23/04/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. More confusion over


the attempts to extradite radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada. What did


officials from the European Court of Human Rights tell the Home


Office? We have the latest. Lord Young Ladies, make way for


mainly elected senators. -- Lords and ladies. That his recommendation


of a cross-party group, meant to find a consensus, but it has kicked


off an almighty row. They are two arrogant posh boys who


show no remorse, contrition and no passion to understand the rest of


us. Who could that Conservative MP possibly be talking about? Why is


class so divisive in politics? Every dog needs to be microchipped,


but will this clamp down on dangerous dogs be any more


successful than the last? All that in the next hour, and with


us for the programme is the leader of the House of Lords, Lord


Strathclyde. Welcome. This afternoon there is more confusion


about the Home Office's handling of the attempt to extradite Muslim


cleric Abu Qatada. He was arrested on Tuesday last week because the


Home Office believed the deadline to appeal against a ruling from the


European Court of Human Rights had passed on Monday night. Abu


Qatada's lawyers subsequently lodged an appeal with the court


that they believed to be the Tuesday night deadline. Robin Brant


joins us now. Can you clear up for us, according to the Prime Minister,


that there were assurances to MPs that the deadline was Monday night?


Is that what he said? What is clear this afternoon is that the Prime


Minister's version of the advice sought by the Government and then


given by the court is at odds with the Home Office. The Home Office


has now not been able to can curb some of the statements made by the


Prime Minister this morning. -- can. He said twice that assurances were


received on this specific date, Monday night. This is exactly how


the conversation unfolded on the Today programme this morning.


Home Office is working on the basis of the deadline being Monday night.


I am answering you. That was something that they had checked


with the court. The other question is did they ask the court. When the


deadline was, and the answer to that is yes. And did they tell you?


I discussed this issue with the Home Secretary and she set out the


position. Absolutely. So what did they tell you in answer to that


question? The case was this, that the Home Office believed, and


checked during the process, that the date expired. We know what the


Home Office believed but the question is what the Court told the


Home Office. You say that Theresa May asked that question, so what


were they told? They were told throughout that the deadline


expired on the Monday night. There are two key parts do that exchange.


The Prime Minister pushed on what home Office officials asked and


what they got back in return. When asked if they asked about the


specifics, he said yes, absolutely, and then moved on quickly. I put


that to the Home Office and a classic spokesperson line came back


to me. They were unable to agree with both those statements. I was


told that if the Prime Minister says it, then it must be correct.


But the Home Office cannot agree with those statements made by the


Prime Minister. The confusion surrounding Abu Qatada continues.


If they cannot agree with what the Prime Minister says, in other words


they cannot tell you what they were told by there European Court, does


that mean that the Prime Minister was wrong and he had not been


briefed properly? Does it mean the Home Office is in a mess about what


it was told and it is trying to cover it up? Look back to Theresa


May and her statement on Thursday. She was asked the same question


repeatedly by Labour MPs, what was asked and what was given back? She


asserted that the evening of the 16th was the deadline. She said


they had consulted the court repeatedly and were working from


that basis. That is something that David Cameron and Teresa may have


spoken about, working from that basis. -- Theresa May. The Prime


Minister may have got into a bit of a mess this morning. Tomorrow, I


understand that Yvette Cooper and the Labour Party will be pushing


the Home Secretary to produce the evidence, which apparently the


Prime Minister says is there, about those assurances from the court.


This is not going away. Lord Strathclyde, fairly detailed


conversations about these deadlines are being had. But just listening


to that again, it do you think the Home Office has clocked up? I don't


think so. I don't think the Home Secretary would have made a


statement without being absolutely clear that the advice that she was


receiving from other departments was absolutely correct. And she


told Parliament that as far as they were concerned, the deadline was


Monday night. And that is right that it should be Monday night,


three months from the original date. So the Government was correct and


has confirmed again that it was correct, and Monday night was the


date that they believed. And you are convinced that that was what


the Court told Home Office officials, who rang them to check


that? If that is the case, why can't the Home Office agree with


what the Prime Minister said? by sitting here and imagining that


the Home Secretary picked up the telephone and asked if it was the


date. I don't think it works like that. No, but an official would


have asked. So they say it was all it was then? There will have been a


process, a process of discussion between the Home Office, lawyers


and the court. They will have it that the President, decided on the


Monday night, and they will have decided on the Monday night on a


clear basis. -- they will have lurked at the precedent. Over the


next few weeks we will have to see what comes out of the court case.


We are very convinced that the decision that the Home Secretary


made on the Monday night was correct. And based on the advice


coming from the European Court of Human Rights? On that basis, Abu


Qatada's lawyers missed the deadline and that appeal will be


thrown out. That is what you expect? It looks like that and that


is what we expect. We don't think that Abu Qatada has any right to be


in this country at all. That, we have heard that, and many people


agree with you across the political spectrum. But it is whether or not


he has the right to appeal and it is an important issue, this


deadline. Theresa May appears before the Home Affairs Select


Committee tomorrow, and if she cannot confirm what has happened,


it will she be under pressure with a job? Not at all. She did not make


this decision lightly. She did not make a parliamentary statement


without being clear about the advice that she received. I am sure


she would not have made that statement unless she was totally


confident that what she was saying was correct. Would it not have been


better to wait one day? They would only have waited the day if there


was any doubt and she was clear and so they made that decision.


Now on to Lords reform. A joint committee of peers and MPs have


published a long awaited report on a draft bill for the reform of the


House of Lords. The joint committee has called for an 80% elected upper


house where members serve non- renewable 15 year terms. They would


get paid a salary, rather than the existing attendance allowances.


Some members of the committee have issued a separate dissenting report.


They say that the Government has ducked the key issue of what powers


the newly elected chamber would have. There is one recommendation


from the main report that will prove controversial, to put any


Lords reform proposals to a referendum. The Prime Minister said


he did not see a compelling case for a referendum but did not rule


one out. In contrast, Nick Clegg said this on Sunday Politics: Why


should we spend a great deal of money, millions of pounds of


taxpayers' money, asking the British people a question that most


people frankly don't worry about and on which there is consensus


between three main parties? Literally, all three main parties,


Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, having a commitment


to Lords reform. To sub-contract to the British people an issue that


the politicians at Westminster just cannot deal with, I think that is


asking a lot of the British people when last year we did have a


referendum but that was when there was stark difference of opinion


between the political parties. Joining me now is Nadine de Haar,


thank you for coming on the programme. -- Nadhim Zahawi. All of


the political parties agreed that there should be reformed to the


House of Lords. Let's take a step back and look at what the parties


have said. In our manifesto said we would look towards a consensus. The


Prime Minister has said they would prefer consensus. You can see from


the evidence that there is no consensus, either in the House or


in the country. There is consensus for reform, isn't there? Absolutely


right. I am all for reform and not abolition. Let me just explain that


for a second. What worries me is the primacy of the Commons. The


reason it worries me is because the public have a very clear


understanding at the moment that each party puts forward a manifesto,


and then you vote for MPs into the Commons, and allow them to


legislate and deliver their manifesto. The idea of setting up a


second chamber that is elected, full of politicians, diluting that


primacy, taking that away, creating possible gridlock between the two


chambers, if you take the example of dealing with the economy, the


Chancellor would not have been able to convince the markets that he


could deliver an emergency budget if there was any doubt whatsoever


that a second chamber could get in the wave and stop him delivering


that in the first place. So that issue was not dealt within this


committee. It goes to the heart of the problem. I think we all need to


step back and take the Prime Minister's recommendation on board,


that the three parties must work together to get a consensus in


place before we go forward. So you could argue that nothing is going


to happen. Are you saying that he would prefer to stick with the


status quo of an unelected House? 800 Lords and ladies, or so, he


will carry on doing what they are doing, unaccountably? I am not.


Wheeler to what David Steel recommended. -- we should look to


what David still recommended, cutting the size of it. It is too


big. Taking away political patronage, and appoint an


independent committee, that actually appoints to the House of


Lords. You get rid of those that have committed crimes in the way


that we do in the Commons, and you make sure that the terms are


limited. Then you get rid of the hereditaries. We can do all of that


right now without getting bogged down in whether we should have an


elected second chamber and abolish the House of Lords. Should there be


a referendum on this issue? Yes or no? I think if there is going to be


a referendum, we should put it in with the general election so we


does not cost too much. I will fight my corner in a referendum but


I don't think the nation would thank us on this. We did some


polling on this. Only 6% think this is a priority for the Government.


Thank you very much. Lord Strathclyde is still with us. He


wants to get rid of heredity is, doesn't he? They were got rid of 12


years ago, at so no problem. I sit as a heredity, but I am only here


because I was elected by my peers. I am being cheeky, thank you. Do


you think this should be a legislative priority for the


Government? This debate has been rumbling on for so long, some


people say over 100 years. Over the last 10 years, when hereditary


peers were kicked out, the Labour Party said we should look towards a


more elected House. This is the endgame of that debate. The Prime


Minister should be the first to be congratulated for being the first


minister to come forward with a rational reform for the second


chamber. But there is division across the board. We have


alternative reforms. That is not new. There has always been division.


In a way that was part of what the Prime Minister was saying this


morning and the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday. There are


divisions within the parties, rather than between the parties.


Let's see if we can create a consensus over the Government bill,


which we can now look at and right over the next few months, and


presented to Parliament and then take the view. The House of Commons


will need to take a view as to how they should proceed. Many people


will say that the strength of the House of Lords is that it uses its


expertise to hold the Government to account. Do you agree with that?


Very much so. The House of Lords as a very good job. But it does it


without having the authority of the people, without election. My


argument is that in the 21st century, a house of Parliament


should have the authority of the people. And if it did, it would


behave more assertively, more aggressively. You are right to


point that out. But that might create better Lords. But how will


you protect that expertise that comes from people, from


crossbenchers, and also from former Cabinet ministers and so on? How it


would you protect that if elected plans go ahead? There is no reason


why you cannot elect people with expertise and knowledge. There are


plenty in the House of Commons. But you are right that you would lose


something from House of Lords which is very special. People who would


not naturally stand for election, which is why the Government wants


to propose that 20% of the House should be reserved for those people.


You would still be halving the number, quite significantly


reducing the number. If that is its greatest strength, why get rid of


it? We would still maintain that element, but I think the House of


Lords would be strengthened by being directly elected. How?


Because it would act on the authority of the people. Yes, that


could ultimately lead to clashes between the houses, but debate is


not a bad thing for improving law over time. But there is debate


going on now. We have had a lot of debate and scrutiny from the House


of Lords in its current form on important bits of legislation. The


welfare bill, the health bill. Why One of the difficult issues for


reform in the House of Lords is doing the job it has been asked to


do, revising and scrutiny, extremely well. Reformers like me


believe there is scope for a smaller second chamber, directly


elected, with the authority of the people. That would give the


decisions it makes greater weight when it went back to the House of


Commons. In your heart of hearts, you are a loyal member of the


government and you will defend these proposals are, but in your


heart of hearts, do you really think a chamber that could end up


being composed of party hacks who fail to become an MP, would they be


more effective at holding the government to a cat than a chamber


filled with experts? You are characterising elections as just


being a party hacks and you are characterising the House of Lords


as something else. So do you truly believe that that elected way is


the best way? It would be a very different house. It would be a more


assertive house. It would hold the government to account better and it


would challenge decisions by the House of Commons. What about


legislative deadlock? That is a key concern. It would be dreadful.


of the examples about an emergency Budget would not happen because the


position of the House of Commons is protected. But there are other key


issues of flagship plans that would be prevented under your scheme.


of the problems we face is that the House of Commons is not strong


enough. It does not stand up to governments as much as it could.


This would be a way of exerting authority from the second chamber.


That is why I have been in favour of an elected House for a long time.


What about a referendum on the issue? That seems to be gaining


momentum. It is, and yet at the general election all three main


parties had similar commitments to reform, based largely on Jack


Straw's White Paper of 2008. The trouble with referendums is that


they are expensive and complicated unless you have very clear


questions. What with the question be? I am not proposing a referendum.


I think we can do this perfectly easily within Parliament. It is not


as simple as saying people who go to the second chamber should be


elected. That is a major constitutional change, to go from


an unelected House to an elected House. It will change not only the


way the upper chamber looks, but it will change its role. It will be


able to challenge the primacy of the House of Commons. In 1999, when


we created an appointed chamber, the then leader of the Lords said


almost what I am saying, that the house would become more assertive


and effective. There was no question of having a referendum


then. So why are the Labour Party asking for one now? But the prime


minister has not ruled it out. The door has been left ajar for a


referendum. Today, we are seeing the publication of a substantial


report by the Joint Committee of both houses. Within it is a


referendum. It is right that the Government should take it seriously


and read the report and look at the question of a referendum.


dismiss it? Maybe, maybe not. Let's see what the report is saying. Do


the parties have a view as to the nature of a referendum? What about


the threats and warnings from Conservative MPs? We have already


had one or two parliamentary aides saying it could be a resignation


issue. I regret that. But I accept that not just over the last ten


weeks, but over the last 120 years, the Conservative Party has never


taken a united view over House of Lords reform, which is why the


Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister accept that there needs to


be consensus across the parties. Will today's report be part of


creating that consensus? That remains to be seen. If it gets


through the Commons, how will you get it through the Lords? With


difficulty. And under no illusions that in the House of Lords, there


is great antipathy towards this reform for two reasons. The first


is about the primacy of the House of Commons. It will not do anything


to affect the relationship between the government and the House of


Commons. Secondly, they think they do a good job and there are people


of ability can kill within the House of Lords, and an election


would change that. It is not a few I share. Will it really happen?


There is more chance of it happening over the last 18 months


than there has been over the last 100 years, so yes. We might have to


get you back on when we see how this pans out. And what about you?


Will your name be on the ballot paper? I think if we get to an


elected House, I would consider it very strongly. I would like to be


an elected member of the chamber. I am not sure my colleagues in the


House of Commons would appreciate that.


Now, we had further insights this morning into the prime minister's


lifestyle in the Downing Street flat above Number 11. He told the


Today programme of tea has regular "date nights" with his wife as well


as the "kitchen suppers" we have heard so much about. But how good


are the residents of Downing Street at persuading us that they are just


ordinary blokes? The A R which, went to public


school, Oxbridge, and despite that line that it is not where you came


from but where you are going that matters, they are seen as posh. It


is perhaps unfair, but only in the sense that to many people, MPs seem


posh, not people like us. Since the financial crash, and all of us


having to tighten our belts, we have become conscious of what


people have, where it came from and, more trickily, or whether they


deserve it. That means that in politics, being posh has suddenly


become a problem. Everyone is struggling at the moment. Also, we


have just had a cut in taxes for millionaires. When you have a


government which has so many millionaires in it, people are


bound to smell a bit of a rat. Having said that, it is Parliament.


Parliament should look like Britain. It doesn't. We have no Old Etonians


on our front bench, but as a body politic, we have all gone backwards


in terms of working-class representation. That should concern


everybody. But the truth is that right now, it is concerning the


right more than anyone, because posh is just one of the problems


they have with the men at the top. If you are the sort of person to


whom our Prime Minister is a raging Liberal, raging quasi left the


Liberal, then the plushness gives you a good stick to beat him with.


-- the poshness. They see the ruling group from Notting Hill as


being sort of liberal sons of Blair, and they hate it. There is a very


tight, narrow clique of a certain group of people. And they act as a


barrier and prevent Cameron and Osborne and others from really


understanding what is happening in the rest of the country. And are


they still two posh boys who don't know the price of milk in your


opinion? Unfortunately, I think that not only are Cameron and


Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, but they


are two arrogant, posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and


no passion to want to understand the lives of others. That is there


real crime. Other Conservative backbenchers might not dare say the


same, but they certainly are concerned that this is or may


become a widely held view. You might think all of this is a


problem for our guest, Lord Strathclyde, with his estates and


things like that. But he is not really posh. I mean, he is only a


second baron, and he certainly didn't go to Eton.


Are you relieved about that? Are best of the day is still here. And


we are joined by the political commentator Ian Martin. Do you


consider yourself posh, Tom Strathclyde? I do not think this


argument should be about how I regard myself. I hope people regard


me as authentic. I say what I think. We left behind a long time ago that


we judge people on how they speak, where they went to school, the kind


of homes they live in. I am what I am. But it seems that Conservative


MPs, we heard Nadine Dorries say that David Cameron and George


Osborne are two posh boys who don't know the price of milk. That is


fairly crocheting. I am sure they do. Do they have to know the price


of milk? I do not think they should, just as a matter of form, know the


price of milk. Being in charge is about being authentic, being real,


about where you are from and what you do and acting in the national


interest. That is what the Conservative Party has always been


best at. But her point and the point of a number of the new


Conservative MPs is that they don't relate to David Cameron and George


Osborne and can't relate to vast swathes of the public out there


because of their background and because they have not experienced


things, particularly in a recession, when everyone is struggling.


don't share that view. They are in touch with what is going on. Even


in the Cabinet, we have a cheap -- a chief whip who was a miner.


Nobody would call Eric Pickles Bosch. Side of Warsi, the chairman


of the party -- cider Warsi is the first Muslim. Why are people making


these attacks on their own leadership? People have to be wary


of attempting to play a game which is about proving who is more


working-class than thou and running the old Monty Python class about


trying to prove who is more working class. But there is a problem, and


the government struggles to articulate a message for the


aspirational classes in this country. And the Tories did not win


the election because they failed to convince a significant enough


number of the strivers that Thatcher was on their side. Tony


Blair, a public schoolboy, understood that he had to think his


way into those people's heads to win. So did Harold Macmillan. This


bunch don't seem to get that. They don't understand the importance of


the aspirational classes. What do you say to that? They are not like


Margaret Thatcher, who a lot of Tory MPs feel did that have that


connection with the aspirational classes. Let me give you just one


example. Look at the education policies of Michael Gove. He is


going to revolutionise educational opportunities for a whole


generation. And he has done that in the last two years simply by


battling with the establishment of the education bodies to provide


schools that will give that opportunity. Then why are other


people in the party attacking the leadership on this basis? They need


to attack the leadership on something, so why not the fact that


they went to Eton and Oxford and all that kind of stuff? So they


have an axe to grind? Maybe. That is part of what happens. Within the


Conservative Party, we as a Cabinet have to react to what is said, so


that we make sure people understand aspiration, growth and opportunity


for people to better themselves. giving a tax break to people who


who earned over �1 million a year, does that damage that credibility?


For this is absurd. Throughout the 13 years of Labour, they never had


a tax rate as high as 45 or 50% except for the last three weeks.


Sure, but Conservatives are seen as a leadership in which they are


willing to accept that by 2014, 5 million will play 40p tax. It is


becoming the new standard rate of tax. In 1957, Harold Macmillan


wrote to the then chairman of the Tory party and said, as I go round


the country, I keep hearing about something called the emerging


aspirational lower middle classes. Is it possible to find out who they


are, what they want and give it to them? I am suggesting that previous


prime ministers who have suffered a similar perception problem that


David Cameron and George Osborne suffer have had to work very hard


to counter it and win elections which, even from the point of view


of relentless self interest, they should be interested in this stuff.


It is baffling. It is the primary purpose of this government, the


Conservatives and Liberal Democrats together, to try and reduce the


budget deficit. We have an extraordinary economic situation.


Look at what is happening in other countries. We are getting it right


at by reducing the budget deficit, paying off the debt. But does


language like "kitchen suppers" and "we are all in this together" and


"filling up your jerry cans" - does that help? They are saying it


because it is true. You might as well say you have a kitchen supper.


We are all in it together. That does not mean everyone is equal,


but it is right to provide equality Says just over a week to go until


the Queen's Speech, where we will find out what legislation the


Government has planned. Meanwhile there is plenty going on in the


Westminster village. The Leveson Inquiry racemes today, and today


James Murdoch will be giving evidence followed by Rupert Murdoch


on Tuesday and Thursday. The Abu Qatada deportation row will be high


on home affairs select committee adjourned on Tuesday. Talks are


continuing today to avert a strike by its fuel tanker drivers, you


have until Tuesday to come to an agreement before a strike will beat


called. And the Chancellor will be hoping for growth in the economy


when the GDP figures are revealed on Wednesday. To discuss this we


can talk to the sun's political editor, Tom Newton-Dunn and Kate


Devlin from the Herald. -- The Sun. There have been comments about the


timing in terms of the deadline for Abu Qatada to put in an appeal. How


difficult is this for Theresa May, bearing in mind she appears before


the Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow? I think this is very


difficult for Theresa May. This issue wasn't ever going to go away.


The Prime Minister seems to have opened the door to more questions


about what exactly her office knew and when. The Theresa May, part of


the problem is that this could always have happened. Abu Qatada


could always have lodged an appeal and it could have been accepted by


the court, even if it was judged to be late. The problem is that


everything that happens from now on will be seen as her fault, her


problem. Has the Prime Minister Major job more difficult? I think


he did, this morning, yes. -- made her a job more difficult? It is


emerging now that he might have gone a little bit too far by saying,


and very strongly saying, that the Court of Human Rights did confirm


to the Home Office what their understanding of the deadline was,


Monday rather than Tuesday. We have just come out of lobby which was 45


minutes, unbearably and painfully long, where the official spokesman


refused to back him up on that, which is always a bad sign. I think


we are into a tangential the shambles of the main shambles now.


And this will never go away so long as Abu Qatada is in Britain. It


will always be a problem for the Government and it will get worse


the moment the lawyers go to court, possibly this week, possibly


tomorrow, and ask for the man to be released. Habeas corpus. If Abu


Qatada is back on the streets, it becomes a massive problem again.


Let's look at Lords reform again. We seem to have had alternative


reports to the Joint Committee's report on 80%-20% elected-non-


elected. Do you think the case for the referendum will gain ground?


think the referendum is a very difficult question for the


coalition. The problem they have is if they do accept there should be a


referendum on this, it will increase the clamour for referendum


on an in or out decision on the EU. That is something that they want to


avoid. They have been able to... I mean, we are having referendums, on


independence in Scotland, but another national referendum would


cause serious problems for them, I think, and a serious demand for


another referendum on the EU. And I think they will resist that as hard


as they can. The Prime Minister left the door open slightly on that


issue as well. Conservative MPs are basically saying, some of them,


that they will resign over this issue if it goes ahead. Again, this


looks like it could be a total mess. It is already a total mess, I am


afraid. There are already two different reports coming from the


same joint committee this morning on what should happen. They cannot


even agree on what should happen themselves and they are supposed to


be the cross-party architects. Whether or not there is a


referendum will be a headache, but an even bigger headache is who will


win. The Lib Dems have put their flag in the sand and they won this


to happen. The Tories do not want this to happen and there can only


be one winner. It is another bout of collective lunacy from everybody


in Westminster. Why make this the one issue to fight and die in a


ditch over? Both parties have decided that this will be it, when


it is of zero interest to the vast majority of our readers, certainly,


and probably your viewers. On that note, thank you very much. I am


joined by three MPs, Lilian Greenwood from Labour, Tessa Munt


from the Liberal Democrats and Mary MacLeod from the Conservatives. Can


I start with you, Tessa Munt? It is a nightmare for the Liberal


Democrat if there is a referendum on this issue. I don't think there


needs to be a referendum, actually. All three of the main parties, in


fact all of the main parties, came into this Parliament knowing it was


in their manifesto. We have needed Lords reform for 100 years and it


has been trawling along and it has been shuffled sideways. We did not


have a referendum when we got rid of the hereditary peers. You have


got a referendum going on all over the place in terms of the mayoral


referendum. The referendum on the subject began when we all put it in


our manifesto, when we all said we were in favour of the House of


Lords reform. I don't think we need a referendum. That was the


manifesto. Our manifesto said there would be one. I think we have the


right to have a say on this. don't think so. Referendums of very


expensive. All three parties agree that we need change to the House of


Lords, so let's go and do it. Let's not faff about. Let's get the job


done. We don't need to wait 100 years. There are all sorts of other


things going on in Government, besides dealing with the deficit


which is very important, but don't stop everything else while we are


moving forward in that direction. What do you say to Tory MPs saying


this is such a big constitutional change that there should be a


referendum? Absolutely disagree. What do you want them to do? Shut


up. Sometimes people have to play the team game and do what your


manifesto said. Well, do what your manifesto said? Yes, there are


various opinions on this. I still think it is an important debate


because it was in the manifestos to cut the House of Lords and we need


to work together to make this happen. Given that it was in our


manifestos and given that if you pulled the country today, they


would say go with House of Lords reform and make it more democratic,


then we should go ahead. -- if you asked the country. What about the


idea that if there was a referendum it would cost a lot of money and of


course it could be lost? What is there to lose? We have got 70% of


our second House in the gift of three blokes. What is that? You do


need to have experts in the House of Lords, but actually this just


increases the level of patronage and it is not good enough. This is


a modern democracy that we live in and it should not be how much money


you have got. I don't see why we can't get the three parties working


together to find a solution for the House of Lords and make it really


positive, saying what can we do to make sure that Parliament is


accountable and democratic? And actually delivering the right thing


for the country. Aren't they doing a good job at the moment of


scrutinising the legislation? It is quite big, so why not cut the


numbers? There are more peers over the age of 90 than over the age of


50 and they mostly come from the South East and London. People


expect people making decisions for the country to be elected and


accountable. What about the fact that they are not elected? 59% said


they should be reformed, but everybody says that and nobody can


agree on what it should be and what should be done. Is it a priority?


don't think it is the top priority for people up there because they


are rightly worried about their jobs and the state of the economy


and rising unemployment. But the fact is we do need to tackle this


under-represented second chamber and we committed to it in our


manifestos so there does need to be action. What about the Abu Qatada


debate? We heard this thing about the deadline being passed. Do you


think Theresa May is in trouble? don't know. You should ask Mary


MacLeod. I don't think so. I think they have followed to process. They


have definitely made much more progress than the last Government


did to get him out of the country. Our objective has been clear from


the start. We want him out of the country and we are doing everything


possible to do that. But to do it within the law. So they followed


the due process, there is no mess up, Labour are just making


mischief? Hardly. I think Theresa May has shown herself to be


incompetent on this issue. It is basic stuff. When I was dealing


with a criminal cases as a trade union official, the first thing you


find out is when the deadline is for an application. You just need


to know that. At one moment you are telling us to hurry up, and at the


next that we should take our time. But shouldn't it have been wiser to


wait a day rather than getting their negative headlines? The Home


Secretary thought that she had got that clarification, so that is for


her to discuss a internally. But I do think that we have made real


progress on this. I am convinced that he will be out of this country


in the months ahead, but we do have to follow due process, make sure it


is done properly. We do not want this coming back on us, where he is


the gets sent back or we have to pay compensation. -- either he gets


sent back. Let's do it properly. have you got your fingers crossed


that there will be positive news on growth? I always have my fingers


crossed to get positive news on growth. But do you think there will


be? We have done so much. There are lots of jobs out there. There is


lots of opportunity for young people to go and find jobs. There


is always more that we can be doing, but we are looking to get that


Investment to encourage growth and trade elsewhere. Danny Alexander


has been making a speech to the Treasury to say that he expects


departments to keep in reserve another 5%. Do you support the fact


that those departments just have to make more cuts to do that? We have


to look at how departments spend money. If you take it down to a


local level... But these are cuts. He is asking people to keep money


in reserve. Not spend. Why are, yes, but if you look at what happens at


a local level, by March, you will find every set of roadworks because


everybody is trying to spend money at the end of their budget. It


would be better to take a sensible view about how people spend their


budgets and allocate them, and if it can be held for emergencies...


Can it? Yes, it can. You think that governments are sitting on money


despite the past seven years? Department of Health has just saved


goodness knows how many. -- how much. Yes, by cutting nurses.


they found that money. What did you say? We have invested more in


health service, so that is ridiculous. I came from the


business world, and every year we look at cutting and reducing...


Even when there has been 20% cuts? There is always room for


improvement. Look at what is happening to the economy as a


result of the cuts that you have made. Let us finish. The economy


has been flat lining. We left you an economy growing at 2.1% and this


year the best it will achieve is less than 1%. Not 0.7% is predicted.


There are more jobs in the private sector. We have 1 million young


people unemployed, the highest rate since 1995. Corporation tax is good.


There has been a 0.3% contraction in the last figures, so one could


say those cuts have not led to growth. We have to look at these


cuts and see where we can look at the general economic climate and


see where we can carry on making progress. We are in difficult


economic times. That was the mess that we were left. That was what we


were left by the last Labour Government. They destroyed this


country. A growing employment -- economy, and more employment, that


is what we left you. We need to look at what we can adjust and


change as times go on. So there should be adjustments and changes?


Not an overall plan. And to support the announcement that there would


have to be �10 billion of further welfare cuts? Liberal Democrats are


behind that? The welfare cuts are in essence sensible. There are


things that I do not agree with myself, but we have to look at the


special cases, so that the people that are most hard-hit our help.


And then we can make changes. Nothing is so cut and dried that we


cannot reflect on the difficulties that people have.


The Government has outlined its plans to cut down on dangerous dogs


in England. The last attempt to legislate on this issue was in


1990s when specific breeds were banned, and it is widely believed


to have produced an ineffective law. Will what is announced today be any


I am joined by David Bowles of the RSPCA. The RSPCA believes this is a


wasted opportunity. It is 21 years since the Dangerous Dogs Act has


come into effect, which everybody acknowledges did not decrease dog


bites or the number of illegal dogs on the street. It is a huge problem.


Two years since the consultation finished, the Government have come


up with another consultation which will last for another two years.


The RSPCA believes this fails dog- owners and people who have


irresponsibly kept dog and it fails the public who will get bitten by


dogs. So you don't welcome it, obviously. But are you talking


specifically about whether to microchip all dogs? There is also a


case of closing the loophole, which would mean you would be prosecuted


if you... Attack someone on public land. Do you support that changed -


- if your dog attacks someone on public land. Yes, expanding the law


to include private property is good. But the RSPCA was calling for


action to prevent dog bites from happening. All the property thing


will do well be to react after one of the RSPCA inspectors has been


bitten. But it will not prevent these things happening in the first


place. The RSPCA wanted a holistic approach to this, to have dog


licensing or at least a centralised system where we could link the


owner with its dog, and if they were not behaving properly, because


this is more about owners than dogs, to crack down on them. At the


moment, we have the same that we have had before. The RSPCA believes


that we have had six deaths in the last five years. We have not had


the death of a child, fortunately, for some time. I'm afraid that if


the government are trying to reverse the process of an increase


in dog bites and an increase in illegal dogs, this will not do it.


Do you think the problem will get worse? The number of attacks by


dangerous Dogs has increased. have a 3% increase of dog bites


each year. The number of illegal dogs taken off the streets


increased to fold over a 12 year period. The RSPCA believes there is


little to prevent this the Kerrin in the future. This will fail


responsible dog owners, and it will also fail the general public. In


the future, we could see more incidents of children and adults


been bitten by dogs and also dogs not been taken off the street and


people not behaving responsibly. A resounding no to those proposals,


because it will fail the general public and fail law-abiding dog


owners. Sounds like a waste of time? It is worth discussing,


because this is about protecting the public. The majority of blood


donors are very responsible, so we are talking about a minority.


if you look at the figures, the number of people attacked by


dangerous dogs has doubled in the last 13 years. It was one of the


first issues that a constituent of came to me about when I became an


MP. Something does need to be done. These proposals, like the


microchipping, which can be done at a low-cost, are worth looking at.


But we have heard that it will not work. 54% have already had their...


Microchipped. Those are just the responsible ones. So what do you do


about those owners? It is a good proposal in that you microchip


every puppy. But what about the... That are dangerous now? It is like


having something in Tesco that goes bleep. But not everyone is


responsible. It will be years before you can say that every dog


will have been microchipped. Who is going to object in this


consultation to having microchipping? People who are not


responsible dog owners. But the point is that it will not work.


think it will. We do not need to consult about it again. They waited


two years to respond to the consultation. We should just round


that one through. Do you think microchipping is a good idea?


think it is a good idea, and they are right to phase it in with


puppies, but they should have given more power to police and councils


to tackle dangerous dogs. That is one of the proposals, to give the


police more power to seize animals while they decide whether they


should be destroyed. The RSPCA could have done things to tackle


dangerous owners at the moment who do not take proper measures to


control their dogs. What can you do firstly about the dog owners who


will not have their dog microchipped and will not get a


licence? We put forward specific proposals around dealing with dogs,


which was supported by the RSPCA. The Government should have listened.


You said it was one of the things that make the first things a


constituent said to you. Do you think more money should have been


spent on this to give police and community is the power to clamp


down on dangerous or banned breeds? It is not just about money. But in


local communities, there is certainly more that could be done


to help people work together to identify the irresponsible owners


and get prosecutions happening. Wright, David Cameron told us today


that he is at the kitchen table at 5:45am every morning going through


his paperwork. Life at the top is clearly a demanding and stressful


business, but what about ordinary MPs? Like you three? And politics


get too stressful? And is there a danger that too much stress caused


them to fail to take decisions probably? Joining me now from


Salford is Dr Ashley Weinberg. What evidence do you have that being an


ordinary MP is stressful? Over the last 20 years, I'm afraid it has


been one of my sad hobbies to research into this topic. I am


grateful to hundreds of MPs both here and abroad who have filled in


questionnaires asking about their experiences of their working lives


as politicians, but also symptoms of psychological strain. And has


there been anything out of the ordinary? Being an MP is just one


of many stressful jobs. Is it something the MPs should be worried


about all that we should be surprised about? There are two


things to consider. As you say, everyone who is trying to work


probably does a job that contains some level of stress. When it comes


to politicians and certain other jobs, where decisions can carry


very high stakes, we should be vigilant about how well they are


functioning and whether they need extra support to carry out their


duties. What should they have? Should they be going to see a


counsellor regular -- regularly? Cronje, the UK parliament is very


well provided for. It does have an occupational health service that


MPs can access. People dared to an excellent job of screening as many


MPs as they can in a given year, but the uptake is about 40% of MPs


to go for a regular mental and physical health check. If all MPs


did that, they could at least be certain that things are going well


for them. And if there are psychological or physical needs


they have, they could be addressed. What are the classic signs? Of


those who answered your survey, what are the signs of stress?


for all of us, problems with sleeping, increased irritability, a


tendency to worry about things and losing confidence in yourself as a


person or your ability to make decisions. Do you think the job


should have a health warning on it? Some of my research seems to show


that for new MPs, there is an unexpected hit from adjusting to


the job in the first year, as there would be in many jobs. But there


are particular strains on family life that being awake in Parliament


can bring. We could do more to alert you MPs and prospective


candidates to what they might be coming into.


Let me come to you. Not that I want to belittle this, but do you


recognise any of those signs in terms of how stressful your job is?


Most of us probably find our job stressful. I find being a parent


stressful at times and being away from home can be stressful. But in


many ways, we are fortunate. We are incredibly well paid at over


�65,000. We have a fairly good job security. Compared with lots of my


constituents who are struggling in unemployment to make ends meet, our


stresses are not bad. Everybody needs access to support, whatever


job they do. A considerate employer would provide that. Do you think


MPs should be regularly screened for psychological strain, bearing


in mind that big decisions are being made? I am not sure about


screening. I did not know about the occupational health service. I did


know you could go to someone. staff probably need that more! But


we are similar to every small business. We are small businesses


in ourselves. We are meant to look after ourselves to a certain degree.


If I felt stressed, would have no hesitation in talking to somebody


about it. I don't, but then I am older. And a woman. Is it easier


for you as women, if you were having problems, to speak to


someone in the House of Commons, than for some of your male


colleagues? Not necessarily. Nowadays, lots of people go for


counselling and support. It does not matter about gender. But the


public expectation of an MP's role has increased and the workload has


increased. With e-mail and all the different social media that are out


there, there is a lot of work. Our staff need a lot of support as well,


because they do a lot of work and it is stressful for them as well.


What about closing the bars in the House of Commons? George Galloway


said that might help, if MPs did not drink. I am not saying that you


do, but do you think it is a bad combination? I think it is


important that people have mechanisms for coping with stress.


Alcohol is probably not unadvisable one. People do occasionally need to


get away from politics and do things that help you de-stress. I


enjoy going for a run or hanging out with my family. Are you


surprised that research shows that the new MPs particularly, the


elevated levels of psychological strain are showing even a year on?


Maybe it is particularly in that first year. Is it difficult to


adapt? Anybody starting a new job would find it stressful,


particularly when it involves a lot of travelling and being away from


home. That is not surprising. But it is important that everybody has


access to mental health services, and that it is not stigmatised.


it is. Everybody talks about a macho culture, and Eric Joyce


admitted that he was stressed. He had a stressful personal life that


had led to it. We'll deal with things in different ways. It is


about recognising your limitations and being upfront about those. As a


liberal, I would talk to my whips. But is probably not the same with


every party. My whips are really nice. We are strange. But I would


have no hesitation in speaking to them. They are very open. But I


know this is just extraordinary. But MPs are not necessarily in


control of your own working hours. That is something you need to adapt


to. I would change working hours to make them more professional. I


worked long hours in business, but I was more in control of the hours


are worked. I would change them so that people could make choices. It


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