18/12/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. Whatever happened


to hug a husky? The senior Conservative says the Government is


making the wrong decisions on energy policy.


MEPs are voting on a more sustainable fisheries policy -


could we finally see the end of fishermen simply discarding excess


catch? As rail unions mount their


traditional Christmas strikes, has anything really changed in the


trade union movement? There has been a special visitor to


Downing Street, the Queen joined ministers around the Cabinet table.


All that in the next hour. With me for the whole programme is Frances


O'Grady. She will take over as general secretary of the Trades


Union Congress in the New Year, becoming the first female leader of


the TUC in its history. Lucky hair! Let's start with the threatened


rail strikes over Christmas. Members of the RMT union plan


action on Friday on Cross Country trains and ScotRail, and members of


the other rail union, ASLEF, working on London Underground, have


voted to walk out on Boxing Day, action that is expected to bring


the network to a virtual standstill. Frances, the public will think it


is the third year in a row that ASDA has called a strike on


December 26th, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, just a


cynical move? They got a 90% "yes" vote and I think people only ever


go on strike when they feel they have a just cause. Two key issues,


one, they think that working over the bank holidays should be


voluntary, and secondly they want fair reward. They think they can


find productivity savings to pay for it. I think the union wants to


get back around the table and I hope management do. If you say that


these are two key issues for the union, the fact that drivers are


rostered to work in all bank holidays, as people are in many


other unions. What happens if nobody volunteers if it is


voluntary? It seems like there was not a problem with covering those


shifts. Managements have overestimated the number of workers


needed and it can be done on a voluntary basis. I think it is


about our train drivers, like any other workers with families at home,


can they do it on a voluntary basis, sorted out in a sensible manner? I


hope they can. These groups of workers are in a unique position.


Most other employees would not have the power to withdraw their labour


in this way and caused such widespread disruption, and the


victims are workers themselves, who don't enjoy those same terms and


conditions. What do you say to them? We have seen enormous public


sympathy for rail workers, and in particular... What, striking on


days like Boxing Day? I think the public understand that all working


families are being hit unfairly, inequality is growing. Lots of


areas have had pay freezes, it is not fair that those at the top or


shareholder should be getting rewards and the workers do not get


their fair share. This is all this is about. But the point is they are


hitting workers who are not at the top, other people like themselves


on a day where they would like to go shopping or they want to go to


work themselves. They are not on big salaries and don't have the


power to withdraw their labour in the same way. Do you not see the


inequity? I think everybody wants to see this dispute sorted, not


least rail workers themselves, but it has to be done fairly. You don't


get a 90% "yes" vote unless people feel very strongly they are not


being treated fairly. But rail workers and tube drivers get paid a


decent salary, in a lot of people's eyes. Most people agree that all


workers should get a fair pay for a fair day's work. It is about how we


sort out these problems and whether management can be flexible as well


as the workforce full spot a you think it is fair to ballot for


strikes, have only been two days of discussions over this issue?


Two days of discussion has been reported, then a strike is called.


A lot of discussions happen informally before the formal talks.


But I know that I spoke to the leader of the train drivers' this


morning and he hopes that management will come back to the


table with a fair offer. You will be looking at these issues


in the round, do you think there is a perception that that is what it


is all about, to be a member of the trade union is just about calling


strikes? The perception out there, that is what people see. I am not


sure it is. Strike action is at a low level in the UK, historically,


not least because it is very difficult to call a lawful strike


without being dragged into courts by an employer who can call an


injunction if you get a few names or job titles run, something that


would not have affected it at all. It is difficult in the UK to take


strike action and people only do it when they feel pushed to the limit.


In your new role, would you like to see fewer strikes? I would like to


see fairer agreements. I would like to see less need for strike action.


It is in everybody's interest to sort out issues in a sensible


manner, to negotiate their agreement. We know that where you


have a happy, motivated workforce, it is good for business.


We will be talking about this some more later.


Now time for the daily quiz. Today the Queen is visiting Number


Ten to attend Cabinet for the first time, but what other big name was


in Downing Street last night? Was it the X Factor winner James Arthur,


became of Jordan, Father Christmas and his reindeer or rapper Dr Dre?


At the end of the show, Frances will give us the correct answer, it


she knows it. She has almost an hour to think about it.


The greenest government ever, that was the promise David Cameron made


at the beginning of this Parliament. But will he deliver? The new energy


minister has called to a halt on onshore wind farms. Last week plans


were announced for dozens more gas fired power stations as the go-


ahead was given for shale gas explode -- exploration, using the


controversial fracking technique. The Government's commitment to the


green agenda has been questioned today. Setting a target foreign


missions from electricity generation has been put off by the


Government until 2016. A decision that clearly raises doubts about


the depth of the government commitment to accepting the


recommendations of the Climate Change Committee. There is a danger


that confusing and contradictory messages are being sent out by


different parts of governments. On the one hand, backing a big new


hunt for gas, and on the other, insisting it can still cut carbon


emissions. Tim Yeo joins us now. Why are you acting now? There has


obviously been plenty of time to talk about the Energy Bill. Do you


think you will be successful? don't know if we will be successful,


but we have the second reading of the Energy Bill tomorrow. They need


has come about because of the mixed messages we are getting from the


Government. On one side they say we are absolutely committed to a


reduction in carbon emissions from electricity and are willing to set


the target that I once in 2016, but on the other hand a couple of weeks


ago on the day of the Autumn Statement we had a new gas strategy


and is itching possibly 37 gigawatts of new gas-fired capacity,


so I think investors are confused. But it is about to mix, spreading


the risk because I don't want to speak on behalf of them but clearly


the Government agrees that you can't agree -- rely on just one


energy source. Absolutely, we need the mix, and I hope nuclear will be


part of that but it is taking a long time. We need a mix involving


some gas. If we can get domestic gas because of the shale gas


reserves, that reduces the dependence on imports. But we need


low carbon technologies as well, which are getting much cheaper all


the time. The Government has agreed a support framework that the


Treasury has signed off on the money that will be available for


the next eight years. But now there is uncertainty in the equation and


some investors are confused. Treasury is cutting funding to all


departments. George Osborne before the Autumn Statement had already


made it clear that he felt that in these dire economic circumstances


it would have to affect energy policy to? I'm not criticising the


settlement given. The support for low carbon energy does not come


from the taxpayer, it comes from energy consumers. It goes through


to your electricity bill. But the figure itself is acceptable. The


problem is why we have to waste another four years to see what


carbon intensity target the Government wants to have on


electricity generation. Their statutory independent adviser, the


Climate Change Committee, whose advice has always been accepted so


far, has suggested it be set. My committee said the target should be


set and now the Government says we need to wait for years. We think


the danger is that will deter investors and we won't get the


extra capacity that Britain needs. Do you think renewable energy, we


can talk about onshore into it -- wind farms etc, will resupply the


energy if there is a gap while we go around with nuclear? It will


supply part of it, not all of it. It is close to 10% of the Energy


last year which was generated by renewables. Consistently? Over the


year as a whole, yes. The expectation is that figure will


rise, there is a commitment to increasing that. Do you think the


Energy Minister is committed? hope he will show during the


passage of the Bill, which he will take to Parliament, that he is


committed to government policy. said that we have had enough


onshore wind farms. Onshore wind farms is only one element. We are


talking about energy from waste, celeb, offshore wind, tidal, wave


power, there is an awful lot of alternatives. We need to try to


deploy them at greater scale so the costs can come down, otherwise we


will give up the leadership of this to other countries, we need to back


this more unequivocally. How keen do you think families are to pay


green energy taxes? I think all families are very concerned about


energy bills. They don't like a lack of transparency over the green


energy taxes? We need to make changes to wake -- to the way the


big six operate. But in the longer term we will achieve a lower


consumer price if we have a Ben Nevis of technologies. Do you think


that is right, up bearing in mind that families are having to deal


with high energy bills. --? Is this the time to talk about continued


investment in renewables when gas could be quicker and maybe are


cheaper? I think we need to mix, I think Tim is absolutely right.


Unless we have the target in the bill, we will not get the


investment uncertainty needed not just in terms of energy policy but


in terms of jobs. There is real potential in renewables which is


secure, because you don't have to imported, but let's have it as part


of an active industrial policy. We get steel and cement sourced in


Britain, we get them built in Britain so we can create decent


jobs and apprenticeships. How split is the Government on energy? Their


policy is pretty clear, there has been big negotiation inside


Whitehall. Yes, between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.


Between the Department for Energy and some other departments. Many


aspects are very positive, they have changed the bills


substantially since the draft Bill, some of those in change -- in line


with my own committee's recommendations. We head Danny


Alexander at the Lib Dem conference in October explicitly committing to


exactly this target. It is the advice from their official advisers


and my committee and also from a large number of investors. All we


are saying is bring the date forward, don't put it off for four


years. Your critics might say you have a vested interest because you


are the chairmen of some renewables and electric vehicles companies?


The truth is I formed my views 20 years ago when I was the minister


dealing with climate change. My views have been expressed many


times publicly in the last 20 years. My financial interests were only


acquired after I left the front bench, so any suggestion I formed


my views because of my interests, it is the other way around. I


believe passionately in Britain being a leader for climate change,


I believe there is an economic advantage for those countries who


decarbonised. I want to see Britain as a leader in this green and were


200 years ago. Think of the union leader and a big,


burly bloke with a megaphone might spring to mind. But in January the


movement will be led by a woman, our guest, Frances O'Grady. These


days almost half of all union members are female, a proportion


likely to increase as overall numbers decline. But can one woman


at the top of first years of male domination and how does she ensure


that the interests of the male members are finally properly


The tradition a image of the union leader. Big men, out of shape but


definitely men. This is the TUC headquarters in London. Some of the


great fig groufrs Labour movement have made this place their power


base. Now, from January next year and for the first time in its


history, the General Secretary will be a woman. But will change at the


top change the way the union movement treats its female members?


Bring back the railways. Women make up up almost half a movement and


they are a growing presence in a organisation whose numbers are


falling. Unions haven't had a great reputation for taking them or their


interests seriously. Even though who have made to it the top didn't


find it easy When I started working for a trade union it took me ages


to get a job. When I started working, I was the only woman in an


Al male team. It was quite a macho environment, it was one that still,


I think reflected a culture that said that it was OK to go out


drinking at lunchtime, it was very much who was loudest got the most


attention, it was very different to the environment we work in now.


Even so, only 15 out of the 54 unions affiliated to the TUC are


led by women. Something friend of the Labour movement believe is a


problem. The public impression that union leaders we see most of the


time are late middle aged men, pretty aggressive, up for a fight,


not the kind of image that is going to be seductive to getting more


women in and they need more women, more members, from the private


sector, as well as the state sector. So can one woman at the top make a


difference? Frances has very little power in that she is a chair of a


council. She can't tell any other union what to do. She can't tell


them who to elect or thousand have better candidates for their


elections. She can't tell a union not to go on strike, even if it is


unrbl reasonable and does great damage to the movement. She only


has her own power of persuasion. And that will have to be pretty


powerful No-one should pretend that trade unions haven't got a


difficult time. We have falling memberships, and we have a


difficult economy. Both those things have to be dealt with. That


is something that she will have to head up and she will have to find I


think, innovative and new ways through. Not simply saying that


what we will do is rely on the mantras of the 6070s, 90 and the


last decade. She will have to find a new way forward for unions to be


the relevant voice for a different work population, and one where


women have a central role. unions evolve will be usual for all


their members whatever their general da. But -- gender, but the


key to their relevance will be woman and not just the new one at


the top. And Frances O'Grady is still with us. I am joined by


Nadine Dorys who hoped to be Conservative MP again soon? I hope


so. What is happening? It is all with the Chief Whip, I am sure it


will be resolved shortly. Hopefully. Right. So for the New Year. We will


see. Let us get back to Frances O'Grady. It is no longer all men in


flat caps, how are trade unions changing? As you heard on the clip,


round half of our membership are women, it is 50-50. Three in ten of


our leaders are women, that is a better record than in the boardroom,


or indeed round the Cabinet table. So, unions have been changing


quietly, but in a determined fashion, we are there to represent


all working people from all walks of life. We heard also in the film


you will have to find innovative ways of doing it, how are you going


to do it? Working people are having an incredibly tough time at the


moment, we know that family budgets are at breaking point, we have got


2.5 million people unemployed, a four year pay freeze for Britain,


by the end of next year, with benefits and services under attack


too. So we know it is a tough time. My job is to make the argument that


the Government needs to change course, particularly because women


are taking 70% of the pain of those cuts. You mean changing course in


terms of reducing the rate of cuts?. We need a change from this policy


of austerity. The economy is tanking, borrowing would be up if


it wasn't for the sale of G4. And the Chancellor hasn't met his own


targets so it is not working, we need to focus on jobs and growth


and fair treatment. And frankly, instead of attacking people's hard-


won employment right, we need to get to the root causes of the crash


and start reforming and getting tough regulation for the banking


and finance industry. And tax justice. Now the good news. The


deficit is down by 25%. I think that has been a massive achievement.


Some of the announcement which have taken place, such as raising the


personal tax allowance, 60% of women benefit from that, in terms


of unemployment, we have the lowest unemployment rate particularly


among youth we have had in ten year, there is, my constituency, freeze


on council tax for two years, freeze on fuel duty, they are


benefiting people. I think what we are seeing is a change in culture.


I understand Frances, where some of your criticism comes from, but the


change of culture is this. People who work are being rewarded. We see


250, sorry 240,000 more women are in work than were between March and


May 2010. That is quarter of a more million work are back in work. I


know that the counter argument is that benefits have frozen. That is


because there is a culture change. And pay has the frozen. Work pay,


benefits don't. We have to have a situation where by people who work


earn more than people on benefit, that wasn't the case before. Why do


you think many young working woman don't want to join a union? I was a


member of a union. You were. I was. What did it do for you? It didn't


do anything for me. But personally, but I felt when I went into the NHS


it was the thing to do. Everybody joined the union. I don't think


that, there is that, that kind of, that culture isn't imbued in the


workplace, I think it is because employment practises are fairer


than they used to be, health and safety is better, and I don't know


there is that imperative need to join a union. It is not relevant in


the way? It is. I have a massive opportunity coming in to lead the


TUC. We know there are millions of workers who want to join and union


and need to be asked. Why aren't they joining? Membership is not


very high. The women and young people who say they want to join


but don't know how, perhaps no expense of unions in their family.


But, I mean, I have to come back, because... What do you mean they


don't know how. They go on the internet and put TUC in. Thank you


for that advert. Ordinary working people are supporting what unions


are saying on austerity. Nobody believed the cuts were fair. Now


they can say they are not working. That is the political message. What


power do you have to change people's lives? It is fine there is


a political stance you are making, you are against austerity, but


beyond that, what are you doing that will help those workers?


have thousands and thousands of reps round the country n workplaces,


we know that where workplaces are yuen niceed workers are more likely


to get family friendly agreements. Better maternity pay, equal pay,


holidays and massively important, learning opportunities,


especially's They wouldn't have had those rights? People are objecting,


I have had this, objecting to the fact there are union workers in


Local Authority positions who are paid by the taxpayer and not by the


union bus are doing full-time union work. I think that is a negative


message for you. I know people resent that. I think there are


practises that you possibly need to change, in order to get people to


start liking you again, because I know council workers resentful of


the fact that taxpayer money pays for Pilgrims, to work full-time and


be paid and only do union work. I congratulate you... Do you think it


is beneficial to have a woman? think it is fantastic. It is about


changing hearts and mind. I think it was.... It would be grate if


somebody from a background like you talked about the benefits of trade


union membership. There is a suspicion it is back to the 1980s,


that people are looking to pick fights with union, they have


forgotten union members have changed. They are picking on 50%


women. There is no such thing as an irresponsible strike and David


Cameron this we are pussy cats, I hope your language and dialogue,


because we have the wrong language in politics sometimes, and I hope


your language. This is about ordinary working men and women


doing a decent job who want fair treatment. I understand that.


you think the language is encouraging dialogue with the


Government? I think Len is speaking up for his members, and that is


ultimately what we are here to do. What do most people want out of


life? We want a decent home, a steady job, enough money to look


after our families. That is nothing do with language. That is nothing


to do... I think unions ailiate a lot of people. Language like no


strike is irresponsible. Because they are are democratic. I mean


there is a basic principle here, unions civic society organisation,


the biggest voluntary organisations in the country and we are


democratic membership organisations. You have a responsibility to talk


your way... Can I just, to go back to the Polly Toynbee point. She


said you don't have that much power, it is the head of the individual


union, she says as the head of the TUC, you can't tell a union not to


go on strike or choose a different leader, that does limit what you


can do? I have drawn my power from my members. You can't tell them


what to do. In a democracy, you have to persuade people, I am not a


dictator, no union leader is a dictators awe of us draw on our


strength from our membership. That is what democracy is about. Thank


you very much. Before you go, because we are going to come on the


this now. There is a suggestion that Andrew Mitchell may not have


called a police officer a pleb. Do you think he was sacked too hastily.


Andrew Mitchell on the police officer? It was four weeks. Do you


think in the end they should have waited longer? I am sure there was


a thorough investigation went on and that the appropriate resolution


was met at that time. Sorry. Put you on the spot there of so the


Andrew Mitchell plebgate saga and the manner it came to light rols on.


The former Chief Whip was forced to resign rather than sacked,


following an altercation with police after they told him he would


have to dismount his bike. A Metropolitan Police officer was


arrested at the weekend on suspicion of misconduct in a public


officer. A Channel 4 programme will make further claims about the


incident of It is an ongoing criminal investigation and it is


supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. So I


hope people understand that. I also hope people understand this is not


all that, there is more to this than meets the eye. I am


constrained in explaining that. I hope when people hear the full


story they will support what we have done. I am joined by Gary


O'Donoghue. How does this change the event at the Downing Street


gate? Well, interestingly, Bernard Hogan-Howe, in another interview


this morning, has said he doesn't think it does change the account


that the original officers gave of what happened between them and the


then Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell. This third officer that we are


talking about, who was arrested at the weekend, the IPCC, the watchdog


yesterday said that he had claimed to be there and to be a witness of


that, to an unnamed MP. Now, Bernard Hogan-Howe has said that


that officer wasn't there, and that therefore, anything he has been


investigated over isn't in connection, or doesn't cast doubt


on what the original officer said about what happened. Reading


between the line, we are looking at two issue, one is the leaking of


the police log given to a newspaper four or five days after the


original incident in September. That seems to be where the IPCC is


supervising the inquiry and where this officer seems to be being


questioned. There is a separate issue about what happened on that


day, and of course Andrew Mitchell denies he used those words, and


told these officers that they ought to know their place, he denies that.


But what the Met commissioner is saying these developments don't


really change that account, although he was eelliptical to it,


he says there is more than meets the eye. Who knows what that means.


It prompts do you ask more question, in terms of what he nose or doesn't


know. Has there been any response from Andrew Mitchell or his


friends? Not really. There was yesterday, when the IPCC made clear


what they were doing, Mr Mitchell did do an interview and he did say


again, that he questioned still, and continued to question the


original police log, so the original account of what was said,


which the officers filed after that incident. He continues to question


that and continues to deny that that was said, but we are no nearer


what happened after that and what the involvement of this other


officer was, he has been arrested and could face charge, so I think


it is trick you for us to speculate too much on that and may be a bit


tricky for the Commission tore Fisherman must stick to strict


quotas set by the European Union restricting the number of fish they


can land. It has led to them being frustrated, and conservationists


are not happy either. Fish is the hot topic in Brussels today, but


what are the politics? No prizes for suggesting fish can


cause a stink, but as EU ministers meet in Brussels, there is a whiff


of argument in the air. The EU wants stricter quotas are how much


cod is caught and to restrict the time that fishermen spend at sea.


Hard-pressed UK fishermen are gutted. In 2006, cod stocks reached


the lowest-ever levels and a response was the EU cod recovery


plan, meaning cod quotas, tough fines for catching cod illegally


and the controversial discarding of card, a fish which dies when


brought to surface waters weather caused accidentally or deliberately.


The Government sees significant rises in stocks of the fish as a


reason to relax controls. The EU says that tougher controls for the


next few years will make cod sustainable into the future. There


is a worry that they lack the flexibility could make the UK


fishing industry unsustainable. Ever since the expenses scandal,


people have said there was something about politics which is


fishy, but what about the policy of fishermen?


Politics may mean that decisions you have very little to do with


fish management, because MEPs have had more of the state since the


Lisbon Treaty and there is talk that if the EU ministers decide to


go for cuts, they may face a legal challenge by the European


Parliament. It seems MEPs want to show who is boss.


I am joined from breast -- Brussels by the Liberal Democrat MEP and


founder of Fish for the Future Chris Davies, and David Amess, who


sits on the all-party Parliamentary fisheries group joins me in the


studio. Chris, did you get what you wanted? We are very much in the


wake to bringing forward to a reform of the fisheries policy.


Fisheries ministers across Europe meet each December and have done


for decades and try to please the fishermen by just looking at the


next season, trying to have quotas which pleased the fishermen but


ultimately lead to fish stocks going down and down. We have


devastated the seas as a reports of bud as a result of this short-term


approach. I thought to be cod stocks had gone up? There are many


fisheries across Europe, in some places measures were put in and


stocks are recovering, but in general they are still declining


across Europe. We are putting forward an obligation on ministers


and the European Commission to obey the scientific advice and insure


that stocks recover. If we have more fish, we have more jobs for


fishermen. They have voted in favour of that? I have come


straight from the committee can have devoted on the amendments,


there is a two-hour break while we check the details of 500 boats


which have taken place this morning or afternoon and we will vote to


introduce an obligation to land all fish that our courts and to


introduce this legal obligation to restore and rebuild fish stocks.


This sounds eminently sensible, instead of the short term look,


season to season, by putting his obligation of ministers and


countries, fish stocks will slowly rise, to the benefit of everybody?


I absolutely support what the EU has done about discards and


sustainability, but the 25 years the Common Fisheries Policy has


been an absolutes that -- shambles. Our British fishermen have followed


the letter of the law and European partners have not. I support our


British minister fighting for British fishermen, and I'm very,


very concerned about the cod stock. I don't want to see this go ahead


with a 20% reduction, I want it frozen. British fishermen have done


what they have been asked to do, and Spanish have not? There is some


truth in this, but you only have to look at the Shetland Islands, where


we had a big case last year were �1 million fines were being handed out


against fishermen and battery processes where they had been


diverting fish in order to avoid the quota. It was flagrant abuse


and ended up in the courts. We have to ensure that the fish stocks


increase, fishermen have to respect the quotas, not just in Britain but


across Europe. That is why we have a new fisheries control agency with


British, Irish and French inspectors working together. People


with 20 years of experience or more at the docks, who know every trick


in the book, working together to pool experience and make sure the


cheats are stopped. Them in the end, you'll be working towards the


common good? But I am a British politician and I will back British


fishermen? Even if it will be back in the long term? I think it should


be done gradually until 2015. Yet again we will follow the law and


our European partners will not. Chris Davies says that there will


be new policies and UN forces meaning that fishermen in other


countries will not be able to bypass this. We need clear dates


and we want to know how the scheme will work in detail, the present


scheme is not working. In Leigh-on- Sea where we supply the best fish


in the world, very important for not only the under 10 metre vessel


but the over 10 metre vessels. We have 28 families whose lives depend


on how much fish they catch, they are being crucified at the moment.


What do you say, Chris? Everyone looks at the small-scale fishermen,


the under 10 metre boats. That has nothing to do with the European


Union. The European Union decides the quota for every country, it is


up to which governments to decide how the share will be split between


the �25 million trawl a working in the North Atlantic and the small


port -- small boats. I don't know there has ever been a debate in the


House of Commons about how that is divided. But each January, our


Minister meets with the vested interests and decides which scale


be small-scale fishermen will get, often it is tiny, around 4%. Surely


you need to bring that to the House of Commons? You need to be having a


bat in terms of how the spoils will be divided up? Three weeks ago a


Westminster court, -- Westminster Hall, my colleague was responding


to a debate for Members of Parliament with fisheries in their


constituency. Did the small fishermen get what they wanted?


ministers said he would do wall he could to adjust the situation. I


think the European Union rules and regulations are key in this issue.


Every British politician must fight for the rights of British fishermen


as far as our involvement with the European Union is concerned. I


emphasise again, we follow the law at the moment and Europeans do not.


That is simply not true. You can't point the finger at Denmark,


Scandinavia or Germany and say they are breaking the law. Richard


Benyon is playing a first-class role in building up an alliance


between reform-minded countries in order to change the policy, I hope


we are doing the same in the European Parliament. That is good


news, but until he returns home I can't get a feel a bit, perhaps he


has won a great victory. It sounds like we will have a legally binding


targets, whichever way, when we hear the rest of the boats. Perhaps


we will get more from Chris Davies later. 20.


What is a fair wage for an hour's work? The minimum wage of �6.19? Or


the higher living wage of over �1 more outside London? A growing


number of employers are plumping for the living wage, as Sunday


Politics West Midlands reporter Tom Turrell discovered.


How much do you need to earn for a basic standard of living?


Increasingly, it seems the minimum wage is not enough. Elaine is one


of more than 2500 workers at Birmingham City Council now


receiving what is known as the living wage, in a policy aimed at


putting a bit more money in the pockets of its lowest-paid workers.


I get �50 a month more, which is a lot of money. To some people it


might not be, but to low-paid workers, �50 is a lot of money, for


me, anyway. What is it all about? You could be


forgiven for thinking we already have a statutory minimum wage, and


you are right. It is currently �6.19 an hour. But campaigners are


pushing employers to pay the living wage, �7.45, which is a whole �1.26


more. Almost 100 organisations nationwide have committed to paying


a living wage. Many of them are charities and local authorities. In


the past few weeks, Labour-run councils in Stoke-on-Trent and


Newcastle-under-Lyme signed up to it. And in London, Boris Johnson


has announced the living wage for workers will increase to �8.55 an


hour. Across the country, more and more councils are looking at upping


pay. One of those is Wyre Forest District Council. We absolutely in


support of the living wage, we want to pay people a fair rate for their


services and make sure what we pay them make sure they can live. We


think the living wage is absolutely the right thing for us.


Here at Top Barn Farm on the outskirts of Worcester, the


Christmas trade is in full flow. Seasonal workers are in high demand.


But much like when the minimum wage was brought in in 1999, the


response from some businesses to the living wage is less glad


tidings and more baa humbug. Margins are very tight at the


moment. Our labour bill is very high. If we were told to increase


that by 20% it would have serious implications. I'm not sure what the


future of growing our crops would be. The farm's grotto is pulling in


the punters, but if the living wage were to become law, it could see


staff pay rise by a 5th, something businesses like this feel is a gift


they simply can't afford to give. Frances O'Grady of the TUC is still


here, and we are joined by Andrew Lilico of Europe Economics. Frances,


is the living -- if the living wage is the level that people can


support themselves, why not make the minimum wage that level?


think the real value of the living wage is it is looking industry by


industry. We know there are industries like food production,


construction, banking and finance where it would add less than 1% to


the pay bill to take everybody up to at least the living wage, they


can afford it. There might be other industries where we need to phase


it in in a sensible manner, and collective bargaining between the


unions and employers is the best way. You'd like to make it law,


even if you're phasing it in industry by industry? Will have to


stop looking at almost the reinvention of wages councils,


which were introduced by Winston Churchill but got rid of by the


Conservatives in the 90s. We are now at the stage where pay


inequality is rising on such a scale that it is not sustainable


and ordinary working families are struggling to pay bills. What is


your response in principle to the idea of a living wage for


industries and councils and departments that want to do it?


Some private employers might find it is beneficial to offer more than


would otherwise be the market salary because they might think


they get more worker by Ian, higher productivity and more loyalty.


There is no reason why they should not find that. In respect of the


public sector, it is a bad idea. The problem with the living wage,


it is a bit like fair trade, on the face of it it seems that you're


doing something lies, but you are creating a distortion. When you say


to somebody, here is a particular salary, more than the market rate,


you are denying the opportunity for somebody else who would be prepared


to work for less to undercut them and have the job instead. Another


consequence is if you impose a living wage then you compress the


pay scale so that people who are more productive are not paid more


for more productive activities, so then you try to bid up the other


kinds of salaries as well. In the public-sector they wanted to go


towards performance-related pay, people can earn more if they are


more productive? I think all the evidence is that performance


related pay does not improve performance, quite often you end up


with the blue-eyed boy syndrome of who is in favour gets the increase


rather than fairness. That to motivate everybody. What is fair?


If you're trying to encourage your work forced to work better, more


productively and harder, why doesn't a mechanism like


performance-related pay theirs is a living wage just given out work


better? I think what is there is having enough to live on, if you


are on poverty pay it is very difficult to look after a family in


Britain today. Of course we need to do something about wages inequality,


we can't go on. If employers don't pay a living wage, particularly for


people still having to support themselves perhaps to benefits, as


taxpayers we are subsidising them through welfare? There are two


issues, one is that over the past 20 years we have ended up with


benefits going very high up the pay scale, so you could find people in


the mid- 50,000s a year on salary was still getting supposedly income


related benefits. We have borne down on that a bit, we need to take


it down further so that fewer people are captured by benefits


when they work. Another thing more importance is over the past few


years, price rises have consistently outstripped salary


rises right across the economy, since about 2006, prices have gone


up by around 26%, salaries have gone up 17%. Every year, workers


find they are more and more squeezed, which creates pressure at


the bottom for the people most vulnerable to say, we just can't


live on the salaries. I would urge the TUC and other bodies to


complain about the inflation, over the past few years the Government


has consistently failed to meet its inflation targets and workers have


not volunteer for the salary cuts. Each year people's expectations of


inflation are markedly below what It can't be right that employers


who can afford pay a decent wage are being subsidised by the


taxpayer to the tune of billion, and we can't just remove tax


credits from families who are struggling. We need to put pressure


on plom employers to pay what they can afford. Absolutely. We are


doing it. You are punishing ordinary worker, instead ofen


suring that employers fulfil their obligation to pay a fair wage.


would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which the current


structure has allowed the UK to get through this crisis with relatively


low rices in unemployment. The benefit system provides a subsidy


for employment. If you start taking the subsidies, if you start forcing


people to raise salaries too high, you could disturb that balance.


This is the old chestnut we heard when the minimum baidge was -- wage


was introduced. The CBI and others suggested we would loose over one


million job, it didn't happen. is scaremongering, those employers


who can afford to pay, should pay fair wage, and they should pay


their taxes, and be good citizens like everybody elsement Thank you


very much. Well, they have demand votes for prisoners and end to


control orders and ininterm Nat sentence, the European Court of


human rites hasn't had the best press, but how else do was keep to


our comoith commitment? The Conservative Party manifesto


promised a new British bill of rights to replace the Human Rights


Act. Labour and the Liberal Democrats disagreed. When the


coalition was formed, the agreement committed the Conservatives and


Liberal Democrats to establishing a commission, to investigate the


creation of a British Bill of Rights, that incorporates and


builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human


Rights. The Commission was established in March 2011. 20


months on it has published its report today, but the splits in the


Commission's membership has meant it has failed to come to a


unamimous conclusion, and this morning the Justice Secretary Chris


Grayling wrote in a newspaper article, that while he would listen


to the Commission, he was looking ahead to the next election, and ta


he believes it is time to examine how to curtail the involvement of


the European Court of Human Rights in UK domestic matters. While we


have been on air, Mr Chris Grayling has -- Grayling has been answering


questions in the House about a British of Bill of Rights and how


it would differ from what is in place. The British Human Rights Act


provides protection against cruel and inhumane treatment, includes


the right to a fair trial, the right-to-life, the right to family


life, freedom of expression and makes ex pli -- explicit that


Parliament is sovereign. Can the Justice Secretary be clear the


British Human Rights Act he so opposes or the British courts who


interpret the law and which of the rights in the British Human Rights


Act would not be in his Bill of Rights? Well, Mr Speaker, I think


the issue is that the original human rights convention was a


laudable document, written at a time when Stalin was in power and


people were being sent to the gulags without trial. It has moved


further and further away from the goals of its creator, and I believe


this is an issue we have to address in this country and I believe


across Europe. Well, we are joined by Mike someone who resigned from


the Commission earlier this year. Do you think this whole process has


been a bit of a waste of time? actually, but before I come to say


why, can I come back to your last item, because I was struck by, on


the fact the Commission, the Commission decided to give a lump


sum fee of �500 to graduate students, to do what potentially


was several months of work, I objected to it, because I felt it


was a way of getting round not only a living waiming but a minimum wage.


Right. And so, I have a lot of sympathy with both speaker, and I


feel that the lowest paid need to be protected, especially by the


Ministry of Justice. You are listening to the programme and the


piece before you came on. To get back to the issue at hand, do you


think the whole process of having a commission to look at this has been


a waste of time? Well, I think it need not have within a waste of


time. -- been a waste of time. Had there be room for real discussion,


because I think when people with different views get koth, and --


get together and discuss in scenesable way one gets to the root


of the problem. Was discussion suppressed? We didn't, because the


real issue, which is the relationships between Britain and


the Strasbourg court, was seen to be excluded from the terms of


reference, and that is what one of the documents says, that they


couldn't get to the real discussion, and so it has been, you know,


largely a waste of time, which is what I said last March. Right. Now,


do you think the fact bearing in mind those restrictions no


unanimous agreement on whether a British Bill of Rights would be


achieve dge or desirable has meant that we are back to square one?


Well, I think we are not, acheeb cheevable. The real issue isn't the


text of a Bill of Rights, I mean, in general terms, everybody agreed


to the rights, in the European Convention on Human Rights, nobody


wants to take those away, it is a question of who judges the rights,


and the jurisprudence that people want to tackle. And so, just


looking at the rights, it is really irrelevant. Nobody wants to torture,


everybody is in favour of a right- to-life. Family life, fair trial,


freedom of expression, that is not in question. The question is who


desides what is freedom of expression, and I think there is a


belief that now it should be British judges, accountable to our


Parliament, and that is the core problem. And Frances O'Grady, do


you agree with that, that nobody wants to take those sorts of human


rights away, but it should be a case of judges who are, if you like,


sovereign and answerable in some way to Parliament and Government


here? I think the big issue here is from a trade union movement's point


of view is that ue man rights only get recognised as important as when


people are looking to dilute them or take them away, I mean there has


been a lot of discussion about rights for murderers, or alleged,


of those facing allegations of terrorism, but a big issue for us


has been about blacklisting of trade union activists where their


names were being put on data baste basiss and livelihoods, people


locked out of jobs... Why couldn't that be dealt with? That is an


interesting question, but this shouldn't be and what a lot of


people are worried about, this is about a Government that doesn't


like the human rights act, doesn't like those basic protections and


wants to dilute them. You will recall that when the current


Government was in opposition, it wanted to increase the rights of


people. They were against against the long period of detention


without trial. I don't think the record supports that fear. I think


that is an unnecessary fear. Thank you very much. Now it a Tuesday.


Which means the Cabinet met earlier today, but this morning there was a


special guest. The Queen. Her Majesty became the first monarch


since 1781 to attend a cabinet meeting in Downing Street. David


Cameron introduced her to each of the members of the Cabinet in turn.


That will have taken time! And their hours practising bower or


courtesying were put to good use. The Prime Minister's spokesman said


the Queen spent about 30 minutes at the meeting, lots of laughter and


on her way in she shared a joke, as we heard with the Chancellor George


Osborne, we would like to know what that was stkwhr. And William Hague.


Well, I am joined by the royal historian Kate Williams. It looks


very jovial. We imagine cab net might more adversarial. She was


being given a present. This was the jubilee gift. I here it was 60


place mats. At the beginning of the year Michael Gove and fellow


ministers were suggesting a yacht. That got beaten down. They have


gone for something more minimal. The House of Commons shop does some


good place mats. How significant was this moment, of the Queen


attending cabinet? In is a very significant moment. Obviously,


people from outside occasionally attend, but that is to give


presentation, it is not to sit in and listen, the last person to


attend cabinet was George III and by then monarchs had become much


less, so Victoria, she did meet some ministers in a more informal


manner? Did she attend cabinet? No, cabinet was different in those day,


it is very formal, David Lloyd George did it formal with minutes


and meeting and stfs secure, it was more different in the days before


formal democracy it is a significant moment the Queen has


attended. Although she reads minute, she cease them all, she sees


ambassador, report, she doesn't get to sit in and see what I would


imagine, what we imagine is a lot of debate, a lot of argument and


discussion over what is going on. I wonder how much argument and debate


there was this morning or whether everybody was on their best


behaviour. People were saying they have to mind their Ps and Qs. She


was there for half an hour, there is business to be done. We are


heading towards America falling off the fiscal cliff. We have issues


for 2013 and simply because the Queen is there I don't think the


Government would say let us chat about Christmas trees, important


business has to be done. She has an audience with the Prime Minister.


For half an hours she has had 12 Prime Minister, she started with


Winston Churchill, she has a lot of experience, she meets heads of


state. He is a neutral head of state. He is only supposed to


advice, but she has had a lot of expense, she has travelled all over


the world, the Commonwealth, and she meets a lot of her subjects,


the Queen herself is someone who is concerned with the every day


political life of her subjects. idea constitutionally is the Queen


is above party politics. Exactly. Is there any danger of that sense


of her attending cabinet? I think this is a one off. I won't happen


again. It's a Diamond Jubilee celebration and we probably won't


see it again for her successors, Charles and William, simply because


it is a one off event, because really, this is not very customary,


cabinet meetings are private. We can't go, MPs can't go. They don't


even see the minutes. This is a one off, a final Diamond Jubilee


celebration and I presume they had to dash through the rest of the


business after she left. There is just time before we go to find out


the answer to our quiz. I know you have been waiting for this Frances.


The question was who visited Downing Street last night? Have a


go. It is Father Christmas. I will give it to you. Just in case.


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