25/04/2012 Daily Politics


25/04/2012

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn present live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions and the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Good morning, folks, this is Daily Politics. Culture secretary Jeremy

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Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith, just as we were coming on air, has

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resigned. There was a call for the Culture Secretary himself to resign

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over contacts with the Murdoch. Jeremy Hunt is making a Commons

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statement at 12:30pm, and we will bring it to you live after PMQs.

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Yesterday it was the son and today it is the media mogul himself. He

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is under oath at the Royal Courts of Justice and we will bring you

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the latest from the Leveson Inquiry. We are in recession, it is the

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official. The economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of

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this year, the second consecutive quarter in which the economy has

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contracted. The news could hardly be worse for

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the Prime Minister as he faces Ed Miliband in what could be the final

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PMQs of this parliamentary session. Joining us for the next 90 minutes

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of action packed public service broadcasting at its finest, can I

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say more? Double-dip Britain, here we are. We have got the

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universities minister of David Willetts and the shadow environment

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secretary Mary Creagh go. Welcome to you both on this very busy news

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day. In a moment we will bring you more on the resignation of Jeremy

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Hunt's special adviser at the latest on the Rupert Murdoch

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evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, but first to the Office of National

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Statistics. The economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of

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this year. That is the second consecutive quarter in which the

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economy contracted, the technical definition of a recession. It is

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just the first estimate of the first quarter from the LMS, but the

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City thought we would avoid the double-dip. -- from the Office of

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National Statistics. It is a big blow for the Chancellor. It is very

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disappointing news and it is a tough economic situation when you

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are recovering from these enormous debts that the Government build up

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in the good years. That is not made easier by the fact that much of

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Europe is in recession or heading into recession. And we have got to

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go on dealing with those debts, making our businesses more

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competitive so they can create jobs, helping young people get into work,

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and making sure we do not deliberately add to borrowing, do

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not deliberately spend more and make the difficult situation worse.

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I am joined now by the chief UK economist at Capital Economics,

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Vicky Redwood. We said that there was an expectation that there might

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be a slight inching up of growth and it has gone the other way. Why

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do you think that is? Construction output was a key factor pulling

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down growth, but in fact that was widely expected. The big

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disappointment was that services output was weaker than expected.

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Even though consumers were spending on the High Street, they were

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cutting back on things like eating out. Perhaps there was more

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widespread weavers in the economy than was generally anticipated. --

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widespread weakness. The Chancellor was blaming the eurozone. What

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impact will this have on the deficit-reduction plans? So far the

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deficit-reduction plans have been going broadly to plan. Borrowing

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has been coming down as the Chancellor expected but I think

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things will get much harder now. The plans to bring down borrowing

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depend very crucially on a strong pick-up in economic growth over the

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next year. If that is not mad, then borrowing will be harder to bring

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down, if it is not brought down at all. -- if that is not met. Will

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there be a change of course for the Government? The Chancellor faces a

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tricky dilemma. Spending more money to boost the economy and risking an

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adverse reaction or sticking to austerity plans and wrapping them

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up further if borrowing does not come down as he expects? I think he

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will want to remain wedded to the fiscal plans at the moment. We

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might see even more spending cuts in the future. This is only a

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preliminary estimate. Do you predict that it could change? More

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positive the further on we go perhaps? I think it could be

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revised up a bit, this estimate. It might be that down the road the UK

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did not fall back into recession at all. But I think the underlying

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picture will still look very weak and it is very disappointing that

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the economy is even stagnating at this stage, and it is certainly

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doing worse than in other developed economies. I think even revisions

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further ahead will not change the bleak picture. Thank you. We all

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thought that Rupert Murdoch's testimony was going to dominate the

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news today but the fact that we are in recession is bigger news where

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everybody else and matters much more to people around the country.

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What is it like to preside over this double-dip, the worst since

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the 1970s? We knew when we came into office that we would face a

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big challenge, inheriting record levels of borrowing. And also a

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deep financial crisis in the banking system. He did not tell us

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you would take us back into recession. We did not do that

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deliberately. You have done. have done everything to get the

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economy going and sort it out. In my area of speciality, science,

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when I was with the Prime Minister in Asia, he was taking people into

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British businesses. The eurozone is dragging us down, but exports

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outside the eurozone are growing well. We should have confidence in

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the ability of our economy to perform, even when we have got a

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terrible problems in the eurozone holding us back. How can we have

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confidence in your macro-economic policy once the size of the British

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economy is still 4% smaller than it was in 2007? In 2012, five years on,

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this economy is 4% smaller, it under your Government. That is not

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true of the American economy or the German economy. It is the British

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economy. The American economy had a far smaller financial sector.

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Britain had become an unbalanced economy, with not just excessive

:06:53.:07:03.
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levels of Government borrowing. You will see that the banking sector

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has shrunk. It is the exporting industries that we are backing,

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outside the troubled eurozone. The Government is doing the right thing

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to tackle the problems in private and Government debt, that we

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inherited. Minister, you are presiding over a shrinking economy.

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It is not flat lining. It is not anaemic growth. This country is

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shrinking under your policy. Today, this morning, your economic

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credibility lies in shreds. Look behind those totals at what is

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growing and what is shrinking. Yes, there is a problem of exporting to

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the eurozone because of the problems in the eurozone at exports

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outside the eurozone are growing. Yes, the banking sector is

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shrinking, and that is the part of the process of focusing on what

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matters, with manufacturing growing. We are backing industries that will

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bring as income in the future. When I look at the sectors that we are

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focusing on backing, we have got a success in exporting outside the

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eurozone. When you have got the local market in Europe suffering

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and when you have inherited an economy with a far bigger banking

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sector than the USA, you have a unique set of challenges. If you

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knew all that, it would have been nice if you had told us at the time

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but he did not. Is it Labour's policy now in result of these

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figures, that the deficit reduction programme that the Government has

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introduced, not all that different to Alistair Darling's now, should

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that be torn up and should you start to borrow more? We have

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always said that the Chancellor should change tack and we believe

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the figures today emphasise that even more. We set out our

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alternative plan for jobs and growth. We talked about a tax on

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bank are bonuses to create 25,000 affordable houses. -- bankers's

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bonuses. We looked at infrastructure spending which would

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not have involved more spending but as bringing it forward. Should

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there now be a bigger fiscal stimulus? The Government should

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change track to secured jobs and growth in the economy. When we left

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office, unemployment was falling and growth was running at 2% a year.

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Growth needs to be at 2% a year before unemployment will start

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coming down. Let me get this clear. The British Government should now

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go into the bond markets and borrow more to increase the fiscal

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stimulus? We are saying the Government should bring forward

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infrastructure spending... You have said that already. I will repeat my

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question. It is a specific question and I think it deserves a specific

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answer, so we can understand your economic policy. Because of what

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has happened and because of your previous critique, which many

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people think you have been vindicated as the result of these

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figures, so should the British Government in your view go into the

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bond markets and now borrow more to increase the fiscal stimulus?

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we are saying is that the Budget has failed to deliver. You are not

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going to answer my question, are you? Instead of giving a

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corporation tax cut to the shrinking financial services sector,

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we should spend within the envelope but... I don't know what spent

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within the envelope means. She is not answering my question. With

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these figures today, you deficit- reduction plan is in danger of

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being shot to hell. We are committed to our plan. You maybe.

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We are committed to it because it enables us to key interest rates

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down. If interest rates went up, then mortgage prices would go up.

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This is a tough fiscal policy that is delivering. Excuse me, I want to

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ask this question. Your fiscal deficit reduction plan is not

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predicated on a return to recession. And it follows that if we return to

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recession, as we have, then the deficit will get bigger. If you

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want to stick to your deficit reduction targets, you will have to

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cut more tax more. Correct? We have got a commitment on public spending.

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We have also got a clear commitment to reducing the structural deficit

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on... Is it your plane today that even though we are now back in

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recession, that you can hit your deficit reduction targets without

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either additional tax or additional cuts? It is very hard to make these

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judgments on the basis of one- quarter's figures. It is two

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quarters. The Office for Budget Responsibility has set out figures

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for public borrowing, spending and growth, and it would be wrong two

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weeks later to change that Government. -- to change that

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judgment. We are committed to our plan. The plan assumed growth and

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we have not got any growth, minister. Do they still do O-level

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economics? Not in Britain. O-level economics tells you that when the

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economy slows down, you lose tax revenue, welfare spending goes up.

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You will have to borrow more. have to allow for those effects and

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those are allowed for an Office for Budget Responsibility's reports.

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Behind that is the structural deficit, the underlying position of

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these public finances. That is absolutely the commitment of the

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Government. All right. We should move on. Yesterday was James

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Murdoch, today his father, Rupert Murdoch. The media mogul himself is

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that the Royal Courts of Justice giving evidence before the Leveson

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Inquiry into the culture, the practice and the ethics of the

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press. It has had a pretty slow start this morning but we will

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bring you some in a minute. Yesterday the inquiry looked at the

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cash of emails releasing the extent of contact between News Corp

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lobbyists and Government over the proposed take-over of BSkyB. Of

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course it never happened. Labour have called for the resignation of

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the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. More revelations are expected today

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when we eventually get round to that. Here is Jo to say what has

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happened so far. Yesterday was a day of dramatic

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revelations at the Royal Courts of Justice, because the Leveson

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Inquiry heard of the close contact between News Corporation and senior

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politicians during the company's failed bid to take over broadcaster

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BSkyB. A cache of emails exposed discussions between Murdoch

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lobbyist Fred Michel and the office of the culture secretary, Jeremy

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Hunt. They appeared to reveal details of a Commons statement

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before the minister had delivered it. This has been described by Fred

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Michel as absolutely illegal. Others suggested that Jeremy Hunt

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was predisposed to backing the BSkyB deal, quoting him saying that

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they would get there in the end. Jeremy Hunt insists that he has

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acted with propriety at all times. The BSkyB deal was signed off by

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top officials. Now it is the turn of Rupert Murdoch to appear before

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Lord Leveson, where he is being asked to talk about his

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relationships with politicians for decades. They are probing for

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evidence that he traded support from his newspapers for the BSkyB

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bid. This could make uncomfortable listening for any of the recent

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inhabitants of Number 10. Let's get the flavour of what has been

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happening so far. Why do you say there is a need for this inquiry,

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Mr Murdoch? Well, I think the need is fairly obvious. There have been

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some abuses shown. I could say there are many other abuses, but we

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can go into that in time. And, you know, the state of the media in

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this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens.

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Frankly, I welcome the opportunity because I want to put certain myths

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You use the term abuses, is it your perception or understanding that

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abuses go further than the issue of phone hacking or are they limited

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to the issue of phone hacking? they go further. Some recent tweets

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of yours betray a hostile approach to right-wingers and toffs. Who

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were you referring to? Don't take my tweets too seriously. LAUGHTER.

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I think I was really saying that the extremists on both sides were

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piling in on me. I never gave instructions to the editor of the

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Times or the Sunday Times. I didn't say what are you doing, what are

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you saying? Sometimes when I was available on a Saturday I would

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call and say what's the news today, idle curiosity perhaps. Other times

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I would ring on a Tuesday, in New York, say that was a dam fine paper

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you had this week. I probably wouldn't have read the editorial.

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Colourful answers there from Rupert Murdoch. We can speak to Adam

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Fleming who has been watching developments. What about

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information relating to relationships between Rupert

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Murdoch and the corporation and politicians over decades? Watching

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some of that evidence from Rupert Murdoch was like watching rolling

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news from 1981, if it existed, they were going back to historic things.

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Things like lunches at Chequers, Rupert Murdoch had with Margaret

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Thatcher. They were talking about a dinner on polling day for the

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election in 87 which might seem strange to people watching but what

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the QC for the inquiry is trying to do is establish a pattern of

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influence over politicians by Rupert Murdoch that goes back

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several decades. Of course, Rupert Murdoch has denied any of that. He

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said he wasn't trying to influence Margaret Thatcher to smooth his

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passage of trying to buy the times and Sunday Times in 81. Robert Jay

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saying you wouldn't do that blatantly, you would try it more

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subtlely. The other line of questioning has been about how much

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influence Rupert Murdoch had over his editors of his titles. Rupert

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Murdoch says hardly any, I am a guy who has strong opinions and I find

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it hard to bite my tongue but never told editor what is decisions to

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make. We might have a debate on that later. Let's bring it up to

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date with the resignation of the special advisor of Jeremy Hunt,

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what more do we know about the statement? While Leveson is looking

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at the 1980s, we are up to date with events here. Yesterday we got

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all the e-mails released between James Murdoch's public affairs man

:18:09.:18:14.

and Jeremy Hunt's office. Adam Smith has resigned in the last 15

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minutes, we are had a a statement from the department on his behalf.

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He says while he was authorised to be the point man with News

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International during that merger talks about BSkyB, he said the

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content and extent of his contacts were done without the authorisation

:18:31.:18:36.

of the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. He says that he doesn't

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recognise everything that Fred Michel said in his e-mails,

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nevertheless it's given the perception that the department was

:18:43.:18:47.

too close to News International, that's why he has decided to resign.

:18:47.:18:49.

That's been welcomed by Downing Street. The Prime Minister's

:18:50.:18:52.

official spokesman saying it's the right decision but Downing Street

:18:52.:18:58.

not commenting on the content of the e-mails. Thank you.

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Adam Smith, the special advisor to Jeremy Hunt, now knows what the

:19:04.:19:11.

invisible hand really means. University Minister David Willets

:19:11.:19:18.

and shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh are here.

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There was a lot of communication, including texts between Mr Smith

:19:24.:19:28.

and the News Corp. Mr Smith on resignation says I appreciate my

:19:28.:19:33.

activities at times went too far and I have taken together created

:19:33.:19:37.

the perception that News Corp had too close a relationship with the

:19:37.:19:44.

department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt.

:19:44.:19:48.

It's right, therefore, for me to step down. Are you still calling

:19:48.:19:51.

for Jeremy Hunt's resignation? are and this is an attempt by the

:19:51.:19:53.

Culture Secretary to put distance between himself and his special

:19:53.:19:58.

advisor. I went and looked through these e-mails. We have all done

:19:58.:20:03.

that. There's one from the 15th of 11th, just as Jeremy was about to

:20:03.:20:07.

take over the review of the decision, the BSkyB takeover, it's

:20:08.:20:13.

very clear, it says: My advice advice don't meet Jeremy today, it

:20:13.:20:18.

could be counterproductive. I will liaise with the team. We don't know

:20:18.:20:23.

if that call took place. It could be a game-changer, understand that,

:20:23.:20:27.

but we don't know if that call took place. It's secondhand reporting.

:20:27.:20:31.

It's the chief lobbyist who had an incentive to big himself up in the

:20:31.:20:35.

eyes of James Murdoch, that he was right at the centre of what was

:20:35.:20:39.

going on. But we heard from Adam Smith, now resigned, he is implying

:20:40.:20:46.

that he bigged himself up in this process and he thinks - he says: I

:20:46.:20:51.

firmly believe the process was conducted scrupulously, fairly.

:20:51.:20:56.

That's what he said. Why are you still call fog for Mr Hunt's --

:20:56.:20:59.

calling for Mr Hunt's resignation? We have evidence in the e-mails

:20:59.:21:02.

that the Culture Secretary needs to build political cover on the

:21:02.:21:09.

process. Who is saying that? wants ammo against the Ofcom report.

:21:09.:21:14.

He is saying that. It's the News Corporation lobbyist saying that

:21:14.:21:22.

sarplt of being briefed by Adam Smith - as a result. A specialist

:21:22.:21:29.

advisor in a Minister's office. The idea that a special advisor would

:21:29.:21:32.

have these type of back channels without the knowledge of their

:21:32.:21:36.

culture secretary is unthinkable. He may have had knowledge that he

:21:36.:21:40.

was speaking, but what he is saying is that the Minister didn't have

:21:40.:21:44.

knowledge of what I was saying. I created the perception that I had

:21:44.:21:48.

too close a relationship. That's what he is saying. He is saying

:21:49.:21:54.

it's not Mr Hunt's fault, it was my fault. I made too much of it. I

:21:54.:21:57.

implied too much. We have no evidence whether that's true or not,

:21:57.:22:01.

but you have no evidence that's not true and yet you are still calling

:22:01.:22:05.

for Mr Hunt to resign. Absolutely right and he will see what he has

:22:05.:22:13.

to say at 12.30. David Willets, it's quite clear from everything we

:22:13.:22:17.

know Jeremy Hunt was a self-styled cheerleader for Rupert Murdoch,

:22:17.:22:21.

it's on his website. It's pretty clear from what we know he wanted

:22:21.:22:29.

this to go ahead. It really is incredible that you put it all on

:22:29.:22:35.

the head of an unknown special advisor. What's clear is that at

:22:35.:22:39.

every stage Jeremy acted on independent advice and nobody's

:22:39.:22:45.

been able to provide evidence that he took a decision that was in

:22:45.:22:49.

conflict with independent outside advice. Second, which gets to the

:22:49.:22:52.

heart of the reason why we set up the inquiry and indeed which the

:22:52.:22:57.

Labour Party welcomed, and that is it's for the judge to take an

:22:57.:23:00.

overall assessment when he has heard everyone's account of what

:23:00.:23:04.

happened as to what he then thinks we should conclude and he himself,

:23:04.:23:08.

as I think rightly, warned today that you shouldn't take one set of

:23:08.:23:12.

e-mails - I think he says you can take one set of documents out of

:23:12.:23:17.

context and they can bear different interpretations. We have to let the

:23:17.:23:20.

judge in this inquiry get to the bottom. I understand that, judges

:23:20.:23:23.

don't have a monopoly of opinion or even judgment in this country. We

:23:23.:23:27.

are all allowed a say and we are all allowed to make a judgment. If

:23:27.:23:32.

you take the e-mails Mary has got there, and there are more than that,

:23:32.:23:39.

you take them in the aggregate, and they do show an unhealthy

:23:39.:23:42.

relationship between the company that wants to do the biggest

:23:42.:23:48.

takeover in British media history and the Ministerial office of the

:23:48.:23:50.

Minister responsible for determining that takeover. It

:23:50.:23:56.

doesn't look good. Andrew, there are indeed a whole host of opinions

:23:56.:24:00.

floating around today. The judgment that I will respect is the judgment

:24:00.:24:03.

that's finally reached by the the judge after he has heard everyone's

:24:04.:24:08.

account, including Jeremy's and Jeremy is an honourable man. I

:24:08.:24:13.

believe what Jeremy says. As a minimum, Jeremy has the right to

:24:13.:24:17.

explain what he did and Jeremy has made it clear throughout he acted

:24:17.:24:20.

on independent objective advice. understand that and we will hear

:24:20.:24:25.

this at 12.30 what he has to say. Have you met Adam Smith? I don't

:24:25.:24:30.

recall. Possibly I have. It's not a trick question. I have no direct

:24:30.:24:34.

recollection, I probably have at some point. I tended to think of

:24:34.:24:38.

him as a great 18th century political economist, as you said.

:24:38.:24:42.

From the University of Glasgow. My point is, I spoke to political

:24:42.:24:48.

correspondents this this morning, most of them hadn't heard of him.

:24:48.:24:51.

This is not a special advisor known for going off the reservation, he

:24:51.:24:55.

was a special advisor who kept it low key, did little briefing,

:24:55.:24:59.

didn't say things that he couldn't - didn't big himself up as how

:24:59.:25:03.

important he was. I think given his previous behaviour until these e-

:25:03.:25:08.

mails came out, there's a kind of credibility test that isn't quite

:25:08.:25:12.

passed that suddenly he goes completely off the reservation on

:25:12.:25:17.

this. Some people I suggest to you will be suspicious that he has been

:25:17.:25:22.

made the fall guy. Andrew, these are your ingenious speculations

:25:22.:25:26.

about the character of someone that you have never met. I think that

:25:26.:25:31.

what we should do is let the process agreed go its course. We

:25:31.:25:37.

have to allow, as as Lord Leveson has said, we are to accept these e-

:25:37.:25:41.

mails can be interpreted in different ways. All I can say is so

:25:41.:25:46.

far the one thing we know, nobody's been able to show any decision he

:25:46.:25:50.

took in conflict with the advice. What about the Ministerial code? It

:25:50.:25:53.

states the responsibility for the management and conduct of special

:25:53.:25:57.

advisers, including discipline rests with the Minister who made

:25:57.:26:00.

the appointment. You stand by that? Absolutely and Jeremy does, too.

:26:00.:26:03.

It's clear from the statement that's been released that the

:26:03.:26:09.

special advisor was not... Sorry, we are going to crash PMQs, I

:26:09.:26:14.

wouldn't as a Labour MP wouldn't want me to do that today. Of all

:26:14.:26:24.
:26:24.:26:25.

days! Our weekly guess the year competition might be excluding some

:26:25.:26:30.

viewers with its complexity. We are concerned about one particular

:26:30.:26:33.

viewer, Mrs T May of Westminster. We don't want to exclude anybody

:26:33.:26:43.
:26:43.:26:48.

here. So Mrs May, here is your own Can I get back to you. Mrs May, to

:26:48.:26:57.

tenner Guess the -- to enter Guess the Day: Let's see if you can

:26:57.:27:07.
:27:07.:27:20.

Special masks are the latest # With love that's true

:27:21.:27:30.
:27:31.:27:31.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 42 seconds

:27:31.:28:13.

From Sandringham to Windsor, the We love the music. To be in with a

:28:13.:28:16.

chance of winning a Daily Politics mug send your answer to our special

:28:16.:28:22.

quiz e-mail address. You can see the full terms and

:28:22.:28:29.

conditions on our website. Coming up to midday, a couple of

:28:29.:28:32.

minutes to go. Let's look at Big Ben.

:28:32.:28:40.

Soon to be Queen Elizabeth Tower, we are told, we will see about that.

:28:40.:28:44.

The tkroulgt is going -- drought is going well! Prime Minister's

:28:44.:28:54.
:28:54.:28:59.

questions on the way and Nick Robinson is here. A veritable

:28:59.:29:04.

cornupio of things. Hunt and Murdoch? I would think so. The Adam

:29:04.:29:07.

Smith resignation. There are more resignations on a Wednesday than

:29:07.:29:10.

any other day of the week, why? They're to save the Prime

:29:10.:29:13.

Minister's skin. Midday on a Wednesday is a day people go.

:29:13.:29:16.

Usually Ministers go to protect the Prime Minister's skin. The advisor

:29:16.:29:18.

has gone to protect the Minister, to protect the Prime Minister's

:29:19.:29:22.

skin. The question is simply is it enough? We know the Ministerial

:29:22.:29:27.

code says the Minister is responsible for his advisor. Jeremy

:29:27.:29:30.

Hunt, as late as yesterday, was telling colleagues his advisor had

:29:30.:29:34.

done nothing wrong, that the contact between the advisor and the

:29:34.:29:37.

Murdoch empire was approved by the permanent Secretary. What has

:29:37.:29:42.

obviously gone wrong is the content, rather than the contact. What

:29:42.:29:46.

Jeremy Hunt is going to face in half an hour's time and the Prime

:29:46.:29:48.

Minister might now, is the question of is he really saying he didn't

:29:48.:29:52.

know anything about the content of what his advisor was saying to the

:29:52.:29:56.

Murdoch empire? At no stage his individualser say -- his advisor

:29:56.:30:02.

say what shall I say? Have you come across Adam Smith? No. He was low

:30:02.:30:06.

key. There are advisers who are spin doctors and he was policy.

:30:06.:30:09.

understand that, but the point I was trying to make to the Minister

:30:09.:30:14.

is that Adam Smith was not well known as some special advisers are

:30:14.:30:20.

around Westminster for being very gobby when it comes to briefing or

:30:20.:30:23.

bigging himself up. People I speak to in the BBC and the BBC of course

:30:24.:30:29.

has to have have its own contacts, say Adam Smith is not the sort of

:30:30.:30:33.

guy who talks without talking on behalf of his his Secretary of

:30:33.:30:35.

State. He is not someone who just goes around - doesn't mean that his

:30:35.:30:40.

choice of phrase is approved by the Secretary of State, e-mails are

:30:40.:30:43.

read by the Secretary of State, but the decision of a constant traffic

:30:43.:30:48.

of reassurance and information, it is stretching credibility to say

:30:48.:30:50.

the Secretary of State knew nothing. And you put your finger on

:30:50.:30:53.

something that's dawned on me, because you said it, that's why we

:30:53.:30:57.

have you on the programme, you are brighter than me! Reassuring.

:30:57.:31:02.

are other reasons. Last night the Secretary of State said that his

:31:02.:31:07.

special advisor had done nothing wrong. 12 hours later he says

:31:07.:31:10.

actually I did do a lot wrong and I have had to resign. That doesn't

:31:10.:31:15.

pass the smell test. possibilities. Three possibilities,

:31:15.:31:19.

one they woke up and thought we were wrong. Secondly the civil

:31:19.:31:23.

service pulled the plug that the Secretary said this is intolerable

:31:24.:31:26.

or the Prime Minister's pulled the plug. Let's go straight to the

:31:26.:31:34.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am sure the whole House will want to join

:31:34.:31:40.

me in paying tribute to Sapper Connor Ray, who died on 18th April

:31:40.:31:45.

from wins that he sustained in Afghanistan. He was described by

:31:45.:31:51.

ordinary servicemen as a superb soldier. His courage will never be

:31:51.:31:55.

forgotten and we send our condolences to his family and is

:31:55.:31:58.

loved ones. This morning I had meetings with ministerial

:31:58.:32:02.

colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I will

:32:02.:32:06.

have further such meetings later today.

:32:06.:32:11.

I would like to associate myself with the Prime Minister's tribute

:32:11.:32:15.

to Sapper Connor Ray, and in doing so ask my right honourable friend

:32:15.:32:21.

if he will confirm that although British servicemen are due to leave

:32:21.:32:24.

Afghanistan in 2014, the actual pace of withdrawal will be

:32:24.:32:28.

determined first and foremost by then need to minimise the risk to

:32:28.:32:33.

members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan at that time?

:32:33.:32:36.

honourable friend makes an important point. I can confirm that

:32:36.:32:40.

by the end of 2014, we won't have anything like the numbers we have

:32:40.:32:44.

now and we will not be in a combat role. Post 2014 we do believe in

:32:44.:32:49.

having a training role with the Afghan army, particularly the

:32:49.:32:51.

officer training role that Hamid Karzai has personally asked for us

:32:51.:32:56.

to undertake. The speed of the reductions between now and the end

:32:56.:33:00.

of 2014 will be done in accordance with the conditions on the ground

:33:00.:33:06.

and what is right in terms of transition length from Allied

:33:06.:33:10.

Control to Afghan control. What is paramount in our minds is the

:33:10.:33:16.

safety and security of our armed forces, who I pay tribute to today.

:33:16.:33:23.

Mr Ed Miliband. Mr Speaker, can I join the Prime Minister in paying

:33:23.:33:28.

tribute to Sapper Connor Ray? He carried out his duties with the

:33:29.:33:33.

utmost courage, saving many Afghan and British lives by what he did,

:33:33.:33:38.

and our deepest condolences go to his family and friends. Today we

:33:38.:33:42.

had the catastrophic news that Britain is back in recession. I am

:33:42.:33:46.

sure the Prime Minister has spent the last 24 hours thinking of an

:33:46.:33:50.

excuse as to why this has nothing to do with them. What is his excuse

:33:50.:33:57.

this time? These are very, very disappointing figures. I don't seek

:33:57.:34:02.

to excuse them. I don't seek to try and explain them away. Let me be

:34:02.:34:06.

absolutely clear, there is no complacency at all in this

:34:06.:34:11.

Government in dealing with what is a very tough situation that frankly

:34:11.:34:16.

has just got tougher. I believe that the truth is this. It is very

:34:16.:34:21.

difficult recovering from the deepest recession in living memory,

:34:21.:34:26.

accompanied as it was by the debt crisis. Our banks had too much debt.

:34:26.:34:29.

Our households had too much debt. Our Government had too much debt.

:34:29.:34:33.

We have got to rebalance our economy. We need a bigger private

:34:33.:34:37.

sector, more exports, more investment. This is painstaking,

:34:38.:34:42.

difficult work, but we will stick with our plans, stick with the

:34:42.:34:46.

lower interest rates and do everything we can to boost growth

:34:46.:34:52.

competitiveness and jobs in our country. Mr Speaker, typical of

:34:53.:34:57.

this arrogant Prime Minister, he tries to blame everyone else. The

:34:57.:35:01.

reality is this is a recession made by him and the Chancellor in

:35:01.:35:07.

Downing Street. Over the last 18 months since his catastrophic

:35:07.:35:12.

spending review, our economy has shrunk. And this is now a slow

:35:12.:35:20.

recovery from recession event than the 1930s. -- even compared to the

:35:20.:35:24.

1930s. It is families and businesses paying the prices for

:35:24.:35:28.

his arrogance and complacency. Why doesn't he admits that it is his

:35:28.:35:32.

catastrophic economic policy and his plan for austerity, cutting too

:35:33.:35:38.

far and too fast, that has landed us back in recession? There is not

:35:38.:35:42.

a single business organisation or serious commentator or

:35:42.:35:46.

international body that thinks these problems emerged in the last

:35:46.:35:51.

24 months. The debt crisis has been long in the making, the failure to

:35:51.:35:54.

regulate our banks has been long in the making, the Government

:35:54.:35:59.

overspending has been long in the making. This is a tough and

:35:59.:36:02.

difficult situation that the economy is in. But the one thing

:36:02.:36:06.

that we must not do is to abandon public spending and deficit-

:36:06.:36:10.

reduction plans because the solution to a debt crisis cannot be

:36:10.:36:17.

more debt. We must not put at risk the low interest rates that are

:36:17.:36:21.

absolutely essential to our recovery. That would be absolute

:36:21.:36:26.

folly and that is why there is no business organisation, their

:36:26.:36:32.

international economic organisation, that suggests that we follow that

:36:32.:36:36.

course. -- no international economic organisation. It is all

:36:36.:36:41.

bluster. His plan has failed. That is the reality. They are the people

:36:41.:36:44.

but said that Britain is a safe haven, the Chancellor even said it

:36:44.:36:48.

on Monday, and we are back in recession. He was the person who

:36:48.:36:52.

said we are out of the danger zone and this is what has happened. Even

:36:52.:36:56.

his own backbenchers are saying that the complacent, arrogant posh

:36:56.:37:04.

boys just don't get it. Now let's turn from the economic disaster of

:37:04.:37:09.

this Government to the political disaster that is the culture

:37:09.:37:13.

secretary. We now know that throughout the time the culture

:37:13.:37:17.

secretary was supposed to be acting in an impartial manner, he and his

:37:18.:37:22.

office were providing a constant flow of confidential information to

:37:22.:37:26.

News Corporation about statements to be made in this House in advance,

:37:26.:37:30.

his private discussions with the regulators, and his discussions

:37:30.:37:36.

with the opposing parties. Having seen a 163 pages published

:37:36.:37:40.

yesterday, is the Prime Minister seriously trying to tell us that

:37:40.:37:43.

the Secretary of State was acting as he should have done in a

:37:43.:37:49.

transparent, impartial and fair manner? Let me just finish off on

:37:49.:37:58.

the economy, which he has moved off. Order. Let's hear what the Prime

:37:58.:38:01.

Minister has to say on the economy and anything else. The Prime

:38:01.:38:05.

Minister. We will not let anyone forget who got us into this mess in

:38:05.:38:15.
:38:15.:38:17.

More spending, more borrowing, more debt. That is what caused these

:38:17.:38:23.

problems. It cannot be the solution to these problems. Now let me turn,

:38:24.:38:30.

Mr Speaker, to the Leveson Inquiry. I set up the Leveson Inquiry, the

:38:30.:38:35.

terms of reference of the inquiry were agreed by the leader of the

:38:35.:38:40.

Liberal Democrat Party, and the leader of the Labour Party. And I

:38:40.:38:43.

believe that to step in and try and prejudge that inquiry would be

:38:43.:38:53.
:38:53.:39:03.

And let me be clear, let me be clear. Lord Justice Leveson has

:39:03.:39:07.

made that precise point this morning. Let me read to the House

:39:07.:39:14.

what he has said. Perhaps the House would like to listen? Let's hear

:39:14.:39:17.

what the Prime Minister has to say, and then the questioning will

:39:17.:39:21.

continue. The Prime Minister. Justice Leveson said this this

:39:21.:39:25.

morning. It is very important to hear every side of the story before

:39:25.:39:32.

drawing conclusions. And then he said this. Although I have seen

:39:32.:39:35.

requests for other inquiries and investigations, and of course I do

:39:35.:39:39.

not seek to constrain Parliament, but it seems to me that the better

:39:39.:39:45.

course is to allow this inquiry to proceed. Having set up this inquiry,

:39:45.:39:53.

having agreed with this inquiry, he should listen to the inquiry.

:39:53.:39:56.

Speaker, Lord Justice Leveson is responsible for a lot of things,

:39:56.:40:00.

but he is not responsible for the integrity of the Prime Minister's

:40:00.:40:07.

Government. In case he had forgotten, that is his

:40:07.:40:11.

responsibility, Mr Prime Minister. It beggars belief that the Prime

:40:12.:40:15.

Minister can defend the culture secretary, because he was not

:40:15.:40:20.

urging this bid. He was helping the bid by News Corporation. -- not

:40:20.:40:27.

judging this bid. On 25th January, the culture secretary's office was

:40:27.:40:30.

colluding with the score to provide them information in advance and

:40:30.:40:36.

they were hatching a plant to ensure, and I quote, that would be

:40:36.:40:43.

game over for the opposition to the bid. Does the Prime Minister really

:40:43.:40:47.

believe that that is how a judge and his advisers should act?

:40:47.:40:50.

Leader of the Opposition clearly does not think that what Lord

:40:50.:40:55.

Leveson said this morning matters. Let me remind him what he said

:40:55.:41:04.

yesterday about the Leveson Inquiry. He said this. I think that it is

:41:04.:41:09.

right that the Leveson Inquiry takes its course. He went on, the

:41:09.:41:13.

most important thing is that the Leveson Inquiry gets to the bottom

:41:13.:41:18.

of what happened, of what Labour did, for the Conservatives did, and

:41:18.:41:23.

we reach a judgement about that. Isn't it typical of the right

:41:23.:41:28.

honourable gentleman? In the morning he said that his very clear

:41:28.:41:32.

position but in the afternoon he cannot resist the passing political

:41:32.:41:42.
:41:42.:41:48.

Total... Totally, totally... Order. I said the Prime Minister must be

:41:48.:41:53.

heard. The Leader of the Opposition must be heard. Both will be heard,

:41:53.:41:58.

however long it takes. It is very clear. Mr Speaker, totally pathetic

:41:58.:42:03.

answers. He is the Prime Minister! If he can't defend the conduct of

:42:03.:42:07.

his own ministers, his ministers should be out the door. He should

:42:07.:42:13.

fire them. He does not even try and defend the Secretary of State on

:42:13.:42:18.

what he did. The Secretary of State told this House on 3rd March this

:42:18.:42:21.

year, in answer to a question from the honourable member for Banbury,

:42:21.:42:26.

and I quote, today we are publishing all the consultation

:42:26.:42:30.

documents, all the submissions we receive, all the exchanges between

:42:30.:42:37.

my department and News Corporation. But he did not. 163 pages have now

:42:37.:42:43.

emerged. The Prime Minister does not defend her in over giving

:42:43.:42:47.

controversial information to one party in the case. -- defend him.

:42:47.:42:51.

He does not offend him over collusion so is he really going to

:42:51.:42:55.

defend him about not being straight with the House of Commons? That may

:42:55.:42:58.

be absolutely clear about the culture secretary, who has my full

:42:58.:43:03.

support for the excellent job that he does. -- let me be absolutely

:43:03.:43:09.

clear. The culture secretary will be giving a full account of himself

:43:09.:43:13.

in this House of Commons this afternoon and in front of the

:43:13.:43:16.

Leveson Inquiry. And he will give a very good account of himself for

:43:16.:43:23.

this very simple reason, that in judging this important bit, the

:43:23.:43:26.

culture secretary sought independent advice from independent

:43:26.:43:32.

regulators at every stage, although he did not need to, and the culture

:43:32.:43:34.

secretary took that independent advice at every stage, although he

:43:34.:43:39.

did not need to. The way that the culture secretary has dealt with

:43:39.:43:42.

this issue is in stark contrast to the Government of which he was a

:43:42.:43:51.

member. I do so this to the Prime Minister. While his culture

:43:51.:43:56.

secretary remains in place, one who refuses to come clean on his

:43:57.:43:59.

meetings with Rupert Murdoch, the shadow of sleaze will hang over

:43:59.:44:09.
:44:09.:44:10.

this Government. Mr Speaker, Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and another

:44:10.:44:14.

culture secretary. When is he going to realise it is time to stop

:44:14.:44:21.

putting his cronies before the interest of the country? I have to

:44:21.:44:25.

say to the right honourable gentleman, he called for an

:44:25.:44:28.

independent judicial inquiry and that is the inquiry I have set up.

:44:28.:44:32.

He agreed the terms of reference. Now he is flip-flopping all over

:44:32.:44:37.

the place on it. The fact is that the problem of closeness between

:44:37.:44:40.

politicians and media proprietors had been going on for years and it

:44:40.:44:46.

is this Government that is going to sort it out. Whether it is the

:44:46.:44:49.

proper regulation of the press, or whether it is cleaning up our

:44:49.:44:54.

financial system, whether it is dealing with our debt, I don't dock

:44:54.:45:04.
:45:04.:45:15.

my responsibilities. What a pity he Order. Order. Mr Carl McCartney.

:45:15.:45:19.

Thank you. Is my right honourable friend aware of recent good news in

:45:19.:45:25.

the manufacturing and engineering sectors in Lincoln, an increase in

:45:25.:45:35.

turnover over 20%, and investments in a new tooling press and a new

:45:35.:45:41.

engineering school in our country for 20 years. Would my honourable

:45:41.:45:46.

friend accept my personal invitation to see for himself the

:45:46.:45:50.

excellent process our city is enjoying. I am grateful to my

:45:50.:45:55.

honourable friend's invitation and I will try and take it up. As I

:45:55.:45:58.

said earlier, what's happening in our economy with the disappointing

:45:58.:46:02.

news today, but underneath that there is a rebalancing that needs

:46:02.:46:07.

to take place and that is taking place in terms of manufacturing and

:46:07.:46:09.

investment and in terms of exports and in terms of the Government

:46:09.:46:12.

getting behind that with more investment in apprenticeships, more

:46:12.:46:16.

investments in technical hubs at our universities, like the one at

:46:16.:46:19.

the University of Lincoln, and cutting business taxes so we get

:46:19.:46:27.

Britain working and making things again.

:46:27.:46:33.

Mr Speaker, on Monday the Prime Minister said that an economic

:46:33.:46:36.

rescue mission, is it not fair to say that mission has failed

:46:36.:46:38.

spectacularly in light of the figures released today?

:46:38.:46:43.

The point I would make is if you look at the recession that we

:46:43.:46:47.

suffered, a 7% contraction of our GDP, that was much bigger even than

:46:47.:46:52.

what happened in America. It is worth remembering the biggest bank

:46:52.:46:55.

bail-out anywhere in the world, it wasn't in America, it was here in

:46:56.:46:59.

Britain, getting out of the recession, the financial crisis and

:46:59.:47:04.

the debt crisis is difficult pain- staking work but this Government is

:47:04.:47:12.

committed to doing just that. week I met the chief executive of

:47:12.:47:16.

the fourth largest manufacturing group in the UK, who have a

:47:16.:47:22.

substantial factory in Burnley, He has been instructed by his US board

:47:22.:47:28.

to increase the turnover of his UK operations, so as to take advantage

:47:28.:47:31.

of the Government's industrial strategy. He is concerned about the

:47:31.:47:35.

lack of skills. Can my right honourable friend assure me that

:47:35.:47:40.

the Government investment in apprenticeships and technical

:47:40.:47:43.

colleges will increase over the coming years?

:47:43.:47:47.

What is interesting, Mr Speaker, is that if any member of parliament

:47:47.:47:51.

wants to talk about manufacturing success or business success in

:47:51.:47:55.

their constituency, they are shouted down by the opposition.

:47:55.:47:58.

Because all they want to hear is bad news and to talk our economy

:47:58.:48:03.

down. We are investing in skills. We are putting more money into the

:48:03.:48:06.

apprenticeship schemes. We are putting money into the university

:48:06.:48:10.

technical colleges. I was at Airbus in Filton this week seeing

:48:10.:48:13.

expansion and growth plans there and it's good to hear what's

:48:13.:48:18.

happening in his constituency. the Prime Minister agree with his

:48:18.:48:24.

Chancellor who said in 2008 that once you have a downturn you cannot

:48:24.:48:28.

possibly slash public expenditure, will he stick to his complacent

:48:28.:48:33.

plan of cutting too far and too fast which is's delivered a double-

:48:33.:48:43.
:48:43.:48:43.

dip recession? Well, well read. The point is we

:48:43.:48:48.

inherited from the party opposite a budget deficit of 11%. The budget

:48:48.:48:53.

deficit we inherited was bigger than Greece, than Spain, bigger

:48:53.:48:57.

than Portugal. If you don't deal with your debts and your deficit,

:48:57.:49:00.

you will never keep interest rates low and it is low interest rates

:49:00.:49:04.

that offer us the best prospects of getting out of this difficult

:49:04.:49:14.
:49:14.:49:17.

economic situation we are in. you, Mr Speaker.

:49:17.:49:27.
:49:27.:49:28.

Order. At least half a million children

:49:28.:49:33.

died from malaria last year. On world malaria day may I thank the

:49:33.:49:35.

Prime Minister for his personal commitment to combating this

:49:35.:49:40.

disease and will he join me in recognising the international

:49:40.:49:46.

leadership which British scientists, aid workers and volunteers,

:49:46.:49:51.

including in my constituency, show in combating malaria.

:49:51.:49:55.

I am very grateful to join the honourable gentleman and to wish

:49:55.:49:59.

the people well. He did rather better in convincing the people to

:49:59.:50:05.

vote for him than I did in 1997. He is absolutely right to raise the

:50:05.:50:11.

issue of malaria, 15,000 children die every week from what is a

:50:11.:50:13.

preventable illness. That's why I am proud of the fact that Britain

:50:13.:50:16.

is leading on this issue, is putting money into our aid budget,

:50:16.:50:21.

putting money into malaria bed nets and to the scientific advances that

:50:21.:50:24.

he refers to. This is a vital agenda and even in difficult

:50:24.:50:29.

economic times I think we are right to pursue it.

:50:29.:50:35.

Does this out of touch Prime Minister still believe that the

:50:35.:50:39.

British economy is out of the danger zone?

:50:39.:50:44.

One of the biggest problems we faced on taking office was the

:50:44.:50:47.

danger that financial markets would take a view of Britain like they

:50:47.:50:52.

had taken a view of Greece or Spain or Portugal where interest rates

:50:52.:50:56.

were rising. The fact that we have such low interest rates in Britain

:50:56.:50:59.

demonstrates that we have credibility. These are difficult

:50:59.:51:02.

decisions to get on top of debt and deficit and to deal with public

:51:02.:51:06.

spending, but they're the right decisions, not least because the

:51:06.:51:09.

Shadow Chancellor once said that low interest rates are the mark of

:51:09.:51:18.

economic credibility. The head teachers have within

:51:18.:51:24.

calleder valley both very much welcome the educational reforms.

:51:24.:51:28.

Two schools who never qualified from the previous Government

:51:28.:51:32.

because they abstained too highly. Can the Prime Minister tell the

:51:32.:51:37.

pupils of those schools when they can expect an announcement on the

:51:37.:51:41.

priority school buildings project to which they both applied?

:51:41.:51:45.

What I can tell him is that compared with the first two

:51:45.:51:50.

parliaments of the party opposite ran, we are investing more in

:51:50.:51:53.

school building than they did. I think the figure now is something

:51:53.:51:57.

along the lines of �17 billion during this spending review period,

:51:57.:52:00.

so there are opportunities for new classrooms and new buildings and I

:52:00.:52:04.

am sure the Secretary of State for education is listening carefully to

:52:04.:52:09.

my honourable friend and will be in touch with him about the prospects.

:52:09.:52:14.

Does the Prime Minister agree with the member from mid-Bedfordshire

:52:14.:52:19.

when she said that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor...

:52:19.:52:27.

Order. Order. Let's hear the question. Posh boys showing no

:52:27.:52:31.

compassion or understanding for the lives of others and will he admit

:52:31.:52:34.

admit further evidence of being out of touch and why we are in a

:52:34.:52:41.

double-dip recession? I agree with my honourable friend

:52:41.:52:51.
:52:51.:52:51.

about many, many things. Over the last two years UK exports

:52:51.:52:58.

have grown by 23%, with faster growth to the - with my friend join

:52:58.:53:04.

me in congratting the 150 winners of the Queen he is award for

:53:04.:53:10.

enterprise this week for success in international trade, particularly

:53:10.:53:14.

in my constituency. I certainly join him on congratulating this

:53:14.:53:18.

business. When we look at some of the fastest growing markets in the

:53:18.:53:25.

world, whether India or China our export performance compared with

:53:25.:53:30.

2009 in some of those markets is up by as much as 60%. As well as those

:53:30.:53:34.

markets, we also have to remember our old friends as it were, and the

:53:34.:53:37.

fact that we still export more to the Republic of Ireland than to

:53:37.:53:42.

Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. So expanding our existing

:53:42.:53:47.

markets but much more work to get into the fast growing markets in

:53:47.:53:53.

the world. Recently the Prime Minister conceded that the

:53:53.:53:57.

Government had made an important mistake in the handling of the fuel

:53:57.:54:02.

crisis. Can I ask him wouldn't it be a positive step in correcting

:54:02.:54:08.

that mistake if the Government were to scrap the 3p increase in August,

:54:08.:54:15.

in order to help motorists, haulage companies, and hard-pressed

:54:15.:54:18.

families in the United Kingdom? First of all, the Government has

:54:18.:54:23.

actually used around �4 billion of budget money to keep petrol prices

:54:23.:54:27.

down and petrol prices are about 6p lower than they would be under the

:54:27.:54:32.

plans of the party opposite. Let me update the honourable gentleman and

:54:32.:54:36.

the House on the issue of the fuel strike. It now looks as if there is

:54:36.:54:40.

a longer period of time before any potential strike could take place.

:54:40.:54:45.

I am determined that we use that time to make sure there is every

:54:45.:54:49.

piece of resilience in place. The plans we inherited would have

:54:49.:54:53.

allowed the military to provide maybe 10% of our fuel needs. We

:54:53.:54:59.

have now managed to lift that to something like 60 or 70 %. We are

:54:59.:55:01.

in much better place now because of the proper emergency planning that

:55:01.:55:05.

this Government has done, rather than the party opposite that just

:55:05.:55:13.

crossed their fingers and hoped the best from the trade unions. Next

:55:13.:55:20.

Wednesday my mother will celebrate her 100th birthday. Living as she

:55:20.:55:25.

does five minutes from the Olympic stadium, she has agreed to be Usain

:55:25.:55:28.

Bolt's pace-maker in order to give the other athletes a chance. Will

:55:28.:55:34.

my right honourable friend now call on the indomitable spirit of former

:55:34.:55:37.

land army girls such as my mother, and encourage our Olympic athletes

:55:37.:55:44.

to go for gold? I will certainly do that. I have

:55:44.:55:48.

written to Maude to congratulate her on this fantastic milestone. I

:55:48.:55:53.

am sure that as she speeds past Usain Bolt she will just turn round

:55:53.:55:57.

and reflect that indeed the only way is Essex.

:55:57.:56:01.

I am delighted the Prime Minister has written to her, that makes two

:56:01.:56:07.

of us. Thank you. The Prime Minister has spent plenty of time

:56:07.:56:17.
:56:17.:56:17.

cosying up to News Corporation, in return for political support. I can

:56:17.:56:24.

wait. I can wait. So he is well qualified to answer this question,

:56:24.:56:31.

when Alex Salmond agreed to to act as a lobbyist for News Corp was he

:56:31.:56:35.

acting in self-interest or in the interests of Scotland?

:56:35.:56:39.

First of all, I think Alex Salmond can answer for himself. Secondly,

:56:39.:56:42.

think-tank this is another issue that -- I think that is another

:56:42.:56:46.

issue the Leveson inquiry properly set up, that's going to interview

:56:46.:56:51.

all the politicians, including all sorts of people who cosied up to

:56:51.:56:53.

News International over the years, and I think on all sides of the

:56:54.:56:58.

House there is a need for a hand on heart, we all did too much cosying

:56:58.:57:02.

up to Rupert Murdoch, I think we would agree, on that basis I am

:57:02.:57:10.

sure that Lord Leveson will make some important recommendations.

:57:10.:57:15.

the Prime Minister seen the research published today by the

:57:15.:57:22.

Taxpayers' Alliance which shows that there are 3,097 town hall

:57:22.:57:28.

employees earning more than �100,000 and 52 earning more than

:57:28.:57:34.

�250,000. My conconstituteents can't understand the salaries. What

:57:34.:57:38.

can we do about it? I think he is entirely right to

:57:38.:57:43.

raise this issue. The important thing that we have done is made

:57:43.:57:46.

completely transparent the pay in our town halls and in local

:57:46.:57:51.

Government. Sadly, I believe there is still one local council, a

:57:51.:57:54.

Labour-controlled council in Nottinghamshire, that's not making

:57:54.:57:58.

this information available. Every council should be transparent about

:57:58.:58:03.

how they spend council taxpayers money.

:58:03.:58:09.

to those people warning him that cutting too far and too fast would

:58:09.:58:13.

cause a double-dip recession should apologise. Now he's delivered a

:58:13.:58:18.

double-dip recession, shouldn't he appoll apologise? The point I make

:58:18.:58:22.

is this, we faced a very difficult situation with an 11% budget

:58:22.:58:26.

deficit. If we had listened to the plans of the party opposite and

:58:26.:58:29.

spent more, borrowed more and increased our debt, that would have

:58:29.:58:34.

only made the debt crisis worse. How can the answer to a debt crisis

:58:34.:58:37.

be more borrowing? That is the question the party opposite can

:58:38.:58:46.

never answer. After weeks of ducking and diving, Ken Livingstone

:58:46.:58:51.

has given a partial publication of his tax affairs. Sadly, he refuses

:58:51.:58:56.

to publish the tax affairs of the company he set up to avoid paying

:58:56.:59:01.

his fair share of tax. Does my right honourable friend agree that

:59:02.:59:05.

Ken Livingstone has ceased to be the old pretender and now become

:59:05.:59:10.

the artful tkopbler -- dodger? think my friend speaks for all of

:59:10.:59:13.

London when he makes this point, Ken Livingstone owes the people of

:59:13.:59:17.

London some proper transparency about this company and about his

:59:17.:59:22.

tax bill. There are still several days to go before this key election.

:59:22.:59:25.

He should make that information available. I have to say, Mr

:59:25.:59:29.

Speaker, I had something of a shock this week when I hardly ever agreed

:59:29.:59:32.

with anything Alan Sugar has ever said, but in saying Londoners

:59:32.:59:41.

shouldn't back Ken, he was spot on. Now that the Prime Minister's

:59:41.:59:45.

admitted that he's created the economic mess the country's in, can

:59:45.:59:52.

I be helpful to the Prime Minister? Drop his ridiculous proposals for

:59:52.:59:58.

regional pay cuts and accelerate the capital programme for schools

:59:58.:00:02.

in the West Midlands. We are spending more on capital on schools

:00:02.:00:06.

in this parliament than either of the first two Labour parliaments. I

:00:06.:00:09.

am happy again for Education Ministers to look specifically at

:00:09.:00:12.

the case in his constituency and see what can be done. I also hope

:00:12.:00:17.

that he will be joining me and inviting people in Coventry on the

:00:17.:00:23.

3rd May to vote yes to a mayor for Coventry. Every year millions of

:00:23.:00:26.

British people donate money to charities. They do it for the

:00:26.:00:31.

simple reason they want to help the cause and help others worse worse

:00:31.:00:35.

off than themselves. Wye call these actions by members of the public as

:00:35.:00:38.

being honourable, kind and selfless. We have all heard recently that

:00:38.:00:42.

some, not all, but some of our wealthy citizens only want to

:00:42.:00:46.

donate money to charity if they can tb to trb trb continue to reduce

:00:46.:00:51.

their tax bill. Does the Prime Minister think their motives are

:00:51.:00:54.

honourable and selfless? We should support in our country people who

:00:54.:00:58.

give money to charity. And that's why this Government has expanded

:00:58.:01:02.

Gift Aid in a generous way and made available a change to help people

:01:02.:01:07.

with inheritance tax if they leave quests to charity. There were set

:01:07.:01:12.

out in the Budget a number of limits to relieves, we specifically

:01:12.:01:15.

identified the potential problem for charities and my friend the

:01:15.:01:20.

Chancellor is going to consult widely about how we can make sure

:01:20.:01:23.

we encourage charities and encourage what they do in our

:01:24.:01:30.

country. The Prime Minister's dismissive response to the fact the

:01:30.:01:35.

UK is back in recession suggests that his mind is on other things.

:01:35.:01:40.

Shouldn't he just sack his Culture Secretary and concentrate properly

:01:40.:01:45.

on the job of sorting out the British economy? I think the

:01:45.:01:48.

honourable lady would recognise there is absolutely nothing

:01:48.:01:52.

dismissive about either my reply on the economy, or indeed what I think

:01:52.:01:57.

we need to do. We are in a difficult economic situation in

:01:57.:02:01.

Britain. Just as you see now recessions in Denmark, in Holland,

:02:01.:02:05.

Italy, in Spain, that's what is happening across the continent that

:02:05.:02:09.

we trade with. What is absolutely essential is we take every step we

:02:09.:02:13.

can to help our economy out of recession. Investing in

:02:13.:02:17.

apprenticeships, setting up enterprise zones, cutting business

:02:17.:02:23.

taxes, prioritising investment in our Africa, we are -- in our our

:02:23.:02:26.

infrastructure, we are doing all of these things to help get our

:02:26.:02:31.

economy out of the mess the last Government left in.

:02:31.:02:34.

Far from being dismissive, the Prime Minister acknowledged that

:02:34.:02:38.

the figures were disappointing. But would he agree with me that getting

:02:38.:02:42.

out of a debt crisis you don't spend more money and there is no

:02:43.:02:45.

international organisations suggesting this country changes its

:02:45.:02:50.

force and spend more money to get out of a debt crisis?

:02:50.:02:53.

My honourable friend is right, it's not just there is no international

:02:53.:02:56.

body body that's making that case, there is no business organisation

:02:56.:03:01.

making that case. Indeed, the IOD and the CBI are both saying that

:03:01.:03:03.

while these figures are disappointing, we must not give up

:03:03.:03:07.

the low interest rates and the credible fiscal policy we have,

:03:07.:03:10.

that would be the way to land our economy in the problems that they

:03:10.:03:16.

left it in. It's a sorry state of affairs, in two years the economy

:03:16.:03:22.

is in deep recession and now the Government is deep in sleaze. Same

:03:22.:03:25.

old Tories? I think Russell Brand got it about

:03:25.:03:35.
:03:35.:03:40.

right yesterday. Order. STUDIO: We are going to stay

:03:40.:03:50.
:03:50.:03:51.

in the Commons now. We are going to stay because Jeremy

:03:51.:03:56.

Hunt, the culture secretary, whose special advisor resigned this

:03:56.:04:01.

morning, just as we were coming on air, because of revelations in the

:04:01.:04:06.

Leveson inquiry yesterday, over his communications with the chief

:04:06.:04:12.

lobbyist for News Corp as they were trying to buy BSkyB, he has fallen

:04:12.:04:19.

hpb oeus sword this morning. Here is Jeremy Hunt.

:04:19.:04:23.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement

:04:23.:04:28.

following yesterday's developments in the Leveson inquiry. Although I

:04:28.:04:36.

intend to respond fully to allegations about my conduct and my

:04:36.:04:39.

department when I present my evidence to Lord Justice Leveson,

:04:39.:04:45.

it's important to update the House on actions that have been taken as

:04:45.:04:51.

a result of evidence released yesterday. We are 273 days into a

:04:51.:04:59.

process that's first stage will last until October. This is not the

:04:59.:05:09.
:05:09.:05:11.

time to jump on a political bandwagon. What the public want to

:05:11.:05:15.

hear is not the right hopb honourable gentleman's views, not

:05:15.:05:19.

my views, but the views of Lord Justice Leveson when he has

:05:19.:05:24.

considered all the evidence. I do, however, think it is right to set

:05:24.:05:28.

the record straight on a number of issues in the light of evidence

:05:28.:05:34.

heard yesterday at the inquiry. Specifically, on the merger of News

:05:34.:05:37.

Corp with BSkyB, I would like to remind the House of the process I

:05:38.:05:44.

followed. Throughout I have strictly followed due process.

:05:44.:05:49.

Seeking the advice of independent regulators, something I didn't have

:05:49.:05:52.

to do, and after careful consideration acting on their

:05:52.:05:59.

advice. I have published all advice that I have received from Ofcom and

:05:59.:06:04.

the OFT, together with core respondence with myself including

:06:04.:06:09.

details of all meetings I have heard in relation to this process.

:06:09.:06:14.

As part of this process, my officials and I have engaged with

:06:14.:06:17.

News Corporation and its representatives as well as other

:06:17.:06:27.
:06:27.:06:32.

interested parties, both supporters Messages have been alleged to

:06:32.:06:36.

indicate that there was a back channel through which News

:06:36.:06:40.

Corporation were able to influence my decisions. This is categorically

:06:40.:06:49.

not the case. Order. The House must calm down a bit. The statement must

:06:49.:06:54.

be heard. There will be a full opportunity for questioning of the

:06:54.:06:57.

Secretary of State, which he would expect, and whether he expected or

:06:57.:07:03.

not that is what will happen and that is right and proper. But it is

:07:03.:07:07.

also right and proper that the state and be heard with courtesy.

:07:07.:07:11.

However, the volume and tone of those communications were clearly

:07:11.:07:16.

not appropriate in a quasar judicial process, and today Adam

:07:16.:07:25.

Smith has resigned as my special adviser. -- quasi-judicial process.

:07:25.:07:29.

Although Adam Smith accepts that he overstepped the mark on this

:07:29.:07:34.

occasion, I want to set on record that I believe he did so

:07:34.:07:40.

unintentionally. I did not believe that he was doing anything more

:07:40.:07:44.

than giving advice on process. I believe in to be someone of

:07:44.:07:50.

integrity and decency, and it is a matter of huge regret to me that

:07:50.:07:56.

this has happened. Mr Speaker, I only saw the transcripts of these

:07:56.:07:59.

communications yesterday. They did not influence my decisions in any

:07:59.:08:04.

way at all. Not least because I insisted on hearing the advice of

:08:04.:08:08.

independent regulators at every stage of the process. I will give

:08:08.:08:12.

my full record of events when I give evidence to Lord Justice

:08:12.:08:17.

Leveson. However, I would like to resolve this issue as soon as

:08:17.:08:21.

possible, which is why I have written to Lord Justice Leveson,

:08:21.:08:25.

asking if my appearance can be brought forward. I am totally

:08:25.:08:28.

confident that when I present my evidence, the public will see that

:08:28.:08:34.

I conducted this process with scrupulous fairness throughout.

:08:34.:08:39.

Harriet Harman. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

:08:39.:08:44.

We are going to leave the Commons now, but worry not, we will listen

:08:44.:08:48.

to what Harriet Harman has to say at she responds to Jeremy Hunt and

:08:48.:08:53.

we will bring you what the shadow culture secretary says in response

:08:53.:08:57.

to that statement. He said that he followed to process throughout in

:08:57.:09:03.

the Murdoch bid for all of BSkyB. Murdoch owned 40% of it and he

:09:03.:09:07.

wanted to buy the 60% who did not have. He acted on independent

:09:07.:09:12.

advice, he said from Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading, two of the

:09:12.:09:17.

regulators in media takeovers. He said that the emails and texts

:09:17.:09:20.

published in the Leveson Inquiry yesterday showed a close

:09:20.:09:23.

relationship between his special adviser and the chief lobbyist at

:09:23.:09:28.

News Corp, but he claimed that did not amount to a back channel. He

:09:28.:09:31.

said that the special adviser Adam Smith had resigned this morning,

:09:32.:09:35.

but he believed that if Adam Smith had acted in appropriately, he had

:09:35.:09:42.

not done so intentionally. He said there was a huge regret and he now

:09:42.:09:46.

wants his day in court in front of Leveson. Our panellists is still

:09:46.:09:56.
:09:56.:09:56.

here, and Nick Robinson has also stayed with us. What happened, do

:09:56.:09:59.

you think, between the minister saying last night that he had

:09:59.:10:03.

complete faith in Adam Smith and that he had done nothing wrong, and

:10:03.:10:07.

Adam Smith resigning this morning? Presumably just a review of exactly

:10:07.:10:11.

what happened, the messages and e- mails, and the decision that they

:10:12.:10:15.

had gone too far. It was suggested last night that the civil servant

:10:15.:10:20.

in charge of Culture, Media and Sport had designated Adam Smith to

:10:20.:10:23.

be the point of contact with News Corporation, and you would expect

:10:23.:10:28.

such contacts in a high-profile media bit. Jeremy Hunt said that he

:10:28.:10:31.

had contacts with opponents of the bid as well. These were minuted

:10:31.:10:36.

meetings with civil servants present. Yes, indeed. The adviser

:10:36.:10:40.

accepts that he went too far and he resigned. But it is a mark of

:10:40.:10:44.

Jeremy Hunt's character that he defended him in the Commons today.

:10:44.:10:48.

Is it credible when you read the substance of these emails and text

:10:48.:10:51.

messages, in which to details all sorts of things that are going to

:10:51.:10:55.

happen, all of which did then happen, he was a particularly well-

:10:55.:10:59.

informed special adviser, and that he also in a number of text

:10:59.:11:04.

messages which are more interesting than the emails said that things

:11:04.:11:10.

are going well, fine, things are in a good place, is it credible that

:11:10.:11:15.

he did all of that unintentionally? Yes, I think so. He was a point of

:11:15.:11:18.

contact from the department with News Corporation but he probably

:11:18.:11:22.

went too far. For that reason he has quite properly offered his

:11:22.:11:25.

resignation but I am certain that Jeremy Hunt is right that he did

:11:25.:11:30.

not intend to do that. It is your contention that the special adviser

:11:30.:11:38.

had this extensive correspondence digitally with the head of lobbying

:11:38.:11:42.

at News Corp and that Jeremy Hunt knew nothing about that? I do not

:11:42.:11:46.

intend that at all. The special adviser was authorised to be the

:11:46.:11:49.

point of contact with News Corporation, as you would expect

:11:49.:11:52.

there to be content with News Corporation over the bird and other

:11:53.:12:00.

interested parties, but he went too far. -- the bid. I have no doubt

:12:00.:12:03.

that Jeremy Hunt did not authorise him to reveal special information

:12:03.:12:07.

and did not expecting to do so and there is no doubt in my mind about

:12:07.:12:15.

that. At a point in this whole process, when things have gone well

:12:15.:12:17.

for BSkyB, at this point, I know they did not in the end, but at

:12:17.:12:21.

this point they did, the chief lobbyist texted Mr Smith and said,

:12:21.:12:27.

we are in a good place tonight, I think. Mr Smith replied, yes, I

:12:27.:12:34.

think we are. But let's see what the press says tomorrow. This is

:12:34.:12:39.

complicit in BSkyB's bid. It is the fact that he gave the impression

:12:39.:12:41.

that the Government was too close to BSkyB that prompted his

:12:41.:12:45.

resignation. You are right, that cannot be defended and that is why

:12:45.:12:49.

he had to resign in the end. would he do so? A key overstepped

:12:49.:12:57.

the remit that he was given by the Secretary of State. -- he

:12:57.:13:02.

overstepped the remit. But why would he do that since we know that

:13:02.:13:06.

without his master's voice giving him support, when we know from

:13:07.:13:11.

Jeremy Hunt's previous statements, that he is a cheerleader for Rupert

:13:11.:13:14.

Murdoch, that he wanted the BSkyB bid to go ahead, that he was in

:13:14.:13:18.

favour of that sort of thing? You must only have thought he was doing

:13:18.:13:25.

his master's bidding. I don't think so. Jeremy Hunt took extreme care.

:13:25.:13:28.

He took independent advice when that was not compulsory. In order

:13:28.:13:32.

to seek the proper form, he had proper advice given to him at every

:13:32.:13:37.

stage when he did not have to. That is how seriously he took his quasi-

:13:37.:13:39.

judicial responsibility and it is important that he would have an

:13:39.:13:43.

opinion on this when Vince Cable said that he would go to war on

:13:43.:13:48.

Rupert Murdoch. But he sought independent advice. What do you say

:13:48.:13:54.

to that? It beggars belief that when Jeremy Hunt was publishing a

:13:54.:13:57.

cache of emails and meetings between himself and Murdoch over

:13:57.:14:02.

the BSkyB bid, that Adam Smith sat in the office, next door to the

:14:02.:14:05.

culture secretary, I did not say, hold on, boss, there is something

:14:05.:14:10.

that I have to tell you. That is extraordinary. These emails were

:14:10.:14:14.

carried on on his private account. The idea that Jeremy Hunt had

:14:14.:14:19.

absolutely no idea about this simply beggars belief. I think that

:14:19.:14:22.

is exactly the question that will now be pursued by the Labour Party

:14:22.:14:28.

in the state bed and potentially by end of the inquiry. What did Jeremy

:14:28.:14:32.

Hunt know? -- in a statement. It is perfectly possible that there could

:14:32.:14:36.

be some point of contact between the department and an interested

:14:36.:14:40.

party. Why make that party political contact and not official?

:14:40.:14:45.

Why make it as special adviser rather than a civil servant who

:14:46.:14:50.

would take notes? They think that his question number one. If you are

:14:50.:14:56.

News Corp with an �8 billion bid and you are an important company

:14:56.:14:59.

for Britain, the Government will keep you informed about the dates

:14:59.:15:03.

of processes and give you copies of statements, all sort of background

:15:03.:15:06.

information, provided that we are not giving you things that you

:15:06.:15:09.

should not have before Parliament, before the markets and before the

:15:09.:15:17.

public. That his Test No. 1, so why did he do it? The impression

:15:18.:15:21.

created here is that the department wanted to give the impression that

:15:21.:15:26.

it was acting in a semi- judicial way, while simultaneously giving

:15:26.:15:34.

news got the impression that it was on its side. -- News Corp. The next

:15:34.:15:39.

question is whether Jeremy Hunt new about this duality. He is based in

:15:39.:15:43.

this way and his minister, his adviser, a party political

:15:43.:15:48.

appointment, is facing the other way. Just to boil it down, what is

:15:48.:15:52.

critical is whether he is the Minister for Murdoch or the

:15:52.:15:55.

minister for public interest and the only way of establishing that

:15:55.:16:01.

is if we find the e-mail traffic with officials about what he knew

:16:01.:16:07.

with his special adviser. Let me bring in the minister among us, who

:16:07.:16:12.

knows how things operate in Government. If there was a

:16:12.:16:17.

necessity to create a link between the Department and the interested

:16:17.:16:23.

parties, why was that Labour given to a political adviser and not his

:16:23.:16:30.

civil servant? -- that link. We know that these meetings are toxic.

:16:30.:16:33.

The meetings with Margaret Thatcher have been a running problem since

:16:34.:16:38.

1981. Why was it not given to the civil servant? Why was it to only

:16:38.:16:44.

one side of the argument? Why was the information only given to BSkyB

:16:44.:16:48.

and not to the coalition of media companies that were against BSkyB?

:16:48.:16:53.

The judgment would have had to have been taken within the department,

:16:53.:16:58.

including by somebody who was best able to advise a News International

:16:58.:17:03.

on the process that was being followed. That should be a civil

:17:03.:17:07.

servant. Special advisers are subject to most of the regulation,

:17:07.:17:13.

remember. They have special status. But special advisers cannot run

:17:13.:17:16.

amok. They are also bound by large obligations on how they should

:17:16.:17:21.

behave. I think the answer to Nick Robinson's challenge of how they

:17:21.:17:24.

are behaving, we actually know the answer because we know the

:17:24.:17:27.

decisions that were taken. The decisions at each stage that were

:17:28.:17:31.

taken by that department followed objective, independent, external

:17:31.:17:35.

advice. Something that was not suggested yesterday by James

:17:35.:17:41.

Murdoch or anything else, is that Jeremy was looking after the

:17:41.:17:44.

interest of News International. Jeremy Hunt was following the due

:17:44.:17:48.

process to the frustration of News International sometimes. Why was

:17:48.:17:52.

the flow of information only to the BSkyB side and not of the coalition

:17:52.:17:57.

of interest against BSkyB? I don't know. Well, I can tell you because

:17:57.:18:02.

I have spoken to those opposing the BSkyB bid, and they got nothing.

:18:02.:18:06.

Nothing like the information that Adam Smith was passing to the News

:18:06.:18:09.

Corp lobbyists. They have won rather stilted meeting that was

:18:09.:18:16.

called wooden and that was the end of it. -- they had one meeting.

:18:16.:18:21.

is the end of speculation... That is not speculation, it is factual.

:18:21.:18:28.

The coalition did not get any of the updates or briefings on process

:18:28.:18:33.

that the BSkyB people got. Why? Jeremy Hunt, the Prime Minister,

:18:33.:18:37.

all of us in the Government, a trust Lord leathers and to reach an

:18:37.:18:42.

overall judgment on the conduct of what was done. -- trust law Leveson

:18:42.:18:47.

to reach an overall judgment. is not what I was asking. You can

:18:47.:18:52.

go to the Daily Mail, the BBC, the other newspapers. I will ask Louise

:18:52.:18:56.

Mensch if I cannot get an answer from you. If it was important that

:18:56.:19:00.

the interested parties had a man, but decide whether that should have

:19:00.:19:05.

been a civil servant or not, why was the flow of information to only

:19:05.:19:13.

First of all, Jeremy will publish his contact. It was the permanent

:19:13.:19:15.

Secretary who decided that Adam Smith should be the point of

:19:15.:19:24.

contact. Why was it all one-way. if Adam Smith had contact with

:19:24.:19:30.

those opposing the bid. Should Adam Smith now publish the unauthorised

:19:30.:19:35.

corerespondence with the anti-BSkyB people? Jeremy Hunt has said that

:19:35.:19:39.

he is going to publish details of all his meet stphaogs and all his

:19:39.:19:47.

contacts with. Every interested party pro and kropb. Let's hear

:19:47.:19:51.

what the shadow Culture Secretary had to say in response to Jeremy

:19:51.:19:58.

Hunt's statement a few minutes ago. Here is Harriet Harareman. Everyone

:19:58.:20:01.

-- Harman. Everyone recognises the bid was of huge commercial

:20:02.:20:05.

importance and had profound implications for newspapers and for

:20:05.:20:10.

all of broadcasting, including the BBC. The Business Secretary had

:20:10.:20:14.

been stripped of his responsibility for deciding on the bid because he

:20:14.:20:19.

had already made up his mind against the bid. But the Culture

:20:19.:20:24.

Secretary too had made up his mind, in favour of the bid. So how could

:20:24.:20:29.

he have thought it proper for him to take on that decision? Of course

:20:29.:20:33.

he could take advice, but the decision as to whether he should do

:20:33.:20:38.

it and could do it fairly was a matter for him and him alone. The

:20:39.:20:42.

Secretary of State took on responsibility and assured this

:20:42.:20:47.

House that he would be acting in a quasi-judicial role, like a judge

:20:47.:20:54.

and be transparent, impartial and fair. But, Mr Speaker, isn't it the

:20:54.:20:57.

case that James Murdoch was receiving information in advance

:20:57.:21:01.

about what the Secretary of State was going to do and what he was

:21:01.:21:05.

going to say. Information which was given only to one side, which had

:21:05.:21:09.

not been given to those opposed to the bid and before it was given to

:21:09.:21:14.

this House. Does he think it's acceptable that Murdoch knew not

:21:14.:21:19.

only about what he was going to do and say, but crucially, what the

:21:19.:21:25.

regulator Ofcom had said to the Secretary of State on 10th January

:21:25.:21:30.

2011 and what the bid's owe opponents had said on 20th March

:21:30.:21:36.

and 31st March, 2011? Is he really going to to suggest to this House

:21:36.:21:46.
:21:46.:21:51.

that James Murdoch's advisor, Fred Miclel, knowing all this was just a

:21:51.:21:53.

coincidence? Can the Secretary of State explain to the House how Fred

:21:53.:21:56.

Michel in a series of e-mails beginning on 23rd January was in a

:21:56.:21:58.

position to tell Murdoch the full detail of a statement the Secretary

:21:58.:22:02.

of State was not going to give to this House until two days later?

:22:02.:22:08.

Whatever interpretation is put on e-mails, there can be no doubt that

:22:08.:22:12.

Michel's e-mail accurately and in detail described meetings that the

:22:12.:22:18.

Secretary of State had had and accurately foretold what the

:22:18.:22:25.

Secretary of State was going to do. Either Michel was Mystic Meg, or he

:22:25.:22:30.

had been told. When it comes to the transparency the Secretary of State

:22:30.:22:34.

promised, there appear to be a great deal of transparency for

:22:34.:22:40.

Murdoch, but precious little for opponents of this bid or for this

:22:40.:22:44.

House. If, has been suggested on his behalf in the media, he was

:22:44.:22:47.

negotiating with Murdoch, why didn't he tell the opponents to the

:22:47.:22:51.

bid and why didn't he tell the House? Will he tell the House now

:22:51.:22:54.

whether he believed himself to be negotiating, is that what he says

:22:54.:22:59.

is going on? On 3rd March he told this House that he had published

:22:59.:23:06.

details of all the exchanges between his department and News

:23:06.:23:09.

Corporation. In the light of all the information that we now know

:23:09.:23:15.

that Fred Michel had, does he still maintain that's the case? His

:23:15.:23:19.

special advisor has admitted that his activities at times went too

:23:19.:23:26.

far and he has resigned. But will the Secretary of State confirm that

:23:26.:23:29.

under paragraph 33 of the Ministerial code, it is the

:23:29.:23:35.

Secretary of State himself who is responsible for the conduct of his

:23:35.:23:38.

special advisor? Mr Speaker, this was a controversial bid. He could

:23:38.:23:43.

have refused to take it on, but he didn't. He could have referred it

:23:43.:23:47.

to the Competition Commission, but he didn't. His role was to be

:23:47.:23:51.

impartial, but he wasn't. His conduct should have been quasi-

:23:51.:23:55.

judicial, but it fell far, far short of that. And fell short of

:23:55.:24:00.

the standards required by his office. The reality is that he

:24:00.:24:05.

wasn't judging this bid, he was backing this bid and so should

:24:05.:24:10.

resign. Harriet Harman asking questions off

:24:10.:24:13.

Jeremy Hunt after he made his statement. This morning, it's like

:24:13.:24:16.

waiting for a bus, nothing happens and three come at once. While we

:24:16.:24:21.

have been broadcasting all of that, Rupert Murdoch has continued to to

:24:21.:24:27.

testify to the Leveson Inquiry. We are going to keep our panel for a

:24:27.:24:31.

few moments. Jo, give us an update. We are going to find out more on

:24:32.:24:35.

what Rupert Murdoch has been saying, that had been going on just before

:24:35.:24:38.

Prime Minister's questions. He was giving evidence to the Leveson

:24:38.:24:42.

Inquiry and they had actually focused at the Royal Courts of

:24:42.:24:45.

Justice on relations between Rupert Murdoch and previous Prime

:24:45.:24:49.

Ministers over the decades. We left it when he was talking about

:24:49.:24:51.

relationships with Margaret Thatcher. Our correspondent Adam

:24:51.:24:56.

Fleming has been watching and I believe they've moved on to to

:24:56.:24:59.

relations between Rupert Murdoch and the former Labour leader Tony

:24:59.:25:04.

Blair. Yes, in the last hour, Rupert Murdoch's been talking about

:25:04.:25:08.

that period running up to the 97 election where the News

:25:08.:25:10.

International titles decided to swing their support behind Tony

:25:10.:25:15.

Blair. It's resembled a book club at times, they've been quoting from

:25:15.:25:20.

books, diaries, books by Lance Price as well, and one by someone

:25:20.:25:24.

called Andrew Neil who used to work for Rupert Murdoch. Who is he!

:25:24.:25:28.

They've been talking about why Rupert Murdoch changed his mind. He

:25:28.:25:31.

said he got to know Tony Blair and decided to make the endorsement of

:25:31.:25:36.

Tony Blair when Mr Blair wrote a eurosceptic editorial piece for the

:25:37.:25:40.

Sun and that was when the Sun decided to support Mr Blair. He

:25:40.:25:44.

denied there was any deal done with Mr Blair in return for that support,

:25:44.:25:49.

he said if there had Tony Blair chucked it out the window by

:25:49.:25:52.

creatinging Ofcom which had powers to interfere with BSkyB and they've

:25:52.:25:57.

moved from the Blair era to the Brown era in the last few minutes.

:25:57.:26:01.

Interesting, I have to say. But not exactly surprising. I am not quite

:26:01.:26:04.

sure of the relevance of going through all this questioning of

:26:04.:26:07.

past relations with Prime Ministers. I think they're trying to establish

:26:07.:26:12.

a pattern as to what the relationship was between press

:26:12.:26:17.

proprietors and politicians from the left and right. What is the

:26:17.:26:21.

reply to the Harriet Harman point that under the Ministerial code

:26:21.:26:25.

Ministers are responsible for the behaviour of their special advisers.

:26:25.:26:27.

That's absolutely true but Ministers are responsible for the

:26:28.:26:33.

terms of of reference they set hout how special advisers should act. A

:26:33.:26:36.

Minister cannot know at all times if he employs a special advisor and

:26:36.:26:39.

they're doing nothing wrong, that would be ridiculous. Jeremy Hunt

:26:39.:26:42.

would be at fault if it were to be shown he had instructed Adam myth

:26:42.:26:47.

to act inappropriately. I am certain he has not done so. Last

:26:47.:26:50.

night Jeremy Hunt was telling colleagues his special advisor had

:26:50.:26:54.

done nothing wrong. That was my first question. I think there is

:26:54.:26:58.

something important here, if on the publication of these e-mails there

:26:58.:27:02.

had been a look of shock and horror, my goodness what has been done in

:27:02.:27:07.

our name, in my office, out you go, that's one thing. But if the

:27:07.:27:12.

message coming from Whitehall all day is actually there's nothing

:27:12.:27:15.

incriminating, lots embarrassing, that doesn't look great, but

:27:15.:27:19.

nothing wrong. And then hours later you say the following morning,

:27:19.:27:22.

after perhaps a little intervention from someone in Whitehall or indeed

:27:22.:27:27.

from treat, no, no, the special advisor has to go. Some explanation

:27:27.:27:31.

is required as to how you move from position one to two. A lot of

:27:32.:27:36.

unravelling to go yet. Mary Creagh, you need to pick the Guess the Year

:27:36.:27:42.

winner. I want to know whether David Cameron had a chat with James

:27:42.:27:52.
:27:52.:27:54.

Murdoch. There we go. 1952.

:27:54.:27:59.

The year there. Graham Sowter from Blackburn.

:27:59.:28:04.

Could be Bradford if you are George Galloway, I think it's Blackburn.

:28:04.:28:09.

He is the one who has won. A couple of seconds. The final 30 seconds on

:28:09.:28:14.

this whole business, on the Jeremy Hunt situation. It's clear from the

:28:14.:28:17.

e-mails Jeremy Hunt had to build political cover on the process.

:28:17.:28:21.

When he talks about the process he carried out he was building his own

:28:21.:28:24.

cover. The tide of scandal is lapping at his feet and the

:28:24.:28:27.

question is also about David Cameron. What was he he doing

:28:27.:28:31.

discussing the bid in the fringes of the dinner party at Rebekah

:28:31.:28:39.

Brooks house? I would like an answer, I would have like to be

:28:39.:28:46.

there actually! Thank you all of you for doing here today. 1 o'clock

:28:46.:28:50.

news is starting on BBC1 now. We will be back tomorrow at noon with

:28:50.:28:55.

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