12/06/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics. Are church and


state heading for a messy divorce over gay marriage? The Church of


England has this morning issued a highly critical response to the


Government's plans to allow gay couples in England and Wales to


marry, warning that the legislation could undermine the church's


established status. The UN says it's gravely concerned


about the escalation of violence in Syria. We'll be talking to former


Liberal Democrat Leader, Paddy Ashdown.


Cricketing hero, Ian Botham, steps up to the crease to deal with a


problem that's stumped politicians. He'll be with us later in the


programme. And feeling blue? Is the bad


weather getting you down? We'll be asking if we can blame the Prime


Minister. All that in the next hour and with


us for the whole programme today is the chair of the Equality and Human


Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips. Welcome to the programme. Good


afternoon. Now first this morning let's talk about health because


later today ministers will confirm that doctors and NHS managers will


be banned by law from denying older patients treatment simply on the


grounds of their age. It follows a series of reports showing that


older people often suffer sub- standard care and uneven treatment


in the NHS and the social care system. Is this something you


support? It is terrific and long overdue. The original argument was


it you introduced age discretion legislation it would move Dr's


discretion. But you have to have some protection for people who are


older. On top of that, what you cannot have, which existed in the


health service, our blanket rules that say people over a certain age


may not have some treatment it you would give automatically to


somebody under that age. So you have treatments denied to a fit 65-


year-old, who can run 10 miles a day, to an unfit for two year-old


who can barely walk to the shops. It is a reasonable approach and it


is long overdue. Is it the case a lot of the distressing images we


have seen are about a general lack of care and dignity being given to


older people, rather than them being denied clinical treatment?


is true, particularly in the social care arena. In the home care


inquiry, which showed people were being given 15 minute slots and


they were being left in their dirty garments and all of that. What is


also true, some bits of the system have policies, and those policies


say in a blanket way, let's not look at the individual, let's say


if you are over 50, you cannot have this liver treatment. So there is


evidence those policies exist? Exactly. What we're saying is we


have to look at the individual. you think it will open floodgates


of legal action, people saying I was not offered that treatment and


I am 65 and they should have been? I don't believe that for a second.


Most people trust their doctors and this says, doctor's exercise their


discretion but they do have to think of the individual in front of


them, rather than the birth certificate.


Now, gay marriage. The Church of England has today responded to the


government's consultation on same- sex marriages saying that the


proposals would dilute an institution, vastly important to a


healthy society. The Government launched their consultation earlier


this year looking to make same-sex marriage legal by 2015. The


proposed legislation would allow same-sex couples to marry in a


registry office or civil ceremony but the ban on marrying in a


religious service would not change. The Home Office has insisted that


no religious organisation would be forced to conduct weddings. However,


today the Church of England has responded to the Government's


consultation, saying that the proposed legislation is shallow.


They worry that keeping the ban on marrying same-sex couples in


religious services would not survive legal challenges. Gay


Rights campaigners have accused the church of scaremongering. Support


for same-sex marriage was seen as a cornerstone of David Cameron's new


direction for the Conservative Party. However, the issue has


proved divisive for backbench Tories with MP Peter Bone, calling


the proposals "completely nuts". I'm joined now from Norwich by the


Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, and here in


the studio with me is Labour MP Chris Bryant. Graham James, why do


you think the consequence of same- sex marriage would have a big


impact on society? Want are the things the Government consultation


paper suggests is there is a distinction between civil marriage


and religious marriage. This is a new distinction in English law.


Marriage is a centuries-old institution which has always been


defined as the Union as one man and one woman. That goes back before


church and state. One of the things we fear is two different


understandings of marriage creates a whole host of new minorities in


society. So including one group, that is those who want same-sex


marriage, will inevitably create a division in our understanding of


marriage, which is meant to be a unifying factor within society.


this is about equality, essentially. That is what the supporters of this


proposal want to see. Surely that saw it is, and extension of equal


rights, same-sex couples want to have that heterosexual couples


have? We also have civil partnerships and same-sex marriage


wouldn't give any greater rights to same-sex partners. One of the


things that is clear in our documents is we support civil


partnerships. We do want stable, permanent, faithful relationships


between same-sex couples in society, as it strengthens society. The


distinction in marriage is the sexual union of a man and a woman.


The ceremony does not marry someone, it is the sexual union that creates


the marriage which is why we have a annulment in civil law and


determined by consummation. One of the things in the consultation is a


failure to define how this would work across same-sex couples and


heterosexual couples and that is left to case law to determined.


There is a whole host of things that are ill-thought out. A Home


Office has said no religious organisation will be forced to


conduct those same-sex marriages? But there will be a redefinition of


marriage for everyone. At the moment, within the Church of


England people have a right to be married in their parish church, and


Church of England clergy are in effect, registrars. We are not


confident that if there was a challenge when the legal definition


of marriage is altered to the position that the Government's


assurances could withstand. Chris Bryant, two understandings of


marriage, basically there would be two definitions, it wouldn't be the


sexual union of a man and woman? is depressing that the Church of


England, the big issue to have a row with the Government about it is


not about the NHS, it is about same-sex and the quality Coulstock


but it is a shame the Church of England cannot get its history


right. Civil marriage was introduced in the 17th century and


the Church of England was restored at the Restoration and did not


object to it. The Church of England did choose to oppose the law, but


subsequently said it was right to change the law. When marriage was


concede that the woman was a chattel of the husband at the


Church maintain that. When we tried to change that, the Church of


England opposed it. But they now accept that marriage has changed in


every generation. What about them, the claim that civil partnerships,


which the Church supports, are enough? The bizarre thing is, one


bishop this morning was maintaining the bishops had supported civil


partnerships. Completely untrue. 6- 1, they voted against it in the


House of Lords. Secondly, we now have a situation where you can have


a civil partnership in a church, if the Church chooses to allow that to


happen, but you cannot have a marriage! It is ludicrous. Graham


James, there wasn't the widespread support for civil partnerships in


the first place, and marriage has evolved over the centuries?


Undoubtedly, marriage and vaults over the centuries. It is feasible


for marriage to a golf further. What we are saying is the present


consultation raises a good many issues about the nature of marriage


that we want answered. It simply isn't the case that there had been


two different understandings of marriage. The Church's


understanding a mistake's understanding has been the same.


am sorry, that is factually and legally wrong. The understanding of


civil marriage is different from the sacraments of marriage. I


disagree with you as an Anglican, albeit a boycotting Anglican


because of the Church's stance on these issues. I do hope you do


change, just like the Church changed on slavery. The sacrament


of marriage, should be free for you to keep as such. What they don't


understand is why the Church does not support commitment, made in law


and in a ceremony, which is the same difference same-sex allows.


view is at the moment, civil partnerships allowed the stable,


permanent and faithful relationships to be recognised in


the law. A change in our understanding of marriage affects


us all. For the state to change immediately, an age-old institution


which has been the union of one man and one woman, without very careful


thought about the consequences, then we need to think much further.


His Graham James out of touch and representing and out of touch, old


fashioned view? Or is this I threat to the church? I would never say


Graham James is out of touch. But I do think the arguments being made


marks something different. The submission this morning helps. What


the Church is worried about is not so much homosexuality, it is the


status of the Church. The Government is offering choice for


the first time. The only choice that won't be available to anybody


is to force a vicar, Coychurch to conduct a same-sex union. Except


they are worried about legal challenges? I can say with


authority, we the Commission do not believe the European Court would


ever take that view, all case law says the opposite. And this would


never support a challenge. But the issue, which is Graham James


raising, should be discussed. That is the question of the change in


the status of the Church. 500 years ago, the state said to the church,


you are in charge of deciding what marriage is. Now parliaments are


saying, we decide what marriage is. That is a reasonable thing. I don't


think it has to lead to disestablishment. I do think the


Church getting into a pickle about this removes, if you like, the


Church's role as being a spiritual guide. Fighting to be the agent of


the state, doesn't seem to be the right place for the Church of


England. The Church of England was created by Parliament, Cromwell


took it through the House of Lords and Parliament. We disagree on how


and when the Church of England was created. At the Church of England


would be cutting off its nose to spite its face ellipsis with this


argument by saying it is the biggest change in 500 years. My


hope they would do exactly what they did after they voted to keep


slavery in place, 30 years later they apologised. Politically, will


it be voted on? They have made a commitment, but with the opposition


coming through? I am sure a bill will be presented. Whether it is a


private member's bill from somebody, which will probably be heavily


supported in the House of Commons, and similarly in the House of Lords.


But we will have to deal with the bishops of both. What a warning,


Graham James. We will end on that. Plans to make it tougher for


relatives of those living in the UK to migrate here were announced in


the Commons yesterday. The Home Secretary, Theresa May said that in


2010, 18% of all non EU immigration was through the family route and


she claimed that in the past sham marriages were widespread. However


the debate wasn't as well attended as it might have been and some


suggested a certain football game may have had something to do with


In 2010, family immigration accounted for approximately 18% of


all non EU immigration to the UK, around 54,000 people out of 300,000.


But like the rest of the immigration system it has not been


regulated effectively for many years. Sham marriages have been


widespread, people have been allowed to settle in Britain


without being able to speak English and they have not been rules in


place to stop migrants becoming a burden on the taxpayer. We are


changing all of that. The UK needs a system for family migration


underpinned by three simple principles. One, that those who


come here should come on the basis of a genuine relationship. Two,


that migrants should be able to pay their way and three, that they are


able to integrate into bridges society. We agree that stronger


safeguards are needed for the taxpayer of family migration. If


people want to make this country their home, they should contribute


and not be a burden on public funds, but it isn't clear that the vexed


weighed to protect the taxpayer is to focus solely on sponsors salary.


In the current economic climate, someone on 40,000 today could lose


their job next month and then there's no way to protect the


taxpayer. It also doesn't take account of the foreign partner's


income and may have a differential impact on women. Can she explain


why the Government will do a consulting on a bond which could


have been used to protect the taxpayer if someone did need public


funds later on? The effect of this change will be directed against the


British Asian community, not illegal immigrants, settled


Britain's who are here, pay their taxes and contribute to this


country. I really don't believe that the British Home Secretary


should be determining who a spouse of a British citizen should be


based on an arbitrary limit and -- an arbitrary financial limit.


congratulate the Secretary of State on bringing forward one of the most


important announcements of this session. So important I'm here to


ask a question rather than watching England against France! There's a


lack of public confidence in our immigration system. I'm doing my


bit! Is it not the case that the best way to tackle this lack of


confidence is to bring these sorts of measures forward that strengthen


public confidence by strong and robust Innovation? Can I thank my


honourable friend for his commitment to this issue such that


he is in the chamber. I notice there have been one or two levers


since the statements started which may have something to do with what


is happening in Ukraine! reference to the Football!


Damian Green, the Minister responsible for immigration, joins


us now and Chris Bryant, who's a shadow Home Office minister, is


still with us. Is this purely about numbers, knocking down the number


of people coming here from non EU countries so that you can hit the


target you set? It does help us to hit the target, but it is mostly


about two things. Fairness and cohesion. The fairness in that we


don't think people think it is fair that you can come here and in the


full expectation from day one that you can live off benefits. Is there


evidence to show what numbers of people who are from non-EU


countries marrying British Simpsons -- citizens are sponge of the


state? For migration Advisory Committee on whose independent


report we based the figure of 18,600 as a minimum income level


say that is the level at which you stop being dependent on benefits.


About 45% of those applying for marriage are coming in at below


that level. That doesn't answer the question. How many people... The


Government statistics I've seen say foreign-born people are less than


half as likely to claim benefits as bone born here. Those are people


coming here to work. You would expect them... How many? Nearly


half of those who come, under the marriage route, are eligible and up


at an income level where they can get income related benefits.


eligible. How many of them do claim? The vast majority. You don't


know. We do, we have the assessment coming up tomorrow. The amount


saved to the taxpayer is �700 million. The critics will say those


proposals would exclude something like two-thirds of British people


from living in the UK as a couple if they marry and non EU national


by setting it at that 18,700. People -- not enough people


turnover that. You will be persecuting the poor.


persecuting anyone. They will have to split up or they will have to


move abroad. This is a new definition of persecution. You


don't have the absolute right to come from anywhere in the world and


on day one of arriving in Britain, live off benefits. Why are you


pitching it at 18,700? Because that is the point at which people are


not going to be living off income related benefits. It is an


absolutely clear point. We were offered by the migration of


advisory figure a higher figure. They suggested 25,500, which would


be the point at which people become net economic beneficiaries. We took


the low level because we thought this was fair. This is a fair


policies. There's one point I do agree with. Somebody coming to this


country should not expect to live off the British taxpayer. Somebody


sponsoring, whether a partner or a dependant of any kind, coming into


this country should be able to prove that person isn't going to be


a burden on the taxpayer. You would support that level? The question I


have is about the many anomalies I think this will set up an by


relying only on the salary of the sponsor, whether you introduced


some injustices and don't sort out the problem. In the present


economic circumstances, you can be on �40,000 today and earning


nothing in two weeks' time because you could be made redundant. How


have you protected the taxpayer from the partner of that person?


Let's say you what a British army veteran, you are disabled, you want


to marry an American who is earning $100,000 a year, is going to come


to the UK and the moment they arrive, they will start earning


�80,000 a year but that salary is not allowed to be included. Isn't


it? Christian do his homework. This doesn't apply to the military. They


are covered under a different part of the immigration laws. This is


changing the immigration laws... The army... The broad thrust of


this, you'd do agree with. I agree with the principle, but I wonder


whether there isn't a different -- different way of doing it rather


than relying on salary. Somebody commits to laying down a certain


amount of money, which I think some people, in particular in poorer


parts of the country, might be able to raise, which then does protect


the taxpayer better. You would not be able to redeem it until you had


had three or five years without claiming benefits. The problem, I


looked at the bond when I was doing Chris's job, the problem is that it


is an expensive visa only available to the very rich and slightly dodgy


who want to bring relatives in. Where would you set the Bond level?


As you didn't declare which rate you would pitch it at in opposition,


I will not do that now. Is this quite a brave move by the


Government to come out and set a bar to achieve some of the things


they want to do to stop people coming here, on day one and


claiming benefits? Everybody agrees that the cheating issue is one we


have to tackle. I don't think this will make a blind bit of difference.


In terms of the numbers of people coming over? By the way, 18,600,


the cost of the average wedding is not far short of that these days. I


would be very surprised... I can see the political arguments about


this and the Government wants to send a signal. But I would be very,


very surprised. If it doesn't achieve what you want, which is to


bring down those numbers and help economically... It will not do


anything for the economics. best estimates, the Immigration


Advisory Committee thinks the number of visas issues will be


13,000 fewer. It is not huge numbers. The family route is a


relatively small part of the Overall numbers. The vast majority


are students. Sham marriages is quite a big issue. Sham marriages


is a huge issue, as is forced marriages. In percentage terms,


about two-thirds of immigrants come under student visas, that is why we


took action... But it will harm settled Asian families here.


think it will cause some anxiety. The problem is... I understand what


you want to do and nobody is going to accuse the Government of bad


faith, but the question is, will it make a huge difference? We will see


in a couple of years. Does it send the right sort of message? The


Overall message is a problem one. Employers talk about this all the


time. Britain is beginning to feel like it is shut for business. We


need clever people. Some of these will be husbands and wives. That is


why there's a problem about the British woman in particular,


because of the pay gap differential, who marries... It is only her


salary that is able to be considered. She marries somebody


who is earning well abroad and is intending to come to this country


and has a guaranteed job in this country on way more than the 18,500


the Government is considering, and that is not able to be considered.


That person can come in on a work visa. It has got nothing to do with


employment. If people can come here to do a graduate level job...


not heard that way abroad, you know that, that is the problem. Thank


you. Now, it was a certain former prime


minister who spoke nostalgically about warm beer, old maids cycling


to Holy Communion and long shadows on cricket grounds. Well, I can't


speak for the maids or the beer, but cricket isn't all about village


greens or, come to that, summer weather. It can be played anywhere,


in any weather, and there's apparently a message for Cameron's


"Big Society". It's being played right here, under a soggy Big Ben,


today. To explain all, we have Home Office minister Crispin Blunt and


none other than Sir Ian Botham. Ian Botham, what is it you're doing?


How does it work? It is very simple. There are so many of these multi-


games areas around the country that get used we believe at an average


of one hour per day. They are dormant for long periods of time.


We are trying to bring in a very raw basic level form of the game of


cricket, which needs six people to play it in one of these can find


areas, or a gymnasium, or village hall. It can be played anywhere.


You play it in this area, you rotate all the time. Everyone Batts,


everyone bulls and everyone, more importantly, umpires the game as


well as fielding. It is total involvement and it is done and


dusted in an hour. We're trying to get away from a lot of kids


impressions of cricket, which is that you stand at fine leg, you are


there for most of the day, you don't get a bowl or bat... Isn't


that true?! That is the advantage of being an all-rounder! We wanted


to show them that you can have this great game. You don't need pads or


all of the equipment. You need a bat and a synthetic ball. It is


cheap and easy to do. Be it is making it more accessible. As well


as what you've said about standing there for hours waiting, you need


quite a big space to do it and this will work against that. Yes. We are


trying to give opportunities to people who would not have an


opportunity. We have had guys who have never picked up a cricket bat


and within 15 minutes they know the rules and a loving the game.


that because it is seen as more of a posh sport? Possibly. But also


the fact that you do need a bigger area, you need 21 other people to


play and you need all of the equipment, then a couple of umpires.


It takes some organisation. This doesn't. What's not to like about


this? Not very much not to like! What is quite good for the Prison


Service is it fits into the kind of spaces that are available in prison.


Ian alighted on what I think is the real benefit, which is the umpire's


role. All of the players rotate around and it is the social effect


of people learning how to take responsibility for their decisions


and then taking decisions themselves and receiving decisions


and learning to accept them. There's a rather exciting social


ethic about this, all of which sits with the ethics around cricket as


well. It has a big potential benefit for offenders as well as


society as a whole. You think it will go as far as helping to


rehabilitate offenders are? Not on its own. If you have an activity in


custody, where we do insist that people make time for physical


activity in custody, if you have an activity that they want to do and


get engaged with, and has a social benefit in terms of relationships


they make and have to make through the game, so much the better.


you agree with that, Ian Botham? Can't have positive effects in the


way you have described it, in terms of sharing roles and then somebody


adjudicating, even in a prison environment? Year. It is unique as


well. You are playing for yourself, but you are playing with five other


people. You have to police it as well as play. There's no point in


thinking I don't like that guy over there, so why would give him out.


By the time the other five have dealt with you, you will be in a


minor situation. It gives you a bit of that. It is disciplined, but it


is having fun with discipline. The other thing, I would much rather


get the kids off the streets and the Street corners and get them


into this. It is instant. You play for yourself, you put your scoring


on your iPhone or BlackBerry and it goes to the national grid and then


it will come back and say you are now number two in Westminster,


number 36 in Middlesex another 200 in the UK. That is how we see it


going. It will build up and then you'll have regional finals. It


will expand and once they get the bug, the kids will go for it.


think it will take off in that way? Not being a cricket expert myself,


it is interesting seeing you defining it in that terms. I think


it will. I believe it will end up being international, not just in


this country. There's talk about it in Australia already, there's a lot


of interest over there. I think it is magnificent, everybody wants to


Presumably sport is played in prison, why would this make a


particular difference? It can adapt to the kind of spaces available for


physical activity in prison. Then you have the rules and


responsibility so round it. That's why I think it will work in custody.


Every prison is different, and every prison governor or have to


make a decision on what resources they have available to spend and


whether it stacks up against the other things he wants the prisoners


to do. But what is more interesting is the wider benefit, getting


cricket in two parts of the community. As a cricket fan, I


appreciate that possibility. Before you go off, Ian Botham, slightly


related, will England beat South Africa in the test? Yes. That was


nice and short. Crispin Blunt, this is unrelated but it is the current


story, your reaction to the same- sex marriages and the Church's


response? The coverage I have seen on the position of the Church of


England is they seem very split on this issue. I was speaking this


morning on this. The Government have come forward with proposals


designed to protect the position of all the churches, they will be


prescribed from offering same-sex marriage. I think that position may


have some legal difficulties of its own. I don't think anybody would


tolerate a position where religions are being forced to conduct same-


sex marriages, it has to be a matter for them. The Government is


proposing the state recognised the quality of marriage, and inequality


is not acceptable. One thing I want to say about the England and South


Africa series - something to think about - you have the two best


bowlers, Dale Steyn and Jimmy Anderson and they will be competing


against each other. That will be fascinating in itself.


Our guest of the day Sir Trevor Philips, is standing down from his


job as chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission this year.


The Government are taking the opportunity to "refocus" the role.


But that's not the only thing that they're changing when it comes to


equalities legislation. Here's Adam. The nine so-called protected


characteristics, discrimination based on any of them is illegal


under the qualities act of 2010. But the Government say they will


repeal some of that legislation, such as employment tribunals losing


the power in ordering businesses to make changes to their whole


organisation over one case. Businesses will no longer be


responsible if an employee is harassed by a third party.


Employees will lose the right to request information from their


employers if they think they have been discriminated against. That is


a step and the right direction for entrepreneur, James Caan. He says


most cases of false claims brought by employees affected by the


recession. Ilott then go because the business is declining and you


have to reduce costs. When you look to let the individual go because


she wants the company to survive, the employee will go to a lawyer


and come up with some reason saying, you're letting me go because it is


not because the business is not there, it is because of my colour,


Mike Reid, my race and religion. one of his companies, the reason is


say they have a diverse workforce is nothing to do with equality laws.


With the freedom of Labour, increased individuals coming in


from different cultures it adds benefit to the economy. I think it


is something that has been wonderful as a company. We have


done it without the legislation. The public sector will be affected,


the Government is considering whether to scrap the law that says


all public bodies, such as schools and hospitals have a general duty


to foster a quality, which would be a big change. All of this appals


Labour. I think it is death by a 1000 cuts of a quality protection


in this country. Whether it is repealing some of the existing


legislation, or not going ahead with things we expected, light


legislating to outlaw age discrimination, watering down


provisions and making it more difficult for employees and


consumers to exercise their right and get support. The Commission is


reviewing the role and funding of the Equality and Human Rights


Commission, the watchdog that oversees all this.


And we're joined now by the Conservative MP, Nadine Zahawi. I


think I elevated to to Sir Trevor Phillips. I am just a common man.


This is nothing to do with equalities laws, what do you say


about that? I wish that was true. It never occurs to that individual


who said that. The situation we are in now, is different to 20 years


ago, when discrimination of various kinds, not just race, but gender


and disability will comment. The law isn't the be all and end all,


but it changes the atmosphere and the climate. Without the law we


would still be seeing the kind of discrimination we saw in the 80s.


That would mean people who currently contribute to companies


like that one would feel shut out of the labour market, and probably


would be. They were major changes in terms of the way people were


employed, and the workforce as it looks now. Do you think, although


this is a well-motivated, it is a burden on business? It is promoted


by a lot of noisy people who don't employed any body, and don't work


with employers. As a matter of fact, this proposition, it is all very


difficult and so on, over six years since the Equality and Human Rights


Commission has been in business, Dino amid times we have prosecuted?


Tell us. Three times. And we have settled it before going to court.


So the idea of employees being forced into court all the time is


nonsense. The Government should remove the anxiety small employers


have about an. People from ethnic minorities and disabled people. And


particularly women of child-bearing age. Your average hairdresser


thinks they will run into trouble. But there is no possibility if they


can do themselves sensibly. It would be great if we could help


people do with it. Do you accept that? It is the rhetoric that has


frightened employers into thinking it's legislation and the qualities


legislation that will make it difficult for them to hire and fire


people, for example? I think he has a good point, there is a lot of


misconception around employing women. As soon as they fall


pregnant there is an enormous additional cost to small businesses.


There has been a piece in the Times, going over the numbers. When you


talk to small businesses, there is this urban myth these things cost


an enormous amount of money. On the other hand, when you do conducts


surveys, and round tribunals, which is a different area, when they feel


the cost of tribunals, the time it takes that maybe there is better


ways of doing it. Trevor says not many people are dealt with in that


way? That is the concern, rather than cases coming to? It has


nothing to do with the qualities legislation, it is sorting out the


machinery of the employment tribunal system. Precisely, and the


settlement agreement Vince Cable was talking about is positive. An


employer can offer a settlement to an employee, if they do not accept


a one to go to the tribunal, the tribunal won't take that settlement


into account. It is better and faster than the compromise


agreement we have now, which is suited to larger employers. Do you


accept the legislation is not a burden on business, not a


significant burden? Some of it is, because some of the conversation we


have had back, for example, the third party discrimination is the


responsibility of the employer. So some of it is. The work Trevor has


done is incredibly valuable, but to refocus the organisation and to


tighten its budget is the right thing to do. This requirement on


public bodies to have an equality duty, to make sure anything they do


has some equality duty in it, was described by death by 1000 cuts


because the Government is repealing it. Is it necessary to have it


there? It is, I wish the Government would use it more effectively.


Their case for deficit reduction would be aided if they used it more


effectively. We have done an assessment of the 2010 spending


review and published a few weeks ago. One of the things we


discovered, the Government tried very hard and they did do very well.


But one of the things that was interesting, people premium, 2.5


billion a year, it did not do a gender impact assessment. If they


had, what would have been revealed is the real problem is not all poor


children. It is mainly boys of a particular ethnic group. They could


have cut the bill of the pupil premium by 50% had they done a


proper assessment. Also, it is so the Government makes better


decisions. What is happening now is the Government is, in a way,


because it wants to receive -- wave a flag on how it is helping


businesses, it is taking away the tool to make better decisions and


spend less of the public's hard- earned money. Do you think the


Government has an agenda that it basically wants to abolish the


Commission? Not true. The Government wants to focus the


Commission on the strategic aims, tighten the board. Bring on board


members that have a business background, so there is a closer


understanding and focus it on the things it does really well. Take it


away from conciliation services, which is a necessary.


As the violence in Syria continues, the UN reports say Syrian troops


have tortured children and use them as human shields on tanks. The UN


Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon is concerned that the violence has


intensified across Syria over the past couple of days. William Hague


is visiting Pakistan, but made the statements and said military


intervention was not being considered and there was hope for


some kind of peaceful transition. Each day reports emerge of savage


crimes. The Syrian military are bombarding towns with heavy


weaponry, and then releasing militia groups to murder civilians


in their homes. It is reminiscent of the Balkans in the 1990s. Two


weeks ago in Houla, 108 civilians died in this manner including


children. A similar atrocity was committed last week in Qubair. Un


monitors attempting to report on these events have been shot at and


obstructed. These grotesque crimes have eliminated to the world, the


nature of Syria and the regime. It is to break the spirit of


opposition in Syria and tried to reassert control. This is as futile


as it is morally reprehensible. By branding their opponents terrace


and using tanks, the regime is driving Syrians to take up arms to


defend their homes and by singling out particular communities it is


inflaming sectarian tension. We are joined by Lord Ashdown. William


Hague has said there are similarities with the Balkans,


Bosnia, military militia killing civilians. Do you agree with that?


Yes, up to a point. I know there. He is trying to make, it is a valid


point, there are horrors going on there. But I suspect dark deeds are


going on which both sides. In Bosnia we could have acted, but we


chose not to, foolishly. In Syria, I think we cannot act, even though


we would like to. The reason is, we cannot get unanimity in the


Security Council, and that is essential. We cannot act without


that. But on a humanitarian basis? No, the truth is the days when the


West was powerful enough to treat the Security Council with cavalier


regard are over. I think there will be many who will be pleased about


In Libya, we played very canny diplomacy. We made sure those who


led the charge were the regional voices, especially the Arabs.


Secondly, we concentrated on humanitarian intervention, to save


those suffering rather than regime change. This time it seems to me we


have gone back to the old practice of making it easiest for the


Russians to cast their veto by making this led by the West and


making it about regime change. The result is that we've got ourselves


into an impasse we did not need to get into. But we are where we are


now and we have to decide what we do next. That is how we got here.


Do you think that if the Government and other governments had played it


differently, the Russians would be on board in some way to put


pressure on? That is a legitimate question. I think clever modern


diplomacy is about making it as difficult as possible for the


Russians to disagree. And the Chinese. If we had had this led by


Arab forces, especially Turkey, and if we had had it about humanitarian


intervention rather than removal of the one from the Russians had got,


we would have made it more difficult for them to cut their


veto. It would have been... Do you believe in the Kofi Annan plan?


think it is over now. The really dangerous situation we have got


ourselves into, we need to learn the lessons of Libya. We are living


in a different age. We need to be more canny about our diplomacy. It


was led by the Americans, not by William Hague, but it was still


wrong. They did talk about regime change with Colonel Gaddafi. No one


ever said he would stay end any post. If I may gently suggest to


you that you are wrong. We deliberately did not say it was


about regime change. The Security Council resolution did not go that


far. We were careful to say it is about humanitarian intervention.


Everybody knew that at the end of that process Gaddafi had to go, but


we started with a humanitarian intervention. What about this


Russian suggestion for an international conference? Is that


them just playing with the international community or do you


think there's a genuine mood in Russia because of the terrible


images from Homs and Houla? Although they will not come out


blatantly against their ally, they do want something to be done and of


course also said Iran should be part of that. I think it is playing


for time. When you're in these situations, you have to go every


last mile for peace. We have to take them at base value. It would


be foolish to reject that option, but I guess the Russians are trying


to play for time. Where we are now, the impacts can only be broken when


the Russians change their position. The danger of this impasse is not


just that the killing goes on in Syria, it is that this develops and


to work wider war which engulfs the whole of the Middle East and that


is the danger. What would tip that over the edge? We've seen these


dreadful massacres. Lebanon. When it starts to spread into Lebanon...


You now have Saudi Arabia arming the rebels. Many of these are now


Sunni, Shea conflicts within Syria. If that tips over into Lebanon, a


widening conflict is a real possibility. Matt Seaton called the


first and second world wars the European civil wars. -- mousy tone.


In order for that not to happen, his William Hague right, if it is


how you interpret it, to suggest that if the best efforts might fail,


that they will have to consider other options? Do you see that as


in suggesting that military intervention may at some point be


necessary? In diplomacy you never say what you are not going to do.


We all know that absent a shift in the Russian position, and in the


Chinese position, a military intervention by the West would be


unfeasible in the present circumstances. If we are clever, we


might try to resuscitate the Arab voice, bring Turkey into this. If


we could put Turkey up front, there would be different. But you are


straight back into Sunni and Shia factions. From the impasse we are


now in, there are very few ways out of this absent the Russians


realising they are not doing themselves any good by supporting


Assad. Pretty gloomy and bleak. certainly is. That is international


politics for you. Another day, another former prime minister in


the dock. It must be the Leveson Inquiry. This morning it was the


turn of John Major who acknowledged he had been given a rough ride by


the press when he was in power. He was asked about a lunch he had


before Rupert Murdoch -- with Rupert Murdoch just before the 1994


election. It became apparent in discussions that Mr Murdoch said


that he really didn't like a European policies. This was no


surprise to me. He didn't like our European policies and he wished me


to change our European policies. If we couldn't change our European


policies, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative


government. As I recall, he used the word we when referring to his


newspapers. He did not make the usual nod towards editorial


independence. It is not very often someone sits in front of a prime


minister answers to a Prime Minister, I would like you to


change of policy and if you don't change your policy, my organisation


can't support you. People may often think that, they may often react


that way, but it is not often do that point is put to a prime


minister in that fashion. James Landale has been following the


day's events. What did you make of what John Major said? It was very


interesting if. That excerpt was all about a meeting in the early


part of 1997 about one of those crucial meetings between a prime


minister and a media baron. There's quite a heavy debate about whether


or not John Major is accusing Rupert Murdoch of giving the wrong


evidence to the inquiry. Mr Murdoch said at one point in his evidence,


I've never asked anything from a prime minister and here is John


Major saying he asked me to change my policy. Others say what Rupert


Murdoch was referring to was corporate favours, very specific


context they were discussing the proposed acquisition of the times


with Margaret Thatcher. The other interesting point he has made his


he has given a very, very strong warning to the current generation


of politicians. He said he failed to reform the media, he should have


done, he said it was a missed opportunity. He said that today's


politicians are in the last chance saloon, they have to act, they


can't not act simply because they might want to curry favour with the


media baron in the future. Picking up one of your points about


conflicting evidence. Two perspectives. Let's listen to


Gordon Brown also giving evidence about a conversation or not with


Rupert Murdoch. You are relying on second-hand conversations that are


reported by people who are not participants in the events. I don't


take that as a serious comment about what happened. Were your


aides involved in using the media to force or attempt to force Mr


Blair's resignation in 2006? would hope not. Were they involved?


I would hope not. I've got no evidence of that. What do you make


of that form of words used by Gordon Brown? I would hope not.


exactly a denial. No. There's a fair amount of documentary evidence


of the scale of the divisions between Camp Blair and camp Brown.


That claim was met with a certain degree of incredulity outside the


court and within Westminster yesterday. I was referring to


something not played in that clip, but about declaring war on Rupert


Murdoch and this was about the allegiance which by those News


Corporation papers. What has the media made of that evidence from


Gordon Brown? They believe that there's a certain degree of history


being revised. The media have that view of a lot of the evidence given


to the live as an inquiry. A lot of it is about a lot of things that


happened in the past. John Major has been trying to give his account


of what happened during the ERM exit. One of the side bits of the


Leveson Inquiry has been setting the record straight, getting their


line across at on stuff which is already out there in all the


biographies that have been written since then. If you read Alastair


Campbell's diaries, they would give it slightly different account,


perhaps, a different emphasis to that which was given by Gordon


Brown yesterday. Yes. Difference in opinion is slightly contrary.


Anyway, I will leave it there. Thank you.


Let's talk about the weather. Over to Adam outside.


For once it is actually a nice day if it was February! I have got an


umbrella in case it rains and a couple of guests as well. We have


got Peter Gibbs, the busy weather presenter, and then Page, a


pollster. Is it really that wet? Yes. We have unrealistic


expectations of a British summer. British farmers are cool and often


quite work. It has not like this everywhere. I've just come back


from the north of Scotland and I've got a bit of a suntan. I flew back


on the same plane as Danny Alexander. It was a low-cost


airline. Does he have a suntan as well? Slightly. Will there be any


break-in this cloud? Will it dry up? A glimmer of hope for the end


of the month for southern and eastern parts of the UK. It should


get a bit warmer, but then the rain sets in across the north-west. I


think long-range weather forecasts are like political forecasts, they


can be a bit fraught. Is this just weather or is something do so --


specific making it this way it? has been the jet stream. It has


died south over the last few weeks. It wasn't that long ago that we


were getting temperatures in the mid-twenties, at the end of May. We


have short-term memories! You have got something that looks quite


scientific. At Ipsos MORI we went back and crunched the numbers to


see if we could find any relationship between the amount of


rain and how people are happy with the Government. The answer is


there's not much relationship. It seems to depend more on what the


Government does rather than acts of God in terms of how it is doing.


Maybe on election days, a lot of rain might favour one party over


another, depending on how motivated their supporters are to vote. But


over all, no. We are a bit stoic as Brits. We are used to this weather,


we just get on with it. You are talking to somebody from Glasgow!


Is there any idea that bad weather reflects badly on politicians. It


is raining and I hate David Cameron! I don't think there's any


evidence of that. For last time he was as unpopular as he is now, he's


not as unpopular as some predecessors, but you will remember


there were floods in Yorkshire and he went off to Rwanda. That was


going to Rwanda rather than the floods, that was when he was in


opposition. Voters judge their politicians on their basic


competence and not the weather. think I just felt a spot of rain!


Back to you in the hot, dry, warm studio.


All right! I got the message! There don't seem to be any


relations between what people feel about their politicians on the


weather, is the wet weather getting you down? It is fantastic. Because


politics is dull, what do we retreat to? The weather. Anybody


else in the world would think, what are these people on? It is


important! I am extremely interested. If it matters to your


garden, that is a thing... I grew up in a country where it was either


hot and wet or hot and dry. That is really dull weather for top thank


you. That's all for today. Thanks to our


guests. The One O'Clock News is starting over on BBC One now. I'll


be here with Andrew at 11.30am tomorrow with all the big political


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