12/03/2012 Daily Politics


12/03/2012

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


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. The Labour's two

:00:43.:00:46.

Eds are setting out their plans for the economy ahead of next week's

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Budget. They are calling for fair taxes. We will ask the shadow chief

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secretary to the Treasury of what it means.

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Nick Clegg emerges from the spring conference battered and bruised

:00:59.:01:03.

with the grassroots defying his pleas to support the NHS reforms.

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Senior party figures are questioning his plans for a tycoon

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tax. We will be assessing the fall- out for the Deputy Prime Minister.

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David Cameron launches a new scheme to help homeowners with the promise

:01:14.:01:18.

of guarantees for first-time buyers. We have the details.

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Do you know you're standing committee from you select

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committee? What does the Parliamentary Statutory Instruments

:01:28.:01:31.

Committee actually do? Quentin Letts has his A-Z Guide to

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Parliament. It is a jungle out there and sometimes what Parliament

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:01:46.:01:48.

All that in the next hour and with us for the whole programme today,

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the historian Douglas Murray. Welcome back to the Daily Politics.

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If you have any thoughts or comment on anything we are discussing, then

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please go to a Twitter. Let's start with the announcement this morning

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that the Government is announcing a new scheme to help new buyers get a

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mortgage on properties that are new builds. Eric Pickles has been

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promoting the NewBuy Guarantee scheme, meeting her couples hoping

:02:19.:02:22.

to become homeowners under the scheme. Grant Shapps explained how

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it will work. The person buying a home will need to put down a

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deposit of 5% and then the industry itself, the developer, the

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housebuilder, will put another 3.5% into a special account, which they

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would lose if there is another repossession. That is with the

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taxpayer guaranteeing the other 5.5%. We think we are standing

:02:47.:02:50.

behind the market, using the weight of the Government, and in the end

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it will not cost the taxpayer much money if any and it enabled the

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generation to get onto the housing -- enables a generation to get onto

:03:03.:03:07.

the housing ladder. Is this a new announcement? This scheme was

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announced last November but today it has gone live. It is a reality

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and you can actually apply for one of these mortgages. We have several

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lenders and housebuilders that have signed up to the scheme. As you

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heard, the idea is that the taxpayer stands behind these

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mortgages, and the idea is that it will provide people that want to

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get a foot onto the housing ladder to get and 95% mortgage, something

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that is very difficult to find in the market at the moment. There

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will be a fear because it was the housing bubble that burst that in

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many people's minds contributed to the crash. Should the Government be

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a encouraging people to take out 95% mortgages? The Government is

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saying that the taxpayer's stake in this is third in line. The money

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that the Government is putting up will only be at risk wants the

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stake that the person taking out the mortgage it at risk and then

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the building stands in front of the taxpayer again. Then there is this

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worry about people being encouraged to take on and 95% mortgage. The

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Government is pointing out that their rustic do -- there are

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stricter rules in place to make sure that people can afford these

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mortgages. The mortgages on offer are fixed rate, but only for a few

:04:30.:04:34.

years. And yes, there is some risk because this era has very low

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interest rates and everybody expects them to go up sooner or

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later. There is always the risk in this labour market that is very

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difficult of people losing their jobs. There is a riskier but the

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Government is insisting it is not a question of going back to sub-prime

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mortgages. It is about helping people get back into the housing

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market. The risk is that if the housing market remains flat, then

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the investment might not look like such a good idea in a few years'

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time anyway. Thank you. On principle, bearing in mind what has

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happened and how we are so obsessed with owning homes, is that the

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right line to go down? Easy for us to say because many of us own our

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own homes. Should we be pushing the idea that as soon as you can afford

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to you should own your own home? is everybody's dream but for my

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generation it has pretty much become a fantasy. It is extremely

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difficult to get onto the housing ladder. Obviously this new

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initiative is very good for the building industry. Is it better for

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the building industry than it might be for people trying to get on to

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the ladder? It might be. Lots of houses are unoccupied and I think

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we should encourage people to buy them, do them up, move into areas

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with empty houses and to do that before building new ones.

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Particularly when the situation in the country is that there are huge

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parts of the country that could do with an influx of people coming in

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to do a property. What about the issue of the taxpayer subsidising

:06:08.:06:14.

these mortgages, even if it is in a remote weight than one might

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Essien? -- in a more remote way than one might assume? It is one

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thing if we flat line but what if there is a housing collapse? There

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are many lessons that we should have learned about the Government

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are not getting involved in this area. Interest rates could be key.

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At the moment it is affordable for many people to afford the mortgage

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payments if their levels stay so low. But who can afford to pay them

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back in the future? People will be trapped. If you have a 95% mortgage

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you only have the choice of keeping interest rates at the rate they are

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at or seeing massive amount of home repossession which everybody wants

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to avoid. Let's move on. With one week to go before George Osborne

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delivers his Budget, the arguments over tax are continuing. The

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Liberal Democrats spent the weekend squabbling over whether mansion tax

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or tycoon tax would be preferable in exchange for the scrapping six

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of the 50p rate of tax. The two Eds are speaking in London about their

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ideas for fair taxes. Next week's Budget will take place against the

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backdrop of the highest unemployment in our country for 17

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years, double the number of young people out of work for more than

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six months than one year ago, a situation where growth has stalled

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and an unprecedented squeeze on living standards. Wages stuck.

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Prices rising, including the price of the weekly food stock and the

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price of heating your home. In short, we have an economy not

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working for the working people of this country. Does it look like

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this is a Conservative-led Government that has answers to

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those challenges? It certainly does not from what we have seen in

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advance of this Budget. They have not been talking or arguing about

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jobs and how we create jobs in this economy. They have not been talking

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of arguing about how we get growth moving and change, George Osborne's

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approach. They seem to have been agonising over whether to cut the

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50p tax rate for those earning more than �150,000 a year. That is no

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answer to the problems that the vast majority of the people of

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Britain are facing. What do we need? We need a Budget for jobs and

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living standards that does three things. First of all a Budget that

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changes course on the short term, on the way that the Chancellor and

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the Prime Minister have got about addressing the talent of growth and

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deficit reduction. -- have gone about addressing the challenge of

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growth and deficit reduction. We warned that cutting too far and too

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fast would not work and we have been proved correct, unfortunately,

:09:14.:09:18.

about what would happen. If you look at what is happening in the

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United States with Barack Obama, growth is stronger and jobs are

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being created more quickly in that economy. The result of him taking a

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different approach. The first thing George Osborne should do in the

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Budget is to change course. That was the Labour leader speaking in

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the last few minutes. I have been joined by the shadow chief

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secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves. Thank you for coming on the

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programme. What are you actually advocating specifically? We know

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about the five-point plan. What is new about the economic policy from

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Labour to stimulate the economy? have a plan for jobs and growth

:09:57.:10:02.

which includes stimulus for employers taking on new workers and

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cuts to VAT. There are also issues about fairness. We have seen that

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with changes to child benefit, which means that a single income

:10:11.:10:14.

households owning �43,000 stands to lose all of that child benefit from

:10:14.:10:21.

next year, but a two income family earning �84,000 could keep all of

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their child benefit. And with tax credits, from next month, in just a

:10:25.:10:30.

few weeks' time families that can only work between 16 and 24 hours,

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often because of the jobs and 80 hours not being available, they

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stand to lose all their tax credits which would mean some families will

:10:41.:10:49.

not be better off unless they go on to benefits. We want to reverse

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that by reining in on the avoidance of stamp duty at the top. On the

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issue of tax, the Liberal Democrats have been talking about it, too.

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Labour want to keep the 50p top rate of tax. Would the party be

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prepared to give it up to support a mansion tax, for example? We will

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support the Government on a mansion tax. �2 million properties or lower.

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We will support the Government if they go ahead with the mansion tax

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and the talk is about properties worth less �2 million -- worth more

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than �200,000. We do not want to affect families with the middle

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income living standard. But what is the middle income? What is the

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upper limit that you are talking about? Families earning �40,000,

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�60,000 a year, families that are struggling. The priority should not

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be families earning �150,000, you are in the top income bracket. That

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money should be used to relieve pressure on ordinary families

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facing cuts in tax credits and rising fuel and energy bills.

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about the top rate of tax being brought in for families earning

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�100,000 instead of �150,000? would keep it at �150,000. We think

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that is the right policy right now. We don't think it should be the

:12:26.:12:36.
:12:36.:12:38.

mansion tax or the 50p tax rate, we think it should be both. What about

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the tycoon tax? We are all about cutting out tax avoidance. Ed Balls

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has spoken about cutting down on tax avoidance on stamp duty. Nick

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Clegg is desperate to win back the support of his party, who have

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abandoned him on changes to the National Health Service, as we saw

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at the weekend. He has come up with this idea of a tycoon tax. But he

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is in the Government, he is Deputy Prime Minister, and when he talks

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about these things is he talking about a Liberal Democrat or is he

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talking as the Deputy Prime Minister? We will find out about

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that. How will you pay for these commitments? You want to keep the

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50p top rate of tax and you want mansion tax. The basically want

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more taxes at a higher level. but at the higher level. And child

:13:30.:13:40.
:13:40.:13:40.

benefit. And VAT. We would have a mansion tax to support tax cuts for

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people on more modest in comes. but you still want to cut VAT and

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keep child benefit. How would that be paid for? It is about priorities

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and this Government is Pretoria's into tax cuts for the bags. We are

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saying reinstate the bankers's taxes. There has been a scheme for

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new businesses which has not worked. There is �100,000 left a mark which

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we want to use. What about the proposal which has not been fleshed

:14:16.:14:19.

out of tax relief on pension contributions for higher-rate

:14:19.:14:24.

taxpayers? Reducing that would bring in an awful lot of money.

:14:24.:14:30.

Alistair Darling's last Budget, we set out that people earning

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�150,000 would get tax relief at the basic rate of 20%. For all

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higher rate taxpayers? That is what Alistair Darling said, tax relief

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at the basic rate rather than 50%. George Osborne reversed that in his

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first Budget. Actually people in the top 1% are getting more tax

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relief than they would have under a Labour Government. Is it fair to

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hit the pensions of people but a higher rate taxpayers and still

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allow them to get child benefit? -- that are higher rate taxpayers.

:15:06.:15:10.

think that it is right that we have a universal child benefit because

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there are costs... Higher rate taxpayers could afford that. There

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are administrative costs and people paying into the system and it is

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vital that they get something extra, whether it is the basic state

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pension or child benefit, to support people when they have extra

:15:28.:15:36.

It is a difficult process, made worse by the fact it has been

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fleshed out in public and everybody is arguing. What is that doing, do

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you think, to the process itself? First, toy not think we could refer

:15:46.:15:56.
:15:56.:15:58.

to it as a "confused budget." You are speculating. It is not just

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we speculating. Government ministers are speculating. It is a

:16:03.:16:08.

coalition. We don't normally hear people bidding in the same way.

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First of all, the Liberal Democrats are doing what the Labour Party is

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doing. Labour are the opposition. noticed that. But the fact is that

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every party at the moment is trying to make clear water between itself

:16:22.:16:25.

and other parties. It is difficult for the Liberal Democrats to do.

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Nick Clegg is trying to hold a voter base together, so has to do a

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dog whistle politics. The Labour Party, to a great extent, are doing

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the same. I think, watching that clip of Ed Miliband, it's hard not

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to pity him really in a way. He is trying desperately to create a

:16:44.:16:49.

policy that sticks and means something. Most of this is debating

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around the same terrain. They are debating. Row are trying to grab

:16:53.:16:56.

the same people. You debate who the average household are.

:16:56.:16:59.

Conservatives want the average household to be on their side.

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Everybody does. It is a terrible mistake for Mr Miliband to cite the

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situation in America. Yes, there has been a slight upturn in the

:17:07.:17:11.

number of jobs being created. Look at the debt and the deficit in

:17:11.:17:15.

America. America is in more debt than it has been any time since

:17:15.:17:20.

World War II. It won World War II. What has it got this time?

:17:20.:17:24.

Government are borrowing �158 billion more than they planned

:17:24.:17:28.

because unemployment is growing. The reality is unless the

:17:28.:17:31.

Government get a plan for jobs and growths they will not be able to

:17:31.:17:35.

get the deficit down, reduce debt. That is the predicament that George

:17:35.:17:39.

Osborne finds himself in and why we need a plan for jobs and growth.

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There is a predicament. It is a predicament your party left this

:17:43.:17:48.

Government. David Cameron says he wants the

:17:48.:17:52.

Human Rights Act to be replaced by a British Bill of Rights. Last year

:17:52.:17:55.

the coalition set up a commission to look at the idea, which the

:17:55.:17:58.

Prime Minister says, would restore the sovereignty of the British

:17:58.:18:01.

Parliament. Now one of the commission members has resigned,

:18:01.:18:05.

saying Nick Clegg and the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, have been

:18:05.:18:08.

working to frustrate plans for reform. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky

:18:08.:18:14.

set out his frustrations to Andrew Neil on yesterday's Sunday Politics.

:18:14.:18:19.

It sound like you have lost faith in the commission to deliver any

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real change - where does that leave your position? Well, I am afraid it

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leaves me with no alternative but to resign because I think the cause

:18:30.:18:39.

is so important to look in a mature way at human rights and to make it

:18:39.:18:41.

consistent with parliamentary sovereignty that I do need to

:18:41.:18:45.

pursue it, but not on the commission. Well, that was Andrew

:18:45.:18:49.

Neil yesterday, talking to Michael Pinto-Duschinsky. Let's join our

:18:49.:18:53.

political correspondent, who is outside Westminster. It is an

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interesting debate. On one hand you have a gentleman who has resigned,

:18:57.:19:00.

who many will not have heard of and resign from a commission many

:19:00.:19:04.

people will not have heard of. Underneath that is an issue that

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very much gets people going. Who ultimately is responsible for

:19:09.:19:13.

deciding whether prisoners get the vote for instance? Or whether the

:19:13.:19:18.

radical Muslim preacher should get deported? That is where you get a

:19:18.:19:21.

tussle about whether it is a decision made by Parliament, behind

:19:21.:19:27.

us, or by judges in Strasbourg. A sense from speaking to people

:19:27.:19:30.

around the commission in the last 24 hours that yes they might have

:19:30.:19:34.

found Dr Michael hard to work with, but others say some of what he was

:19:34.:19:41.

saying resonates. It matters. It's effectively a reflection of

:19:41.:19:45.

difficulties around that commission. A sense that you have people there

:19:45.:19:50.

reflecting the commission of a liberal bench -- bent. It cannot

:19:50.:19:54.

conclude anything when it reports at Christmas. One person suggested

:19:54.:19:58.

to me that those of a right-leaning persuasion might publish a minority

:19:58.:20:07.

report when this commission reports at the end of the year. We have two

:20:07.:20:11.

guests here. Douglas, I was looking at the terms of reference of this

:20:11.:20:15.

commission this morning. It will investigate the creation of a UK

:20:15.:20:21.

Bill of Rights, that it incorporates and builds on our

:20:21.:20:24.

obligations on the European Court of Human Rights. It sound like a

:20:24.:20:28.

fudge. From the beginning when I saw the terms of reference I was

:20:29.:20:32.

suspicious. I thought it was perhaps designed to kick this into

:20:32.:20:37.

the long grass. It turns out the grass was not all that long, after

:20:37.:20:40.

all. It is unfortunate Michael Pinto-Duschinsky has stood down. He

:20:40.:20:46.

was an independent voice on a commission, otherwise dominated by

:20:46.:20:50.

retired judges, human rights establishment figures. He has gone.

:20:50.:20:57.

This shows this commission is not up to the job to review our

:20:57.:21:01.

position. He's not up to the job? This was always an interesting

:21:01.:21:04.

beast. Let's not forget going into the last general election, the

:21:04.:21:10.

Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives had opposing views on

:21:10.:21:14.

the Human Rights Act. On the issue of his resignation - of course we

:21:14.:21:20.

don't know the particular dynamics behind the scenes and conservices.

:21:20.:21:23.

From his public statement -- conversations. From his public

:21:23.:21:29.

statement, it seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on his

:21:29.:21:35.

part about the role of this commission.

:21:35.:21:40.

I think ultimately you cannot reconcile the idea of judicial

:21:40.:21:45.

supremacy with democracy. The human rights establishment, those who see

:21:45.:21:50.

themselves as modernising want us to go back to a pre-modern idea,

:21:50.:21:54.

where ideas are made on an elite rather than what the people want

:21:54.:22:00.

democratically. The architects of human right rules, we cannot

:22:00.:22:03.

reconcile what they want with democracy. Is this a problem of

:22:03.:22:08.

personnel in the Government? One of the suggestions was that Ken Clarke

:22:09.:22:13.

was leaning on this position. That is denied by others. Is Ken Clarke

:22:13.:22:17.

the right person for the job? Prime Minister in Number Ten finds

:22:17.:22:21.

themselves with a reform. You have to decide do you remove the road

:22:21.:22:26.

block or have the reform. David Cameron needs a clear choice. He

:22:26.:22:36.
:22:36.:22:36.

either takes on the establishment and gets serious or go into the

:22:36.:22:41.

next election and explain why. Where will we be in 12 months' time

:22:41.:22:47.

when we have the results of this commission? What do you think will

:22:47.:22:51.

happen? Who knows? It is a serious commission. There are eight members

:22:51.:22:54.

of it now that Michael Pinto- Duschinsky has been replaced.

:22:54.:22:57.

Anyone who believes in human rights in this country should take the

:22:57.:23:02.

threat to our current human rights arrangements seriously. I believe

:23:02.:23:06.

passionately in human rights. The way to secure it is through

:23:06.:23:16.
:23:16.:23:16.

democracy and real liberalism, not giving power to a technocrat elite.

:23:16.:23:22.

-- Thank you for your time here on College Green. A new commissioner

:23:22.:23:27.

has been appointed to replace Dr Michael. Another lawyer. So all the

:23:27.:23:31.

commissioners will now be lawyers. As I say, their report, whether a

:23:31.:23:34.

majority or minority report will be published at the end of the year.

:23:34.:23:40.

Thank you very much. Let's pick up, Douglas. The other Douglas said Ken

:23:40.:23:44.

Clarke should go, we need a new Justice Secretary. Do you agree?

:23:44.:23:47.

is strong from a Conservative backbencher. I am not sure whether

:23:47.:23:51.

Ken Clarke himself is the problem. There is a problem in the

:23:51.:23:54.

Government about how it is approaching this. The nature, the

:23:54.:23:58.

parties had different views about this. There are terrible problems

:23:58.:24:03.

with the convention and the court though, which I think should not be

:24:03.:24:08.

avoided. There are very few options open at the moment. There is the

:24:08.:24:12.

option I raised the other week of ignoring the court when it comes up

:24:12.:24:20.

with crazy decisions such as Qatarda. In the long-term you is to

:24:20.:24:27.

negotiate in some way or get out. There was a report by another

:24:27.:24:31.

commissioner saying that there could be a protocol added to the

:24:31.:24:35.

convention and that could be a way around it. Realistically, as you

:24:35.:24:41.

said yourself, we're in a coalition. There will not be the progress that

:24:41.:24:47.

you and some in the Government would like to see. As was said the

:24:47.:24:53.

grass is not as long as when they kicked it in. You cannot say strong

:24:53.:24:57.

enough the convention of the European Court because it is more

:24:57.:25:00.

about laws. It is about sovereignty. It is about whether Parliament in

:25:00.:25:04.

this country can be dictated to or whether it decides for the people.

:25:04.:25:08.

That isn't a small question. It's not. As you say may not be one that

:25:08.:25:12.

is answered in the near future. Now Kosovo, Sierra Leone and of course

:25:12.:25:16.

Iraq and Afghanistan - just some of the places where British troops

:25:16.:25:24.

have been involved in active combat in recent years. The policy is

:25:24.:25:29.

called interventionalism. The idea it can be used if it is to bring

:25:29.:25:34.

peace to the civilian population. Does that doctrine hold true? If it

:25:34.:25:38.

does high not apply it to Iran and Syria?

:25:38.:25:46.

David Thompson reports. Britain's conflict s are seen at

:25:46.:25:50.

the national army museum in London. Many of the conflicts remembered

:25:50.:25:54.

here were fought by Britain under the banner of using forbs to bring

:25:54.:26:00.

about a greater good. Liberal interventionalism. These days the

:26:00.:26:04.

possibility is on the possibility of military action in Syria or Iran.

:26:04.:26:11.

Could we and should we? Syria and Iran are both very oppressive

:26:11.:26:16.

regimes. Syria far more so. Iran is also a danger to its neighbours and

:26:16.:26:21.

particularly to Israel. To take force, the use of military force

:26:21.:26:26.

from outside out of the evasion I think would be irresponsible and

:26:26.:26:33.

dangerous. The doctrine of liberal intervenalism is one that is still

:26:33.:26:37.

value yoobl. We should inter-- valuable. We should intervene if we

:26:37.:26:44.

think we can make the world a safer plails. What about now -- place.

:26:44.:26:50.

What about now? Although the loss of life in Syria currently is a

:26:51.:26:55.

moral outrage, I still think the circumstances make intervention

:26:55.:26:58.

extremely difficult. The difficulties of a military attack

:26:59.:27:05.

on Iran is to know precisely what needs to be attacked to reduce or

:27:05.:27:10.

remove or render incapable their developing nuclear weapon

:27:10.:27:14.

capability. If not Syria, where the regime is killing its own people,

:27:14.:27:19.

or Iran, which is widely suspected of developing a nuclear weapon,

:27:19.:27:26.

where? The one thing mader than using military force would be

:27:26.:27:29.

allowed for Tehran to acquire new nuclear weapons. That would be

:27:29.:27:36.

dangerous for Israel and the world. I think you have to retain the

:27:36.:27:40.

option of military force. Maybe there is something for that - a

:27:40.:27:43.

failed military attack on Iran. Which is why some experts think it

:27:44.:27:48.

may be better to think the unthinkable. If we have tried to

:27:48.:27:52.

bomb Iran, not to have a bomb, we will wind up with a bombed Iran,

:27:52.:27:56.

with a bomb. A country that's angry, that has been set very much against

:27:56.:27:59.

the West. That could be the worst of all options. Maybe the least

:27:59.:28:04.

worse option is to accept that we cannot stop them having a weapon,

:28:04.:28:07.

even though we have tried diplomatically, economically,

:28:07.:28:11.

perhaps ruled out military means and therefore live to -- learn to

:28:11.:28:16.

live with Iran with a bomb. War, whatever the pretext is not about

:28:16.:28:22.

theory, it is about people. Be they Iranian, Syrian or British,

:28:22.:28:27.

ultimately they pay the price. Douglas Murray is still with me. We

:28:27.:28:30.

have been joined by Mehdi Hassan from the New Statesman. Let's start

:28:30.:28:33.

with you on the humanitarian situation. It is dreadful,

:28:33.:28:37.

whichever way you look at it and the scenes are distressing,

:28:37.:28:44.

particularly in Homs. If you look at the justification for the

:28:44.:28:48.

intervention in Libya. Gaddafi could not slaughter civilians

:28:48.:28:54.

looking for democracy. Have we got to that stage now however

:28:54.:28:58.

complicated the situation in Syria, an argument for intervention to

:28:58.:29:02.

help civilians? In terms of killing civilians. Ast ast is giving

:29:02.:29:07.

Gaddafi a run for his -- Assad is giving Gaddafi a run for his money.

:29:07.:29:17.
:29:17.:29:19.

true, Syria is not Libya. You cannot, even if you want to do what

:29:19.:29:25.

you did there the options are not there. Why? You would take on

:29:25.:29:30.

Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. Syria has an army of 300,000-

:29:30.:29:37.

400,000 men. Assad is a stronger leader than Gaddafi was. It's not

:29:37.:29:40.

just people like me who criticise a lot of foreign interventions.

:29:40.:29:45.

William Hague is saying, we wish we could do something in Syria, but

:29:45.:29:49.

the military options are not there. A lot are saying we cannot do it in

:29:49.:29:53.

Syria. Who are these opposition groups? Who would the West, if you

:29:53.:29:57.

like, or the Arab League, who would they do it with against Syria? How

:29:57.:30:03.

would you bring down, which is whait would be the Assad regime?

:30:03.:30:08.

suggest a no-fly zone is intervention of a kind. A no-fly

:30:08.:30:14.

zone means at some point you will shoot down a helicopter gunship.

:30:14.:30:19.

There is retally yea Tory fire. Before you know it you have an air-

:30:20.:30:24.

scale intervention. I don't think anyone is talking about a ground

:30:24.:30:28.

force intervention. There is talk in Washington and elsewhere of

:30:28.:30:31.

potentially arming rebel groups. Of course then you have to be specific

:30:31.:30:41.
:30:41.:30:44.

We are talking about the religious country full of complexities. Who

:30:44.:30:50.

would we be arming? The army is split. Their opposition groups that

:30:51.:30:56.

do not want Western intervention, rightly or wrongly. They think it

:30:56.:31:00.

will make sectarianism worse. Leading members of the opposition

:31:00.:31:04.

on the ground do not want intervention. Then there is the

:31:04.:31:07.

Free Syrian Army. They have a loose conglomeration of armed groups and

:31:07.:31:12.

they do want arms. Some say that Saudi Arabia is already arming them.

:31:12.:31:20.

Do we want to arm them? Go and ask Human Rights Watch what is going on

:31:20.:31:24.

in Libya now, with torture and alarming murders and raping. We

:31:24.:31:29.

cannot just arm violent groups without knowing who they are.

:31:29.:31:33.

should not harm anybody if we do not know who they are. We do know

:31:33.:31:38.

some more about people in the Free Syrian Army and they would be more

:31:38.:31:46.

desirable than the President Assad regime. Whenever human rights

:31:46.:31:49.

abuses go on around the world people always say that something

:31:49.:31:54.

must be done and I tend to be one of the people saying that, when

:31:54.:31:57.

massive amounts of civilians are being massacred I think something

:31:57.:32:01.

should be done. But we have to be clear what something means and what

:32:01.:32:08.

the being done means. To my mind, it would be desirable to get rid of

:32:08.:32:11.

the President Assad regime and to get rid of their supporters in

:32:11.:32:16.

Tehran as well. Because it would hit Iran? That is not liberal

:32:16.:32:21.

intervention. Lots of people are saying it is not about

:32:21.:32:24.

humanitarianism and liberal intervention falls apart. Western

:32:24.:32:28.

governments use it for their strategic interests. Why intervene

:32:28.:32:36.

in Syria but not Bahrain? They are our ally and that is why. I am very

:32:36.:32:43.

critical of the non-intervention in Bahrain. I put it this way. There

:32:43.:32:48.

are two key reasons to intervene anywhere. Firstly, humanitarian

:32:48.:32:51.

concerns and secondly strategic concerns. Sometimes one of those is

:32:51.:32:56.

not enough. You cannot intervene everywhere that you want to for

:32:56.:33:00.

strategic reasons or for human rights issues. But sometimes the

:33:00.:33:04.

two things come together and it could be desirable. And you think

:33:04.:33:10.

that is the case in Syria. If humanitarian aid get through and

:33:10.:33:12.

the President of that regime falls, then we are looking straight down

:33:12.:33:18.

the barrel at Iran. You say it would be desirable to hit Iran in

:33:18.:33:26.

that way. Would it be desirable or would we be escalating the violence

:33:26.:33:32.

and conflict? I just think that the regime in Iran should be encouraged

:33:32.:33:36.

to fall. They have been an enemy of hours for 30 years. They have

:33:36.:33:40.

wrecked the country. We are talking about a regional conflict that

:33:40.:33:44.

would spread. It is not a regional conflict. I am not suggesting that

:33:44.:33:51.

we intervene in Iran. That is a slightly potted history. Both sides

:33:51.:33:57.

have demonised the other. We overthrew the Government in 1993

:33:57.:34:00.

and we backed Saddam Hussein when he was gassing Iranians. Let's

:34:00.:34:04.

understand why the other side might hate us a little bit. The logical

:34:04.:34:09.

end step of Douglas's rhetoric is intervention. That is what has been

:34:09.:34:13.

going on, ratcheting up the temperature. Either you

:34:13.:34:18.

deliberately go to war or you end up with a conflict accidentally and

:34:18.:34:21.

that would be a disaster and it would make Iraq look like a walk in

:34:21.:34:27.

the park. That is not necessarily the end point. If the sanctions

:34:27.:34:30.

continue to bite, then the opposition that most of us would

:34:30.:34:34.

dream of, that the Iranian people get their country back from the

:34:34.:34:39.

tyranny, that would be a real possibility. Then at the Green

:34:39.:34:44.

movement could finally come to power. That movement also backs

:34:44.:34:50.

nuclear power and in Richmond. Do you back that? If they wanted to an

:34:50.:34:56.

irate member states, then I would back that. -- to annihilate member

:34:56.:35:01.

states. Thank you. Let's look at the week ahead. David Cameron is

:35:01.:35:06.

jetting off to the United States to meet Barack Obama and discuss Iran

:35:06.:35:10.

and Syria among other pressing international matters. It is not

:35:10.:35:15.

all work because the President is whisking him on Air Force One to

:35:15.:35:19.

Ohio, a key swing state in the presidential election to watch a

:35:19.:35:27.

basketball game. After the commissioner from the British Bill

:35:27.:35:30.

of Rights resigned on our programme on Sunday, the issue of human

:35:30.:35:35.

rights comes under scrutiny this week. The Joint Committee on Human

:35:35.:35:42.

Rights takes evidence from Sir Nicholas Bratza, President of the

:35:42.:35:48.

European Court of Human Rights. It is an early start on Tuesday, 11

:35:48.:35:52.

o'clock, to discuss the Health and Social Care Bill. Will the

:35:52.:35:55.

turbulence at the Lib Dem conference shake peers into

:35:55.:35:58.

ditching the controversial bill? With the Prime Minister across the

:35:58.:36:02.

pond, both parties have their deputies stepping up to the

:36:02.:36:06.

dispatch box. Watch out for William Hague versus Harriet Harman on

:36:06.:36:11.

Wednesday at midday. Pippa Creagh from the Evening Standard and Paul

:36:11.:36:14.

Waugh from PoliticsHome joined us now. And I just have to thank my

:36:14.:36:23.

guest for coming onto the programme. Now, this trip on Air Force One,

:36:23.:36:26.

glamorous meetings with Barack Obama, does that mean the special

:36:26.:36:30.

relationship is live and kicking? It is certainly useful for the

:36:30.:36:33.

President and hopefully for the Prime Minister. He will get a lot

:36:33.:36:37.

more out of this trip than was previously imagined. It seems that

:36:37.:36:42.

the USA finally appreciate that Britain's role in the world,

:36:42.:36:48.

particularly given a Iran and Syria in the Middle East, is crucial.

:36:48.:36:53.

There was a tilt towards the Pacific but now the US they seem to

:36:53.:37:02.

have -- the USA seems to have realised how important we are.

:37:02.:37:06.

will not be meeting up with politicians at the Republican Party.

:37:06.:37:13.

Is that a surprise? It is not a surprise. I expect the Liam Fox

:37:13.:37:16.

would like him to be meeting the Republican front-runners. It is not

:37:17.:37:21.

all fun and games were the Prime Minister. He will be having serious

:37:21.:37:26.

discussions about defence strategy. And also about what is happening in

:37:26.:37:31.

Afghanistan. In recent days we have seen the terrible events going on

:37:31.:37:36.

there, particularly with the murder of civilians and children. That is

:37:36.:37:41.

bound to be the top of both of the leaders' agendas. And we will be

:37:41.:37:45.

talking about that in a few moments, too. Can we look back at the

:37:45.:37:48.

Liberal Democrats' spring conference? All right, Nick Clegg

:37:48.:37:52.

lost the vote, it will not change Government policy, but what does it

:37:52.:37:58.

saved about the relationship between him and his party? -- what

:37:58.:38:03.

does it say? It is embarrassing for Nick Clegg. What it will not do is

:38:03.:38:07.

stop Lib Dem peers from supporting the bill in the Lords. It will give

:38:08.:38:16.

Labour the opportunity, of course, do so that it is not fully behind

:38:16.:38:26.
:38:26.:38:26.

the bill. -- to say that it is not fully behind the bill. Health has

:38:26.:38:30.

been a hugely controversial issue for the Liberal Democrats. Now we

:38:30.:38:34.

have an interesting line on tax. This idea of the tycoon tax. Lots

:38:34.:38:38.

of senior Lib Dems did not seem to know about it. Do you think it has

:38:38.:38:44.

been roundly rejected? This afternoon, the famous Quatt, the

:38:44.:38:48.

Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, George Osborne and Danny

:38:49.:38:53.

Alexander, they will all be meeting in the Cabinet room for what I am

:38:53.:38:57.

told will be a very long meeting, the final meeting ahead of the

:38:57.:39:01.

Budget when they will hammer down the issues on tax for the higher

:39:01.:39:06.

and lower paid. The question is whether the tycoon tax will survive

:39:06.:39:10.

beyond this weekend. It will not be in his Budget and it has been

:39:10.:39:15.

quietly doused down by the Treasury overnight. Even within the Lib Dems,

:39:15.:39:19.

there is obviously division, with the Deputy Prime Minister deriding

:39:19.:39:24.

Lord Oakeshott for being one of the tycoon's within the party that does

:39:24.:39:30.

not like the tycoon tax. Right! And finally, William Hague versus

:39:30.:39:35.

Harriet Harman? Looking forward to it? I am. William Hague has

:39:35.:39:37.

reputation for being a great showman but Harriet Harman has

:39:38.:39:45.

always held her own. She has lost her chief stand-up jokes from her

:39:45.:39:50.

team, but we will see how she gets on without that. The vast majority

:39:50.:39:53.

of people's eyes will be on what is happening over the pond rather than

:39:53.:39:57.

in the House of Commons. You could be right! Thank you.

:39:57.:40:04.

I have been joined by a Rehman Chishti, Owen Smith and Eilidh

:40:04.:40:08.

Whiteford for the rest of the programme. Can I start with

:40:08.:40:11.

Afghanistan, because that will no doubt be discussed with Barack

:40:11.:40:17.

Obama? Do you feel we are safer with the mission in Afghanistan?

:40:17.:40:22.

think we have no choice but to go into the mission in Afghanistan. We

:40:22.:40:26.

went into the country for our national security. So you think it

:40:26.:40:30.

has worked? David Cameron says we are safe on the streets because of

:40:30.:40:34.

our boys up there? I did eight years of foreign policy with

:40:34.:40:41.

Benazir Bhutto before I came into policy in this country. The attacks

:40:41.:40:45.

in 2005 were linked to that region. The money we have spent on

:40:45.:40:49.

education, changing attitudes from radicalisation to education, to fit

:40:49.:40:52.

in with the broad approach, that is absolutely right. But links in with

:40:52.:40:58.

military action but we do need the political settlement as well.

:40:58.:41:02.

is the point people are making. If we are keeping our streets safer,

:41:02.:41:06.

that is one thing, but if we wanted to create democracy in Afghanistan,

:41:06.:41:12.

that was not the point and we have strayed. Absolutely. In 1989, the

:41:12.:41:16.

international community left Afghanistan in a vacuum and the

:41:17.:41:20.

Taliban came in. We have to make this sustainable and linked to our

:41:20.:41:25.

community over here. Do you back that? The idea that troops are not

:41:25.:41:30.

just fighting the Taliban but also Al-Qaeda. Is it an imaginary enemy

:41:30.:41:36.

in that sense? I think that Rehman Chishti is right. We are safer as a

:41:36.:41:39.

result of what we have done in Afghanistan. There is no doubt

:41:39.:41:45.

about that. The plan was obviously that Afghanistan had become an area

:41:45.:41:50.

of the world where Al-Qaeda was harboured and now it is harder for

:41:50.:41:54.

them in Afghanistan. Therefore we are safe in the West. We also

:41:54.:41:58.

always said that installing democracy, and seeing a safer and

:41:58.:42:07.

more Deborah -- democratic country it would always be in our interests

:42:07.:42:13.

and it is about that. And it is about supporting our troops in

:42:13.:42:18.

difficult circumstances. But following the death of the 16

:42:18.:42:21.

civilians and the six servicemen, will the public be questioning when

:42:21.:42:25.

the troops come home? Yes. We must always ask that question and as

:42:25.:42:29.

politicians we must always ask that question on behalf of the public.

:42:29.:42:34.

Do you want it to be sooner? We all want them to come back as soon as

:42:34.:42:38.

possible and we all aspire to that. We need to make sure that they

:42:38.:42:42.

finish the job. If you talk to people, and I do regularly, that

:42:42.:42:45.

are fighting in Afghanistan, then they want to feel like they have

:42:46.:42:50.

finished the job. They do not want to leave prematurely. Because the

:42:50.:42:54.

risk is that if they leave to sin than the Taliban will move in and

:42:54.:43:00.

their work will be damaged? -- leave too soon. I think that is

:43:00.:43:04.

right. We have to come back to the reasons why we were in Afghanistan

:43:04.:43:07.

in the first place and why many years on whether those objectives

:43:07.:43:11.

are still being met and if they are still being met through the

:43:11.:43:15.

military response. Do you think they are being that? I have real

:43:15.:43:19.

questions over it, I must confess. Clearly there were national

:43:19.:43:23.

security reasons for going in there, but I do question what our troops

:43:23.:43:28.

are doing now and if that is really going to strengthen civil society

:43:28.:43:33.

effectively in Afghanistan? We are not releasing the evidence of that,

:43:33.:43:42.

I don't think. How -- we are not really seeing the evidence. I think

:43:42.:43:45.

all the families want to see our people brought home. I think they

:43:45.:43:53.

want to see that conflict brought to some sort of sustainable

:43:53.:43:58.

resolution for the people of Afghanistan, too. We have debated

:43:59.:44:02.

this in Parliament. When the Prime Minister comes back, a statement

:44:02.:44:07.

will be made on that. Looking at the situation in Afghanistan,

:44:07.:44:13.

180,000 members in the Afghan army and members of the police force as

:44:13.:44:17.

well, linked to education and infrastructure. We are giving

:44:17.:44:20.

Afghanistan an opportunity to master their own destiny. There

:44:20.:44:24.

needs to be more political work as well as military work to make sure

:44:24.:44:27.

Afghanistan can play a key role in the international community. Thank

:44:27.:44:30.

you. If you caught the train from

:44:30.:44:33.

Gateshead this weekend you may have seen some sullen Liberal Democrat

:44:33.:44:37.

faces on the way back from the spring conference. But one member

:44:37.:44:44.

was more silent than the others. Nick Clegg suffered a series of

:44:45.:44:49.

blows, after 10 party activists to rip off the rear view mirror on the

:44:49.:44:56.

health you. -- telling party activists. They still rejected the

:44:56.:45:06.

bill in a non-binding vote. Nick Clegg's attempts to steer

:45:06.:45:14.

conversation away towards tycoon taxes did not go very well because

:45:14.:45:18.

he had not of the Business Secretary about the plans. Vince

:45:19.:45:22.

Cable commented that he had not seen the details of the proposals

:45:22.:45:27.

and could not give a very informed. Very honest of him. He said the

:45:27.:45:32.

idea is interesting for and taxing the wealthy has been a popular

:45:32.:45:35.

discussion point among Liberal Democrat but the mansion tax has

:45:35.:45:39.

long been seen as the favoured plan and the tycoon tax seemed to take

:45:39.:45:44.

people by surprise. With the Budget a week away and negotiations in the

:45:44.:45:51.

final stages, the big question is what Nick Clegg will be able to

:45:51.:46:01.
:46:01.:46:08.

We'll have to wait for the Budget for the Chancellor to lay that out.

:46:09.:46:15.

I am now joined by Andrew George. It was a surprise to you the tycoon

:46:15.:46:19.

tax? We enjoy a good debate. One of the great things about the Liberal

:46:19.:46:24.

Democrats is we have very open debates. It was hardly a great

:46:24.:46:28.

weekend for Nick Clegg, was it? spoke extremely well. The fact is

:46:28.:46:32.

the values of the party were presented very well. And the fact

:46:32.:46:41.

is that we have debates which other parties would rather we kept behind

:46:41.:46:47.

closed doors. You are having open debates. You are not supporting a

:46:47.:46:52.

basic thread of Government policy. People need to grow up. After the

:46:52.:46:57.

2010 general election election and reg naiz debates is about in public,

:46:57.:47:02.

enjoying the wider community. Not having the Blair type control

:47:03.:47:08.

Government we had in the past. We have a very open and democratic

:47:08.:47:11.

system. You would like Nick Clegg to start again with the health

:47:11.:47:16.

bill? I think Nick has done an excellent job in securing some

:47:16.:47:22.

important amendments to the Health Bill. Not enough? Not good enough.

:47:22.:47:28.

I am clear on my view on it. I am pleased the party supports my view.

:47:28.:47:33.

We're having an open debate about this. We have a healthy party. We

:47:33.:47:38.

welcome healthy debate. In terms of the Bill itself, you want it ripped

:47:38.:47:43.

up, you want it scrapped, you want it withdrawn? You can use whatever

:47:43.:47:47.

terms you wish. But the fact is, yes, it should be withdrawn, in my

:47:47.:47:52.

view. If we are to take the health's profession with us and the

:47:52.:47:57.

Patients Association and other groups then it is clear the Health

:47:57.:48:01.

Bill, what we ought to do is go back to the coalition agreement. I

:48:01.:48:07.

signed up to a coalition agreement. It will not happen this idea of it

:48:07.:48:09.

being withdrawn, just from a political point of view.

:48:09.:48:14.

Westminster politics at the moment is dominated by this contest in the

:48:14.:48:18.

environment. Partly fuelled by the media itself. Actually it's not

:48:18.:48:23.

possible for Cameron or anyone else to actually withdraw the Bill at

:48:23.:48:28.

this stage without media headlines saying humiliating climbdown. We

:48:28.:48:35.

have to find a mechanism by which we can achieve a dignified exit.

:48:35.:48:40.

this appropriate at this time, on a bill like the Health Bill? I don't

:48:40.:48:43.

think we can say to the Lib Dems how they should have their

:48:43.:48:46.

conferences. They have their conference, they have their debate.

:48:46.:48:50.

Do I think the coalition is working well? I think it is working well. I

:48:50.:48:57.

think the Health Bill is the right bill. We are in a position where

:48:57.:49:01.

the party activists don't support it and peers could cause trouble.

:49:01.:49:05.

At the end of the day, the Lib Dems having a debate, it is right and

:49:05.:49:10.

proper for democracy. But should be ignored? Not at all. Let them have

:49:10.:49:15.

their debate. We've had a debate in Parliament. It is the right Bill.

:49:15.:49:20.

You are pleased - will you join one the Lib Dem peers in trying to get

:49:20.:49:27.

this withdrawn and rewritten? hope so. I think Andrew George has

:49:27.:49:31.

fought a one or two man liberal rather-guard action against the

:49:31.:49:37.

Bill. I share many of his views. It is an unmitigated disaster. The

:49:38.:49:42.

Government ought to withdraw it. I hope in tomorrow's debate we will

:49:42.:49:48.

see further changes. Do you welcome the support for your campaign?

:49:48.:49:53.

fact is that the legacy which the Government inherited is one which

:49:53.:49:58.

did mean there were further reforms required to the NHS. That was in

:49:58.:50:02.

the coalition agreement. Going as faur as the Government proposed is

:50:02.:50:06.

a major disruption to the NHS and quite disastrous as far as taking

:50:06.:50:10.

it forward. This debate is about the NHS in England and does not

:50:10.:50:15.

affect you in that way. What is your view from the outside of what

:50:15.:50:19.

Cameron and Lansley are doing? may not affect us directly. The vau

:50:19.:50:26.

in Scotland is we're very relieved we are not having to have this Bill

:50:26.:50:30.

on us. You don't think that there should be any reform? There are

:50:30.:50:36.

other ways to do costs N Scotland we have seen investment in

:50:36.:50:43.

preventative services. Our conference was around erltly

:50:43.:50:48.

detection in cancer, for example. The -- early detection in cancer,

:50:48.:50:53.

for example. What has worried us is it could see cuts in the overall

:50:54.:50:57.

budget of the health service. That could have a knock-on effect in

:50:57.:51:01.

terms of the overall grant to the NHS. That is the big concern. In

:51:01.:51:05.

terms of the policy direction, what has struck me has been the

:51:05.:51:08.

opposition from health care professionals in England and their

:51:08.:51:13.

deep concerns about the direction of travel this Bill has taken.

:51:13.:51:18.

Where did the idea of tycoon tax come from? As far as this issue is

:51:18.:51:23.

concerned and I think that the -- I think that Vince Cable has been

:51:23.:51:29.

clear and he has persistently floated the idea of a mansion tax.

:51:29.:51:33.

The tycoon tax has been debated within the party on a number of

:51:33.:51:40.

occasions. Were you surprised it was brought up before the Budget.

:51:40.:51:44.

We're having a Spring Conference. It is reasonable for Nick Clegg to

:51:44.:51:49.

flot it in the way he did. -- float it in the way he did. Of course

:51:49.:51:53.

with a more open style... Row are doing very well here on the open

:51:53.:51:57.

style. Do you not think it is a trade-off? He's not going to get

:51:57.:52:05.

the mansion tax is he? We are actually... It is not fully-formed.

:52:05.:52:11.

I did not say that. I was talking theatrically that if we are move

:52:11.:52:16.

from a situation of actually very controlled and restrained policy

:52:16.:52:20.

debates, which people cannot take part in. Is it a good idea? I think

:52:20.:52:25.

what we have to do, we have to have, we have to be pragmatic about it -

:52:25.:52:31.

is it deliverable. The principal is fieb. It is one thing, but I --

:52:31.:52:35.

fine. It is one thing, but I suggest the details have not been

:52:35.:52:41.

worked out. Would Labour support it? I think if Andrew or Nick Clegg

:52:41.:52:44.

could explain what they mean by it and make us and everybody else

:52:44.:52:48.

understand what it would mean and how it would work then we would

:52:48.:52:53.

back it. It is the rate at which it would be set F you were going to

:52:53.:52:58.

set a tycoon tax, where would you set it? When Nick Clegg saw the

:52:58.:53:02.

debate in the US about what the effective rate of tax was, and

:53:02.:53:06.

decided he would transpose that to the UK, without any real thought

:53:06.:53:11.

and it was clearly on the back of a fag packet. You said the principle

:53:11.:53:14.

of ensuring that millionaires have a sort of minimum floor, they

:53:14.:53:20.

cannot fall below in terms of tax, to take that analogy from America,

:53:20.:53:26.

what rate would you set it at? think we need broadly what we have

:53:26.:53:33.

got, which is a prg sieve taxation system. -- progressive taxation

:53:33.:53:37.

system. Clearly, the problem is you have a Deputy Prime Minister who is

:53:37.:53:44.

floating this out of the wide blue sky, who is supporting a Government

:53:44.:53:53.

to cut the rate for those earning over �150,000. Just very briefly,

:53:53.:53:59.

tycoon tax will not make it, do you think mansion tax will make it?

:54:00.:54:04.

are seeing it is different being in opposition than being in Government.

:54:04.:54:07.

The Liberal Democrats are in Government. My colleagues, the Lib

:54:07.:54:12.

Dems, they come out with ideas. There is a difference between being

:54:12.:54:17.

in opposition than in Government. We will have to wait. We will. Now,

:54:17.:54:21.

and Andrew George thank you very much for coming in. That is right.

:54:21.:54:25.

In Quentin Letts's guide to the workings of Westminster here's our

:54:25.:54:33.

parliamentary insider with the low- down on committees.

:54:33.:54:39.

C is for committees. Carer said it was a committee with four back legs.

:54:39.:54:44.

Well, they know about animals here. It is the natural history museum.

:54:44.:54:51.

Lots of dinosaurs in there, just like the Palace of Westminster.

:54:51.:54:55.

Committees ideally are held in sterile, almost scientific

:54:55.:54:59.

environments. They allow a Government and a Parliament to

:54:59.:55:04.

assemble information without the who what of politics. Parliamentary

:55:04.:55:10.

-- the ho-ha-politics. There are those which the MPs and the

:55:10.:55:15.

parliamentarians draft the lays line by line and those which

:55:15.:55:20.

scrutinise and interrogate public servants and ask them for their

:55:20.:55:26.

opinions about proposed thoughts. These magnificent presses are used

:55:26.:55:29.

to flatten biological specimens. Select committees do the same job.

:55:29.:55:36.

There are 90 committees in all in the Houses of Parliament. They are

:55:36.:55:38.

aseemabled according to the general election result. In the old days

:55:38.:55:42.

the pwhips used to decide which MPs would sit on which committees. Now

:55:42.:55:47.

they are voted for by the House. This has given MPs more kf about

:55:47.:55:51.

the way they go about their -- confidence about the way they go

:55:51.:55:56.

about their committee work. They are more beastly to people.

:55:56.:56:01.

have destroyed a great British bank, cost the taxpayer �20 billion. How

:56:01.:56:06.

would you summarise that deal? deal was a bad mistake. They are

:56:06.:56:10.

rather dull N all the time I have reported Parliament, about 20 years,

:56:10.:56:15.

I must have covered at least four of them. Bill committees are where

:56:15.:56:19.

legislation is drafted line by line. It can allow MPs to show they have

:56:19.:56:24.

a head for detail. On the whole, they are avoided. It

:56:24.:56:29.

is select committees which are show time. This is when public figures

:56:29.:56:31.

in British life are brought before Parliament to account for their

:56:31.:56:37.

actions and to give their opinions. I would like to say one sentence,

:56:37.:56:42.

this is the most humble day of my life. British public life is a bit

:56:42.:56:47.

of a murky undergrowth. It is a jungle out there. Sometimes what

:56:47.:56:57.
:56:57.:56:59.

Well, from the gore of parliamentary committees, that was

:56:59.:57:02.

Quentin Letts, with his lowdown on committees of Parliament. Let's

:57:02.:57:08.

come to you guys. What is your favourite committee? I sit on the

:57:08.:57:11.

Joint Committee on Human Rights. We have the President, Sir Nicolas

:57:11.:57:16.

Bratza, giving evidence tomorrow. It will be great. It was billed

:57:16.:57:21.

that they would make Parliament more powerful, more accountable.

:57:21.:57:27.

Are these powerful, these select committees of MPs? They have taken

:57:27.:57:31.

it on because of the election and the strangeness of our politics,

:57:31.:57:35.

given the coalition. Maybe it has been the issues and the fact you

:57:35.:57:39.

have had Murdoch and others appearing in front of them. That

:57:39.:57:42.

attracted a lot of attention. Do you think the questioning is

:57:43.:57:47.

improving? They have always been forensic. My favourite committee is

:57:47.:57:54.

the Welsh grand committee. It is unique, it is neither grand Orwell

:57:54.:58:03.

sh, given that Cheryl Gillard is in control. What is interesting for

:58:03.:58:08.

the House of Commons committees have evolved. When the Scottish

:58:08.:58:17.

Parliament was set up they were given a central role. Do you sit in

:58:17.:58:19.

these committee? No I am in the Westminster Parliament. They work

:58:19.:58:23.

in a different way. Because they can change legislation, it becomes

:58:23.:58:28.

a very powerful means and actually a very effective means of

:58:28.:58:32.

governance. Perhaps if more of evolution to happen here in terms

:58:32.:58:37.

of how committees efleckively influence the process. Which

:58:37.:58:42.

committee would you like to be on? Foreign affairs. They get all the

:58:42.:58:45.

nice trips. It will be Nick Clegg verses Harriet Harman because

:58:45.:58:49.

William Hague will be away on that trip. This researcher will be shot

:58:49.:58:53.

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