Andrew Neil with the latest political news and interviews from Westminster and the Liberal Democrat conference, including Jeremy Browne and deputy party leader Simon Hughes.
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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to our first Liberal Democrat Daily
Gategate rumbles on. Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell returns
to the gates outside Number 10 to apologise but still refuses to say
what words he actually used. I am very clear about what I said and
what I did not say. I did not use the words that have been attributed
to me. The Liberal Democrats continue their autumn conference
shindig in Brighton. Today it is the turn of Vince The Cable to wow
the party faithful. We will ask Lib Dem bigwigs Jeremy Browne and Simon
Hughes why they want to tax the affluent until the pips squeak. And
we will test the mood of the party's foot soldiers. Are they
ready to forgive and forget? I am sorry if. I am of so, so Surrey
bus-stop -- so, so sorry. All that in the next hour. And, with us for
the duration, Miranda Green. She's a journalist who used to be press
secretary to Paddy Ashdown when he was Lib Dem leader. That does not
make a bad person. Let's start of the row over what Andrew Mitchell
did what did not save two police officers in an incident over
bicycle rage. The Sun says it has seen a police lock confirming that
Mr Mitchell did swear at the officers. It does confirm, they say,
he used the politically toxic word, peps. The Chief Whip denies using
that language. We were told Mr Major would be making a statement
at those very same Downing Street gates. He ditched the ministerial
car for a Polo. Much smaller but German. What exactly did you say to
those police officers outside Downing Street? First of all, a
want to reiterate the apology I made last week after the incident
on Wednesday night in Downing Street. It had been the end of a
long and extremely frustrating day. That is not an excuse. I did not
show the police the amount of respect and should have done. They
do an incredibly difficult job. I have apologised to the police and
the police officer involved and he has accepted my apology. I hope we
can draw a line underneath it. police a clear about what was said.
You do not seem to be. I am clear about what I said and what they did
not say. I did not use the words that have been attributed to me. I
am going to get on with my work. What did you say? Did that achieve
anything? I think he fluffed it badly. Yesterday, it seemed the
heat was living off this slightly. It seems to have stoked the fire
once again. -- was moving off this slightly. Can Downing Street be
advising him? If they are, why would they let him do that?
Chief Whip is supposed be an invisible figure. The Chief Whip
visibly it is an embarrassment to the Government. One I would anyone
advising him think, getting out of that car and speaking for about a
minute, saying what he said, was going to do any good for him
whatsoever? It just gives it legs and everyone more material to roll
with for another 24 hours. I do think this question of the key word,
what attitude does it expose? speak to Tom Newton Dunn, the
journalist who broke the story and Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror.
Have you seen the police contemporaneous account - the
police statement - of what they said happened? Yes, we have. Well,
I have. It was a full report filed by the main police constable. It
was a WPC to begin with and a male PC afterwards, who stepped in to
help pad his embattled female colleague. The male constable wrote
down everything of the exchange. He used both his note in his pocket
Burke and the contemporaneous note in the pocket book of his WPC and
father report to his supervisors. He said the reason why he filed it
is because he was worried about what Mr Mitchell was going to do as
a result of this. The final words to him were, you have not heard the
last of theirs. You are saying it is a policeman and a police woman
involved. I'll be saying that Mr Mitchell swore at the police woman?
-- are you saying? It is not entirely sure that Mr Mitchell did
swear at the police were month. It is not reported that he did. -- the
Police woman. The police women said she could not open the gates. The
Mail PC came over. From that moment onwards, he did start swearing and
the insults. -- the male policeman. According to the record of the
police, it shows that he used the word, plebs. It is a bit more
colourful than that. No aspect of blushes with the Anglo Saxon word
that came before it. By roughly get it. I am of a gentle disposition. -
- I roughly get it. When you hear what Tom has said and what The Sun
has done, can you see what the point is that of the appearance by
Mr Mitchell at 8 o'clock this morning? Only if it was to make it
worse. Probably the worst apology since Ron Davies was out in words,
it said to be out to encounter a man and he said he was looking for
badgers in broad daylight. It was absolutely crazy. He has to say,
did he call them plebs or not? He said he did not use the words
attributed to him. What were they? We want to know. He needs to come
back out and say what he said. He has evaded it. People will reap the
very worst into a performance by him today. -- read. Do you think we
can see a facsimile of the notebook? Anything like that?
leave it for the moment that we have seen it? I took a verbatim
note of it in my notebooks. We have the pull transcript. My short hand
is so bad, it is worse than a vending you with Anglo Saxon
language. A want to get on to the Lib Dems was up -- offending youth.
Where does the story go from here? It is not going to go anywhere from
here. It is not going to go away. What we were expecting this morning,
our colleagues back in Westminster in the lobby, was for the spokesman
of the Prime Minister to say the Cabinet Office and the Cabinet
Secretary have risen to calls from very senior policemen and Yvette
Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, to actually tried to look into this.
They have talked to the police, anything to try to get to the
bottom of he says, she says. That is where we are now. What I find
staggering is that the spokesman for the Prime Minister has said,
move on, there is no story here. The Prime Minister believes the
account of Mr Mitchell. That is saying I believe the camp by Mr
Mitchell over the words of some of the best offices the Met has. --
the account. I think the Prime Minister has made an enormous error
in doing that. Are the Lib Dem delegates buying the economy from
Mr Clegg and the bash the rich rhetoric? Is that allowing him to
live another day? Did they think at some stage we will have to ditch
him? I think they know it is over for him. Privately, he may feel
that as well. Conference is a very tribal affair. All the rhetoric is
against the Conservatives. It is almost as if Labour does not exist.
All the fire is focused on the coalition partner. It is very hard
to get on and work closely with the people you have spent the week
slagging off in very colourful terms. How do you read it? There is
no leadership challenge this week. You can confirm that, I think. What
happens after that? It is a bit like the Tories. And the fortunes
of Cameron to a lesser extent. If the economy starts picking up and I
get decent growth results for the next quarter, two months of growth
by the end of January, pressure might alleviate a bit. If it does
not go anywhere, Norman Clegg is in the same position next year as the
ship, he will be in enormous Thank you for joining us from
It is clear the strategy of Mr Clegg. This has come on the eve of
the conference. There is a lot of bashed the rich rhetoric coming out.
Will it work? -- bash. There is a move to try to move on into a new
phase with the apology. The idea that over the summer something that
was put to bed was the dream of House of Lords reform. Saying they
will not thank the boundary changes for the House of Commons. That is
very messy and unpleasant. Both sides got nothing for nothing.
is behind us. Now they are saying they need to move forward and make
it absolutely clear they are concentrating front and centre on
the economy. Everything this week is about the economy. That is right
and proper. Putting that reform agenda behind them with it -- with
the economy - a rubber Withey apology. Whether that goes over
with the public, that is another matter. -- behind them with the
apology. Now it is time for the daily quiz. Which Lib Dem has not
been texting Ed Miliband and other At the end of the show, the Randa
will have the correct answer. Now the theme of this party conference
is to put a bit of yellow water between the Lib Dems and their
Conservative coalition partners. Nick Clegg has dug his heels in
over extra cuts in public spending. He has said he will not allow any
more up to the end of the next spending round. He is concentrating
on taxing the rich further. Mr Clegg wants to bring in more money
by targeting the better off. He made a thinly veiled strike at
George Osborne, saying they will not allow some of the wild
suggestions from the right of politics that all the savings will
come from welfare. He plans to target the top 10% - that means
anyone earning over �50,500 a year before tax. Plans for a so-called
Pensham property scheme, whereby savers could use lump sums in
pension pots to guarantee part of the mortgage taken up by children
or grandchildren. Some estimates suggest about 12,000 people would
take up the offer. People over 55 can already cash up to 25% of their
pension pot tax free. Vince Cable will announce today plans to set up
any business bank. He will save 1 billion has been found to help set
up the bank, which it is hoped will increase lending to small and maybe
a medium-sized businesses. It is unclear where the Treasury has
banned this money, nor has any private funding been pledged to
Joining me now from Brighton is the Liberal Democrat Home Office
minister Jeremy Browne. Grew to see you. We are missing New Delhi here!
I am missing you, too. -- We Are Missing You. Anyway, your leader
once more taxes on the most affluent 10% of the country and he
wants that before the election. What sort of taxes does he want on
the top 10%? There has been some misrepresentation about this in the
media today. The Daily Mirror said Nick Clegg is targeting the poor.
The Daily Mail said Nick Clegg is targeting the rich. The reality is,
he is explaining that we as a country are in a big hole, we have
a big deficit still, and to use a slightly dated terminology, we need
a collective effort to make sure that we get national finances back
on track. I understand that but let me ask my question again. I
understand all of that. But Nick Clegg said he wants the top 10% to
contribute more so I ask you again, in what way should the top 10%
contribute more? We have had some changes, you will remember at the
last Budget one of the announcements that was made, it did
not get as much attention as some of the others, was stamp duty on
more expensive properties. There have been changes on capital gains
tax. But he says he wants more. I know what has happened... What does
he want? I know what he has done. Please tell the viewers, what more
does he want the 10% to do? I have never in my memory in politics seen
announcements about budget measures made at a party conference on a
programme like yours. There will be an autumn statement in a couple of
months' time, there will be a budget, and what will be at the
heart of that budget is a Lib Dem commitment that we will get to
grips with the terrible public finances but we will make sure that
the people who have a means to make a contribution are asked to make a
contribution rather than that burden falling on the poorest
people who have the least ability to make their contribution.
understand that. You know I am not asking you for a Budget statement.
I am not even asking for the Autumn Statement, which will come first. I
am simply asking you, since your leader has at the top 10% needs to
do more, what ways with your party do more? Let me help you. Let me
ask a question. The top 10% in this country of income earners account
for 55% of all income tax paid. The top 10% account for 55% of all
income tax paid. Should they pay more? Well... I don't dispute the
figure. The point I am making is that there are a number of ways
that the most affluent people can make a greater contribution. You
have used one crude measurement based on income tax. We tend to say
as a party that we want people to be incentivised to work and to keep
a reasonable proportion of their income. We would rather the burden
of taxation fell in a different place than penalising enterprise
and endeavour and hard work. I don't think the party is
instinctively drawn... I imagine you are talking about the basic
rate and upper rate of taxation but this will be in the Budget. There
are a number of ways that people can pay more tax. I have given you
a couple of examples. A you have not given me any examples.
government increased capital gains tax. Should it increase it more?
introduced a stamp duty for the most expensive homes. That fell
disproportionately on the most affluent as well. There are tax
measures where you can, without changing income tax levels, get
some additional revenue from people who are most able to make a
contribution to make a bigger effort to try and have this huge
project of national renewal, which is that we are borrowing and
billion pounds every three days... I understand that. Nick Clegg is
not saying that this can all be achieved by taxing the rich and
that everybody else needs to stand back and let the richest people in
society sort the problem out. That is not the solution. Everybody is
going to have to realise that we are in a deep hole as a country.
understand that. But Nick Clegg is saying that the people at the top
will have to be asked to make a contribution... I understand that
but I can't get you to tell me what it means. Let me try you again in a
different way. If I can't tell you what will be in the Budget. We will
go round and round. I am asking what your party things. Nick Clegg
has called for the top 10% in our society to do more. The top 10%, in
terms of income, includes primary- school Deputy Head Teachers, police
inspectors and senior nurses. Should they be contributing more?
am not sure he did say top 10% in terms of income. I think the figure
in terms of income... That was how the media chose to interpret it.
What is it then? There are very wealthy people who have very modest
incomes. This is the debate we have with Mitt Romney in the United
States of America, who has a lot of wealth but his income for income
tax purposes is a relatively modest, so people have wealth without
necessarily earning large amount of income, so there are a number of
ways that the government could look at how we can have additional
revenue from the most affluent people to try to make sure that...
OK, all right. To try to get down the deficit. Enlighten us, Mr Brown.
If he is not talking about the top 10% of income earners, what 10% is
he talking about? The point I am making, I have just made it but I
will try to make it again, that you can be a wealthy person without
necessarily earning that much income. You could have inherited a
lot of wealth, for example. That is why we changed the rate of taxation
for capital gains tax from 18% up to 22% earlier in the parliament. I
think there are a number of ways that the Treasury can look, at the
Autumn Statement and in the Budget, to have the public expenditure we
need and the revenue we need to address the deficit. But there is
no magic alternative plan. People in newspaper columns talk as if
only Ed Balls were Chancellor tomorrow we would have growth and
no unemployment. The truth is, whoever is in government, we have
got to get to grips with the fact that we have a problem with the big
deficit left to us by a Labour, which will mean that people with
the greatest of means will make a contribution to eradicate that
deficit. Thank you for joining us. Whether he will buy me a drink
after that is another matter! So as Nick Clegg's bruised and
battered party troops wander round the rain-soaked conference centre
in Brighton, are they their usual happy-go-lucky selves? Or is their
mood a little more despondent? Down? Depressed? Nick Clegg tried
his best last week to cheer them all up by apologising for his
tuition fees pledge. A move which led to a remixed version set to pop
music entering the charts at number 143. It is a bit like their poll
ratings. But are the Lib Dems in a forgiving mood? Our Adam has taken
the Daily Politics mood box to the seaside to find out.
All the talk is about Nick Clegg saying sorry over tuition fees, but
are the delegates are ready to forgive him? Yes or no?
Do you forgive him? Yes. Why is he deserving of forgiveness? Because
he said it from the heart. It is a mission of how he feels. I feel
that. -- it is an admission. We had no apology for Iraq. We have had no
apology for the mess the last government left us with financially.
And they were huge! I do for give him but I cannot forgive him for
the fact he made that promise and went against it. That is the number
one barer a politician can make. The press should be asking
forgiveness for all the students to put off going to university by
misrepresenting the policy. I think he was right to apologise but he
should have done it two years ago. Am I ready to forgive him? Yes, and
know. Too little, too late. -- yes, and no. Somebody has said to me
that quite a lot of people quit the party over tuition fees so they are
not even here to vote no. # I'm sorry, I'm sorry #.
# It is very hard to say that I'm sorry #.
You have saved me 79p. Thank you very much!
Do you think it has done damage? Definitely. That is why an apology
was needed and was welcome. All of us have learnt things from this
episode. I said the other day, we are a party that prides itself on
integrity. Nick said sorry. Do you forgive him? Yes! Anything you want
to apologise for? I would echo his apology on a pledge that we made
but sadly could not keep. I would have forgiven him if his apology
had been accompanied by his letter of resignation. What do you say to
the people who do not want to forgive him? We are not in North
Korea. We are a Liberal Party in one of the most liberal-minded
countries in the world, not everybody is required to agree.
Have a look at what I have just That will be a collector's item!
Miranda Green is still with us. Am I right in getting a sense that at
this conference, the Lib Dems are kind of talking to themselves, and
they have to? I think that is absolutely right. It is quite an
inward-looking week for the Lib Dems and they don't have much
choice about it. This journey they have been on in the last two years,
and coalition has turned out to be even more painful than they
anticipated, they really need to have a very hard think about not
just positioning but fundamental questions, who are we for and to do
we appeal to in the next general election? Those people on the soft
left, who always used to be drawn to the Lib Dems, are not
necessarily coming back. The whole thing coming out of the Lib Dem
conference has been, let's find ways to tax the affluent. Nick
Clegg used the figure of the top 10%. But Mr Brown was unable to
give me one example. That does not stand the test. If you can do the
aspiration but not give the detailed, what is the point?
think they are very conscious that George Osborne's decision to lower
the top income rate in the Budget has turned out to be very unpopular.
They did not want it to happen so they have to position themselves as
the party in a coalition who will ensure that as austerity goes on
for much longer than anybody thought... I totally agree, there...
If they are going to go into negotiation with George Osborne and
say, you want to cut welfare benefits and freeze the payments?
You will have to do these things to the most affluent. Whoever it is.
But they have to have a shopping- list of decent proposals.
Earlier this morning, conference debated how to generate growth and
jobs in a time of austerity. There have been grumblings by some party
members that the current coalition policy isn't working and that it is
time to do something different. The UK economy is not a solace at
auction room - a mechanism - it is a seething mass of hopes and fears,
where government decisions shape the behaviour of millions of
workers and savers and consumers. Government needs a dynamic, not a
book-keepers model. The Governor is telling Mr Osborne not to be
obsessed with simple arithmetic. We need intelligent policy makers.
want, in particular, the Chancellor to stop attacking green industries.
He must choose between sustainable and predictable framework. The
Government needs to choose between be sustainable economy this party
has argued for four decades or right-wing Tory Party dogma. They
need to choose between a work strategy that works or Mr Osborne.
No longer can deficit reduction, by means of cuts in public spending,
beat the top priority. The priority must be boosting the economy and
reducing cuts or spreading them over a longer period. Let me say
one last thing. When spending begins to rise, the private sector
will regain its confidence. It is the poorest who can always be
counted to spend every penny they have. Forgive the rich tax cuts.
They will often not spend that money but invest it in foreign
investments. The poorest will spend all I have because it is the only
way they can try to maintain a reasonable standard of living. The
very worst way to boost our economy is to cut the benefits for the
poorest and to give tax cuts to the rich. I think the point of this
debate is about saying, what are we for as Liberal Democrats? I know
what I am for as a Liberal Democrat. I am for fairness. I am for social
justice and I am for a war on poverty. Danny Alexander does not
want us to be timid. Colleagues, neither do I. Can we stand by in
the vain hope that more liquidity will slosh around the banks and
find its way to the real economy? That is not enough. They cannot
afford to stick to a broken ideology. There are those in this
room who think that any deflection away from the Plan A will lead to a
massive spike in borrowing costs. We will become the next Greece or
Spain. That is patent rubbish. David Hall-Matthews, the chair of
the Social Liberal Forum, is in Brighton. You supported an
amendment calling on the coalition to adopt further measures to help
the economy. What Buddy's further measures? We need to introduce
wealth taxes and use those to pay for further investment in jobs. --
what are these further measures? We have a deficit and the recession.
The recession has been going on far too long and the deficit reduction
plan is worsening it. It is time to tackle the recession by focusing on
employment, jobs and growth. We need to distinguish ourselves from
George Osborne. He is going down the wrong track. What you mean by a
wealth tax and how much will it raise? -- what do you mean? We need
to tax Mansions, land and the houses that pub built on it. We
need to look at ways to increase inheritance tax. -- that are built
on end. We need to increase capital gains tax further. On top of the
28% it has been raised to? Do you have any idea how much it would
raise - all of it? I cannot give the precise figures. If we added it
altogether, you would be getting close to the 10 billion that George
Osborne wants to save by cutting benefits to the very poorest and
most vulnerable. It is important to first target the most affluent. The
most vulnerable have been hit hard enough and the pips have already
squeaked. In a 1.5 trillion pounds economy, it your big idea is an
extra 10 billion in taxes too then invest in jobs. It is pretty
marginal, isn't it? To then invest. George Osborne was top of that - as
a good talking about taking 10 billion out of the welfare budget.
-- George Osborne was talking about. He began this interview by saying,
you take all this extra money from wealth taxes. You would take all
this extra money and invest it in the country, not music to stop
cutting the welfare bill. You said you would spend it. -- not to use
it. There is the Bank of England... It has money saved. The Government
is selling bonds effectively to itself was up there is money
sitting there, which could be used to invest directly in the economy.
-- to itself. It is time for the Government to start stimulating in
the old fashioned Keynesian way because we're not going to get out
of the recession. You have a vicious circle we need to turn into
a virtuous circle by releasing government funds, which were then
unlock the private sector. You may be right, you may be wrong
economically. Politically, you are not get any of that from the
Conservatives. You're in the wrong coalition with the wrong party. Why
don't you go into coalition with Labour? They agree with everything
you have set foot stuck it is not up to me. -- everything you have.
It is self- evidently have a different approach to the economy
from the Conservatives. -- self evident that we have. We need to
recognise as Liberal Democrats that the way things are going are not
the way they should be. The planning is not working. It is not
producing the results and the deficit is not coming down very
fast and we are in recession. As Liberal Democrats we need to say
that and argue for that in public and in private. The more we say it
in public the more likely we are to get things at of the Conservatives
and the more the public will realise that is what we believe in.
-- out of the Conservatives. Thank you for joining me from Brighton.
Most people want things they were never get from the Conservatives.
Everything he has listed will not happen with Mr Osborne and Mr
Cameron that could happen with Labour. They must think they are in
coalition with the wrong party. There are two answers to that. The
activists who come to conference are not the same as the membership.
The membership is not the same as the voters. Not everyone who is
drawn to the Liberal Democrat party would agree with that set of
priorities. It queues up a -- at it flags up a key problem. They need
to negotiate a Spending Review compromised to differentiate the
two parties in the lead-up to the general election. It needs to
fashion a coherent programme to go through to 2016, in terms of tax
and spending are what you do about the deficit and the debt. They're
trying to fashion a narrower correct economic coalition plan
with a lot of the activist parties out of step. Two parties in one
government with radically different philosophies on tax. Sounds like a
recipe for confusion, at best. But that's what we've got with the
Coalition. Is it possible to blend the Lib Dem and Conservative
approaches to the pound in your pocket and, when it comes to tax,
do politicians of whatever party actually go after the right things?
Here's David Thompson. The city many gallery of the British Museum,
a fascinating history of the stuff that makes the world go round and
Harry tried to keep it out of the clutches of others. For as long as
there has been money, there has been tax. Politicians are very keen
to get their hands on our cash. This government is much the same,
except for this - there are two parties in it with different ideas
on what to tax and who should pay. George Osborne has been right in
terms of getting the deficit down. 80% has to be down to savings and
reductions in public spending and only 20% on tax rises. Otherwise,
the real risk of putting taxes up his the take may even come down.
Maybe not. The Tories basically have a view you need taxes as low
as possible. In my view, the Duke of Liberal Democrats, you need a
decent rate of tax and a fair rate of tax to have a civilised society.
We want a fair tax. The Tories have an instinct that says, of the less
we can be taxed, the better. According to the experts, that
Disconnect matters. If you look at the last Budget, there was an
increase in the personal allowance and the cut in the top rate of
income tax. That left a hole. More money needed to be found. Frankly,
they made a muddle of failing that whole with pasty tax and doing
things to the pension or allowance. It was seen as a quick-fix way to
fill a hole and put the two policies together. Overall, they do
not have a policy or strategy for the tax system. Nor did the last
government. It is more obvious when you have to coalition partners
trying to do the same things. it comes to tax, politicians of
whatever party are more scared of us than we are of them. It is very
easy to make a case to say the rich will pay more. There are very few
rich people. It is the middle- income, middle-class people, of
whom there are so many. You can bring in some quite significant
numbers. They make up the floating voters who determine any election.
That is the reason why there has to be a worry that, if you to maximise
that element of the tax take, he will pay a heavy political and
electoral price before too long. They still managed to hit us where
it hurts, where they were Lib Dem, Tory or a Time Lord, it seems tax
will always be taxing. David Thompson reporting. We're joined
now by Labour's Chris Leslie. He's the Shadow Financial Secretary to
the Treasury. When you hear the Lib Dems talking about the top 10%
making a bigger contribution, a mansion tax, changing the onus of
inheritance tax so it falls on recipients and other ways of
increasing taxes on the rich, the mass think this is a party we can
do business with? If you believe them. If you believe that they want
to see a fair tax system, that is not the experience we have seen. In
the Budget in March, we saw Nick Clegg happily cut the tax on
earnings over �150,000. He did not do it happily. That is a
misrepresentation. We do not know other than his actions. There are
lots of words in this conference today. It is quite clear they are
lobbying the Conservatives to raise taxes on the better off. Do you
agree with that? We will see whether they will do it. They may
well be lobbying them. We have said we disagree with the reduction in
the millionaire's tax. That was a fundamental dividing line. Which
you put the top rate back up to 50%? In this Parliament, of course,
that was the wrong choice for them to make. There are other choices.
Let me mention one thing... Of Bankers bonus levy. How much would
that raised? I think we said �2 billion. That would prioritise
construction for social housing and give money for a youth jobs
programme. What about the mansion tax? Are you in favour of that?
is almost a dance of the seven veils we're getting from Vince
Cable. Are you doing your own work on that? We have heard they are
talking about its, the Labour Party. His Ed Balls looking at the mansion
tax or not? We have a five-point plan for growth. So, is he not
looking at the mansion tax? We are happy to look at whatever the Lib
Dems put on the table. It is just hot air. If they say it will be on
houses over �2 million and on a particular timescale, we want the
details. How can we, as an opposition, react to the tax plans?
They do totally the opposite of what they say and even improve
things behind the scenes. I am not talking about the Lib Dems. You are
the opposition. In opposition, you have to have a look at a range of
policies. Are you looking at the mansion tax as a possible policy
for the next manifesto? We have talked about how much money we want
to raise in our five-point plan for star of IUD looking at the mansion
tax or not? -- in our five-point plan. Are you looking at the
mansion tax or not? If Nick Clegg persuades George Osborne they will
float more detail about this that we will look at it then. Ed Balls
was quoted... I am trying to find a way you may be able to do business.
Ed Balls was quoted in September saying, at the likes of a mansion
tax needs to be on the table of. is not on the table. There is a
headline. You up on the Labour table. You could say, why do we not
make this a six. Plan? We have said where we meet to have many come up
on new house building. -- we need to have money - on new housing. It
The Lib Dems want to move the inheritance tax to the recipients
because it is harder to get around that. At the moment, it falls on
the person who is leaving the money behind. The Lib Dems say you should
tax the people who receive it, because that way it is much harder
to get around it. Do you agree? That is a false distinction. Of
course the person who is requesting it will not be taxed because they
are no longer around -- bequeathing it. The person who receives it is
paying it. Again, where is the detail? Is this fantasy politics
from the Liberals? They should put it in a song. You got that lining!
-- line in. Vince Cable has been speaking to conference. We were
waiting for some coded messages about the leadership!
I am a realist, but deep down an optimist. We cannot recreate this
false paradise of the pre-crisis era but we are perfectly capable of
sustaining growth in this country. And to that end, I believe we need
an industrial strategy, which is a positive, ambitious vision built
around long term investment in innovation and skills and science.
We are so good at so many things in this country. But for far too long,
the mirage of growth based on property speculation and financial
gambling has hidden the heart of virtues of making things
productively. APPLAUSE. So we have got to get behind successful
British-based firms, in vehicles and aerospace, life sciences and
creative industries, and world- class scientists at University. I
have been working to make that happen. Despite spending cuts, we
have increased apprenticeships by over 60%. We have launched German-
style innovation centres so that British industry can access the
newest technologies are in advanced manufacturing, by geosciences,
sustainable energy and digital. We are bringing lost supply chains
back to Britain. The Green Investment Bank is getting up and
running, to finance the green industries of the future. We have
had some real successes. That is working with the American Chiefs of
General Motors, and British trades unions, to save thousands of a
Working with the Indian owners of Jaguar Land Rover to create a
global hub in the West Midlands for design and vehicle engineering.
APPLAUSE. And boosting research to keep Britain as the second
Aerospace economy in the world, and working with Siemens and others to
develop offshore renewables engineering in Hull, a key local
and Industry. There are some common threads to this. One is an
understanding that it markets fail and that governments can and should
sensibly intervene. The other is the will to fight the British curse
of short term-ism. The strategy can only work if fine and supports
business investment and growth and currently it does not. -- only work
if government supports. Our leading banks to traditional banking
relationships out and sold useless and dodgy derivatives instead, and
useless insurance. And public anger at the greed and stupidity in this
industry will continue for a long time. But I want to look forward. I
want to work with a new generation of sensible... To support the
economy. We must now influence the pioneering possibility of splitting
investments banks from mainstream personal banking, as in the figures
report. -- Vickers report. Without Liberal Democrats in government,
you can be absolutely sure this would not have happened. APPLAUSE.
But there is still so much to do. Four years ago, a massive taxpayer
bail-out stopped RBS from dragging the whole economy over a cliff, and
two years ago there was even talk of an early sell-off. That is
history. It is now getting more shipshape and it needs direction
from us, after all, we own it, to get it off steam and lend more to
British businesses. This is no time for the state to be stepping back.
APPLAUSE. We need a new British business bank with a clean balance
sheet and an ability to expand lending rapidly to the
manufacturers, the exporters, a high-growth companies that power
the economy and I can announce today that we will have that.
Cable, speaking to the Lib Dem Conference in Brighton just a few
moments ago. He also said he thought coalition government of
some sort was here to stay, that the British people would not choose
one party at the next election to run the country. Some people
thought it was a big "come on" to the Labour Party, and an active
role for the state. And we can talk now to the Lib Dem deputy leader,
Simon Hughes. He was texting away there just before he came on air,
probably sending a few messages to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Just
teasing! The government is only putting a billion pounds into this
state bank. We don't even know where that money is coming from and
it won't even start for 18 months. It will do nothing for small
businesses in the recession. Correct? You are correct it will be
a billion pounds government down payment, it will be matched by
private finance. The idea is it will produce about 10 billion and
it is specifically addressed so that in this parliament, the
problem that has bedevilled small and medium businesses, which is
getting money from the banks, will be dealt with. It is the second
initiative because we have already started and Investment Bank
specifically for green products. -- an investment bank. You are going
to ask the taxpayer to guarantee funds. They will go into small
businesses that have already been turned down by the commercial banks.
What collateral will we get for these loans? The bank will work out
a way of doing it that so despise them, and for the government that
it is a viable lending proposition -- that satisfy his them. How can
we be sure you will not lose their money? You can never be sure, of
course. When a vet any bank lens, the state needs to take actions to
protect the taxpayer -- went any bank lents. But we thought we
should have some influence in what the banks do. From my experience in
south London, it is no different to anywhere else in the country, that
small businesses that have a good record struggle to get the lending
they need. Most people in Britain do not work for big businesses. We
need to make sure that sector continues to grow. It has already
created 900,000 jobs since the recession began. Jobs are going
down obviously in the public sector. We have now got the Vince Cable
Bank but we will not have it for 18 months. We have got the green bank.
How much has that loaned to people so far? I don't know the answer to
that question, perhaps I should. The answer is nothing because it is
only now up and running. How much has the "big society" bank loaned
to people? Again, this is like a quiz programme, Andre's. -- and
drugs. The Yuki creating banks that don't do anything! -- Andrew. You
keep creating banks that don't do anything. The "big society" was
about volunteering and the charitable sector. I assumed to be
Greenbank had started to lend but we only just passed the legislation.
The whole idea is to make sure places like the north-east get the
support for the renewable energy industry, we make sure got a blog
we know what it is meant to do. The answer is, we are a committee...
The plan is to make sure there is Public Investment without
penalising the taxpayers to stimulate the economy. There will
be the ability for people to use their pension pots to help the
children and grandchildren to have the Investment and security to get
on the housing ladder. Vince Cable says he wants the bank to
concentrate on lending money for people to make things. Can I give
you a brief history of this? British Leyland, British
shipbuilding, Phoenix. These were great successes, weren't they!
remember those, as you do, but you also know the great debate last
year was why we did not support our companies to get contracts for the
railway industry's when it is self evident that other countries within
the EU were able to do that. We have a more robust attitude on this.
You are not allowed to unfairly state-subsidised to distort
competition but you are allowed to persist if you play by the rules.
We need to make sure that wherever possible we support companies, not
that are going down the plughole, but those industries, like the
motor industry and the aerospace industry, with a very good record.
We have run out of time, thank you of every match. The answer to the
quiz? I assume there is none Dublin on.
It has been cruelly exposed by the newspapers -- there is none going