27/03/2012 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.


The polls made grim reading for the Prime Minister over his kedgeree


this morning. One has Mr Cameron ten points behind his Labour


counterpart. Maybe the PM should invite a few people round for


Easter Sunday. And talking of Easter, Quentin


Letts takes to recess like a duck to water with his A-Z of Parliament


A framework for growth or carte blanche to develop the countryside?


We'll be looking at the Government's new planning framework


for England. And farewell clunk click every trip.


Are we waving goodbye to public information films like this? Pick a


simple topic and state the bleeding obvious about it.


Indeed! All that in the next hour, and with


us for the whole programme today we have an embarrassment of political


riches. John Prescott is the former Deputy Prime Minister now hoping to


become one of the first elected police commissioners. Norman Fowler


is a former Tory cabinet minister and one-time chairman of the


Conservative Party and Don Foster is a Liberal Democrat who speaks


for the party on culture and the media. Can I say evening, all!


yet! Let's start with what's being


called - by this programme at least - the dosh for nosh affair. That


was sparked by revelations that a Tory party fundraiser had offered


access to the Prime Minister's dinner table in return for


donations. It caused quite a fuss in the Commons yesterday.


Speaker, what Peter Cruddas said was completely unacceptable and


wrong. And much of what he said, much of what he said was simply not


true, as he himself has since stated. My right honourable friend,


the Prime Minister, has set out this morning that the Conservative


Party will now go much further. I hope that all other parties, and


since the Leader of the Opposition has taken the trouble to come to


the House, I hope he will set out what his party will do. Will the


Minister for the Cabinet Office accept it is completely inadequate,


given the scale of these allegations, for an investigation


into what happened to be conducted by the Conservative Party? A


Conservative peer appointed by the Prime Minister. An inquiry into the


Conservative Party by the Conservative Party for the


Conservative Party. It is a whitewash and everyone knows it.


Does the Cabinet Office Minister understand that when stories such


as this emerge, it only confirms what we in Liverpool already know.


The Tories are not interested in already -- ordinary people, they


are only interested in making their rich friends even richer.


there's a lot of synthetic nonsense about this. The party opposite has


been snout in the trough far worse than we ever have and the Prime


Minister is to be commended for his honesty and straightforwardness and


his transparency in revealing all the people he has met. When will we


learn from the crisis that engulfed this House three years ago? The


response this to this situation is not simply to point fingers, but to


address with a renewed urgency the need to deal with its source, which


in this case is the continuing escalation of the political party


funding arms race. Does the Minister agree with me that it


stretches credulity to breaking point to argue that Peter Cruddas


did not... He is the most senior fundraiser for the Conservative


Party. He didn't understand the law relating to donations to political


parties! For the honourable gentleman refers to him as the most


senior. Not any more he isn't. Francis Maude feeling the heat a


little. And our political correspondent,


Carole Walker, is with us now. The electoral commission is being asked


to investigate whether Peter Cruddas found ways around the rules


on foreign donations. That's right. Jack Straw, the former Labour Home


Secretary, has written to the electoral commission, asking them


to look into this to find out whether Peter Cruddas and Sarah


Sutton broke the law in apparently being ready to take donations from


a foreign company. We know the Sunday Times reporters were posing


as representatives of a Middle Eastern Investment Company, based


offshore English in Stein, and furthermore, Sarah Sutton went on


to stage -- say the party won't ask questions. What Jack Straw is


saying the electoral commission whether there's been a criminal


offence, whether Conservative Party has the right procedures in place.


I have spoken to a Downing Street spokesman who says the Conservative


Party does have very strict procedures and a professional team


who make sure and check carefully to ensure that any donations are


legitimate. It is not going to be easy to check this because no


donation was actually made. Conservative sources are also


pointing out that Sarah Southern, much as she was trying to bid up


her connections within the Conservative Party, was in fact the


junior aide who had never actually worked on the question of fund-


raising. Whichever way the Conservatives cut it, it is


embarrassing, isn't it? Up it is. Very difficult and embarrassing.


David Cameron recognises that. Polls suggest it reinforces all the


sorts of difficulties about the party's image they are trying to


shake off, about being in the pockets of big business. They


haven't had this by appearing to drag their feet initially, saying


they could not publish the list of donors who had been to dinner been


dining Street, then doing so. -- Downing Street. In the last few


minutes, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has said he is prepared to


publish a list of who he has met. It is not clear what the detail of


that is. He says this has left a stain on the character of the


Government. Norman Fowler, let's pick up on that last point. It


hasn't been handled well. They looked like they were dragging


their feet, saying no to publishing the list and then doing that.


it was a very swift moving thing. Was its swift enough? It was pretty


swift! They said no to start with. Everyone was caught by surprise.


Peter Cruddas's comments were crass and inexcusable. The only thing I


would say is we can concentrate just on this one issue. What we


should be doing is concentrating on party funding generally. That is


what the Conservative leadership would like everybody today. It can


be used as a smokescreen. What I'm saying is if you want an


independent inquiry, let's have written to all party funding and


let's move, I think, and I have what you this in my book, political


suicide, four years ago, we should move to some sort of state funding.


Unless you have some form of that, and it will not be popular, and I


hear your intake of breath, but if you go on like this, you'll have


scandals every couple of years. We have had scandal after scandal in


the first part of this century, cash for honours, debts, the whole


lot. Can I just go back to the issue at hand, which is about the


impression it leaves on voters, particularly after the Budget. Do


you fear that every time there's a policy announcement now in the next


few months, or a U-turn, let's say it is on airport capacity, or the


relaxation of the planning laws, everybody will point the finger and


say it is because of the Prime Minister and senior Tories wining


and dining with rich donors who have had an influence. I don't


think that is the reality. Whether people think that is another matter.


Who has had most access over the last 30 years to prime ministers?


It is not rich donors, it was Rupert Murdoch and the Murdoch


press. And some of the other media proprietors. They have not been


talking about theoretical politics. Is there any point in having an


independent inquiry into this particular episode? Wouldn't it be


better to broaden it out? Let's look at this issue... The Tories


were also dashed always funded by rich people. The Labour Party


largely came through the trade unions and therefore those


influence... And then the Lib Dems... It has gone from 15 million


to 30 million, the cost of an election. You can't raise that by


subscriptions so you get into the business of where the money comes


from. I've always been an advocate of state financing. People talk


about it as if somehow we don't do it. We already do it to about 35


million. Do the public or more of it? They don't know we do it now


and we do it to finance political parties... That is about 20 million.


We send information to the public about candidates, that is about 35


million, although the Tories are about to abolish it for the


election of police commissioners. The perception is there are


interested bodies in the community that influence political parties


that get the legislative framework they want. What they don't like it


if you buy it in this direct way or the Prime Minister gives a dinner


in that way or trade unions use their influence in that way. Let's


go back to looking at the proper way of funding finances. Kelly


recommends going a certain way along that, I would go further, but


it is already with state fining -- financing. Does it matter as much


as you say about one -- where some of the money comes from? Whether it


is the unions or rich business sponsors or whoever. Isn't it about


transparency? If it was more up front, people would not worry so


much. Trade union funds are pretty transparent already. You are


required by law to do that. It is transparency. When Mr Murdoch, who


had at the register influence behind the scenes, we now found out


when he went for BSkyB, he went to Chequers and the Prime Minister


denied he ever met him. That is the kind of transparency we need to


bring into the open. It is the public's perception that politics


is paid for. We need to have it much more accountable and much more


transparent. Both political parties need get a better balance about


this or we will suffer. Do you think Nick Clegg will have any


chance of getting a consensus? It is all very well everyone saying


that's what we need, but the agreement on the detail about cats


on donations and how they should be made, for instance from individual


members or unions, that has always been difficult. It will be


particularly difficult when we have the current climate when most


people accept now is not the right time to be asking the public to pay


extra money to fund political parties. But I think it is


important. One bit of the investigation I really think we do


have to have independently is in to that issue of the potential of


overseas donations, which is illegal and if routes around it


have been found, we need to block those. The crucial bit, John is


right, it is transparency. We have already heard from the Prime


Minister that he will be transparent. We now hear from Ed


Miliband that they will be transparent about trade union


leaders. The day Ed Miliband became the leader of the Labour Party, one


trade union immediately donated �770,000. A massive donation. The


influence of the trade unions... They could not do that without the


membership agreeing. I don't want to get into this, but please, their


money is much more open. It is decided by them members. The


perception in people's minds that those donations are directed to


particular legislative favours, of course we want to reduce


unemployment, the Government have got in a situation where they are


increasing it. There are direct views about that and there will


always be so, but you need to make sure it is not connected to obvious


money payments. The issue of perceptions and the damage it might


have done, that the Conservatives of the party of the rich, that is


going to be difficult to explain at this precise moment, isn't it?


of these scandals are difficult to explain. Just as they have been in


the past. David Cameron has worked so hard at detoxifying the


Conservatives. He must be absolutely furious about this. The


way in which this man explained what party funding was about I


think is totally ridiculous and totally inexcusable. But I do think


you have to come back to this point that you can't have it both ways.


If you're not going to go on state funding, parties have to raise


money somehow. One final question. Normally the party chairman goes


out betting for the party. We haven't seen her at all. -- batting.


Would you have expected to see her on the airwaves defending the


party's image? Baidoa ne ho. We have Francis Maude doing it. In


terms of government, Francis is more senior. We have all been a


round this track. I had a very hairy debate in the House of


Commons on party funding when I was party chairman. I don't think it


matters who is doing the defending, it is a hopeless job. Borg Francis


was getting it in the neck yesterday, I was getting it in the


neck when I did it. For do you believe the Prime Minister sat down


with all these people and did not think about the money coming from


them? Or when we sat down with trade unions, you would not think


about financing for the general election. Number Ten, and even


Dorney Wood suggested... I was asked questions constantly, who was


staying at Dorney Wood? Just ordinary working people. Dave used


all of these facilities to raise Of the 11th of it was a bleak


picture for any Tories open in the papers today, as three different


polls put the party firmly behind Labour. The Sun/YouGov poll saw the


Conservatives trailing Labour by seven points. A poll for the Times


saw a smaller four point lead for Labour, but this was a three point


drop for the Tories since February. And the Independent/ComRes poll


showed the biggest hit for the party. They make grim reading. Does


it say the Budget was a disaster? It probably does have some


reflection on the Budget. It has been amazing, in a way. The


government have done a number of things in terms of public spending.


They have cut public spending in a range of areas. They have had had


the Health Bill and the welfare bill, then the Budget. It has been


amazing that they have been level pegging. They have stayed


relatively static through announcements on public spending,


even through the controversy of the Health Bill and on welfare. It is


only post Budget that there has been this sudden dip. So if you


take the 50 pence top rate of tax or the fact that in the end,


presentation early, it did not work? These things are cumulative.


You cannot put your finger on one thing and say that was the issue


that did it. This is the end of a period in which we have been doing


really unpopular things. The amazing thing is that we have not


fallen behind before. Then you agree with what was called the


granny tax and taking away the top rate of tax? I would not


necessarily have done it as Chancellor, but there is a sensible


case to be made for doing it. wouldn't you have done those


things? For the reasons you are stating. The public relations


contrast between "helping the rich" at one end, and having an impact


upon the relatively not well off at the other in terms of pensions,


there is an obvious contrast which will be exploited. You are in the


coalition as well, but that a presentation of saying, we are


taking these people out of the lower band of tax, but we will drop


the top rate of tax, to. You are in the same boat. It did not work. We


will talk later about the abolition of the Central Office of


Information on the question of whether we should not have been


using them vigorously for this. If you have a Budget that takes 2


million people out of paying tax and gives a huge tax rebate of over


�500 per year to 24 million people, gives the largest ever pension rise,


you would have thought we could have had good publicity from it. In


the event, the granny tax, which did not seem to be properly planned


for in terms of explaining the message... Did you agree with it?


If you look at the figures, there is a net �1.4 billion. Overall, the


money for pensioners is going up. No pensioner loses anything in


terms of cash, and the majority are getting a huge rise. It is a good


policy, but the marketing of it was appalling. We lost out because of


that. Both parties did. Looking at the polls, Labour is finally doing


well. One could say it has been a long time coming after Norman


Fowler listed all the other issues like health and welfare. But Ed


Miliband is still doing badly in terms of his own ratings. There are


different perceptions of how leaders and governments are doing.


That is one perception. But this was supposed to be a Budget to


increase growth, and it was about not spending more, but we are


spending more. So they failed on their own analysis of the Budget.


When you put that together with the idea of the granny tax, we had the


10p situation. You could rationally point to that 10p, but the


pensioners under public did not see it that way. It is the same with


the granny tax. But we put up the tax to 50 pence, and they reduced


it. So the millionaire's did well. The perception in the public's mind


is that the Tories do well with the rich, but those dependent on public


service fail. It is interesting and then that Labour has not been doing


as well as they might have done before that. When the announcements


on public spending cuts came through on public sector pay


freezes and the Health Bill, there was no surge then for Labour. So it


is only as a result of this presentation of the Budget, not as


a result of what Labour have been saying. But if you look at Cameron


when he first came in, things were bad for him. Give time for this to


develop. We are only 18 months in. Nobody doubts he did well in that


bear-pit of the House of Commons. He has got it right. He has got the


message right and the tone right. You have to have a bit of an


aggressive style. That has come together. But it is a long one. He


has now established himself as speaking for the nation. He


reflects what the nation feels. What does Ed Miliband need to do


about the unions, and about Len McCluskey and threats for him for


all sorts of direct action like strikes? Does you have to distance


himself from the unions? That is the way you see politics. If you


look at what is happening with the lorry strike for the moment, why


did that come about? Because the Tories brought in balloting. In


industrial relations now, every member knows that if you support


the Union, you support a ballot for a strike. Let's wait and see if


that happens. It is a tactic. Then you guys come along and say, why


shouldn't the leader be attacking that? But should he be supporting


the strikes? A well, it hasn't got into a strike yet, for God's sake.


I have just told you. If I went in negotiating, I would want the


members to back what I was saying. Now they do it by ballot. You are


required by law brought in by the Conservatives to ask your members


whether they support it. The charges to be then that they did


not have membership support. Now they have, let's see. The Lib Dems


are stuck on 11%. Will they ever do better while they are in coalition


with the Conservatives? Increasingly, the message is


getting out about the real influence the Liberal Democrats are


having. The Labour Party have been given this instruction to say it is


a Tory-led Government. The truth is that there is evidence of the


impact the Liberal Democrats are having in government, working in


coalition. What about the Health Bill? There have been huge,


significant changes. You want to get rid of the House of Lords.


if you take the Budget, one of the most significant things was that


move towards a �10,000 tax threshold. Do you think you will


see an increase in the polls as a result of that? Over time. Would


you like to see more distance between yourselves? We are in a


coalition. People have to understand that for the sake of the


economy, two opposing political parties have come together in a


coalition where we are rebel to get a number of our policies into


practice. But so have the Tory party. You are taking a snapshot at


a particular time. We now have three years to run of this


Parliament. So although the opinion polls are interesting, they are


hardly conclusive. Now, it is a difficult and


controversial subject, and something Parliament has not


debated properly for 40 years. But this afternoon, MPs will confront


the question of assisted suicide. Giles has been on the green with


two MPs with two different views. Sometimes MPs debate things because


they are going to change the law. On assisted dying, they are not


debated because they are going to change the law. They have not


debated it for 40 years, but now they are debating the guidelines


set up by the Director of Public Prosecutions in February 2010. This


was your suggestion. What has changed that we need to discuss


this now? Nothing has morally changed. But I think society will


benefit if the set of guidelines which provide for a fair and


compassionate way of dealing with cases where you assist someone in


ending their life, if those guidelines have parliamentary


support. It will make them stronger and more effective. I also want


colleagues to understand the issue more. I believe they are now


getting their head round it to, which is for the public good.


against the law anyway, so it will still be against the law unless


there is legislation passed. And this debate will not change that,


so presumably you are reassured? Absolutely, but it is important to


debate this issue. It has not been debated for 47 years, and it is of


strong interest to many people. People are interested in the end of


life and beginning of life issues. What is wrong with somebody who is


sentient and terminally ill saying, I want to die? I have complete


compassion with that and understand that position. But unfortunately,


the law has to cater for everybody. And not everybody's Next of Kin is


a relative. Often, it is the state. It will be a PCT or a care home or


a nursing home. There are people all over the country at the moment


who feel protected by the law, and that has to stay. We have to cater


for the greater number of people, not a minority. About 20 or so


people a year have travelled abroad for assisted suicide. The


campaigners are hoping that number will go up once the guidelines were


introduced. It hasn't. You can't make a law which caters for the few


and not the majority. There is a risk, isn't there, that bit by bit,


it becomes more acceptable and then we are not necessarily talking


about those cases where people have a lot of sympathy? Well, these


guidelines have been in place for the last two years. And the


Director of Public Prosecution's approach to this was in place a


long time before them. But people will derive comfort about their


options from this. You do not like the idea of this? No, I don't like


it because I think the greater number of vulnerable people... ICA


point one day, as you say, it is about the slow erosion, ICA point


one day where a doctor will one day feel a patient is costing �12,000 a


week to the NHS to block a bed, and they may suggest to that patient


that maybe they would like to have their end assisted. That is


somewhere we don't want to go. I know that is an extreme point.


in that example, that would expressly be a factor covered by


prosecution. The debate will run. It is one of those interesting


debates. No doubt our viewers have their views, too.


Now, banker bashing is such a popular sport these days that it


should probably be included in the 2012 Olympics. But 150 years ago,


things were a bit different. George Peabody, American tycoon and


banker. From 1837, number and philanthropist. 150 years ago this


week, he donated �150,000, a lot more in today's money, to tackle


the effects of poverty in the capital, especially the lack of


housing. As a result, this block of flats was built in Spitalfields in


the city. On his death, Peabody left more money to the cause and


his distinctive estates sprung up all over the place as the slums


were cleared and the poor were rehoused, some are enjoying unheard


of mod cons like bathrooms. Some of the estates were destroyed during


the Second World War, but many have survived. Today there are 20,000


people -- Peabody properties. Some are bought and sold on the open


market, but the majority form part of local authorities'' stock if


social housing. And the organisation continues the mission


of its founder by running community programmes for residents. It has


pledged to build 900 more low-cost homes in the next three years.


Where do and now by the chief executive of the Peabody Trust,


Stephen Howlett. How did we get into a situation where there is


such a shortage of affordable housing? There just is not enough


housing being provided. Right across the country, particularly in


central London, we need a lot more housing that is affordable to


people on low incomes. We have seen rising prices of land and a


shortage of supply as well as a cutback in government funding,


increased rents and cuts in the benefits system. You have


identified the problem that there is not enough housing, but is the


answer more homes to buy or Mo homes to rent? It is both. Across


the sectors, right from low-cost rented housing to intermediate


whence to home-ownership, all those are needed. We need a diverse


approach. There are a lot of people who cannot afford the market rate,


in London particularly, and who don't qualify for the low-cost


You were in charge of housing at one time, it is to regret that


there is now such a shortage of housing. Successive governments did


not do enough to build enough affordable housing. Far more than


being built now. The real issue is about financing local housing. Mr


Peabody... It was 30% privately- owned. That is reversed now. People


want to own houses, but you have to provide the social housing. The


right to buy took 1.8 million houses out and cost us billions in


giving subsidies. By tried to stop that. We want people to buy houses.


I introduced a �60,000 house which met the Government kept the land


and you had the price of the House. But the market has. House prices


far greater than inflation. It is about profit and governments have


to play a role in social housing. He did not build enough council


houses. We didn't. I spent something like �40 billion making


the 2 million houses into better houses that were not invested in


when they were selling them off. I then gave a priority to develop and


modernise the existing houses. You have to build more council houses


and I have to carry my share of the blame for that. The legacy of


right-to-buy, the number of council housing was eroded over time. Do


you think that has left us with this problem? It hasn't left us


with the problem we have today. Right-to-buy was the right policy.


It was a policy which was supported in the end by the Labour Party. You


only have to it... We did not get rid of the legislation. You only


have to go to some of the old council estates as I knew in


Nottingham, for example, and you see the vast improvement in the


housing stock and the fact that people actually wanted to buy their


own home. Where we failed is actually in replacing that which we


sold. That has been a power failure. For a variety of reasons, not least


planning and a green field sites... For we will get on to that. Is the


answer in the private sector? part of the answer, but Lord


Prescott is right, we need more low-cost rented housing been


provided through housing associations and local authorities.


What we are seeing at the moment is a cut by about half in the public


investment in housing. We need a broad range of solutions. Public


land, we are prepared to put money into making that housing available.


And shared equity. I think it fundamentally comes down to supply.


That would take the pressure off prices. If we build more houses,


regard leak of what they are originally intended as, it will


reduce the rents. In the south-west at the moment, the average house


price is 14 times the average salary. There's no way the majority


of people can buy houses in those prices. If you increase supply, you


reduce cost. The one thing we are not talking enough about is


bringing back into use of empty properties. How many? In the south-


west, the area I know best, there are as many empty properties as


there are homeless households. You can begin to solve the problem by


bringing them back. The one thing I'd love to see the Government do


is reduce VAT on the renovation of properties because that would help


stimulate... They are largely above shops. I brought in legislation


that you could take them back in the public ownership, do them up


and return them to the owner because they knew then had to do


something about modernisation. The real problem is the price. If I


wanted to put a teacher near a school in an affluent area, the


teacher on their wage could not pay it. I was going to Gordon Brown and


saying I want �78,000 subsidy to allow this teacher to be able to


provide teaching services at a school. Of the Lib Dems worried


about that sort of situation being replicated as a result as -- of


parts of the welfare bill where people will be prised out of rents


in the centre of London? One of the things there is clear evidence of


his at the moment if you have Landlord's able to get a large


amount of money through housing benefit, they can put the rent Supp.


If you catch it, you begin to see the rents go down. John was the


first person, and he has to have credit for this, it introduced the


concept of shared equity properties where people could partly owned...


The that has been taken on. John started it for key workers and that


is the sort of programme we need to do more of. Thank you.


Now, the Government's long-awaited planning reforms are about to be


announced in Parliament. They are reworked from the draft National


Planning Policy framework which was published last summer. Many


countryside groups were angry at the proposals, so let's have a look


at what we can expect. Ministers want to simplify more than 1,000


pages of planning regulations by pages of planning regulations by


cutting them to around 50 pages. Whitehall sources have said it's an


"unashamedly pro-growth document", designed to speed up planning


decisions. So at the heart of the framework is a "presumption in


favour of sustainable development", which ministers say will boost


growth, but that doesn't harm communities, the environment or the


countryside. This phrase is thought to be in the new document, despite


criticism from countryside campaigners. They fear it will mean


developments are automatically approved unless there's a specific


local objection. They also wanted clarification on what a


"sustainable development" is. Whitehall sources have told the BBC


that the "necessary safeguards will be there", and ministers are said


to be confident that enough assurances are in place. David


Thompson is on College Green and Greg Clarke, the planning minister,


is outlining this document to parliament as we speak. This isn't


the Government's first stab at this. This document has been through a


number of revisions in an attempt to get the balance between


protecting the countryside and giving the green light to growth. I


am joined by two protagonists in that debate. Adam, it seems as if a


number of safeguards have been put back into the document. By you


reassure the countryside will be protected? When the draft framework


was published in July we were concerned it would development --


deliver a development at all costs scenario. Serious revisions need to


be made to the document when it is published in its final form today.


There has been speculation that some changes will be made,


particularly on the issue of open countryside, protecting the wider


countryside. It was not in the draft, but it is back in the final


framework. Also, very important that ground filled first is back in


the document. Local councils need to be given time to book plans in


place. A lot to come out in the wash. What sh this space. Liz, the


Government says this will be unashamedly pro-growth. That means


more houses will be built on green land. This is a filly or beats --


fill your boots charter. necessarily. People need somewhere


to live. There's no problem with having a planning system that


provides for growth, good growth, good development, a development


that works. Of course you shouldn't have unmitigated development all


over the place. You have to have a system of control, but you need to


make it an efficient system to plan for the growth where we need it.


The old system was 1,000 pages. Surely, whatever your concerns


about the new regime, it has to be better than the old one. We had no


problem with clarifying for planning guidance, bringing it down


into a shorter document, but things seem to have been missed along the


way by the Government. We are in favour of the right kind of


development in the right places. We know there's a shortage of


affordable housing in rural areas. We were concerned the framework as


it was drafted would not deliver the right sort of housing in the


right places, it would end up being green field development, executive


homes, where developers would make my youth -- most profit. This


document is designed to remove some of that complexities. I'm willing


to bet it won't remove the controversy!


You might be right. Let's pick up on some of those


issues. John Prescott, looking at this issue of building on


brownfield sites, that was in the original document. When they got


rid of 1,000 pages, it wasn't complexities, it was the controls


to stop the developing industries going to greenfield site. They've


already made the applications. think they will still go to those


sites? I said the requirement, you have to look for brownfield sites


in the cities. Now they are saying it is up for growth. Growth must


have the importance of the sustainability. At do you agree


with that? We increased the brownfield from 60% to 70% houses.


We had more greenfield sites. This is about removing controls and


giving the developers a chance to build in greenfield sites. Is that


a good thing to promote growth? all for growth but you can build


houses in the cities. In our time they began building in the cities


and stop the building in suburbia. This is a developer's Charter, it


is about money, not about growth. That must be worrying for you. How


do you explain that your constituents? I would be deeply


worried if John was right. We have not seen the paper. We have the


original. A then we have the consultation. People were concerned


about whether the protections were strong enough in terms of


protecting the green belt and ensuring you have brownfield


development first. I understand that is now there. The second big


concern was the fact that many local authorities haven't got their


local plans sorted out and therefore they would not be able to


use those for local concerns. I understand is now going to be a


year-long break so that local councils can get them right and


that can give local people control over what happens. Do you agree


with Simon Walker who has called opponents to these reforms and


indies? It is all about I don't want it in my backyard. They will


always be around. We have probably all been guilty of it ourselves.


have just had a conversation about the need for more homes, we need


more affordable homes, we need to make land available for that and


the planning system at the moment does restrict the opportunity to do


it. Can you get the balance right between sustainability on one hand


and protecting the environment on the other? You are reassured?


haven't seen the paper, but from what I understand, I think those


controls are now very firmly in place. Is this the right time to be


picking a fight with the core vote for the Conservative Party? There


have been very strong campaigns against this. The National Trust,


the Daily Telegraph are against this in principle. If we are going


to concrete over the whole of the green belt, they have every


justification. And also over the high-speed rail link. You have to


make some decisions. I happen to agree with what John was saying


about brownfield site. I represented for 30 years a


constituency on the boundaries of Birmingham. What was quite clear is


that people much preferred coming there and expanding into the green


field rather than building in the very apparent and evident


brownfield sites you had in Birmingham. From going back to


Birmingham, it seems many of these Brownfield sites still exist for


top there's still going to be a fear that if there's a presumption


in favour of sustainable development, unless there's a


specific objection, there will be a carte blanche for builders to go


where they like because of the pressure for housing.


Yes, and there will be some tough decisions, for example in some


villages. At the moment you have a situation where people just can't


get houses. You will probably have to expand. There's no point in


trying to duck this. There are no easy solutions. One of the


contradictions is the Government won localism and they say they will


leave the decisions to local areas, but we know the groups that will


come up in our constituency and they will have a ballot. Then it is


supposed to be decided in the area. It will be coming to Mr Pickles,


who will have to make the decision. When you talk about people looking


at the Tories, Mr Pickles sat down with all of the developers and he


is the man who said it was a personal mail. A conversation going


on between money, developers and his government. Hang on. Grant


Shapps campaigned against it. campaigns against everything.


were not get away with this. The Labour government imposed housing


targets on each local authority that in many cases were completely


nonsensical. There was no ability to even Bill does houses and it


would have required going into the green belt to do this. What this


does his matches, I hope, the ability of getting on with being


able to build a much needed houses on the one hand, and on the other,


protecting the environment. If we get this balance right... Take the


south-east. We wanted to increase houses in the south-east so


youngsters could live with their families lived. We increased it by


200,000. There were screams and shouts but we showed you could


build it in the same density of housing with the same amount of


land we had for 900,000. You can if you go on to brownfield which is


what local councils will do. Final word and we are ending this. It is


critically important that we pick up what Norman said. John believes


it as well because he used to do it when he was in charge. We have to


have an assumption that brownfields our way you have to do the first


development before you go anywhere At the end of this month, it is


bye-bye to COI, the Central Office of Information, which has been the


government's in-house marketing agency for more than 60 years. They


are constantly bombarding political journalists like me with press


releases, but you will be more familiar with their public


information films. How will the government cope with


the closure of its marketing arm, the COI? We delved into the


archives, and luckily found a public information film about


making public information films. Learn how to make an informative


film for the public, with the Daily Politics. Step 1 - pick a simple


topic, and state the bleeding obvious. In the '40s, people needed


to be told how to use such new- fangled inventions as hankies.


a large put the pot, sprinkle with it, then hold the handkerchief to


his face. Step two - to help Mr and Mrs public understand your message,


why not hire a celebrity? Like Kevin Keegan, here simultaneously


highlighting the dangers of roads and casting footballers as


presenters. Sometimes, celebrities were created, like Charlie the cat


and his weirdly voiced owner. Charlie says next time we go


fishing, we should stay very close to Dad, where he can look after us.


Step 3 - to make sure people listen to your public information film,


why not consider making it exceedingly frightening? That was


the approach used in these not at all scary films about surviving a


total nuclear war. Nobody can tell where the safest place will be.


Public information films will not disappear with the demise of the


Central Office of Information. The government just hopes the whole


process of advertising using public money becomes a bit cheaper.


Hopefully, the film's stay just as cheesy.


A trip down memory lane. Don Foster, did you have a favourite of any of


those public information films? I always liked the clunk click one,


particularly because you saw a motorway with hardly any cars on it.


But if you had the demise of the Public Information Unit, does that


mean that your correspondent just lost his job? No. I think he was


multi-tasking. But he looked good. They did serve a purpose, though.


To some extent, public information films have worked. In 1986, I ran


the HIV-AIDS campaign. We had it falling tombstones and icebergs,


and we really got it on to the TV screens. And the result of that was


that by the end, 95% of the public said that they knew how HIV-AIDS


was contracted. That was tremendous. That was not bum - back not done by


the Central Office of Information. They contracted it. We had a


brilliant man from one of the agencies. I do not think the demise


of the COI will make much difference, as long as the people


have the experience. But there is an issue of funding for public


health campaigns in general. It was not just a chavvy. There were anti-


smoking campaigns. These things have had an effect on changing


attitudes. There is a role for them. As Norman said, you might have to


get the best of advertising to do it, but it is expensive. If you


look at the budgets of departments, they have spent millions on this.


But take climate change. People need to understand what is


happening and what the effects are. When I was trying to get youngsters


to get on to their parents and say, why do you fill the kettle of? Or


why do you let the tap when all the time?, nobody will take that in the


modern media. But you can use these public information films. There is


a lot to be done. Now, money is being spent influencing other TV


programmes. Everybody knows the agricultural correspondents on the


Archers has influenced what happens in farming. Money is now being


spent to influence a lot of other soaps. The problem with that is


that when you have films like that, they are very transparent. You know


it is the Government. It is more insidious if it is influencing a


soap opera. In my view, in some areas you need much more direct


advertising. I was chairman of a select committee. We looked at HIV-


AIDS 25 years ago. We found that in terms of treatment, the government


spent over three-quarters of a billion pounds on drugs and on


direct advertising, they spent �2.9 million. That is totally out of


kilter. I don't mind about the COI going, but I do think that things


like public health can only be done in that way. Don was right when he


said you can use the soaps. They have been effective, but now you


can have your cornflakes on the table and have them in the


programme. That is not influencing the public, that is just an advert.


What would you do a public health broadcast on now? There are so many


issues, but Norman is right - not party funding! - but there are


issues about health. Not just on a chavvy, but all aspects of health.


With the rising obesity crisis, and alcohol and drug problems and so on,


improving public health as important. One should remember, it


is not necessarily the case in health, but one should remember the


limitations of what can -- what one can do. We tried it with seatbelts.


But that did work. But when we passed the law, if the casualties


went down. But you had softened the public up with that campaign.


that took over 15 years. Drinking and driving. That really did change


people's attitudes. It became a taboo. I nearly broke my back not


wearing a seatbelt. What a great advert for that campaign.


Now, there is an end of term skittishness in the air, and it is


not just the hot weather that has brought it on. Here is Quentin


Letts, with his to Z of Parliament. The letter R is for recess.


Parliament does not sit all year round, and when MPs are not at


Westminster, they are said to be in recess, and they can do other


things. Jolly boating weather. Good morning, Kevin. Right. Off we go.


They have several recesses a year. The longest is the summer, about


seven weeks. Then they have another for the party conference season. In


the party conferences, they used to go to the seaside for those. These


days, it is more like town-centre such as Manchester and Birmingham.


Christmas is next, about three weeks. Then you get a week in


February for half term, a couple of weeks at Easter, baby ten days at


the end of May and if you are lucky, a couple of days before the State


Opening of Parliament. It is about 14 weeks in all. Parliament may


hold, but MPs, as they never tire of telling us, go on working. There


is all that constituency work to do, pressing the flesh. Do you think


they possibly work too hard? I know the feeling. Traditionally, the


Government gave little notice of when the house would be in recess.


Information is power, C. The law- making process is uncertain, and


also to let the opposition know far in advance and the house was


breaking up gave them an advantage. But the government has become more


reasonable now. It allows MPs to get those cheap deals on their


package holidays. It is possible for Parliament to be recalled if


ministers ask the Speaker to do that. This happens once every two


years. It happened in 2011 after the summer riots, and when the


Falkland Islands were invaded and after 9/11. One good thing about


the house not sitting is that it stops those MPs passing too many


laws. By the way, if you are in London and on holiday yourself and


the MPs are in recess, you can still go in and have a look around


Parliament. Mind you, the place might be a bit deserted.


Quentin Letts, having fun. Yes, MPs break up for Easter today, but who


has worked harder this session, MPs or the Lords? The Lords have worked


extremely hard on things like health. Around the clock. What have


MPs been doing? Yes, v Lords have been working harder. Most of the


legislation has been with them, and it is now coming back to us. But


these things go in cycles, depending on where the legislation


starts. The other big difference is that the House of Lords has this


wonderful thing. You can see it on the monitor. It says "adjourned at


pleasure". Every evening, they have this break to just go off and be at


pleasure. I have often wondered what that means. You have an


intricate knowledge of the workings of the House of Lords. That is


marvellous. It does not take place every day. The House of Lords has


actually worked extraordinarily hard, particularly on the Health


Bill, which everyone agrees. To say one thing about recess, when one


was a minister, I remember being in a health dispute which had been


going on for six months. And I decided I could take five days off.


This hit the headlines - controversial holiday taken by


minister. Ministers do work hard, and at some stage you have to


decide whether you want exhausted ministers slumped over their best,


making bad decisions, or whether you think every so often, it would


not be a bad idea to take some days off. Are you proud of having bricks,


or not? That is what the political system is. We used to come back in


September. People do feel it is a long break. We do not get paid at


through that break. Ours is a different system. Do you think the


public are being unfair in saying you have these long holidays over


the summer? They say the same about teachers. It is a judgment they


make. This week, we have just announced that we will be off for


another week, and we have not got time to discuss the Scottish bill.


So let's cancel the recess. You have all got to stay. He would not


agree, but we have very much the same view on Parliament. Have a


good recess. The One O'clock News is starting on BBC One. The Daily


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