11/09/2012 Daily Politics


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Afternoon folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. Leaked letters from


England's exam watchdog Ofqual show pressure was used to revise last


summer's GCSE grades, but was the intervention justified? Shadow


Chancellor Ed Balls has been heckled at the TUC Conference after


he said a Labour Government would have to make difficult decisions on


pay and pensions. We'll look at Labour's strained relationship with


the unions. According to Boris Johnson the


Olympics has brought home to this country that when we put our minds


to it we can do anything. So can the Government learn any lessons?


And conference season is upon us, but is there a point to them


anymore? We'll find out about a radical new plan to drag the annual


jollies kicking and screaming in to the 21st century.


All that in the next hour. And with us for the whole programme today is


the lawyer and academic Baroness Deech, who's held positions as wide


ranging as Chairman of the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology


Authority and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.


Welcome to the programme. First, a Government-backed business


bank, state intervention in industry and an end to the


Government's laissez-faire industrial policy. I'm not talking


about a new Labour policy, but new coalition plan to be announced


shortly by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable. So is this a step in


the right direction? Well, some Conservative backbenchers aren't so


sure. Mr Peter Bone. I hate to say this to the Secretary for Business


but there isn't cross-party support from this particular position. That


sounded to me like a statement that any Labour Minister could have made


in the previous administration. It talked about state intervention,


and it said nothing about cutting red tape and regulation. That was a


Labour statement, not a coalition statement. Well, the honourable


member has his own distinctive and unique style which we all admire.


Vince Cable said, without conviction! Joining me now is the


Conservative MP Margot James who sits on the Business Select


Committee. Do you agree with Peter Bone, if you are talking about


state intervention, that does sound like something Labour and the TUC


would welcome. I wouldn't use the term industrial intervention. What


we are looking at is an industrial strategy to be executed in


partnership with industry, rather than intervening into industry.


There is a big difference between the sort of policies which you are


alluding to from the 60s and 70s and what's being proposed now.


What's the difference if you have got a state sponsored bank that is


going to be lending directly to certain sectors that have been


identified, you are talking about backing winners. We are talking


about, I have spoken to Tory MPs who say yes, that's the policy


being outlined, that's state intervention. We are talking about


establishing a business investment bank but I am sure that bank will


be independently run and I think that's important. But what is


crucial is we get finance into small businesses in particular,


monitor report out this week found that 30% of SME loan applications


had been turned down. This is something I think that's been


rumbling on for a couple of years. The difficulties of small


businesses getting access to finance. It's crucial that the


Government do step in and support moves to improve that. That in


itself is the contradiction, isn't it? Without having a state


sponsored bank it's clear Government hasn't been able to


persuade those banks which we have a great deal of money in, they


haven't been able to persuade them to lend to businesses. Lending to


businesses is down on latest figures. Surely that's the point of


having a state sponsored bank so you can tell it what to do?


give terms of reference and its task, which is to increase lending


to small businesses, that's its job. But in terms of picking the


applications that are going to succeed, that is not Government's


job. That will be done independently of Whitehall. How do


you guarantee that money gets to businesses, because terms of


reference were set for RBS and Lloyds and as we have seen, not


enough money has gone to businesses? This bank will have one


task, which is to lend to businesses. Obviously the banks you


have mentioned have a much more diverse port portfolio of


responsibilities. Do you know how much money the Government is going


to put in or how much you would like to see being put in? I don't


know yet. I don't think details have been announced. We have


already invested �60 billion into the finance for lending scheme,


which is ongoing and I think that will have an effect, too. Is it an


admission that setting deficit reduction plans in the way the


coalition did and outlining cuts to the public sector and then leaving


the rest of the market, that was certainly the rhetoric, that that's


failed? Not at all. Without deficit reduction we wouldn't be in a


position to make these investments pause our interest rates would have


shot up. The borrowing is going up. The interest rates have not gone up


and they would have done had we put our foot off the peddle in terms of


reducing the deficit. What's your response to the idea of more state


involvement than the coalition has certainly said at the outset that


actually certain industries like the car industry, which are doing


well, need to be pushed further. It's a welcome direction. It's a


good thing. It's ironic, though, that another bank has to be set up


to patch up the failures of the kpeutsing ones. -- existing ones. I


think it's a little bit blinkered also, I think the picture must be


looked at more broadly. For example, the life sciences have been


mentioned, that's a great British success story. But we need to help


the brightest students who are doing engineering and biology and


give help to those startup businesses. We need to reduce the


other burdens on small businesses that they claim are holding them


back. For example, the unfair dismissal law which is an unfair


law, never mind unfair dismissal, raising the threshold on VAT,


easing the business rate and so on. Businesses are finding that as fast


as the money comes in, it's going straight back to the Government. A


broader approach is needed. Which was outlined yesterday in terms of


some of the attempts to burn out regulation which brings us on to


the next point, why has only �60 million of the regional growth fund,


�1.4 billion, actually reached the firms it was meant to? The Public


Accounts Committee from which that data is taken reported today, but


actually the hearings were finished in May. I gather that the situation


has improved significantly since May. Two years after the coalition


came in, you are setting up new measures and now we discover that


money that's been allocated is not even reaching the target? That


sounds like a long time but from inception, which was about two


years ago that the regional growth fund was established, to actually


getting the bids in, evaluating applications, doing the due


diligence. We are talking about large amounts of taxpayers' money


and I think the Government would be in for a lot of criticism if they


backed too many high risk projects that turned out to fail. It's a


balance. I agree with you that it looked as if little progress had


been made at May. But I am assured that since May there's been


considerably more progress made in getting that regional growth fund


money into businesses. Thank you very much.


A row over whether students who sat GCSEs this summer were unfairly


marked down continues to rumble on. The exam regulator Ofqual says that


the grades were correct, and that the normal procedures were followed.


But letters leaked to the Times education supplement show that


Ofqual wrote to one of the exam boards - who set and mark the GCSEs


- to say that grade boundaries might have to be moved


significantly to bring results in line with expectations. GCSE


results were published on August 23rd. For the first time in their


24-year history the proportion of entries achieving the top grades


fell. Questions were raised about whether


the exams had been unfairly marked, but an initial report by Ofqual


found that the summer grade boundaries were properly set, and


candidates' work properly graded. Although they said that the


assessments marked in January were graded generously. However, it has


now emerged that Ofqual wrote to the Edexcel exam board on 7th


August to suggest that unexpectedly good results this summer could mean


they had to move grade boundary marks further than might normally


be required. The next day Edexcel replied,


insisting that their proposed awards were fair and that they did


not believe that a further revision of grades was justified. But Ofqual


replied saying that Edexcel must act to make sure that their results


were comparable with other exam boards.


Speaking to the Education Select Commitee earlier the Chief


Executive of Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, defended the regulator's actions.


There would be six or 7% increase grade inflation that we did not


think to be right or justifiable. We therefore wrote to Edexcel,


pointing out that they needed to bring the qualification in


appropriately. They reflected on that and it's quite right and


proper that they should have done. The way the system is set up in the


legislation we all operate to requires us to put that challenge


back to them. It then requires them to look at whether they can justify


their outcomes and that's what they did.


Let's get more on this with the Conservative MP Graham Stuart,


who's the Chairman of the Education Select Committee, and Brian


Lightman, who represents headteachers as General Secretary


of the Association of School and College Leaders. Welcome both of to


you the programme. How do you expect potential GCSE students and


their families to have any confidence in this system? Well,


this kind of furore is bound to undermine people's confidence in


the system. There are a series of complex elements that come together


here which have no interest to the young people who have worked really


hard, were led to expect that they would be able to get the grade to


allow them to go on to other courses, enter apprenticeship, get


an A grade to get to university, whatever it was, that's of little


consolation to them. Our role on the committee is to delve into this,


try to downstand the components that led to this sorry situation.


What went wrong, what do you think? A combination of things. Three


years ago the previous Government decided to bring in mod aou hrar


construction. And graded as you go along. And 60% of the marks to be


given out by teachers who themselves were teaching pupils.


And change the entire syllabus of all three English subjects at the


same time, they were asked, ministers were asked what is going


to happen - isn't this going to lead to grade inflation? They said


it will be up to Ofqual. Ofqual find themselves in an uncomfortable


position of picking up the pieces. Are they picking up the pieces,


though? Let's just sort of go back to how this thing unfolded. Ofqual


said in a inquiry report that exam boards had set June's grade


boundaries correctly, using their best professional judgment. Why is


it that only a few months later they were writing to Edexcel, one


of the boards, saying that actually they would have to mark more


harshly than they had initially thought? Why did Ofqual change its


mind? Edexcel is a relatively small player in the English market as it


happens and it's what the regulators - it's what they do,


they talk to, they make comparisons between data from different boards


and and challenge them on it. In this case Edexcel accepted in the


end that the boundary needed to be changed in order to ensure the


comparability in standards over time which is now a requirement of


law following the passing of the education Act 2011. Are you saying


that those grades in January, do you accept they were marked too


general lousely? -- generously? We do have unfairness in this year's


results because those who banked their results in January, could get


a C grade with lower marks than was required in June. That is a


fundamental unfairness. The challenge is to understand how we


got here and what do we do about it. Ofqual said they looked, the right


thing to do, while ensuring comparability, would be to remark


January, to tell people who had already been issued with a


certificate their grade was to be downgraded. They made a decision to


leave January results alone. And be unfair on students who took the


exam in June? Brian will doubtless be able to speak about why he


thinks that's unfair. Ofqual insist that the June results were fair.


It's just that the January ruplts were actually -- results were


overly generous. Surely Ofqual has fulfilled what it was set up to do.


We have made it clear that where exam boards proposed results that


differ significantly from expectations because results are


based on predictions made, then their job is to intervene. What's


Ofqual done wrong? Well, I think that the implementation of this


examination has been fundamentally flawed. I understand all of the


points Graham has made about the nature of that examination and


amount of controlled assessment and structure of the examination, but


the issue is that when you make a new examination, when you create a


new examination as regulator and as awarding bodies it's their job to


make sure that the assessment systems are fit for purpose. Now


they clearly weren't fit for purpose. Conkwepbtly, when --


consequently, when the controlled assessments took place earlier in


the academic year, and were found to be generous, they were found to


be generous too late. Nothing was done about it. Right, but what


would you suggest that they did having then discovered it. They


should have moderated that marking at the time. They should have had


proare -- proper systems in place to make sure that marking was


robust. That's the job of an awarding body and regulator. If


they had moderated that at the time they could have said to schools you


are being too generous, this isn't a C, it's a D or whatever, and the


schools would have known that they would have needed to do something


then. We questioned Ofqual extensively. They insist, because I


asked them were there any techniques, any resources, that cow


have used that would have given us that insight earlier so we didn't


get in this position and the chief regulator insisted there weren't.


So that's going to be - as this story goes on and there's a lot of


questions to answer, that's one of There is a major set of questions


to be asked there about - many of the things I heard the chief


regulator saying this morning whereabout engshrish a difficult


examination to assess. These are excuses which are not acceptable. -


- English is a difficult examination. He let's go to Leeds


and talk to John Townsley the executive principal of academies,


he was an Ofqual board member until March. Welcome to the programme.


What do you think went wrong? Is it Ofqual's fault? I believe it is


fundamentally Ofqual's fault. I believe what has taken place is


that Ofqual has failed to regulate in the early part of this GCSE


process, so in particular June 2011 and in January 2012, which is


interesting that June 2011 is barely mentioned but in fact we


know that for foundation tire AQA alone, that's 85,000 students.


Ofqual failed to regulate what was taking place at that time. This


isn't just billion coming in at the end of a process, it is working in


partnership as an effective regulator during that process. But


as a consequence of that the grades awarded at those points appear to


be inconsistent, varied and a significant number of C grades


awarded, well beyond what would be expected. Quite simply what then


has taken place is Ofqual have moved in at the end of the process,


at the end of a two-year process and demanded that the forecasted


percentage, that must be met at the end of that two years is met.


That's resulted in young people citying the exam at the end of the


two years being compromised in terms of their equality of


opportunity. Right and what do you think should happen now? I believe


Ofqual and the chief regulator are not fit to conduct any further part


in this process. They have compromised their position by their


failure to do two things, someone to regulate, their key


responsibility. The second thing is to ensure fairness for candidates,


which they have failed to do. I believe they need to be brushed to


one side, we need an independent inquiry and we need to put the


results right immediately and in the medium-term we need to look at


the way in which the awarding body works. You are calling for


regrading. You think these students in June should have their GCSE


regraded from D to C? There needs to be a raped process to put that


right quickly. If I can give you an example. The C rates on the


foundation papers were with AQ A on the foundation stage... Hang on a


serbgsd the foundation papers is the ones taken in - hang on a


second Two two tires, the foundation paper and foundation.


The foundation has a maximum grade of a C. That's the paper which in


our view has been targeted by Ofqual to reduce the number of Cs


overall to be allocated. My issue is if there has been generosity


with 85,000 students with June 11 and January 12 was it a coincidence


that we ended up with the right overall percentage at the end of


the overall two-year course it. Wasn't, it was manipulated. You say


it is manipulated. In the end, what is most important, is it not that


the students get the grades they deserve on a consistently-marked


basis Well, that's right. But the discussion is all a bit artificial.


I mean very briefly the background is many employers and universities


don't find students to be of the quality, or as well-prepared as


they were many years ago. And over 25 years, the number of A grades


has tripled and the number of fails has gone from 10% to about 3% but I


have three remedies for this particular situation. One is that


the discussion is rather artificial because we are talking about who


should get a C. If we had the raw marks, the actual percentage, 58,


60, 62, then you could decide, you shouldn't have to decide whether it


is a C or D. Let's have the actual marks and then sixth forms and


others can decide where the cut-off point is. Secondly, what is


completelyeds un-- completely unjustifiable is to have five


different examination boards with a race to the bottom. There really


has to be one examination board for one subject. And bring on the time


when, as Michael gef has said, let there be O'level and get rid of


this GCSE, which has fallen into disrepute. -- Michael Gove.


Let's see what you think. Do you agree let's see that the standard


needs to be higher With all due respect. It is an irrelevant


discussion in relation to this particular issue, which is about


the administration of one particular exam. I do agree that we


need to look at the examination system and we need to have a proper


discussion about what would be a fit-for-purpose system for the


future but this is not the conversation we are having at the


moment. At the moment we are talking about many thousands of


young people who have simply been done an injustice by the way this


particular examination has been administered this year. What do you


think should happen? What about calls for this independent inquiry?


Surely that has to ha. We know now the Welsh Education Minister has


call for that. -- surely that has to happen. Ofqual, has said in


Wales, because standards are not improving, they seem to be keen on


raising the standards. What should happen here and what should happen?


You can't regraifpltd it is not possible. You can't engineer it.


The teachers will have to give the children the right reference to


enable them to go forward saying... We need answers to the questions.


The Select Committee is there for that. Whether the Select Committee


will interview the Secretary of State tomorrow morning and we'll


then decide on a recommendation, either an inquiry to be conducted


by the Select Committee or recommendations on whether we think


a separate inquiry should be undertaken and undertaken quickly


for exactly those reasons. Every day at the moment, if a change is


required, as what happened in 2002 when a Secretary of State lost her


job at the end of the process, a very similar situation, we do need


answers, we need them quickly because every day has an impact on


the life chances of the children concerned. Are you backing an


inquiry and having a regrading chair a cross-party committee who's


job it is to do that. I have said let's hold the line and we'll


decide together, and that's what we will aim to do tomorrow. Your


response to what Graham Stuart has said? I'm confident that Graham


Stuart and his committee will recognise, because of their track


record, just how appalling this situation is, and that time is not


on our side for thousands of students who have been robbed of


their rightful grade. This is an isolated, small area that needs to


be put right now. The bigger picture about the awards market and


how it works in the future, is a few fewer debate. Thank you all


very much. The row over universial credits


continues, with Labour holding an Opposition Day debate on the scheme


this afternoon. Under the Government's plans the benefits


system will be simplified and ministers hope this will lead to


work becoming a more attractive option for claimants. It's been


described by ministers as the most radical redesign of the system in


the history of the welfare state but there are fear abouts how the


scheme could work and whether it could harm the most vulnerable.


Yesterday Iain Duncan Smith faced questions from MPs on his plans.


meet regularly with a local single mother's support group and some of


the mums there have expressed concern about monthly budgeting and


are worried it'll be assumed they can manage. Can my right honourable


friend will confirm under universial credit my constituents


can be reassured that that support is in place. Of course people will


be concerned about it. But there are positives to take from this.


The most important thing is by trying to move people on to a


monthly payment that brings them much more into line with the world


of work. One of the problems we have had is when people going to


work, we have been unemployed, they find it difficult to cope with


having it take on and manage their arrangements.


One of the parts of this strategy is the expansion of food banks,


would you condemn that? The reality is when we came into office I was


told by the department that the last Government, despite the


constant requests from a variety of people who provide food banks, they


asked if they could put their leaflets and advertise what they


were doing in the job centres, they were told no, by the last


Government who didn't want the embarrassment of them being


involved in it. We immediately allowed them to do that, which is


in part one of the reasons why there has been an increase in the


numbers seeking food banks. When universial credit is fully rolled


out in 2017, the OBR says the extra costs will be �3.1 bill yob. The


Treasury, in its Budget, says the price must be no more than 2.5


billion. -- 3.1 billion. Who's estimate does


the Secretary of State agree with? Well the OBR agrees with me, which


strangely enough agrees with the Treasury which is our view that we


will roll this out at �2.5 billion per yeefrplt It is clear the


Treasury thinks there is a state of Kay othe Cabinet Office thinks


there is Kay oNumber Ten thinks there is chaos, surely it is time


he told the House what exactly is going on? We are committed to the


�2.5 we will deliver it on time and on budget We were told that


universial credit will mean every additional hour people works pays.


Is the Secretary of State concerned that many thousands of families


face a cliff edge at the point of which el be giblt for free school


meals kicks in. -- eligibility. are looking at the best way to


bring this in so we rerad Kate those problems so it is a seamless


process which allows people to engage their lives and improves the


quality of lives, rather than negotiating around the edges of


those difficulties. The Work and Pensions Secretary,


Iain Duncan Smith, defending his universial credit. Adam south on


the green with more. Afternoon with a windy College Green. This is the


Government's big idea, a capital B And I when it comes to welfare but


is the universial credit heading for big trouble? Well we have two


MPs on the committee that scrutinised the original


legislation. Kate Green and Charlie. Making work pay, two good thing,


aren't they stpoo They would be good things if it was going to do


that, but first of all this isn't a simple benefit. If your


circumstances start it change within the month, some of your


benefit will be recalculated, some won't. If you reach a certain


cliff-edge you will still see things like school meals being lost.


If you are self-employed, it'll assume a certain income, whether


you get it or not. It is going to be very bad for people who might


gain something from the Government's raising of the tax


threshold but who will lose universial credit as a result and


it'll not invent size work for certain people. For example, there


will be some people who would be better reducing their hours or


stopping work, which can't be what the Government wants. Kate sounds


concern, do you share those concerns? We think it is about


making work way, enurging cans people back into the workforce,


saying you are needed, you have a role to plai, don't sit on benefits,


join the workforce and help get Britain growing: the way it is


structureside to incentivise making work a good thing and encourage


people to be better off in work B2.5 family families will benefit.


The fact is it sounds like Number Ten and the Treasury were concerned


about it. So much so that they wanted to move Iain Duncan Smith.


What is that about? I think Government is committed to


universial credit. Rightly so. There are some concerns, I have


read about, will the computer stems work, considering Government and


computer systems don't go together too well but with the way they are


doing it with a phased introduction to iron out teething problems and


get it work wling when it is fully implemented. You mentioned IT. What


are your corners when it comes to your constituents accessing this


benefit. They will have to log on to manage it. The Government has an


ambitious target to get people to apply online. We know a high


percentage of benefits claimants don't alie online and would


struggle to put together all the information online to put nan


accurate claifrpblgts the Government say 78% of benefit


claimants are on the internet. Yes but nothing like that amount are


using it for benefits claims. We have to realise there is complex


information and no advice to help them because of the cuts to funding


for Citizens Advice buersyos and advice agencies they'll struggle to


get the help. -- Citizens Advice Bureaus. Are benefits claimants in


Dover aware that this is happening from next year and are you aware of


them getting help to imagine the transition. This idea that people


can't use the internet or budget on a monthly basis is stupid and


patronising. The message that the Labour Party is sending to these


people is you are really thick. I don't agree. I think people are


able to tkhees things and we should be optimistic. -- able to do these


things Do them if you don't have enough money. People are concerned


when all the money is in one big pot and pressure boils up and there


will not be enough money to make the commitments, particularly when


the payments that are intended for children or childcare and the


payments intended for your rent are all going to one person, who may


not be the person responsible for those bills. Iain Duncan Smith


yesterday addressed a lot of those points bfortnightly payments rather


than monthly. He did very much so. The Labour Party want to spend


money on giving people advice. I want to spend money on making work


way and helping people who have more money in their pocket to


incentivise them and to work harder How about paying for this system.


There are suggestions from the OBR it'll cost �600 million a year more


than was planned. We had that discussion in work and pensions


questions yefpltd I don't think an awful yesterday. I don't think an


awful lot turns on that. I think we need to get this system in place,


get it working and encourage more people into the work place and


driving the economy for growth for the long term. Thank you very much.


I'm sure we'll hear many more of these discussions this afternoon.


As we heard the first pilots are going to be in Manchester of the


universial credit in April 2013 then next year people will


gradually be moved on to it. It hasn't happening overnight. All


benefits claimants won't be on universial credit until 2017. A


It's an interesting and important subject because it's a radical


reform, isn't it, having a universal credit? If it sounds good


in theory, do you think it will work in practice? It's a good idea


in theory. I greatly admire Iain Duncan Smith and for many reasons I


wish he had moved to the Ministry of Justice, but anyway that didn't


happen. He didn't want to go! bothers me is the assumption that's


made that people can handle things online. 8% - no, eight million of


the population have never approached a computer. Apparently,


another 20 million or so really don't have the necessary skills.


That's unrealistic. I am worried there will be a sort of meltdown


with people unable to use it or computers crashing as happened with


the income tax and has happened with NHS data. That's a problem. To


access broadband apparently is something like �30 a month which is


an additional expense. This issue is tied up with the Government's


approach to broadband. I happen to sit on the House of Lords select


committee on communications and we have pointed out that with


broadband it really ought not to be our priority to get it faster,


tpwou make sure that everybody in the country can use it. So you have


an underlining problem with using the internet. The other one is I


would be very worried if the universal credit went to the men in


the household, because it's the women who will be spending it on -


I would be worried - it's very sexist this, might spend it on


something else. An interesting point.


Now it's the the Budget that just won't go away. Nearly half a year


since the Chancellor read out his statement the controversies are


still rumbling on. We have had rows over pasties, caravans and Church


improvements. One issue they're holding firm on is forcing


universities to pay VAT on any alterations to their listed


buildings. Here is Giles Dilnot with more. Under the dreaming


spires of academia whilst Professors profess, building


managers and pursers are having a financial financial headache. It's


after the Treasury stuck an oar in after the Budget. You see, up until


now if you repair a listed building, well that's the full fat 20% VAT.


But if you want to alter it in a major way, well VAT was at 0%. The


Treasury tell me this is a confusion that cost man hours and


queries over what is altering and so it's been simplified. Now


everything is 20%. Some universities suspect this was


thought acceptable because the kind of people in institutions affected


could frankly easily afford it. a country we have to find money


from somewhere. There's no money, good luck to you, as Liam Burn said.


We are borrowing �4 million plus a day. This change over this this


lifetime of this parliament will bring in about �300 million to the


Treasury. We have to effectively try and make sure that all these


small changes take out anomalies but raise money so we can deal with


the deficit. Here in Reading we are not necessarily talking about


dreaming spires, chocolate box iconic listed buildings. These two


gate houses are listed, from the Victorian estate upon which the


university stands and before, if the university wanted to alter them,


well, that was 0% VAT. Now, from the 1st October it will be 20%,


just like everybody else. That's a financial constraint the university


doesn't really want. The question now is how often do people want to


change these buildings? Cutting out research and teaching requires fit


for purpose building. When a proportion of your estate is in


listed buildings, you are always going to be making those


alterations. We are altering here all the time. The Treasury insist


this sim play play -- simplification is overdue. But if


politicians want to visit academic institutions again and get a hearty


welcome, they may have to answer one countercharge. I am sure that


it's been underestimated how many people this hits. I think as a


whole many institutions, it will be just one small added burden on top


of the other. But if you look at the institutions who have got


greatest proportion of their estate in listed buildings, we all


immediately think of Oxford and Cambridge. Actually, they're a way


down the list. It's the small niche institutions that are going to be


greatest hit. Baroness Deech is still with us. We


heard there supporting the Government's line that this is


about a a fundraising measure and simplification of the tack system -


- tax system. It's a bad situation indeed and the story is broader


than appears at first. What the Government is doing is giving


universities money on the one hand, and then taking it away. The


calculation has been carried out that this change in VAT will cost


the whole sector �150 million over the next few years, which ekwauts


to something like like -- �780 million needed in additional


endowment which isn't there. The universities, to meet this bill,


will have to make money out of the resources they were putting into


bursaries for poor students. will affect the - they will take it


directly from there? universities have a limited budget


and they can't really go to their alumni and say give us money to pay.


I bet they do. They will give money for causes close to their hearts


like student bursaries and my guess is this will come from bursaries.


suppose cow say is now they've changed that tax system, are


alterations needed that often? Unnecessary alterations I am sure


were undertaken because they didn't have to pay VAT in the past?


universities don't have money to do unnecessary alterations but they


have to do alterations all the time. Laboratories, which are an housed


in old buildings need changing all the time. Student accommodation,


you need to fit in more teaching rooms. I can assure you that right


through the year universities are planning needed alterations and


scratching around to find money. So this is really very bad indeed.


It's bad news all round. The Government could get itself off the


hook by... Another you-turn? Yes, they won't do another U-turn. They


did one in this ill-thought out Budget over pasties, which is a


shame because pasties are not good for you and caravans, what they


could do here is exempt charityably owned buildings from this new tax


and that would help universities. But they really must do something.


The universities cannot spend �150 million on this. Many people will


say look in these times that doesn't sound like a huge amount of


money in the scheme of things over a period of years. It's very large.


The universities scrape pennies and every extra they possibly have goes


into supporting students. Let's look at another issue, and that's


access to universities. Cambridge admissions tutor said over the


weekend lowering entry requirements in an attempt to widen access would


be cruel, which is an interesting word to use. Do you agree with him?


Absolutely. I am very glad to say that Cambridge and I think Oxford,


I am sure, are standing firm in the face of pressure. As we were saying


earlier with GCSEs, you can't engineer the grades to meet a


particular Government objective. Cambridge and Oxford and most


universities have quite enough candidates with good grades to


choose from. What about access? What about access from the state


schools system when you look at the figures and and it still shows a


high percentage of students from the private sector getting into


Oxford and Cambridge and the only actually have 7% of the population.


Coy go on about this for a long time. First of all, what's damaging


to access are the messages given out occasionally by Professor Edon


indicating, suggesting that universities discriminate which


they certainly don't. They want to have a broad base of students.


course they do. There is no discrimination. The problem is the


schools and sometimes the families with a great deal of poverty of


aspiration, they say to the students no, you can't do this or


we don't want to you leave home or universities is not for you. It's


not a question of poverty, because if you can manage to get to


university you are supported and subsidised all the way through.


It's a question of getting families to adjust their thinking and say to


every child, you too can go, we will not stand in your way.


right, thank you. The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls,


has had a difficult time at the TUC Conference. He was heckled after


suggesting that a Labour Government would have to make difficult


decisions on pay and pensions. Mr Balls then went on to argue that


Labour has to be honest with the British people in order to gain


credibility and he said the last thing the public want at the moment


is any more strikes. Here's a flavour of what he had to say.


say strikes must always be a last resort. I am sure the last thing


the vast majority of trade union members want at a time of such


uncertainty in our economy is strikes over the coming months.


It's not what we want, it's not what the public want but when


coalition Ministers warn they will have to act and legislate if they


see a return to the unrest of the 1980s, what we are really seeing is


Tories itching to provoke a row about strikes so they can blame the


stalling recovery on trade union members and working people.


APPLAUSE. Let's be honest, it should be David Cameron and George


Osborne and Nick Clegg, they're the ones who should be admitting now


their plan has failed and change course. It's them who should be


changing course in the coming months. Let us say loud and clear,


nobody here wants a return to the 1980s. We don't want a return to


the hatred and division and confrontation of the is the 80s. We


don't want a return to the strikes and lost working days.


And we're joined now by Labour's Shadow Financial Secretary to the


Treasury, Chris Leslie. Welcome back to the programme. We heard Ed


Balls say no one wants a return to the 1980s with lost days of work


but that he understands that the unions want action now and that it


is the Tory-led Government that is trying to provoke a row. What is


Labour's policy, does Labour condemn any strike action? Well, we


are sort of seeing Ministers licking their lips at the prospect


of strike action. We haven't actually seen ballots taking place.


We have the promise of ballots taking place and we have had


teachers unions saying they will take days of action. Does Labour


support that? Or condemn it? have to recognise is there is a lot


of anger. A lot of impatience for a strong critique, challenge to the


Government's policy. Of course people are going to be impatient,


particularly if they're public sector workers. You have to


recognise also for the public a lot of strike action is very


inconvenient. It causes a lot of disruption and so we want to see


strike action avoided. We don't think that strike action is always


the best way of voicing a grievance but that's not the same thing as


saying we don't stand on the same side of many of those working in


the public sector who are fed up with the way that they've been


treated by the Government. Just to be clear, Ed Miliband said the


public doesn't want to see strikes nor do members, nor do you, nor


does the Labour Party? We don't want to see strike action, of


course we don't. You will condemn it in ballots take place, you have


set out it's not the right time, if strike action is voted for, you


will condemn it? The trade union members themselves have to make


their own decision about how they express their discontent and of


course there are long-standing rights for working people to


organise and to express their view. Our point of view is that strike


action can be harmful and in many ways plays into some of the sort of


hand-rubbing of Conservative Ministers who want to have another


way of pointing to a blame for the failing economy so they point to


the snow or the Royal wedding or bank holiday. They would love to


point to strike action and those nasty nasty 1970s trade unions as


they characterise them as responsible for all the economy's


woes and that's what Ed Balls was saying today, be careful not to


fall into the trap that the Government is setting here. What


about the trap that's being perhaps set for Labour? Why don't you make


it clear in the way that Ed Balls clearly set out in that speech,


that there will be difficult difficult decisions on pay and


pensions. He was heckled. That might help you, of course, seeing


Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, heckled in terms of the public


perception of the Labour Party, but if you can make difficult decisions


on pay and pensions and back the public sector pay freeze why can't


you just say we condemn strike action? Because all the trade


unionists have their right, as working people to look at their


collective bargaining in their own workplace. Our point of view is in


a hypothetical scenario where we haven't got strikes such as people


have been pointing to in the offing, we want to say let's avoid them.


Let's be more mature about these things, let's have an approach


where people sort these things out, rather than play politics with it.


Sometimes the politics is on both sides of the ekwaugs but the --


equation but the Government are licking their lips at the prospect


of mass strike action. That's the worry we have. In terms of Ed Balls


being heckled and someone shouting oud "rubbish", do you think trade


union members are out of touch? Look, they want the best deal for


their colleagues, the workforce in the public sector have been working


under quite difficult circumstances recently. The pay freeze has been


really difficult. In an ideal world of course we would all want to see


people get pay which could keep pace with the cost of living. The


difficulty we have is because of the poor management of the economy


and the state of the public sector finances, we can't say yes we would


give wonderfully large pay awards. Because they're unaffordable.


have to protect jobs and making sure tkpwu for job creation ahead


of high pay awards for public sector. That's a difficult message


to give but it's important that the Labour Party is clear, we won't be


frightened of making those tough decisions. Should we end up having


to mop up a big deficit that George Ed Miliband also criticised the


coalition, for cutting the top-rate of tax. The Labour Party has


criticised it. Would you reverse that? We don't know what


circumstances we will inherit. say you will stick to the pay


freeze. Would you reverse the 45p. We are not in the position to write


manifestos. We are saying during the course of this Parliament, it


is perverse to be cutting the top rate of tax from the wealthiest 1p


at a time when you are raising it for pensioners and raising VAT for


everyone else. We don't know what the state the public finances will


be in 2015 but I have to say they are not looking pretty good. Andy


Murray did his bit last night. It was a fantastic win in the US Open


but with the Olympics Parade finishing yesterday, it definitely


feels that the summer of sport is coming to an end. The Olympics and


Paralympics have captured the imagination of millions up and down


the country, not just because of the incredible achievements of the


athletes but also because of the games volunteers. The servicemen


and women and the organisers who made it all possible. Here's what


Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London had to say at the parade yesterday.


This was euro achievement. You, you brought this country together in a


way we never expected. You wroughted the doubters and you


scattered the gloomsterss. And for the first time in living memory you


caused tube train passengers to break into spontaneous conversation


with their neighbours, about subjects other than their trod-on


toes. You showed every child in this country that success is not


just about talent and luck, but about grit and guts and hard work


and coming back from defeat. And by the way, you showed fantastic grace


in victory, and amazing courage in defeat. Boris Johnson, stealing the


show as he so often does. What lessons can our politicians take


from the Games and can any of it apply to other parts of the


Government? That's one of the themes Matthew Taylor the Chief


Executive of the RSA and former executive of Downing Street who


joins us now with Jesse Norman, takes up. It is all very well


saying it has been wonderful, and it has and the coming together and


will it ever apply to any other part of Government? I think there


is an important lesson to be learned. I think the reason it was


so amazing was it combined three things, the three forces that make


changes happen in society. One is authority, the state. The


organisation was great, the planning was great it, all worked.


Surprisingly from a lot of people's perspective. Secondly what


sociologists might call solidarity. So the nation was behind it, the


volunteer force, people giving their own time and thirdly,


individual aspiration because in the end it is about athletes


winning gold medals. That combination, individualism, social


solidarity, hierarchy, that's a combination that you need to solve


problems. The problem is that generally speaking, outside of the


Olympics, we don't have that combination. We don't trust the


Government. Big organisations have all sorts of problems and in many


ways social solidarity has got weaker, which is why David Cameron


had the Big Society. As a society we are individualistic and we have


to restore our faith in our capacity to do big things.


Government the agent to do that. You have just said trust in


politicians is at an all-time low. Really you are admitting they are


not going to be able it harness the goodwill created. You can see the


pictures of the public support. Incredible. Even 1 million out


yesterday that. It will not be possible to translate that into


something as important as social poll sifrpblgts I have suggested


beforehand, that one of the reasons the Olympics worked was once the


bid had won we had to deliver by that certain date. However much


people might have moaned about Olympic laenges or planning


permission or the money, we had to get on and do it. -- Olympic lanes.


Look at runways around London, Government hasn't the capacity to


say - we have made the decision, we will stick to it. Do you think


that's enough to bring in a local organiser to do this. Is he really


going to be able to achieve what has been outline bid Matthew


Taylor? He has phenomenal credentials, for me the great


lesson of the Olympics is that actually it allowed us to Quarry


something in our own character as a country which is why the opening


ceremony was amazing. It reminded vast numbers of people up and down


the British Isles that we have an extraordinary history. If we go


back to that we can see the combination of individual endever


and collective industry. And the big "Big society". It hasn't been


talked about but it encapsulated the "big society", or at least I


think what was intended by David Cameron. I think it Zwhat was


interesting was it was a vision of society which involved a degree of


state spending and prieming but it really relied on the games makers


and volunteers -- and priming. And anyone who went to that was


staggered by the lifting of the spirts from the volunteers.


Matthew said, the things about volunteering it was for a time-


limited period. People gave their time free, they weren't earning


kawe ply that model to business? feel sad about it. I think I'm an


Olympic spirit dissident. The day the Olympics ended, the trade


unions announced strikes. The teaching unions don't want to do,


are refusing to do supervision of after-hours school sport and so on.


So where is the spirit? Should they be made to do that free of charge?


You can't make them but where is the great big social solidarity?


And individual aspiration? It is a wonderful thing but when it comes,


you know, in the Olympics you start with taking people who have natural


talent. You choose them, you take them out of school, you train them


especial li, you applaud them, they work 45 and win gold. Why doesn't


that apply negligentcation and business? I agreement it is a


special place. That's what I'm saying in my lecture. We have to


understand how it is we rebuild social solidarity, which has been


weakened by the fact we are a more diverse population and we have less


money. All the things that undermine solidarity of people


living in communities just like them. We have to see how we restore


political authority. Barack Obama was trying to say some of these


things last week in his speech. He was saying in the end changes isn't


about me, if you elect me to do it I'm not going to do it, it is about


citizens themselves doing it. We have to explor how we rekindle the


sources of power. -- explore. This weekend hundreds of thousands of


parents all around the country will be making little football matches


work with their kids. Absolutely. That's the level at which it stays,


which is what I'm trying to say. take issue with Ruth, if I may, the


whole point is if you put people in a hierarchy, you take away their


individual incentives to get out and make changes in their own


families and neighbourhoods. If you money advertise their incentives,


you take a lot away -- monetaryise. We have to do something, starting


small and growing bigger bigger. has to be something that people


believe in. The counterpart is you are viewing someone as a creature


of habit and once you start it, you can build on, that rather than


saying everything is about money. One of the problems of the "big


society" there was no kft why individuals would want to do more


about this. -- no account of. If the Olympics, you get a uniform, it


was exciting, for a time-limited period.


Chapter 6 of my book. Thank you for that little reference. Thank you.


Bars are stock up, the speeches are being written and restaurants being


booked. Ye, it is the conference season. The TUC gathering is


already under way and in just under two weeks, the Liberal Democrats


kick off for the three main parties is. There any point in them any


more? A report from the Policy Review Intelligence think-tank


suggests it isn't working suggests having all three konchess in one


city over a tele-week period. -- all three conferences. Here is a


# Can't get away it marry you today # My wife won't let me... #


You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.


Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.


And you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour Council, a Labour


Council hiring taxis to scuttle around a city handing out


redundancy notices to its own workers.


I've got a little list, of benefit offenders, who I'll soon be rooting


out, and who never would be missed. They never would be missed.


So there you have it, the final proof, Labour's brand new, shining,


modernist, economic dream tpwu, wasn't Browns, it was balls -- but


it wasn't Brown's. Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble. The Tory Party's


reDawesed to rubble. The quiet man is here to stay and


At least I don't have to worry about her running off with the


bloke next door! Some of the best conference joke


there is. It takes you back a bit. Gavin and Stewart with with me now.


Gavin we can see from that little collection of films and clips that


this is the highlight of the political year? Absolutely. But I


think the problem we have got at the moment is that the party


conferences have somewhat got a bit sort of out-moded and, of course,


no-one's particularly seriously arguing that we should abolish them,


but the point being that they need modernising, transforming. There


are issues of accessibility. If you are attending the conference, you


can easily spend �1,000 on accreditation and accommodation, so


you have access problems. If you are an organisation, you can


literally spend tens of thousands of pounds, you know organising


fringe events, exhibiting, all the rest of it. We have actually, in


this country, got some really interesting events that take place,


like the Haye, festival and Edinburgh Festival. Maybe our


political conferences should be models a bit more like that. If we


cut the costs and perhaps shorten them - they have been a bit - and


make better access, they would be fantastic. Well looking at the


greatest hits in conferences takes me back to really what they were,


which was policy-making for ordinary party members which could


engage with serious people making decision abouts the country. They


are far too corporate. I remember the conference in the waifbg our


exit from the Exchange Rate Mechanism when Norman Tebbit got up


and gave John Major one between the eyes. Whru agreed or didn't, it was


electric, hence -- whether you agreed or didn't, it was electric.


And also the Neil Kinnock speech's. It is more corporate and dull.!


MPs want to go? No, I don't think they do. I think the whole naturer


of political campaign changed. The idea when I was in the my teens, I


would go to a conference, and sit and listen to a cabinet minister,


drone on for 20 minutes and have a few clap lines, it is all gone now.


You could do the things you are suggesting to modernise it, but in


the end they are no longer the great debating centres they used to


be, policy and ideology is already decided. That's the point why I


make about the fringe because the vibe Rabcy and the exciting element


is not the main event in the centre which is all contrived for the


media, it is what goes on, on the outskirts. We have ten seconds. Are


you going? Stpoo I try to, but I can't see how you get there. I


logged on to see if I could. They are too expensive and stage-managed


but give members of the public an unrivaled opportunity it see these


people in action. For those of us who don't want Parliament live,


this is the chance to see it. I wouldn't have done without those


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