02/03/2012 Daily Politics


02/03/2012

Andrew Neil with the latest political news and interviews, including the Irish finance minister on the EU treaty vetoed by the UK and Jim Murphy on the Scottish Labour conference.


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Transcript


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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. It is a big day in

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Europe - again. This morning, 25 of the 27 countries in the EU signed

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up to a new treaty committing them to tough new debt rules. Only

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Britain and the Czech Republic haven't put pen to paper. But David

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Cameron is not feeling isolated. In fact, he is claiming victory this

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morning over his ideas on stimulating economic growth in

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Europe. We will have the latest from Brussels, get reaction from

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Westminster and hear why the Irish plan another referendum on this

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latest treaty. And, as Labour gather for their Scottish

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conference, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy joins us to

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talk Europe, Scottish independence and what action needs to be taken

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Riots on the streets? Petty crime making your life a misery? Bring

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back national service. Well, the Government have. But there's no

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marching and it is not compulsory. But should it be? We'll ask the

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minister in charge of the Big Society idea that the Government

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claim as a big success. And pity your poor MP, he or she is

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suffering. No, it is not overwork, in fact it is the opposite, with

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just one vote in the Commons in the last seven days. We will find out

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why and ask what they are doing all All that in the next hour. And with

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us for the duration, Vincent Moss of the Sunday Mirror and Sue

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Cameron of the Daily Telegraph. Before we get under way, there have

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been developments in the Chris Huhne court case this morning.

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Let's go over to our correspondent, Tom Symonds, with the latest

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outside Southwark Crown Court. What happened this morning? Well, this

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was always going to be a procedural hearing. It was over in minutes.

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The any new information was the fact the trial of Chris Huhne and

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his former wife, Vicky Pryce, will take place in October. The press

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pack turned out in force. Chris Huhne had to fight his way out into

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a taxi. It is alleged that in 2003, when his car was registered as

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speeding in Essex, he was driving and he passed the points to Vicky

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Pryce and she accepted she could take the points she -- so he did

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not have to. They are both charged with conspiracy to convert the

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course of justice. We do not know if they will plead guilty or not

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guilty. Sir, basically nothing happened this morning of serious

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development. We do have the date for the trial, which will be

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October. We will have enormous media interest in S. When will we

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know when they will plead? It is very dangerous to predict how

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anyone might plead in a case like this. They are jointly charged with

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conspiracy and, therefore, the court will hear the case as it one.

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They are facing individual charges. There is a case management hearing

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in May but the trial is not until October and that is when the trial

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will get under way. All eyes will be on the court in October. There

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are pressures on the Chancellor with the budget just three weeks

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away. From calls for the abolition of the 50p tax rate to alarm over

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petrol prices reaching an all-time high, Mr Osborne is getting a lot

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of advice but, economically and politically, does he really have

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many options? We are hearing today that Mr Osborne will keep the 50 p

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rate. We do not really know because it is a budget. It is likely that

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he will, isn't it? I would have thought it is almost politically

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impossible to have reduced the 50p. The gross between the rich and poor,

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people are acutely aware of that. It only applies to people earning

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over 150,000. Two said they would keep more money in their pockets

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would be inflammatory at the moment. -- to say. The Liberal Democrats do

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not want them to do it. Is that really the clinching argument or is

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it political reality that even if the Lib Dems won a breathing down

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his neck, he probably still would not do it in this budget? He may

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give some direction of travel and say it is not raising that much

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money and say, I am minded to do something towards the end of the

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parliament. Give a signal but not do it. There is little room for

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manoeuvre. It if it does not raise much money, and early evidence is

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that it has not, we had one accountant on the show yesterday

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who said he thought it would raise 5 billion. If it raised that, it

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would be impossible to get rid of it. You could see a deal down the

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road if it does not raise much money. The Lib Dems are saying, we

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are going to cut the tax on income - on incentive - but we're going to

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find ways of raising taxes on the property of the better off. I think

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that is a possibility. It might easier to increase the number of

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council tax bands. People are living in expensive houses should

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pay more in that way. I still think, regardless of how much of how

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little they 50 p raises, it is the signal it sends out to ordinary

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voters. The politics are very difficult. We have just learnt the

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price of unleaded petrol has reached a new high of 137.42 4p per

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litre. So, it's another big day in Brussels. This morning, 25 of the

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EU's 27 leaders signed the new Treaty on Stability, Coordination

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and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, designed to prevent

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a repeat of the current debt crisis. It will oblige the signatories to

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legislate against a budget deficit None of them are near that at the

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moment. The treaty will now go to the national parliaments for

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ratification. Ireland has already said that it will hold a referendum

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and others may follow. The only leaders not to sign were the Czech

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Prime Minister, and, of course, David Cameron. Last night, Mr

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Cameron formally raised objections that his ideas for cutting red tape

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were not reflected in draft summit conclusions but, today, he said

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that his growth plans would be incorporated in the final

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communique after all. And here he is, speaking to journalists in

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Brussels in the last hour. Before this summer, 11 other EU leaders

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and myself set at an action plan for growth. Many more have backed

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our plan since then. This is an unprecedented coalition. It brings

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together countries from all four corners of Europe. It was not just

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the traditional allies from the northern European countries, it

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included Spain, Italy, Poland and many others. This letter has been

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the main focus at this council. Together, the countries that signed

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this letter, represent over half of the population of the EU. We made

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it clear we should agree concrete steps at this meeting. Yesterday it

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was frustrated that the drug summit communique did not do this. Today,

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in Brussels, as you will see when the communique is published, we

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have made our voice heard. It has been fundamentally rewritten in

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line with our demands. The Prime Minister is claiming a great

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political victory in Brussels. Sometimes it is true and sometimes

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it is not. Let's go over to our political correspondent, Iain

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Watson, in Brussels. You were telling us that it looked like

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Herman van Rompuy and the Commission had basically ignored

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the British-backed document. Now the Prime Minister is saying it is

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at the centre of things. Unravel it for as. The truth lies somewhere in

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between. David Cameron was keen to show he was not isolated. He turned

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up early for the summit. Gordon Brown turned up late wants to sign

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a treaty. 11 other countries had signed this letter, causing formal

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steps to boost economic growth. Last night he said he was

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frustrated because he was ignored. Today he said the communique had

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been fundamentally rewritten to incorporate what he was looking for,

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specifically timetables for lifting some EU regulations by 20th July 14

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and he saw that as a significant step forward. Two countries he did

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not mention were France and Germany. No soon as he claimed victory bend

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Nicolas Sarkozy issued his own rebuttal. I am not a polyglot. This

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is the sense of it. He said, he could not considered 10%, 15% of

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the demands of David Cameron and the temptation for deregulation is

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ever-present with Britain and Sweden and we do not want to see

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that on the table. I have spoken to EU Commission sources who said that

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David Cameron got about half of what he was asking for. That is a

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negative view. It reflects a bit of scepticism. The Prime Minister is

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wagging his finger at the rest of them at the EU summit. He was

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claiming victory today. We should be doing more to claim alliances.

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Nonetheless, let's be clear about this. The British government would

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say, if we had not made a point of this and got this round-robin

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together with 11 other countries, had it not been for the work of

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officials behind the scenes, there is a possibility would have got

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more warm words on gross but not what we need to boost the economy

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in difficult economic times. -- Kriss Akabusi. Was it the intention

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to ignore what Mr Cameron was asking for because it was not in

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the original draft? He made a song and dance about it and said, all

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right, we will write some extra bits into it. I saw at the original

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draft. There were four pages about the need for economic growth. This

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was only a draft and for circulation. We were always

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prepared to beef it up. We have made more progress towards

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deregulation than David Cameron is admitting. They saw being blunt

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about it as a manufactured row. The Prime Minister said, I led the way

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that it was not just me. Other countries like thin and stared up

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at the summit and decided they were going to back this. -- finance. He

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was not just playing to the domestic gallery. Herman van Rompuy

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had just been re-elected as President of the Council for

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another two-and-a-half years. David Cameron was trying to say, do not

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just listen to France and Germany. The feature EU budget, that will be

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negotiated. He says he has a guarantee of a proper discussion of

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EU trade in July. Thank you very much. He is not a polyglot but he

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is Scottish. And we are joined by Tory MP Stewart Jackson. He

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resigned as a government job over Europe last autumn and Sharon

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Bowles, Liberal Democrat MEP and chairwoman of the European

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Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee. Sharon, let me come to

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you. 25 of the 27 have approved the treaty. It has to be ratified but

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it looks like it is going ahead. It calls for fiscal union, the

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constitutional budget level laid down in law, and for more and more

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central control of individual economies on fiscal matters. For

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the foreseeable future, for this generation, all other means Britain

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will not join the euro. I think if Britain were to join the euro, it

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is a long way in the future. long? Certainly more than 10 years.

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I think it is off the table currently. To my mind, a lot will

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depend on what happens with eurobonds. If we get genuine

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eurobonds were joint and several liability and deep and liquid bond

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markets, there might come a point where that reflects upon what

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happens to gilts and we might have to think about it again from that

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point of view. Good luck with the Germans and that! It sounds as if

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you are hankering for membership. We have had other ambitions as well.

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I had interviewed every Lib Dem leader in recent memory and they

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have all made Europe one of the defining issues of your party. That

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ambition is not over. Hang on! We are in Europe. To join the euro?

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still think there are potentially circumstances where the UK may

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choose. The reasons worried did not join, some have been cured, like

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the fact there was not enough discipline but the facts such

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discipline would require much closer union, which was not to the

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overall UK taste. That has increased. If you look at it

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democratically, I think it is less likely to happen. You are shaking

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your head. I just cannot believe this delusion of the Liberal

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Democrats. They should be honest and say, had we listen to them, we

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would be more less in the same position as Greece. What the euro

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has done is inflicted policy and destitution on millions of Greek

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citizens. It has not worked and it has not worked because essentially

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it is a political project, driven by the bureaucratic European elite

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you want to extend their power. It is not about trade. We are a

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trading nation and a proud trading nation - the 5th biggest in the

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world. We do not need to be in this high-tax customers Union. The

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quicker the Liberal Democrats can understand the their way with the

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rest of the population, the better. That seemed to be a mix-up of the

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EU and Europe. That sometimes happens. I am talking about the

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European Union. You want out of the European Union. I have not said

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that. Let's ask her. I think for too long, you have to be over 55

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years of age ever to have been asked whether you believe in

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Britain having a close and what integrated approach to the European

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Union. The answer to the question is quite straightforward - we

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should have a referendum on future membership. How would you vote?

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am still agnostic. You could abstain! I would vote one way of

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the end of the stub it sounds to me want to vote No But cannot tell us.

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We are not having a debate. The need to have a debate among

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everyone. A moderate, well-informed What surprises me is anybody takes

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any notice. Have part of the deal is Europe will increase its

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employment rate by 75%, up to send 2%. The lisbon treaty said Europe

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would be the technological powerhouse of the world by 2010. I

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don't bake that happened, you just have to go to silicon Valley. Why

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did people bother? It's all nonsense! They like to put targets

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in as a headline. This time, there is quite a lot of work to try to

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make things happen. 20 measures coming forward to actually do more

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in the Single Market, remove the barriers still there, which should

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help growth. If you had 20 pieces of legislation referred to, it

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would stretch even your tolerance. There are much more positive moves.

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It is a fantasy move. Herman Van Rompuy was tweeting, thank you for

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re-electing the. I missed the election. Did you get a vote? Don't

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you think the public is losing patience? They keep on going to

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these summits, fight their internal battles. For the people watching

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this programme, for 99.9%, it means next to nothing. It is right it

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means next to nothing in a way. They have come up with a new

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agreement setting strict agreements on the size of the deficit. Even

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before they signed it, Spain and the Netherlands were saying, we are

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sorry, we can't manage this. We are talking as if, having signed it, it

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happens. The one they we know about Europe is, when they signed things,

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that is just the beginning of the argument. Exactly, it is about

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David Cameron playing to the domestic audience. His own party is

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at war over this. He tried to veto it. He is widely ignored in Europe.

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It is about shoring up the right wing of the Conservative Party.

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There is a settled Euro-sceptic can sentence in the Conservative Party.

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David Cameron is doing what people criticised him for in the past,

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building a coalition around growth, low taxes, low regulation, with

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other parties. We're now joined from Dublin by the

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Irish Finance Minister Brian Hayes. Thank you for joining us. Am I

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right in thinking that the legal advice, you might not want a

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referendum as a government, but the legal advice made it inevitable you

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have to have won under the Irish constitution? Good afternoon. The

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advice the Attorney General gave the government this week was that,

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on balance, a referendum should be held. We love those in Ireland,

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asking people their views on Europe. The view of the government is, even

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though this is an Inter governmental treaty, the

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constitutional test is quite strong here in Ireland and the government

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is going into this referendum in a positive position because it is

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good for Ireland and Europe to pass this duty and make sure that the

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mess created over the last number of years in Ireland and across the

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eurozone never happens again. We need to put in place strong rules,

:20:49.:20:57.

which get this crisis beyond, so we can move the agenda. 2012 should be

:20:57.:21:01.

the agenda around growth and jobs and creating new prospects for

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people. It is tough, it involves a considerable loss of sovereignty.

:21:10.:21:13.

Your opponents may even exaggerate the loss of sovereignty. You have

:21:13.:21:23.
:21:23.:21:24.

to give up a lot of budget powers, even some tax powers. In Ireland,

:21:24.:21:28.

Berlin seems to know about one of your budget agreements even before

:21:28.:21:33.

the Irish. It is not plain sailing? It is not, the government knows

:21:33.:21:39.

that. The great majority of people in this country no that the

:21:39.:21:44.

continuation of the euro and the establishment of the euro is

:21:44.:21:49.

crucial. We produce more than we can see him. We are exporting

:21:49.:21:54.

country. The only way back for Ryland is to export our goods and

:21:54.:21:58.

services and the best way it is with a strong attachment to hard

:21:58.:22:06.

currency. We also have over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs in this

:22:06.:22:11.

economy as a result of foreign direct investment, US and

:22:11.:22:15.

multinationals who come to Ireland because of its good location and

:22:15.:22:20.

quality of work force, also we are at the heart of the euro project.

:22:21.:22:29.

To create any uncertainty in economic history would be crazy.

:22:29.:22:34.

Most people realise, if we have to come back as a country, we need the

:22:34.:22:40.

support of all European countries, support of the eurozone. A means of

:22:41.:22:49.

doing that is part in this treaty. It is not going to be plain sailing.

:22:49.:22:59.
:22:59.:23:02.

I covered your referendum on the niece's treaty, I covered your

:23:02.:23:12.
:23:12.:23:19.

referendum -- Nice treat. -- and Lisbon. And you're lost. Will you

:23:19.:23:23.

be forced to have a second referendum? This is unlike any

:23:23.:23:28.

other referendum for the following reason. Once the requisite number

:23:28.:23:32.

of countries in the eurozone implement the treaty, the treaty

:23:32.:23:38.

goes on, without us. The question for us, do we have access to key

:23:38.:23:44.

emergency funding which we may or may not require in the future? We

:23:44.:23:48.

have a very precarious public finance position, a current budget

:23:48.:23:55.

deficit, just under 10%, we have got to get that down to 3% by 2015.

:23:55.:24:00.

It will be crazy for this country, in a circumstance where there could

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be up to 750 billion in a special fund, as a stop gap for the euro,

:24:07.:24:12.

if we couldn't have access. That is something Irish people will be

:24:12.:24:21.

mindful of. Sorry to interrupt. To get clarification, are you saying,

:24:21.:24:29.

even if you vote no, which Brussels which -- will regard as wrong, they

:24:29.:24:33.

won't make you vote again in a second referendum? There won't be a

:24:33.:24:36.

second referendum because no one will be making us do anything

:24:36.:24:41.

because other countries will simply go off on their merry way and

:24:41.:24:44.

create the conditions were the treaty can be established, without

:24:44.:24:50.

us. This isn't about Brussels telling the Irish what to do, it is

:24:50.:24:54.

about ourselves deciding what we want to do. There won't be any

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second referendum, the Deputy Prime Minister has made that clear. This

:24:58.:25:05.

and we wanted was to campaign on ensuring we don't get into this

:25:05.:25:15.
:25:15.:25:18.

mess again. It is good for Ireland, and good for Europe.

:25:18.:25:25.

Coming back to London. On this treaty, it puts into law, into

:25:25.:25:31.

constitutional amendment, the size your deficit can be. How does that

:25:31.:25:40.

square with the Liberal Democrats? Your party is riddled with

:25:40.:25:48.

Keynsians. They would say that is nonsense. If there is an over

:25:48.:25:53.

arching problem, externally, there are get-out clauses in his duty. If

:25:53.:25:58.

there is something... It strangely. It is not worth the paper it is

:25:58.:26:08.

written on! The balanced budget aspect as far as I can see, don't

:26:08.:26:12.

make a lot of difference to that we have already put partly into

:26:12.:26:17.

legislation in the last round, where we had balanced budgets in

:26:17.:26:22.

that. There is more that is coming in, in new legislation. The House

:26:22.:26:26.

of Lords has said there is nothing in that treaty the UK could not

:26:26.:26:32.

sign up to. Obviously, finds which applied to the eurozone would not

:26:32.:26:42.
:26:42.:26:43.

apply. -- fines. But all the rest to do with balanced budgets, we do.

:26:43.:26:50.

The Maastricht criteria contained all the right rules, they are

:26:50.:26:55.

already there. They were broken. Everyone knew Greece was fiddling.

:26:55.:27:01.

The elephant in the room surely... And the UK helped France and

:27:01.:27:06.

Germany escape when it came round to the vote. Surely, the Germans

:27:06.:27:10.

are the influential people, they will dictate whether the European

:27:10.:27:15.

Central Bank will be the lender of key resort. They are not willing to,

:27:15.:27:22.

for political reasons. We should be focusing on a low regulation, this

:27:22.:27:24.

is that institutions and power- broking in Europe.

:27:24.:27:29.

If you're planning a trip to Dundee this weekend, watch out. The place

:27:29.:27:33.

will be crawling with the great and the good from the Labour Party. Get

:27:33.:27:37.

there early, and you might even bump into Ed Miliband, who's taking

:27:37.:27:40.

the fight to Alex Salmond over independence with a speech this

:27:40.:27:48.

afternoon. Among his many warm-up acts today will be Shadow Defence

:27:48.:27:53.

Secretary Jim Murphy. We'll speak to him in a moment. First, here's a

:27:53.:28:00.

flavour of Douglas Alexander's address to conference this morning.

:28:00.:28:05.

As proud Scots, we may feel there is nowhere better, but we also

:28:05.:28:09.

understand there is something bigger. And if, in the coming

:28:09.:28:13.

century, our influence is to be increased and not diminished, our

:28:13.:28:17.

global reach is to be extended not limited, we need the British

:28:17.:28:22.

connection. So, in the months ahead, it will fall to Scottish Labour, to

:28:22.:28:26.

every person gathered in this hall, to every party member in the

:28:26.:28:32.

country, to say in the case that Scotland stands taller on the world

:28:32.:28:35.

stage as part of Britain, we are stronger together and we would be

:28:35.:28:42.

weaker apart. Douglas Alexander. Jim Murphy joins

:28:42.:28:49.

us now, from the conference in Dundee. Is Scotland really up for

:28:50.:28:55.

this fight for independence? Welcome to Dundee. I am looking at

:28:55.:29:02.

the window, it is a lovely day. We meet in Dundee, is city with a

:29:02.:29:07.

great history, through tough times. The Labour Party is up for it, not

:29:07.:29:14.

for our own sake but for the people who are hurting in this city and

:29:14.:29:20.

across the country. We lost an election in Scottish Parliament, we

:29:20.:29:24.

didn't lose our sense of right and wrong or our self-confidence. We

:29:24.:29:29.

have got to stop apologising, and take the fight to the two

:29:30.:29:36.

governments we face, in the Commons and the Scottish Government.

:29:37.:29:42.

they will be your allies in the fight for the union? On supporting

:29:42.:29:49.

devolution, they will be our biggest ally, the truth, Logic,

:29:49.:29:53.

common sense, the Scottish public. Folk hero know a good deal when

:29:53.:30:03.
:30:03.:30:04.

they see one. Ultimately, Scots are patriotic, fiercely so. A good deal

:30:04.:30:10.

is getting a fantastic deal as part of the UK. Who will lead the Labour

:30:10.:30:20.
:30:20.:30:22.

The Scottish public. Which Labour leader will lead it? We will have

:30:22.:30:29.

Johann Lamont at the head of it. You will have Johann Lamont as

:30:29.:30:34.

leader of the Labour Party campaign for the union? Yes, there will be a

:30:34.:30:38.

Labour Party campaign and an all- party campaign which will involve

:30:38.:30:45.

people from all political parties. That is the way to do it. Come the

:30:45.:30:50.

big debates for independence, if we have this referendum, not just on

:30:50.:30:53.

Scottish television but network television throughout the British

:30:53.:30:58.

Isles, many may be taken throughout the world given the importance of

:30:58.:31:04.

where the United Kingdom stays together or not, who, in these

:31:04.:31:10.

debates, will represent Labour up against Alex Salmond? Let's see who

:31:10.:31:19.

the BBC invites! That is a cop out. Who do you offer? The clever you

:31:19.:31:27.

invite will come on to your television. I know it makes good

:31:27.:31:32.

telly for you and I to shout at one another hundreds of miles apart. No

:31:32.:31:37.

one in Dundee or any street across Scotland is thinking, he will be in

:31:37.:31:42.

the TV debate? What they want is a conversation about what separation

:31:42.:31:46.

means, what interest rates would apply. Those other big questions we

:31:46.:31:51.

will face. At some point we will get the issue of who will make the

:31:51.:31:56.

debate in television studios. understand that. I would not have

:31:56.:32:00.

to shout at you if you just answer the questions. I answered it but

:32:00.:32:06.

you did not give me the answer. did not answer it. Who will lead

:32:06.:32:10.

the campaign against Alex Salmond? There will be a team effort of all

:32:10.:32:14.

the parties. I look forward to playing my part, I look forward to

:32:14.:32:20.

Alistair Darling claimed his pack - - his part. Let's see who the BBC

:32:20.:32:27.

it invites. That is an absurd one such. The viewers will make up

:32:27.:32:31.

their minds. You said you were not share a platform with David Cameron

:32:31.:32:38.

to save the Union, is that still true? I do not think it helped make

:32:38.:32:45.

the argument for the United Kingdom. I saw Labour politicians doing that

:32:45.:32:49.

on the first past the post and the eight the referendums. It is not my

:32:49.:32:53.

politics. There will be an all- party campaign. This campaign will

:32:53.:32:59.

be led in Scotland. David Cameron not be leading this campaign.

:32:59.:33:03.

have called for an all-party campaign. That would imply all

:33:03.:33:07.

three leaders of the mainstream parties should get together to

:33:07.:33:14.

fight Scottish nationalists. You're saying despite the all-party

:33:14.:33:20.

campaign, you would not appear with the Tories. The Labour Party, the

:33:20.:33:23.

Conservative Party and the Lib Dems. Leaders and Scotland will come

:33:23.:33:27.

together. It is not about taking on Alex Salmond, it is about making a

:33:27.:33:33.

case for Scotland in the United Kingdom. If we can set aside the

:33:33.:33:37.

personalities, it is about the substance. That is what the

:33:37.:33:41.

nationalists want. They have the dominant individual who behaves

:33:41.:33:48.

like the King of Scotland. That is not what this debate is about. Who

:33:48.:33:53.

will set the interest rates? How big will the Army be, the Navy?

:33:54.:33:58.

These are enormous issues which will decide the debate in Scotland.

:33:58.:34:03.

It will be all party led by the three party leaders of the Scottish

:34:03.:34:07.

party's. Thank you. We were led to get back to Dundee. Good luck in

:34:07.:34:14.

finding a leader against Mr Salmond. There we have it. A Labour campaign

:34:14.:34:19.

that does not have a leader. would cut this morning to find out

:34:19.:34:24.

it was the BBC who had chosen Engelbert Humperdinck to be our

:34:24.:34:29.

representative in Eurovision. thought he was dead actually! I am

:34:29.:34:36.

glad he is not. He is not running to either a break-up or save the

:34:36.:34:40.

Union. From listening to Jim Murphy there, they have not really got

:34:40.:34:45.

someone to lead their sight of the argument. He is saying, although it

:34:45.:34:50.

is about the future of the country, I will not appear but the Tories.

:34:50.:34:54.

If I was Alex Salmond, Aled Brew up another coffee and say, we're off

:34:54.:35:01.

to the races. -- I would brew up. The Conservatives and Labour in

:35:01.:35:06.

Scotland have some very lightweight politicians. All the best a down in

:35:06.:35:11.

Westminster. Possibly they should be repatriated to lead the campaign.

:35:11.:35:17.

It needs decent politicians of that stature. Alex Salmond is a much

:35:17.:35:21.

better politician. They need more heavyweight characters, the

:35:21.:35:27.

Conservatives as well. What do you think about Johann Lamont leading

:35:27.:35:35.

the campaign? She looks a very small figure when compared with

:35:35.:35:41.

Alex Salmond. And, if you can't get enough of Scottish independence,

:35:41.:35:45.

don't worry. I'll be interviewing First Minister Alex Salmond on the

:35:45.:35:55.
:35:55.:35:57.

Sunday Politics this Sunday at noon on BBC1. -- at 11:30am. These days,

:35:57.:36:00.

if someone offered you the chance to pay university tuition fees of

:36:00.:36:04.

�1,000, you'd probably bite their hand off. But, back in the early

:36:04.:36:06.

days of the Blair government, their introduction caused outrage. Since

:36:07.:36:09.

then, how we pay for higher education has proved a minefield

:36:09.:36:12.

for both Labour and Coalition governments and it has got

:36:12.:36:15.

increasingly expensive. But what does the man who first brought

:36:15.:36:18.

tuition fees in think about where we are today and what has their

:36:18.:36:28.
:36:28.:36:41.

Student grants, here to stay it! Protests on the streets of London

:36:41.:36:47.

and many other cities as well. Why? Tuition fees are being introduced

:36:47.:36:52.

by the Government. It seems like a long time ago. Back in the early

:36:52.:36:57.

days of New Labour, it was the job of David Blunkett to sell the idea

:36:57.:37:01.

to a deeply sceptical public. People were genuinely and

:37:01.:37:05.

understandably worried about the breach of the principle over the

:37:05.:37:12.

previous 25 years of so-called free education. So, in the face of

:37:12.:37:15.

pretty fierce opposition, upfront fees came in with concessions for

:37:15.:37:21.

the less well off. In 2001, Labour promised there would be no top pubs.

:37:21.:37:26.

Two years later they changed their minds. Tuition fees would be paid

:37:26.:37:31.

after students graduated but they could be as much as �3,000 a year.

:37:31.:37:34.

More furious protests and it almost brought down the Blair government.

:37:34.:37:42.

Why did they do it? Tony and Gordon got cold feet. They started to feel

:37:42.:37:46.

the wind of parents. Students would not be hit in that way but they did

:37:47.:37:51.

not like the upfront contribution. The demo is of 2004 were repeated

:37:51.:37:56.

six years later when the cap was raised by this government to �9,000.

:37:56.:38:01.

David Blunkett voted against it but sets -- but accepts that Labour set

:38:01.:38:06.

the tone. The pressure once you have changed the system and once

:38:06.:38:13.

you could repeat the mantra there was no bump -- upfront payment -

:38:13.:38:17.

therefore be the students paying at the time they could afford it -

:38:17.:38:20.

that mantra immediately allowed the upward pressure to the point we

:38:20.:38:27.

have seen today. The number of students applying to go to

:38:27.:38:31.

university has dropped by 10%. Has the introduction of students' fees

:38:31.:38:38.

rarely had the chilling effect expected? 18 euros have not had the

:38:38.:38:45.

chance to go to university before. -- year olds. The number has gone

:38:45.:38:52.

down by 4%. That is much less than many of us thought. The number of

:38:52.:38:57.

students who are applying for more -- from more disadvantaged

:38:57.:39:01.

backgrounds has been the smallest dip of them all. Could that move

:39:01.:39:07.

away from the system of upfront fees? I think there is a real risk

:39:07.:39:12.

that upfront payments would have put students off. We have a system

:39:12.:39:17.

where you pay according to how much you earn. In many ways, it is more

:39:17.:39:21.

socially progressive Foster how much you pay depends on what you

:39:21.:39:26.

learn when you graduate. Looking back, does David Blunkett regret

:39:26.:39:30.

being the man who brought in tuition fees? Yes and No. I regret

:39:30.:39:35.

we have ended up with a situation with substantial fees, with a big

:39:35.:39:42.

reduction in England of 10% in those applying for university from

:39:42.:39:48.

autumn 2012. And a great deal of fear, I think, about what it means

:39:48.:39:51.

about the introduction of fees and the contribution that was made

:39:51.:39:56.

first aid by parents and in the feature by students. It has not

:39:56.:40:02.

damaged universities. It has allowed substantial expansion. It

:40:03.:40:07.

has allowed the maintenance of world-class quality. That really

:40:07.:40:12.

does matter. And, to discuss all that, we are joined from Hull by

:40:12.:40:14.

the chair of the Education Select Committee, Conservative MP Graham

:40:14.:40:20.

Stuart. And the author and blogger Owen Jones is with us too. Welcome

:40:20.:40:25.

to both of you. Application figures for 2012 show a minimal drop

:40:25.:40:31.

overall. What was all the fuss about? There has been a drop. It is

:40:31.:40:36.

too early to tell in terms of long- term prospects. This government has

:40:36.:40:40.

scrapped 15,000 places this year. You have to take into account the

:40:40.:40:50.
:40:50.:40:52.

effect of scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance. Where is the

:40:52.:40:59.

support to show that places and applications have dropped? It talks

:40:59.:41:04.

about a drop in public services. When Labour induced top up fees, a

:41:04.:41:14.
:41:14.:41:16.

disappeared. In Scotland, you have free education and the drop is only

:41:16.:41:21.

3%. Arts and humanities has had its funding completely withdrawn. The

:41:21.:41:25.

Government has an ideological approach to these matters. Courses

:41:25.:41:31.

such as arts and humanities are falling by the wayside. The whole

:41:31.:41:37.

thing was that it would deter kids from the poorest backgrounds. You

:41:37.:41:43.

turned out to be wrong. No, I did not turn out to be wrong.

:41:43.:41:46.

Applications from kits from the poorest backgrounds barely

:41:46.:41:54.

registered a drop at all. How much did they dropped by? 0.2%. That is

:41:54.:42:01.

statistically insignificant. This is from a very low base. The top

:42:01.:42:09.

5th richest students come at over a half applied for university. We are

:42:09.:42:13.

talking about a very low base. Unless we're talking about a

:42:13.:42:18.

dramatic expansion, we want lots of people from all backgrounds to go

:42:18.:42:22.

to university, we will not achieve that if people are deterred by huge

:42:22.:42:27.

amounts. The number of kids from poor backgrounds going to

:42:27.:42:32.

university has barely changed. has not increased from a very low

:42:32.:42:39.

base. I use saying that 0.2% is statistically significant? -- are

:42:39.:42:46.

you saying? It is a low base. The scrapping of Educational

:42:46.:42:51.

Maintenance Allowance - 49% of colleges in this country - have

:42:51.:42:57.

reported a decline in student numbers. The poorest students are

:42:57.:43:03.

not even going to six form. When will fees go up? When will these go

:43:03.:43:11.

up? They have tripled in recent years. When do they go up again?

:43:11.:43:15.

The important thing is people like Owen have gone on suggesting that

:43:15.:43:20.

these were going up too far for those from disadvantaged

:43:20.:43:26.

backgrounds. So -- statistics show they have not. In a system where

:43:26.:43:32.

most people who go to university, we're going to do our best to close

:43:32.:43:37.

the gap, it will continue to be dominated by people from better-off

:43:37.:43:40.

families. We do not want people who never stood a chance of getting to

:43:40.:43:45.

university and into work longer hours and pay more tax to subsidise

:43:45.:43:48.

the rich to go to university. That is what left-wing people like Owen

:43:48.:43:52.

have been arguing - they have been arguing it would put up the poor.

:43:52.:43:57.

The new system is working. Universities will have 10% more

:43:57.:44:02.

money by 2015. We have a more responsive university sector. We

:44:02.:44:05.

hear from universities that the questions from students and they

:44:05.:44:09.

come to the open days are much more focused. There is a lot more

:44:09.:44:15.

attention to detail. Universities are having to respond. That is fine.

:44:15.:44:20.

I question to you was how can future students of tomorrow and not

:44:20.:44:24.

take it for granted that these will stay roughly in real terms where

:44:24.:44:27.

they are and that we're not on an escalation of fees that will rise

:44:27.:44:34.

and rise and rise and get to American levels? What we have is a

:44:34.:44:38.

system where you do not have to pay until you earn decent money. If you

:44:38.:44:43.

do not earn decent money, you do not have to pay at all. As long as

:44:43.:44:46.

we have the right Progressive support in place, this system is

:44:46.:44:51.

more progressive than the old one. It works out about five had and �40

:44:51.:44:55.

the year less than the old system. You have to earn more money before

:44:55.:45:01.

you start paying. We have a big improvement. As long as we have the

:45:01.:45:08.

right framework in place, these should rise as and when required in

:45:08.:45:12.

future. They should not be frozen for ever. They could be index-

:45:12.:45:18.

linked? Well, we will need to look at what is politically and most

:45:18.:45:28.
:45:28.:45:31.

importantly education league Do these figures seen convincing?

:45:31.:45:37.

agree with you. I do think we are still in quite troubled waters, it

:45:37.:45:41.

will take a few more years before you can really see what is

:45:41.:45:48.

happening. And it has always been the case, kids from disadvantaged

:45:48.:45:53.

backgrounds found it difficult to get to university. I wouldn't have

:45:53.:45:59.

gone to university if these fees were instituted. We're heading

:45:59.:46:08.

towards an American system where you need a small fortune. Let us

:46:08.:46:17.

see how things develop. The final word? The number of people from the

:46:17.:46:22.

poorest backgrounds going to university is shockingly low. A

:46:22.:46:25.

third of courses in England have disappeared since the introduction

:46:25.:46:31.

of fees. If you're an MP, it's a hard life.

:46:31.:46:34.

I'm not kidding. With constituency surgeries, a bulging post bag and

:46:34.:46:38.

all those babies to kiss, it can be tough. So you'll be pleased to

:46:38.:46:42.

learn that things are easing up over the road in the Commons. In

:46:42.:46:45.

the past seven days, honourable members have only been called to

:46:45.:46:50.

vote once. That was yesterday, and most of them are still having a lie

:46:50.:46:57.

down to get over the shock. But not one man. Ealing MP Stephen Pound is

:46:57.:47:00.

up and about, and joins us from College Green outside Parliament,

:47:00.:47:10.
:47:10.:47:11.

along with the Independent on Sunday's Matt Chorley.

:47:11.:47:16.

So, you have nothing to do these days? I am grateful for your

:47:16.:47:22.

concern. We have a great deal to do. However, there is an odd mood on

:47:22.:47:26.

the floor of the chamber, Tumbleweed blowing down the

:47:26.:47:32.

corridors. The government has lost control of the timetable. We had

:47:32.:47:37.

the covers on recess and the Lords sitting, then the other way around.

:47:37.:47:43.

This week, you know when you are desperate for business, we debate a

:47:43.:47:50.

motion on protecting UK interest in respect to the Treaty on Stability,

:47:50.:47:59.

Coordination and Governance, you know you were desperate men.

:47:59.:48:08.

you on a one-line whip? No, there is an important debate next Monday

:48:08.:48:18.
:48:18.:48:18.

with a three-line whip. Because... Because it is a Labour debate! You

:48:18.:48:27.

have to turn up for that. That was confidential! What is the mood up

:48:27.:48:37.
:48:37.:48:38.

like -- like it at Westminster? are lucky to find an MP. A lot of

:48:38.:48:43.

them are working very hard in their constituencies. The fact we are

:48:43.:48:47.

getting into almost the local election campaigning has nothing to

:48:47.:48:57.

do with a fat it is difficult to find MPs at the moment. -- the fact.

:48:57.:49:07.
:49:07.:49:09.

It is a very good thing, the less law-making they do, the better!

:49:09.:49:12.

Look at the Health Service Bill, most of which they didn't need

:49:12.:49:16.

legislation for, it has got them into terrible trouble. It is much

:49:16.:49:24.

better if they do not do too much law-making. Isn't it also the

:49:24.:49:27.

product of coalition government, they are running out of things they

:49:27.:49:32.

agree on to legislate on? They put all of the big bills, health,

:49:32.:49:37.

welfare, that went into the Commons first. The Liberal Democrats wave

:49:37.:49:47.
:49:47.:49:49.

it through. When it got to the House of Lords it got into trouble.

:49:49.:49:55.

There are over 1000 amendments to the health and welfare bill in the

:49:55.:49:59.

House of Lords. When you have over 200 hours of scrutiny, you have

:49:59.:50:04.

either made a catastrophic mistake, or you are so arrogant if you think

:50:04.:50:09.

you can crash this through. We are approaching Belgium where they had

:50:09.:50:19.
:50:19.:50:22.

the best part of two years without a government. Gentle men, we know

:50:22.:50:26.

you have nothing to do so we had better let you go see you can do

:50:26.:50:30.

It it's a been half a century since the abolition of national service.

:50:30.:50:33.

And whenever the bad behaviour of Britain's youth makes the headlines,

:50:33.:50:37.

as it often does, the cry comes up to restore it. Enter the

:50:37.:50:40.

government's National Citizens Service. How to fix a "broken

:50:41.:50:44.

society"? Well the Prime Minister's big idea, unveiled just before the

:50:44.:50:47.

general election, is the National Citizens Service. Not national

:50:47.:50:54.

service, mind you. There's be no square-bashing on the march to

:50:54.:51:01.

Dave's sunny uplands. Mr Cameron hailed the idea by referencing

:51:01.:51:04.

Mahatma Gandhi's maxim that: "The best way to find yourself is to

:51:04.:51:10.

lose yourself in the service of others." This summer, the programme

:51:10.:51:14.

will be rolled out to 30,000 16 year olds. But eventually, the PM

:51:14.:51:18.

wants all them to take part. The aim is a more responsible and

:51:18.:51:28.
:51:28.:51:36.

engaged youth. A goal even more pressing since last summers' riots.

:51:36.:51:43.

Tell me, how many 16 year-olds are best in this country? 600,000 at

:51:43.:51:48.

any one time, 8,000 took part in our pilot last year. And, how long

:51:48.:51:57.

will it take to cover, to meet this goal of 600,000 being involved?

:51:57.:52:01.

will take it a step at a time. 30,000 places will be made

:52:01.:52:05.

available this year, in large part because we are so pleased with the

:52:05.:52:11.

results last year. We are committed to 90,000 places in 2014. We have

:52:11.:52:15.

to make a case for it to the Treasury and public, this is a

:52:15.:52:25.

substantial involvement -- investment. Last year, nine out of

:52:25.:52:29.

10 kids who took part said they would recommend it to their friends.

:52:29.:52:35.

We are sitting on something very powerful. The current rate of

:52:35.:52:41.

expansion will mean 23 years to get up to 600,000. We are starting with

:52:41.:52:46.

something new. On the evidence we have had so far, it has had such a

:52:46.:52:52.

positive impact on young people, building their confidence, the soft

:52:52.:52:56.

skills employers have said they need, connecting them with their

:52:56.:53:00.

communities and how to make a difference. If we continue down

:53:00.:53:05.

this track, and build greater awareness, more people will come

:53:05.:53:12.

forward. But, do you have a target date in your mind when you would

:53:12.:53:20.

hope to see everybody covered? that is the long-term aspiration.

:53:20.:53:25.

What I have in my mind is the 30,000 figure this year. Then may

:53:25.:53:29.

have to make a case, it has to work for the taxpayer. Is there any

:53:29.:53:34.

stage way you would consider making this compulsory. Not at this stage.

:53:34.:53:39.

That is not the direction, our mission is to make it as compelling

:53:39.:53:43.

as possible, so many more young people want to take part because

:53:43.:53:48.

they see the value of it for themselves, their employers seek

:53:48.:53:55.

its value. They understand it is not policy now. But, in your view,

:53:55.:53:58.

sitting as you do at the moment, you would not consider making this

:53:59.:54:04.

a compulsory scheme for 16 year- olds? That is the prime minister's

:54:04.:54:12.

decision ultimately. It is not the intention. This started in 2005

:54:12.:54:16.

when David Cameron became Leader of the Opposition. He wanted to do

:54:16.:54:20.

more for young people. We are not good as a country helping young

:54:20.:54:25.

people make that transition to adulthood. Can we, government,

:54:25.:54:29.

charities, work together to construct a modern version of

:54:29.:54:33.

national service which isn't compulsory, which doesn't have a

:54:33.:54:38.

military dimension, which pressures kids together from different

:54:38.:54:42.

backgrounds to have a, expense which challenges them and gives

:54:42.:54:52.
:54:52.:54:52.

them skills. If it is as good as you say. Why would you make it

:54:52.:54:57.

compulsory? We want a track of proving its value to young people,

:54:57.:55:02.

parents, schools, businesses and ultimately the tax payer. Our

:55:02.:55:06.

belief is we can make it so compelling, it will become a rite

:55:06.:55:13.

of passage for young people. think it sounds a good idea, I am

:55:13.:55:18.

sure it will expand people's horizons, it will be useful and fun.

:55:18.:55:26.

But, it only lasts three weeks. The old National Service used to last

:55:26.:55:30.

for two years. I do not think putting people together, good idea

:55:30.:55:40.
:55:40.:55:43.

that it might be, it will cost �37 million? It is lovely, warm and

:55:43.:55:53.
:55:53.:55:54.

cuddly. You are slightly too old. What people want is jobs. It sounds

:55:55.:55:59.

great but all young people want to hear is, how can I get a job? I

:55:59.:56:03.

can't find work. A lot of young people are attracted to this

:56:03.:56:07.

because they know it will look good on their CV. Employers say what

:56:07.:56:12.

they're missing from young people are confidence. This programme is

:56:12.:56:18.

helping to develop it. If it is only three weeks. They can pack a

:56:18.:56:25.

lot into three weeks. We can pack and out into one out of

:56:25.:56:33.

broadcasting. Time now to see what else has been happening over the

:56:33.:56:37.

last seven days. Here's the week in 60 seconds.

:56:37.:56:41.

The week started some nifty Lib Dem positioning on the Health Bill,

:56:41.:56:44.

with Nick Clegg writing to Lib Dem activists promising to back more

:56:44.:56:48.

amendments. I do not know whether he supports the bill or opposes it.

:56:48.:56:53.

I support it. Oh, he supports it! Leveson finally showed us the money.

:56:53.:56:57.

Exactly how much does it cost to buy a police horse? Sorry I mean

:56:57.:57:07.
:57:07.:57:21.

police force! Three �150,000 in cash. That is a lot of ponies. As

:57:21.:57:24.

one protest came to a close, another stepped up a gear, as anti-

:57:24.:57:26.

workfare campaigners occupied the golden arches.

:57:26.:57:29.

While union leader Len McCLuskey declared he was going for gold,

:57:29.:57:33.

with a plan to disrupt the Olympics. And, who said two wheels are better

:57:33.:57:36.

than four? Boris Johnson unveiled his new Routemaster buses. Although

:57:36.:57:44.

at �1 million a piece, it means he couldn't afford a driver.

:57:44.:57:52.

What about the horse? It is a brilliant story. It will define the

:57:52.:58:00.

whole inquiry. There was a Channel 4 comedy, the kind of thing you

:58:00.:58:05.

would have expected in that. David Cameron was in Brussels wanted to

:58:05.:58:10.

talk about the economy, and the question was, did you ride on

:58:10.:58:19.

Rebekah Brooks's horse? And the answer was, yes. But the horse is

:58:19.:58:24.

no longer, you can't even interviewed the horse. You see,

:58:24.:58:30.

everybody is talking about it. wonder if it gave an exclusive

:58:30.:58:37.

interview? Thanks to our guests. The One

:58:37.:58:41.

Andrew Neil with the latest political news and interviews, including the Irish Finance Minister on the EU treaty vetoed by the UK and Jim Murphy on the Scottish Labour conference.

And we'll be asking why our MPs aren't busy passing legislation in the House of Commons.


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