07/02/2013 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. A Government U-turn


on education, Michael Gove decide and not to abandon GCSEs after all.


But he does plan to beat them up. He made a lengthy statement in the


Commons this morning. We will bring you the latest.


Do not come here it is damp, cold and miserable. Ministers have been


trying to discourage Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants coming to


Britain. Are they waiting an aggressive, negative campaign? I


will be asking the formal Bulgarian prime minister.


The British prime minister joins other EU ministers in Brussels this


afternoon. He says he will fight for a real freeze in the US -- EU


budget. And the political book of the Year


award is going to be announced. We will bring the winner into the


street year. It is a busy day today. With us for


the duration is Leanne Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru, the party of


Wales. It is the first time we have had tea in the studio. It is, yes.


Welcome. First, the perils of live radio phone-ins. Nick Clegg was


doing his regular weekly phone-in on the London radio station LBC


went a certain chap called Boris from Islington came on the line.


Listen to this. A caller from Islington. Hello, Nick, it is Boris


from Islington. When are you going to get all those Government


ministers out of their posh limousines on to public transport


like anybody else? How can you expect a Government to boat for


increases in infrastructure spending when they sit in their


chauffeur-driven limousines paid for by the taxpayer rather than


getting on public transport? Nick, get them out of their limousines.


Boris, over and out. Nick Clegg realised who it was instantly. He


is not on the line? That is a pity. Boris, if you are listening, I


think we have cut the amount of tax pear money which is used to pay for


the cars for ministers. It is about 70%, we have massively slashed it


and changed it. You may wonder what the connection with Wales is. We


have discovered the Welsh Secretary used his ministerial car to travel


110 yards from the Welsh Office to Downing Street. What do you think


of that? Most people will have difficulty understanding the


rationale for it. Maybe it was raining. What is wrong with an


umbrella? Maybe it was windy. so many people are struggling to


make ends meet with the austerity measures that have been meted out,


and there is an increasing number of people accessing food banks, it


is difficult to understand why politicians would have perks like


this. That is on top of the scandals that we have seen. You do


not think senior ministers, the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor,


should not have ministerial cars? There may be an argument having a


driver to go to certain meetings, but for 100 yards? 100 yards, to


John Prescott got into trouble for that. He said his wife had just had


her hair done! But if you have got sensitive papers, the point of a


car for a minister it is not only is it quite secure, but you can


carry on working at making phone calls. Everybody else who goes to


work daily is working on the train or maybe has papers that are


confidential. Everybody else can manage. There is no country in the


world that does not give its ministers a chauffeur-driven car.


think Sweden. Politicians are expected to use public transport in


Sweden. The Prime Minister in the television series has a car. Does


she not cycle? Do Welsh ministers get cars? Yes, there are a fleet of


cars in the National Assembly for Wales. That is one of the things we


should be considering whether or not a fleet of cars is in the best


and public interest. But the money saved would be peanuts. They would


all use minicabs. It would be even more expensive. You could say


peanuts would be saved, but lots of peanuts makes up quite a big pot of


money potentially. The Education Secretary is making a statement to


the Commons on that you turn. He was going to scrap GCSEs and now he


is not. We were watching that statement earlier and we will bring


you a bit of it later in the programme. But we have our own


political exam for you. It is the Daily Politics quiz. Yesterday a


new hereditary peer, Viscount Ridley, was elected to the House of


Lords. You might think it is a contradiction that hereditary


members are elected, but they are and it does not seem to bother them.


There were no fewer than 27 candidates for a one vacancy.


Viscount Ridley also holds another hereditary title which he shares


with the name of a cheese. But which cheese? Is he Barron


Wensleydale, Lord Yarg, Earl cheddar, or the Mikey of Lymeswold.


At the end, Leanne Wood will give us the correct answer. Or she will


have a guess. How is your Polish? Mine is fluent. Last week Polish


was the main language spoken in England after English according to


the 2011 census, but when the next census happens might we all be


speaking Romanian all Bulgarian? Temporary measures imposed in 2005


to protect the British labour market expire in December and they


cannot be extended. This means people from those countries will be


allowed to come to the UK to work and lives and will have the same


rights as others from the European Union. The last time this happened


was in 2004. The Labour Government did not make any transitional


arrangements and it grossly underestimated the number of Polish


people and Eastern Europeans coming to the UK went eight European


countries joined the EU. This Government is said to be


considering a negative poster campaign to stop people from coming


and to correct the impression that Britain's streets are paved with


gold. The communities and local Government secretary, Eric Pickles,


told me of an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians which would add to


existing housing problems, but he refused to give me an estimate of


the numbers of people he might move to the UK. That is not something I


think would be helpful in terms of offering numbers just yet. Why not?


You would have to have a degree of confidence in terms of the numbers


before publicly stating them. Harper is the Conservative


Immigration Minister and he is chairing a committee on the issue


and said restrictions could be imposed on access to the NHS and


some benefit payments. But the Bulgarians have hit back with their


own poster campaign. They have hit back with their own campaign and it


ends up saying why do you not come and live here? Good question. We


are joined in the studio by Conservative MP Mark Reckless who


sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee. First, let's speak to


Sergei Stanishev, the former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, now the


leader of the European Socialists in the European Parliament. Welcome


to the Daily Politics. What do you make of the British Government's


attitude to your country and to Romania? Good day to you. First of


all, I can tell you that the weather currently here is not much


better than the United Kingdom. This argument about the weather is


not very strong indeed. But take it for British humour. The important


thing is to stick to the facts and figures. According to the British


statistics, the official statistics, in 2010, there have been 35,000


Bulgarians living in the UK altogether. This cannot create any


real problem to the labour market or to the social security system


because according to the same figures there have been 600


unemployed Bulgarian citizens in the United Kingdom. It is really a


drop in the ocean. Most of the Bulgarians have go and study


because the overall number of students is more than 5000 students,


Bulgarian and Romanian together, and they are bringing more than 30


million euros in taxes and living expenses to the UK economy. I


remember when Bulgaria was joining the European Union in 2007, there


were the same fears and scary tales in the UK media. Then I issued the


media that they would have no problems. This came to be true.


I just interrupt you, but the scary tales are coming from the


Government rather than the media. Our estimate we have been given is


that there are 130,000 Romanians and Bulgarians immigrants already


in the UK. Do you have any idea went all the border controls


comedown how many Bulgarians and Romanians will come to Britain?


is mostly a risk when the Government is taking such positions.


I would like to remind you according to EU law, which has to


be respected by every country including the United Kingdom,


restrictions should be lifted. This was said by the spokesperson of the


European Commission on this issue. This is fair because we all give


something to the European Union, we all benefit from this and I can


assure you, I am absolutely confident there will be no influx


of Bulgarian emigrants to the UK. That is fine, but what is the


answer to my question? I asked you how many do you believe it will


come? I cannot say. It is up to the institutions, but I do remember the


same scare existed for many years ago and it did not happen. I


mention to you the number of Bulgarians who currently lead in


the United Kingdom. I understand that. We learned to date in the


newspapers that Britain is now the biggest magnet of all in Europe for


immigrants from all over. We have overtaken Germany and Spain. More


people now come to this country as immigrants that any other country


in the European Union. If you cannot give me a number, is it not


reasonable to assume that Bulgarians and Romanians will be no


different? They will like the look of Britain and they will want to


come? I am one of those Bulgarians who used to live in the UK as a


student. I studied at the LSE. I am back in Bulgaria and many young


Bulgarians have more prospects and chances not only in Bulgaria, but


in many other European countries. I think it is not a matter of


domestic scary policy. I would like to relate it to another European


debate which is ongoing in the United Kingdom in a very strange


way. Currently those politicians and leaders who insist in further


reducing the European budget are actually calling for a more at


immigrants to come to the UK or other countries because when you


reduce the funds for development and confusion, for Social Security


in the new member countries, in the less developed countries of the


European Union, then you are asking them to come to your country.


have to leave you there and thank you for joining us from Bulgaria.


It is good to see you, come back and speak to us again. Let me bring


in Mark Reckless in the studio. Should the British Government


really be going to Bulgaria and Romania and saying, do not come


here, we are a horrible place? not sure we should be having a


negative advertising campaign. would you want to run down your own


country? Indeed, but the background to this is the Labour Government


said 13,000 would come, but vast I remember it well, we covered it


on the Daily Politics. They got the calculation of how many would come


totally wrong. I accept all of that but your Government's response now


is to give us no estimate of how many Romanians and Bulgarians,


agreed? The Government's concerned if it does give an estimate, if


it's too high it will be used of scare-mongering, if it's too low it


will be be come phrasency. Do you think they have a secret estimate


that they are working on, they're just not telling us? I wouldn't ask


the Government to do the impossible. There is an interaction between our


membership of the EU, not having border controls, anyone being able


to come to this country and having a welfare system where people don't


understand it, where people who haven't contributed to our system


can come and immediately start gaining benefits. That's the


problem. I want to come on to that, for the moment I want to deal -


because it's an important issue, I want to stick with the overall


issue at the moment. Migration Watch, which is a private thinktank,


it says it expects about 50,000 people from Romania to come each


year and Bulgaria until 2019. Does that sound reasonable to you?


Migration Watch are a respected institution. I understand. I take


their estimate very seriously. I don't know because other labour


markets are opening at the same time. I am not sure - I just what's


difficult to estimate, Denmark and Ireland have a similar system in


terms of welfare benefits, but how much the ability to very quickly


gain in work benefits when you are getting an income which is pretty


high compared to Romania and Bulgaria, I don't know what impact


that's going to have. Given the Poles and other east Europeans came


in numbers not predicted, I know you thought the Government was


wrong but not sure you knew there would be so so many, what damage


did it do this country? I think it's made people feel we don't have


control of our borders. But what damage, that may be true but that's


part of being a member of the European Union. We have free


movement of labour. And of capital. What damage did it do to have all


these hard-working, motivated, in many cases well-educated people,


come to this country? In particular areas where that movement of people


has been concentrated, it's put a lot of pressure on public services


and I also think that people at the lower end of our labour market who


are often competing with new people coming in, they may well have seen


wages depressed bay degree and -- by a degree and other people have


been prepared to take those jobs. said Wye come back to the matter of


welfare. Do you think that those who come here, that both welfare


benefits and NHS treatment should not be available to them? In terms


of welfare benefits, one change I really think we should make is we


should stop paying child benefit to children who are not resident in


this country. I think that's very, very important. Is that it, would


you make more changes? The other issue in terms of benefits, we have


tax credits where people in low or middling paid jobs, on a non-


contributory basis get that tax credit. Romanians and Bulgarians


are likely to get that too, probably against EU law not to do


that. People will been given benefits particularly if they have


children, that's a real problem about how our system interacts with


membership of the EU. What do you make of this? Costs and benefits to


the free movement of people, people from the UK move to other countries


and get the benefits from those countries, too. I think the point


about workers at the lower end of the pharget having their -- market


having their wages depressed is a good point but that could be


overcome by social protections for all workers across the board to


protect those wages. What does that mean? By ensuring a decent standard


of living in terms of wages so that terms and conditions can't be


undercut, strong trade unions, as well. Doesn't sound like you are


going to get many changes. That might make it even more expensive


to give benefits, but we could have changes. If people want to take


back control of our immigration system, then in 2015 if they vote


for a Conservative Government they will get a referendum to choose


whether they stay part of it. are you going to vote in that?


would be very - I wish the Prime Minister well in trying to get


powers back. I think it's likely I would be on the side campaigning to


come out but I also... You will vote no probably? The Prime


Minister's right to try and get... I get that. I wanted a yes or no.


We should be an independent country. Thank you.


Immigration isn't the only talking point in Europe this week. EU


leaders arrive in Brussels this afternoon to try to carve out a


deal on the EU Budget. They've been talking about that at the European


Parliament in Strasbourg, too, where are very own Jo Co is.


Here I am again in Strasbourg. The European Parliament as of now backs


the Commission's proposal for a 5% increase in the long-term budget,


something called the MFF from 2014 but within the European Parliament


not all MEPs agree with that line. I have three MEPs here to discuss


that with me. Welcome to all of you. Let me come


to you, first of all. Why should there be an increase in the budget


for the EU when everyone across Europe is suffering economically?


Because the EU budget is 95% investment budget and in these days


of economic crisis we need growth and jobs and the only way to do it


is to have investing possibilities and the European budget is 95%,


there is no EU member states budget like this for investment, which is


used for growth and jobs. People might say you would say that, your


country is a big recipient of money. No. These MEPs from Britain, of


course, are big contributors. What do you say to Derek and Marta who


are calling for the overall budget to be brought down? We are


recipient, but you have to think that - invest in one corner of


Europe, of EU is bringing benefits also in other corner. So you cannot


say that in Romania if you work on European money is only Romania is


the beneficiary, it's also all - there are also other companies


working in Romania. What do you say to that? Does David Cameron


actually have any real chance of getting an agreement that reduces


the overall budget? Well, I think we need to think that the past


seven years were supposed to have turned the European Union in a very


competitive market, state of the art in innovation and energy and


what has happened, all this money that taxpayers in the European


Union put into this budget have not actually produced the results that


were expected. Is David Cameron going to achieve his aim? I think


he should achieve the aim of reducing the budget because there


is no justification to increase it. We have not achieved the aims, who


can guarantee we are going to achieve the aims for the future,


even if we get more money? Where is the support going to come from for


David Cameron's position? Labour called for a real terms cut and yet


you agree with Mr Marinescu that we need money for growth? There's


going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors at this summit, they may


well reduce the budget. But first of all, we don't know where it's


going to be a real terms freeze or cut. Second thing I would say is


this is a missed opportunity. We have a one in seven-year chance


here to reform the EU budget. We should be looking at savings, but


also we should be looking to invest more money in things which promote


jobs and growth so the regional funds, infrastructure, youth


guarantee scheme, research and development. Where would you cut


then, in order to bring the budget down? The question to answer to Mr


Cameron, you want 200... The common agricultural policy. That That


doesn't seem to be on the table. There's opportunities to make


savings in the budget, for example, a billion euros a year going export


subsidies, like for tobacco and alcohol, let's cut those. There's


Strasbourg session here, every year it costs 180 million to come to


Strasbourg. There are savings to be made. They should be making those.


External action surveys that has provided no benefit in its years of


existence. Baroness Ashton has not achieved anything and that costs.


This is an opportunity to make savings in the member states


because they reduce... It's not an opportunity... External services,


because we can use the European ones if we want to have only one


voice. This is not happening. Baroness Ashton responded to me


individually that the external action service would not replace


national embassies. Is this about member states fighting their


corners and forgetting about the bigger picture? Absolutely. Some


member states are going to fight for struck structural funds. They


should have taken this opportunity. We should be putting more money


into structural funds. Wales, is a net beneficiary of funds, we gain


and in Wales most of the infrastructure projects, most of


the training schemes, research and development is paid for by the EU


and that's the type of thing you should be funding. About Angela


Merkel back David Cameron in these negotiations? I think she should.


Will she? I think she will because she needs the UK. That's the issue.


The The European Union needs the United Kingdom, so she will, of


course, back him. All right. The UK also needs EU, in my opinion.


European Union needs the UK more than the UK needs the European


Union. It would be the other way. We could have a longer discussion


about this, thank you to all three. No doubt the discussions will go on


and on. Thanks. And we'll stick with Europe and the


in/out referendum promised by David Cameron after the next election.


The Prime Minister's betting that the referendum will be popular with


the British people but how will it go down in the devolved nations? We


asked people in Cardiff whether they thought Wales should leave the


If that happens, then we are becoming our own little - instead


of being united as one it's going to be everybody going separate ways,


wouldn't that make it worse off? Stay, I think. We received a number


of funds to bring companies into Wales, our company being one of


them. These more marginal areas away from the centre benefit from


forms of regional aid which come from Europe, which the UK


Government or the English Government doesn't care to hand out


so often. If we were to have a referendum nationally and the UK


were to vote to leave Europe what do you think Wales should do?


on as Europe is responsible for most of the health and safety,


without it we would be in a poor place. It's got to be what's right


for Wales, not for England. cannot leave the European Union. We


are united with England really. We are not a country in the European


Union. That question doesn't arise really.


Nice hat! And we're joined now by the Welsh


Office Minister Stephen Crabbe and the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne


Wood, is still with us. Are the people of Wales less or


more Eurosceptic than the English say? I think it's in Wales'


national interest to remain within the EU. We as the people have said


in the film, we benefit from structural funds. I know your


position. I understand that. You would want to stay in. The people


in general, are they more or less Eurosceptic? I would say less


tprrbgs that film -- from that film you have shown as well. Our films


are brilliant but they're not scientific. What do you think?


Judging from my constituency, I can say there is increasing demands for


reform of our relationship with Europe. The question your reporter


wasn't asking was do people in Wales want to see our relationship


change and reformed? I think if that question was asked would you


find more people saying yes we want more value for money out of the


European Union and less intrusion and less regulation. What do you


say? But you want out, that's your party's position. The Prime


Minister is clear, we think there are benefits of being in the


European Union. But you have to recognise that there's a real


appetite out there in parts of the UK for reforming our relationship


with Europe, getting more value for money and that ties in with the


budget debate this weekend but also in terms of intrusiveness of


regulation, businesses want change, too. If you get the - if you can


repatriate some powers, the party's position, you would vote to stay in


or if you don't get that, if the khoeuts is the status quo, or


leaving what would you do? That's a hypothetical question. Where are


you on this? Is there enough time in Wales for certain powers - you


are in favour of devolution, why not repatriate some powers to the


$:/STARTFEED. Of course we want to see reform. There are aspects of do


you -- the European Union, and the weight of money involved. None of


that is going to change. I was listening to the French ambassador


this morning and one of the interviewers razed it and he just


kicked it out of touch, saying that is impossible, Strasbourg is


symbolic of the war generation of everything that Europe stands for.


It is the peace city on the German border with France. It is never


going to happen. This is the difficulty David Cameron has got.


He is not going to get the changes he wants. This is why we should be


backing the Prime Minister this weekend. He wants to get these


European politicians to recognise the reality we are in. We cannot


carry on spending more and more or. But you know how much Wales is


benefiting. How many jobs would be lost in Wales where that budget to


be cut? Thousands. Of Wales receives a lot of support from


Europe and over the last 10 years has it helped really grow the


economy of Wales? We have fallen further behind. We could be worse.


But is there a real future for Wales if that future means it is


continually dependent on subsidies from London or Brussels? No way. No,


we cannot continue being subsidised, absolutely not, and that is why my


party has said economy and jobs have to be the top priority. We


want to be independent and depend upon ourselves. I know that is a


long-term goal, but you are not like the SNP, you are not in favour


of independence tomorrow or next year or the year after? There is


the affordability question for us and in the interim we want the


National Assembly for Wales to have powers over taxation and the powers


to change the economy. It is more devolution. His Wales in decline?


Over the last 10 years we have fallen behind. 20 years. But there


is some light at the end of the tunnel. Why it is that light,


spotting the incoming train? Unemployment is frozen. Youth


employment continues to fall and we are putting in investment in rail


services and transport infrastructure, broadband. There


are 50,000 more people out of work now than before the recession


started and there are 50,000 people who are under employed in Wales. We


are far from problem-free. Final word. We need to be ambitious for


growing our economy, not just to rely on a European subsidy. I would


agree with that. I am not sure if the Scottish viewers have joined us


yet. Not yet, they are late, they are getting later, but when they


joined as they will be welcome. In fact, I have been told viewers in


Scotland have joined us now. They were watching First Minister's


Questions. Few have just missed our conversation about Wales, but we


are moving on to a conversation about the Bank of England. Mervyn


King is making way for his Canadian opposite number, Mark Carney, who


is charging more than Mervyn King ever did, and he is getting a


housing allowance of �250,000. That is not bad for a European bank.


Last year he suggested a great target and has been taking


questions from the Treasury committee. He was asked earlier


about his comment of growth rather than inflation. The response to


remarks that I made and what was read into that remarks that I main


suggests an appetite, at least to me, for a proper debate about the


monetary policy for England. I know the Chancellor said he welcomed


that debate there should be that debate, a relatively short debate,


because I do not think that the uncertainty is think anybody's


interest. That is the new governor of the Bank of England. He is


Canadian. He might sound like an American to you. But you can tell


the difference in their accents. Political commentator Max Kaiser is


here. What do you make of the new governor? He is doing a job in


starting to print money to pay a salary, which is going to be in the


millions. But we have to pay for inflation in this country. The eels


are moving up and this is the last thing they want to see and there is


a problem with inflation in the UK. They say it is 2.7%, but when you


add in the costs of food and energy, the scandal of horsemeat, that is


an inflation story, substituting cheaper meat because there is an


inflation problem and Mark Carney is going to exacerbate that problem.


What is this story about milk? hear this anecdotally that there is


a problem with watered-down milk and the horse meat story is a big


story and that is an inflation story. You are substituting


expensive meat with cheap meat. The real inflation in the UK is running


at 7% or 8% for the person on the High Street. What do you make of


his idea? I am not sure he is going to do it, but he has thought about


replacing the 2% inflation target with an economic growth target.


This is a lot of central bank trickery. They want to show that


the overall GDP is bigger relative to debt and they will allow


inflation to creep higher, said they can print higher GDP numbers,


so there bond rating will hopefully remain at 888. Mark Carney is a


servant of the banks and the banking establishment. The average


person in the UK will have higher inflation. We know he is a big fan


of the Daily Politics and when he what is this, give him one piece of


advice. Tell him what he should do. The he should resign immediately


and let markets set interest rates and get back to market capitalism.


We do not want a central Politburo into straight Communist setting the


interest rates. We will pass that a lot anyway. Let's move to the big


story of the day as the Education Secretary Michael Gove is scrapping


plans to replace some GCSE exams in England. It comes five months after


he announced controversial proposals to introduce a tougher


qualification, the English Baccalaureate certificate in


English, maths and science in 2015. Labour is calling it a humiliating


climbdown. In a statement this morning, this is what the Education


Secretary had to save. Last September, which outlined plans for


changes to GCSE is designed to address the dumbing-down and loss


of rigour in those examinations. We have consulted and there is a


consensus the system needs to change, but one of the proposals


are put forward was a bridge too far. My idea that we end the


competition between exam boards to offer GCSEs in court, academic


qualifications and have just one, a new exam in each subject was one of


reform to many at this time. The exam regulator, Ofqual, was clear.


There were significant risks in trying to both strength and


qualifications and to end competition in large parts of the


exams market. I will not proceed with plans to have a single exam


board offering a new examine each academic subject. Instead, we will


concentrate on reforming existing GCSEs broadly along the lines we


put forward in September. That was Michael Gove in the Commons not so


long ago. We are joined by Kevin Gage, a former schools minister,


and Kevin Brennan, who has just hot-footed it from the Commons. As


I understand it, the Government line and is that we have backed


down on wood into a Baccalaureate. But actually the substance of the


change, it is broadly the same. Is that what you are claiming? Sort of.


There will no longer be one exam board for each subject. That has


been dropped. That is when he said he listened and he said he was


wrong to propose that. He listened to Ofqual and the select committee


and teachers and unions. But the rigour and the demand to make sure


our GCSE qualifications are on a par with the rest in the world,


that they are examined at the end of the cause in most subjects, that


modules are abandoned, that we get rid of this resit culture, far too


many exams, that will go, and the curriculum will be more rigorous.


It will be knowledge-based to insure school leavers have a rich,


cultural and scientific literacy when they go on to further study


and work. What do you make of that? If this is eight-week, I would like


to see a U-turn! This is a massive change. Michael Gove has dropped


this proposal which we said all along was a disastrous proposal for


this Baccalaureate certificate and he is keeping GCSEs. In fact, some


of the other changes will get rid of the English Baccalaureate idea


altogether because no longer will that be the accountability measure


for schools. That opens up the creative side. It will be


incorporated into the accountability measure and it will


be the best of eight and of that eight two have to be English and


maths. It is a very important measure in this Baccalaureate


combination of maths, English, science, history. The combination


is going to be called the English Baccalaureate? Yes, indeed. He is


shaking his head. I went to the Department this morning and was


presented with documents and his stake and given five minutes'


notice. The change originally was to move to a Baccalaureate style


exam, but we already have something called the English Baccalaureate,


and correct me if I am wrong, this is not an exam in English, this is


a combination of Baccalaureate tight exams for England. That is


correct. It is a performance measure in the tables.


Understanding the exams these days is more difficult than doing them!


In 1996, half of the students took this combination. Or they took


hires. By the time we came into office in 2010, it had fallen to a


5th. We have got to get back to youngsters taking this academic


range of subjects, the subject at the Russell group of universities


said... The top universities in the country. That is right. Michael


Gove have dreamt this up on the back of a cigarette packet. I was


told it was an envelope. I am not sure how big the envelope was, but


I think you are wrong. There was the leak to the Daily Mail last


year that we were going to have O- levels and GCSEs. What the


Government is trying to address is the competition between the exam


boards. Over the years it has resulted in grade inflation. Ofqual


says that has happened. There have to be other measures and Ofqual


will have to make sure an exam boards will have to look to


themselves to ensure they are not competing for market share among


schools on the basis of, you will get a good grade if you come to our


exam board. The exam boards will not compete for the market share.


Grades will go down. Let me ask you this question. Clearly you are


going to have great fun at Michael Gove's expense. I want to come back


to the serious issue which is do you support the beefing up of


GCSEs? It is a serious issue and Michael Gove was tried to laugh it


off and he is causing mayhem, so it is a serious issue. We want to work


with the Government if they remained the Government and to get


a consensus about the right kind of conform -- reform for exams at 16.


We have got a participation aged up to the age of 18. Does Labour


Stanford tougher GCSEs? We stand for rigour and high standards, yes,


absolutely, but in the longer term we need to look at the evidence of


what is the best kind of reform. In Wales they have taken similar


England's now coming back into line with Wales, is that right? Wales


has had the Welsh Baccalaureate for a decade now running alongside


GCSEs. That's an A-level qualification. Ah, right. We have


had a Baccalaureate for a decade. If you lot don't know how are the


rest of us supposed to know! I know. You know. It's been in place for a


decade. This is not news for us in Wales. Is it true really that you


had to drop the idea of doing a Baccalaureate because it's highly


unlikely most people could have spelled it? Well, spelling is now


restored as an important element of most of the GCSEs. They wouldn't


have been able to spell it. Would you like to have a go?! Only joking.


Let's not do that. We are going to let you go, but thank you for


coming in today. We are going to stick with education.


Because if England's record is bad, could Wales's be even worse? Last


week, the Welsh education watchdog, Estyn, revealed that fewer schools


had achieved good or excellent inspections compared with the year


before. And on health - another devolved power - the First Minister,


Carwyn Jones, said this week that the health service in Wales will


collapse unless hospitals are reorganised. So has devolution been


good or bad for Wales? We sent Susana there to take a look.


It's one of the oldest towns in Wales, and it celebrates its


history. It gives pride of place to a local doctor, William Price who


defied English rules and this is a nation that has been free to go its


own way from England on issues like health and education ever since


devolution 14 years ago. But if you live here in Wales your


health is likely to be worse than if you lived over the border in


England. As are your exam results. This is where many of the local


children go. One of Welsh education's success stories.


These maths GCSE pupils are in a school that's been classed as


excellent but nationally, Welsh results have been on the decline.


In 2002, over 57% of children in England got A-C grades at GCSE,


compared with a higher level of around 59% in Wales. But then the


tables turned. By 2011, England had almost 70% A-C grades, while Wales


was on 66.0%. During that period, the Welsh Government cut school


funding. In 2010-11 that gap was around �600 per pupil, per year.


That's for me, as a head teacher of a school this size equates to half


a million per year I could be spending on pupils. The Welsh


Government has long been opposed to testing children. But now it's


planning to bring in numeracy and literacy tests for 7-14-year-olds.


The politician in charge of education says that's not an


acceptance devolution has been bad for Welsh education. There was a


period when we didn't focus strongly enough on overall school


improvement and what I have been trying to do since I became


Minister during the coalition Government is introduce that real


focus on school improvement so we are looking, for example, we banded


secondary schools so we know which are the strong performers. There


then's health. Life expectancy is lower in Wales than in England but


can that be pinned on devolution? We are on top of most of the league


tables, you don't want to be on top of in terms of public health


problems and that pre-dates devolution. There's no doubt. To


blame devolution for that simply seems rather bizarre and churlish.


But I meet someone who's campaigned against more devolution here, she


says it's led to gimmicks instead of better health provision. Free


prescriptions and free car parking, which obviously people love, but it


means that there's less money spent on care, or other fundamental


aspects of the health service that are falling behind care in England.


But is that down to devolution itself? Or could it just be about


what those in charge choose to focus on?


Leanne Wood is still with us and Nick Gibb. Why is Wales doing badly


in schools and health? Well, if we take education first. It depends


which part of the education system that you look at. So, pupils up to


the age of 11 seem to be faring OK. We have introduced the foundation


phase in Wales for pupils up to age seven, that's an idea taken from


Finland which has been shown to be a success. But it's beyond 11 that


the gap opens up between pupils in Wales and England. Is that because


you took none of the reforms of England? I don't think that's the


reason. You are against all the English reforms, aren't you? All of


them? Which ones are you in favour of? We have taken a different route


in Wales. Your route has been no reform. It there has been reform,


we have introduced the foundation phase. You don't have academies.


That's correct. You don't have free schools, you don't have testing.


You don't have league tables. That's right. So what bit of the


the English reforms do you have do you have? None of those! There are


some very good things about the Welsh education system. But I think


because the effort has gone into the foundation phase, maybe the eye


has been taken off the ball tprr the 11-Plus. Grades in Wales are


falling. Yes, we need to do better. I guess my point is that a lot of


people, and I will come to Nick in a minute, they say they're falling


- Blairites may say this privately as well as Conservatives, they're


falling because under old Labour, old Welsh Labour you refused to go


down any of the reform routes that seems to have improved schools in


England. But Plaid Cymru, you're old, old Labour. I wouldn't accept


that. Well, you are against all these things. That doesn't


necessarily - what's good for England doesn't necessarily mean it


will work in Wales. It is because the gap is widening. There does


need to be attention on post-11 education, no doubt about that. The


results that we have had have shown we are lagging behind, no doubt


that we are not doing as well as we could and more more effort needs to


go into pupils 11-16. What do you say. The mistake was in 2004 when


Wales abolished Sats at the end of primary school. That's tests to get


an across the board of a particular age group to assess where they are.


Yes, every child in this country is tested at 11 on English and maths.


You mean England? And And in Wales they abolished that in 2004. I


don't accept there aren't problems in primary school, as well. The


Welsh inspectorate said that half of all primary schools and


secondary schools had to do better when it came to literacy. And if


you look at the GCSE results, in 2001 they abolished league tables


and academics attributes the widening gap in GCSE performance to


the fact that they don't publish the GCSE results in Welsh schools.


It is an important factor in driving up standards. Do you


support support hrfps. They don't publish results? You can't compare


one school with another to see how they're doing. That's an important


part of accountability. This is being looked at now in Wales. There


are kind of - league tables being published. They're not exactly the


same. That's banding systems. Too broad, you need lots of information


for parents to look at. That's how you raise standards. That's why


this gap is widening and why Wales is falling down. Does Wales have a


Russell Group university? Yes, Cardiff. That's the only one?


Well, I am not sure if that's a fact or not. There's other factors.


That's not great, is it. Despite all the constraints on public


spending we have ring-fenced school spending, we have increasing


spending on health in - and that's a decision that Labour opposes here.


They're delivering that in Wales and we have seen the results.


have one more item, people are waiting, I apologise. I let it go


on too long. Scotland has four Russell Group universities, I


thought I would add that in. So, it was the hottest ticket in


Westminster last night but guess what? Once again, my invitation


seems to have got lost in the dreaded BBC post system. I'm


talking, of course, about the hotly contested Political Book of the


Year Awards - which had so pretty high profile nominees.


Alastair Campbell has published another volume political diaries -


this time starting with 9/11 and focusing on the build-up to the


Iraq war. Andrew Adonis, the man behind Tony


Blair's education reforms, has written on, you guessed it,


education, education, education! Our very own Andrew Marr has


written a book to accompany his TV series charting the history of the


world. Now how did Nick Robinson sneak in


there? Must have been an administrative error! Anyway, his


book looks at life reporting on the frontline of British Politics -


something I would obviously know little about.


Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson were nominated for their book on


Why Nations Fail. And, finally the Politics of


Coalition by Robert Hazell and Ben Yong looks at the unlikely love in


between the Tories and the Lib Dems. But we at the Daily Politics only


deal with winners on this programme. And here she is - Caroline Shenton


who "blew up" the competition with her book The Day Parliament Burned


Down. I'm also joined by MP Keith Simpson


who is also chairman of the judges who awarded the prize. Welcome to


you both. Congratulations. You are doing a bit of advertising, not


sure we allow that at the BBC, but too late to stop it! Well done to


you. Why did she win? Because she was best, I mean, it was...


worked that bit out! There was other good books there, but what we


all collectively concluded and there was to disagreement, was that


it was a fascinating subject. It was more than just the fire. It had


contemp contempanous elements and it was readable. And it was at the


time an incredible national disaster. I am told you could from


the South Downs you could see this flame. The King and Queen saw it in


Windsor and I assume the old buildings were stunning. They were


amazing but very degraded by 1834. They had been a fantastic site of


Europe in the middle ages and early modern period but they had become


completely a mess, a tinderbox waiting to go up. Would they have


had to go at some time? I think the way the architecture was going they


could have been done over. great Westminster Hall survived.


That survived. I love walking through that, with the wonderful


roof. It survived after a terrific effort by volunteers and firemen


and the arrival of the great floating engine coming up the river


when the tide rose and shot water over the eastern flank of the


Palace. You have written academic works before but this is more


popular, did you enjoy writing for a wide eb epber audience - wider


audience. I loved it. What was the number two? I can't tell you, that


would be unfair but it would be safe to say that he did serve in


the last Labour Government. Good, well done, Andrew, you were


second. Time to find out the answer to our quiz. Which cheese was it? I


have no idea. I am hoping somebody will tell me. It was Wensleydale.


Thank you. You didn't know that, did you. That's all for today.


Thanks to our guests. The 1.00pm news is starting over on BBC 1 now.


I am back tonight when Michael Portillo will talk about the


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