system as we would
recognise. You were not in a cell with a light on for 24 hours a day
with nothing to read. Nope. What Mr Taplin is going through at the
moment is not untypical of remand conditions. The remand conditions
are part of the game, if you wish, to get somebody to enter a plea
agreement. They will make it as unpleasant as they can. If you
decide to plead guilty, it shortens the romance period because you
don't need to prepare for a trial. Remand facilities are different to
the facilities when somebody has been convicted. In California, I
was in the dormitory of 250 people with bunk beds two feet apart. That
is a much more normal scenario for people once they have been
convicted. What kind of prison did you end up in Britain? Five
different prisons. I started in Wandsworth, a remand prison, two to
a cell, and I ended up in an open prison. Rather more pleasant than
what Mr Caplin has had? Indeed. As a foreigner in the US, you're not
entitled to be in an open prison because you are do portable alien.
There is a prejudice against foreigners in that system.
could not be in the equivalent of a US Open prison? No. All of the
closed prisons are run by gangs. there any word of encouragement for
Neil Tappin? Yes. The mere fact he is out there means he is one step
closer to coming home. I said this did Chris Ann Neale the other day.
This is the worst time because from here on in, he is beginning their
journey home, no matter how long that is. When you go out to America
to see your father, when is that? We have to wait to see whether he
gets bail or not. If he does, I'm sure Mum will go up to see him and
I will go out as well. If he doesn't get bail, it will be very
distressing for mum to go and see him in an orange jumpsuit with
shackles. We are not a family that has been through this before.
Nobody knows what to expect. I will certainly go up to see him, but it
is up in the air at the moment. Abu Qatada hasn't been deported.
know. Let's leave it there. So, Britain has shut its embassy in
Syria and pulled out all of its diplomats because of the
deteriorating security situation. The announcement came as UN
diplomats voted to condemn the Syrian government for human rights
violations and called for immediate access for aid agencies. The
resolution is aimed at stepping up the pressure on Damascus. Our
correspondent Imogen Foulkes is in Geneva, where the UN is meeting.
I spoke to her earlier and began by asking her whether the UN
resolution had been passed. Yes. It is a very tough resolution. The
thought that the UN Human Rights Council has passed condemning Syria
for what it terms brutality against its own citizens, widespread,
systematic human rights violations. The resolution then calls for an
immediate end to the violence, and immediate access for humanitarian
aid agencies. It was passed pretty overwhelmingly, three countries
voted against. Russia, China and Cuba. Human rights groups accused
them of being out on a limb now and undermining attempts to try to
bring some resolution to this crisis in Syria. Does this mean
there's more optimism that the resolution being put together by
the Americans also about humanitarian aid, is there more
likely had that that will pass? is really hard to say. Initially,
myself and other people watching this meeting thought Russia might
not vote against, given what we have been seeing for example from
the City of Homs and the relentless shelling that has been going on
there. But Russia voted against and we know it has vetoed resolution at
the UN Security Council before. The question now is will it go a long
with this new attempt at the Security Council being drafted by
the Americans or will it oppose again? I think Russia will find it
difficult, but the signs this morning are not good.
David Owen is with us now. I am asking you this question, mindful
of the Rolls you have played. Is this beginning to look more like
Bosnia than Libya? It has never looked like Libya. Libya is a very
different situation in all aspects. This does look like it is coming to
one of these civil wars where you were locked with both sides having
the capacity to halt the fighting and no outright winner. These are
the most dangerous civil wars. you see Homs, it is hard not to
think of Sarajevo. Yes. But I think it is better to think of Hamann.
President Assad's father. And his family. They wiped out a whole tone
and they got away with it. We did not take enough concern for it when
it happened in 1982. This is where history is repeating itself. What
can we do? There isn't a day these days that I don't wake up thinking
what can you do about it. It is a hugely difficult thing to see a way
through it. I have always repeated the country that holds the key to
it is Turkey and Turkey have looked at it and mighty hard. They have
concluded there is no military role. It they say no military role, it is
pretty hard for anyone else to have a military role. It is end of story.
They are the country that could use NATO, they are a member of NATO,
and go to NATO to ask for help, but they would have to be the country
that did the heavy lifting. They have to make an assessment. They
have assessed so far that it can't be done. The other issue is that
China is getting concerned about this issue in the Security Council
and I don't thing Russia is having it all their own way in the
dialogue with China. If you could start to prise China away from
Russia, China might bend. There was talk earlier of Turkey looking at
almost a safe haven zone on the Syrian northern border with Turkey,
which the Turks themselves said they would protect. Has that faded
away? Did that not come to fruition? I was always opposed this
safe havens in Bosnia Herzegovina and look at what a tragedy that end
up with. It is no good calling them a safe haven if they don't provide
the troops for it, which is what we did not do in Bosnia. Srebrenica
was an accident waiting to happen. I am very unlikely to support safe
havens. Also it means you are giving up. Basically you would be
encouraging the civilians to depopulate, come to this area, and
you would effectively be going for politician. I don't think that is a
solution. The question is, from the air, can you interdict the supply
lines of Assad's forces in such a way as to be a serious threat to
continuing this type of violence? It would be challenged. It would be
challenged by sophisticated aircraft, it would be challenged by
a country that has the support of Iran and has the support of Russia.
And Iraq will not get involved, they will probably be neutral, but
they might be in part on their side. Then there's the closely as to the
Lebanon, closeness to Israel. You are playing... It is a powder keg.
At the moment, as you look at the British foreign policy response,
and to the Western foreign policy response, how would you
characterise it? The British response has been first class, I
have no criticism of it whatever. Both William Hague and the prime
minister have got this right. I think they got Libya right. I don't
look for policy disputes unless I have to have them. You have enough!
What are your thoughts, Chai Patel? It is a tragedy of the highest
order. If we haven't learnt anything from these interventions,
it is that judgments have to be fine. If our neighbours in Turkey
and people know much more about it are wanting to jump in, jumping in
is not the right thing. Final question to you, David, can you see
a time in the near future where we may consider arming the rebels?
I think that is perfectly possible. We did that in Libya and that is
one case where there's a possibility. But you are adding
fuel to a civil war. In the past, the issue has often been that
nobody supplies weapons to a civil war and that was what was done in
Bosnia, but that came under a huge attack because of its unfairness.
You have to be very careful on this sort of thing. It is happening and
it is being done by tacit support from most Western countries. It is
happening at the moment. This is not, I don't think, the big problem,
weaponry. So far they have conducted a very skilful campaign.
They fight in the suburbs, in the inner cities, and then when they
know the game is up, they move and fight somewhere else. This is what
they have on their side. There's also continued defections from the
Syrian army. Thank you. No easy solution to it.
Now, remember those heady days of December, when David Cameron
exercised what he called his veto over EU-wide measures to tackle the
eurozone crisis? Well, today the Prime Minister returns to Brussels
for a European leaders summit. Iain Watson is there.
What reception do you think awaits Mr Cameron? I think what David
Cameron wants to prove is that he is no longer isolated in Brussels.
He looked rather lonely after he vetoed that EU treaty in December.
First thing tomorrow in Brussels, 25 of the 27 EU countries will sign
what would -- what would have been in that treated. The two countries
that were not signed up Britain and the Czech Republic. The Prime
Minister is travelling to Brussels with the prime minister of the
Czech Republic. Much more significantly than that, Britain
has also signed the letter effectively saying that the EU has
not been doing enough to boost economic growth. 12 countries have
signed a letter. To give you a flavour of it, it says it is a
perilous moment for economies across Europe, we need to show
leadership, take bold decisions, achieve results. But France and
Germany have not signed a letter and I have seen what is the draft
conclusions of this summit even before people have met. It talks a
lot about economic growth, but it doesn't have specifics on
deregulation that David Cameron is looking for. He may not be isolated
this time, but he will have his He might be disappointed that, he
is not Billy No Mates as you have said, but in terms of ratifying
this fiscal come fact, Ireland and France, depending what happens in
the election, that ratification has to take place and there are doubts
about it, aren't there? Yes, there are. I mean this is the other area
where Britain may not be isolated. Although 25 countries are signing
this, it has to go back to their parliaments to make a decision. The
Irish are having a referendum on this, but it is not clear that they
will go along with it and the candidate who is leading in the
opinion polls for the French presidency says he will not ratify
this. He was in Britain yesterday, of course, he won't ratify this
unless there are changes. He thinks it is restricts European debt too
much. However, only 12 of the 25 countries have to ratify it for it
come into force, imagine the row, the row may shift from Britain, but
imagine the row if the EU tries to impose this on a newly elected
Government in France. Indeed.
I am joined by the the Conservative MP, Bill Cash and Emma Reynolds.
Bill Cash we talked about happened in December, but Britain has been
banging on about growth in the eurozone. Is there any point in
depriving the eurozone of the instruments they need to put it
into effect? Most people believe that it won't work anyway because
the trillions that they are pouring in, are not going to produce the
answer they really need which is to have growth. The other thing which
is really important and why I got this emergency debate yesterday in
the House of Commons is that the method that they are employing is
according to much of the evidence that we're receiving, and I believe
that the Government knows this, is that they are using a system which
will effectively break the rule of law in Europe, by using the
European Commission and the Court of Justice. This is a serious
problem because they are using rules to break the rule of law.
Right, would it affect us in a very negative way? Even if they are
breaking the law, would it have any effect if as what we want is growth
in the eurozone? As David Cameron indicated because he sent this
letter to the letter European Council. We reserve our position
and David Liddington said yesterday it would be a dangerous press den
and the problem with that -- precedent and that the problem with
that, they are creating to Europes built on sand. The truth is this is
a new kind of Europe. We are at a crossroads and I don't think it is
good to cry wolf to say, "We are going to take legal action." And
then not do it because it it makes you look like a straw man.
Emma Reynolds, Iain Watson, mentioned the meeting Ed Miliband
had with the candidate for French President. Do you gree that this --
agree that this shouldn't be ratified? For too long centre right
Governments have focused on austerity alone.
He will have come here to say, "I am not going to ratify it unless
there are big changes." Does Ed Miliband agree? We agree that the
treaty as it stands focuses too much on austerity and doesn't
involve any commitment to growth and that's what he is saying. He is
saying not scrap the treaty, he is saying there should be additions to
the treaty. If there were the additions that Ed
Miliband and the French presidency candidate would support it?
problem is timing. If he was French President in January, it would have
been easier. What happens if he gets elected in
May, what happens the agreement that has been reached in January?
This could be tricky. This is a jigsaw. The one thing you
could look at Bill Cash, with so many countries signing up,
ratification, let's leave that aside, with so many countries
signing up, it could boost market confidence which would be a good
thing for the British economy? Every time they produce the
treaties and agreements and they have been having summit after
summit after summit and they pour and more trillions into it.
It is an important thing in these issues, isn't it? Market confidence
is important. There is no doubt about that. But this is not the way
to achieve it. The way to achieve it is to put oxygen into the small
and medium sized businesses, not not to go in for Leaties --
treaties which are unlawful and to generate growth which is the only
way of achieving advantage with the countries like China and the rest.
We have got to get down to the serious business of generating
growth. It will be interesting to see if he
does what in opposition what he Now, the latest in the seemingly
never ending battle over Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care
Bill, Lib Dem will push for a vote at the conference.
I am joined by Vicky Young. I notice that the Liberal Democrats
or the Government have put out saying they are confident that he
wouldn't lose the motion, but there could be a debate? It is fair to
say that the Health Bill is going at a snail's pace through the House
of Lords. Nick Clegg this week really tried to talk about the
great work that the Liberal Democrat peers have been doing in
the House of Lords to change it to improve it, the problem is they
have a problem here, because they positioned themselves with the
party that made a lot of changes, especially watering down parts of
the Bill which are about competition. If you have got MPs
sniping from the sides, it undermines their argument.
The motion is to be debated. Is it becoming worse than tuition fees?
The problem is as someone said to me today, it is becoming like
tuition fees did really for the Liberal Democrats. The spring
conference kicks off a week tomorrow. There has been a critical
motion put forward. It is certain there will be an emergency motion
on health debated. The one that has been suggested and put forward
calls for the Bill to be withdrawn or defeated and dropped and it says
that the Bill has failed to win the support of the public or health
professionals and it will make reorganisation of the NHS worse.
Many MPs, Liberal Democrats MPs, aren't happy where we are, but they
feel dropping it now is too late. If they were going to drop the Bill,
they should have done it months ago and saved themselves the agony. The
Lib Dem leadership is confident it if they have peers on side, they
can see down this activists conference motion.
Chai Patel, we have been through the wringer on this on the Health
Bill. The issue has been about competition. Do you fear the
cherry-picking element that has been talked about by the Liberal
Democrats? Competition exists in the NHS, but does the Bill lead to
a new level of it? The changes that the Lib Dems brought in has now
made sure that that won't happen. The recent LSD report showed that
competition is good for the patients, it is good for healthcare
outcomes, but it pointed out that the private healthcare sector had
the option to cherry-pick the stuff. We have to make the Health Service
more effective and efficient. One of the of the worries that GPs
put, they don't want their patients to think they are thinking about
the cost and profit margin and they are only thinking about care?
have been commissioning for a while in a a variety of ways. What
patients want is the best care at the right right place at the right
time. They don't mind who delivers Is the 50 pence rate of tax
damaging the economy? More than 500 business leaders think so in a
letter to the Daily Telegraph they claim the tax is reducing
Government income and it is not raising it and they are calling for
to to be axed in the Budget. I'm joined by Charlie Mullin and
Richard Murphy who is an accountant. They have been squabbling on
Twitter. So let's going now! Charlie Mullin you said, "We
believe the richest should help the poorest in society." So why scrap
the top rate now? It is having a vice versa effect. Since they
brought in the 50 pence tax rate, it has been proven that �500
million less in revenue has been raised from the top tax earners.
It is not getting money? It is having the vice versa effect. It is
stopping people expanding and stopping people investing in
business. It has gone the wrong way around.
The case against it, it is not bringing in any dosh and it is
having a detrimental effect on the economy? Is wrong. First of all,
there has been no prove on this. There is no evidence which is firm
and fast as yet... We have had initial figures. We have had
figures, but they are wrong. Let's look at the data... How much do you
think it is bringing in I think it will bring in �5 billion. There
will be people earning quite a lot. Even the tax in the Labour Party
and the Lib Dems, I have never heard any of them claim it will
bring in �5 billion. Are you putting your name? Yes.
Will you come back on? I will. It will either be a triumph for you
or not? There is a lot of tax avoidance going on which we would
have to tackle. It is impossible though and I am hanny hanny to say
dp habby -- happy to say. Is it going to generate jobs? Of course,
three billion which is the minimum, if all the avoidance was done that
it could generate is the entire capital of the Green Investment
Bank. If the top rate was cut, what would
you do with the money? I would reinvest it into the business.
Richard, you are talking rubbish, mate. Absolute rubbish. You are
talking rubbish. Time will prove right or wrong.
don't run a business. I have run businesses. Lots of
businesses. I was a serial entrepreneur.
You should be dealing with tax dodgers, not the good guys pay the
tax. I paid over �0.5 million in tax last year.
Charles Charlie, your assumption is the only way you can get more money
in, first of all, you run a limited company, almost 0% of the -- 90% of
the people who signed that letter run limited companies? Why do you
run a limited companies because the tax rate is 20%. So you have the
tax break for enterprise. You are confusing people with
figures. They are stopping people reinvesting. It had the vis versa
effect and -- vice versa effect. I don't think you have got a clue,
mate. Who is right or wrong here? We have
to wait for the numbers on this. We don't have to wait long.
And then we can make a decision. Normally, it has been a disentive
to growth. It shows more money has come in,
will you settle? If he is right, I will carry on paying it. But I'm
telling you now, you're wrong. 500 business leaders put their names to
this. They are not stupid people. You know why you are wrong, you are
paying yourself more because the tax has gone up so you have got the
same net pay. We have got to do Guess The Year.
Our prize is tax-free, it is not �5 billion!
If we take 50%, half the mug goes. The answer was 1983. The winner is
Mr Swindle. What a great name.