05/03/2012 Daily Politics


05/03/2012

Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Good afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics.

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Vladimir Putin has swept back to power in Moscow. But here, at

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Westminster, nothing is quite as certain. The Chancellor, George

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Osborne, is under pressure to backtrack on plans to cut child

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benefit for the middle classes. We won't find out until the Budget

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later this month. But is the ground being prepared for some kind of

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concession? His colleague Ken Clarke will be with us, to explain

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why he thinks cuts to legal aid will not prevent the poorest having

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access to justice. David Cameron's closest colleague,

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Steve Hilton, quits government, for a sabbatical abroad. So, who will

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the PM turn to now for advice? We'll bring you our guide to the

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powers behind the scenes in Downing Street.

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And, one former MP calls on Nick Clegg to stand aside as Lib Dem

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party leader, in order to rebuild All that in the hour. And with us

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in our Westminster dacha this Monday is the former Downing Street

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policy chief James O'Shaughnessy, who now runs his own consultancy.

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So, if you have any thoughts or comments on anything we're

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discussing, then you can tweet your comments using the hashtag, #bbcdp.

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But first, we've just heard that the Home Secretary Theresa May is

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now in Jordan, where she is talking to senior Jordanian officials about

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the possible deportation of Abu Qatada. He, of course, is the

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radical cleric once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-

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hand man in Europe. And is now released from jail under a 22-hour

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curfew, while the government seeks assurances that evidence gained

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through torture would not be used in any trial against him if he were

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sent back to the Middle East. She has got to come back with something

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pretty significant from this trip. She has obviously gone up there

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with the purpose of finding a way to send Abu Qatada over there. She

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needs something to persuade the court that the Jordanian government

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is serious about giving him a fair trial. It is in everyone's interest

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here for her to do that. What would this be? Just having a verbal

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assurance from the Jordanians, we will not break the rules, it won't

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be that simple. It went but at the same time she will be well prepared,

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the Home Office lawyers will know what needs to be done to satisfy

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the judges. That will be private information in the discussions they

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have. To reserve make is incredibly serious, well briefed -- Theresa

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May. They will know the kind of things they need to do. Hopefully

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she will come back here and we can get the legal process going.

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will have to be swift. He is on strict bail conditions but in a few

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months he could be released. Exactly, it needs to happen quickly.

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It needs to be seen in the context of the British government's

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attitude to human rights legislation. There isn't an

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appetite to do anything dramatic, withdrawing from the EC AGR -- ECHR.

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In terms of this individual case, it needs to be quick. And it will

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be popular. Indeed. March 21st will see the Chancellor

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George Osborne stand at the despatch box, and deliver his much

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awaited Budget. There's been a lot of speculation over the weekend,

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over what Mr Osborne's got in store for us. And one particularly

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contentious issue is child benefits. Currently, the government plans to

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cut child benefit for parents who are higher rate tax payers. However,

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critics argue the move unfairly punishes middle income earners. And

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particularly affects those households where there is just one

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person earning over the tax threshold. There are rumours the

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Chancellor is planning to water down the plans by raising the

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amount people have to earn before they lose out. Speaking to the BBC

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earlier, Nick Clegg said they are prepared to look at the plans.

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We have said as a government, we are letting in difficult times, so

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to ask people who are earning more money to give up child benefit is

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fair. There is an issue about the cliff edge, one earning family who

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would not get child benefit under that scenario but another... George

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Osborne and the Prime Minister has said that is something we will look

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at. Also in the frame are changes to the tax credit system. Later

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today, Labour will lead a debate in the Commons calling for the plans

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to be reversed. The party argues that, from next month, working

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parents could lose thousands of pounds, because the new rules mean

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couples with children will have to work 24 hours between them, instead

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of 16 hours, to qualify for working tax credits. However, the

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government claims that, when the universal credit is introduced in

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October next year, this problem will be addressed.

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Let's talk now to James Brown from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

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Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us who are going to be the

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losers in terms of child benefit? The policy as it stands is families

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where one parent is a higher-rate taxpayer paying 40p, will lose all

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their child benefit. Currently worth about �1,000 for the first

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child, �750 for each subsequent child. If you're looking again at

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tax credits, claims are being made changes might make it less

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worthwhile for parents going to work. What are the changes? They

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have been tapering this down. policy Labour is talking about

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today it is, from April this year, you will have to work 24 hours a

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week if you are a couple with children to claim working tax

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credit, conditional on the working is certain number of hours a week,

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then it is means tested. It means it becomes up less worthwhile to

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work between 16-24 hours a week. You need to work 24 hours to

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qualify. The government is saying the universal credit would mitigate

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that. A universal credit will replace the current means tested

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benefits and tax credits. That won't have any of these hours rules

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in it. It won't matter how many hours you work each week, just how

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much you earn. That won't come in for another couple of years. There

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will still be people on the current system right the way through to

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2018 because of the long drawn-out period. Joining me now is the

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Shadow Treasury Minister, Cathy Jamieson. And the Conservative,

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Nadim Zahawi. Should the government to drop their

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plan to withdraw child benefit from higher rate tax payers? Why should

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it be that someone on �20,000 a year should be subsidising child

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tax credit for someone earning �800,000 a year? Polling evidence

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shows people who are higher earners, are prepared to make sacrifices

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because we are going through austerity, we are left a Treasury

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without any money. The problem occurs is this anomaly. Wherever

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you look, you will have to deal with that in some way. There is

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lots of speculation, to increase the threshold up to �50,000. A

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couple both Worthing on �42,000 would get tax credit, is in full

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working household with �43,000 would lose it. But you are happy

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with the original policy as outlined? I think it is worth

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looking at, this cliff edge. We ought to look at it, if there is a

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way of fixing it. The problem with all these things, with a massive

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budget deficit, we came into office borrowing �500 million a day.

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your Conservative colleagues are not happy and there is a lot of

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pressure on the Chancellor. Are you disappointed the Chancellor looks

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as if he may bend to pressure from your colleagues? If we can deal

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with the anomaly. Not just to satisfy them? I think you will find

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most of my colleagues are in favour of people better off paying their

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share to get us out of the economic mess. But can you deal with this

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anomaly to mitigate it? It is quite rightly been looked at. Labour

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wants the benefit to stay. issue is the government has got

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itself into a mess, we have warned them. Our principal position is we

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do believe in the universal... Ian Ayres can still get child

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benefit? There are other ways of dealing with that. There is this

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cliff edge. I have heard speculation perhaps the threshold

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will be raised, perhaps they will take it away one's children reach

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the age of five but the government has not said. This is their mess.

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Their own backbenchers are deeply unhappy about the state of play.

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You have clarified you would like that benefit to stay. You would

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deal with some of the issues a sweat in the tax system. If the

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policy goes ahead, and the universal benefit is broken, will

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you reverse it when Labour comes to power? What we have said about all

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of the changes is we will have to see what the state of the economy

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is at that time. The real issue today we are having to face also,

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this is not just about hype earners, this government is cutting benefits

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for some of the lowest paid people. We will come to that. If it is a

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point of principle on child benefit, which is what some Tory MPs are

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arguing. They say it is not a family-friendly policy. Surely that

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is one area you can say, we will reverse it? We would want to keep

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the principle. But we are in a situation where we have to see what

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happens, how the economy will be at that time. I have heard the

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Conservatives talking about the deficit and borrowing, the

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government is borrowing more than we would have done. I would like to

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pick up a few points. You have witnessed why Labour's economic

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policy have no credibility. They say they want to deal with the

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deficit. They will absolutely support the Cup's we are making.

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But they are saying we are cutting too fast, too deep. We are spending

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more. If you look... We are borrowing more. If you look at

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Labour's own plans, they would have, this was decided by an independent

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report, borrowing �200 billion more. The issue at hand, it has been very

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contentious for your colleagues. They will be waiting to see what

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George Osborne actually says. If you tweak the system endlessly, do

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things which will keep people happy, it will be so complicated it won't

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work and make savings. That is a judgment for the Chancellor, let us

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see. The judgment has to be, you have to get the benefits from these

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savings, �2.5 billion a year, rising beyond that. Can you

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mitigate some of these issues, without losing the benefit of the

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cost cutting you need to deliver? And your Tory colleagues will have

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to be satisfied? It has to make the argument for it. Tax credits. You

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have claimed it would be worthwhile for a couple working 24 hours, they

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will be worse off than claiming benefits. But it will be mitigated

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by the universal credit? A I do not think the government has realised

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how serious this is for low-paid families. It is all very well to

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say the universal credit will fix this. In the interim, the lowest-

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paid families will seriously lose out. This is the government's

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figures this is based on. Working tax credits go to families,

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certainly before the coalition came in, people earning up to �50,000,

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it has come down. You're looking at how these cuts will impact on, a

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couple on the minimum wage with two children. Working 16 hours. If they

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cannot get the extra hours, they will lose all of their tax credits.

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It is due to come into place in April. They could stop it and a

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look at it again. Two issues seen as bold policies by

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the coalition government, on child benefit, do you think the

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Chancellor will be seen as weak if there is a U-turn? You have to see

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them together. Child benefit, go back to why the Chancellor made the

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announcement at the Conservative Party conference in 2010. It was a

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strategic choice, he doesn't do things by accident. He understands.

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The reason is they needed to make a case for cuts. They didn't come

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into government to do cuts but they needed to. They came in knowing

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they would have to make cuts, the emergency budget, that was clear,

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the Comprehensive Spending Review laid it out. Everyone needs to feel

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some pain. People in Labour say, they are all in it together. I

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genuinely think everybody needs to make a contribution to this

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tightening of our budget, which is why the decision was made. The

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Prime Minister himself has said there is an issue around this cliff

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edge. They probably are looking at ways of Amelia rating that. That

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doesn't take away from the fact they will be looking to make sure

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well be people are making a contribution to reducing the budget

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deficit. Look at the tax credits. If you look at the welfare state as

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a whole, there is less money going You have to make sure everybody is

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taking a piece of that and that is where you have to see these things

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together. OK, thank you both very much. One piece of news set the

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Westminster village a flutter last week. That was the departure of

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David Cameron's closest advisor, Steve Hilton, on a year-long

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sabbatical to the West Coast of California. Sounds lovely. So why

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did the career-break of a man who is not exactly a household name get

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everyone around here frantic with excitement? Well, it's because the

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inner circle of advisers are often just as powerful, if not more

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powerful, an influence on Government policy as a Cabinet

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Minister or even three. So we sent Giles out to lift the lid on who

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:16:26.:16:27.

pulls the strings behind the scenes In terms of the political discourse

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of this country, you could be for given for thinking this House, this

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building, is one single human entity. You often hear, "The

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feeling from Number Ten is...: it is populated by a number of people

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working around the Prime Minister, but who are they? The Prime

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Minister's closest advisor has been Steve Hilton, conspicuous for his

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dress down attitude but perhaps fine if you shun the spotlight as

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he does. Not the hippy satire likes to make out. Alongside Rohan Silva,

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he's been focussed on pre election pretty much anything. Recently on

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policy implementation. He is the PM's blue sky thinker, and Big

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Society champion. What people say about him is that, for every

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brilliant idea he has, there's 10 which are not going to go anywhere.

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Now he's leaving for a year to go to California. His wife works for

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Google. On sabbatical. There maybe other reasons. Let me explain.

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Chief of Staff is Ed Llewellyn. He ran the leader's private office in

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opposition having worked on Cameron's leadership bid. He is

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very close to the PM, a friend and colleague. Alongside Kate Fall

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they're the very loyal Praetorian guard and all get on well. The big

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problem is that when things get very difficult, and you need

:17:47.:17:52.

advisers to genuinely speak truth to power, and it to say, hold on,

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there is a major problem here and we need to think again, sometimes

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it seems those people who work around them can't quite do that.

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But the critics say he isn't Chief of Staff. You need somebody in

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there, can salary figure who has the full authority of the PM, and

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when they pick up the phone to a minister, but minister is nervous,

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start shaking because they think this chief-of-staff has the

:18:18.:18:23.

authority of the Prime Minister, and the prime minister is not happy.

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In fact Number 10 does have a big beast. Top Civil Servent Jeremy

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Heywood. The Cabinet Secretary who's increasingly key to how

:18:30.:18:34.

Downing Street now works. He has the position and experience to make

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decisions himself. Indeed reported tensions with Hilton about how

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things get done may explain that sabbatical. Director of

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Communications Craig Oliver worked for ITN and the BBC, and came into

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Downing St after Andy Coulson was forced to resign. There were

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questions over his knowledge of the print media, but his planning is

:18:59.:19:01.

display here. These pictures seen around the world. His job's to

:19:01.:19:05.

control the messages coming from Number 10. Andrew Cooper is

:19:05.:19:08.

Director of Strategy. Seen here on our programme when he worked for

:19:08.:19:11.

Populus. He's the PM's pollster but also to bring home strategic and

:19:11.:19:15.

political home truths. Telling it how it is, and as a moderniser,

:19:15.:19:20.

trying to change traditional mindsets. Steven Gilbert's the PM's

:19:20.:19:23.

Political Secretary the man in charge of what George Osborne calls

:19:23.:19:25.

"Ground War". He provides intelligence and campaigning

:19:25.:19:35.
:19:35.:19:35.

insight. How to win hearts and minds on the doorstep. Co chairman

:19:35.:19:38.

of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi may be visible in the media,

:19:38.:19:42.

but around the PM it's the other Co Chairman Lord Feldman who has the

:19:42.:19:44.

influence and access. Oliver Dowden is the PM's political advisor

:19:44.:19:49.

responsible for day to day fixing, briefing and managing any crises.

:19:49.:19:55.

He is Number 10's link to CCHQ and described as "quietly effective".

:19:55.:19:58.

Gabby Bertin, the PM's Press Secretary worked with him when he

:19:58.:20:02.

was a shadow minister and ever since. She is very close,

:20:02.:20:09.

influential. These are who The Prime Minister calls "the wiring".

:20:09.:20:15.

The unseen people that make the machine work. Of course two of the

:20:15.:20:19.

most crucial people of all live in the street but don't work in number

:20:19.:20:22.

10. Samantha Cameron does have political influence. The other, the

:20:22.:20:25.

Chancellor George Osborne may live next door but he's perhaps the

:20:25.:20:28.

lynch pin to how Number 10 operates today, possibly because he might

:20:28.:20:31.

like to move in one day. Giles reporting there in the first

:20:31.:20:34.

of a little series lifting the lid on the Westminster village. And

:20:34.:20:38.

with us now is Nick Pearce who used to be the Head of Policy at Number

:20:38.:20:41.

10 under Gordon Brown. And, I'm tempted to say, is now recovering

:20:41.:20:43.

from that experience as the director of the Institute of Public

:20:43.:20:47.

Policy Research. Welcome to the programme. And going to come to you

:20:47.:20:51.

first of all, James, because you know Steve Hilton. You worked with

:20:51.:20:55.

him. Do you think his departure is as significant as has been played

:20:55.:20:59.

out in the papers? Has the Government run out of steam?

:20:59.:21:04.

don't think so, chrome know. He is an unbelievably influential figure,

:21:04.:21:08.

no doubt about that. The driving force behind a lot of radical stuff

:21:09.:21:11.

which David Cameron did in government. I can totally

:21:11.:21:16.

understand why he has gone. He managed to stay in touch before and

:21:16.:21:20.

did a decent job in opposition when he was having that kind of

:21:20.:21:24.

arrangement, so I don't think it's significant at all. It's more about

:21:24.:21:29.

family than anything. Not a sense of frustration then? It's been

:21:29.:21:33.

talked about a lot but he was the big vision man and was being

:21:33.:21:43.
:21:43.:21:43.

restrained by a Whitehall and the machinery. Well, I think Number Ten

:21:43.:21:48.

is all about frustration, in a wave. When we came from opposition, we

:21:49.:21:53.

were very tight-knit, big change going forward, a tight-knit group,

:21:53.:21:57.

a couple of dozen people could make the decisions you wanted to, but in

:21:57.:22:00.

government, it doesn't happen like that because you are responsible

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for things. There is a sense it always goes slightly slower than

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you would want, so there is always frustration. Steve was always

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challenging you to go further so that was built into his DNA. I

:22:13.:22:19.

don't think that anything particular about it. Is that what

:22:19.:22:23.

happens? You do get a sense, Tony Blair used to complain that just

:22:23.:22:27.

because he was prime minister, he could not wave a magic wand and

:22:27.:22:33.

things happen in an instant. Is there a deeper problem? It's

:22:33.:22:38.

certainly true that when you're in Number Ten you after worker cabinet

:22:38.:22:42.

ministers, the Treasury, you can't just do things yourselves. I've

:22:42.:22:45.

worked in departments and you can often do more because you're

:22:45.:22:49.

directly in charge. At Number Ten, you have to negotiate more than you

:22:49.:22:55.

would have to expect. I think the Government has a problem with

:22:55.:22:58.

strategic direction. A lot of the initial impulse for the coalition

:22:58.:23:04.

was defined against Labour's legacy, the first wave of legislation, it's

:23:04.:23:08.

not obvious where the new ideas are coming from, particularly on the

:23:09.:23:13.

conservative side, actually. The Government as a challenge with the

:23:13.:23:19.

spending review, with an agenda which can look directionless.

:23:19.:23:24.

small team came across but a bigger team under Gordon Brown. Do you

:23:24.:23:31.

need a bigger team? Cannot be harder to get your policies

:23:31.:23:37.

through? There was a mistake made when David Cameron came in that he

:23:37.:23:42.

got rid of the large department. People with policy expertise but

:23:42.:23:45.

politically appointed. They would have spotted the health bill coming

:23:45.:23:52.

through, I think. It was an effective organisation which could

:23:52.:23:57.

have done long-term thinking. it's just too stretched, with a

:23:57.:24:02.

bigger unit you would have foreseen problems, big problems, like the

:24:02.:24:05.

health bill which wouldn't have made it as far down the line as

:24:05.:24:10.

they have under this coalition government. As a representative of

:24:10.:24:15.

Uley of special advisers, obviously, if we should have more of them. I

:24:15.:24:20.

think it is true that we came in with fewer policies special

:24:20.:24:24.

advisers than we need it. In government, obviously, there are

:24:24.:24:27.

lots of capable people but you need somebody on the same political

:24:27.:24:33.

mission as you. That actually is what creates the drive and dynamism.

:24:33.:24:38.

I think there is a question about whether there are numbers of people

:24:38.:24:42.

in there who can help push the agenda we want to see. Do you have

:24:43.:24:47.

the same fear that, without somebody like Steve Hilton, who was

:24:47.:24:50.

agitating on a daily basis, who had a vision for Parliament, but that

:24:51.:24:55.

is just going to go and it will come down to 24 hour news, the

:24:55.:25:00.

short term gains which are needed and the vision goes? No, I don't

:25:00.:25:04.

think that's true. The Conservative Party came in with a broad

:25:04.:25:10.

manifesto which we have implemented. There have been a lot of your terms

:25:10.:25:13.

and child benefit could be another one of those. They have been some

:25:13.:25:19.

new terms, but the general direction of policy is as we

:25:19.:25:25.

intended it. They happen under all governments, not least Gordon Brown.

:25:25.:25:29.

When you make mistakes you want to go back on them. A government is

:25:29.:25:33.

successful when they have a clear strategic direction, with will

:25:33.:25:37.

momentum behind your reforms. The Government doing well politically

:25:37.:25:45.

on education. The they have moved fast, haven't they? Nobody would

:25:45.:25:48.

contest the fact Michael Gove knows where he is going and is going

:25:48.:25:52.

forward with that agenda. The Government can't say that about

:25:52.:25:58.

many things. And actually, on Steve Hilton, there's no point in being

:25:58.:26:03.

bold and radical if your ideas are stupid. You should have a purpose.

:26:03.:26:08.

You get that when you know where the long term is going to take you.

:26:08.:26:13.

That's what Tony Blair had at its best. Gordon Brown knew what he

:26:13.:26:19.

wanted to do with the economy. Less in other areas like public services.

:26:19.:26:26.

Well, you mentioned Michael Gove as a big success story. If you look

:26:26.:26:31.

across welfare, the police commissioner, complete innovation

:26:31.:26:37.

will transform the way we think about policing. Prison reforms. But

:26:37.:26:43.

then this going back to prison. Even health, where the Government

:26:43.:26:47.

has run into trouble, giving patients choice, ideas started

:26:47.:26:51.

under Tony Blair, in many ways, developing those, it's still there.

:26:51.:26:56.

I think there is that agenda. It's a clear idea. It owes a lot to Tony

:26:56.:27:00.

Blair, in a funny sort of way, but a lot can be developed. I don't

:27:00.:27:04.

think they will lack ideas. This is a coalition government which makes

:27:05.:27:10.

it more difficult. People in departments are due, they have got

:27:10.:27:14.

a coalition government to do with as well. I agree with that. It's a

:27:14.:27:18.

major difference. Labour was an internal coalition. Yes, people

:27:19.:27:26.

would argue that for the there were plenty of factions around.

:27:26.:27:29.

George Osborne is right next to David Cameron, and that's different

:27:29.:27:35.

from any moment in the Labour years. Because they work better together?

:27:35.:27:38.

Politically they are joined at the hip and that's a huge difference.

:27:38.:27:42.

If the Treasury and Number Ten are close together, it makes a massive

:27:42.:27:47.

difference also if you have problems between them, it's a

:27:47.:27:53.

problem. In your package, you mentioned Jeremy Heywood, a very

:27:53.:28:00.

powerful figure, a remarkable man. People say about him, he has

:28:00.:28:05.

blocked reform. And Steve Hilton was a frustrated with him. Jeremy

:28:05.:28:11.

Heywood is the last person to block reform for the peas a radical

:28:11.:28:15.

character. Sometimes saying no is the right thing, standing up to

:28:15.:28:21.

somebody. Exactly. OK, thank you both very much. Well, spring is

:28:21.:28:24.

finally here so we'll be going outside to speak to our top

:28:24.:28:29.

political pundits. I think it's delivered cold, actually. But first,

:28:29.:28:33.

let's take a look at what's on the radar over the next few days. Home

:28:33.:28:35.

Secretary Theresa May is currently in Jordan to negotiate the

:28:35.:28:38.

deportation of the Abu Qatada. The government is seeking assurances

:28:38.:28:40.

that evidence obtained through torture will not be used in any

:28:40.:28:43.

trial against the radical cleric. The legal aid, sentencing and

:28:43.:28:46.

punishment of offenders bill is before the Lords today, campaigners

:28:46.:28:48.

have expressed fears that the changes will affect the most

:28:48.:28:52.

vulnerable in our society. The health bill will be once again in

:28:52.:28:54.

the spotlight as there are more amendments being debated in the

:28:54.:28:57.

Lords tomorrow. This time on competition. All eyes will once

:28:58.:29:05.

again be on how the Liberal Democrat Peers will vote. And no

:29:05.:29:08.

doubt the bill will be one topic discussed at the Liberal Democrat

:29:08.:29:10.

spring conference that starts on Friday. The party leadership will

:29:10.:29:13.

be nervously gauging the mood of activists who are said to be

:29:13.:29:16.

unhappy with a number of key coalition policies. Well, joining

:29:16.:29:18.

me from outside Parliament now is the Guardian's Polly Toynbee. And

:29:18.:29:28.
:29:28.:29:35.

The row over legal aid, will it be successful? There have been a

:29:35.:29:41.

number of changes introduced. But broadly, this is about Ken Clarke

:29:41.:29:46.

trying to find savings. Listening to him this morning, he was pretty

:29:46.:29:52.

robust. On the whole, the entire legal profession is starting to

:29:52.:29:56.

stack up against it. There are many of their representatives in the

:29:56.:30:03.

House of Lords, it will be a bitter fight. So are some politicians on

:30:03.:30:09.

the conservative side? Both houses are packed with lawyers, they

:30:09.:30:14.

really understand what this means. Ken Clarke is being robust about

:30:14.:30:21.

how overpaid lawyers are. But, not legal aid lawyers, who work in law

:30:21.:30:27.

centres, mostly on salaries, low salaries, who do it because they

:30:27.:30:32.

believe in it as a social service, not because they will make fortunes.

:30:32.:30:37.

Also, a question about domestic violence. Baroness Scotland is

:30:37.:30:41.

moving an amendment on this. Women who suffered domestic violence will

:30:42.:30:46.

find it very difficult to get legal aid. These sort of level of proof

:30:46.:30:50.

they will have to provide, to show they have suffered violence before

:30:50.:30:55.

they can get to see a lawyer will be very high. There will be a lot

:30:55.:31:04.

of anger about that. It points to a wider problem facing the coalition.

:31:04.:31:09.

The government partners are being attacked by their own sides, be it

:31:09.:31:14.

in the House of Commons with the Tories of child benefit. Is that

:31:14.:31:20.

becoming a pattern? It is, rather. There is a strong court at the

:31:20.:31:30.

centre of the coalition -- core. But if you look at history, the way

:31:30.:31:34.

coalition's normally come apart is not because the centre falls apart

:31:34.:31:40.

but because grass roots starts to distrust their leadership. What we

:31:40.:31:44.

are seeing on both sides is MPs attacking their own leadership with

:31:44.:31:49.

increasing vigour. We will see more of this at the spring conference

:31:49.:31:56.

this weekend. It would be wrong to dismiss some of the complains as

:31:56.:32:03.

irrelevant. Eventually, there will come a tipping point. Where they

:32:03.:32:08.

become so strong, the ability of the centre to stay part of the

:32:08.:32:16.

coalition will become jeopardised. In some of the things like child

:32:16.:32:20.

benefit, they may bend when it comes to the Budget. Looking at

:32:20.:32:30.

health, the bill, it probably is going to happen so in the end

:32:30.:32:35.

central government will get its way. It looks as if Shirley Williams,

:32:35.:32:40.

the leader of the revolt in the House of Lords, yet again, folded.

:32:40.:32:45.

And as if the Liberal Democrats, they have got some changes but not

:32:45.:32:50.

the important ones. The big debate is about the competition question,

:32:50.:32:57.

whether the -- the NHS will be opened up to any private provider.

:32:58.:33:02.

That seems to have survived intact. Some in the Liberal Democrat

:33:02.:33:08.

conference will be upset about it. But basically, most people seem to

:33:08.:33:10.

be the government will get their bill, just as they got their

:33:10.:33:15.

welfare bill despite a bit of protest, and even the legal aid

:33:15.:33:20.

bill. Although that causes less public outrage because people don't

:33:20.:33:24.

understand it that much, it will cause more trouble in both houses

:33:24.:33:34.
:33:34.:33:34.

because of the Shia number of lawyers. -- sheer. Is Labour

:33:34.:33:39.

becoming a one-trick pony on health? Labour feels they are

:33:39.:33:42.

laying their cards on the table. Most people will not notice what

:33:42.:33:48.

will happen in the health service for another 18 months, dangerously

:33:48.:33:54.

close to the next election. The cuts will kick in. People's minds

:33:54.:34:00.

will see this. People will see waiting-lists soaring, local

:34:00.:34:04.

hospital unit closing, and Labour will feel that is when people will

:34:04.:34:10.

turn up to them. The For the rest of the programme,

:34:10.:34:14.

we're joined by our Monday panel of MPs. For Labour, John Woodcock. For

:34:14.:34:18.

the Conservatives, Alun Cairns. And for the Lib Dems, Duncan Hames.

:34:19.:34:25.

Letter has picked up on health. We have talked about it so many times.

:34:25.:34:30.

-- let us pick up. The damaging bits are particularly on

:34:30.:34:37.

competition. For let me correct her, she was talking about the cuts in

:34:37.:34:43.

health digging in, in 18 months. There are no cuts in health. There

:34:43.:34:47.

are savings but that is being reinvested into frontline services.

:34:47.:34:55.

There's only one part in the UK in Wales where health is being cut. By

:34:55.:35:02.

Labour. So that is a bit rich. is your message to Liberal

:35:02.:35:08.

Democrats, is it time to shut up? think so, there have been

:35:08.:35:12.

significant concessions. The Health Bill is bringing about exciting

:35:12.:35:17.

reforms, new innovations. In 18 months, the proof will be in the

:35:17.:35:22.

eating of the pudding when we will be able to show these are the

:35:22.:35:27.

changes, improvements. We can always compare with what is going

:35:27.:35:31.

wrong in Wales with the way Labour is running it there. Is it time

:35:31.:35:38.

they shut up, Liberal Democrat Lords, it needs to get onto the

:35:38.:35:43.

statute book? I thought Polly Toynbee was rather rude about

:35:43.:35:47.

Shirley Williams, she has been very good at getting concessions to the

:35:47.:35:51.

bill. If you are working to make something better, when you are

:35:51.:35:57.

successful, you need to lock that into the legislation. There is

:35:57.:36:03.

still work being done on the health bill. One of my colleagues has been

:36:03.:36:09.

working on the competition elements, making sure competition is the

:36:09.:36:16.

servant of patience and not the master -- patients. There is a

:36:16.:36:19.

constructive approach being taken to make sure we have a better bill

:36:19.:36:25.

at the end. It is time for Labour to come along. They are still

:36:25.:36:29.

opposed to the bill in essence, saying it should be scrapped.

:36:29.:36:35.

Absolutely. Duncan as the test ultimately for the Lib Dems will be

:36:35.:36:40.

whether they are prepared to stick with us and boat this bill down, as

:36:40.:36:49.

a party, and not... We are clear this Bill is fundamentally flawed.

:36:49.:36:54.

But where exactly? You are in favour of GP commissioning, reforms

:36:54.:37:00.

to the health service. There was already competition in the NHS.

:37:00.:37:05.

real disaster of this Bill is you have actually wasted nearly two

:37:05.:37:10.

years on something which not only do an increasing number of

:37:10.:37:15.

professionals sake is and necessary, but actually, importantly, the real

:37:15.:37:19.

reformers of the NHS under the last Labour government, the likes of

:37:19.:37:25.

John Hutton, Alan Milburn, are saying this Bill is not necessary,

:37:25.:37:30.

and it as to a level of bureaucracy and complexity, when we do need

:37:30.:37:35.

real and sustained reforms to match the challenges in the NHS. But some

:37:35.:37:38.

of those Labour lords have been working with us to get those

:37:38.:37:46.

amendments, they clearly think they are worthwhile. To have an attitude

:37:46.:37:53.

to say the Bill should fall whatever... Are you happy that

:37:53.:38:00.

almost every Royal College, broadly, that they will not be on board, and

:38:01.:38:06.

it would still be able to sell it to patients and your constituency?

:38:06.:38:10.

Some of the Royal Colleges, a small proportion of their members will

:38:10.:38:15.

have voted to express opposition. We need to take the totality. If

:38:15.:38:20.

there was absolute anger, I would have imagined it greater proportion

:38:20.:38:27.

of members of those colleges would have insisted on changes. Are you

:38:27.:38:32.

happy you are going ahead with is built, but basically without their

:38:32.:38:37.

support? This bill has changed so much over time, it is hard to keep

:38:37.:38:42.

up with that. I dare say some of the people concentrating on looking

:38:42.:38:51.

after patients rather than politics are there. Many things people have

:38:51.:38:55.

been worried about, have been addressed. 1000 amendments have

:38:55.:39:00.

been made. People will be relieved a lot of the stories they have been

:39:00.:39:06.

hearing did not actually happen. Can I come on to legal aid. We may

:39:06.:39:11.

be talking to Ken Clarke in the programme. Strong words from Labour

:39:11.:39:18.

on this. Devastating consequences, some have said. What is the big

:39:18.:39:22.

scare about? I don't always agree with Polly Toynbee but on this

:39:22.:39:28.

occasion, she is absolutely right, particularly when she picks up on

:39:28.:39:32.

the consequences in terms of victims of domestic abuse. There

:39:32.:39:38.

seemed to be concessions this week, but not on the area of the evidence

:39:38.:39:43.

which would be eligible for legal aid, in terms of victims of

:39:43.:39:48.

domestic violence. This fundamentally is not right.

:39:48.:39:54.

Conservatives in the old days, people used to say, they're unfair

:39:54.:40:00.

but a least they are fairly efficient. But here, they are both.

:40:00.:40:04.

They jumped at proposals to reform the delayed which would have

:40:04.:40:10.

generated substantial savings, but denying legal aid to many thousands

:40:10.:40:15.

of people who will need it. If it would be the poorest who would be

:40:15.:40:22.

affected. Legal aid is to assist those who need it. The legal aid

:40:22.:40:26.

bill costs up to �39 per head per person across the UK. In France,

:40:26.:40:36.
:40:36.:40:39.

Spain, it is about �6 per head. It is about 23% of the department's

:40:39.:40:44.

budget. If you compare that with where it started, it has grown

:40:44.:40:50.

exponentially. In these times of austerity it needs to be cut. Let

:40:50.:40:55.

us not forget, a lot of this legal- aid money goes to law is, many

:40:55.:41:00.

earning significant sums of money, and we can't justify that. Can't

:41:00.:41:04.

you do something about that without reducing the legal-aid budget?

:41:04.:41:10.

think we are. I think these are sensible measures. I have had an

:41:10.:41:14.

issue and raised this with the minister, around domestic violence.

:41:14.:41:22.

The definitions over that. The Law Society and other groups have come

:41:22.:41:25.

up with different figures, and say the Ministry of Justice figures, a

:41:25.:41:31.

third of the entire legal aid budget, �700 million, is spent on

:41:31.:41:36.

the most serious criminal cases, not civil legal-aid cases Ken

:41:36.:41:40.

Clarke is talking about. You still can't get away from the scale of

:41:40.:41:44.

differences between the legal-aid bill in the UK which is much bigger

:41:44.:41:50.

than any other nation in Europe. Even a former Commonwealth nations.

:41:50.:41:54.

We are spending a lot more on employers here than other nations.

:41:54.:41:59.

It's not the most efficient way of solving problems.

:41:59.:42:05.

We can now talk to the shadow justice minister. We have been

:42:05.:42:12.

talking about this issue of costs. �2 billion is an awful lot of money

:42:12.:42:17.

and needs to be cut. Am not sure it is much greater than anywhere else

:42:18.:42:22.

in the world, to be honest. It does need to be cut back. We, in

:42:23.:42:29.

government, started cutting it back. What we wouldn't have done is what

:42:29.:42:34.

the government has chosen to do, to attack a small part of legal-aid,

:42:34.:42:39.

social welfare law, which is a law which protects very poor, very

:42:39.:42:45.

vulnerable, often disabled people, from getting their rights. In the

:42:45.:42:48.

field of housing, employment, welfare benefits. All of that

:42:48.:42:55.

advice, largely advice, is a to be taken away from them, so they will

:42:55.:43:00.

not have that access to justice, which they have enjoyed under

:43:00.:43:04.

governments of all colours and the support of all political parties.

:43:04.:43:08.

There is a view that legal aid has mushroomed way beyond what it was

:43:08.:43:15.

intended to deal with. Criminal legal aid tips up �1.2 billion of

:43:15.:43:20.

the �2.1 billion that you mentioned. In the last few years, it has

:43:20.:43:25.

always been an emphasis on criminal legal aid where clearly there are

:43:25.:43:30.

more cuts which can be made. 14% of criminal legal aid is spent on 1%

:43:30.:43:37.

of cases. To attack social welfare law and take away 53% of social

:43:37.:43:43.

welfare law spend is outrageous. Thank you very much for joining us.

:43:43.:43:47.

We can now speak to Ken Clarke, thank you for coming on to the

:43:47.:43:53.

programme. You will have heard the final comments, and this idea that

:43:53.:43:57.

you are hitting the civil legal-aid budget disproportion late and will

:43:57.:44:01.

harmed the poorest who need that money?

:44:01.:44:06.

He has obviously not been talking to come of Goya's, and affected by

:44:06.:44:10.

lobbying by the Law Society. Criminal legal-aid is the heart of

:44:10.:44:15.

the system. If you are going to punish people as everyone wants to

:44:15.:44:20.

do for a serious crime, you have to make sure you have the right guilty

:44:20.:44:24.

person you're punishing. Also, that anything that can be said by

:44:24.:44:28.

someone articulate on his behalf is said before he is sentenced. That

:44:28.:44:34.

is why most of it goes on legal-aid, because we have a very good system

:44:34.:44:37.

where it is proved beyond reasonable doubt after being tested

:44:37.:44:47.
:44:47.:44:47.

by a lawyer, we can deal with someone as a canal. -- as a

:44:47.:44:52.

criminal. On welfare law, employment law, we give a lot of

:44:52.:45:02.

legal aid where legal advice is not what is required. Citizens Advice

:45:02.:45:06.

Bureaux or solicitors can be used. I do not charge legal aid, it is

:45:06.:45:11.

not legal, the advice you give, it is sorting out the social-security

:45:11.:45:21.
:45:21.:45:24.

system. It does not lead -- need No one will mind if you reduce the

:45:24.:45:27.

amount of money lawyers will make from this, but they are worried

:45:27.:45:32.

about victims who will lose out. The victims of domestic violence,

:45:32.:45:35.

for example. How will you ensure that people like that are still

:45:35.:45:44.

going to access? Many of my best friends are lawyers. They are not

:45:44.:45:47.

arguing about victims, but they are worried about the amount of money

:45:47.:45:53.

which goes to lawyers. The savings we are going to make are at the

:45:53.:45:56.

expense of the lawyers getting legal aid, and a lot of the costs

:45:56.:45:59.

are not just in my Budget but the National Health Service is paying

:45:59.:46:03.

out very large sums of money to lawyers, expert witnesses, claims

:46:03.:46:10.

managers, as well as compensation. The compensation culture and the

:46:10.:46:13.

ambulance-chasing practices make a lot of money, and it all comes out

:46:14.:46:18.

of the NHS budget. It should be spent on patient care, and that's

:46:19.:46:28.
:46:29.:46:29.

why we are making savings. It's not just lawyers opposed to this. Peers

:46:29.:46:35.

across the House of Lords, including Tory peers, are also

:46:35.:46:40.

seeking this, thinking, this is a great idea, why isn't everybody on

:46:40.:46:45.

board? It's going to a Greek parliament phase at the moment. I

:46:45.:46:50.

have many friends and House of Lords. Every lobby seems to have a

:46:50.:46:53.

triumph there at the moment, are doing that �25,000 is not enough

:46:53.:47:00.

for large families on benefits, or listening to clinical trade unions

:47:00.:47:03.

on health reform and now the Law Society appears to have descended

:47:03.:47:13.
:47:13.:47:14.

upon them. Yes. We are giving legal aid in domestic violence. Of course

:47:14.:47:19.

we are giving legal aid for that. It is disingenuous this argument

:47:19.:47:25.

about domestic violence. We're talking about people with a history

:47:25.:47:32.

of domestic violence. But property, children, you don't need legal aid

:47:32.:47:41.

were it not relevant to the domestic violence. What about

:47:41.:47:45.

coalition partners? Have you managed to convince them? I keep

:47:45.:47:52.

meeting Lib Dem peer has, and we got it through the House of Commons

:47:52.:47:56.

making several changes. Since I first consulted on this package,

:47:56.:48:01.

many, many months ago, we have moved and the House of Lords will

:48:01.:48:05.

still listen to some of the points which are left on different subject,

:48:05.:48:09.

but these big claims that somehow vulnerable people are going to be

:48:09.:48:14.

injured if you don't have so many lawyers involved in various types

:48:14.:48:20.

of less important litigation, I'm afraid have to be resisted. No

:48:20.:48:24.

other democracy in the world would think this was remotely sensible

:48:24.:48:31.

for the taxpayer to pay for so much litigation. Theresa May is in

:48:31.:48:35.

Jordan trying to get some sort of deal on Abu Qatada. We've just had

:48:35.:48:38.

this statement come through saying the Jordanian government will

:48:38.:48:44.

continue to work with the Government here and talks today

:48:44.:48:47.

have been positive but we have more work to do. It doesn't sound like

:48:47.:48:52.

much progress was made. Were you hoping for something more concrete?

:48:52.:48:59.

Of course she may get the assurances she is seeking. When he

:48:59.:49:04.

goes to trial, the evidence against him must not be obtained by torture

:49:04.:49:08.

which is an important human rights principles. I'm sure Theresa May

:49:08.:49:14.

will be pressing them on that and get incredible assurances. She's

:49:14.:49:24.
:49:24.:49:26.

already got Strasbourg to agree. This last point will happen in this

:49:26.:49:32.

trial when it happens. It will be disappointing if he does not get

:49:32.:49:37.

deported. It will be disappointing if the Jordanians won't agree that

:49:37.:49:42.

they will not use evidence obtained by torture. The British have always

:49:42.:49:48.

been against torture. In criminal justice or any other way. It's an

:49:48.:49:52.

essential principle. No British court would deport anybody who was

:49:52.:49:58.

going to be tortured. The obvious outcome which Theresa May is

:49:58.:50:01.

working hard to achieve his for the Jordanians to give credible

:50:01.:50:08.

assurances. What would that have to look like? I'm not negotiating it.

:50:08.:50:14.

I will leave that to Theresa May. You are there just a secretary.

:50:15.:50:19.

Credible means a lawyer in Strasbourg or the UK with some

:50:19.:50:25.

experience of human rights actually believes the assurances given. The

:50:25.:50:29.

court in Strasbourg believes the assurances were given that Abu

:50:29.:50:36.

Qatada was not going to be tortured, assurances as good as that will

:50:36.:50:40.

suffice and the Jordanians I hope will be persuaded to give more

:50:40.:50:44.

assurances. Ken Clarke, thank you very much.

:50:44.:50:47.

There's a new book out today called the Alternative View. And subtitled

:50:47.:50:50.

- The Way Back For The Liberal Democrats. It says that Nick Clegg

:50:50.:50:53.

should stay on as Deputy Prime Minister. But stand aside as Party

:50:53.:50:56.

Leader in order to let someone else rebuild the party's electoral

:50:56.:51:01.

fortunes. It even goes as far as to hint that the best thing all round

:51:01.:51:05.

for the party is for Mr Clegg to go off and be a European Commissioner

:51:05.:51:09.

before the next election. Well, that book is written by the former

:51:09.:51:15.

Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik who joins us now. Do you think that's going to

:51:15.:51:20.

happen? I hope so because we went into writing this book to work out

:51:20.:51:23.

why we had a catastrophic performance in local elections and

:51:24.:51:28.

by-elections since 2010. The conclusion surprised even as, but

:51:28.:51:32.

by splitting the roles, we find a solution where Nick Clegg can

:51:32.:51:36.

fulfil his promise to carry out his five-year term as Deputy Prime

:51:36.:51:42.

Minister, but the party can rebuild. But no one will understand a deputy

:51:42.:51:45.

prime minister couldn't be anyone other than the leader of the party.

:51:45.:51:50.

Surely that's how it works, isn't it? Once they have read the book,

:51:50.:51:57.

they will understand it for the how does that work?

:51:57.:52:00.

Nobody could understand the idea of the Lib Dems being in coalition

:52:00.:52:07.

with the Tories. There's no constitutional reason for that.

:52:07.:52:13.

None whatsoever why he could not split that rope, and unless we do,

:52:13.:52:17.

we have a problem that the Tories don't seem to have. The it seems

:52:17.:52:20.

far-fetched and may look good on paper, but in the practical world

:52:20.:52:25.

of politics, it's just not going to happen for the Nick Clegg says I

:52:25.:52:30.

would like to hand over the leadership for a leadership

:52:30.:52:34.

election in 2013. And he will carry on as deputy prime minister. This

:52:34.:52:38.

is not a new idea but fundamentally, if this does not happen, our

:52:38.:52:41.

analysis suggests Nick Clegg leading the party into the next

:52:41.:52:46.

general election would be detrimental. If you want to be a

:52:46.:52:49.

collectivist, and on what he has promised to do for the coalition,

:52:49.:52:54.

this solution is the only way to move forward. It's an elegant

:52:55.:53:01.

solution and you should expect Nick Clegg to stand down? Listening to

:53:01.:53:05.

this alternative view, it's more successful than his alternative

:53:05.:53:13.

comedy. The bouquet, let Duncan respond. I want to see Nick Clegg

:53:13.:53:18.

leading the party into the next election and they don't want to see,

:53:19.:53:25.

however great this edition is,... Yes, but what do so that the

:53:25.:53:28.

disasters polling results? Could something as radical as this change

:53:28.:53:34.

the fortunes for the Lib Dems? Dem policy needs to be implemented

:53:34.:53:36.

by the coalition government, cutting taxes for ordinary working

:53:36.:53:41.

people, more money into schools, children being taken from the

:53:41.:53:50.

poorest families, rebalancing the economy, these are difficult pieces

:53:50.:53:54.

of working government, but at the end of this term, if we can show

:53:54.:53:56.

for the first time in generations the Lib Dems have done things to

:53:56.:54:00.

make life fairer as a result of being in government, I think Nick

:54:00.:54:04.

Clegg is a record will be one we want to take to the voters at the

:54:04.:54:08.

election. With my solution you can carry on working in the coalition,

:54:08.:54:12.

but, at the same time, differentiate the nature of the Lib

:54:12.:54:17.

Dem movement from its apparent merging with the Tory party. The

:54:17.:54:22.

Tories don't have this problem. We clearly do. We can rebuild

:54:22.:54:26.

community politics, which is a big problem for us at the moment, and

:54:26.:54:35.

move away from the Orange Book malaise. Nick Clegg is more popular

:54:35.:54:39.

than the part disordered understand this logic. The difficulty with the

:54:39.:54:46.

theory is you would have a divided party, for example, a more left-

:54:46.:54:52.

leaning Lib Dem party leader, for example Simon Hughes, and Nick

:54:52.:54:55.

Clegg as a deputy prime minister, and the party would split. There

:54:56.:55:00.

will be tension between the Lib Democrats and the Tory government,

:55:00.:55:04.

or the Lib Dem leader and the Liberal Democrat deputy prime

:55:04.:55:08.

minister. One of those will happen but it's my judgment we can live

:55:08.:55:13.

comfortably with either. Quite simply, if we don't do this, the

:55:13.:55:17.

Lib Dems will be consigned to a disastrous general election. This

:55:17.:55:23.

is not an anti- Nick Clegg proposal. He may not see it that way. It's

:55:23.:55:27.

uncomfortable reading but we are suggesting the only way Nick Clegg

:55:27.:55:30.

can fulfil his promise to the country and the coalition partners,

:55:30.:55:34.

and my colleagues in Parliament can do that, without destroying the Lib

:55:34.:55:37.

Dems are the same time is by splitting the roles. It may seem

:55:37.:55:47.
:55:47.:55:48.

radical. I'm trying to see it there is a definite suggestion. Cometh

:55:48.:55:58.
:55:58.:56:00.

the hour, cometh the Lembit Opik. Me? Rumours of my aspirations there

:56:00.:56:05.

are wilfully exaggerated. Would Labour be happy with him as did the

:56:05.:56:11.

Prime Minister? The problem for the Lib Dems, clearly in Nick Clegg is

:56:12.:56:16.

a discredited but the problem for the Lib Dems, as I think you will

:56:16.:56:20.

see at your conference at the weekend, they are finished as a

:56:20.:56:28.

progressive party. So you agree with Lembit Opik? The Labour Party

:56:28.:56:35.

Of as a solution, for the Lib Dems, is it an idea which could be

:56:36.:56:41.

discussed and debated at higher levels? I can't see how they can

:56:41.:56:45.

hold it together without having their lead at the top but, frankly,

:56:45.:56:50.

I don't understand how the Lib Dems are continuing to prop up what is

:56:50.:56:57.

one of the most volatile Tory governments in history. Would you

:56:57.:57:01.

be happy to negotiate more Simon Hughes at the top of a rather than

:57:01.:57:08.

someone like Nick Clegg? I want to see a majority Labour government.

:57:08.:57:13.

Once you read my book, it will pin you down. You're in the coalition

:57:13.:57:17.

with the Lib Dems and a lot of work is being done now which says, in

:57:17.:57:21.

order for the Tories to get a majority, they will have to target

:57:21.:57:25.

Liberal Democrat seats. That's quite obvious. The deal is that

:57:25.:57:29.

this coalition will last for the full five-year term, that the

:57:29.:57:37.

arrangements. There's lots of work being done obviously at

:57:37.:57:41.

constituency level and leadership level to seek to deliver a

:57:41.:57:43.

Conservative majority of the next election and that's when we can

:57:43.:57:48.

generally be radical rather than being limited by the negotiations.

:57:48.:57:55.

But your seat could go? Your party is upset, you wallow in the polls.

:57:55.:58:02.

One might argue something radical is what you need. They may try to

:58:02.:58:06.

take my seat in Will Show. If the first time in over 80 years the Lib

:58:06.:58:09.

Dems won the seat, but they will have to try harder because only

:58:09.:58:14.

last Thursday, the Lib Dems polled over 56% of the vote in my

:58:14.:58:20.

constituency, so they have got their work cut out. Boundaries will

:58:20.:58:25.

have changed by the next general election. The point being, when we

:58:25.:58:29.

talk about specific seats, they are likely to be different to the ones

:58:29.:58:32.

which are there now. Therefore, the current strength of any existing

:58:33.:58:36.

member parliament might have through his incumbency will have

:58:36.:58:41.

gone and it's fair game for everyone. I'm sure copies of the

:58:41.:58:47.

book Lembit Opik will give you. A signed copy. Thank you for all of

:58:47.:58:50.

you today. That's all for today. Thanks to our guests. The One

:58:50.:58:53.

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