06/09/2012 Daily Politics


Jo Coburn is joined by Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips to discuss the latest political news, including proposed changes to planning rules.

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Good afternoon. Welcome to The Daily Politics. Planning a


conservatory? Fancy a fancy car gadge? David Cameron and Nick Clegg


hope you are. Also on the table, plans for more affordable homes. We


will ask if it is enough. Labour don't think so, they have been


talking about their own plans for economic growth this morning - roll


on the wealth tax. They have flown the flag for Britain and inspired a


nation. Have our Paralympians changed our opinions towards


disabled people. Nicola Sturgeon will fly the flag for Scotland,


hoping to win the argument for Scottish independence. We will talk


to her later. Giles is enjoying the sunshine outside. I am. I am


looking on the bright side. I am looking for economic growth. I will


talk to three entrepreneur, that despite the recession, are leading


the way. Who would have thought it - it was down to flooring, phone


apps and fruit cakes. With me is the journalist and author Melanie


Phillips. Welcome to the show. First today, let's start with a


question - are burglars brave? Yes, brave! That is what a judge said


yesterday when sentencing a burglar at Teesside Crown Court. He


reportedly told the criminal it took a huge amount of courage to


burgle a house, and he said that prison rarely does anybody any good.


This morning the Prime Minister gave his reaction. It is a


despicable crime. You know, I am very clear that people who


repeatedly burgle should be sent to prison. I have not seen this


specific case. Judges sometimes say things - you have to read the full


context. It is not bravery, burglary is a hateful crime. People


sometimes say it is not a violent crime, but if you have been burgled,


you feel it is violent. This is high the Government is changing the


law, to toughen the rules on self- defence, saying householders do


have the right to defend themselves. We had a case the other day. I will


have to look at what the judge said. Well the Prime Minister in no doubt


about what should happen to burglars - what do you think about


what the judge said? It was a comment so dafr you had to read it


three times. As the Prime Minister said, burglary is never brave. One


cannot imagine what was in this judge's mind. The judge was within


his rights not to send the guy to prison. The sentencing guidelines


allow him not to improz a -- impose a custodial sentence. He was


impressed by the fact the guy has turned around his life, apparently.


Well, the judge is entitled to his opinion, but the rest of us are


within our rights to be cynical. Pretty damning about the whole


prison service? For the hapless populous who is being burgled is it


takes a burglar out of the environment. If he explained the


burglary about this man being able to turn his life around, would a


community sentence, a fine and being monitored ever be enough to


substitute a jail sentence? cannot put wupbs in the position of


the judge. He did set out those reasons to some extent. It is a


matter of judgment. If you have a serial burglar, I am afraid I am


cynical about someone turning their life around. Many people would


agree with you. The other issue is self-defence. We had the other


issue on intruders. The law says reasonable force can be used. Was


that reasonable force? I believe so. Again one does not know the full


detail, but as far as one could see the householder in question


encountered burglars breaking into his house. He happened to have a


shotgun. He used what came to hand to defend himself, his property and


his life, as far as he was concerned, against intruders. That


is a perfectly reasonable supposition for him to make that he


was at risk. The law allows him to make that assumption. Therefore he


did not commit a crime. Should he have been arrested and held?


don't think so. I think that was a heavy reaction by the police, who


seemed not to have understood quite what had happened in this


circumstance. It obviously it stiblgs in the core for someone who


has been -- sticks to the core for someone who has been burgled. The


law is very clear - you must not assault, attack or fire upon a


burglar, if for example he has turned his back and is fleeing,


because that is revenge. If you genuinely think your life, limb and


property are under attack you are entitled to take whatever


reasonable defence is at hand. David Cameron and Nick Clegg want


you to add a conservatory to your house. They want to boost it by


easing planning. The Prime Minister and his deputy have been setting


out the proposed changes. Under the new rules, homeowners would be able


to make more changes to their homes without planning permission.


Conservatives and other single -- conservatorys rather than


Conservatives! They can be built four metres away


from detached houses. From 2015 they will be doubled. Bigger


extensions will be doubled though. The Government wants more new


houses to be built. They are reducing obligations on some


developers to build affordable homes. There'll be more money for


the FirstBuy scheme. The aim - to kick-start the


building of 75,000 new homes. The boost is needed because the


construction sector is the worst performing part of the economy. It


shrunk by 9% in the first half of the year. This is what the Deputy


Prime Minister said this morning. What we are doing today is we're


doing a bunch of things to create more homes, more affordable homes


and more jobs. We are doing that by removing some of the bureaucracy


and hassle - and getting house builders to put shovels in the


ground. We are helping people with their first time mortgages. We are


putting up �300 million to build up to 15,000 affordable homes to.


Bring 5,000 empty homes back into use and really importantly, we are


putting up �10 billion worth of Government guarantees to house


builter sos they can lower the cost that they face and get them


building again. Nick Clegg explaining the plans. Will it be as


simple as the coalition hopes? The Government will find out changing


the planning system does not always work as as plans. Eric Pickles is


being taken to court by a council who says he has broken his own


rules by letting local people say what gets built where. The site for


a decisive battle between the war of the roses, now Teweksbury is


fighting the Conservative Community Secretary. It is over proposals to


develop a nearby village. Two different builters want to


build two new developments, side by side, right here. Overall, it is


about 1,000 new houses, a couple of offices, a community centre and


some sport pitches. It it's all in the shadow of the highest point in


the Cotswold. Locals are furious. There's been enough building going


on here. It is time to put a halt on it. The village has grown so


much over the past 20 years and the facilitys can not take any more.


Objections like that led Teweksbury Borough Council to oppose the


application last spring. The developers then won an appeal,


which Eric Pickles backed in July this year. Now the council are


going to the High Court to challenge the Government's decision.


The case should be heard in a few months' time. Councillors didn't


want to talk to us for legal reasons. The local MP was happy to


vent his theory. I want to see it change so local people who know the


area, who know how many houses are necessary, they actually have


something to say. I thought we were going down that road. I think the


Government indicated I wanted to go down that road. We have to push it


in that direction. If Eric Pickles was here now, what would you say?


would perhaps better not repeat it. There is the issue. The Government


wants more stuff built, yet at the same time has told communities they


have more power to stop things being built. Planning experts can


see trouble on the horizon. I think a lot of people I speak to do


realise you cannot just say, no I do not want any development, but


clearly you will have NIMBYism, you will have banana build nothing and


nothing near me any time. That is the problem. That is kind of what I


found here. You know who the biggest bananas are here? The


people who have moved into brand new houses which have just been


built. We like that, "Banana." With me is Clyde Loakes, we are


joined also by Stephen Littlechild from the Institute of Economic


Affairs. Welcome to both of you. Starting with you, the planning


process has been the block on building new homes? That is not so.


We are a ten-year high with councils planning planning


applications for new houses: We have 400,000 new homes ready to get


off the blocks. We have enough for the next three years if we didn't


do any more planning applications. Why aren't they being built?


Developers are sitting on their hands. I think they are waiting for


the Government to make the announcement, like today, where


they can maximise and get more profit out of their schemes, rather


than reflexing on the mixed, sustainable communities we at local


councils want build. Is ate a myth that they have been the -- it has


been a myth that they have been the block to reform. There will be a


range of different reasons why they would not have been developed yet.


We have in Britain one of the most complex planning systems you could


design. In other European countries you can almost move from the


drawing board to the first shovel in the ground in a number of weeks.


Here it can take years. We have to be realise tick about the lands we


have available. It is all right if you are on the property ladder, you


are sitting pretty. If you are not on it there is not enough stock. We


only have about 10% of the entirety of this country developed. We can


do a lot more building without any worries that all our green and


pleasant land is not destroyed. Isn't that the point, successive


Governments have not built enough homes. Shouldn't there been a


quicker planning process? We have a good planning process in this


country. 400,000 plots ready to go. The real issue here is what


developments are not doing. They are stalling. They are waiting to


maximise profits. The issue is about the liquidity of the mortgage


and finance markets that allow people to get that first step on


the ladder. We are here, as local councils, long after the developers


have gone. We know the sorts of developments we want to have built.


We should have every justification. We are accountable to local people


to make those decisions and take those schemes forward. We have a


system which encourages nimbyism. It is rational to be a NIMBY, as in


that exact. If you own a �500 million house you will be against


the low -- �500,000 house you will be against it. The choice is not,


do you want this field built on or not, it is, if you do we'll lower


your council tax. We have to have a better compensation culture. What


do you think in terms of a case of lack of demand, rather than


planning - blocking the process, before we get on to the question of


NIMBYism? Well, I think that planning laws may well need


reforming, may need streamlining. I cannot really see that the planning


issue is the key issue. As I understand it, as we have heard,


there are many other issues which are preventing house builders from


building. For example, the commitment they have to build


affordable housing. It is a good thing? It may or may not. It is


holding them up. The comparison with France - France is very


ruthless, but France can afford to be ruthless. It is an enormous


country. We have an overcrowded country. This lady in Teweksbury.


Look at that wonderful scenery, look at that fantastic environment


they have. There is a limit to house building beyond which one


loses ameem knittys. We don't have enough homes because there are


400,000 plots which have been designated for homes which are not


built on. There is also brownfield development, which is not happening,


for a variety of reasons. Will this We are not going to see enormous


GDP growth because a handful of people start building


conservatories in their back garden. It smells of panic by the


Chancellor. He is desperate to get the economy kick started. He


doesn't want to take the moves he has to take to do that. So he is he


is encouraging house building, a few conservatories will kick start


house building, it is crackers. Even if people are able to build


conservatories and extensions is the demand there? Is there a


backlog of people saying, "We don't want to move, we want to invest in


our homes?". There is a reason why permitted development is as it is


and that's to protect the eye the amenity of neighbours. That's to


ensure quality in the pllds and to stop -- bllds -- bllds and to stop


our gardens being developed in a fluffy way. It is a naive view to


suggest that's going to stimulate growth.


The Government introducing the national policy framework this year.


The fact that the new prosals are come come -- proposals are coming,


is that an admission that didn't work? This is, I think for a


Conservative dominated Government an extremely difficult issue. We


have seen Tewkesbury, that's Tory heartland where the whole issue


surrounding Heathrow and the third runway goes to the same issue. You


have You have got two problems, it is not just that people don't want


a load of building next to them, if we build the houses we need in the


United Kingdom, you will see property prices fall. If you own a


descent property, you could suffer as a result.


That brings us to another point. The Bank of England is keeping


interest rates at the same level at 0.5%. You just raised the point if


outside London particularly in the South East, house prices start to


fall, is it the right strategy of the Government to be encouraging


first-time buyers to take on deposits even if they are getting


help with paying mortgages for the first few years. If prices come


down, these people could find themselves in difficulty? First-


time buyers are in difficulties and that is an unfortunate fact and we


need more affordable housing. We need ways in which first-time


buyers can be encouraged to buy houses. Because the way people,


families are splitting up. More people are living alone. What was


one household becomes two or three households and there is the issue


of immigration and all these things feed into this housing problem. You


can't isolate housing problems. The lack of housing and say, "We just


reformed the planning laws." You have a bunch of very controversial


social policies wrapped up in this. I am going to have to say goodbye


to you two. Thank you very much.


Ed Miliband and the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, have been


setting o out their ideas on the idea. They have been arguing that


the recession demands a new look. This is what Ed Miliband had to say


earlier. It was harder for New Labour to be


the party to reform it. And that is the key for us in the future. Today,


clear about the role of markets, we can more confidently with the


people who see that the rules need to change. Urgent if we are to


tackle the issue of redistribution. We We won't compete if we remain a


low wage, low skill economy. Joining me now is Shadow Treasury


Minister, Chris Leslie. This morning, we have been hearing terms


from the Labour leadership about moving from redistribution to


predistribution, what is that? you have got to look at it through


the prism of the current environment we're in. We are in an


economic climate where clearly growth is not coming to fruition.


We are worried that we are not going to have the revenues coming


into the exchequer in the way that they used to do and in those


circumstances as Labour politicians, we want to create a fairer society.


How do we do that? It won't be as simple as using tax receipts in


order to distribute those to create a fairer society.


So Labour are moving away from a tax credit system? No, we want to


still do that. If we get a return to economic growth, we want to make


society as fair as we can. The question we have to ask is - are


there ways of looking at other aspects of society, for example?


Descent quality skilled jobs that pay well. That have descent quality,


circumstances for employees... Everyone wants that? They do.


What are you going to do? What's the magic bullet that Labour has


got? The point the leader of the Labour Party is making this morning,


it is not just about the Government spending money, it is about


industry. It is about employers changing behaviour, having a better


relationship with their staff, and improving the quality of the


workplace for example. Whether that will create jobs, I


don't know, it sounds like Labour has come to the conclusion there is


no money left to spend. Also you are considering a wealth tax on


high value properties, very much the Liberal Democrats policy. What


is a high value property? Where would you put it at? You are a few


steps ahead. Vince Cable was speculating about whether we should


have a mansion tax. Ed Balls says this is something you


have sympathy. Ed was asked and we want to see the


details. It is an interesting proposition. We don't have the


details of whether it will be one off or whether it is something he


thinks needs to think. The Shadow Chancellor would like it


to be a a permanent tax? Poor old Vince has various various lasus


thrown around him. The Shadow Chancellor put an offer to Vince


Cable, let's discuss these things. What do you like about it?


thing we have got to do is recognise we would keep the 50


pence top rate of income tax as a prefer rable way of having a fairer


tax system. You would keen the 50 pence top


rate of tax and you would be sympathetic to the idea of tax on


unearned wealth? Because the Government have cut that 50 pence


rate to 45p and they are looking to other people to pay the gap,


pensioners and ordinary working people. And we think that's unfair.


If the Business Secretary has got a suggestion about other fairer ways


of raising taxes, well we'll hear what he has got to say.


The suggestion is on properties above �2 million. Well... With the


greatest respect, we don't know. Would that be palatable? We will


look at the details, but there are disadvantages to sometimes looking


at what you might called fixed assets. You can find people who


have high value capital assets, but don't have liquid income in order


to pay charges upon that. This was one of the arguments had about


council tax banding. If you end up with circumstances where a widow


who perhaps had a family background with great income, finds herself in


a family property, but can't pay the tax, you have got to be


sensitive to circumstances where some people... This is politically


motivated. It looks as if you read it and this is an overt flirtation


with the Liberal Democrats at a time Labour thinks the coalition is


in trouble because you are not putting your money where your mouth


is? We have put our money where our mouth is saying we want a bank


bonus levy. We think it is wrong to have changed the 50 pence, if the


Government ministers want to propose tax changes, put the things


on the table. It is an odd way to make tax changes. Has Vince Cable


had talks with Ed Balls? The phone is there. We are waiting to see


what he has to say. So you have asked the department


department to have the meeting with Vince Cable? I haven't, but the


invitation is a very public one. There was good news for the


coalition Government, the World Economic Forum World Economic Forum


survey said the UK has risen from tenth to eighth in the terms of


global competitiveness. It is an indication that the supply reforms


are working? The evidence is scant. We saw the OECD change their


prediction today about what the growth is going to be in the UK.


They thought it was going to be plus... On a competitive... They


are saying the economy is going to shrink by 0.7%. This is the biggest


fall that they are predicting of any developing country.


It would be dangerous when the figures come out? The Government


will try their best to find evidence to the contrary. The facts


are that the economy is in recession and that we really need


action now. They are blaming the planning planning system. They are


blaming other changes, but the stimulus that we need now to the


economy that's missing. It is interesting to to hear Chris


Leslie saying that the tax system is not right way of redistributing


wealth. That they are looking at the idea of a wealth tax?


Government is correct, they are all over the shop and there is


incoherence. But I am confused about where Labour is at the moment


because they seem to be trying to argue different things at the same


time, but the thing that leaps out, whether it is redistribution or


predistribution or tax credits or a wealth tax, Labour is still hung up


on this business of fairness, equalling taking money away from


people who are wealthy, or wealthy to people and giving it to people


who are poorer. I am in favour of a fair society, but for a fair


society, everyone starts at the same level. The problem is they


don't all start at the same level and we don't have a fair society.


The problem our country faces is we need wealth to be created and I


can't hear from the Labour Party at the moment how they're going to


help create that wealth. I can't hear it from the Government either


actually, but I want to hear it from the Labour Party.


When Vince Cable returns the call do let us know.


After a summer of Olympic glory, we're revelling in the success of


our Paralympic champions who've been raking in the gold medals and


changing the way we view disability - well that's the hope. But should


the achievements of Paralympic athletes change the way we approach


the cuts to disability benefits? Susana Mendonsa has been finding


out. They are impressive achievements that have been


transforming perceptions. Britain's gold rush brought questions about


cuts to benefits. They have been able to fulfil their


aspirations. Without these, who knows what could have happened.


People need to understand that the people they are seeing on the front


of papers or on the TV screens are just one group of disabled people.


People would just think anyone can be the next whoever wins the


athletics. Around this table in a South London


cafe, a group of people with muscular dystrophy are here to


debate the changes. First up, Incapacity Benefit. Over two


million people who used to claim that have been getting reassessed


for the employment and support allowance which you only receive in


full if you are deemed unfit for work. The estimated saving �2


billion a year. Those assessments led to protests like this one


outside the IT firm, ATOS, 38% of people who appealed had their fit


for work assessments overturn. There are concerns about who is


conducting the assessments. Isn't it right that people who can


do some work should be encouraged into work which is what the


Government wants to see? Yes. If disabled people can work, they


should work and that should be something that's encouraged, but it


is making sure that the transition procedure is right.


It has got to get a good approach to get people to work if they can


and that's the crucial word, "If they can." Because many disabled


people need assistance. The other change will be to the


Disability Living Allowance which will be replaced by the Personal


Independence Payment at an estimated saving to the Treasury of


�2 billion. An issue the Prime Minister was questioned about at


PMQs this week. His decision to cut Disability


Living Allowance will prevent disabled people participating in


sport and threaten the legacy of the London Games.


We are not cutting the money that's going into supporting disability.


We are reforming the system and replacing Disability Living


Allowance with a Personal Independence Payment and it is


about recognising people's needs. We know it will be more means-


tested. The burden of disability shouldn't be on everyone around


them. It almost stops people from wanting to be successful.


Now the Disability Living Allowance has been around for 20 years,


unchanged. The cost has trebled during that period. Isn't it right


that the Government should replace it with something more affordable?


Cost is going to increase and due to the natural increase in


population and numbers of disabled people. So it is not - that's not


the right argument to bring down the cost.


The Paralympics reignited the debate, but what will the legacy


We're joined now by the Labour MP, Dame Anne Begg. Welcome to the


programme. Do you think first of all, watching the achievements of


Paralympians has changed people's I hope so. I hope it will be long-


lasting. We've all been amazed at the abilities they have shown. I


think, because there has been an increase in disability hate crime


over recent years, that those sort of things, the assumptions made


about disabled people, they must be scroungers and must not be trying


are dissipated. I hope they see the person beyond the disability.


a taboo subject - disability and benefits? I think it has given the


people a vow cab bri to use. One problem was people were making sure


they would not offend anybody and were rendered inarticulate. The


Channel 4 coverage has busted a lot of those kind of myths. It has


allowed people just to talk to people with disabilities and say


the sort of things, they could say to a blind person, gosh, you should


have seen that, or stay to someone who cannot walk, "Step over here."


Do you think that? I hope so. I think it has changed people east


perceptions in a very dramatic way. I think that most people had no


idea that very seriously disabled people could be capable of such


feats of strength and courage and achievement. And as Anne says, I


think it certainly for the period of the Paralympics it has enabled


people to talk about disability. Once the Paralympics, whether this


mood fades away, we'll have to see. What about it makes people think,


well look at these people achieving these amazing things in sport, they


don't need that much help? I think that is an absolute danger. On the


other hand there is an element of truth in it. It is a danger because


many, if not most disabled people could do those things. I could not


do those things. The Paralympians themselves, one forgets they live


with appalling levels of hardship, frustration and physical infirmty.


But on the other hand it does tell us that with the will to overcome


the demoralising belief that we are victims of life rather than taking


life by the horns and we can make something of it, it does tell us


that with the right attitude it is possible in certain circumstances


to overcome that. And through that prism the Government may be


struggling to sell its message then on disability reforms, but seeing


it the way it has just been outlines there, are they as


controversial as some people say? It is more than attitudes, it is


physical barriers. So David Weir - I don't know if he gets Disability


Living Allowance - he is qualified for it. He needs an adapive car. He


still cannot get on to most of the London Underground. He has an


adapted house. All that costs money. It is not cheap. The fear for most


disabled people is the money they get now which allows them to travel


to the training grounds, that money will stop. When it stops, their


independence stops. It is so emotive... It is all about the


assessment, isn't it? That is right. Even Paralympians have needs that


cost money. The position the Government come from is they are


troubled by people who don't have that degree of need and


nonetheless... Are we talking about a lot of people here? Are we


talking about that many people? think a lot of that - the fallacy


around disabled people, things like Disability Living Allowance is paid


to those out of work and some of the confusion comes with the


employment support allowance, which is the benefit changing at the


moment which has caused a great deal of anger. In that case it is


often the assessment. I had a constituent who had motor neurone


disease, lost his job and then was assessed as being fit for work.


That is why many feel persecuted, they think the system is there to


take the money away from them. All the talk about cuts makes them


think the Government is coming after the benefit they depend on to


lead an independent life. That is the group of people there is focus


on in terms of taking away potentially some of their


allowances on the basis of an assessment, where there are clearly


mistakes being made because of the types of people carrying out the


assessments don't have the qualifications. What are you asked


to do to find out if you are eligible? The last thing it does is


assess your capability for work. That is done by a work provider if


you are found you are fit for some work. That is where it gets


complicated. You talk about the different groups. But it's -


despite changes the Government claim to have put in place, it is


still very musm a tick box. It -- much a tick box. It asks if someone


can move an empty box across a distance. Therefore in the


assumption if you do it once you can work 40 hours a week in a low-


paid job. The two don't go together. That is part of the problem. It is


not assessing people's ability to get work, hold down a job and be


employed. Because employers very often discriminate against people


as well. Thank you for joining us. We have now been joined by viewers


in Scotland who have been watching First Minister's questions from


Holyrood. The Scottish political editor joins us now. It has been


reshuffle up in Scotland too, hasn't it? And new bills brought


in? The legislative programme announced including a bill for a


referendum - the legislation will go ahead. The referendum will be in


2014. It is that which has caused controversy. Nicola Sturgeon moved


from health to infrastructure, with a remit on the constitution and


questions to the First Minister today, it was said to be


downgrading the economy. It was an obsession of the SNP. Salmond


taking a different tack, saying the economy was the number one priority


for every single member of the Government, but at the same time,


within that, they believed it was legitimate to argue economic


priority is advanced by going down the road to independence. In terms


of the economy, George Osborne, the Chancellor, I understand, is


speaking to the CBI in Scotland this evening. What sort of


reception will he receive? I think good. The CBI are saying in a


statement, that they are issuing this afternoon, that they believe


that independence will be damaging, that the very fact of a debate


taking place they would regard as an aspect which causes worry and


concern to business. I am sure George Osborne will emphasise that


point as well. He will face some criticism and question marks over


his own conduct of the economy - a point that Alex Salmond was keen to


draw. He is saying to Labour, who were challenging on the business of


independence, saying what is so wonderful about the situation in


Scotland? Claiming the Scottish Government had claimed to mitigate,


in his view, some of the damaging aspects and arguing they could do


more if they had full control of the economy. Alex Salmond, as you


say may want to focus on the economy at the moment, but we've


had the latest in referendum talks, haven't we? Nicola Sturgeon has


just come out of those. Have we any news? Nicola Sturgeon meeting Mr


Mundell. A statement says they were construction, there was momentum


and further talks next week between the Secretary of State and Nicola


Sturgeon. My guess is we are heading towards a deal where there


is a single yes or no to independence. I guess that is the


situation. My belief is it is only that that the Government will give


sanction to. Having another question on the ballot paper.


you very much. I believe we can talk now to Nicola Sturgeon, who in


the reshuffle, has been given the job of heading up that independence


campaign. Can you hear us here? can hear you, yes. You have come


out of talks with David Mundell is one question agreed? We have not


got to the point of agreeing anything yet. We had good


discussions this morning. I will meet next week with the Secretary


of State for Scotland. I hope we'll make further progress in those


discussions to pave the way for a meeting that we hope will take


place between the first minister and the Prime Minister in the next


few weeks. I am very confident that we can reach agreement. I think


there is a will on both sides to get the process issues out of the


way so we can get on with the debate that really matters. That is


the debate about why Scotland would be better off as an independent


country. Is it right that in that meeting the argument now has been


criticised that if you agree to one question on the ballot paper, then


you will get that legal basis that you need to hold that referendum


and make it binding. That is the argument. If you agree to that it


is sorted? With respect. I am not trying to evade your question. I


will not go into the detail of the negotiations under way live on


television. That would be discourteous and not helpful to the


process. Give us a hint of where it is going? We are focusing on issues,


for example issues around the timetable that we would require to


agree for a section 30 order to go through. Both Parliaments, there


are issues around the franchise. There are issues around the timing


of the referendum. So we are discussing all these issues,


including issues around the question or questions. So, all


these things are being discussed. We have always been very clear that


a fundamental principal is that there should be no strings attached


by Westminster. Referendum should be made and built in Scotland. But


I was pleased with the nature and the tone of the discussions this


morning. I look forward to continuing to pick up the pace of


these discussions, make further progress and pave the way for the


meeting between Alex Salmond and David Cameron. It sound from your


tone at least, even if you cannot tell us about the negotiations,


that some progress is being made. One of the other issues is giving


the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland. Now, the signals over the


summer in the papers that Westminster were alive to that - is


that true? Well, again I was very pleased with the nature of the


discussion. So it is a yes? It is one of the issues we are making


progress on. I have to be clear that nothing, as yet, is agreed. It


would be wrong for me to go into the detail yes, that is one of the


issues where I think we are making progress. We have always argued


that 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote, not just in this


referendum, but all elections. you have any doubt about taking


this job. If you lose the referendum, you'll have to quit?


believe for my entire adult life that Scotland should be an


independent country. If we are to have a strong economy we need


access to resources F we are to make people more prosperous, we


need to have control over the levers that determine that. To


tackle poverty we need tax and benefits. I am thoroughly looking


forward to this. The key part of my responsibilities is economic


recovery. There is a big link between getting our economy growing


and the powers we have as a Parliament. We are talking about


the Paralympics. Did you feel proud to be part of Team GB? I thoroughly


enjoyed watching and cheering on team bb. The debate about


independence -- Team GB. The debate about independence is not just


about identity. I thought it was all about identity. The social


union between Scotland and England is beyond any doubt. This is a


debate about the economic and political powers that we need in


Scotland to have a stronger economy, to be more prosperous and to be a


fairer society. That is what the debate is about. The SNP and Alex


Salmond and you have always framed your arguments in this idea of


identity. This idea - wasn't that dented by the idea that Sir Hoy and


Andy Murray draped in the Union Jack,? I don't think they... I am a


proud and patriotic Scot. I believe two things - I believe you can be a


proud Scot and not support independence. I believe you can


feel British and support independence because independence


is about political and economic powers. It is about forging a


relationship of equals between Scotland and the rest of the UK.


That is the debate we'll have in the next couple of years. I am


determined it will be an honest and positive debate, an upbeat debate.


I am thoroughly looking forward to it. Which can tell. Enjoy your new


job. In terms of what the Government wants to do, in terms of


defending the union, do you think they have a difficult job? They may


be making it easier if the SNP is going to put its money where its


mouth is and have a question on the ballot paper. Something they have


tried to avoid. They feel given the choice independence or no, the


Scots will say "No." What a lot of inco-her rant rubbish from Nicola


Sturgeon. She is proud to be Scottish and British. The whole


point about the SNP is they wish to divide Scotland from England. They


wish to dissolve the union of Scotland and England. That is what


Britain is. So they want it both ways. They cannot potszable in


today's climate bring -- possibly in today's climate bring themselves


there - it is rubbish. It is complete nonsense. My overall point


is, the underlining point was not brought up, obviously by Nicola


Sturgeon, is it's not simply for the Scots, the right of the Scots


to vote on independence - English voters should. What they will vote


on is not independence for Scotland, it is the break-up of the United


Kingdom. Well, we have a another couple of years to talk about this.


The Government wants to build its way out of recession. Labour thinks


a wealth tax might do the trick. Some businesses are doing very well


We spent so much of our time trying to get time trying to get out of


politicians how to stimulus growth. Your company makes phone apps and


has a fantastic bakery and you restore floors. You started your


place, what is it sex million downloads a -- -- six million


downloads. We felt the the smartphone market


was booming, even though the economy was in downturn, the phone


market was in upturn. It has been a great experience.


What's the secret to setting something like that up? Was it the


fact that you had experience of industry, but you hadn't done it


yourself or was it this is a country where entrepreneurism is


fostered? Every experience is a good experience. You just need to


have the bravery and the courage to take your ideas and believe in your


concepts and push it through. It is to have the courage to set-up


on your own. You are so busy baking cup karks,


it is -- cakes, it is almost, "Recession, what recession?".


were always busy from almost day one and we didn't realise there was


a recession. It sounds silly. We were always busy.


With a �5 million turnover, that's successful stuff. Of the other two,


you are employing a huge number of people, that's 120 people. Every


time you put on a new shop, you can say, "I'm generating employment. ".


Each new shop will have 0 to 5 new -- 20 to 25 new hires.


There is nothing like the employment on that scale? No, we


have five people that we employ, but we've reached our capacity. We


have grown over the last couple of years. We are at that stage now


where we need to make the next step up. Is that where your business is


or is the climate as such that means you couldn't employ more?


it is a bit of both. We are taking on as much work as we can do. It is


not because there is not work out there. It is because we have


reached our capacity. We are at that stage where we need to look at


employing more people. You played a lot of football and


then you went to university and you set-up a flooring company. As you


Yes. Do you think this country is somewhere that fosters entra


present entrepreneurism? I think so. Where are this? It is looking at


the risk and getting help with the finance.


Is that because we have created a climate where the risk is dangerous


and real or we are fairly cautious? There is a little bit of concern


and it is funding. It takes a a lot of money to start a business, but


the more the Government can help will be beneficial.


One thing the Government can do for someone like you that would make


life easier? Business rates are really, really high if you have


shops. What about you two, National


Insurance Contributions? We employ a small number of people. There is


employers National Insurance Contributions we have to pay every


time we take on a new member of staff. We have to factor that into


our budget. Because we deal a lot with the consumer, is the level of


VAT at moment. Would you agree VAT is a problem? It is. NI is


important. I think small companies should have no NI for companies


with less than ten people. Good growth stories. Good messages


to politicians about what they can. We are not awash with cup cakes and


that's because somebody forgot! Never mind, Jo.


After the excitement of the reshuffle died down, in the House


of Commons ministers started getting their feet under the table


and got down to business in their new departments. Patrick McLoughlin


the new Transport Minister was in position yesterday for a Labour-led


debate on rail fares. For nearly 20 years he has been a whip and by


convention, whips don't speak in debates so he finally got to break


his silence. The rising cost of rail travel is now adding to the


financial pressures facing many households, that's a fact. I would


hope there can be agreement on that. It is something we are all hearing


from our constituents. I also hope that we can agree on a second basic


proposition the level by which rail fares increase should not be left


to the private train companies to determine. It is why we have


regulated and unregulated fares o those tickets which most people


rely having their annual increase capped, but the reality is the so-


called cap on annual fare rise isn't a cap at all. When the


Chancellor stands up as he does and says that fares won't rise by more


than 1% above inflation or whatever percentage it might be, he can't


deliver that chitment in ticket -- commitment in ticket offices


because the cap is an average and train companies have the


flexibility as they like to call it to increase fares by up to 5% above


the called cap. I would like to tell the House what


a great honour and privilege it is to return to the dispatch box in a


proper speaking role after some 18 years.


Although I have to say to the honourable lady, I haven't expected


to make my first transport speech quite so quickly. Can I add one


thing to the list of things he should worry about and think about


which is the fact that often we think of commuters as being wealthy


people going in and out of the commuter districts outside London


to jobs in banks. Many in my constituency are actually people on


the minimum wage and for them, the �5.10 or �5.20 maybe prohibitive


for them going to work. Can you work with the Department of Work


and Pensions to make sure those people have a real opportunity to


work? I will accept that there is a lot of people who commute in are on


small wages and the transport part of the cost of transport is a very


large part of their income. And we do have to bear that in mind. The


honourable member is, of course, supporting a motion today which


would remove the flexibility of rail prices for the rail companies.


How confident is he that the Government will be able to electify


more of the railways than the nine nine miles managed in three


parliaments previously? honourable gentleman must not under


estimate the achievements of the last Government. He said they


electified nine miles. He is wrong. They electified 13 and I am coming


on to that a little later on in my speech. I wonder what he would say


to one of my constituents who told he had to give up his job in London


because he could no longer afford the rail fare to get there. More


people are using the railways than at any time since 1929 as I said on


a lesser network. But the honourable lady is right to express


those concerns and I am concerned about people who are having to


spend so much of their income on their transport costs and it is


something which I hope we can look at and hopefully in some areas see


some improvements in due course. Yes, I wonder how Patrick


McLoughlin will enjoy his new job. We're joined now by the Green MP,


Caroline Lucas and by the Conservative MP, who also spoke in


the debate, Brian Binley. Your constituency is Northampton South.


What's the annual cost for somebody coming into London? It is just


under �6,000 if you take in the annual rail fare, the Underground


addition and the parking fee. Of course, many people will have to


park at the railway station before they get on to a train. The train


will go to the villages. That's in many cases over 25% of their


disposable income. It is high. If the fares go up


another 11%, what effect will have that? It will have a massive effect.


The Government want us to build more houses to cater for those


people who can't afford houses in London and the South East. That


means people who haven't got a great deal of money.


So should they cap the fares? drive out inefficiency in the rail


services. It is not only a case of consumer or taxpayer, McNulty made


it clear there was a lot of inefficiency that we haven't driven


out and the franchising process has helped them increase fares rather


than drive them down. The idea is to increase fares to


pay for improved services. Is that happening? I don't think it is


happening and it is interesting to listen to Brian because we agree


about the problem, the high fares that are pricing people off the


railways and making it difficult for people to find jobs, but when


Brian says the solution is to make private companies more efficient,


it is the privatisation process which has become inefficient. Lots


of money has been drained out of the system in profits and in


dividends and come complexity. Are there certain operators that


are worse than others? It is across-the-board because of the


nature of the privatised system that you have to have so much back


room process. The back room costs have gone up 56%. If you look at


train companies they are putting the profit into the business.


Why are there foreign State owned railways being able to take profits


out of our system and plough them into our own? I thought your


comments were eloquent yesterday, but you have got a problem because


that's part of the problem of the European Union and the very open


market. May I say something? It is raised


that the EU wouldn't let us do it. As long as you allow other train


companies use the tracks, you certainly can have your railways in


100% public ownership. The Dutch are doing it. The irony is on this


issue we are, you know, stopping ourselves from having a really good


rail system. We are allowing other companies from other countries to


get the the profits out of our system.


Do you think we should put it back in public ownership? Of course not.


The EU liberalisation programme introduced in 2010 was based very


much on the British privatisation programme and that's where


Caroline's problem lies. I go with McNulty. We have allowed through


the franchising process to allow franchiseees to increase prices


higher than they should have been increased and I want to see the


Government drive inefficiency out and have the prices lower.


I'm going to have to stop you there because we have run out of time. We


didn't have time to give you the answer to Guess The Year yesterday.


The year was 1971 and the winner chosen at random is Andrew Ellmore.


Congratulations, Andrew. Thanks to all our guests.


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